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 - 23, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

how old do you half to be
   - aaron - Wednesday, 04/16/03 22:37:19 GMT

Hi there, I'm in the design part of building my own power hammer. I have a machine and fabrication shop and decided I needed a hammer but there are some things I'm not sure of like how much travel the fly wheel should produce and how much spring I might need between the link arms. the hammer will be about 25lbs. and the linkage will look like a little giant
   Travis - Thursday, 04/17/03 00:47:59 GMT

Travis, Then copy a Little Giant. There are specs on our Power Hammer Page.

Note that it is NOT a flywheel, it is a counter weighted crank wheel. The counter weight balances the HORIZONTAL component of the linkage. In fact it does not need to be round but is best made that way for safety.

The crank stroke is about 1/3 the ram stroke. However, on better machines than LG's such as Fairbanks and Bradleys the stroke is adjustable. At a short stroke a hammer can run very fast and at a long stroke hits HARD at slow speed.

The amount of spring depends on the design of the link arms. The spring needs to be pretty stiff but I do not have specs on a 25# LG spring.

There is a lot of engineering that goes into a mechanical power hammer and the dynamics are NOT simple. The best explanation of the dynamics of the Little Giant is the Dave Manzer video we sell. It is designed for users not engineers but if you do not understand the dynamics it can be very frustrating.

For your money you are better off building an air hammer. They are simple to build, generally work right the first time and are VERY controllable. Most folks build them in the 75 to 125 pound range. Remember that you can do small forgings on a big hammer but you cannot do big forgings on a little hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 01:16:06 GMT

Punk using a computer at HLB, Cinnamon, Jang, Willoughby (m156.cjw.com) - I KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Stop posting your moronic messages here.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 01:46:14 GMT

The problem in building an air hammer is that it wouldnt be near as much fun trying to figure out.
   Travis - Thursday, 04/17/03 02:02:44 GMT

Travis, before building a mechanical hammer you really need to see more than a Little Giant. LG's used a bunch of goofy ideas to get around the Dupont/Fairbanks pattent. The Fairbanks linkage is much more elegant and uses a much shorter spring and compact arem to get more stroke. See fairbanks.forginghammers.com for pictures.

Both Fairbanks and Bradley used a slip belt clutch while LG used a much more complicated cone clutch. Cone clutches are designed for positive engagement and are difficult to control speed with. LG clutchs must be keep soping wet with oil in order to work correctly. Slip belt clutches have the advantage that the entire belt is friction material, not just the little in a cone clutch.

The best home built clutch I have seen is on the NC-JYH. It uses a small steel wheel bearing on an automobile tire. The control is excellent for such a simple mechanism.

Remember that you need an anvil mass of at least 10:1 and preferably 15:1.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 02:40:26 GMT

I need some guidence from some of you folk who are vastly more experienced than I. Okay enough with the sucking up. A friend of mine has given me a nice piece of coil spring from an old truck and he wanted a sword. I told him no. Then after a bit of dickering he asked for a machete. I said I'd think about it. I would really like to try this project but I'm no blade maker. I've done some small carving knives for myself but this is the first large knife I've seriously considered. My worry is not the shapping of the blade its getting the hardness right. I know if I leave the back edge soft it will have enough give that the blade may break but it wont shatter. What I was thinking to do was simply bring the blade up to the right color and then quench only the edge allowing the body of the blade to cool on its own. I've been doing some reading and I THINK this will work. I know the only thing more dangerous than someone doing something they don't know how to do is someone doing something they think they know how to do. Should I just let this project go for a while or would this be a safe learning experience?
   Will - Thursday, 04/17/03 02:56:22 GMT

Maybe what I should have said in the beginning is that the linkage is along the same lines as an LG but with my own twist thrown in, you could say it looks a little like a Fairbanks too. The clutch has been a problem to figure out,right now I have a cone clutch in mind but I think maybe a slip belt would be the way too go. The anvil is no problem, I have lots of steel around. Thanks for the input it's very helpful.
   Travis - Thursday, 04/17/03 02:58:58 GMT

Quenching a blade: Will, leaving a hot blade sticking half out of an oil quench is dangerous. The oil can vaporize at the surface and ignite, causing an oil fire. A totally disagreable situation. I have heard of people doing this with water but I prefer to quench the entire blade and preferentially temper the spine. When iron transforms to martensite during the hardening process, it expands up to 4% volumetrically. Because you are effectively creating a "metallurgical notch" where the hardened blade meets the un-hardened spine, you may end up with a crack at the interface because the unhardened section is not expanding.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 04/17/03 12:24:27 GMT

After the hardening of the blade you will need to temper it. That is where you can get a soft spine but hard edge. If it were me I would heat a heavy piece of stock the same lenght as teh blade. Then place the Hardened blade spine down on it. once you start getting the color you want in/near the edge then quench again. Remember the color will run real fast as you get it near the thinner sections.
Doing it this way will provide a much softer spine and a hard edge.
   Ralph - Thursday, 04/17/03 15:16:21 GMT

Swords, Machette. . . weapons Will, if you said no to one the other is the same. The guy wants a long leathal weapon like he sees in the Highlander movies/TV series or a machette like in the Jason slasher movies. In either case the desire is the same and your response should be the same. When YOU make such a weapon you need to consider the reason the person wants it and YOUR libility. Where do YOU stand when someone is murdered with the thing YOU made? What do you tell the police or the parents of the victim?

At least once a couple times a month (for 5 years) we get these guys in here and the first thing they say is,

"I've never made anything in my life and I want to make a sword. . . ."

THEN there are those who want to make a sword and have it "hard enough to chop concrete, and strong enough not to break". . . more watching too much Highlander and not knowing the difference between Hollywood special effects and reality. OR how about the guy that says "I KNOW" and describes the phoney sword making scene from Conan and then asks "What Next?"

All these movies and the Highlander/Imortal TV series have created a culture where every teenage boy wants a sword OR wants to make a sword AND don't know the difference between fantasy and reality (fantasy is sparks and ringing blades, reality is blood, pain, death, prison). It is the reason the market is flooded with cheap Pakistani made fantasy swords sold on the Home Shopping Network and your local flea market . .

If they want a sword and cannot afford a collectors work of art (a real market), then let them go to the flea market and buy a $60 Pakistani wall hanger and let someone else have the libility. But YOU should not want to be involved in their madness.

As far a heat treating these things goes the question is "for what use?" All heat treating is specific to the job that a tool is to be used for. On the other hand, a dead soft mild steel axe, sword, machette or other pointy object is just as leathal as one made of the best steel with perfect hardening and tempering.

If the item is a wallhanger then it does not need to be hard and in fact should be dead soft. If the item is to be used in mock combat then it should be VERY carefully heat treated to the lowest hardness and highest strength so that it will not break and result in a sharp edge. These same blades are specificaly made with VERY dull VERY round edges. This is not just for the safety of the users but to prevent chipping and blades cutting into each other and hanging up. Groups that use such blades have tight specifications for them. These same SOFT DULL blades are what is used in most fantasy movie sword fights. The only time sharp blades are used is for momentary closeups, never in "combat".
   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 15:35:41 GMT

We are about to build a custom bar for a client who is interested in brushed chrome or a Pewter-look foot rail. The corners of the bar have a radius for the tubing must curve. Can you advise where to go for this? Thanks.
   LaRosa Woodworking - Thursday, 04/17/03 17:26:13 GMT

Foot Rail: LaRosa, This will want to be stainless steel. The color is a little brighter than pewter and a little darker than chrome. Probably 2" nomimal schedule 40 pipe (2-3/8" OD) will work best. Contact a local railing maker or look under "iron works". Most blacksmiths could also produce this for you. A blacksmith could produce decorative brackets in stainless to match the rail. In stainless the bending will probably need to be done hot unless the shop has a heavy duty hydraulic bender.

On reason you want stainless is that it is abrasion resistant AND there is no problem with surface plating wearing through. Pewter is soft and would wear rapidly. When brass is used it must be solid brass tube, it cannot be plated steel.

If the design calls for some coloring or texturing to hold the coloring that too can be done on stainless. When stainless is heated it turns blue black like regular steel. The darkening can be left on the surface and highlights polished on a textured surface. As a foot rail the top is going to become worn and polished from use.

Let your fingers do the walking. . . You can also try our ABANA-Chapter page. There are blacksmithing organizations all over the country and they may be able to put you in contact with someone localy that does not advertise otherwise.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 17:49:54 GMT

Jock, AMEN and AMEN! your post on swords, machetes and other toys for the Conan wannabe bunch should be chiseled in granite and mounted outside the door of every forge on the planet! Well and properly stated, Sir! 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 04/17/03 18:06:22 GMT

Further Thoughts on Swords and Machettes

Unless it is being forged for some special purpose a decent machette can be purchased at a reasonable price at the local surplus or hardware store. The amount of time and work that you're going to put into this will equal many times the cost of a new blade of modern manufacture. As a matter of fact, I used to buy machette blades and convert them into make-shift falchions (a heavy middle to late medieval cleaving sword) since the blades were better than I could have forged at the time and the job was reduced to hilt-smithing, just involving the attachment of quillions and grips. I've been researching and forging for years now and I'm still trying to get beyond "competent" at spearheads and axes. If he wants repayment for the coil spring, offer him something useful that won't eat a month of your life. Most coil spring is more useful for small knives, letter openers and tools than for weaponry.

The other problem when using used steel is the increased odds of microscopic stress fractures due to hard usage in its original incarnation. I've picked up nice chunks of broken leaf spring found along the road... and used them for boot scrapers and other non-critical applications! Trust me, from personal experience, when a sword fails it runs from embarrassing through catastrophic to potentially fatal.

Could you do it? Sure, given enough time, talent and luck.

Should you do it? How much do you trust your friend? My stuff is usually presented to the people that guard my back, both figuratively and (upon occasion) literally.

Is it worth doing it? Well; is the game worth the candle? If you're doing it for yourself to master a difficult art and gain insight into the nature of steel and the demands of weaponry, go for it. If it's just paying off a debt because a friend, in all innocense gave you a gift and has no idea of ewhat he's asking in return... I'd just advise him to buy a machette (or buy one for him if he's a really close friend).

To bear arms, of any sort, was never just a right but always a responsibility. Other items may be tools, but a sword is always a weapon.

Breezy and fixin' to rain on the banks of the Potomac, WWZ.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/17/03 18:14:57 GMT

Aaron asks, How old do you have to be?

To be what? A blacksmith?

There is no minimum age other than that required to do business (18 to work full time).

To learn as a hobby you just need to be old enough that your parents will let you work with hot iron and light a fire. We have a fellow that has demonstrations posted on our iForge page that was 9 when he did his first one. I have taught young people when they were only 8 years old. We recently worked with a group of Boy Scouts for the Metal Working merit badge (min age 11) and I worked with ONE that was in the Cub Scouts (age 9 I think). I think 8 is about the minimum age that one is mature enough to start smithing.

I'm sorry I overlooked your question earlier.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/17/03 20:38:52 GMT

Hi,my husband has been in the custom sheet metal business for 20 some odd years.I am trying to find the mathematical formula used to make a metal funnel for him.Thanks
   annette - Thursday, 04/17/03 23:43:39 GMT

Hello. I was wondering if anyone recognized this device. It is an Ebay auction, (not mine), is the description correct? Blacksmith Bending Vise Item # 3219388180. I thought it might be a belt lacing crimper. I don't know. Any idea?

   - Chris Turley - Friday, 04/18/03 00:06:29 GMT

Annette, look on our 21st Century page under math.

   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 00:38:33 GMT

Ebay Item.... Chris, I have never seen anthing like this in the many tool catalogs I have. It is not a blacksmithing tool. It is come kind of self centering vise with parts (the jaws) missing. Probably part of a larger set of special equipment.

It is a nifty looking thing I wouldn't turn it down but I have no idea what I would use it for. Good centering vises are great to use on a drill press but that in not what this is designed for.

You want ODD junk? I have most of a Mole Tire Shrinker. . . weighs a ton. . . too expensive to ship. The first person to show up at my door with $50 can have it. . . I'll throw in a 30-50HP hydraulic pump. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 00:59:48 GMT

What does a Mole tire shrinker look like? Any photos?
   - Chris Turley - Friday, 04/18/03 01:13:03 GMT

Ugly, no photos. Wood parts (stand) rotted off. Has sockets for levers (wood, not included) that operate gripper feet on HOT wagon tire. Tire is inserted and much weight is applied to levers to upset a section of tire. Frame of shrinker is heavy to withstand upsetting force.

ARMOUR-IN: Anyone been to the West Virginia ARMOUR-IN held by the Bannings? Thinking about going. Wondering if worth the 6 hour drive and nights on the road. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 01:42:51 GMT

Hi my name is whitney and i am 16. I am really interested blacksmithing, metalworking etc. but need some help. got any advice?
   Whitney - Friday, 04/18/03 01:52:25 GMT

Just to let you know. I'm not the sort of guy to hand a razor blade to a baby or a nut case. I'm 35 years old and long ago gave up any fantasy about crawling through caves and slaying dragons though rescuing a princess still holds some alure. I did tell my friend he could buy a machette cheaper than I could make one but he would like to have one that is hand forged by a friend. Steve is a bit of an outdoorsman and likes backpacking. He has a camp axe but wants a machette. His desire for a sword was more of "Hey, cool I have a sword." and that as much as the potential life hazard was why I declined to make the it. If you check some of the older posts you'll find my caution to a young fencer who was asking about foils, epees and sabres. I certainly agree that the person who makes such a device has the responsibility to guage the maturity and intent of the person they are making it for. Please be reassured that if I for an instant thought my friend was going to start slicing up young camp couselors by a mist shrouded lake I would not make anything for him except trouble. I also understand that your reponse was as much for general consumption as it was to address my question. Thanks for the advise.
   Will - Friday, 04/18/03 02:23:48 GMT

Whitney, What kind of help? Have you read our Getting Started Article? Looked on the 21st Century or iForge pages?

The Getting Started article (linked at the TOP and BOTTOM of this page) has a list of books to get you started as well as links to other resources.
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 03:28:02 GMT

Great Guru:

I missed the Armour-In last year (and i have a competing NPS/reenactment event this year) but I did stop by Ted's last summer. He seems to have a nice set-up, and draws bot a lot of talent and interest. Sort of an "all armor" version of Camp Fenby. Ted does beautiful work, as much sculpture in steel as protective armor. I suspect you'd enjoy yourself and come back with some good information. You'll love his "chariot", too.


No offense meant here. Sounds like you're the right sort of person to take up sword forging. You might want to gleen further information at http://swordforum.com/ . You have to dig a bit, but there's some good, specialized information there.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/18/03 03:48:57 GMT

"Poof, then prost!"
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/18/03 03:55:15 GMT

From the Mail: Silver wire

I have an interesting problem. I am in need of some 16 gauge sterling silver, half-hard wire. I have a small jewelry business and am having a hard time finding this item. I thought the experts at Anvilfire.com might be able to help me. Do you know where I can buy such sterling silver wire?

I did a google search and found several places that had 16ga dead soft wire. But the need is for half/hard.

I suggested getting one size up and rolling/drawing to size. That should make it half hard.

Any of you folks have a GOOD source for such silver wire?

   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 14:26:04 GMT

Silver wire: Jock; How about Handy & Harman at handyharman.com ? 3dogs
   3dogs - Friday, 04/18/03 14:40:11 GMT

Rio Grande, Gems & Findings?

   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/18/03 14:48:32 GMT

I was too quick to reply. Thunderbird supply had it (16ga half hard stelring silver round wire).

Handy Harmon LOOKS interesting until you try to purchase something from them OR figure out who to contact. The link to the division that makes sterling silver wire was to a place holder under-constuction page a Verisign. . . They are DEFINITELY NOT a web-savy business.
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 14:55:00 GMT

Jewelry Supplies:
Their cataloges are well-worth ordering; spend $30 and they'll refund the cataloge price. There are two catalogs, one for tools (which would be good for non-jewelry people, as well - anybody doing metalworking would find it useful) and one for "Findings and Gems". The latter is where you'll find the silver wire.

The Tools catalog is online, the other one is not. But if you know what you need (16ga half-hard sterling silver round wire, for instance), you can just call and talk to the sales rep.

I actually just purchased some sterling wire last week. Takes 2-4 days for them to get it to you.
   Mike the Red - Friday, 04/18/03 15:37:08 GMT

btw, Swest is from where everyone here at the University of Florida orders this kind of stuff - we've yet to find better selection or prices. (If you find either, please let me know so I can spread the word.)
   Mike the Red - Friday, 04/18/03 15:38:39 GMT

More wire.

online spec. chart and ordering
   Gronk - Friday, 04/18/03 15:42:52 GMT

I work for an aircraft repair shop and we have recently began into heavy fabrication/hydro forming/cecostamp drop hammer/ other heavy fab. tools. my question is concerning the spin forming of aluminum sheet. we have attempted to form a jet engine leading edge ("d-ring") this part is made from 6061-0 and once formed will be heat treated to proper temper. the die has been made and we have attempted to form a dozen. but we have only been able to partway form the outside radius then the mat'l becomes wadded even with a constant heating from an acetylene torch. this appears to be an art more than a "standard practice" where do i get info on how-to? feed rates, heating, pre forming, stress relief etc. for spin forming? remember this part is not small, the blank of alum is 41.5 in in dia. if ya'll can't help i understand as there is almost no info which i can locate as of yet. thank you in advance.
   Tim Landis - Friday, 04/18/03 15:57:33 GMT


For spinning aluminum, you need to have the aluminum annealed, but NOT hot. Generally, aluminum is annealed by heating to about 900º Fahrenheit and then quenching in water. The exact annealing process is dependent on the specific alloy. The manufacturer should have that information. At the first sign of work-hardening, you need to anneal again. It becomes very important to have your chuck designed so that the stock hits the same center point each time it is re-inserted after annealing. Your spinning tools (burnishers) need to be mirror polished and well lubricated with the appropriate lubricant for the material. For the SIMPLE spinning I used to do, I used tallow for a lube. I'm sure some of the newer water-soluble emulsion type lubricants would work extremely well.

If you're spinning parts for a jet engine, I would think that the liability exposure would be so horrendous that subcontracting it to an experienced, well-insured manufacturing firm would definitely be in order. If one of the sculpture bases or cups that I spun failed, somebody might be annoyed. If a jet engine part fails, many people might be killed or maimed. Given that, please understand that the advice I am giving here applies ONLY to spinning aluminum for hobby purposes, and DOES NOT apply to jet engines, race cars, heavy equipment, artillery or other potentially fatal pursuits!
   vicopper - Friday, 04/18/03 16:30:44 GMT

Tim, check out www.asm-intl.org. Go to the bookstore, click on Metals Handbooks, and check out Vol. 14. This book is about $200 so a trip to the library might serve as well. I agree with Vicopper, though. Jet engine parts are not a good place to start with this process.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 04/18/03 16:37:26 GMT

Aluminum Spinning of Aircraft Parts, etc.

Sometimes I just can’t believe the depth of knowledge available on this board.

Okay, someone ask me about leasing space to the “gummint”. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/18/03 16:48:05 GMT


Few people are aware that moles are one of the only species that have wheels instead of feet. Used to help in digging burrows they are equipped with multiple scoop like claws. The problem is when they run into clay or other hard going. Under these conditions they become clogged, "tired" and swollen with the soil and can no longer dig. Attempts have been made to use high-pressure stem cleaning equipment, but the moles rarely survive. The invention of the "Mole Tire Shrinker" has been a boon to moles worldwide, as now their "tired" swollen paws can be reduced to normal size. OBTW: This is also how "Paw-Paw" Wilson got his nickname as he has specialized in this obscure procedure.
   - grant - Friday, 04/18/03 17:11:11 GMT

More on Spinning: For parts with deep draws multi-stage forms are occasionaly used. In production situations the forms are each a stage between annealing so that the worker doesn't have to judge annealing times.

And you are right, it IS an art. I would be looking for an experianced spinner to advise and train you. There are many subtle things to look for and correct as you work. One problem with such large parts is FORCE. Spinning is done by hand for the delicate control needed but large parts need lots of pressure (proportional to a smaller part). Working too slow results in too much rubbing of the surface and rapid work hardening. Excessive work hardening requires more frequent annealing.
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 17:15:32 GMT

I made Ted's armour in last year and enjoyed myself quite a bit. I brought my forge and worked a fellow through a billet---ver refreshing to get someone who *didn't* want to make a knife---he wanted the PW for armour accents....

Ted had a nice place and was a great host, I crashed at his place and so kept the cost of the trip way down.

When's the next one? The coporate net nanny killed my visiting the armour archive where he was hanging out and I guess he lost my e-mail address...

Lots of armour got made, I learned a really neat trick on decorative fluting; but I can't say how others would like it. (Don't know *anyone* who was disappointed at the last one though!)

someone ask me about leasing space to the “gummint”.
OK Bruce I'd like to lease the space between Mars and Jupiter to the "gummint"---you could put a *planet* there (or does that bodes ill?) I'm an easy landlord, won't even insit on personal inspections...

   Thomas Powers - Friday, 04/18/03 17:42:11 GMT

Armour In, Thomas, Its May 1-4 (soon). The link in my query goes to the announcement page.
   - guru - Friday, 04/18/03 18:13:38 GMT

Sigh; I'm already double booked to do 2 Demo's that Saturday---I'm bringing a forge and the Y1K group I'm president of will be set up next to it---probably work on a cookpot I owe "us" and try for monolithic bi-avicide...

Thomas off for the weekend.
   Thomas Powers - Friday, 04/18/03 21:01:56 GMT

Okay, I know this is a little off-topic. But I've been looking around for this info on the Web for quite awhile now and nothing's shown up, so I thought I'd ask here... the aluminum spinning questions did raise my confidence level a bit. Anyway, my question is this: in the process of melting/alloying/pouring steel in a foundry, how is the carbon added? Do they just stir in some charcoal? (grin)

Tyler Gold in Honolulu, hot and sunny and amazingly not humid
   T. Gold - Friday, 04/18/03 22:34:41 GMT

Something I was not aware of is the wide variety of health disorders that plague the active blacksmith: Carpel tunnel syndrom, lactic acid build up, silicosis, etc. The most insidious problem seems to be Ligua Buccosis or Tongue in Cheek Syndrom. Grant Sarver, Paw-Paw and others seen to have an advanced case.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 04/18/03 22:45:05 GMT


re: Ligua Buccosis

How DAST you sirrah? I'll have you know that blacksmiths are known far and wide as being avid practioners of Lingua Veritatis! Grant & I are Renowned as expert practioners.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/18/03 23:23:56 GMT

Not only am I not a skilled metal worker but I'm pretty stoopid with computers! I can't seem to figure out how to search the archives for postings on working copper. I'm grinding out a couple of copper bladed swords and after doing one with a couple of wood rasps (fun!) I want to tackle the next one with a sidewinder grinder and a belt sander. However, as you probably know, applying power tools is going to heat the metal up to finger frying hot in no time. I'd sure this subject has been covered somewhere in the archives but I can't figure out how to build a search that will find the info.
   - Khym - Friday, 04/18/03 23:57:56 GMT

T. Gold. Carbon is unavoidably added to pig iron when coke is used to reduce the iron oxide ore in the blast furnace. When blast furnace iron is refined into steel, carbon is actually removed by injecting oxygen through a lance into the liquid metal or by blowing it through the liquid from the bottom of the vessel. When scrap is melted, the carbon may be too high or too low and can be reduced by the oxygen lance. It can be increased by adding ferroalloys that contain carbon. The oxygen combines with carbon to form Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide. The excess oxygen in the liquid iron can then combined with silicon or aluminum to "kill" the evolution of oxygen from the liquid metal. A sticky slag is created on top of the liquid to protect it from further atmospheric oxidation. As the steel boils, it carries impurities upward against the slag which traps them and cleans the steel. This slag is removed prior to tapping the steel into the pouring ladle. A second slag may be created in the ladle to further clean the steel in a Ladle Metallurgy Furnace or by bubbling argon through the liquid steel while in the ladle. On a historical note, a medium sized electric arc furnace can make 250 tons of steel PER HOUR. 150 years ago, 2-5 tons of wrought iron per day was considered a good days work.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 04/18/03 23:59:12 GMT

I got a price of 458.93 before shipping for .090 copper from copper and brass supply in the Chi. area. This price seems high for a 3 by six foot sheet. Anyone know a better source for 12 to 14 ga. copper sheet?
   andrew - Saturday, 04/19/03 00:24:36 GMT

This is probably "old hat" to you guys, and only curiosity on my part, but I saw an unusual cross-pein hammer head today. It looked to be 3 or 4 lb. It has two holes through it, parallel to each other. One is the handle hole, it's not quite round, the other is round, and goes through the pein part. The holes are both factory made.
It says Bell something, Bell systems maybe. There was a suggestion that it was a lineman's hammer.
Thanks for any comments, Jim.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 04/19/03 05:29:18 GMT

PPW, Grant;..way off topic
RE Mole Tire Shrinker
First, let's dispell the rumor that the MTS was an early attempt to treat melanoma..nor was it developed to revive the public taste for mole en mole'( a dish the public quickly became tired of).
Remote observation has revealed that the problem was exacerbated by the moles doing wheelies when bored. .
As you know , boring is boring.
The heat generated by the wheelies caused their tires to smell and swell resulting in clogged cogs.
Steam cleaning remained a popular solution far too long because the trogs developed a taste for steamed moles and understandably, the moles were really steamed at this treatment.
and so on
   Pete F - Saturday, 04/19/03 05:44:28 GMT


That works out to over six bucks a pound, which is more than just a bit high. The market price for copper was only 95 cents/lb two days ago, so you're getting charged a pretty stiff milling fee. Of course, .090 is a bit of an oddball guage, and the standard size sheet is 3 X 8 feet, so your sixe requirements may be driving up the cost. 14 guage sheet is only 3/4 the weight per foot of 11 guage, so you might save money there, plus it is a standard guage.

Revere Copper Products of New York often has good stocks of sheet, plate and bar. Give them a call, or try Midwest Metals in Westlake, OH.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/19/03 05:48:21 GMT

I can get 16 oz K copper sheet, 24" X 96" for less than $50 locally. Check with a sheet metal supply house. Here in Winston-Salem, it's carried by Raymond Supply. Roofers use a good bit of it for the best quality valleys (cut valleys, rather than woven valleys) and flashings.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/19/03 09:14:06 GMT

You mean I've got to stop shrinking on mole skin tires? How will I stop my mag wheels from getting blisters?
   Mike B - Saturday, 04/19/03 13:05:22 GMT

SWORDS: If I wanted to buy a real sword, I might not be able to. When I was stationed in Okinawa, the newspaper had an article on a traditional Japanese sword maker. Prices started at about $8000. BUT, you had to be worthy enough to own the sword. I would have had to have the money, but then I would have needed papers of introduction from my Karate instructor and other well respected people. THEN, the swordmaker would have to meet me and decide himself whether I was worthy enough to own his sword. And in ancient Japan, and maybe today, the sword was revered. If I were sitting down with my sword alongside, like at a tournament, and you stepped over my sword, that would be a major disrespect, and in days of old would have cost you your life. I now return you to your regualar scheduled blacksmith forum.
   Bob H. - Saturday, 04/19/03 13:12:37 GMT

Grinding Copper: Khym, there are some processes you do not apply to certain metals. Generally you do not grind soft metals (aluminium, copper, brass, silver) as they clog up grinding media. Brass being slightly harder than the others is sometimes ground with a belt grinder but it is generally not reccomended. Stainless (304 and similar soft varieties) is another metal that is generally not ground.

Copper is best shaped by annealing then hammering or rolling. It can also be hot forged but heating it tricky. Machining, filing and scraping also work. See our iForge demo on scrapers, they will work much better than files on copper. Properly dressed and applied they will produce great curls of metal chips.

When parts have heavy grinding done on belt or wheel grinders a machine designed to be water cooled is best. These have a tank and a coolant pump. The coolant is sprayed on the belt or wheel above the work and cools the work and belt while also reducing clogging of the grinding media. The coolant is normally water with water-soluable oil. When grinding large pieces the coolant often runs off the work or tool rest and onto the floor and makes quite a mess. In these cases the worker should wear rubber boots AND the machine be wired to a ground fault circuit breaker. These can get rather expensive on large motors. The waste coolant also must be replaced the floor mopped regularly. When this is a regular problem it is best to build a larger drip pan to catch the coolant.

DO NOT apply coolant to equipment not designed for it! Damage to the equipment or electrical shock may result.

When grinding items that are hand held you should always have a slack tub or quenchant handy to cool the work often.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/19/03 13:35:48 GMT

Stainless bar rail:

La Rosa Woodworking, another option is to use stainless steel sanitary piping (tubing) like in a dairy. There are premade wide radius bends (elbows) available to tig weld to the rest of the tubing. The finish on stainless sanitary tubing and fittings is also much better than the finish on stainless pipe so finishing would be less time consuming. Depends on the look you want. I know where to get it around here in WI, but I do not know where you are. Many stainless steel fabricators will know.

Mole tire shrinker.... LOL!
   - Tony - Saturday, 04/19/03 13:46:14 GMT

Buying Copper Hey guys! Don't forget about OUR on-line metals store!!!! We have .086 (14ga - 64oz) and .097 (13ga) listed as well as many other sizes. The on-line metals store is broken at the moment but should be running on Monday

Hammer with two holes Jim, this IS an odd ball but what the second hole is for IS line work. The last time I saw one in use it was being used to screw in those "L" shaped climbing bars in a pole. I have not seen these on poles in many years so I suspect the hammers are out of use. However, they may also be used for setting other types of anchors and bending anchor cable. This is a specialized field that I know little about but I DO know there are bunches of specialized tools (most multi purpose).
   - guru - Saturday, 04/19/03 13:56:32 GMT

Climbing Bars:

Had a talk with our local lineman the last time the power failed up in the forge. (Usually it's depressed squirrels ending it all, this time it was one of the bare copper leads cracked through, and then the other gave way as he repaired the first. But I digress...) he said that the "cherry picker" bucket system had pretty much eliminated the need for the old climbing bars, which were placed on poles where access was regularly needed. They may still show up on old poles well off the road or in isolated places, but nowadays it's usually up in the bucket or strap on the climbing spikes and shinny up the pole. Or at least that's how it is in our neck of Southern Maryland. Technology marches on!

Drizzle and cold on the banks of the lower Potomac, which makes it a good, cheery day for forging! Hope to get to my BGOP contest piece again today.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/19/03 15:15:32 GMT

"Space" leasing:

Thomas: I'm afraid that due to the fact that we rent space by the square foot the number of zeros following the $0. would exceed the world supply of paper, or even the memory capacity of any computer we downloaded the contract to. The good news is that on a $ per square foot basis, the space would be infinitesimally cheap. The bad news is that, that far out in the solar ring, there's so d@mn much of it! Since we would use up all the available paper supply before the lease was completed, I would have nothing to sign, and you wouldn't get paid. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/19/03 15:26:19 GMT


A condition that seems most common to metalurgists is recto-cranial inversion. I've known more than one who had his head up his arse.
   - grant - Saturday, 04/19/03 16:00:36 GMT

I kinda figured the cherry picker had ended the need for climbing bars. But also suspect that safety/libility reasons are part of the picture. There were many times as a kid that I wanted to try climbing one of those poles if I could just get to the first rung. . . Yep, stupidly dangerous, but that is what kids do. . .

   - guru - Saturday, 04/19/03 17:49:16 GMT


Mea Culpa, mea culpa. I should certainly have recommended the Online Metals store as a first choice! This is one of those times that my zeal to assist ran away with my good sense, and I overlooked a perfect opportunity to help support this site. I shall dunk my head in the slack tub in pennance.

The very fist broken bone I ever suffered was when I stupidly climbed a utility pole as an 8 year old intrepid explorer. The sudden stop at the bottom caused my right elbow to suddenly have more parts than it was originally equipped with. The explanation to my parents resulted in first a cast, then the necessity of taking my meals standing for a couple days until I could comportably sit again. (grin) Now I have a set of climbers and a belt...
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/19/03 18:13:07 GMT

Is there an additive or separating agent that can be used
in a molten lead pot for separating or cleaning the slag?
I know it has to be skimmed. My problem is getting pinholes
in the lead after I pour.
   Skip - Saturday, 04/19/03 18:35:48 GMT

Hello, I have a friend that lives near Boise Idaho I checked the coal scuttle for coal sources but there was only one. If you know of anyone that might be able to help me locate coal in Idaho or other blacksmiths in the vicinty of him it would mean much to me if you could get me the info.
   dunchadh - Saturday, 04/19/03 20:10:21 GMT

Grant: My comment was good natured and was intended to have a bit fun with a post you made regarding Moles. Paw-Paw took it in the proper context. Being accused of having your tongue in your cheek is hardly an insult.

I am insulted by your reply. It is hardly worth of a person for whom I had great respect.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/19/03 21:54:04 GMT

Dear Gurus,
The Illinois Valley Blacksmiths (IVBA) are building a new shop at Sugar Grove Nature Consovatory in sunny Funks Grove, Il. They wanted a blacksmith shop. They pay, we build, what a deal.
We are building 3 forges. My question is how to properly flash the chimneys through the corrugated steel roof.
Between Springfield and Bloomington off Interstate 55. Third Sat. 9-12.Everyone welcome. Next month we side. June we install forges.We hope. Thanks Steve
   Steve Paullin - Saturday, 04/19/03 21:55:57 GMT

Flashing: Steve, what kind of chimney? Brick, stone, triple wall pipe?

Brick is easy and is normally done by the mason using galvanised steel flashing. I prefer to do flashing while doing the roofing so that I can get a good long length UNDER the uphill side. The length under the roofing is determined by the slope of the roof. Low slope roofs need more overlap of flashing and roofing material. High snow load areas also need more overlap. The gap in the mortar is best created by the sheet metal as the brick is laid (rather than chisling afterwards). Normally pieces of flashing are set with the steps in the brick and overlap like shingles. Above the chimney the flashing goes under the roofing, on the sides it goes over the roofing with the top piece overlaping on top of the side pieces. Then below the chimney it goes over the roofing. When I have a choice I pre-flash beyond the normal distance. Sheet metal is cheap compared to roof repairs later. The vertical distance of the flashing is set by building code but is usualy a minimum of 10". On steep pitch roofs a dormer type thing is built on the uphill side of the chimney creating two valleys to divert the water around the chimney.

In stone it is trickier. Even steps like in brick need to be created so that where the flashing goes into the mortar joints there is a nice straight line. Then the flashing proceeds like the brick.

All pipe penetrations come with built in flashing. However, I pre-flash a greater distance with flat galvanized and then install the factory flash flange over and under that.

IF you do not know the details see Architectural Graphic Standards OR go to the library and get a book out on doing masonry work. And as always, check with the local building codes.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/19/03 22:34:53 GMT

Pinholes in Lead: Skip, the problem is gas disolved in the lead. This comes from entrapped air, oxygen liberated from melting and other causes. Various degasing methods are used but I am not sure what is used for lead.
There is a good possibility if you are melting scrap that you need to use a higher temperature, stir the melt, then when you pour do so in a way that does not entrap air (no high drops or dribbling). Preheating molds and vibrating them (a few taps with a mallet) before the metal cools will often release the air.

To help prevent oxidating WHILE melting a layer of charcoal is used on brass. I do not know if it would help lead.

   - guru - Saturday, 04/19/03 22:45:51 GMT

We do a lot of lead casting in our shop. Pinholes often occur when people forget to do one of a number of things:

1) If using scrap, you need to clean it as good as possible with a wire wheel or something similar. As Guru said, pinholes are caused by gasses trapped inside the molten lead - some of these can be the result of unclean lead.

2) The mold has to be COMPLETELY dry. If you're using a plaster/investment mold, you can bake it in your oven. 350-400 degrees, AT LEAST overnight - sometimes longer if it's a large mold. It takes time, but as it's baking, plaster/investment will start to sweat as the moisture leaves. You need to bake it until it stops sweating. Remember that this makes the mold a little weaker, and it can become crumbly, so you may want to handle it a little more carefully.

3) We've also noticed problems when pouring TOO hot. I don't know the exact temperature range, but if going hotter like the guru suggests doesn't work, try pouring as soon as all of the lead is molten.
   Mike the Red - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:03:39 GMT


I'm truely sorry. If I offended you, please believe that was not my intent. Sometimes I get carried away. Just trying to find a way to slip in that idiotic term. I hope you know that I have a great deal of respect for you also.

Can we kiss and make up?
   - grant - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:06:07 GMT

Dear Guru,
We are using 12" metal pipe. One dealer told me to just smash the ribs down flat and use lots of roof tar. I was hoping for something neater than that. The preformed flashing would fit under the metal roof on top, over on the bottom.
Thanks Steve
   Steve Paullin - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:14:25 GMT

Grant, I am glad I misunderstood your intent. I am also happy to re-establish our mutual admiration society. However, I don't kiss blacksmiths.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:21:00 GMT

I use beeswax as a flux when melting lead it helps congeal the slag and the fumes are a lot better than borax or others that cant be used. Pinholes are most often caused by the mould not being preheated.... if useing a silicone rubber mould try a sacrificial pour first to preheat the mould.... if useing a one time plaster, sand, or cuttle bone mould preheat in a toaster oven first... lead will also be less likely to pin hole if you use an amalgam with tin or antimony in it ( old style pewter )
   Mark P - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:32:30 GMT

I found a curiousity at the flea market last year and have yet to identify it. It's a hammer with two cross peins. One side is a normal horizontal cross pein the other is vertical. This is the only example of this pattern I've ever seen or even heard of. I was told by the seller that it was a rock hammer but I don't place much confidence in his knowledge of tools as he also had a rail hammer labeled as a trip hammer. There are no markings on the hammer I baught and as I said I've not been able to find even a mention of a similar tool. Has anyone heard of or used such a hammer? If so what is it called? Thanks for any leads.
   Will - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:52:34 GMT

reread my post.... I must have caught Paw-Paw itus (grin) that should be "can be used" not cant.... ( bows head in shame and goes away to read dictionary )
   Mark P - Saturday, 04/19/03 23:56:27 GMT

Steve, re roof flashing:

It sounds as though you're using corrugated roofing of some sort, or standing seam roofing. If that is the case, I can offer some advice as we use that type here as a rule.

Ideally, the chimney penetration is made and the chimney pipe installed before the roofing is laid, to make the flashing easy and most effective. the flashing collar for the pipe needs to go under the roofing upslope of the pipe and over the roofing on the sides and downslope. As Jock said, the amout or uphil run depends on your weather conditions and roof pitch, but 10" or more would be best. If you're setting the flashing as you roof, use plenty of plastic roofing cement around all edges.

In windy country such as here, the flashing is always peened into the valley of corrugated roofing on the downslope side and liberally annointed with roofing cement so that water doesn't blow up under it. On standing seam roofing, the peening becomes jmpossible, so we often clip into the flange enough to allow it to be bent down between ribs. Again, all connections are liberally gooped up with roof cement. On high-dollar standing-seam copper roofs, a custom flashing is fabricated in the shop to fit exactly on all sides, with all joints tabbed and soldered. It is a lot of work, but it yields a flashing that will not leak in your lifetime.
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/20/03 01:14:10 GMT

Oh, Dem Hammers

Yes, the hammer with the hole in it is a relic from an era when there was only one phone company. My friend Mike McRae of Scotia Metalwork still uses his memento of the the Bell System in his shop. They also had heavy duty claw hammers stamped Bell.

The double cross peen hammer sounds like a old style stone masons fitting hammer, tho it may have other names in other places. One face is for nibbling the edges left and right, one top and bottom, on the theory that it is faster and easier to turn a 4 lb hammer than a 40 lb chunk of rock. I know I have seen a picture in an old blacksmith book somewhere, if I find it, I'll post the reference.
   John McPherson - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:14:29 GMT

Odd Hammer II: Will, it could be for a variety of things depending on its size and shape of the peins. If they HAD sharp edges and the piens have a triangular section it was probably a chipping hammer (for arc welding). IF it is small (say a pound or less) and is has smooth piens then it is probably a silversmiths of coppersmiths raising hammer. If heavier it is probably an autobody hammer OR could be used for heavy raising and forming of armor.

The shape is not that odd or unusual but you will not find in in common tool catalogs. Check out the Kayne and Son on-line catalog and look on the hammer page. Lots of odd shapes there. Or look at the chart on the repoussetools.com web site. MANY similar but different shapes.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:20:44 GMT

John McPherson,
Thanks for the info on the hammer. It works wonders when stretching steel. I'd rather not damage it though. Is it safe to use on hot metal?
   Will - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:23:52 GMT

I hate it when I post the same time as you. The hammer is about 16 oz. maybe 20 oz. The edges are narrow but blunted nearly flat. This could have been done by the seller who "restores" his hammers before he sells them. I tried to tell him that removing the factory finish was a bad thing and he would be able to ask a better price from people like me if he just washed the crud off but he just shrugged. I hate buying stuff from him but sometimes it's just too good to pass up. I didn't think about it being a body hammer but then again that's why I asked you folks. Thanks again for the help.
   Will - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:33:15 GMT

Flashing dealer: Steve, 12" single wall? Tar? Sounds like a recipe for a fire to me and that employee should be looking for a new job. Even if it is triple wall I would keep the tar far from it.

For single wall pipe (a non-code installation) if the roof is on wooden decking then the wood needs to be cut back away from the pipe no less than 12" and old codes would say 30". Of course THAT is a six FOOT hole in the roof so nobody does it. Then several pieces of flat galvanized are used to create a nice flat square patch in the roofing with all the appropriat over and unders. I flatten the downhill roofing at an angle so that the flash rises up over it smoothly. Then the pipe flashing is fitted into the flat and the pipe stuck through. Use rubber sealed steel shell building screws to hold in the bushing. IF the pipe is not stainless then remember that all of this is going to need to be replaced about every 5 years. You want a good installation but it must be maintainable.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:33:28 GMT

Kissing Blacksmiths QC! I know a bunch of REAL purty FeMale blacksmiths that I wouldn't mind kissing. . :)

Odd Hammer III: Will, As John pointed out it may also be a stone cutters hammer (I forgot that one). They are made of the same or better steel than smithing hammers so a little hot iron won't hurt.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:37:42 GMT

Guru, Ok, so I can make a few exceptions. If Grant wants to send me a complimentary box of assorted "Off-Center" tools, I might even kiss him, too!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:48:16 GMT

Bad Tool Dressing: I have a bunch of old Atha flatters and odd tools that are badly mushroomed. I will not use them as-is. But if I keep them sitting on the shelf, don't use them. and they eventually go as collector's items, then they are better off mushroomed and split. If I NEED to use them then I will carefully dress them.

On the other hand I have a bunch of similar HAND MADE tools that SHOULD be more valuable and might be to a museum but are not to a collector (brand names sell). So I will dress them best a possible and use them with care. When I am done I am just one more in a sucsession of owners.

And THIS is something to remember. We all depart this earth and sooner than we want. Our collections of "old tools" will once again be on the market just as when WE bought them. Hopefully they go at auction to other smiths for a nice price and the proceeds benifit our families. But GO they will. And they will be yet another generation's treasure. Like the Earth itself we are only temporary caretakers of these things. And like the physicians creed we "should do no harm". Yes tools wear out and break. But out of our collections of tools how many will be that much worse for wear when we go. . . not many. And if you are a collector/user, then many will be in better condition.

It is something to think about.

Now I need to go order handles for a bunch of old hammers. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 02:59:27 GMT

Scams Yes the spam just keeps rolling in. . .

The newest scams are rather SICK. I know many of you are supporters of our armed forces and would like to help in any way you can. But beware. The SPAM scammers are selling everything from bogus "Iraqi most wanted" card decks (they are forgeries) to promissing donations to the troops for every pruchase. There is even a Iraqi version of the Nigerian scam. . . The Pentagon has stated that ALL of the current offers are scams and none have contacted the armed forces about donations. They say that some are so sophicticated and LOOK very slick that the scams were in production well before we actually went to war. . .

Remember, if it comes to you by SPAM then the people on the other end are probably crooks. Ignore it just like all the rest.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 03:10:12 GMT

QC, I can think of at LEAST 6 lady smiths that I would LOVE to "spend some time with"! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/20/03 04:33:48 GMT

I know absoulutely NOTHING about blacksmithing - let's establish this up front. But I do have a problem I'm hoping this craft can help me solve. I bushhog about 40 acres a month - personal property . My problem is keeping a cutting edge on the blades. They are very soft and starting with a properly ground edge (grind to sharp from one side) they wear to being fully rounded in about 4 hours. This requires a lot of hand grinding and wastes a lot of metal if I go all the way to a top only grind with a flat bottom. I've heard my father talk about how "down on the farm" they would heat and hammer plow points to bring back the edge because this did not waste as much metal as grinding. So this is one reason I need info on how to do it. The second wish is to hopefully harden the edge so they won't wear away so fast.

I've been to the technical heat treating sites and that stuff was way over my head - probably my dad's also. The heating to a temperature to where the metal is soft enough to hammer is easy enough. But how about hardening? How can I tell by eye that the metal is hot enough and how do I go about tempering? any further thoughts/advice would be appreciated.

   akj4467 - Sunday, 04/20/03 04:51:50 GMT

Copper is a wonderfully plastic metal but doesn't grind all that well because it is "sticky" and tends to load up abraisives quickly. If you gotta grind, try the special disks sold for grinding aluminum, which has the same problem.
As for heating the material, if you are using a sidewinder, the work should be clamped down firmly...both quicker and safer. Be sure to wear a particle mask for grinding.
Just as quick and more aesthetically pleasing, would be to hammer out your copper blade. That would take advantage of the metals virtues and you would end up with a work hardened blade that is less apt to go limp on a hot day.
Remember to anneal it along the way whenever the metal work-hardens and stops moving easily under your hammer.

Quenchcrack or the Good Guru or even Grant (G), a question. I'm wrapping a tool steel rod around a shaped mandril, using an oxy-fuel torch for heat...my 308 stainless mandril gets pretty hot and scarred up and requires dressing every 8 pieces or so. Should I be making the mandril out of H13? Or would another alloy hold up longer?
AKJ; Off the top of my uneducated head... The blades are probably now made softer than in the past for liability reasons..a soft blade is less likely to shatter and throw pieces at folks. Softer= tougher. Harder = more brittle. The ideal is usually a compromise and it would be best to have a somewhat harder edge and softer body. If the blade steel doesn't contain enough carbon, then heat treating wont help and the best you can do is to work harden the edge a bit by beating it into shape cold like they used to do with scythes.
If it does have some carbon ( look up spark tests) then it might be hardenable but risky. After you heat the steel to orange to beat it into shape, let it slowly cool, then test the hardness with a file. If it is still soft,reheat only the edge to red and quench with a fine water spray mist. Again, test with a file. If it is too hard ( the file won't bite into the steel ) you'll have to temper it to get back some toughness... grind the surface clean and slowly heat till it turns a pleasant blue ( a little less than 500 degrees ). However, if it still doesn't harden, heat the edge to bright red and hose it down, then test again aqnd so on.
probably a more practical solution would be to preheat the blade and run a wee little flat stringer bead of hardfacing along the top of the cutting edge. As the softer bottom steel wears away, it should present the hard cutting edge.
Please note that i'm unqualified to answer this question and only a man waiving all liability concerns would deign to even consider following my late night babble.
Geeze, it's 1 am..why'd you keep me up so late?
   Pete F - Sunday, 04/20/03 08:28:31 GMT

I just bought a MIG welder to use for welding repair panels on my 1958 chevy pickup I am restoring. I have been using a arc welder for years, but can not seem to weld 18-20 ga. sheet steel without burning holes in it. Any suggestions?
Also, whats a good book for guidance on this type welding?
Thanks for your help. Keith
   Keith - Sunday, 04/20/03 13:42:40 GMT

AKJ, Many blades are austempered, a heat treatment that is designed to create a specific microstructure, called bainite. It is a compromise between the brittle, fully haardened martensite and dead soft ferrite and pearlite. Trying to re-create this structure is beyond the home hobby shop. As Pete said, a better solution would be to take the blade to a qualified welding shop and have them run a bead of hardmental along the top of the cutting edge. The danger in this is that the balance of the blade may be affected as it rotates at high speeds. This will not be good for the engine and bearings. If you do this, you should make every effort to re-balance the blade. Note: Modification of rotating cutting machinery may void your warranty and expose you to liabilities you may not choose to face. Where is Slag when I need some good Legalese?

Paw-Paw, I am shocked that you admit to lusting after lady Blacksmiths!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/20/03 14:26:21 GMT

Pete, 308 is an austenitic (soft), corrosion-resistant stainless and it probably not the best choice for heat and abrasion resistance. H13 would be a better choice but would probably be rather costly. Does this mandrel get red hot as you heat the rod to bend it? If so, H13 (or any of the H-grade tool steels) is probably the better choice. If it doesn't get cherry red and if this doesn't involve items you will be making forever, I might suggest just using 4140 or 4340, oil hardened to about 35-38Rc. It would resist deforming for a fairly long time and could be dressed and re-hardened when necessary. Having visited your site (I left you an e-mail from the site), I can hardly wait to see what you are making with mandrel-wound, tool-steel rods!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/20/03 14:48:15 GMT

Pete, One more thought. Is there any way you could bore a hole through the mandrel lengthways and water cool it?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/20/03 14:51:22 GMT


A couple of them are red-heads.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/20/03 16:00:54 GMT

Modifying Mower Blades: Modern mower blades are soft worthless things. Why? Injuries and libility. As soon as you replace the blade with anything NOT OEM then THEY are off the hook and any problems are on you, your welder and anyone else involved.

The best "grind" for a modern mower blade is NOT a tapered edge but a flat square edge. This is sharper than the taper after it becomes rounded and will stay sharp longer than the taper.

Years ago I had someone mowing our lawn using our lawnmower. They insisted on sharpening the blade every time they mowed. . . In the first half hour of use the blade was just as dull as before. . This makes sharpening worthless AND results in a very short blade life. So I insist that it is used AS-IS.

Yes, the answer is harder blades. I suspect there ARE manufacturers that make mowers with them. But a large number have gone the route of soft libility safe blades.

Drawing out plow points is a different thing than sharpening mower blades. A plow point (most were actually disks) do not fly apart and take your head off. I've seen a broken mower blade fly 250 feet and then smash through the safety glass window of an automobile AND THEN continue out the through the opposite window. It would have killed or maimed anyone in its path. That is why modern blades are soft.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 16:22:20 GMT

MIG Welder Keith, There is no magic ot "trick" to it. Just practice, practice, practice. The problem with welding old car body material is that it is not as thick as it once was. . Another problem is that MIG does not work on rusty or dirty metal. It must be clean on both sides.

Years ago I used to do lots of exhust system repair using a buzz box and 3/32" E6011 rods. There was no such thing as running a bead. You scratched around and let the arc do its job in small patches. After enough repitition you had some material built up. I cannot do it today. For the past 20 years all the welding I have done has been REAL steel (1/8" min. and average 3/8").

MIG is often used on auto body work. The trick is to turn the machine down to the point where you just barely get an arc. The wire speed must also be turned down slow. Most of this is trial and error. THEN you have to learn to weld at these low settings. Every machine is different and some machines do not have the same adjustments as others.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 16:36:50 GMT

I'm really curious about pinning on bolsters, what type of steel should i use so thatthere wont be any noticeable marks between the bolster and the pins. thanks for your help
   HammerFall - Sunday, 04/20/03 16:42:13 GMT

Bolsters on what? Related too? Bolster is a generaic term applicable to many fields.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 19:32:51 GMT

Ok, so on IForge demo 68, (I have not tried it yet), how does the round bar weld fluidly into the stem? (As in that it curves into the stem without creating a square or recessed corner....?) Also, why does it state that its easier than making a ball out of larger stock, neck a bit of a stem off of that and welding it to whatever stock size you need it for... seems to me that if you are going to weld that this would be the quicker and easier weld...
   Rodriguez - Sunday, 04/20/03 21:16:16 GMT

Welded Ball: Rodriguez, If you notice the sample the original shank has been reduced somewhat, this is where the blending comes in. I've welded square bar (similar to a collar) onto square stock with little or no reduction in the bar. At a welding heat just enough metal flows at the joint to make a very small fillet.

This is an easy forge weld that rarely fails. If you are good at forge welding then producing a stem on a larger piece and then welding it on to another bar is just a bit more effort. If you have a power hammer it is simple enough to just draw out the entire shank. However, it is STILL faster and takes less fuel to forge weld a small amount of mass on the end of the bar rather than do a lot of drawing.

Another fast way to make a ball on a rod is to use a heavy hex nut that just fits the bar (a 5/8" nut fits 1/2" bar). Force it on the bar, bring it to a welding heat and then shape in a ball die. In the process the threads cut into and weld to the bar. Sometimes you do not get a perfect weld but it is VERY fast and takes little effort.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/20/03 23:49:28 GMT

Hammerfall, the detailed answers to all your knifemaking questions can be found in the tutorials at ckdforums.com or bladeforums.com or even KnifeForum.com, which are specialized knifemaking forums. This is a general blacksmithing forum, and while most of the folks here can and do make knives, it is not their major preoccupation.

The short answer is buy the *exact* same material from a supplier for bolsters and pins. Drill the bolsters with a new, high quality bit in a mill or drill press that does not wobble, and polish the pins before use to remove any surface oxidation. Leave about one pin diameter protruding on each side and peen carefully. Grind flush. Some people use crazy glue or epoxy or even JB Weld to seal the gap between tang and bolster. Sometimes contrasting pins can be good, if you work to a pattern. You can also blind pin and glue so that no pins show. Most damascus bolsters are done this way. Just don't expect perfection on the first try.
   John McPherson - Monday, 04/21/03 00:24:13 GMT

A customer has asked me to source a brass sheet laminate. Ideal would be CDA Alloy 280, Muntz metal in .020 or .025 with a self stick backing for lining elevators. Do you know a source where I could acquire this or some substitute in small quantity? 800-254-7580 x225
   Anthony Segraves - Monday, 04/21/03 13:38:07 GMT

Sunbeam Stewart Industrial Furnace 128-C.picked up one at an auction, does anyone one have one in use as forge? Any info on it or where I can get some? Thanks, Jim
   jim - Monday, 04/21/03 14:10:05 GMT

Brass: Anthony, For architectural uses there are ASTM specs for standard brass finishes (texture, color). Much of what you see on large surfaces is plated steel but some is solid. I used to have specialty metals catalogs for this type thing but have let them go long ago.

If you need UNS C26000 (Cartridge Brass) or C356000 (Engraver's Brass) it is available in cut sizes from our on-line metals store.

These are likely suppliers from Thomas Register (manufacturers will point you to their distributors). Hope these help.

Apollo Metals Ltd. (brass plated sheet)
Bethlehem, PA

Polished Metals Limited
Out Of State Call: 800-526-7051, Ext. 287
Hillside, NJ

Rigidized® Metals Corp.
Buffalo, NY
   - guru - Monday, 04/21/03 15:28:30 GMT

Sheet Copper Prices: Just checked our on-line store.

Prices start at $8/lb for small pieces but drop to $4/lb on large sheets (3 x 4 ft). The price problem for stocking distributors is that copper prices fluctuate wildly. I checked other stocking distributors and this was a competitive price. However, you have to look closely at the product as it is sold in different thicknesses making it difficult to compare. Some is sold in oz wt. thicknesses and others in gauge. All give the actual thickness dimension and this should be used rather than gauge or oz. when specifying or comparing material.

Note that when thicknesses are given in oz (ounces) that the ounce weight is for a square foot of wrought iron and the resulting thickness. The oz weight has nothing to do with copper (or brass) which due to its density will weigh more than the oz wt thickness.

   - guru - Monday, 04/21/03 15:50:52 GMT

Kissing Smiths. Quenchcrack, I'm hurt! Of course, I think my husband is happier with your attitude.
   Monica - Monday, 04/21/03 16:27:49 GMT

Sunbeam furnace company is now called Seco-Warwick. I belive they have a website but you will have to Google for it.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 04/21/03 17:00:05 GMT

Monica, for your husband, kissing a blacksmith is perfectly acceptable. For me and Paw-Paw, it gets a bit....um...troublesome.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 04/21/03 17:04:00 GMT


For laminates with metal finishes, check with the Formica people. Formica, WilsonArt and PurMetal all produce metal-faced high pressure laminate sheet goods. These are normally applied with contact cement. I am not aware of any that have PSA backing. Look in the yellow pages under Plastics, High-pressure Laminates.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/21/03 18:49:56 GMT

Mark P
I have a hammer similra to the one you describe (opposed cross peigns, note correct spelling of peign, well I am English) sitting on the desk in front of me. It's a flanging hammer, used for raising flanges on sheet metal pipe by tinsmiths and sheetmetal workers. BTW, I am a metalsmith with 38 years experience in Britain.
   arthur chilcott - Monday, 04/21/03 20:08:19 GMT


You mentioned that a flea market seller had a hammer which he called a trip hammer and you called a rail hammer. Was this hammer a hand/sledge type hammer or a mechanically opperated hammer? If mechanical, could you describe it? The reason I ask is that Little Giant advertised a hammer that looked like a trip hammer with a wide vertical slot in the the anvil. It was supposed to be used almost like an arbor press I think. Anyway, I am just curious as I don't know of any of these odd LG's that actually were produced.
   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 04/21/03 20:24:21 GMT

Can you please help. I am making some sculptural wall pieases out of 4mm copper strips. The strips vary in size but on average are 4" wide by 5' long and are woven together to make a lattice. I was going to braze them together but that doesn't seem to be working. I can't seem to get the copper up to heat. Not even close. I have been told that this is because of the weaving and the copper itself conducting the heat away too quickly. Would you be able to tell my anything about mig or tig welding copper, paricularely mig as I know how to do this. Thank you very much for your assistance.
   Dave - Monday, 04/21/03 21:02:24 GMT


You will definitely have trouble brazing or welding that copper. Copper has a thermal conductivity nearly as high as that of silver, which means that you have to get a huge amount of heat into it to get one area up to brazing or welding heat. Since this is a sculptural wall piece, why not use rivets to hold it together?

Riveting will hold the pieces together very strongly, and if done correctly will not even be visible without a powerful magnifying glass. Use copper wire or rod of the same alloy as the strips and countersink the rivet holes where the "head" is formed. The rivet stock should be about three diameters longer than the thickness of the two pieces of copper. Push the wire through the holes, back it up with a heavy steel block and peen the end of the wire to mushroom it into the countersunk hole. Repeat the process on the other side, peening until the two pieces of sheet are firmly held together. The heads can then be dressed down with abrasives or a chisel until they are perfectly flush with the surface of the sheet. I would use rivets about 3 or 4 mm in diameter. Two rivets at each lap will create a very strong piece for hanging on a wall, and won't take that much time to do.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/21/03 21:31:09 GMT


I agree with vicopper about using rivets rather than welding your copper strips. You can Mig weld copper but it's not the same as squirting out a bead on steel and you would probably want to do it on the back of the piece because you won't have a perfect color match. In addition you will definately see the heat discoloration on the front of the piece. Tig welding would be better if you had the equipment and experience but you would still have discoloration to deal with.

To mig weld copper you would use silicon bronze wire (very expensive!)and Argon as your shielding gas. You will need to run short stringer beads (which are not going to look pretty without lots of practice). Even with a high power setting you may need to use a torch to do a partial preheat. An Air Acetylene torch preheat helps to minimize the cold start lump you may otherwise get at the beginning of your beads. You need to have a serious shop welder to do this- it's going to take some power and a small body shop type welder with a low duty cycle is not going to cut it. Vi's suggestion may at first sound like a lot of work but is probably the least time consuming and the least trouble in the long run. Soft rivets set really fast once you get going.
   SGensh - Monday, 04/21/03 22:45:49 GMT


Although Rich (Vic) is dead-on with using mechanical fasteners, I have successfully TIG welded copper. I'd say no way with MIG, as there's not enough heat.

The rod I use to weld OFC is run-o-the-mill Home Depot #12 electrical wire (I don't need to tell to to remove the insulation first, do I?)... ;-)

It take LOTS of heat to weld copper, so figure on a bunch of distortion and discoloration -- and expect to burn yourself a few times as well... ;-)

I'd stick with Vic's plan myself.
   Zero - Monday, 04/21/03 22:51:11 GMT

Zero, Tig is the way to go if for copper or high copper alloys if you have that choice. Before I got the tig I had to fabricate a group of window grilles of 1/2 Square copper bars and 1/4 by 2 flats. I riveted the square bars to the curved flats but each flat had to be welded to a mating 1/4"piece. I did it with my Millermatic 200 using small coils of Silicon Bronze in the Spoolgun. It really does work; yes it does take a lot of heat but it can be done! I just wouldn't recommend it to anyone as a first choice. All those pounds of Alu wire may have helped with the copper I guess.
   SGensh - Monday, 04/21/03 23:27:54 GMT

Copper: Good sugestions. But I have seen a lot of brazed copper. Yes it conducts heat rapidly but not a whole lot worse than welding brass with brass. For all the welding/brazing methods mentioned it takes a LOT of BTU's.

Dave didn't say what kind of torch he was using. Propane WILL NOT work. This requires oxy-acetylene. For MIG or TIG it takes a heavy duty industrial machine (no economy home shop units). No matter how it is done there must be sufficient BTU's.

Riveting really is the way to go on this if it fits the design. Use soft electrical wire for rivets. Countersunk holes can result in flat invisible joints.
   - guru - Monday, 04/21/03 23:56:56 GMT

hammer humor: I don't want to provoke a profundity of unecessary verbiage,but humor could be considered therapuetic for those of us on the ragged edge of sanity. So what do the tongue-in-cheekers think of a trip hammer? is it a tool that one would take on vacation? or ?
   anvillain - Tuesday, 04/22/03 02:12:14 GMT


I wouldn't have thought of using a MIG to weld copper. You posted just before me on that thread, so please don't think I was knocking you!

I've got a Millermatic 250 but no spool (cobra) gun. I assume shooting the fine si/brz wire is the key? When in doubt I always fall back on my Miller 330A BP TIG, she'll hit 460 amps DC with EVERYTHING else on the property turned OFF... ;-)
   Zero - Tuesday, 04/22/03 03:14:28 GMT

Like Guru, I have seen a lot of brazed copper. It's a very common sight around our shop.

I don't know about MIG or TIG welding copper, but, as Guru said, brazing copper requires oxy-acetylene tourch.

Also note that you CAN oxy-acetylene weld copper. This requires "phosphul copper." I've only seen it come in rods about 2 feet long, and usually at a price of $1 a rod.

I will also agree that riveting is a valid option, though I've tried it a couple times and it's a lot more difficult to make hidden rivets than it would seem.
   Mike the Red - Tuesday, 04/22/03 04:15:39 GMT

Zero; I also have a Miller 300A A/BP, Great machine! However, I don't have that much trouble with Hi freq interference in the rest of the house. At least the wife hasn't complained.....yet! Big Grin!
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/22/03 13:11:36 GMT

Trip Hammer:

The original was that big sledge that the careless apprentice always left lying on the shop floor instead of hanging on the rack!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/22/03 13:41:41 GMT

Zero, I didn't think you were knocking me, I hope It didn't seem like I was taking some kind of offence. I like to hear other opinions and I surely know that there is an awful lot left to learn (and unlearn). I just wanted to be sure others understand that you really can do this but it's not real easy. I used .035 wire and a high setting (its been a while ). You have to use a dragging technique firing the wire into the molten pool. As I remember pushing left everything piled up in an ugly mess. Since I've gotten the tig (Miller Syncrowave 250) I use that for any Brass and Copper welding I do. Have you tried using yours for any HeliBrazing? Works great for Cast iron repairs or finicky wire form setups.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 04/22/03 13:45:02 GMT

A Question for our Legal Minds:

A young woman from Canada has written that her husband has been employed in a 5 year "apprenticeship" position in a metal working shop. During that time he is supposed to go to school three times for a quarter each. So far he has worked 8 months at very low wages. She says,
He has not been given a raise nor has he signed any kind of apprenticeship contract with his employer. Can you tell me if you think he is being taken advantage of and if so do we have any legal rights on this issue?

I have told her there is not much they can do with a verbal contract unless they want to be in an adversarial relationship with the employer. But I do not know anything about labor law in Canada.

I also told her that it could be a case where her husband needs to stand up for himself and ask for a raise or contract.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/22/03 13:52:41 GMT


This week our server will be OFF LINE for several hours during a move. Tentatively it is scheduled for the early hours (4am EST) of Thursday April 24th.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/22/03 14:23:49 GMT

Missing Questions and Posts

I have just found a forum data file that I have no clue where is is coming from. . It was setup as a test file but has 100's of current posts from some neglected form or some form that is not supposed to be publicly available.

Currently trying to solve the mystery. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/22/03 15:06:59 GMT

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/22/03 15:21:16 GMT


I just wanted to clarify my comment since our posts overlapped, just in case. I have Helibrazed, especially if I'm making a large split bronze bearing. I split the bearing, tig-braze the ends together, turn I.D. and O.D. then cut off the brazing. Works wonderful!

Wayne Parris: Those old Millers are nice machines. The high freq makes my CD player skip in the shop, but that's about it. You still in the Lake Mathews area? If so we're practically neighbors, I'm east of the 215 in Nuevo.

Apprenticeship: Here in California apprenticeships are overseen by the state. When you get your journeyman, you get a card and certificate from the state. The guidelines are very broad, and don't cover things like wages or content (those are set by the shop, and approved by the state -- so they can vary widely). When I had apprentices (Tool & Diemaker) some would complain about wages. I'd have to call my competitors and find out what they were paying, we were always pretty close. This may have changed, but it was standard to have a graduating apprentice making about 1/2 the wage of a 4 year journeyman.
   Zero - Tuesday, 04/22/03 15:27:53 GMT

I have a forge near Johannesburg, South Africa and am having problems rebuilding my 65 kg Beche power hammer. There are very few power hammers in SA. Missing are a valve mechanism in the air chamber above the tup, and there is absolutely no mechanism for regulating stroke length. If there is anybody out there who can possibly be of assistance, please help! Perhaps someone has an old manual (the machine is around 80 years old) or could provide a sketch or description of how these components actually work.
   Shirley - Tuesday, 04/22/03 19:20:29 GMT

I have a forge near Johannesburg, South Africa and am having problems rebuilding my 65 kg Beche power hammer. There are very few power hammers in SA. Missing are a valve mechanism in the air chamber above the tup, and there is absolutely no mechanism for regulating stroke length. If there is anybody out there who can possibly be of assistance, please help! Perhaps someone has an old manual (the machine is around 80 years old) or could provide a sketch or description of how these components actually work.
   Shirley - Tuesday, 04/22/03 19:21:14 GMT

I have a forge near Johannesburg, South Africa and am having problems rebuilding my 65 kg Beche power hammer. There are very few power hammers in SA. Missing are a valve mechanism in the air chamber above the tup, and there is absolutely no mechanism for regulating stroke length. If there is anybody out there who can possibly be of assistance, please help! Perhaps someone has an old manual (the machine is around 80 years old) or could provide a sketch or description of how these components actually work.
   Shirley - Tuesday, 04/22/03 19:22:14 GMT

I have a forge near Johannesburg, South Africa and am having problems rebuilding my 65 kg Beche power hammer. There are very few power hammers in SA. Missing are a valve mechanism in the air chamber above the tup, and there is absolutely no mechanism for regulating stroke length. If there is anybody out there who can possibly be of assistance, please help! Perhaps someone has an old manual (the machine is around 80 years old) or could provide a sketch or description of how these components actually work.
   Shirley - Tuesday, 04/22/03 19:22:27 GMT

Yes I am still in Lake Mathews. You are indeed just a hop, skip and a short jump away! I am supprised you remembered that I lived here, it has been a while since I said so. We must get together sometime. You can contact me at this email address. This is my public address (read overloaded with spam) but I will be on the look out for your email.

I am indeed happy with the Miller Tig welder. I have it on a 50 amp breaker (rather than the 170 that they ask for in the manual or even the 105 amps it is supposed to draw wide open) I have run it up to 235 amps ac high freq. without any problems though.
   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 04/22/03 19:37:07 GMT


I Put one guy through apprenticeship (tool & die). The program here is overseen by the local metal trades council, a union organization, though the shop need not be union. It was 5 year with about 500 hours of required classroom (through the local tech school). Starting pay was 50% of journeyman and went up every six months to reach journeyman in five years. I should mention that this person had 1500 hours of machine shop training before he could start the apprenticeship. Out here journymen T & D make about $28.00 - $30.00 per hour.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/22/03 22:16:04 GMT

Anvillain; I don't know if it qualifies as a hammer, but I do have a pipe tomahawk that might take care of the "trip" part.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 04/22/03 22:37:12 GMT

Shirley; Try http://www.machineco.com/hammer_Air_220lbs_Beche_euro_1_stk9210.htm
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 04/22/03 22:54:37 GMT

Has anyone read the foxfire book on blacksmithing? I heard something about it today and wondered if it was anything good.
   HammerFall - Wednesday, 04/23/03 00:01:23 GMT

I am looking for plans for a post vise that I could fabricate myself with my new mig welder. Any help or comments appreciated.
   Ed Christianson - Wednesday, 04/23/03 00:12:21 GMT

I admit it. I've been a lurker on your site for over a year now. I've been doing some hobby blacksmithing for about that long. I finally have a question I hope you can help me with. I have a very old forge (one of many) that looks like a square metal trunk. The legs and blower assembly come off and go inside. The lid is missing though. Someone told me it was a cavalry forge. Can someone tell me more about it? What era would it have come from? What might it be worth? I would appreciate any pictures of one. Thanks.
   Tim the Toolman - Wednesday, 04/23/03 00:18:16 GMT

Ref to Rail Hammer/Trip Hammer. It was indeed a hand held hammer for driving rail spikes. I've always wanted one just to have it but I can't see spending the cash. If you want to know what they look like for sure watch the movie STREETS OF FIRE. At the end is a great fight scene and it's the only fight scene I know of that involves hammers. If I ever get a 500 lb anvil I may buy one of these rail hammers. They're just too cool to look at.
   Will - Wednesday, 04/23/03 00:35:11 GMT

Ed Christianson, A funky threaded rod and "nut" can sometimes be recycled from an old office chair bottom.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/23/03 00:59:44 GMT

Ed Christianson, A funky threaded rod and "nut" can sometimes be recycled from an old office chair bottom.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/23/03 01:01:08 GMT

Thanks Quenchcrack, I contacted SecoWarwick about my Sunbeam Stewart Industrial furnace but they no longer can service or have manuals on them. Any other ideas?
   jim - Wednesday, 04/23/03 01:27:03 GMT


It sounds like it might be the US Cavalry model forge, but the Artillery also had a forge that was very similar. If you can send some pictures of what you have, I can probably identify it for you.


Foxfire Five is the Foxfire series book that has the most about blacksmithing in it. I enjoyed it. My copy has grown legs, and I think enough of it that I'm going to buy another copy.

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/23/03 01:29:36 GMT

Apprenticeships in Canada are overseen by the apprenticeship and trades board they lay down in contract form the rates of pay that an apprentice will make during this time (usually a % of the journymans rate) he should contact his local board where he should have registered his apprenticeship and get a copy of the contract .... if he does not have a local board I can send you the number for the one here in Kingston ... by the way I know this because I did my apprenticeship through the local office they are very big on paperwork he would know if he was a properly registered by the stack of paper work as tall as he is.
   Mark P - Wednesday, 04/23/03 02:14:00 GMT

I need to unbend an antique piece of aluminum that shows signs of cracking when moved. Can I aneal it and straighten it out without harming the metal further? Anealing is to be at 640-670 degrees F??? I would appreciate your advice in this matter. Thanks Randy Thill
   Randy - Wednesday, 04/23/03 03:03:27 GMT

Gurus: a question on health/safety if I may. I have a belt grinder and a 10" bench grinder, and if the clinkers I pull out of my snozz daily are any indication, there be particles about. I am thinking of building a sorta bench cabinet shield setup for the grinders, and would like to tell ya my thinking, so's all you gurus could go tisk tisk and straighten me out. I am thinking I want the grinders mounted on a permable surface (hd expanded metal?) with a fall down into a removable bin for heavy particles, with suction to exhaust the fines out side. Probably with one fan, each machine to have its own sucker with air gates to isolate the draft. I think I will build hoods over the business parts, with lights. Any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated. Also you could settle an argument with a crusty old bs in the area, who never sweeps his floor, and AR me who sweeps the shop every month or so in tribute to my old metal shop teacher back in '56. Thanks in advance.
   - Tim - Wednesday, 04/23/03 04:08:43 GMT


My point of view might be a little predjudiced, since I have Emphysema.

You NEED the exhaust system, and the one you describe should work well.

As for sweeping your floor, how much grinding and sawing swarf do you want embedded in your Oxyacetylene hoses? Where they can eventually cut through and give you either an oxygen or an acetylene leak in your shop>
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/23/03 04:46:08 GMT

Tim, if you have a Shop Vac, the blower attachment might be a better option than a broom for the reasons Paw Paw mentioned.

Does anyone know what kind of metal the removable weights that go on barbells are usually made of? I'm thinking CI, but it would sure kick butt around the block and back if they were something nice and forgeable (I just came into 206lbs of them, free! [VBG]) Planning to use one of the 35lb ones for a temporary anvil and one of the 10lb ones as a tuyere to replace my delicate ceramic one. While I'm on the topic, any other ideas for some uses? I've got a couple each of 35s, 25s, 10s, 6s, 5s, 2.5s... wide assortment.

P.S. If anyone on Oahu wants one, go ahead and drop me a line.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 04/23/03 05:47:31 GMT

Hammerfall; I'll second PawPaw on the Foxfire book. I first read it over 20 years ago, and it's still fun to go back to it every now and then, as it is with all the old classic smithing books that came out of the woodwork when ABANA got this ball rolling again. All the pages on my copies are worn down so thin that they only have one side now. Get 'em, read 'em, treasure 'em. Best regards, 3dogs.
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 04/23/03 06:46:23 GMT

Got another question: can a gas forge (blower, not atmo), adjusted to slightly reducing, be safely closed (i.e. with a door)? Assume that there's a little space around the burner nozzle.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 04/23/03 08:20:37 GMT

While it is widely believed that a trip hammer is one that's constantly in the way and gets stumbled on a lot, in fact the derivation is english and referrs to an early attempt to apply the methodology of the industrial revolution to killing the plant sucking insect thrips. It was quite effective, few thrips escaped, but the veritiatio suffered to excess. As you know, blacksmiths are an extremely serious lot and humor , as you intuited, is as unacceptable as beer.
Dave, as per usual, I'll happily disagree with wiser heads and say, sure, you can weld copper . If your copper is too massive for your torch ( I'm assuming oxy-acet), pre assemble all the pieces and preheat with a weed burner on a refractory table ( firebrick is good). Once the whole piece is hot, then do all the joints. Phosphor bronze rod would be a good color match or you could just shear a strip off the edge for filler metal, use flux and clean carefully.

Silver solder requires a lot less heat than welding or brazing and is quite strong enough.
There are AC arc rods that will do it ( kinda ugly though) and a MIG will as well but it also wants a preheat.
If you are weaving the strips together, then just a few tacks on the edges might suffice, and the edges are the easiest to weld or braize.
Of course, as mentioned , TIG welding would be best.
By the time you are done straightening and refinishing, the rivet idea will seem pretty good.

Ed; Generally a post vise is a bigger proposition than most MIG welders are good for and is mostly 2 massive forged components. You are talking about a lot of preheating and lots and lots of little beads.
T Gold; Yes probably cast...machines nice usually..fair chance it won't survive long as an anvil unless it is malliable CI.
Tim; I have about a square yard of filters that are grey-brown to black now, but they started out white. I hate having that mask on my face, but when I think of that crap in my lungs...it's convincing. Paw Paw is right..again. Many of those particles stay right there in your lungs the rest of your life, some are quite toxic. If your boogers are black a lot, so are your lungs. Replacement parts are rather expensive.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 04/23/03 09:28:18 GMT

Sunbeam Furnace
Jim, I don't recall if you mentioned whether it was gas or electric. If electric, a good electrician should be able to fix it. If gas, an industrial furnace repair service could probably work on it. If you just need a manual, I have no idea where you could get one.
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 04/23/03 12:34:02 GMT

Spring Fling 03 Thanks to those who registered this year.
Do to the long winter weather ,the ground is wet this year .we have lots to do,so bear with us .
The grounds and tailgating will open at 3pm on FRIDAY.
   - BGOP - Wednesday, 04/23/03 12:37:42 GMT

Thanks Frank Turley for the threaded rod suggestion. Pete F. Thanks for the information...I will keep this in mind.

   Ed Christianson - Wednesday, 04/23/03 13:39:14 GMT

Fabricating Post Vise: Hmmmmmmmmmm. . . I think The Blacksmith's Journal has plans for one.

Otherwise. . WHY? Beautiful vises in good condition a readily available at flea markets and from tailgaters at blacksmith's meets. I recently paid $80 for a perfect 40 pound vise (they sell by weight not inches) at the local flea market. AND the fellow had another one that he sold the following week. The going price from blacksmith/tailgaters is $135 to $195. Although this is not the $25 each I paid for vises in the 1970's it is still CHEAP compared to new and to comprable industrial duty vises.

These old vises are forged wrought iron or steel with forge welded in hard steel jaws. The better vises such as the one I just bought have spherical washers under the hand screw.

NEW leg vises are available from Kayne and Son and Pieh Tool Company and the prices are MUCH lower than they were a few years ago from Centaur.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 13:55:34 GMT

Bending Old Aluminium: Randy, You did not say what the item is. There is a good chance that if it is cast then it is not very maleable. If it is showing cracks then even annealed it is very likely to continue cracking. Most cast aluminum parts are about as soft as they are going to get unless there has been a lot of work hardening from continous flexing over a long period.

The annealing temperature you gave is about right (heat and then quench). However, if you are off a little then you may melt the piece.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 14:01:16 GMT

Gas Forge Doors: T.Gold, Gas forges MUST have a vent or they won't work. Gas and air go IN and a larger volume of hot air must escape. If vented around the nozzel you will end up burning up the nozzel.

Forges with doors always have a vent in the roof or in the door. The vent is sized for the optimum operation of the forge. Forges without doors use more fuel and air as the front opening IS the vent and the burner size must be balanced for the vent. When a door is used it is only opened to get work in and out.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 14:06:38 GMT

guru, what is the "formula" for venting a gas forge?? for example, a rule of thumb, vent surface area vs forge volume. is it important to vent from both ends? i have recently obtained 2 t-rex burners and will be constructing a forge soon. what is the best choice for propane plumbing?? i have seen copper tubing. what do y'all think.

   rugg - Wednesday, 04/23/03 17:12:31 GMT

Forge design: Rugg, I have not seen any specifics on this. Furnace design manuals give all these properties as related to BTU or gas consumed. Neither is a value that you usualy know prior to building an experimental forge. You can have a considerable range of BTU for a given furnace volume and it is the exhust which is directly proportional to the BTU that the vent needs to suit.

It is probably not critical except that there IS a vent. I've seen forges with a range of volumes that all had the same size vent (about 4 square inches).

Copper tubing works fine. I am told that compression fittings are NOT used for commercial gas. Flared fittings are used. . I do not know why, probably some early new product prejudice. I have more trouble will flared fittings than with compression.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 17:36:09 GMT

I am doing a story with a 19th cen. blacksmith in it.For realism. I need to know the articles that he might have produced and/or the tools he might have used. I have looked through several sites on the Web, but they seem to deal with current blacksmithing techniques - or maybe you could just direct me to an applicable web site. I am in CA, know nothing about blacksmithing except what I have learned today.
Thank you in advance fo your help with my question,
   Mary - Wednesday, 04/23/03 20:28:27 GMT

Mary what a 19th century blacksmith made was *very* much dependent on where he was and what type of blacksmith he was.

Was he a cutler in Solingen or in Sheffield? if so he made knives often in a *factory*. Lots of blacksmiths in factories in the 19th century.

Was he on the american frontier and not near a train line? If so he made or repaired pretty much anything made of iron that was used on the frontier. Was he an army smith in the american civil war?

Your questioning is sort of like asking what a 20th century Dr did? Was he a small town MD before antibiotics or a brain surgeon in a major teaching hospital near the end of the century.

There are several good survey books that include 19th century stuff "Early American Wrought Iron", Albert Sonn comes to mind though I don't recall when he cuts off the E-A part.

"Practical Blacksmithing" by Richardson is a collection of late 19th century articles from a blacksmithing journal---lots of info on what people did and how they did it---including the change from wrought iron to mild steel as the material they worked with.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 04/23/03 21:36:07 GMT

brand new to blacksmithing some one gave me a forge set up and I borrowed a anvil and some hammers I would like to make some easy stuff like strikers for flint and steel or the knife strikers, need to know about the steel needed, the way to get the carbon right to get the flint to strike I do buckskinnig so am sorta formiliar with the smith work already did some squierl forks and some screwdrivers or some flinters rings, If I could get a little bit of this info on these simple things it would be greatly apprecitate thank you ron thebodo
   ron thebodo - Wednesday, 04/23/03 21:37:11 GMT

Mary easy answer is pretty much anything made from iron or steel, with the exception of cast iron goods.
Hardware(nail, hinges door latches)screws, bolts rivits, harness and wagon hardware, forks spoons knives, cooking spits, gates fences railings, tools, tools, and more tools. List is pretty much endless
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/23/03 21:37:20 GMT

i would like to know about a peter wright anvil that i have and what the markings on it mean.the markings are from l to r a 0 with two dots above it a 3 next to that and a 15 next to that with a c or g below the 3. and two four leaf clover designs on the front of the base. i would like to know what all that means and how old it could be. thanks
   - shawn c - Wednesday, 04/23/03 22:00:39 GMT


Modern techniques are VERY similar if not exactly the same as 19th Century techniques. In fact, blacksmithing techniques and basic tools have not changed in thousands of years. Some of the earliest iron tools known came from a site in Sweden known as Mastermyer. They are about 1,000 years old and very similar to modern tools.

What part of the 19th Century? A lot changed in this turbulent century. Machine tools evolved into pretty much what they are today with the exception of styling and enclosed drives. The steam hammer was invented in the early part of the century and revolutionized manufacturing. Mechanical power hammers suitable for small blacksmith shops were available in North America by the 1880's. These were powered by steam engines and gasoline engines for a brief time. These power sources were rapidly being replaced by electric motors in the 1890's. At this time many small blacksmith shops looked more like machine shops than the romanticized ideal of a blacksmith shop.

In blacksmithing there are almost no outdated techniques. All the old is used along with the new.

To see an EARLY 19th Century blacksmith shop go to any small shop and ignore the electric hand tools. What is left is virtualy the same. In fact, many modern blacksmiths have anvils, vises and machine tools from the 1800's in their shops. In blacksmithing, tools are not REAL antiques until they are 200 years or older.

Tools used; anvil, hammers (various sizes and shapes including sledge hammers), tongs of many types, bellows OR hand crank blower OR powered blower, coal or coke forge, punches, chisels, swage blocks, cones, fullers, flatters and set tools, quench tank, tire bender or rolls. Machinery powered by steam or gasoline and flat belt "line shafting" drives OR later - electric motors; drill presses, grinders, lathe, power hammer. A 19th century blacksmith shop was more likely to have a lathe than a power hammer. This was due to cheap manpower used to swing sledge hammers when heavy forging was done.

AND as Thomas pointed out it depends on WHO and WHERE you were. Most people in the US think of blacksmiths as the primitive "frontier blacksmith" who did it ALL. But most smiths specialized. Not all were farriers (horse shoers) or wheel wrights. Many made tools for the trades and for industry. Others did decorative work. Some were armours and gunsmiths. Smiths that worked for railroads specialized in heavy forging of rail and railcar parts. There were and ARE lots of specialties within the trade.

You have a long bit of research do do if you have never looked into blacksmithing. Add to Thomas's reading list the books in our Getting Started article and the collective works of Eric Sloane (A Museum of Early American Tools, American Yesterday, American Barns and Covered Bridges, The Tools That Made America, Diary of an Early American Boy, Noah Blake). These are all out of print but found in many public libraries. They are a little early for you I think but the goods made will probably fit a romantic ideal.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 22:04:54 GMT

Peter Wright Shawn, See our 21st Century page and the anvil series. It explains the Old English hundredweight system. Age is hard to pinpoint but probably late 1800's to early 1900's.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/23/03 22:08:20 GMT

Hammerfall, it's Foxfire #5. Yes, it's pretty good. Gunsmithing and ironmaking are in the same volume, which makes it about the best of the series that I've read.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 04/23/03 22:28:07 GMT

iforge demo on strikers is a good place to start.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/23/03 23:09:24 GMT

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