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 23 - 30, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

At the Frontier Park in Golden CO., that I volunteered at while at school, we got our clothes from an Amish clothing catalog. Very comfortable, made for working in, and matches the description above from "...the Archives and Bruce "Atli" Blackistone". Time period for that park was 1880.... -ish.
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 04/23/02 01:44:41 GMT

The Hispano blacksmith, ca 1830-50. It's tough to know how they were dressed. During the Powell Expedition on the Colorado River, an artist sketched two Zuni Indian smiths at work in what is now western New Mexico. And E. Boyd has written a little on the subject. So, going out on a limb, I would say that the smith would wear a head scarf tied in back and a collarless long sleeved, cotton, placketed
overshirt, perhaps with small ruffles at the cuff end. No matter if it was natural colored. The sleeves could be rolled up. I suspect the shirt could be worn in or out of the britches. If out, a small woven sash or the leather apron could fix it in place. In New Mexico, the workers wore slightly loose knee britches (not knicker-like, like George Washington, unless you were a city gent) with numerous buttons all along the side, probably indido blue material, maybe with red piping along the button seam, wool or cotton. In Old Mexico, long trousers were being worn at the same time, but there was a fashion cultural lag in New Mexico, because of its isolation. The worker probably wore white cotton kneelength or overknee stockings...or was stockingless. In New Mexico, the footwear was moccasins, not too unlike the pueblo style, with rawhide soles, buckskin uppers, and fastened with one or more side buttons. The Powell engraving shows that the leather aprons fell from the waist to about mid shin.
Demonstrating for the public. Years back, at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Northern New Mexico, the smith put up a rope to keep spectators at a reasonable distance. He then trained an older explorer scout to do all the explaining and the fielding of questions. This way, he could just put his head down and go to work!
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/23/02 04:32:07 GMT

Good morning,

I work for Amtrak in WIlmington Del. Currently we have a Chambersburg steam hammer, Model #891.About 15 years ago it was converted over to air driven. Now the cylinder is worn out. We're having problems getting the rod of of the ram head. We took the key out of the ram head. Is the rod a tapperd fit that needs to be forced out or is there another key and key way in the ram? Is there any diagrams on this antique power hammer. Its roughly 80 or 90 years old.Any help will be greatly appreciated.

   Dan - Tuesday, 04/23/02 11:47:55 GMT

Looking for plans to make a power hammer, air, hydraulic & electric.
   - Gerry W. Jones - Tuesday, 04/23/02 11:57:24 GMT

Dan, I'll get the guru to answer your question about the Chambersburg.

Gerry, Check out the power hammer page here at anvilfire. Particularly check the home built hammer section.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/23/02 12:09:00 GMT

Looks like the guru has been looking into my closet.....
What he described is just about my favorite clothing while working at the forge........ ANd even tho I am not old, I must be an old line smith.....(smile)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 04/23/02 14:04:09 GMT

Chambersburg Hammers: Dan, The model number you gave doesn't match any of my literature (dating from the 1930's). They have a model E, F, High Frame, Utility, Cecostamp, . . . but no numeric model numbers. The hammer may be old but identical hammers were available until Chambersburg went bankrupt this January. All the assets are being sold off this week including all the drawings and manuals.

The drive rod is attached to the ram by a tapered fit. The big hammers have a split tapered bushing in a cylindrical bore. The key is a safety device and was not used on some models. The standard general procedure to remove the rod on steam hammers is as follows:

  1. Remove the safety pin or key.
  2. Remove the upper die wedge and die.
  3. Raise the ram under steam (air).
  4. Install wood blocks on the lower die or anvil cap to support the ram.
  5. Insert a suitable rod into the hole in the underside of the ram and gently tap down on it under power.
Paraphrased from Audels Engineers and Mechanics Guide 2, Corliss, Uniflow, Contractors Engines, 1921, quoting assembly instructions for a Niles-Bement steam hammer.

This should pop the rod right out of the ram. You need to be prepared to catch the ram when it falls preferably not letting it travel farther than it does with dies in place. Guides tend to wear tapered and may be over-tight if the ram travels farther than normal. The "suitable rod" should be about 75% to 80% the size of the hole in the ram and have smooth chamfered ends so you don't damage the drive rod or die seat.

The piston is another matter. Most have a tapered fit and a nut threaded on the drive rod. However, my Chambersburg literature shows the tapered fit and the end of the rod upset or mushroomed to prevent the piston from coming off.

Setting the drive rod in the ram is very similar to removal. The rod is raised under power and driven into the taper under power (not too much, just enough). I did this on a friend's Chambersburg Utility hammer much to his horror. . . BY THE BOOK! :)

Prior to reassembly the hole in the ram needs to be throughly cleaned and if it has the split bushing it should also be removed and cleaned. I would oil the parts lightly with something like WD-40 but no heavy oil should be used.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 15:21:36 GMT

Conversion from Steam to Air: Steam powered machinery was lubricated by the steam. If it is converted to air suitable replacement lubrication must be provided. On most old steam hammers a lubricating pump was attached to the throttle control link that that cycled with the hammer from contacting the cam ramp on the ram. With every stroke of the hammer a little oil was squirted into the control valve. The oil lubricated the valve and continued into the cylinder.

Steam machinery had drains and traps for water that condensed in the cylinders and lines. On conversion to air these traps catch both condensation and excess oil. The traps should be drained of this oil just as they were drained of water.

Valve and rod packing needs to be looked at when making this conversion. Some steam packing is not recommended for air where oil is present. Consult a valve packing manufacturer for the best type of packing.

On some conversions the piston rings are replaced with teflon rings. However, most self contained air hammers had steel or cast iron rings the same as the steam hammers. Lubrication and a filtered air supply is the key.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 15:53:31 GMT


I'll be out of town from tomorrow morning, (wednesday) until next monday afternoon, (april 29th). Have a good time, and try to stay out of trouble at least until I get back. (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/23/02 16:13:31 GMT

More Chambersburg Maint: I just read a section in a late replacement manual (March 1977) for a Chambersburg Utility hammer and it gave the same instructions as above for removal of the drive rod froom the ram. However. . .

They also noted that if this didn't work that the rod will need to be cut off and the stump bored out of the ram. They also recommend that a spare piston and rod assembly be kept in stock to prevent long downtimes in the event of a broken rod (apparently common). Those down times are going to be longer with Chambersburg out of business. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 17:31:46 GMT

can anyone help, I have made some rings out of mild steel for a friend and he has asked if I can blacken them to a mirror finish black. In the past i have used ground up charcoal and oil to coat the steel before heating and this does indeed blacken the metal and can be polished with mops to get it nice and shiney... now heres the problem... after a while the black chips off showing shine silver steel underneath..what am I doing wrong? how can i stop the blackening from chipping?
   alex - Tuesday, 04/23/02 17:52:44 GMT

Alex, for a durable black you have to use a chemical oxide finish like gun bluing. Ask local gunsmiths about it. They can do it better and cheaper than you can. However, gun blues and blacks like Parkerizing do not protect against rust unless they are kept clean and oiled.

Otherwise for a "shiney" black finish the metal should be sandblasted or etched, painted with dark grey sanding lacquer primer and sanded this fine Wet-or-dry sandpaper (about 320 grit). And then paint with black lacquer and polish with DuPont "orange" rubbing compound. If used outdoors the first coat should be zinc cold galvanizing paint.

The sandblast or etch produces a "tooth" for the paint to grip. Without it paints and finishes tend to chip or rub off.

Don't like paint? That's what you've been doing in an amature fashion. . . The dark grey primer above has graphite fill and the paint carbon black in a strong acrylic or nitro-celulos base. . . formulated by professionals.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 19:21:59 GMT

Look into powder coating with black high gloss coatings. They can also put a second clear gloss coat on the original black to improve the gloss if needed.
   - Conner - Tuesday, 04/23/02 19:25:55 GMT

The proprietor of blackstoneforge is a good guy, but someone sent me an e-message using his e-address with two attachments, and it kind of screwed up my log-on and loading. I think I'm in business again by fumdiddling with my help menus.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/23/02 21:09:14 GMT


If you recieved something with attachments and your computer started acting weird you probably have a virus.

If you have a local computer guru you trust call him/her NOW! You might need help. While waiting, do this.

1) Don't turn off the computer or reboot.
Many viruses go to a 2nd stage when you reboot.

2) If you have an anti-virus program, update it and run it NOW.

3) If not, then run go to one of these sites and run their anti-virus program:



The first one is faster and worked the other day. The second one is slow and didn't work the other day but all are constantly updating. Some work on one virus while another does not.

5) The new viruses forge the FROM address so it does no good to write to someone you THINK sent you a virus or make any kind of accuasations or warning. . . . pretty lousy world Bill Gates has made for us. . .

I have deleted two dozen virus mails today of the variety that you cannot send a response to. That has made these 100 times worse than previous viruses.

Good Luck,

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 21:48:34 GMT

pcpitstop doesn't work with Netscape.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/23/02 21:50:43 GMT

What? You still here? I thought you were leaving! :)
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/23/02 22:39:45 GMT

Not till tomorrow morning.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 04/24/02 00:38:19 GMT

My inlaws just gave me an anvil and after reading in your webpages I would like to know any info about it. It is a M&H ARMITAGE MOUSE HOLE 1-0-12. In reading a few other questions to you I think that it has a serial number of "4".That is the only number that is stamped on the base it is about the same size stamp as the 1-0-12. Any information would be greatly appreciated
   B. Budeau - Wednesday, 04/24/02 04:15:16 GMT

B Budeau;
You Win!!
That is a fine OLD anvil, treat it well.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 04/24/02 07:38:24 GMT

The Moushole anvil was made in England by one of the oldest anvil making firms, It has a steel top and a wrought iron body and should ring clearly whentaped on the horn or heel. It is marked in the old CWT system and so weighs around 124#.
4 is not a serial number. "Anvils in America" gives more details; often with suggestions on how to judge the age of an anvil through changes in shape and markings---but it's at home on my bookshelf...

Mousehole anvils are considered to be very good ones.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 04/24/02 15:30:01 GMT

Worm Klez.E immunity: I just recieved a virus mail offering immunity from the Klez virus. It included a Klez attachment. . . .

DO NOT run any attachment to email. If you use Windirt mail software like OE then the attachment may have run on its own. OE also fails to display the file extensions onn files with double extensions. That JPEG file may have an EXE extension.

I am getting Klez virus mail every hour now. So I know several of you reading this have the virus.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/24/02 16:24:53 GMT

Mousehole stuff

I just picked up a Mousehole anvil myself over the weekend. Mine's a bit larger (1 1 9, or 149 lbs if my math is correct.) It also has the "4" marking that you describe on the foot underneath the horn. The "4" on my anvil is horizontally oriented.

Anyone know what this mysterious "4" is about?

My particular mousehole has seen some better days, although it still rings and rebounds pretty well. The face has a good many shalow dents and is a bit swaybacked, but the price was right so I bought it. It makes a nice companion for my 110 lb. Soderfors.

I may take a belt sander to the face, or I may just wait until fall and take the anvil to the Repair Days event at the National Ornamental Metal Museum and let the experts have a crack at it. I still haven't done any repairs to my Soderfors, and it has been serving me well.
   - Marcus - Wednesday, 04/24/02 17:32:31 GMT


I have made a couple of simple knives in the past but they always have a curve to the blade away from the edge which is good if you are making skinning knives. However i would like to make a couple straight ones. Seems like i tried hammering the edge down and it straightened the back but wrinkled the front is there another way or was it not hot enough for that?
   Daniel - Wednesday, 04/24/02 23:00:36 GMT

Hello Guru and all,
I was wondering if anyone has the specs (catalog or whatever) for a turn of the century Blake and Johnson No. 5 rolling mill circa 1890's.
It's two-hi with 4" diam rolls that are 6" wide and a gear reducing set up that is complex to say the least.

I'd like to know what it was originally designed to do -- such as the max material it could chew and if it were a cold non-ferrous mill or a hot work reduction mill.

I'm sure someone has the old tool catalogs, but I have been unable to locate them.

Richard Furrer
Door County Forgeworks
Sturgeon Bay, WI
   Richard Furrer - Wednesday, 04/24/02 23:11:19 GMT

Most Revered Guru...please help me to find a white patina for bronze.
   megelizabeth - Wednesday, 04/24/02 23:36:03 GMT

hello guru
   frank - Thursday, 04/25/02 01:37:36 GMT

I need input on the process of forging tree branches, rose stems, etc etc. I am ok at the rose and other flowers, leaves are ok. However, the problem is the branches and stems. I have seen stems and twigs that look real authentic, but cannot seem to master the technique.

What is the process??

   Steve Springer - Thursday, 04/25/02 02:02:17 GMT


To make a straight knife what you need to do is to bend your blade so that when you thin the edge it will straighten the blade. It is kind of hard to describe with only text.

When you bend the blade (before you thin the edge) bend it so that the side that you want to be the cutting edge is concave (sort of a reverse skinning knife). Then forge the cutting edge thin as you would normaly do and the blade should straighten out. It takes some trial and error but it works.

Hope this helps. If not you can e-mail me.

Jim Ellis
   Jim E - Thursday, 04/25/02 02:28:32 GMT

Blade Curve: Daniel, You have to curve the bar toward the edge side before forging the taper. The amount of curve takes practice and experiance. See our Froe demo for a drawing with typical curve.

You can also taper the back side of the blade some to correct for curvature. Also consider the amount of material you want to grind off. Forging close to shape is good but you can try too hard to get too close to finished shape and make it harder on yourself.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 02:43:20 GMT

I currently have an old coal forge and I am looking at making a gas powered one, but all the plans I have found require things like high-pressure gas lines and such....couldn't I just canabalize gas grills for hoses and burners and use them?
   jan - Thursday, 04/25/02 03:07:37 GMT

Blake Rolling Mill: Richard, I suspect it is a Jewlers or non-ferous mill. The reason I say this is that steel rolling was big industry and by the late 1800's rolling mills were huge. No body was crazy enough to build a small mill for blacksmiths like Hugh McDonald (see our book review page).

Small rolling mills would have been used to prepare non-ferrous bar for drawing wire, for coin making and jewlery.

The capacity may be considerable but depends on the strength of the frame and gearing. Low speed drives create tremondous torque (and load) from little horsepower which can break gears, keys, shafts. . .

I can't remember seeing any rolling mills in my old catalogs but I will look again. The most common small mills are "D" rolls such as those made by Ajax for roll forging. Regular rolls are pretty specialized. I'd be intrested in seeing some photos of your find.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 03:11:10 GMT

Forge Parts: Jan, you might be able to fire a micro forge with grill parts but that is about it. The total BTU's of a forge are what makes it work and grills just don't have that kind of capacity. The parts are often not designed to to take the much higher temperatures of a forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 03:15:20 GMT

Branches: Steve, Its art, preparation and hard work. The hard work is the LONG gradual tapers required. The preparation is tooling for producing the desired texturing. This can be commercial swages such as Kayne and Son sell, or custom made swages or texturing hammers.

The art is having an eye for the characteristics of what makes something look like what it IS, then recreating it or knowing how to suggest its characteristics. An artist can communicate many things with a simple line, strength, weekness, hard, soft, feminine, masculine, natural or mechanical. Study the simple lines of a wire sculpture by Picasso or Calder and you will be awed by the feeling and sensuousness that can be communicated by a piece of coat hanger wire. . .

It helps to study the nature you are trying to mimic. Every tree has different branch structures. Some flare and fan out while others are abrupt. The limbs on pine trees follow a tight spiral around the trunk. Leaves on some trees sag and hang down while others form sprays. Artists study these differences and often can identify a tree by its shape better than a forester by bark and leaf.

Joinery in making metal trees is tough. You generaly make seperate parts and assembly them by welding. Making the joints look as they do in nature is part of the job.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 03:36:45 GMT

Old Gate Frank, your answer is immediately under your question the first time you posted. See April 9 - 17, 2002 archive.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 03:47:27 GMT


I've done this on a number of steam (air) hammers and it still scares heck out of me.

Un-heat treated knockout pins can bend or even upset in the hole. Jamming a rag in with the pin will hold it for a few blows.

The knockout pin should be just a little smaller than the hole. Make from 4140 or 4340 oil quench and draw at 900F. As noted: machine ends square & chamfer.

Light tapping rarely will do the job, often many FULL-POWER blows are required.

once the ram comes off, the linkage no longer "knows" where the piston is because the sword is still resting on the crosshead (ram). Without the ram attached, the piston will go up FAST. Raise careful after each blow.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/25/02 04:24:14 GMT

Mousehole anvils and belt grinders,
Please before you ever take a belt grinder or any grinder to a Mousehole (or any slightly worn anvil) please please please reconsider, and then if you still want to grind it go to the beer parlour and consider it some more. And then of course remember it's not safe to run any power tools after even one beer.
I had a 239 pound Mousehole given to me and it was covered in a fine coat of rust. The hammer did rebound nicely but there was no ring. After working on it for 1/2 a day I just about choked on the rustcloud and the anvil started to ring. Not as bell like as a trenton or a PW I've used, but like the feller said, "bells ring, anvils don't have to"
this anvil has a sidways 3 under the horn btw
   - Jim - Thursday, 04/25/02 05:12:30 GMT

Daniel, strait knives, you can but you dont have to bend the steel before smithing the edge, smith on the edge, steel starts bending, smith on the back, until strait again, smith on the edge , it bends again and you smith on the back again..... it is usually a problem for beginners, because it is so much more easy to smith on the flat side than on the high side, practis smithing on the high side, makes life so much more easy
another teknik that was suggested to me when I was having the same problem, smith dubble edged knives and split them afterwards.... this is not practical
   Stefan - Thursday, 04/25/02 06:29:06 GMT

Grant, good info as always. I'll combine with mine for a steam hammer FAQ.

Seems the Chambersburg literature mentioned putting the "operating lever" in the full down position so the hammer does not try to cycle. Then carefully operating it to raise the piston. It would be common sense to a driver but perhaps not to maintenance personnel.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 13:53:08 GMT

Whoops. . . I think that was full up. . . depends on the hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 13:55:19 GMT

Cooling the smith. Small fans ( like the ones used to cool the school bus driver, or in the bottom of some kind of reefer box from a meat display case ) can be hung from the ceiling close to the forge. Airflow hits the smith, but not the fire.
   - Steve O'Grady - Thursday, 04/25/02 14:25:19 GMT


If anyone gets an email from me with an attachment, it is probably a virus. BUT: IT IS NOT FROM ME!

Some identity thief has stolen my email address. I only know because I've been getting returned mail (with virus) that I did not send. I do not have the klez virus, nor do I use microsoft net products anymore, thinking that would make me relatively safe from the address forgers. Anybody know how to report this felony?
   Alan-L - Thursday, 04/25/02 14:44:49 GMT

Alan, The VIRUS does the forging, pulling from Microsoft mailing lists, cached HTML, databases. . . anything Microsoft compatible. Complain to Bill Gates. He considers the security holes in his products to be benificial features.

Yeah, I'm royaly pissed too. This morning I had some 40 pieces of virus mail including a dozen "bounce" mails.

The writer's of the Klez virus are many. The original was claimed to be writen in "Asia" according to contents of the virus but there are half a dozen subsequent versions that have been modified by others. Some versions disable all known anti-virus programs and one has its own mailer bypassing the standard users mail program. These guys share their source-code so others can make "improvements".

And it gets worse. The REAL pisser about this virus is that it is sending mail with OUR addresses to spammers who turn around and SPAM you. . . . I got bounce mail this morning from "juliaroberts.com" a site I have NEVER visited or sent mail to. I am also being SPAMED by IBOXONLINE who things I "opted in" to their slimy lists. . .

At least on THIS page and the Hammer-In the cached HTML cannot be used by viruses due to our proprietary encryption process designed to thwart SPAMMERS. However, nothing is perfect. Once someone sends mail to you from here the address is recorded in their mailer. IF it is a Microsoft mail program then the viruses will find it. . .

Bill Gates and Microsoft have created this problem. Viruses and security concerns were a subject of the internet before Microsoft got involved. They did stupid things and the Internet community warned them of the problems. Eight years later the problems have not only been ignored they have been made worse. There would still be viruses without these gross security problems but they would not be so virulent that they spread globaly in hours and MOST of us would never encounter one.

The virus authors are low lifes but Bill Gates is their knowing partner.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/25/02 15:26:52 GMT

Do blacksmiths use water to cool hot horseshoes and iron rods?
   Lynn - Thursday, 04/25/02 19:41:48 GMT

Thinking about the problem you are having with viruses reminds me of the Garden of Eden and how some people can only be creative by destroying the work of others. Evil rears its ugly head, lord of the flies and parasites.
   L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 04/25/02 20:46:02 GMT

Lynn, water is the dominent cooling tool but there are times when oil ( linseed or the like ) is used to cool steel that is high in carbon ( tool steel) as a part of a process called heat treating. The oil is warmed sometimes to 120 degrees F allowing the steel to cool a little slower.But thats another story...Hope this helps.- Scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 04/25/02 22:08:10 GMT

Edge Brake or Bar Fold:

I'm looking for a 36" Pexto bar fold. Had one. Sold it. Shouldn't have. .
   - guru - Friday, 04/26/02 00:03:00 GMT

Frank Oszewski husband of Tracy, editor and publisher of Ruby Faire, died this morning.

We ask that you send prayers to the family.

   Paw-Paw Wilson - Friday, 04/26/02 01:24:04 GMT

hoo sez reel men kant spel?
   miles undercut - Friday, 04/26/02 04:10:57 GMT

oops! shudased hoo sez reel menn kant spell! sawry.
   miles undercut - Friday, 04/26/02 04:12:42 GMT

We are manufacturer of Brass circles. We use raw material as mixed brass. some times we cannot segregate gunmetal (Red brass)Can you advise how we can remove Tin from the melted Brass. Which chemical/fluxes we should use to remove tin impurities which could be 1-2%
   A.K.Jain - Friday, 04/26/02 04:50:05 GMT

advise tin remove from melted brass.
   - A.K.Jain - Friday, 04/26/02 04:51:03 GMT

Jock! You hit the nail right on the head! Maintenance man at Bremerton Naval Shipyard was disassembling a 3000 lb. C-burg and sent the piston thru the roof of the high-bay building! Took a good part of the cylinder with it. They ended up scrapping the hammer and it was a shop favorite.
   - grant - Friday, 04/26/02 04:53:31 GMT

Brass /// Bronze
Brasses are alloys of copper and zinc (for example alpha, beta, and gamma brasses). Many bronze alloys are primarily copper and varying amounts of tin. Though there are bronze alloys with no tin content. (but they also do not contain zinc in them).Red brass is an alpha brass (i.e. more than 62% copper), that has 90% copperand much of the rest zinc.
Many of the processes that remove zinc, from alloys with other metals, rely on zinc's low boiling temperature. In one of the most commonly used separation processes, the alloy is heated in an electrolytic furnace using electric resistance heating through carbon electrodes. The zinc comes off as a gas and is precipitated as zinc metal or as zinc oxide. The copper remains as a liquid because it has a much higher vapourising temperature (boiling point)
Please note that zinc vapour is very poisonous and potentially lethal to people and other living things. Also, zinc fumes would be a major air and water pollutant.
Regards to all.
   slag - Friday, 04/26/02 07:05:43 GMT

I have a gate project going in which I have to use cast iron spear heads from Lawler, and I need to attach them to the tops of 3/4" solid steel square bar pickets. It looked like the square holes in the spear heads were tapered, so I was hoping that I could just tap them down onto the pickets, but it doesn't look like this is going to work. Can I TIG weld them on with mild steel rod, or do I need to go to some exotic alloy for the filler rod?

All insights are appreciated.
   S. Evans - Friday, 04/26/02 09:04:12 GMT

Lawler Points: S.Evans, I no longer have an up to date lawler catalog, but if the points are ductile iron you should be able to weld them by any electric method. Ask Lawler.

However, if they are cast iron then its going to be trickier. NiRod may work but is expensive. You could also braze them on.

For a first class job with low smithing skill you can purchase spear point swaging dies from Kayne and Son. You will need a forge and power hammer or forging press but you won't need a highly trained smith. With the right equipment the points can be forged at less cost than purchasing them and welding them on. But not if you are purchasing the equipment for one job. The results are not exactly the same, but it does result in a much classier job.
   - guru - Friday, 04/26/02 14:49:34 GMT

Thanks for the virus info, that's what I suspected. I did read in the header the real (infected, probably innocent) sender's email address at aol, another purveyor of security hassles. Local ISPs can and will do something about members who are plague-ridden, but the big guys can't be bothered, and don't even let you complain about it.

S. Evans: on your gate, can you taper the picket tops for a press fit? A straightforward forging operation.
   Alan-L - Friday, 04/26/02 15:00:30 GMT

A.K. Jain,

I don't think you are going to find a solution here. I think getting the tin out is going to be very difficult and is a typical problem using scrap.

IF as slag suggests, you have two different brasses, then you need to balance the percentage of zinc, probably by adding more zinc
   - guru - Friday, 04/26/02 15:13:01 GMT

Dear Jock.

I have changed the entire nature of my business. (I'm now in Title and HUD work). I am back to hobbyist smithing, and I only do four or five really high dollar damascus swords per year from now on, and am out of the damascus billet and fence business altogether. Soooooooo! My anvilfire page has no relivance anymore. You can take it down whenever it suit's you best.
Thank You very much for your advice and help these last couple years.

Still hammering just for the majic of it.
Robert P. Norwalt.

you may delete
once again

   Robert Norwalt - Friday, 04/26/02 16:17:28 GMT

Broze /// Brass cont.
A good test to distinguish bronze from brass is the following
Slowly, dissolve nitric acid into water to get a 50:50 solution. (distilled water is preferable, but not essential. It can be bought at the local pharmacy (chemists in Great Britain), in a pinch the water from the reservoir of a dehumidifier is adequate.)
Take a small sample of the suspect met and place it into the solution. Let dissolve. If a white precipitate forms the metal is bronze. The precipitate is metastannic acid (stannic is the Latin word for tin). Brass does not have tin, or only a very small addition of tin for bearings and weaponry (to add strength) So brass will have no white precipitate.
The metal is more likely to be brass., as brass is cheaper than bronze. (Becuase tin is much more expensive than zinc.) Tin is quite a rare mineral. Also, brass is used because it can be more easily machined.
Hope that information helps
Regards to all,
   slag - Friday, 04/26/02 20:05:58 GMT

We are doing some housecleaning and are getting rid of some H-13 dies and punches. I sold some a couple of years ago to someone in Northeast Oklahoma who was interested in a SETCO 20HP stonewheel grinder that we are also getting rid of. My memory isn't what it used to be. I cannot find his name or address. This person did however say that he was a personal friend of "the guru". I would appreciate any info on how I could find out who he was. In the meantime I will keep looking for his name. Maybe he will read this. I am located in the Southeast corner of Nebraska and work in a fairly large Forging Shop.
   - john - Friday, 04/26/02 20:13:45 GMT

Ok, Guru and company, question here. I am interested in melting and casting scrap copper and brass to make use of old scrap. Half the fun of this hobby is turning otherwise useless metal into something functional or decorative and therefore entertaining. I was wondering if I could use a cast iron frypan as a container to melt the copper in, or would the carbon from the cast iron leech into the copper? I figured that since copper and brass both have a lower melting point than the cast iron it would work but it's never as easy as it sounds. Thats why I ask here. Also, if I do manage to find a suitable "pot" to melt it in can I just bury it in the hot part of a good coal fire or should I leave it on top. And once I get molten copper or brass in a pot what can I make a mold out of to pour it into? I was thinking of carving the mold out of wood and "preburning" it a bit. Any help on casting copper and brass would be appreciated.
   Tim - Saturday, 04/27/02 00:03:18 GMT

I found some sucker rod recently. Does anybody have experience using it? I'm not sure what it is but I've heard that it is water hardening. Thanks.
   - Kevin - Saturday, 04/27/02 00:42:30 GMT

Sucker Rod: Kevin, It varies from wrought iron to medium carbon steel. It is like any scrap steel, you have to test it by trial and error to find out.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 02:07:56 GMT

I E-mailed you about a week ago and you gave me some E-mail addresses to write to, but these people never did respond. I will try again. My question is this: I recently purchased a covered piece of cookware that seems to be made of iron and covered with enamel or porcelain. It is quite heavy, is octogon-shaped, is white with yellow trip and it has a lid. The letters "KLAFRESTROM" are on the underside of this pot. "Made in Sweden" is written on the side. I am curious as to where it comes from, how old it is, the value, etc. Can you help? Thanks. Geneva
   geneva scallan - Saturday, 04/27/02 02:17:45 GMT

Cast Iron CrucibleTim, The melting point of copper alloys is not THAT low. Only about 600°F difference. At that temperature the CI is very weak and steel would be well softened.

The other problem is that copper alloys (as do most metals) disolve iron rapidly when they are melted in iron or steel crucibles. Pipe crucibles spring leaks after just a few hours of melting zinc. Aluminium melters often use heavy steel or cast iron crucibles but they must be repeatedly relined with a refractory like ITC-213. This also results in contaminated alloys. Iron is detrimental to most other light alloys making them brittle or reducing their corrosion resistance.

If you want to cast copper alloys you really should purchase a graphite crucible. They are expensive but last a long time if you handle them properly.

Wood molds will not work for copper alloys. The ancients used carved soap stone molds. Plaster molds are commonly used for art work from wax patterns but the placter mold must be "calcined" (cooked at high temperature to drive off the free water and water bound in the plaster molecules).

Sand molds are most common. "Green sand" is a clean sharp sand with a little clay and dampness to make it "bond" together. One new method is to use gliserine to moisten the sand. It does not dry out rapidly like water and the sand is more easily reused. It should be stored in a closed container and warmed before use.

Petro bond sand is now the most commonly used foundry sand. You add a catalyst to the sand, make your mold and it hardens like a brick. Very durable easy to use. After use the mold is ground up and the sand reused with more catalyst. The Alabama Art Casting Group does demonstrations casting iron in open faced "scratch molds" made from petrobond sand. The molds are a precast flat bottomed blank that participants carve (scratch with a nail) shapes into the bonded sand. Then the molds are coated with a graphite wash to make them smoother and the iron poured in.

Yes you melt small amounts of brass, bronze and zinc in a forge. Coke works best and it helps to have a way to hold the fire up around the side of the crucible to heat the whole thing. You can also heat a small crucible with a torch for casting small items.

We have two iForge demos on molds and mold making (#98 and #99). This is a series I will eventualy add to. . .

If you want to learn about casting and mold making I highly recommend the books by C.W. Ammen. Buy them ALL and study them.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 02:46:44 GMT

Geneva, my response is the same now as it was then. The folks I sent you to may be busy or not know. I would not have sent you elsewhere if I could have answered.

We are blacksmiths and metalworkers but not experts on antiques or collectables. We DO discuss the value of old antique tools but as soon as the category becomes "collectable" we bow out as the prices are nuts and not based on any reality or are fixed by insiders (like the stock market and as recently discovered, the big collectors auction houses).
   - guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 02:58:05 GMT

do you know magic.
   charlene robles - Saturday, 04/27/02 08:06:38 GMT

Klafreström: The village, today spelled Klavreström, is situated in the province of Småland in Sweden. The foundry opened for bussines in 1736 and is still cooking. That´s all I know about that particular setup, but like any foundry or forge before modern economic theory they probably cast ANYTHING, big stuff and small.
   - Olle Andersson - Saturday, 04/27/02 09:34:57 GMT

Magic: If I knew any, I wouid be making money.
   - Olle Andersson - Saturday, 04/27/02 09:38:02 GMT

Everyone knows magic... some folks just don't realize it.
   Gronk - Saturday, 04/27/02 14:31:20 GMT

Magic: Your Highness, My best trick is making money dissapear. I am VERY good at it. Give me any amount less than a billion dollars U.S. and I can make it dissapear in a week or less. Tens of thousands instantly (poof!). Without TRYING I could make an easy mill dissapear in less than a year.

You may think I am joking but I KNOW how to make money dissapear. . . Now if I could just figure out how to make it re-appear. . . ????

But most adults know that the REAL magic is NOT making money dissapear.

I know some computer magic (like encrypting and decrypting your e-mail address so spammers won't get it). But it is best when you don't recognize it and most people don't want to know when there is computer magic afoot. However, if they DID pay attention to computer magic they wouldn't use Microsoft products for e-mail or upgrade to the latest and greatest. . . . You see. . . Bill Gates is a practicioner of BLACK magic and has been in the grip of the dark side of the force for many years. . .

As blacksmiths we all know the magic of Earth (iron, ores) Air, Fire and Water. . our fathers and their fathers before us were Alchemists before those late charlatans of the name tried to convert lead into gold. We were magicians in the time before time.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 15:09:16 GMT

Melting Copper,
For what it's worth I tried melting brass in the coal forge in a babbit ladle. It worked great the forst couple of times. The third time I got some real interesting colours in the fire as the bottom burnt out of the ladle.
   - Jim - Saturday, 04/27/02 15:49:08 GMT

Jim, Part one is previous melts thinning the ladle by disolving the iron. . .

When we ran a small zinc foundry I made pipe crucibles. They worked great for three or four days. . . Then you would remove the crucible from the furnace with it pissing a fine stream of hot metal from a pin hole about half way up. . . I didn't know about ITC products back then otherwise I would have primed the crucibles with ITC-213 and then a thicker coat of ITC-100. I tried coating them with a wash of refractory cement but that did not stick.

The shop finally bought graphite crucibles but did not make properly fitting crucible tongs or a pouring shank. Both are needed for anything larger than one off jewlery work. I have the crucible now and will make handling tools for them before I use them. There is ALWAYS something. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 04/27/02 17:07:35 GMT

Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me how much a 32
inch disk of steel 3/4 of an inch thick would weigh? thanks!
   michael sweeney - Saturday, 04/27/02 20:52:32 GMT

Michael: 16 squared times Pi times 3/4 times whatever (your kind of) steel weighs per cubic inch. Look it up.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 04/27/02 23:08:45 GMT

About 170 pounds, Micheal

16 squared times pi times .75 times .283

thats area or a circle (radius squared times pi) times the thickness to get volume in cubic inches times the weight of steel per cubic inch (approx. .283)
   - grant - Saturday, 04/27/02 23:12:24 GMT

Miles! looks like we were composing about the same time!
   - grant - Saturday, 04/27/02 23:14:25 GMT

TIM - For melting any significant amount (more than about 3 oz.) of brass, bronze or other non-ferrous alloy, you have to use a proper crucible. Graphite is good, though on the fragile side if not handled with the proper tongs and pouring shank. Crucibles are also available made from silicon carbide. While more expensive, they are far more durable. Their durability does NOT however, eliminate the need for proper handling equipment.

A properly fitted lifting tongs and a sturdy, fitted pouring shank with retaining hook will save not only the crucible, but also YOU! One of life's most unpleasant surprises is dropping a crucible full of molten brass at about 1800 degrees Farenheit and watching it splash on your shoes and pants legs. I cannot stress enough the danger inherent in casting metals. Molten metal doesn't just burn you, it destroys the tissue clear to the bone and beyond. Porper safety clothing is a MUST! Improper or unsuitable mold materials can suddenly release water vapor when the hot metal hits them, resulting in your very own little Mount Vesuvius.

The single most important thing you need for metal casting is KNOWLEDGE! Get Ammon's books, or look for books on jewelry making and sculpture. Read them carefully before you start experimenting and flirting with disaster. Please.

Also, while you're at it, join Cyber Smiths International here at Anvilfire to help support all this free advise.

   vicopper - Sunday, 04/28/02 00:54:12 GMT

Yep, 171.00 pounds. . .

I think I need to do an iForge demo on casting. . SMALL stuff. .
   - guru - Sunday, 04/28/02 02:12:34 GMT

Centaur Forge is now carrying graphite crucibles. See the link or the ad from this site. My wif got me the smallest one for Christmas this year, and I'm looking forward to testing it out (still working on master Viking and Anglo-Saxon sword pommel patterns).

The above cautions are well advised, and starting small is also a good idea. I've done quite a bit of pewter casting over the years, so I have the fundamentals, but brass and bronze are much trickier. I, too, tried the "melt the brass in a cast iron pot" experiment, with wonderous results when the bottom gave way. Turns out that in a coal forge it's very easy to exceed the melting point of the cast iron in a localized area well before the general mass of brass (cut up keys, in this case) reaches its melting point.

Tim McCreight (sp?) also has a good book on casting, as well as his general work on Metalcraft, which also has casting information. The two are more complimentary than redundant. His scale is more for the jeweler than the blacksmith, but that fits in with the idea of starting small.

Awaiting more blessed rain by the banks of the lower Potomac. No smithing today, but we got the bottom of the Viking ship scraped and scrubbed.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 04/28/02 02:33:54 GMT

Does anyone have a working number for Northwest Pitchworks? Or another source for pitch? Thanks.
   Rik - Sunday, 04/28/02 16:13:31 GMT

Pitch: Rik, You can start with roofing tar and mix in a filler. Plaster of Paris is commonly used for fine work and coarse sharp sand for heavy work such as steel plate. Melt the tar in a suitable container and add an equal part of filler (I think). Add more filler to stiffen.

Make the amount you need or just a little more. Large volumes cost you in heating time to remelt fuel cost.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/28/02 20:43:44 GMT

I am looking for assistance in making twigs, branches, limbs, etc. I am ok at leaves, flowers, etc, but the twigs and branches to support the leaves and flowers are a real problem. What is the process to make the stems, branches etc that look real? I have seen work that looks good and really looks like the real thing, but can't seem to get that look myself. Can someone assist?

   Steve - Monday, 04/29/02 00:15:32 GMT

Grant-- Yeah, but your're a lot nicer than I.
   miles undercut - Monday, 04/29/02 00:29:03 GMT

Steve, I made a spring swedge that I will have to take some pictures of. I use it with my power hammers but it could still be done on an anvil. Give me your email and I'll send them to you directly. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Monday, 04/29/02 01:05:50 GMT

The Weather Multiple tornadoes passed through central Virginia today. Missed me but not by much as I was on the way to town 6 hours ago. . . The climate is changing in Virginia.

Branches II: STEVE!!!! LOOK UP! I already answered your question, 1 hour and 11 minutes after you posted it 4 days ago.
   - guru - Monday, 04/29/02 03:40:18 GMT

I am an experinced blacksmith who is looking for piecework in my area that I can do and then send back for a profit, where can I find these jobs?
   flavor92 - Monday, 04/29/02 04:27:36 GMT


First: What IS your area?
   - grant - Monday, 04/29/02 04:41:03 GMT

Tim Cisneros:

You MADE swages instead of buying them? Try to keep it quiet, would you? Actually I think basic tong making and swage making should be learned by everyone who wants to be a blacksmith.
   - grant - Monday, 04/29/02 04:45:02 GMT

Oh, I almost forgot.

STEVE: I do make a couple of swages for doing a vine texture. If interested you'll find them at Kayne & Son who advertise here. Or call them at (828)667-8868.

Contrary to what some people might think, I'm quite willing to share everything I know about tong and swage making and have done workshops on the subject. There are times buy and times to make.
   - grant - Monday, 04/29/02 04:52:14 GMT

Look up, also in the sense of going out and looking closely at some trees, several kinds. Then go to your shop and start trying to copy them. As with starting anything new, expect to throw your first trys away. Copy trees, if it is trees you want, not blacksmiths.
Dodge those twisters good guru, we need you!
Calif Blacksmith Assn spring conference next weekend with E A Chase doing demo! Should be good, Chase is hot!
   - Pete F - Monday, 04/29/02 06:17:00 GMT

I'll take you up on this one Grant! After I e-mailed you about gettiing a 1 1/2" end ball swage made, I decided to try and make one myself. Took me three trys. And about 7 hrs. The first results were pretty funny. No way a ball was coming out of that die. I finally made a swage that is working and I can now make sets now with different stem sizes. In the rack mine look like yours, if you don't look too close that is.

I would love some tips though. Are you are using a press to make yours? Or the hammer like I'm doing. Are you starting with round/square stock? What is the material you like to use? The flat for the spring, is it mild steel or a low carbon? What hardness are you looking to get for your dies?

No way was I expecting you to offer tips on how to make swages or tongs. Never even crossed my mind to ask. Nice to know that I now can. Thanks
   - Pete-Raven - Monday, 04/29/02 11:45:18 GMT

looking for plans for latches.what i call swing bar latch for cabinet doors.thanks Kerry
   kerry stewart - Monday, 04/29/02 12:46:36 GMT

Would you help me find the picture of my anvil that you printed on the Guru page. If you could just give me the key words I would be happy to do the searh.
Vaughan and Brooks sell a double horned anvil that looks and measures up very close to mine and I want to refer them to the picture on your site to see if its a match.
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 04/29/02 14:31:39 GMT

Larry, I've dug through all my anvil images and cannot find one specificaly tagged as yours. . . :( Can you give me a hint about when and what was said?
   - guru - Monday, 04/29/02 15:54:58 GMT

Last night in the pub Ben wanted to know the town in Western Pennsylvania that had the charcoal factory in it. It is Brookville, PA. However, just to let people know, they don't sell to the public, but if you can get ahold of them, the will be more than happy to let you know who their local vendors are.
   Torin - Monday, 04/29/02 18:34:42 GMT

a couple of years ago a sent you a picture of a European anvil. You posted it and said you might use the anvil in an article. It has a rather soft face but super clean edges. Looking down on it, the face sweeps back to the heel in a beautiful parabolic curve, from the side it slopes up and meets at a very acute angle.
Ring any bells?
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 04/29/02 19:32:06 GMT

**CBA Hammer In~~~June 28-29-30 Hanley Farm~~Medford OR
for Info on it, E-Mail me and will e-Mail Info to you
   I-Wolf - Monday, 04/29/02 20:31:46 GMT

Found it using the word European. 08/07/00.
Thanks, when I write the folks at Vaughan/Brooks I'll refer them to this page. Maybe they would like to advertize with you. They seem to be a well stocked company, I was interested in their asbestos gloves and wanted also to check out their aprons.
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 04/29/02 21:51:24 GMT

What do is the preferred material for knives and swords?

I am currently working with hand carving knives to carve hilts from hardwood for my swords. There has got to be an easier method available
   jan - Tuesday, 04/30/02 01:09:53 GMT

Grant, Swage/tong making. When I retired from shoeing i had the great fortune of finding shop space in the same building with two of the most skilled Blacksmiths I've ever met, Jim Austin and Frank Trousil of Alchemy metalworks. When I was shoeing a pair or two of tongs was all I EVER needed. I have learned more in the last two years from being around these guys than I could have learned on my own in 10 years. I now have sets of tongs in incremental sizes for square round and flats, most of which I made myself. Swages are the key to any texturing or fullering and of these I now have several dozen. I also share all that I know to anyone who wants to learn, just as it's been shared to me. Blackmithing is the most facinating trade I have ever been involved with and I don't think there is a limit to how much you can learn. I would be in my shop even if I won the lottery (It would be a MUCH LARGER) shop though. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Tuesday, 04/30/02 01:11:53 GMT


You want tips? I'll give you tips! Get it hot and hit it!

Yes I make my production dies in a press. I've done it in hammers. I LIKE the press. I make just about everything from round. Springs: A-36 (mild or low carbon or what ever it is). Many folks like to be able to drill them ar weld them and it seens to work just fine. I start with 4140, after forging I quench in oil and draw at 700F. usually get pretty high 40's in rockwell C scale.

I've demo'ed making ball swages By first forging the ball with a hand hammer then using it to sink the swage. As you turn it the swage gets more smooth as in finishing only the high spots hit. When you use the swage you get the same effect. Each stage gets better. This is quite unlike many forging operations where things left unchecked get worse. Like when a piece starts to go diamond or when you start punching a little off center and it only gets worse.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/30/02 02:44:31 GMT

Preferred Material: Jan, it depends on the application, your design, heat treating skills and ability. There are hundreds of steels including carbon steels, alloy steels and stainless steels suitable for knife making and every maker has their own preference.

"Spring" steels in the 60-75 point carbon range are the easiest to work with but many makers use high carbon tool steels such as 1095, 01. . . Laminated "Damascus" is very much in vogue but it not necessarily better than a good modern alloy steel properly heat treated. The skill applied to the heat treatment is much more important than the actual material. You can screw up the best steel.

Then on swords and sword material I can get a tad sarcastic. People constantly ask for the best material for a "battle ready" sword. I ask,
Who do you plan on killing and in what war?
99.99% of all swords are "wall hangers". They are works of art catering to the violent side of men. Collectors prefer exotic laminated pattern welded steels with equaly exotic furniture (gold, silver, Mokume' Gane, Ivory. . ). But a soft mild steel or even aluminium alloy sword is as good as any for looking at and just as lethal. 304 Stainless won't harden or take a serious edge but it won't rust and will take a brilliant polish if you are up to the task.

If a sword is to be used in theatrical combat then they are made of a medium carbon steel (or stainless) and tempered SOFT so they won't break creating a sharp dangerous edge OR end up flying off into space or worse. The SCA and various organizations that set rules for sword play have specific rules but basicaly they say SOFT and DULL.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/30/02 03:41:54 GMT

oops, I just read my msg and found it is pretty much unreadable...what I ment was what is the prefered material for HILTs?

and currently, yes, I am using Leaf springs for material
   jan - Tuesday, 04/30/02 04:37:38 GMT

Jan // Carving wood knife handles // Machine methods.
There are several machines that dramatically speed up the carving and shaping of wood. I will list a few machine types, that can be used for knife handles. That is, small carvings.

1) Dremel rotary grinding tool (no joking) with a selection of interchangable high speed steel cutters of a multitude of shapes. Don't buy their carbide cutters, you can get diamond tipped cutters that are much cheaper these days. (I suspect that the Russians have been dumping cutter quality small industrial diamonds (called bort, for all the trivia enthusiasts out there). It seems that they need hard currency these days. The chinese (Taiwan and Mainland) buying those diamonds and have been pumping out diamond studded cutters lately and for cheap. (much cheaper than the corresponding carbide cutters)
Other companies also make rotary grinder tools such as Sears, Black and Decker, Woodcarver's Supply, etc.
2) if you have a bigger budget try a dedicated flex shaft rotary cutter tool . Several manufacturers make them, the best is made by Foredom.
3) flex shaft attachment devices that attach to a drill press, stationary circular sander, some stationary grinders etc and work the same way as the dedicated machines just described.
4) reciprocating carvers, (they use a selection of interchangable power carving blades and gouges) The motion of the machine is not a circular motion but a back and forth (in and out) cutting stroke. The Automach cutter is the "Cadillac" of these tools. Ryobi, Hegner, Woodcarver's Supply also make these power carvers. There are other manufacturers.
5) there are adaptor machines that fit a rotary cutter and convert it into a reciprocal motion,made by Foredom, etc.

A good book that describes the various power wood carving tools is Power Tools For Woodcarvers by David Tippey. It's a great book but I would read and take brief notes at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Walden etc. or the local public library. The following books explain the tools and how to use them to carve wood. The Complete Book of Power & Hand Tools For Wood Carving by Spike Boyd, Power Woodcarving by Alan & Gill Bridgewater, Wood Carving With Power Tols by Ralph E. Byers.
I trust that the preceeding purple patch answers your questions and speeds up your knife and sword handle carving. Now please do me a little favour. Help keep this site keep its head above water and remain on the internet. Donate a few dollars by joining Cyber Smith's International. An application form is available at the top right hand corner of this screen.
Good luck and good wood handle carving
Regards to all from the True North Strong & Free (aka Canada).

   slag - Tuesday, 04/30/02 05:38:38 GMT

Jan - There are several materials for sword and knife hilts, ranging from stainless steel or carbon steels to non-ferrous metals and even polymer plastics. The most commonly used material is undoubtedly brass. It is readily available, reasonably priced and not at all difficult to work using ordinary metalworking tools. Small rotary power tools such as those Slag mentioned for carving of handles also work fine for working hilts. One of the simplest and most useful tools you will need is a good jeweler's saw and blades. Don't get cheap here, buy the best you can find. Jeweler's saw blades are a real marvel of small scale production. Some of them are as fine as a human hair and still have properly set teeth that will cut through metal quite easily. Hercules is a good brand to look for.

If brass doesn't ring your bell, you can use bronze, sterling silver, low-karat gold, nickel-silver or even titanium. All of them work pretty much the same. Titanium can be a bit more difficult to get a high polish on, but it can be done. With any of them, the procedure is pretty much the same. Draw your pattern, cut out the stock with a saw and file and sand to final shape. The fine points are covered in detail in books by Dr. Jim Hrisoulas. No serious bladesmith should be without his books. You can read a review of one of his books on the Bookshelf here on Anvilfire.

When you decide what you would like and have checked out some books, feel free to ask any other specific questions you might have. Somebody here will undoubtedly know the answer. And, like Slag suggest, support this site...it supports you.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/30/02 12:21:21 GMT

Fancy Hilts: When made from brass, silver or gold almost all "sculpted" hilts were cast, most by the lost wax process. Although we use plaster of Paris today it was not uncommon to use a good potters clay for lost wax in ancient times. This meant that having brass, the metal worker only needed beeswax and clay. The clay mold was dried, then burned out, but not fired or "calcined". Very fine detail can be achieved with this method. Crucibles were fired clay.

Again, a non-traditional material is hard alloy aluminium (6061-T6 or 7075-T6). Its very easy to cut, file and polish. It is as strong as mild steel and much lighter. The white color is closer to silver than are other metals. However, these hard grades are dificult or impossible to bend. 7075-T6 will usualy break before bending 90°, even with a VERY large radius. Use 2024-T3 for bent parts.

Again, 304 stainless steel is very good as it doesn't rust and generaly doesn't oxidize in one's lifetime. It is gummy to saw and hard to polish but is very durable.

With practice and proper tools you can carve all the above metals with hammer and chisle. See our NEWS article in Vol-13, pages 4-6 on Ward Grossman ( iron chisler extrodnair).

Most old works include numerous methods. Casting or forging to start. Piercing with drill and saw, chisling and engraviing as well as etching. And of course, POLISHING, an art in itself.

I have carved many things in many materials and the fastest tools are SHARP tools, followed by coarse abrasives such as disk and belt sanders (you would be amazed at the shapes you can carve on a stationary flexible backed disk sander).

I find Dremel tools too light duty for metal work and use much heavier die grinders (air and electric) for metal work. They take 1/4" shafts instead of the little 3/32" Dremel cuters. Even when wood working the Dremel is too light EXCEPT for fine detail carving. My last carving using a Dremel was a tortois bridge for a musical instrument carved in ebony. Worked very well except for me looking like a coal miner from the black dust. The last sword I made (a toy for my son) had aluminium parts carved with saw and file as well as a lathe turned pommel. Lathe turnings can be beautifuly sculpted works but most folks don't take the time to learn to take advantage of the tool. We have also made ebony guitar finger boards, bridges and trapese blocks using a Bridgeport milling machine for three decimal accuracy. But I also use a jewlers saw and have made machine parts too small and delicate to machine with common tools as well as decorative work.

However, we work with what we have. Those that have many options often apply them all to the same piece that another may have to whittle out with a single tool.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/30/02 15:21:20 GMT

I have recently seen ads for fly presses. I think I understand how they work, but I would like to know what operations they are particularly useful for? Would some type of hammer (power or treadle) do the same jobs just as well?
Patrick (brand new father of a baby girl!)
   patrick nowak - Tuesday, 04/30/02 16:24:27 GMT

Patrick, There is a brief article on fly presses on our Power hammer Page.

Fly presses are an extream force machine best suited for single action operations. If the press has enough force to do the job in one cycle then it is an applicable job. Historicaly they have been used mostly in the silver plate industry due to their being excellent for coining fine detail. They are also more popular in Europe than here. Grant Sarver uses flypresses for much of his forging including all the swages sold by Kayne and Son.

Fly presses do something that you generally DO NOT do in good engineerig, they stop a large flywheel. To do this they must have a massive well engineered frame. After the flywheel stops it reverses (initialy pushed back by the stretch in the frame) and raises the ram. A friction drive reversing mechanism powers the flywheel in both directions.

For most uses you need good final shape dies for use in a fly press. This makes them primarily a high production machine.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/30/02 19:21:54 GMT

Whoops! Congradulations!

Flypresses also come in manual types with the flywheel opperated by a long lever or handle hanging down from the wheel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/30/02 19:24:32 GMT

Congratulations, Patrick! The next 18 years are going to be interesting! Enjoy them!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 04/30/02 21:33:54 GMT

I personally prefer beating my swords out of old ploughshares, although sometimes I weld up a slew of old penpoints and work them into a handsome damascene blade with which I am wont to spend an afternoon slicing silken scarves that I waft heavenward. For knives, I like shafts of light which I first filter through a ruby, a forging knack I borrowed from my old prep school roomie, Darth Vader. Next question.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 04/30/02 22:24:31 GMT

Perhaps I should've asked this question before I spent a weekend making charcoal.... but is it efficient to work with charcoal in a coal forge? I haven't quite figured out yet how to manage the charcoal, maybe my pieces are too big = 2" cubed roughly? Should I have a massive bed of coals going? Managing a coal fire when coked seems easier because it stays where you want it. I found it difficult to keep the heat going and wasn't able to get a welding heat out of it at all.
How about some tips? All my books speak of coal fires, no charcoal. Trying to keep the neighbors happy. They can handle a wood fire smell, but not the pleasent aroma of coking down some coal...
I'll try again after the rain stops, hopefully the lid stays on the barrel with the charcoal in it. A bit windy here....
Thanks in advance.
Congrats Patrick!
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 04/30/02 23:27:33 GMT

On casting copper and brass, can old Mapp and Acetelyne tips be melted down. It looks to me like Mapp tips are brass and Acetelyne tips are copper. Is that correct? Also what does Mapp stand for?
   Tim - Tuesday, 04/30/02 23:31:00 GMT

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