WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from April 17 - 22, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Thanks for the blower oil info Jock...yes, i think that was me Rodriguez...sorry...I'll by the next round:)
   Gator - Wednesday, 04/17/02 01:49:45 GMT

Well i made a hammer today but i noticed something today i had forgotten since the weather had been cool. I rediscovered that it gets really hot smithing large pieces of metal. i am considering where to put a fan so it blows on me while i crank the bellows without blowing on the forge or anvil. I wondered what the rest of you did to stay cool other than drink a lot of water.
   Daniel - Wednesday, 04/17/02 02:23:33 GMT

a guy brought the coolest ASO into my shop today... it's the back end of big diesel crankshaft, it wasn't cast iron, cause when i machined it it made real chips. he flamed it off at the first rod journal from the back, i flycut it into plane, then put a recessed cup grinding wheel in the mill and got it real pretty. a ball bearing dropped at 12" rebounded to 8" and the face is approx. 6.5" x 12" with numerous curves and reliefs, plus the base is already drilled and tapped to mount on a steel base of his choice. i'll be looking at the truck shops for an old crankshaft tomorrow... Black boogers, mike
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 04/17/02 03:50:58 GMT

Wellll... I knew I'd catch some static for even mentioning those mongers of oriental imports, but.... Listen: I found the crane 2nd hand, cheap. Like the pipe bender of theirs that I have, too, it works. So far. They are not precision instruments. The filler plug on the crane needed to be replaced pronto, and then guarded with an add-on cover because it keeps getting crushed in my tool box. The crane needed a base-plate welded up and then bolted onto the bed of the truck. So design is not a strong point. For fifty bucks I should pass it up? I've lifted motorcycles, 300-pound pieces of drop that I've come across when alone, 400-pound sections of oak RR trestle, etc. and I'm happy. So far. You want nifty sophisticated fold-away design in a truck crane? Find yourself a Western Mule. I think they run a tad higher.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 04/17/02 04:57:11 GMT

I just purchased a Buffalo Forge Series 200 Blower and 212 tuyere and was wondering if you could steer me toward information sources of it's original configuration that I might attempt to fabricate a look-alike pan matching the original. Thanks.
   Gary Maples - Wednesday, 04/17/02 06:19:52 GMT

Would never have given you the static had i known it was second hand or salvage H Fright stuff Miles..goodness, please accept my humble withdrawl of the prior static issuance, sir.
I confess that the reason for my snottiness ( aside from it's being spring) is that I recently got pissed and told HF I'd never buy from them again if that was how they treated customers. This was the 4th time i'd done that over the years.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 04/17/02 06:29:32 GMT


We all fall for the "low price", don't we? I constantly tell folks "You get what you pay for!" But I spent three years struggling with a POS vertical, horizontal metal cutting saw from the same folks.

But you're ahead of me, I've only told them that twice.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 04/17/02 13:03:42 GMT

Buffalo Forge: Gary, Bill Lynch is doing another catalog on CD-ROM. This one is a rare 1896 Buffalo General Catalog. It covers everything from steam engines to portable forges and includes a great series of historic photos. It is a very early catalog so it may not have your exact model. We will be selling it in a few days.

Note: The review in progress below has some incorrect links and I'm still deciding on the blacksmith equipment to show.

Review in progress: Buffalo CD-ROM
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 13:44:01 GMT

My wife recently purchased a spatula represented as being an 18th. century piece. The blade of the spatula (attatched with rivets) appears to be a piece of sheet stock, approx. .030 thick, cut out with snips. The handle appears to be forged from 1/4 round stock (approx). The piece does, of course, look rusty and old.
I have two questions. Was sheet metal available to 18th. century smiths?, and is there any way to tell wrought iron from steel without destroying it? Your help and comments will be appricated.
Thank You,
   BOB - Wednesday, 04/17/02 13:59:10 GMT

Can you tell me how to paint a zinc clock dial so that it has very fine hairline cracks on the surface? I want it to look antique.
   Millard Ryland - Wednesday, 04/17/02 14:00:51 GMT

Can you tell me how to paint a zinc clock dial so that it has very fine hairline cracks on the surface? I want it to look antique.
   Millard Ryland - Wednesday, 04/17/02 14:02:26 GMT

Sheet stock was not nessesarily around, but smiths did hammer out thier own plate for thier work pieces..... well actually they probably had apprentices do it.
But I would think that commercial sheet was starting to show up in th emid to late 1700's. I am sure that some of the more well read history buffs here will be able to answer....
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/17/02 14:26:33 GMT

Millard, Zinc does not develop "fine hair line cracks". When old it oxidizes first black then dusty white. What you are thinking of is ceramic pottery. For ceramics you can purchase glazes that craze on purpose.

The other thing you may be seeing is a lacquer or varnish that has crazed from becoming completly dried and brittle from age. Aging of this type is done by forgers of paintings and antiques and is done by force drying in an oven, sometimes with repeated cycles. Sometimes UV lamps are used to accelerate the yellow of aging. These are usualy methods that are usualy not publicized.

Be careful applying heat to something made of zinc. It has a very low melting point and is easily damaged.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 14:46:52 GMT

Most (all?) of the 18th century spatulas that I have seen, in books, museums and antique stores, have been "of a piece". I did see a ladle once, at an antique store, with an antique handle riveted to a modern bowl. Ouch!

That's not to say that it might not be 18th century, just that one should be cautious, especially at antique shops. A lot would depend on style, possible repairs and the individual habits of the smith. For something as basic as a spatula, it is frequently hard to tell 18th century from 19th century from 15th century. (Some colonial fire strikers are identical to those used in the Viking age.)

As for the use of sheet, tinned iron plate/sheet was certainly available in the 18th century.

I'll let wiser heads take over now.

Hot and sunny on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/17/02 14:58:13 GMT

Early sheet metal: From what Ive read sheet wasnt rolled with any great succes until BIG cast-iron frames for the rollers became an option in the 19th century. Ive heard of rolling mills as early as 13th century but never seen any proof.I have seen an 18th century version with wooden frame that never did work very well. Maybe because it was swedish. However, large pieces of plate was forged under BIG water-driven hammers, doubled up (like modern cold-rolled)with charcoal-dust between sheets, and forged again (and again). This process is as old as the water-wheel.
   - Olle Andersson - Wednesday, 04/17/02 15:31:33 GMT

Rolled Sheet and Antiques: Bob, Sheet was available from a very early time (1300's in Europe). However, the local availability (say in Colonial America) is another question.

Wrought is sufficiently soft and easy enough to work that a piece the size of a spatula could easily be forged by hand from bar. A well practiced smith can do it without a flatter but applying a flatter will produce a VERY smooth surface.

Heavy rust may be more an indication of fakery than truth. Old pieces of this nature generally either survive in good condition (dark even rust and lots of built up gradue) or not at all. However, if heavily rusted the metal should show a wood grain appearance if it is wrought iron.

The style and delicacy of the work can tell you a great deal more about its age than a metalurgical test. Details of the rivets, chamfering and general finish. Most work of this type was painstakingly finished by filing and dressing. Many smiths and some antique experts could probably tell from the details. Small square bar was commonly available in the 17th and 18th Century America but round was generaly not. Long smooth round secions can be a give-away that the piece is not that old. It was also more common to forge items of this sort (fireplace shovels, spatulas, skimmers) from one piece or to forge weld them together than to rivet them together.

There are many modern smiths that produce this type work. Ocassionaly there are those that have turned out reproductions in wrought iron. In these cases the work should have been signed and dated to prevent its being sold as a fake. There is no practical way to tell if such a piece is old or not. You also have to remember that "reproductions" of Colonial work has been produced since the early 1900's. You COULD have a 100 year old piece being represented as a 200 year old piece. Even a 30 to 50 year old piece that was used could easily appear to be much more ancient. How old would a utensil used in your great grand mother's kitchen look today?

In the 1970's the demand for 18th century American antiques was much greater than the supply. Antique dealers found that they could purchase early furniture and ironwork in Great Britian at flea market prices and import it to the US. Many container loads have been brought over and sold. Only the best experts can tell SOME of the imported goods from the originals.

At this time there were also many dealers involved in outright fakery. A friend of mine had been supplying an antique dealer with hand forged reproductions of primitive Colonial chandeliers. I actually made a bunch of these for him. At some point the dealer asked to have the pieces rusted to look old. Chlorox bleach was used. Hundred year old rust in few days. . .

But THEN the dealer asked to have the items made of wrought iron and offered a supply of material. . . That was when my friend parted ways with the dealer. Reproductions are one thing, but outright fakes are another. I'm sure the dealer probably found other smiths to make his fakes. . . That was almost 30 years ago. No telling how many were involved in this trade and how many pieces were turned out. After changing hands numerous times, who knows?

Well, I see others beat me to it. . . but we all say the same, more or less.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 15:50:21 GMT

I need some help with recognizing founder in a horses hoove. I fear that my horse may have foundered. She is lame in the front right. Her feet are long and in need of a trim but my appt. is next week. She is 20 years old and a sound quarter horse other than this new limp. Please let me know of any tell tail signs that I can look for to determine what the problem is. Sincerely, Deb Smith
   Deb - Wednesday, 04/17/02 16:31:17 GMT

As it happens, I made a spatula this last weekend and for a first try it turned out pretty good. I forged the whole thing out of a bar of scrap mild steel. Probably A36. My point is that if someone as hamfisted as me can do a decent job on the first try, an 18th century smith out to be able to turn these out PDQ starting with wrought iron barstock. If ready made plate was available in the right gauges, it was probably much more expensive than it is today at least in terms of the purchasing power of ordinairy people at that time. Labor was cheap. Materials were expensive.

Another thing is that when forging your own spatula blade you will want to make it thicker at the base and thinner at the business end. This is much nicer than a straight piece of sheet metal.

All in all, it seems to me that riveting on a piece of sheet metal would have been an unlikely choice for a smith at that time.
   adam - Wednesday, 04/17/02 16:52:34 GMT


We are mostly blacksmiths (ironworkers) but we DO have a few farriers in our midst.

I have registered you on our chat, The Slack-Tub Pub.

Check in tonight around 9:00 to 10:00 EDT. It is demo night and a bunch of folks show up. We have a couple farriers that should be able to set things straight and will know what questions to ask. Bill Epps (just "Bill" in chat) and Rich Hale are your best bet.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 18:19:11 GMT

Dr Alan Williams co-wrote a book on the technology of the Greenwich Armouries; he mentions that they made use of a "batter mill" to make plate and that thinner sheet metal was more *expensive* than thicker due to the labour involved. IIRC the ironworks on the Sagus in New England had one of the early rolling and slitting mills; not only in the new world; but in industry in general this was in the mid 17th century.

From "Formulas for Profit", Bennett, copyright 1939, 4th printing

"To identify iron from steel"
"Mix 5 drops nitric acid with 10 drops H2O", (remember acid into water *NEVER* water into acid), File a clean spot and place a drop on it. If it is steel it will turn black immediatly. If it is wrought iron or malleable iron it will stay bright for a considerable length of time."

I'd look for appropriate wear on the handle and on the lip of the blade---using a good magnifier can help---look for abrasive scratches on the handle as "fake" wear rather than use wear.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 04/17/02 19:48:12 GMT

I am an amateur maker of musical instruments, and am trying to find out what type of power hammers might be available, new or used, for cold forging metal tynes to be used in African thumb pianos, known variously as kalimba, mbira, or other names...

General practice is to forge these by hand using an anvil and a 4-5 lb sledgehammer. The work is very tedious, time consuming, and physically demanding,though the finished product is very lovely, when correctly made.

Shona mbiras from Zimbabwe are often made of whatever type of scrap steel is available. Typically, this might be steel rod or wire, ranging from 1/4" to 5/32" diameter. The finished tynes are forged to 3" - 5" in length, and widths of the largest tynes graduating from thick & narrow (1/8" square) at the saddle end to broad & narrow (3/4" wide) at the plucked end. (The tyne is held in place by a bridge and is plucked with the thumb to produce a musical note.)The larger tynes are hot forged to achieve the graduated shape, then cold forged to achieve maximum amount of spring, which is essential to production of a good clear note.

As an alternative to using steel rod, I've been using carbon steel rake tynes of 3/16" width, and because they are already extremely springy, I'm only forging the fottom 1/2" of the tyne to a width of about 5/16". From this I get a very good clarity and sustain. The quality steel you can find in a garden rake varies significantly, however. The good stuff is I believe, some sort of carbon steel, and it's sufficiently strong that just to pound the bottom half-inch to 3/4" width can take up to 30 or 40 minutes. Insofar as a complete instrument might require 15-24 tynes, the amount of labor and time involved in making an instrument
is really substantial.

So, to finish the story, what I'm looking for is some sort of power hammer, about the height of a typical floor mounted drill press, with a sufficiently small sledge to forge a piece of steel rod or plate 3" to 8" in length, and manipulated by hand. Preferably, we're looking for a tool that would be affordably priced for a home workshop situation (broadly, this might be a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $1000 or more, but not $4,000 or more, for example).

Also, I'm interested in learning a lot more about the chemical composition of different types of steel. Can you recommend me any good references or resources for this?

Many thanks!

Pete Simoneaux
Langdon NH
   Pete Simoneaux - Wednesday, 04/17/02 19:57:31 GMT

Daniel - staying cool

The old smiths made use of a shade tree (UNDER a spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), and lots of water. Leave the shirt on to absorbe and evaporate sweat and cool the body. A fan helps, also a wet (damp) hand towel around the neck, wiping the face when needed. Did I mention lots of water to drink? Early mornings and evenings are better for work than the heat of the mid-day. Forging can be done after dark or at night, but the fire appears a lot brighter to the eyes.

Recognize when you are starting to overheat and quit. You can always reheat the metal.

   - Conner - Wednesday, 04/17/02 22:26:04 GMT

Musical Steel: Pete, I have seen a number of African kalimbas and they were all made from standard spring steel sections. In other words, no forging was done.

These instruments are relatively new from an historical standpoint. The reason is that they require spring steel. Common wrought iron and mild steel is too soft. Good spring steel would not have been available at all until the African Colonial period and was not readily available in Europe until the 1700's. Unless early instruments were made using work hardened bronze (a possibility) then they did not exist.

The examples I've seen in museums and private collections were made from commercial spring steel strip. This is often sold hardened and tempered and has smooth round edges or radiused sides. Close inspection will show these edges and give away the source. This type of steel can be found in clock springs, lawn mower and chainsaw rewind springs and the steel rakes you mentioned. One of these rewind springs may be 20 feet long and sufficient to make a dozen instruments. You can also puchase this in limited quantities from outfits like McMaster-Carr.

Spring steel varies form 65 to 95 point carbon steel and the majority of modern spring steels are alloy steels. Heat treatment is critical. Good spring steel can be dead soft or glass hard. The result of either is obvious. For most springs the type of steel is not as critical as the heat treatment until you get into high stress and billions of cycles such as in automobile valve and suspension springs. In the case where durability is a problem alloy steels are used.

If the steel is hand processed then it must be heat treated (hardened and tempered). See our FAQ page on the subject.

Power hammer: You can buy new small air power hammers for just shy of $4000 from our advertisers. These range in the 75 to 125 pound range. However, you cannot equate a power hammer and a sledge hammer. A sledge hits VERY hard due to the velocity which is much greater than a power hammer. However, a power hammer hits hundreds of times per minute and replaces a team of sledge weilding strikers. But they also have the control to hit very lightly.

Smaller hammers are available on the used market but the installed prices are close to the same as the above. 25 and 50 pound Little Giants are common. You just missed a give away price on a 35# Bradley from Wallace Metal Works. REAL light hammers are rare and thus more expensive. The little 5 and 10 pound Pettingells are highly sought after by custom aircraft and auto body workers. See our Power hammer Page.

For the job you describe above it should not take more than 3 or four blows with a 2 pound hand hammer (cold) provided you have a real anvil. Forging the heaviest stock for this work would best be all done by hand hot. However, an emminently practical tool for this would be a small McDonald rolling mill. See our book review page for plans and links to commercial models.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 22:26:46 GMT

Staying Cool:. . ah AIR CONDITIONING???? We are having our second 90+ (32+ C) day in a row. April is much too early for this nonsense.

Good shop design helps. High ceilings let excess heat go UP and away. That is why I built 16 foot ceilings in my forge shop. That and big doors is a lot like being in the shade. . . A big ceiling exhaust fan helps. Mine is running now just to cool the entire building and no forging has gone on today. Ventilation is critical in forge and welding shops AND it can help keep you cool.

There is not much you can do about the heat of heavy forging other than to get it done FAST. Power hammers help a lot here. But to pay for one you may end up working longer. . . Cotton aprons are used because they are not as hot as and do not hold the heat like leather. In big forge shops it is not unusual to burn up an apron every couple days.

When arc welding you need full coverage cotton clothes, collar and sleaves buttoned. . thats life. But if all I am doing is forging I wear as little as possible and take my lumps on little scale burns. Shoes and socks are required but you can do without almost everything else. . . There are advantages to living out in the country.

Working nights (as previously mentioned) is also a good option if it doesn't bother your neighbors.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/17/02 22:46:47 GMT

khym : reference need of a lathe. i have an older lathe for sale. its a foster universal #5 turret lathelots of equiptment with it,ratchet bar feed auto chuck extra chuck, swing over ways 21", width across ways 12 1/2", lots of tooling, big lathe but mint shape has manual with it. very reasonable e-mail me mdsheedy at hotmail.com
   mike sheedy - Thursday, 04/18/02 02:08:49 GMT

Snottiness? That wasn't snottiness, fear not. That was candor. Hey, you should hear our second-oldest son on the subject of Pacific Rim imports: "made from the helmets of dead Americans... slave labor...." What's a humble rural smith to do, nowadays, seeing as how Made in the U.S. often means little more than assembled in the U.S. from imported parts, if it means that. But, those Western Mules look pretty snazzy, folding away in the bumper as they do, serving as hitches, winches, too. Maybe they even make coffee. Unknow where they are made. Telling a big outfit you won't ever, ever again darken their door is a valiant thing to do. Quixotic, but valiant. Bravo! I've done it with Makita and with Sears. I think both are surviving.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 04/18/02 05:00:48 GMT

Is anyone out there familiar with the Nichols horizontal mill? I saw a picture of one of these and rather than a hand-feed hanle, it had a lever. Is this type of mill designed to machine in 3-axis or less than three? Are there particular machining jobs that this kind of mill is particularly good at? I may have the opportunity to purchase one of these mills, but i wanted to be a little more familiar with it first. Thanks for your help.
   patrick nowak - Thursday, 04/18/02 12:05:59 GMT

Staying cool; I take a large bandana and roll up a line of ice cubes in it and tie it around my neck. doesn't look too out of place at Demo's and keeps the body temp down.

Patrick, I think Terry is interested too; shall we do a road trip to check them out?

Small triphammers: a SOFA member was selling small home built anvil mounted triphammers at Quad State last year that would probably fit your requirements to a "T"

Don't think a rolling mill would get the taper you want.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 04/18/02 13:31:19 GMT

In a swap I ended up with an old Comet 180 welder. What size breaker do I need? 40 amps?
   Bob - Thursday, 04/18/02 14:22:20 GMT

Patrick Nowak:

The Nichols mill is what's known as a "production" mill. Adjustable in 4 axis (4 because the table and the arbor both can be adjusted up and down). They are generally adjusted in three axis and the hand lever is used to operate the forth. Great for repeated single operations (production). I love mine and for simple dedicated operations it will run circles around a CNC especially with an air vise.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/18/02 14:52:24 GMT

Welder Power Supply Bob, it depends on how heavy of welding you need to do. My Little Miller 225V buzzbox takes a 240V 90 amp breaker to run at full capacity, so does my Airco Dipstick 160. The Miller has a 45amp primary rating on the nameplate but the manual says 230V 90amp. It has been run on as low as 45amp. Both these machines can rewired for higher and lower voltage supplies and the amperage needed changes. The higher the voltage the less amperage needed.

Note that the numerical designations often have nothing to do with actual rating or capacity. There SHOULD be some sort of electrical rating plate on the welder. There might be a wiring diagram with specs INSIDE the case. I looked up Comet brand in Thomas Register and found nothing under welders. But all that means is that it is probably no longer made.

I've run both my machines on 60amp 230V breakers. The Miller has rarely been used with rods bigger than 1/8" but I have run it for hours and I have never felt warm air from the vents. For most purposes this welder can be run on a 45amp breaker but you might trip it occasionaly. However, when burning rods it is hard to meet the 10% duty cycle unless you are burning very large rods.

The Airco was never a problem until I added a high frequency unit for welding aluminium. Then I triped the 60amp breaker it was on several times. I then upped the breaker to the 90A reccomended (a big EXPENSIVE breaker). THEN I over heated the undocumented thermal overload in the transformer. . . I thought I had fried the machine. It took 4 hours to cool down. . . But the machine was not designed to be a TIG machine. It was a light duty MIG/stick machine to which I added an attachment.

The PRIMARY purpose of the breaker is to protect the wiring between it and the device from over heating. SECONDARILY it protects the device in the event of a dead short. Rarely do circuit breakers meet the careful balance of being big enough but also being just big enough to protect the attached device. In most cases the breaker must be larger than the minimum in order to withstand surges and temporary overloads. In the case of my Miller is looks like 2 times the normal draw.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/18/02 15:24:38 GMT

Odd Mills We had an odd Cincinatti without a knee. I can't remember the designation. It had a lever operated table. It turned out to be an old production machine used primarily in the arms industry for making small gun parts. IT was very specialized and only good for high production. Set it up with jigs for holding one piece and then make tens of thousands. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/18/02 15:30:12 GMT

Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame died today at age 87. Thor Heyerdahl built the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki and sailed from Peru to Polynesia in 1947. His book about the expidition was required reading for many of us growing up in the 1960's. To many his more recent expedition, attempting sailing reed boat the "Ra" from Northern Africa to Barbados, is more familiar.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/18/02 21:10:31 GMT

I need a history on blacksmithing for a report for school.
   Amy - Thursday, 04/18/02 23:47:28 GMT

Amy have you tried looking at the story page under Ray Smith's Notebook of Metalworking Origins?

Thanks for the tips on staying cool i will have to try them when i feel better and have time.
   - Daniel - Friday, 04/19/02 00:37:58 GMT

History of Blacksmithing: Amy, that is a VERY broad subject going back some 3500 years or more.

Before the Iron Age came the Bronze Age. That dates back some 5,000 years or more. During the Bronze Age man developed many tools and techniques that would be used during the iron age including forging hot metal with a hammer while the work was supported on an anvil and held with tongs. During that time metalworkers were "smiths" and they worked gold, silver, copper, tin and bronze.

When the iron age began in approximately 1500BC smiths truely became "blacksmiths" because they now forged the black metal. Iron, even though it is silvery grey in color is black on the surface when heated to forging temperature OR from being smelted (reduced from ore).

Blacksmiths shape iron by heating it to over 2,000 degrees F using a charcoal or coal fire to make it soft, then beating on it with a hammer, bending, twisting, punching and welding it. That has not changed in 3,500 years. A smith's hammer, forge and tongs are basicaly the same now as then. It is truely a timeless craft.

Blacksmiths were the creators of new technology during the Industrial Revolution. Without them there would have been no machine tools, no steam engines, no power looms, no steel plows no harvesters. In many cases they were both the inventor and the creator of new things.

As recently as twenty years ago NASA had a blacksmith working full time in the space program. There were certain parts and new experimental alloys that HAD to be forged. It is only in the last few years that laboratories and Universities have closed down their research blacksmith shops and sold off the equipment.

On our 21st Century page we have a quote from the late Bill Miller of the Claifornia Blacksmiths Association:
"From the iron age to the space age, the blacksmith did it"

When the first blacksmith began hammering on a hot piece of iron little did he know how he was shaping the future. He forged the tools that made the machines that produce everything mankind has today. The blacksmith was the pioneer of the technology that carried mankind from the iron age to the space age. It can truly be said that the first rocket to the moon was virtually launched from the face of the anvil.

The Old Striker
Bill Miller

   - guru - Friday, 04/19/02 02:11:33 GMT

I have found and am restoreing a champion forge # 400. Can any one tell me if the fan pulls off or dose it screw off. It is so close to the treads it is hare to tell just by looking.
   Gig - Friday, 04/19/02 02:45:39 GMT

Miles, Western Mules are or were manufactured in fresno,california.559-266-6977.hope this helps Kinzea Thompson
   kinzea l thompson - Friday, 04/19/02 04:24:17 GMT

Champion Blower: Gig, I've never needed to take one of these apart. However, the catalog and patent drawings in the Champion Catalog CD both appear to show the fan threaded on. The position is set by screwing on the fan and then locking the jamb nut against it.

I would carefully measure the distance from the end of the shaft to the shoulder on the fan before removing it. Then on reassembly put the fan back in the same position.

Click the link above for our review of the CD. We are also selling a Buffalo Forge CD (in stock now) and will be making a better deal if you buy both at once.
   - guru - Friday, 04/19/02 05:19:00 GMT

I received a message at the National Park Service from "manzie at ..." and a note from "nakedanvil at ..." from which the attachment setup.exe contained the virus W32.Klez.H at mm (was deleted by the anti-virus programs in our hub in Denver.

I'll have to check for a parallel posting to my home address this evening (got tied up last night).

Y'all be careful what you open, even if it's from friends.

Another sunny day on the banks of the Potomac. We're getting locked down anticipating the protests at the IMF up the street from us. Government service; not just a job, it's an adventure. (...and the Longship Company definition of an Adventure is: "A disaster you survive, and get to brag about.")

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/19/02 11:54:40 GMT

I would like some one to advise me as I need to make a name stamping tool on EDD material Mild steel. the surface area is 50mm x 250mm. please advise as follows
1)the material to be used for the punch?
2)the hardness required for heat treatment?
3)how sharp should I keep the letterings ?
4)what the angle should be of the letterings?

please advise desperate as my new punch letters just broke on just usage of 50 strokes

   Mr Rajesh Kohli - Friday, 04/19/02 14:28:33 GMT

I would like some one to advise me as I need to make a name stamping tool on EDD material Mild steel. the surface area is 50mm x 250mm. please advise as follows
1)the material to be used for the punch?
2)the hardness required for heat treatment?
3)how sharp should I keep the letterings ?
4)what the angle should be of the letterings?

please advise desperate as my new punch letters just broke on just usage of 50 strokes

   Mr Rajesh Kohli - Friday, 04/19/02 14:30:41 GMT

I did not realize that Mr Phelps worked down the street from you...
I always thought that the Impossible Mission FOrce was more hidden than that......
   Ralph - Friday, 04/19/02 15:25:08 GMT

Virus E-Mail: Bruce, I'm not sure about this specific virus but there are a couple new ones that forge the sender's return address using addresses on the infected PC. This makes it an impossible mission to warn the senders.

I know this virus exists because I get the "bounce" mail from systems forging my address and sending mail to non-existant or bad addresses. So even if you get mail from *ME* "Mr. Anti MS Outlook Express". . or ANYONE else it COULD be a virus.

On servers that filter for viral mail this increases the total e-mail traffic tremondously because it sends mail to old non-existant addresses then the target server sends back a "bad user" mail to other server. . . and the infected victim is never warned.

This particular problem is rapidly growing because people cannot tell their friends to check their systems. However, if you STOP using that virus spreading MS IE mail or MS Outlook then 99.999% of the problem goes away.
   - guru - Friday, 04/19/02 16:05:12 GMT

Stamp or Punch: Mr. Kohli, S-7 is a common steel for this purpose but other high carbon steels will do. tempering depends partialy on the application. Stamps are generaly very hard on the impression end. If it is hand struck then the striking end needs to be tempered much softer but not too much as mushrooming will occur. Stamps applied by machine are uniformly hardened and tempered. A large stamp such as yours will need to be applied by machine or press.

For hardening S-7 is an air-quench steel. I would temper S-7 at 400° to 600°F (204 to 315°C) for a hardness of 58 to 55 HRC.

Letter sharpness and angle varies depending on the application and the method of stamping. For common light lettering applied by hand or machine a 60° edge is used and as sharp as possible. For high stress applications a rounded edge with a .010" (.25mm) or greater radius is used. On extreamly critical applications such as on boilers, piping, pressure vessels and some structurals the lettering is created from a series of hemispherical dots with the above radius. This is to prevent the creation of a high stress location that could result in cracking.

Your problem is most likely from improper forging or heat treatment. Over heating alloy steels when forging is devastating to the steel. Design and machining of the punch can also be a factor. On a large punch of this type I would make it nearly as thick as it is long (within the constraints of the machine it will be used in). I would also surface grind the back perfectly parallel to the front and check that the ram of the machine is also square and parallel to the platten.
   - guru - Friday, 04/19/02 17:12:41 GMT

Hi Guru,
I have an old differential chain hoist that may have been made some time in the early part of the last century. The chain is missing. I would like to replace the chain, but I can't find any that fits. The hoist seems to require a chain that is of shorter pitch than what is common today. Would you have any idea what type of chain may be required, and where I could buy some?
Best regards
   Chuck Holmes - Friday, 04/19/02 19:21:39 GMT

He's back!!!!!!!!Though underrated, never undercut.

What are some good ways to weight an anvil if you don't have scales your wife would let you take to the shop?

   L.Sundstrom - Friday, 04/19/02 23:29:29 GMT

Differential Hoist Chuck, I had one of those many years ago that I bought new from Sears. I saw an identical one in a tools catalog from the late 1800's.

All I can do is recommend you try someone like McMaster-Carr. Under "coil chain" they list "Grade 30 Short Link Proof Coil (BBB) Chain". They also list lifting chain in grades 100 and 80.

The tricky thing about differential hoist chains is that they are a continous loop. Somewhere there must be a welded link that fits the chain wheels.

On ThomasRegister.com they listed 14 companies under "differential hoist". COMMERCIAL WIRE ROPE & SUPPLY CO. 1-800-394-6144, sounded like they may have what you need.
   - guru - Friday, 04/19/02 23:34:42 GMT

Weighing Anvils: Bruce Wallace uses one of those nifty old steelyards that have been around for a couple thousand years and used by traveling merchants since the begining of time. Hard to find one with all the pieces . . .

They are not hard to rig up. A bar of steel. A couple holes a known distance apart and a weight. If the support hole is one inch from the lifting hole then at 12" a 10# would equalize with a 120# anvil, at 15" a 150#. . . Weights from a platform scale are best but you can create very accurate weights using .2835 lbs/cuin for mild steel.

Toss the anvil in your truck and get it weighed at the feed store (truck and all). Requires two trips or unloading the anvil at the store. . .

Toss the anvil in your truck and drive down to see me. . I've got a crane scale we can use if its over 1,000 pounds and a 0 - 1,000# x 1/2# platform scale. Of course I'm sure there are places much closer that can do the same.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/20/02 00:03:06 GMT

Hi Guru I was at a auction yesterday and they sold a Little Giant chain tool It was about 3 ft. long and bolted to a plank I could not figure out how it was used I ran it to 100.bucks and quit, later I asked the guy that bought it how it worked and he told me he didn't have a clue Thought you might know.Another ? I got hold of a piece of 1 1/2 " sq. thought it would make some good anvul tools bumped it up a little then pulled it down to 11/4 " to fit my hardie hole it split a little then I hammered a piece of 3/4 round down into it and it split out on both ends I can still use itbut its strange . It was about the right temp. Any ideas? thanks Cy hey I finally got those rough locks made turned out good thanks again
   cy swan - Saturday, 04/20/02 03:18:11 GMT

Splitting stock: Cy, there are two things that cause this most often.

1) Its wrought iron and has linear grain. Wrought need to be worked hotter than mild steel. But then it is generaly too soft for most tools.

2) It had a flaw in the bar to start. Cold shuts are not uncommon and often show up when forging. One feature of forged parts is that metal failures don't often stay hidden and bad parts are easily rejected.

I don't have a clue about the "chain tool". However, there were dozens of manufactures that have used the "Little Giant" brand name over the years and have nothing to do with "Little Giant" Power hammers. . . the only one that I know that had anything to do with smithing.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/20/02 04:01:29 GMT

I got that klez virus today, too-- Norton anti-virus snagged it... I think. Underrated? Harrumph! Sirrah! Etc., etc.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 04/20/02 04:20:30 GMT

Weighing anvils:

Larry, why don't you lower the anvil in a tub of water. Then fill up the tub to the very top. Carefully raise the anvil out of the tub. Measure the amount of water it takes to fill the tub back up. Determine the specific gravity of anvil steel and do the calculations. Or convert gallons to cubic inches and multiply by .2835 lbs/cuin. But shoot, it'd be more fun to drive down to Gladys and get Jock to weigh it.

meant to say...."Undercut but never overrated".
   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 04/20/02 13:05:46 GMT

I just checked out the tempering color chart. My son pulled a stainless steel smoke pipe and flang out of the dumpster and I used it on the eighth revision of my forge.
It turned a beautiful purple the first time I used it and I was wondering if the tempering colors are the same temperature on stainless as they are on tool steel. This would be a good way for me to monitor stack temperature.
It was also a good way to impress my dear sweet wife.
By the way, what color on the chart would be the equivalent to pigeon blue? That's the color we were taught to quench our pritchels at in shoeing school.
   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 04/20/02 13:22:12 GMT

L. Sundstrom, These tempering colors are called by different names depending on the country of origin and whether we're talking about printed-word or vernacular. Sometimes, you'll get a mottled blue and purple, which may be called pigeon blue, peacock, garganta de paloma (in Mexico), or purple blue. The temperature is 545F.

That would be OK for a cold pritchel where perhaps you're back punching nail holes to get the proper pitch. We had to do this in the old days, because the keg shoes had holes that were too fine, especially the Phoenix brand. However, for hot work pritchels, I would recommend S1, S7, or H13. One these steels, the tempering temps for hot work are way above the temper color spectrum.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/20/02 13:59:07 GMT

Thanks Mr. Turley,
I hope garganta de paloma is in the glossery. So much prettier that 545F. Reminds me of a Jackson Brown song.
   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 04/20/02 14:42:21 GMT

Stack Temp: Larry, that ah. . only works one time. . . unless you polish off the color each time you heat the furnace. No the temper colors are not the same but they are fairly close (the chart addresses alloy steels).

The temper color chart illustrates the problem of color words as well as color charts. Neither is very accurate. Even terms like "sky blue" are wide open to interpertation AND your locality. Our skys here in the Eastern US are a hazy blue on the clearest of days compared to skys on the West Coast of the US particularly the dry regions of central and northern California.

Crayola crayons were probably the best standard for color word representation for nearly a century. But now they have gotten touchy feely as well as PC adding a dozen flesh colors. . .

Terms like pigeon blue depend on the variety of pigeon like sky blue depends on where you are. At least the terms used for artist colors are based on the pigment and are fairly reliable. Even those with seemingly flowery names are pigment based. "Paris Green" is an arsenic pigment and "bone black" is made from bone charcoal.

Then for REAL confusion Tempil temperature crayons come in a wide variety of colors but they have nothing to do with a logical progression or any meaning except to make it possible to tell one from the other.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/20/02 15:37:35 GMT

Deb, Founder (Laminitis) is a condition often mis-diagnosed, not very well understood, and frequently not treated soon enough. If you suspect laminitis there are some signs to look for. Heat in the feet. Put your hand over the entire front of the hoof and feel for heat. A horse with founder will feel very warm to the touch. Soreness and tenderness when walking is a later sign of founder. The best treatment for your horse at this time is to go to your local hardware store (or home depot) and buy some styrofoam (about 1" thick) and cut out so that it covers the bottom of your horses foot. Then tape this to the foot so that it supports the sole. This will do two things. 1) it will alleviate pressure and 2) lessen pain. The most imortant thing is to get a Vet out there ASAP, but aspirin is also a poosible medicine to give as this prevents blood clots in the lamina behind the hoof wall. good Luck. There are also many articles about Laminitis on the web. Just plug in Laminitis on any search engine and you will get a lot of information.
   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 04/20/02 16:50:57 GMT

Frank Turley:

Hi, Frank! One thing I really like about H-13 is that the temper color can be judged by eye. 1100F is a very good temper for H-13 and is also very nearly the first visible red you can see when you hold the tool in a nice dark shadow.

grant- Off Center Products
   - grant - Saturday, 04/20/02 17:04:53 GMT

True, the color of the stack will not tell me how hot it is at the moment but it will tell me if it's hotter than it was the last time. I'm thinking that the garganta de paloma will rise with ever hotter stack temps until I get a pretty full spectrum that I can then label with the various temperatures the colors represents.
My wife and I often get into "discussions" about what color a thing is. Where does light blue end and turquoise begin and is it turquoise blue or turquoise green? I always assumed that there was an authoritative chart somewhere with precisely defined colors. I know you have studied color and it neat to hear you expound on the subject. Is there a different set of colors from pigment verses light?
   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 04/20/02 18:02:53 GMT

Temper color

The problem I found is that two blacksmiths "see" the same color differently. This is due to their life experiences, condition of the eye (age), and lighting conditions under which the color is viewed. Incondescent lighting is usually yellow, florescent is green, and there are halide lights of different tints. Daylight is a standard but changes due to the reflected light from the surroundings, green from trees and grass, tan to yellow from sand and earth, red from clays, etc. Does the shirt your wearing reflect color onto the metal ?

Levi (blue jeans) blue for example depends on dye lot, how many washings they have been through and how much they have faded.

Try to translate that into the English language and you can see the difficulty of exact colors. Panatone ink color charts may be as close to a standard as is readily available for comparison.

One thing for sure, ask Paw Paw and the answer is always "Carolina Blue" :)
   - Conner - Saturday, 04/20/02 18:33:25 GMT


Larry, if you really want to spend a LOT of money, you can buy a Munsell color chip book for all the various environments in which they are used. The soils color book alone is $120, as is the medical book, the plant book, and so on. They list colors in terms of hue and chroma, so color names will be something like "10 YR 3/2" instead of "dark brown". They provide a standard of comparison, but each person sees the same color a little differently (my wife and I accuse each other of being colorblind at least once a week), so the best you can do is point out a color chip and say "it's THIS color", but the chips fade over the years and so on. You could go so far as to equate color to the specific wavelength of the reflected light involved, but it's easier to just measure the temperature (grin!)

   Alan-L - Saturday, 04/20/02 18:44:20 GMT

Hey guys, thanks for the suggestions on colors but
I feel a go "to Hammer-in" coming. One thing about tempering colors is that they are part of a continuum. We have a better chance of fairly accurate communication because first you see yellow (early, middle, late,) then, you know that dark color that's kind of brown and the then the purples that lighten into the blues. So, for the things I do for myself, I can think in terms of a little lighter blue for softer and more brown or yellow for really hard. But, I don't do any heat treating for money and if I did I would want to do it in a commercial oven with very precise temperature control. In the mean time I'll just enjoy my 4 foot tall smoke stack color chart. The real problem comes up when I wear a pair of dress Carharts that I think are brown and my wife tells me "they're green".
Temper, temper,
   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 04/20/02 21:42:14 GMT

Got the worm KLEZ.G & PE ELKERN.D from supposedly demo attachment 4/18/02. Norton stopped ElKERN but KLEZ got 35 files. I got a mess!!! Good ole MSN does it again :(
   Jerry - Saturday, 04/20/02 22:26:19 GMT

Might be useful, it just occurred to me, to report that Norton Anti-virus told me the klez virus arrived in a message slugged "A GOOD TOOL," from one "Arpena," unknown to me. I didn't open it, so dunno more.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 04/20/02 22:55:09 GMT

I'm at work and it's a slow day. Could someone please look in their new Centaur Forge Catalogue and post the Web site address for Vaughan/Brooks Supplies that's on the inside of the back cover?
Thank you vury much,
   L.Sundstrom - Sunday, 04/21/02 19:21:12 GMT



   Jim E - Sunday, 04/21/02 21:34:50 GMT

Thanks Jim.
   L.Sundstrom - Sunday, 04/21/02 22:08:18 GMT

Being metallurgically challenged, I have a question or three regarding stainless steel. I've picked up about 30' of 5/8" rod...former canopy supports I believe, and was wondering a) is there different "grades" of stainless and b) will this stuff make good punches or chisels and c) will the Cubs ever start winning...Thanks!
   Gator - Sunday, 04/21/02 23:08:09 GMT

Gator, Hard to say. I believe there are over 80 different alloys of stainless. 304 is used in about 55% of all applications. 304 is an American Iron & Steel Institute number; the steel has about 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It makes crummy tools.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/22/02 03:08:59 GMT

Hi Guru,
I don't find borax in the technical stores near my home.
Is there any subsitute or home made material I can use for
forge welding ? ( I don't live in the states, so I would
appriciate an answer that will use basic materials and not
brands that I can't get here in Israel : )
   amit - Monday, 04/22/02 08:54:45 GMT



Try looking in the laundry detergetn area of what ever store you shop at. Borax is a laundry product. If you don't find anything there, we'll talk about alternatives. If that doesn't work, I'll send you a box of Borax personally.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/22/02 12:19:15 GMT

Well, laid off from corporate America on Friday, and got a job blacksmithing at a wild west town by Monday, trick is they want me to wear "Traditional period western blacksmith clothing" ?!?!? Anyone have any suggestions? Especially on a hat? Kind of off topic but boy have I been stumped by trying to get info on what they -wore-. Also anyone know a good 10 minute demo?
   Curt - Monday, 04/22/02 12:55:08 GMT

Wrangler jeans, a western style flannel shirt, workmans boots, (NOT cowboy boots!) Probably a kerchief worn around the neck as a sweat rag, possibly a RR style cap. Again, NOT a cowboy hat. Check for the exact time frame, I can help more, if I know exactly where they set the time frame. Immediately post war, (the Un-Civil war) parts of the uniform (either one) were common.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/22/02 13:56:28 GMT

Not Wranglers, durnit! Levi's! First made by Levi in San Francisco, during the 1849+ gold rush.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/22/02 13:57:37 GMT

I'm sure you will get a tremendous out pouring of suggestions including one to read a Levi's lable.
Here's a pretty neat site: Men's 18th Century Clothes but it fits the colonial era better than the westren.
Would like to see what you come up with. Don't forget that
you could be a Mexican blacksmith that came north or one from Boston that migrated west. I yeild the remainder of my time to the good Doctor of Blacksmithing from
New Mexico, the right honorable Mr. Turley.
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 04/22/02 14:08:57 GMT

Borax can sometimes be found in ceremic supply stores for use in glazes; often as anhydrous borax. Anhydrous Borax is actually a bit easier to use than regular borax but usually harder to find and more expensive.

If you get laundry borax make sure that it is *only* borax and not borax mixed with a soap or detergent. Borax comes from deposits left by drying up mineral laden water; I think Israel is a producer of it!

Lower grade Wrought Irons generally work best at a lemon yellow heat---where A36 mild steel would be burning up! Hard for me to heat the stuff that hot as my training was with knife steels and we only go that hot for welding. Merchant Bar is made by welding several piece of muck bar together and is generally the lowest grade you find around; often you can nick and break it and it will show the different bars in the break.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 04/22/02 14:15:48 GMT

Levi's possibly, but likely a canvas or cordaroy pants
likely braces(suspenders) basic work boots as PPW said or sturdy leather work shoes.
Another type of pants that would work OK as well would be some of the army wool pants from WWI or WWII.... (grin)

Shirts just your basic cotton or wool pants.

I know the costume that we wear at Fort Vancouver NHS are wool (or heavy cotton)Pants with a dropfly front. Cotton pullover shirts with 3 buttons at the V-neck. And leather work shoes/boots.
The time frame is around 1845. And it is NOT a military Fort, but a Hudson Bay Company trading post. So the clothing is more geared to British styles, but as Larry said
oftentimes smiths migrated and brought thier own clothing styles with them...... Remember that the United States used to be a melting pot........sigh... I wish it still were.
   Ralph - Monday, 04/22/02 14:20:46 GMT

Western Wear The problem here is that almost everything we THINK we know about the "wild west" is colored by Hollywood and the singing cowboys of 1950's television.

First, is this a showboat or historical site? If its an historical site they should tell you exactly what they expenct. If its a showboat place then they want sterotypical HOLLYWOOD and maybe not even when Hollywood gets it right.

Historically in late 1800's photos smiths wore one of two outfits. If dressed for any occasion AND often work or a work photo-op vests were IN. And there were dress vests and working vests. Pants were either baggy or loose, almost always with suspenders (covered by the vest). Shirts were shirts but more often white and collarless. Hats were more like a Fedora than a modern Western hat. Up until the late 1950's allmost all men wore hats for dress and for work but only outdoors.

A smith's work cloths would be the same baggy pants a loose white shirt and suspenders to match. Some wore the RR style cap Paw-Paw mentioned but many wore their regular hat.

For details you can see the reprints of the late 1800's Sears and Roebuck catalogs. There are also many photos on the Library of Congress site but you have to dig for them. Clothing from the 1870's to about 1915 didn't change much.

For blacksmith's the sterotypical Hollywood look is pretty much the same in all films but you only get a milisecond look. . . Almost every Hollywood western has that brief glimpse but no more. . .

In this case Hollywood almost always get the "look" right even though they do nothing else right with the smith. Loose white collarless shirt, loose baggy pants and suspenders. No hat unless he is working outdoors.

The RR cap Paw-Paw mentions was worn in machine shops and by RR-workers to keep dripping oil from machinery and line shafting off their head. These were cloth and washable. These were also often worn by smiths. Many of their shops had overhead line shafting powered by a steam engine to run forges, power hammers, lathes. . . . Only the primitive backwoods or "pioneer" smith did everything by hand in the steam era.

Leather aprons worn by smiths of the era were worn from the waist down and did not have the "bib" of modern welder's aprons. These were a "shoerers" apron to protect the smiths legs while shoing. In the prosess there can be short stubs of nails sticking out of the hoof and a sudden move can result in a serious cut. In the days before antibiotics a deep scratch could mean death so you tried to avoid them. . .

   - guru - Monday, 04/22/02 14:43:46 GMT

Short Demos: When demonstrating for the public you are almost always in a "show" situation, historical or not. As you mentioned it much be short or you lose the audiance or they go away disatisfied. Ten minutes OR LESS is about right.

Part of making the demo short is working fast. The character of your forge and quality of fuel can often determine how fast you work. THEN there is practice. . . (which you will get soon enough).

THEN you have the problem of the public undersanding what you are making. Remember, that in general they know nothing except what Hollywood has shown them. If you are not in a strict historical situation you don't want to disapoint the public OR make parents look bad in front of their children.

Many of the "we don't make horseshoes" artist blacksmiths hate me for it, but for YEARS I made souviener horseshoes. Nothing fancy, upset or folded heal calks and bent it. On these I stamped kids names or initials with 1/4" metal stamps. See my iForge demo #18. Then there is Rich Hale's demo #7 with instructions for making a REAL horseshoe.

The general public thinks blacksmiths made horeshoes and you don't want to dissapoint them. Making them demonstrates some very basic forging and bending and is fast.

Due to the time involved and the demand my rule was "you have to stay and watch" if you want (to buy) a shoe with your name. Otherwise things can easily get out of hand unless you have a large stock of shoes ready to stamp. OR you can set the price high enough to limit demand. I was probably selling them too cheap. . .

The first time I went to historical Williamsburg, VA in the early 1960's they were selling souviener horse shoes. These were sad little things that were machine cut and bent in bright 3/16" steel. Even at the tender age of eleven I knew these were fakes even though the smith made the pretense of pulling them from the forge (which was electricaly blown at the time). They sold these by the tons. . . and probably regret it today. But they were in a situation where the demand was much greater than they could supply by hand. When Peter Ross took over they cleaned up their act and starting doing things right for an historical presentation. They no longer try to make things for immediate sale to the public. Now the guys over in Busch Gardens sell the phoney souviener horse shoes, waving them over the forge and making a couple dents with a ball pien hammer. . . Or at least they did a few years ago. .

The other demos that go very fast are simple little hooks. Forge at point, scroll it up, bend it, twist it and flatten the end OR if its a "drive" hook point the other end and make a right angle bend. I've made these by the thousands. So many that I made special hook making tongs to handle short precut pieces of 1/4" square stock.

PRE-CUT the stock for all your demos. A cut-off saw "in the back room" is much more efficient than doing it in public. . . Even though I always tried to be prepared it seems that I always ran out of precut pieces. FORGING is what folks want to see, not sawing or filing. . .

After a few incidences of flying hot pieces of stock I stopped using a hardie OR hot cuts in public demonstrations.

Although not applicable to the "wild west", leaves are fast and easy to forge from 3/8" or 1/2" bar stock. They demonstrate many forging techniques and can either be sold as-is or collected to use on some larger project. However, when demonstrating the quality often suffers. I have thrown away boxes full of so-so leaves that didn't meet my standard or had sat around and rusted. . But kids love it when the leaf emerges from the "bud".

Good luck with the new job!
   - guru - Monday, 04/22/02 15:28:06 GMT

my best demo are the leaf key chains I make my portable forge some times takes a bit to come up to temp and with that and ascering questions they still only take 15 min or so... I have found that if you TALK to the folks they stick around longer. Explain what you are doing and why (nothing to technical just "I am going to put a point on this then I am ..etc") joke with them , and ASK for questions, if it is takeing a long time to get the fire up to the right temp tell them a story.

other demos I like to do
1 snake head
2 rose
3 kilt pins
4 belt buckels
5 rams head (long though)
6 nails (borring but quick)
7 dinner bells (any shape you know)

   MP - Monday, 04/22/02 16:01:24 GMT

I forgot one
8 the cross demo from Iforge ... if I have the stock pre slitand cut to langth.
   MP - Monday, 04/22/02 16:03:21 GMT

Clothing: From the archives and Bruce "Atli" Blackistone 03/18/99.

1880s Blacksmith:

I just talked to one of our NPS Historic Furnishings people at our Harper's Ferry Center regarding the clothing of the period. Jeans, even though developed during the Gold Rush, were not common attire in this period, despite their current prominence. Your average smith was a small businessman, operating out of town rather than riding the range. Most of the time his trousers would have been hard finished worsted wool, usually black. In the summer he might wear linen or cotton canvas, but of a more formal and baggy cut than jeans. The shirt was usually also wool, sometimes cotton or linen, and a pullover cut. By 1880 it would sometimes have the bib front with the double row of buttons that we associate with western wear, or a simple placket front with three or four buttons. Color would usually be white, but you might also have solid colors, checks and sometimes prints. Sturdy black shoes or boots would be worn. (No barefoot blacksmiths in his neck of the woods, especially with horse hooves and hot biscuits [iron punchouts] and old nails bouncing around the floor.)

For any sort of formal occasion, such as social activities, church, business meetings or sometimes even dinner (certainly Sunday dinner) he would have worn a suit if possible. If he had a front office, he'd probably have kept a pitcher and washbowl near the back entrance.

He'd have worn a leather apron, ox or mule hide preferred, but probably not gloves, hat or certainly not safety glasses. Some old line smiths still insist that "gloves just make you careless". You can get used to hot scale, nicks, cuts, burns and occaisional mashed thumbs after a while. There was a different attitude towards safety (and pain) back then. He might wear a kerchief around his brow as a sweat band in hot weather.
   - guru - Monday, 04/22/02 16:11:52 GMT

More Archives
From Ralph - Sunday, 11/04/01,

For period type clothing you can look here:

Wild West Merchantile

or Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc.

not as cheap as make do, but..... at least it is fun to look.....

Tell them we sent you!
   - guru - Monday, 04/22/02 16:21:19 GMT

Funny; I just ran across my Williamsburg horseshoe the other day; put it by the spike they made for my daughter in the water powered blacksmith's shop in Lauf ODP Germany in 1998...

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 04/22/02 21:26:09 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC