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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 24 - 30, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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T. Gold,
I've seen people use the cast weights for bases on floor lamps and for mic stands. The larger ones are good for boat anchors as long as you don't leave them in the water all of the time. Other than that maybe door stops and nut crackers. They may be very useful for forging hoops and rings as well.
   Will - Thursday, 04/24/03 01:39:43 GMT

Looks like we're back in business. Thanks, Jock!

Off to the BGOP Spring Fling first thing tomorrow morning by way of Richmond. I'll be tailgating my late freind's tools, all proceeds to go to his widow, so I have to be at their house by 09:00. Also need to finish my contest three-candle holder and pack my regualar swag for weekend (dry socks, safety glasses, guitar, the usual necessities...).

Hope to see some of y'all there.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~ewoyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/24/03 19:48:46 GMT

Compression vs. flared fittings.... compression fittings with a bite type external ferrule can only be made up a limited number of times before the ferrule collapses or the tube is deformed inward. There is nothing to support the inside of the tube in a typical compression fitting with ferrule outside the tube. Also, compression fittings can cause the copper tube to collapse with a lot of tube movement.

Flare fittings compress the side wall of the tube flare between the two fitting surfaces so can be remade more times.

Both can be misused. Both CAN work. But a flare fitting is generally much safer. Less prone to leaks. Holds higher pressure etc.

There ARE some very good compression fittings that support the ID of the tube and have a very good ferrule. Bunch more money than the average hardware store compression fitting though.
   - Tony - Friday, 04/25/03 01:56:02 GMT

BLACK THURSDAY. . Due to our server host moving our server (physicaly 300 miles), we were off-line from 4am EST until 5pm EST today and then it took another 5 hours for the new address to filter down to some ISP's (such as mine). The secure servers are still not working. . . .

Sorry for the interuptions (ABANA-Chapter and other sites we host were also off-line). This was the longest we have been off-line over 5 years.
   - guru - Friday, 04/25/03 02:46:44 GMT

I find it ironic, and a bit humbling, that you've been working your a$$ off, just to give us chair-jockeys a place to BS, and you're the one apologizing. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we appreciate this site, but more importantly, we appreciate the work you put into keeping this site alive! Thanks!!

   eander4 - Friday, 04/25/03 03:17:13 GMT


Well said!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 03:28:30 GMT

Props to Jock Dempsey are indeed overdue. Three cheers for Jock and anvilfire.com!
   T. Gold - Friday, 04/25/03 04:54:15 GMT

T. Gold,

Have you considered joining CSI?
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 05:17:58 GMT

Paw Paw,

Yes. I intend to soon, but I'm waiting for the check that I intend to buy my first anvil with to make it here... and to sell off some of these here cast-iron weights, if at all possible. No job and few chances of getting one, at least until school's out, so I have to be careful with my money. But I'm sure gonna join, you can count on that!

And speaking of Anvils...
Contrary to y'all's advice (advise?) from awhile back, I've focused my anvil search on _anvils_ - that is, not anvil vises. However, I did keep an eye on the anvil vises available on eBay, and other models of one I was looking at before have come up for auction. The info for one of them caught my interest, though: said it was made by Champion Forge & Blower Co, you know the one. It looks like a pretty solid piece of equipment, and the anvil part would be easy enough to remove, take a mold of and recast as a steel part, or machine/get machined from a block. What I'm wondering, though, is if anyone here might have had any experience with these vises? An almost identical model was made by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Co.; the Champion one is eBay item 3220335797, if anyone wants to see what I'm talking about. Also, I'm wondering if anyone knows for sure: are these cast iron, steel, what? Thanks!
   T. Gold - Friday, 04/25/03 06:12:56 GMT

T. Gold.

That's a pretty one, and with the extra jaws, it's worth more. But it's still cast iron, not steel, and a very poor anvil. I wouldn't even call the part the he calls an anvil, I'd call it an ASO (Anvil Shaped Object). I will also add that his description is accurate, and that indicates that he's not trying to scam anyone.

But it's still not an anvil. (grin)

Don't let me bug you about CSI membership. I ask everybody, and I usually forget who I've asked and who I haven't. But having been a student, (a LONG time ago) I can understand and sympathize with the limited cash situation.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 06:27:49 GMT

All right you turkeys! No comments about HOW long ago! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 06:28:36 GMT

so were y'all still using stone tablets in school or had you gone to them new-fangled clay tablets?
   Ralph - Friday, 04/25/03 06:43:17 GMT

I'd like to know what are the carburizing and hardening temperatures for SAE 9310.
   Cornel Mironov - Friday, 04/25/03 06:45:45 GMT

There is a truism that you can get a tool that does a lot of jobs poorly, or one that does one job well. You get to buy the first one at least twice in the end.
Those anvil vices make dandy book ends.
A piece of big steel shaft, say 1 1/2" dia or more, set on end makes an excellent anvil because all the mass is directly under the work where you need it. 90% of forging is done in that small an area. A big axle works well.
Cast iron shatters if you hit it as hard as you'll need to smithing.
A scruffy old post vise is the right thing to beat on for vises...why buy the tools twice?
Paw Paw has earned the right to give advice...mostly (G)
   - Pete F - Friday, 04/25/03 07:32:37 GMT

9310: Carburize at 1600-1700F, oil quench, temper at 250-300F. Time at temperature in carburizing will depend on the gas composition and desired case depth. If the highest quality case is desired, temper at 200F after quenching, pack in dry ice over a weekend, retemper at 250-300F.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 04/25/03 12:04:00 GMT


   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 13:36:50 GMT

De Islands: I believe T.Gold is out in Hawaii which is a bit of a problem. Not only is HI off-shore it is WAY off shore. Far enough that shipping and thus anything from the mainland is very pricey. Hawaii also did not have the kind of industry and transportation that resulted in large amounts of used equipment. Blacksmithing equipment is rarer there than anywhere in North America.

There ARE other smiths in Hawaii and I would think that it would help to seek each other out and form a buying group. A large crate full of stuff going by container will cost a lot less than individual shipping. Groups also have the advantage of having multiple eyes seeing more than the individual. Items of interest are more likely to be found by a group.

Importing cast iron is a waste of money. It costs the same to ship tool steel.
   - guru - Friday, 04/25/03 13:58:58 GMT


Very good point! But I can't seem to find any smithing groups locally... maybe I just don't know where to look. Suggestions, anyone? Maybe there's someone here I can apprentice to... strapping young lads make good strikers! (BG)
   T. Gold - Friday, 04/25/03 16:22:55 GMT

I am wondering if you know anyone who does custom patinas? Our architecture firm in NYC needs a dark red on bronze.
   Dan Comane - Friday, 04/25/03 16:35:33 GMT

Awwwwww. Now i've had my daily bs fix.I really missed youall yesterday and don't suggest the other site.... it's not the same.
   smitty7 - Friday, 04/25/03 18:32:17 GMT

After 2 years of blacksmithing, I decided to replace my 55# anvil with a larger one. - At a "garage sale" in southern Tennessee this week, I found a rusty mud covered anvil and bought it - upon cleaning it up I have discovered the following. -- It is showing english weight of 107 which equates to 119lbs and the anvil weighs out to match - the anvil has tong holes heel horn and bottom indicating that it is forged steel. - Now the question-- on one side, it has the remanents of the following stamps -- - Something that looks like a crown near the top with the work WILLIAM beneath it - the next line of print is --posted -- followed by large numbers 1838 (which I am assuming is the date of manufacture.)beneath which are the fairly large letters TH. The anvil face has seen its better day and I was going to have it welded and resurfaced. - With the potential of it being an English forged steel anvil from 1838 and not knowing if a "crown" or possibly "king" and william mark refers to a manufacturer I am hesitant to start welding it up for repair. Please provide any information you can on who this may have been made by and if it should be left in original condiditon for a collector. -Or at least a good source to check for further information. Thanks for your time - Ken Gould - Lynchburg Forge, AACB ABANA
   Ken Gould - Friday, 04/25/03 18:39:53 GMT

Ken G.

Use a scotch brite pad on the sides, to loosen as much stuff from the lettering area, then wipe with a damp cloth to remove the garbage you'll get loose with the pad. Then do a rubbing to see if you can pick up any more detail.

It sounds like a William Foster, and if so, the 1838 is the year of manufacture.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 18:52:33 GMT

Ken G.

One other point, if it is a William Foster, then it's a wrought iron anvil with a tool steel face plate.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 19:08:58 GMT

T.Gold. . . HINT, Start a group. . someone has to do it. Blacksmiths in grass skirts. . . sounds like a dangerous group. ;)

   - guru - Friday, 04/25/03 19:10:35 GMT

Uh, Jock?

Why don't you and I go over there (at their expense of course!) and help them organize a group?
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 19:39:44 GMT

PawPaw & guru-
I have never met you gentlemen, so please don't take offense, but from some of the posting I have read the sight of you two in grass skirts might not attract members.:)
   Kaye C - Friday, 04/25/03 19:49:05 GMT

Ken G., I have seen a couple of Wm Fosters, and the Imperial weight numbers are on the side with the horn to your left. Postman agrees.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/25/03 19:52:56 GMT


I didn't plan on us being in grass skirts. Welllll...... (grin)

I plan on guru and I being the interviewers. (EG)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 20:20:55 GMT


BS- Blacksmithing or the usual
   Nigel - Friday, 04/25/03 21:43:30 GMT

I recently picked up an anvil from a freind. It was his grandfathers in Alaska. It is cast, the original paint is battleship grey. The raised letters are as follows.
100 LBS

Any idea who made it? ~~ Terry

   Terry Reeve - Friday, 04/25/03 22:19:38 GMT

Ken G. Welding on an anvil is generally a bad thing, unless you have a better set-up for metal fabrication than most all of us. How bad is the anvil face? If it is useable, you may want to keep it as is, rather than risk ruining the rebound.
   Monica - Friday, 04/25/03 23:32:08 GMT


There's no listing for Duracraft. You might take a set of pictures of it, both sides, both ends, top and bottom, and I'll see if I can get an identity for you.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/25/03 23:48:22 GMT

Duracraft is a tradename used by a Taiwan exporter for a wide range of tools, primarily knockoffs of well-known major U.S. brands. Sold through discount outlets of various names. It's a good bet that the anvil is a cast-iron ASO. I doubt that it is more than about thirty years old, as that is the earliest I remember seeing the name. Of course, all the foregoing could be totally incorrect since duracraft is not a really unusual name at all. Run a Google search for Duracraft and you'll get hundreds of different products listed with that name.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/26/03 00:28:35 GMT

Vic is right about the google search. I just meant that there is no listing for duracraft in Anvils in America and should have said it that way.
If the anvil came down from Alaska, an oriental source is very likely.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/26/03 00:50:01 GMT

Guru's... I have a cast iron portable forge that I intend to take with me to do demonstrations at shows. Inside, it states "clay before use" How necessary is it to install a clay liner, and if I must, how do I keep it from crumbling into bits in the transportation process.
Thanks, Brian
   Brian Riley - Saturday, 04/26/03 02:02:45 GMT

Brian, Sand or a layer of ash will work just as well as clay and is easier to use. I've used different types of refractory cement with some success.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/26/03 02:21:17 GMT

Brian Riley, If it is a small "riveters' forge" to be used infrequently, I would forget the clay. If you must line it, I would recommend one part Portland cement mixed with about 2½ parts sand. If that makes it too heavy, or if still crumbles, you just build the fire and go for it.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/26/03 02:22:43 GMT

Frank, Paw Paw, Guru, everyone:

Do you think that a mix of Portland cement and sand, or maybe just Portland cement (definitely no aggregate/gravel!) would work as a refractory liner for a small gas forge? The prices on castable refractory are daunting, especially with shipping... while I can get cement locally for a few bucks a bag. What say?
   T. Gold - Saturday, 04/26/03 03:41:11 GMT

T. Gold, I'm assuming Brian's forge is a coal forge, and the hot spot is in the area of the tuyére. There has been boo coo discussions of gas forge refractories on this site, and concrete ain't gonna' cut it.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/26/03 04:05:20 GMT

T. Gold,

Neither of the mixes you describe will work alone. There are other things that you can add to the mix in order to make your own refractory cement, but none of the "home mades" work as well as the commercial grades.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/26/03 06:05:30 GMT

A pottery supply should be able to sell you some barnard clay which is quite high temperature stuff and not very expensive...any of the high-fire clays should suffice really, add sand, perhaps pearlite or vermiculite and a minimum of water and trowell the heck out of it. When it drys out, throw away the old cast iron part.
Ken; I'll second Monica. If it is at all possible, don't weld on a tool steel anvil face. At best, you will end up with soft spots, at worst you can easily ruin a good anvil. An anvil really has to be a useless wreck before welding is justified.
Just finished a little rig to hold my spring fullers in position at the anvil or treadle hammer. The spring fullers swap out in a few seconds. Since i caught my finger between the TH and the tongs, I've been making tooling to work one handed. Sure am coming to admire the one handed smith we had on here a while back. My cast is no longer anything like white for some reason.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 04/26/03 07:29:03 GMT


The guys I used to know with homemade portable farrier's forges lined them using 4:1 mix of sand/cement with about 5 lbs of rock salt thrown in for every fifty pounds of mix. They said the rock salt prevented the mortar mix from spalling and cracking with the heat. From what I saw, it seemed to work pretty okay.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/26/03 14:58:36 GMT

Tooling: Pete, sounds like another iForge tooling demo! Take pictures!

Concrete and Forges: Concrete typicaly is NOT a good thing to put into a forge, furnace or fireplace. The problem with cement is that water combines with it chemicaly to make it into synthetic "rock". When heated to high temperatures the water seperates and comes out as steam. Removing the water weakens the concrete AND the steam causes it to spall.

However, low percentages of portland cement have been used sucessfuly to bind clays, grogs, vermiculite and sand into a cheap refractory mix. Some gas forges have even been made with these mixes.

Typically you want a fairly high refractory clay such as the red clays found in Virginia and Georgia and some places inbetween. OR you want a true kaolin refractory clay. These are typicaly called genericaly "fireclay". You DO NOT want the high absorbancy clays like those used in foundry sand or to absorb oil.

Sands vary in mineral base according to the rock they are derived from (just as are clays). Silica clays are fairly high temperature but there are much higher refractory minerals. Not all sands are suitable. Most refractory mixes use minerals that have been processed, kiln fired and then broken up. Synthetic Mullite is one of these materials. But it is also found naturaly such as on the British isle of Mull from whence the mineral derives its name.

Refractories need porosity in order that water can escape without exploding or spalling the material. Everything from wood flour, coarse saw dust to vermiculite has been used. These are water absorbers but they burn out when the refractory mix is slowly calcined (baked to working temperature).

A typical mix is about 40/60 clay and sand then about 10% vermiculite and 15% portland cement. Mix well dry. Different clays and sands will behave differently so the amount of cement is aproximate. Mix stiff (use as little water as possible). Alow at least a week in warm dry weather to dry. Then calcine by slowly heating to working temperature over a period of a day. If the mix cracks a lot then the clay was too water absorbant OR there was not quite enough portland cement OR both.

NOTE that the drying and calcining instructions are the same for commercial refractory mixes.

In coal forges the bottom of the forge gets hot but does not normally see the full heat of the fire. That is why we can build forges from thin steel plate. The only diagram of claying a forge that I have seen from a manufacturer was a shallow "ducks nest" built around the fire grate in a flat bottom forge. This forge did not have a true "fire pot" and the clay appeared to be an attempt to provide a control to the fire as well as protect the joint and fasteners between the fire grate (tuyeer) and the pan.

In volcanic areas there are numerous pumices and volvanic rocks that make good refractories. However, they need to be tested. Some with high glass content melt at too low a temperature to use in high temperature applications.

Wherever you live you can consult with the mineralogy and mining people about local minerals, clays and such. If it is refractory in character it is usualy valuable and someone mines it. In Virginia they mine a mineral to make synthetic mullite and in Florida they mine high alumina clays. These minerals are all over if you know what to look for.

Paw-paw has found some stuff that helps reinforce low temperature refractory compounds. It is stainless steel turnings (spiral lathe chips). It is sold by the pound to add to various cements to help prevent cracking. It seems to do a good job. But it is not suitable for gas forge or kiln lining material where the SS would melt and or oxidize.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/26/03 16:43:44 GMT

SS Ribbon

Actually, it's not lathe chip, Jock. It's little short pieces of SS Ribbon. Almost like little pieces of shim stock. I'm getting ready to mix up a batch for the forge tomorrow, will take some pictures. I've used the stuff enough now that it's time for me to do the product review that I promised the manufacturer.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/26/03 19:11:47 GMT

I'm not a Smith but occasionalloy get involved in sticking two piece of iron together to asemble soemthing. At the moment I'm designing a trigger guard and butt plate for a flintlock rifle I'm building. A friend has suggested I make a small propane forge using a section of tail pipe plumbed up with a propane tank and nozzles (this technology is probably old knowledge to most of you). My question is:

if this kind of forge will bring my small parts (1/8"T X 1/2"W X 6"L) up to forging temp what prevents the tube from self destructing itself? I've read of Smiths making this type of forge using a short (12 - 14") section of 3" or 4" black iron pipe - wouldn't that make a better forge chamber than the tail pipe?
   - Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 04/26/03 19:38:16 GMT

I use to have the name and email of the Master Smith at colonial williamsburg but can't locate it. Can anyone tell me what it might be?
   - Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 04/26/03 20:29:12 GMT

Hi there

I'm a computer literate sister of a welding brother with a problem - if you deal with welding in amongst other metal working he'd be obliged if you would consider the following question:

He's just bought a brand new TIG welder and had it properly wired in to an armoured 240V source on the house mains supply (we're in the UK). He says the following - 'We are trying to use a bottle of 'Argoshield' (from BOC gases) and are finding that when trying to weld we are getting lots of oxide forming and a white precipitate around the weld. When finishing we are not getting a 'shiny tungsten' although we are getting a ball on the end. Could this be due to the gas we are using and would pure Argon be a better idea, or do you have any other suggestions? We have double checked for air leaks and have had a qualified electrician wire the welding set to the armoured electrical supply. With over ten years of welding experience and coding to MMA pipe and plate we have a fair idea of what we are doing, but in this instance we are flumoxed - any further suggestions/ideas would be welcome.

Hope someone can help him

   Julia - Saturday, 04/26/03 20:33:43 GMT

Hi there

I'm a computer literate sister of a welding brother with a problem - if you deal with welding in amongst other metal working he'd be obliged if you would consider the following question:

He's just bought a brand new TIG welder and had it properly wired in to an armoured 240V source on the house mains supply (we're in the UK). He says the following - 'We are trying to use a bottle of 'Argoshield' (from BOC gases) and are finding that when trying to weld we are getting lots of oxide forming and a white precipitate around the weld. When finishing we are not getting a 'shiny tungsten' although we are getting a ball on the end. Could this be due to the gas we are using and would pure Argon be a better idea, or do you have any other suggestions? We have double checked for air leaks and have had a qualified electrician wire the welding set to the armoured electrical supply. With over ten years of welding experience and coding to MMA pipe and plate we have a fair idea of what we are doing, but in this instance we are flumoxed - any further suggestions/ideas would be welcome.

Hope someone can help him

   Julia - Saturday, 04/26/03 20:34:24 GMT


I've sent your question to a welder friend of mine in the UK.

Should have an answer for you by tomorrow evening.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/26/03 20:40:29 GMT

Thanks for the info, Jock... think I'll buy some porcelain (something like 99% kaolin) off of my ceramics teacher. Clay is cheap, even porcelain... think I'll use 2.5"-3" and let it dry for a week and a half at LEAST. Might use a weed burner to dry the inner walls so I can take the inner supports out to let the rest dry faster. Think that oughta work? Seems like it'd be real resistant to flux damage, too, as a side bonus.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 04/26/03 21:16:33 GMT

I am trying to find information about what I thought was called chasing. I would like to 'carve' on a piece of cold rolled flat stock, is this possible?
   Sean C Sieger - Saturday, 04/26/03 23:03:19 GMT

Jerry Crawford, Wmsburg smith is Peter Ross.

Sean C. Sieger, I haven't found too much information on chasing, but you should know that it differs from engraving. Chasing might consist of setting down material with a slightly crowned "liner". You can rock it along to make straight or curved lines, striking with the hammer. No metal is removed or carved. Chasing is also done with various shaped tools on repoussé (sheet metal relief). Engraving is cutting a narrow or broad channel with a graver driven by a light hammer. You're actually removing a thread of material. Steel engraving takes mucho, mucho practice.

If your metal is cold rolled, it would be best to anneal it, since the cold rolling work-hardens it.

References: "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen", Oppi Untracht.
"The Basics of Firearms Engraving", Neil Hartliep; NRA Firearms Museum, 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/26/03 23:28:01 GMT

Thank you, Frank.
   Sean C Sieger - Saturday, 04/26/03 23:42:17 GMT

Peter Ross - that's the chap. thanks
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 04/27/03 00:16:24 GMT

Safety shields and due caution:-)

I just returned from a little trip to the urgent care center, where a nice doctor sewed up a nasty little gash in my finger, which brings me to my point. Grinders are tricky little devils, in any form. Now I use a number of different grinders all the time, and I don't manage to maim myself very often, but I thought I would remind people that safety guards are there to protect you from a high velocity abrasive that eats things much harder than you are for lunch. Torque is a surprisingly unreliable thing, but you can always rely on it to scare you, or hurt you badly if you do not respect it. I still have no idea how the grinder grabbed the spear point I was working on and yanked my hand into the contact wheel on a 2x48 belt grinder, but it did to my chagrin (not to mention pain;-) Like I said a do a lot of grinding and the guards are pretty well stripped away so that I can get to almost every concievable angle on the belt, platen, and contact wheel, so there was nothing to stand between me and the belt which was moving at 105 fps. I would be pleased if somebody else could learn from my mistakes. The guards are there to protect you,(from yourself:-) don't take them off without a good reason, and always be careful with any grinder. Even a wimpy 1/2 bench grinder can hurt or even kill you if you don't respect it. (I knew a guy who was polishing a belt buckle and just threw the rest of the belt over his shoulder, and when the buckle got snatched out of his hand the belt effectively ended his life, not a good way to die, quick but not pretty) Just because a tool has not hurt you does not mean you can take it for granted. All tools, especially power tools, can hurt you in a fast way. Any body part you don't happen to need, or want then you can be casual with your tools with it, and skip on the safety equipment. But if you want to keep all of your standard equipment (two eyes, ten fingers, two auditory sensing devices, two lungs... :-) then you need to be careful with your toys, and wear appropriate safety equipment. Personally I need all my fingers, etc:-), and I promise to take better care of them in the future.

A little wiser, at least for the moment... :-)
   Fionnbharr - Sunday, 04/27/03 00:39:26 GMT

GURUS As I was driving home from the shop this afternoon, a technical term came into my head. (Coefficient of expansion) I had just completed assembly of a circular railing , the piece is designed to give some added protection to a piece of public art. The Railing is made from two rings rolled in 1.5"dia pipe with pickets in between. The top ring is 8' dia and the bottom is 7'6". the whole piece is to be wet set in a base which is intended to be 8" in dia. it would be set 4" below the top of the base.What occoured to me is that if the steel ring expands at a greater rate than the concrete it is set in , is there a danger of the concrete failing? our climate is coastal and mild but the site in in a sunny, sheltered spot and would for sure heat up on a warm day. with only three inches of concrete on the outside of the ring , I began to worry a little. Ant feedback would be appreciated.
Kirk out
   Kirk McNeill - Sunday, 04/27/03 01:54:35 GMT

JULIA, pure argon should be the shielding gas. Any argon mix will not weld properly. Argon and CO2 of any percentage mix will cause porosity.

If welding carbon steel or stainless the machine should be set on electrode negative. The high frequency should be set on start only.

If welding aluminum the machine should be set to Alternating Current. The high frequency should be set to run continuously.

No shiney tungsten and a ball on the end indicates the wrong gas mix or wrong polarity.

   - Steve - Sunday, 04/27/03 02:25:24 GMT

>>>No shiney tungsten and a ball on the end indicates the wrong gas mix or wrong polarity.<<<

A balled tungsten is acceptable and common when welding with electrode positive or Alternating Current.
   - Steve - Sunday, 04/27/03 02:34:48 GMT

Hi Guru, Am in Petaluma, Ca. I've been rebuilding a Common Sense hammer that I believe is a 100pounder. No I don't have a lot of experience on power hammers. I know and have talked to a lot of smiths in this area. Noone really knows much about these hammers and the only other that I have seen belongs to Carl Jennnings. I tried to reach him t other day but sadly he is in very bad shape, unable to talk. Here is what I am looking for. In what position should the links be in at TDC? Mine are almost straight across, seems I read somewhwere that they should hang slightly down. I don't think that this hammmer hits like it should but again I don't know what it's supposedto be like. It seems that it's hard to kiss with it unless I am running it faster then I would like, to get the control that I want. I have 2 3/4 between my dies and I think that my bottom die needs to be taller or my links need to be shorter. I've had several longer links on it and I know that is not it. That's about it, I am almost there. Thanks, Edgar
   Edgar - Sunday, 04/27/03 02:35:39 GMT

I ran a 3# Common Sense Hammer for 6 yrs almost every day. If yopur botom toggle arms are straight across at TDC that should be about right. Mine had the original arms when I bought it.I forged new arms for it twice the originals were cast steel and I got tired of welding them. I did everything from splitting with hand held tools to die forging with it. I think you'll find that most of the sensitivity of that hammer will be in your foot.
good luck
Kirk out
   Kirk McNeill - Sunday, 04/27/03 05:06:15 GMT

Hello Kirk;
Fortunately, steel and concrete get along pretty well in terms of thermal expansion. As a result we are able to use steel as concrete reinforcement with such success.
I sure do admire your work and want to thank you again for the great CBA conference you put on...one of the best ever!

Sean; Steel carving is an old art ( eisenhower, i think) and kinda fun. As Mr Turley said, Anneal....often. Clamp the metal down solidly to an anchored, heavy, solid mass that you dont mind nicking up. If you look up engraving tools and forge larger versions from tool steel it will be a good start. Next look at wood carving chisels..you want to make very heavy duty versions in much smaller sizes than for wood. The bevels on the tools need to be quite steep and ground so that the angle becomes steeper as you near the cutting edge. A stone carver's hammer, with 4 faces, soft, blocky,having a short handle is a good start. Small air powered chipping and riveting hammers are good for roughing out a piece. Some sort of protection for your chisel holding hand is a good idea till you don't miss the chisel while looking at the work as well as goggles help too. Unlike hot work, you have time to think about your mistakes before you make them.

Jerry C; Just use 5 firebricks for a quickie small forge. Split one for the ends/doors. To use pipe, it needs to be lined with a refractory to take the heat

And , no, I'm not gonna end with " Peter out"
   - Pete F - Sunday, 04/27/03 07:48:36 GMT

Hey Sean and Peter, I didn't even think of eisenhowering [hewing or chiseling cold}. I spent some time in Georgia, with Ward Grossman, the accomplished "eisenhauer" from of all places, Pinedale, Wyoming. Ward said that he made all of his chisels from solid tungsten carbide and shaped them by grinding.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/27/03 13:09:34 GMT

Hi ya'll, I wonder if anybody out there knows what the pins for tracked vehicles are made of. John Deere, Catapillar etc. Specificly the track pins. I have a couple, and would like to know the carbon content if possible. I'm thinking of making a hammer. Spark tests show that it may be around 60 but thats a "wag". has anybody used thes pins for anything. JWGBHF Thanks in advance, great site, great advice.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Sunday, 04/27/03 13:40:55 GMT

Peter Ross We also have a new CSI member by that name but is a different fellow and is located in England. . . :)
   - guru - Sunday, 04/27/03 15:54:20 GMT

Coefficient of Expansion: Kirk, Generally this is ignored on small scale projects as steel is very flexible compared to concrete. However, design must be considered. A very stiff piece anchored close to the concrete might cause a problem but when the pickets or posts are several inches to a foot tall before attaching to the horizontal piece then flexibility takes care of the problem.

The actual dimensional growth is not much. The Coefficient of Expansion of steel is 7 millionths of an inch per inch per degree Fahrenheit. If an item is installed at a norm of 70°F then the change is plus and minus this point. Steel commonly reaches 140°F in the sunlight in moderate climates and -10°F in the winter. That is +70 and -80.

Lets use +/-75°F.

Example Length = 40 feet (480 inches).

75 * 480 * 7/1,000,000 = +/-0.25"

On a straight rail this is +/-0.125" on each end with less on each picket as it reaches the center. This movement assumes that the rail stays perfectly straight and does not buckle side to side or up and down. Curves or corners negate most problems.

HOWEVER, the term to remember is Differential Coefficient of Expansion. The concrete also changes with temperature. However, it is part of the earth and the range is less. The normal ground and water temperature when the concrete is poured is about 50°F. In the summer it might reach 90°F (hotter on the surface) but still be cool in the earth. In the winter it may reach 0°F in our same moderate climate model. This is +40 -50. Lets use an average of 45°F.

The average Coefficient of Expansion of Concrete is. 5.5 millionths inches per inch per degree Fahrenheit. That leaves us with a differential of only 2.5 millionths. . . but we have different temperature conditions so we will do the above calculations again.

Lets use +/-45°F.

Length = 40 feet (480 inches).

45 * 480 * 5.5/1,000,000 = +/-0.119"

The difference leaves us with a maximum of less than 1/8" in 40 feet or 1/16" per end. This is MORE than the pure differential of would indicate because the two materials are not changing temperature at the same rate.

In the case of your 8 foot circle the expansion is calculated across the diameter (length changes directly but the growth is outward and thus divided by PI).

In this case the differnetial of 1/8" in 40' becomes .025" OR .012" per side of an 8' circle (actually a little less at the bottom of the conical rail). Rambuncious children hanging on the rail will move it more than that.

Concrete often has expansion joints that help compensate for the forces applied by steel attached to it.

HOWEVER, In stiff structures with long straight lines you may want to run the calculations. Occasionaly folks like the railroad engineers forget, miscalculate, do not consider the most extreme weather OR expansion joints get packed with debris and then disaster happens.

Another place that Differential Coefficient of Expansion is more critical is where two different metals are bolted or welded together. Iron/copper and Iron/Aluminium are problematic. Straight pieces develope spectacular curves when the temperature changes. In some cases fasteners shear and things fall apart. This can be a problem for both engineers and artists.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/27/03 16:26:28 GMT

...I'm impressed, guru
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 04/27/03 16:34:31 GMT

Carving Steel We have a short article on Ward Groosman in the NEWS. See Volume 13 covering the 1999 Southeast Conference (page 4, 5, 6).

Although Ward primarily demonstrates chisling techniques the actual techniques he uses include every method at his disposal. Forging, grinding, sawing, using air chisels. . .

Unlike carving stone or wood you do not need to start with a monolithic block of material and reduce most of it to chips. In shaping iron forging is very efficient as there can be almost zero loss. Welding can also be used to build up a rough shape. However, the color and texture of weld metal can be very diferent than the base metal so it is generaly avoided in iron carving. Gas welding using the base metal as filler works well.

The best material to work is pure iron (not wrought). Low carbon steel is next. But I have seen high carbon steel knives the deep or full round carving in them. I expect these were annealed when carved. However, many people are skilled in carving hard materials such as gemstones and quartz.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/27/03 17:12:50 GMT

I've used borax as a flux when forging in a smithy. Can I also use borax when trying to torch (oxy)weld
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 04/27/03 17:52:07 GMT

Track Pins
I have a couple they seem to forge well and make pretty good rock chisels but the ones I have have to be forged at about a yellow heat if you actually want to do more than dent them.
   888 - Sunday, 04/27/03 18:43:52 GMT

Jerry, In oxy-acetylene welding, the "outer envelope" of gas is supposed to protect the fusion weld from atmospheric contamination to a degree, so borax is not necessary. There is no "puddle" in forge welding; it's a different ball game. However, I've always used borax for brazing. Heat the tip of the brass rod and dip it into the borax, and some will cling to the brass surface.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/27/03 19:02:17 GMT


From a welder friend in the UK,


The problem is the gas ! Pure Argon is the answer but I am afraid it is
very much more expensive.

The tungsten tip needs to be a very sharp even point and must never touch
the weldpool.

If this happens or you get any debris adhering to the tip you
must re-sharpen.

Also when TIG welding the material must be very clean with no contaminants
or rust etc.

Argoshield is for use with MIG welders


Hope this helps.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/27/03 20:07:55 GMT

Steve, Paw Paw,

Robert thanks you for your help, and is off to get a cylinder of pure Argon tomorrow. I'm a professional chemist and thought it was probably the gas as well! The 'Net' never fails to amaze me with the shear number of people that you can find who are willing to help complete strangers on all sorts of things.

Perhaps you might have some ideas on the following as well - he also wants to purchase a smallish forge, suitable for a home based workshop - ideally secondhand, in the UK - would anyone know of any suppliers that it would be worth contacting. He's trying to set up his own business and is trying to get all the necessary tools together first. He's already got MIG, TIG and stick welders, and is trying to get an old compressed air tank going to get some air powered tools working (can see some help being needed on that project in time guys!). Some of this is pretty new stuff to him so any advice will be gratefully received.

Thanks again

   Julia - Sunday, 04/27/03 20:21:02 GMT


Suggest he contact BABA, the British Artist Blacksmith Association. There's a link on the Links page here at Anvilfire. Failing that, there is always the option of building a "brake drum" forge, illustrations and descriptions on the 21st Century page here at anvilfire. With the equipment he already has, he should have no trouble building one, and if he can scrounge or buy cheaply the parts at a boot sale, won't be expensive either.

Where (approximately) are you located in the UK? I can put him in touch with the welder/blacksmith that I got the answer from if you guys are close enough together.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/27/03 20:59:37 GMT


Forgot to mention:

My mate will probably be able to help finding materials.
One shock, the cylinder of Argon is going to cost about 90 £!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/27/03 21:03:38 GMT

I am interested in obtaining a 48" round wrought iron table base to make a mosaic table. It is looking like I am going to have to have one custom-constructed. I live in the Washington DC area. What is a reasonable price for such a piece? It doesn't need to be fancy. Thank you!
   Stacia Roesler - Sunday, 04/27/03 22:00:23 GMT

PS---forgot to ask---does anyone know of any already-extant sources for wrought iron mosaic table bases in the US? Preferably East Coast to minimize shipping costs. But I want a decent-size table, not those itty bitty bistro things. Thanks again!
   Stacia Roesler - Sunday, 04/27/03 22:04:10 GMT

Table Base: Stacia, These are not an off/the/shelf item. Custom made in the US you are looking at probably $300-$400 UP. That might get you a light weight frame. You could pay thousands for one that is a work of art and there are quite a few folks that could do the work. A lot depends on style. However, a 48" table is pretty big and the possible loading could be 1,000 pounds or so (4-5 large adults standing on it). Therefore you do not want it to be too light.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/27/03 23:34:14 GMT

Yes I know. . . you do not PLAN on folks standing on your work of art table. . but things happen. . . and manufacturers need to consider the worst case.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/27/03 23:38:50 GMT

Did I lend my copies of the plans for the Civil War Forge Cart to anyone on here?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/28/03 01:29:02 GMT

I found in my garage an old chest, stamped on it is "Empire Forge Chest US 1918 Buffalo Forge Co." anyone have any idea if this is worth something or if anyone would be interested in it. My husband wants to take it to the dumps. It has some rust on it, nothing that can't be cleaned. No dents or anything, just a latch and chain.
   Anna Anguiano - Monday, 04/28/03 02:44:14 GMT

Frank - kool beans. Thansk for the info. Someties I wonder how I've survived all these yeara. I made a wong connection thinking that I needed to some how "cleans" the parts of scale and forging junk and to get a clean flow needed flux. What I'm doing is part forging and part welding and when the two parts are shaped together there is bound to be junk included in the joint.
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 04/28/03 03:00:29 GMT

Anna, There are many tool collectors that would probably pay dear for it. If you are going to get rid of it donate it to a local blacksmithing group and they will find a good home for it. Check our ABANA-Chapter page for a group near you.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 03:32:17 GMT

Hi 888, Yes it takes a good heat. What quench do you use to harden your items, and at what temp do you temper them? JWGBHF. Thanks for the come back.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Monday, 04/28/03 03:34:41 GMT

Welding, Forging and Gunk: Jerry, There are welded joints and there are welded joints. Scale OR flux in hollow joints lead to rust and corrosion. Borax based flux is the worst culprit. Both forging and arc welding fluxes (rod coatings) contain borax which becomes an anhydrous glass like substance when heated. It is hydroscopic (water loving) and over time it absorbs water from the air (becomming hydrous) expanding and growing white crystals. In the process of absorbing water it supports corrosion. So welded joints, either by arc or forge welding need to be clean and solid as well as cleaned afterwards.

When gas welding steel you need to remove any scale greater than light mill scale. That means you should grind off the heavy forging scale. Although you CAN weld through heavy scale it does make it more difficult and results in wasting a lot of fuel.

Proper forge welded joints are designed to squeeze out flux and dross otherwise a very weak weld results. Usualy the forging and heating process rids the area of flux. However, when flux remains it needs to be cleaned off.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 03:44:10 GMT

Julia; Have your mate be exceedingly careful about the old compressed air thak...make sure it is rated for the pressure and inspect the inside for corrosion at a minimum...Those things can be bombs.
Jerry; Welding steel/iron doesn't require flux generally, just metal clean of scale and corrosion. The more scale on the steel, the more agitated your puddle tends to become. Much like Zen, a placid pool is desired when welding with a torch. The longer the pool is calm, the more you can manipulate it. The degree of crud you can float off the puddle depends on what it is composed of and how much of it there is. Overheating compounds the problem. If the weld isn't structural, this matters a lot less. At the far extreme, my area of specialty is welding the rustiest,crustiest sort of marine exposed steel..it's welding ugly.
   - Pete F - Monday, 04/28/03 05:30:17 GMT


hmm, I'm learning stuff here. I'm directing my learning curve toward making butt plates and trigger guards for flintlocks. I have forge welded making layered iron for this project which is where my info about using borax came from and my welding skills are very primative which brings me to this question:

I once saw an experienced maker "forge weld" two thin/small parts by cold riviting pieces together with a thin piece of copper or brass (?) between. When he put them in the forge the softer metal flowed like sliver solder welding the two iron parts. I don't recall if he used any flux. You think if I use absolute cleanliness during assembly I can get away without flux? Any knowledge about this?
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 04/28/03 11:59:54 GMT

Track pins;
I went to a Rob Gunther demo once. He made a hammer out of an old track pin (I bought it later :D) He said to only use the pins that have rust on the ends. The newer pins are made out of a different aloy and they don't rust on the ends and they don't make good hammers. The rust is an indication that you have the right steel. The hammer has held up great BTW :D
   Wayne Parris - Monday, 04/28/03 13:23:58 GMT

I have made very few of these but I beleive it was a yellow temper. I was unaware that there were multiple types of these pins. If the hammer comes out well let me know I might have to try also. As I recall when I got the ones I have I thought they might make good hot cuts and punches but I have never got around to trying it out.
   888 - Monday, 04/28/03 13:43:12 GMT

Jerry, If the laminae were steel with copper in between, the demonstrator was brazing, using copper as the hard solder. Cleanliness is important, and horseshoers often use borax and wire brushing when brazing on jar calks (grabs for traction). The steel needs to be at least a good cherry red and tight together, so when the copper melts, it does flow by capillary action. Copper, brass, and silver solder behave similarly, but their melting temperatures vary quite a bit. As an example, copper melts at 1981ºF and proprietary, brass brazing rod melts at approximately 1600ºF. As for gunsmithing, the high carbon steel was sometimes brazed as a frizzen face to the wrought iron.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/28/03 14:11:47 GMT

Penny Weld, Spelter, Oven Brazing: Jerry, this is an ancient method of brazing. Sometimes flux is used, sometimes not. In the proper forge atmosphere and clean metal you may get away without flux. The rivet is not always necessary. Bill Epps uses a copper penny (pre 1983) and calls it a "penny weld". In the penny or spelter joint copper, brass or bronze chips or powder is sprinkled on the fluxed parts and they are joined in the forge when the brazing alloy melts. The heat is then reduced and part removed.

Modern applications include attaching carbide points to masonry drills and lathe bits and is called "oven brazing". In this case thin pieces of specisl brazing alloy are fitted to the joint and the part carefully heated in an oven. This reliably produces a thin strong joint similar to a perfect braze or solder joint where the joining material flows into small gaps. Often inert atmosphers are used to prevent oxidation and need for flux.

When silver alloys are used the process becomes "silver soldering" but the methods are the same and many of the silver alloys used are high in copper.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 14:13:03 GMT

Stacia- I have a friend just above Philadelphia who has a line of table bases that he produces. His name is Fred Odell and his # is 215-794-8967. Fred is stuck in the 1800's. He won't learn to weld so he pays me to do it for him. Every time I put one together I'm struck with how nice the design is. His work may or may not be to your taste but he is close enough to take a look. Give a call and he'll send some pics. He's not on line though so you'll have to wait for the postman.
   - Pete-Raven - Monday, 04/28/03 14:32:18 GMT

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who dropped by my tailgate at the BGOP Spring Fling to say hello, and especially those who were able to purchase items from the estate of the late Master Finnr (James Howell). I was able to raise $1,008 dollars for his widow, and a lot of very nice people now have his tools, materials, arms and armor to continue in the crafts, to inspire them, and to remember him by.

I suspect that I won’t be tailgating again, since any tools or equipment I don’t use get gifted or bartered; and primarily because when I was at the tailgate I was wondering what was going on at the forge demonstrations, and when I was at the forge demonstrations I was wondering who wanted to buy something at the tailgate. I guess I was never meant to be a merchant.

The volunteers of the Blacksmith’s Guild of the Potomac did a superlative job with the logistics, and the food was quite good. (I wouldn’t ask for seconds if I didn’t like it.)

This weekend- Universal Soldier at Ft. Washington: http://www.nps.gov/fowa/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/28/03 14:41:02 GMT

Pennies: For those of you that are too young to remember US pennies used to be mostly copper (95% copper 5% zinc). Starting in 1983 they went to the current alloy which 97.5% zinc, 2.5% copper and is copper clad. The reason for the change was that copper had risen to the point where a penny was worth a little over 1 cent (1.05c). This meant that in the 1980's the US actually has a coin the was worth its face value! It was sort of like being on the gold standard again. . .

The new pennines are lighter and don't sound the same when struck. If you forget what year the change occured you can scrape a little bit of the edge and see the white metal interior.

The pennies are made from clad material (laminated). The interesting thing is how the edges get covered with copper. It is SMEARED on by the blanking process. The harder zinc shears and the copper extrudes across the fresh surface welding to it in the process.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 15:18:09 GMT

Posted too soon. . more penny details from the US mint:
  • The composition was pure copper from 1793 to 1837.
  • From 1837 to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc).
  • From 1857, the cent was 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, giving the coin a whitish appearance.
  • The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc) from 1864 to 1962.
    (Note: In 1943, the coin's composition was changed to zinc-coated steel. This change was only for the year 1943 and was due to the critical use of copper for the war effort.
    However, a limited number of copper pennies were minted that year.
  • In 1962, the cent's tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
  • The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both compositions appeared in that year.
The copper shortage of 1943 was due to the need for mazive amounts of copper wire for the coils of the uranium seperating equipment in order to build the first atomic bombs. . . US silver stores were also used.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 15:27:53 GMT

somewhere I have heard the term "penny weld" now I have a nich in my head for it. Thanks. Although a penny is far too heavy for attaching the trigger and finger bows together on a trigger guard, small piece of sheet copper about 0.0125 seems plenty heavy enough. Maybe that powdered copper idea is a possibility too. The weld joint/rivet thing is my sence of how to hold two small pieces in alignment while they come up to temp and the copper melts. I'd love to know how to hold parts together in a forge without that mechanical fix... anything I can imagine would not withstand the heat or would allow the parts to slide around at the moment of copper flow. That happens to me a lot sliver soldering brass sight blades to steel bases unless I rig up a jig. Any illustrations would be helpful?
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 04/28/03 16:39:47 GMT

I'd like to second Bruce's accolades for the BGOP Spring Fling 2003. I had a great time, learned a lot and my wallet got a lot lighter. Thanks for the leather Bruce! It was a great Iron in the hat win! I brought the whole fam damily and the "Spouse Crafts" were a hit with my wife. Bill Wojcik, the master chef, did a super job with chow. BZ to BGOP for a GREAT event!
   robcostello - Monday, 04/28/03 18:12:35 GMT

Does a listing exist that provides a ranking on brand names of anvils? I have reviewed a list of 72 brand names of anvils. It was listed at the NTBA website. If a person is looking to procure a used anvil in the 150 to 250 pound range, what are the best or the highest demand anvils?

   Glenn - Monday, 04/28/03 18:36:07 GMT


Any of the following. These are NOT in an "order of quality", they are all good anvils. Some folks prefer one, some another.

Mouse Hole. Any of the Armitage anvils from Mouse Hole Forge.
Peter Wright
Hay Budden
Wilkinson & Son
Kohlswah (older models)

I own a Mouse Hole, a Wilkinson, and an un-named colonial that is probably English made. All are good anvils. Be aware that there is a lemon in every barrel.

Others may add to this list.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/28/03 18:53:04 GMT


In General the following are ranked in approximate quality by popular brands.
  1. Forged all steel anvils, Hay-Budden, Peddinghaus, Trenton, Arm & Hammer.
  2. Forged wrought plated, Mouse Hole, Peter Wright, Wilkinson, various other English and European anvils
  3. Cast all steel anvils, Nimba, Kohlswa, Vaughans, Texas Farrier Supply and too many more to mention.
  4. Cast-Iron steel plated, Fisher-Norris
  5. Anything less than #4 is an ASO
See our anvil series and rebound testing on our 21st Century page for hardness values of anvils we have tested.

   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 19:15:35 GMT

Hello Chaps

Just to let you know Robert's been shopping and we have now installed a bottle of pure Argon - the welds are now pure perfection, and nothing in the house that is made of stainless steel is now safe as he and his mate experiment. I am tempted to mount an armed guard over my saucepans, and if he really gets desparate I shall volunteer my colander and ask him to fill in all the holes and drill me a different design in it!! Thanks for all your help - I shall probably drop by on his behalf from time to time. In fact before I go I shall try to asking a question that I tried to ask yesterday, but which didn't seem to post here at the time - that is........does anyone know in the UK where they could get a small home workshop sized (and ideally second-hand) forge oven - they want all the gear to set up their own small business.

Cheers for all your time and help, and for not minding that I'm a female in your midst!!

   Julia - Monday, 04/28/03 19:28:12 GMT

Julia, Try joining BABA and going to some meeetings. The best source of used equipment is usualy other smiths unless you are in the scrounging business. There are numerous forge manufacturers in the UK. Look up Swans Porta-Forge (they are on our Blacksmiths Web-ring). Swans makes portable farrier gas forges which are also useful as bench top forges for small work.

Glenn, Also note that many very good anvils have no markings on them at all. ANY real anvil is better than no anvil at all. Always inspect an anvil prior to buying. Most should have good rebound when struck lightly with a hammer. Avoid anvils with painted or sealed faces (could be hiding repairs) and avoid repaired anvils unless they are bargain priced. My opinion on repaired anvils is that most are worth less then without repairs.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 19:37:14 GMT

This seems to have stopped working - I've been posting questions and thanks for answers, but my posts are not appearing - is anyone getting this?
   Julia - Monday, 04/28/03 19:38:29 GMT

Julia, you have a refresh problem.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 19:50:27 GMT

...AT LAST! I have something to contribute to the Brit lass. You must have won the lottery m'Lady to be able to underight the cost of setting up shop. I should be so lucky.

Anyway, as for the gas forge; take a look at several sites here and one by "www.reil1.net" that has many designs for making forges operated on propane from your barby. I went out today and bought the parts for a burner at big box and spent less than $20 US.
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 04/28/03 20:22:55 GMT

hi there,
pls provide info re/metal rod & metal base for supporting the sculptures or exhibit the sculptures product/manufactory or wholesales, thanks.
   George Sands - Monday, 04/28/03 20:26:52 GMT

I have an old Acme anvil and it doesn't have any turning cams and I was wondering if it would hurt any thing to weld some on, also the horn is pretty narrow would it hurt to build it up and if not what kind of rod would I have to use and would i have to preheat or anything.
   Tyson Pate - Monday, 04/28/03 21:17:22 GMT

Glenn - My preference (and my neighor's preference) is the Fisher. All the rebound, but no sound, just a nice thunk that doesn't desturb the neghbors, even at 11:00pm. Heck, my neighbor saw me fighting to get the coal forge fired up at dusk [Propane is too easy ;)] so he tossed me two logs of lighter, knowing full well I'd be pounding away well past a "decent hour."

However, even a good anvil brand doesn't guarantee a good anvil. Barnfires, someone "fixing" it by welding on it, some dolt using it as a table for welding on, Mr. Magoo chipping the heck out of the edges, using a WAY oversized sledge... I suggest not buying an anvil unless you can bounce a hammer off of it and test it's rebound. Face shape can be shown in a picture, but you can only test the rebound in person.
   Monica - Monday, 04/28/03 21:22:22 GMT

Welding on Anvils: Tyson, Anvils are HARDENED TOOL STEEL. They do not like being welded on and they REALLY don't like being welded on by amatures. Even when sucessfully welded upon by an expert they need to be heat treated afterwards (a big expense). If you want a farrier's anvil buy one or trade your Acme for it.

Note that the design of the "standard" London pattern anvil actually IS a shoe maker's anvil. The horn and pritchell hole are both features that were added for shoe making. But the design was also tempered for general work. Other smiths found the horn handy for forging scrolls and curves. They need a round horn as apposed to those weirdly flattened things that farriers like.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 22:01:07 GMT

Sculpture Stands: George, These a specialy made products either designed by the gallery/museum or by the artist and manufactured by artist, gallery, a machine shop, blacksmith or often a cabinette maker.

A large gallery or museum may be able to point you to a shop that makes these items. OR many of the smiths here may offer to help you if you are more specific about what you want.
   - guru - Monday, 04/28/03 22:06:37 GMT

dear guru,
I am really trying to find out how to start metalworking, but when i go to sights on it i am confoozed from all the technical terms and stuff. i would like to go somewhere to learn, but i dont know where. i am especially interested in weapon and armour making. is there someone around gainesville that can help me????
   ricky stevens - Monday, 04/28/03 23:54:07 GMT

Hi 888, I used a pin about 2" dia. forged it square to 1 1/4" square. I then punched and drifed the hole for the handle. I cut it 5"s overall. I'm making a double peen hammer on a 45 degree, when you pick up the hammer it will be a cross peen at a 45 degree, and when you turn it over in your hand 180 degrees i'ts a straight peen at a 45 degree angle. If you lay the squared and punched head and lay it on your anvil with the hole on it's side and facing you rotate it up 45 degrees and taper those high corners to form the peens make sure you stay on the same line or it will not work. It doesent seem that it will work, but it comes out right. I heated to a non-magnetic and quenched in warm water (100-110degrees)then I cleaned the head shiny so I can see the color change using a torch just on the peen ends I heated to a light blue (around 600 degrees) and quenched. Put a handle in it and it works great. The reason for the 45 degree angle you don't get youself bound up holding the item wih tongs and trying to hammer. This way ;your tong hand and hammer hand when over the anvil are at a natural 45 Degrees. This was not my brain storm I got it from a BS in Montana. JWGBHF.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Monday, 04/28/03 23:59:24 GMT

dear guru,
im sorry about my lastpost, i meant is there anyone around gainesville, florida that can help me??
   ricky stevens - Tuesday, 04/29/03 00:00:58 GMT

Dear Sir:

I have a friend who owns an old drill press made by the Niles-Bement-Pond Company. I saw your picture of the Niles-Bement-Pond 350 Pound Hammer and thought you might be able to help.

From research, I think that the NBP Company was in existence from 1899 to about 1954. He wants to sell this drill press and is convinced that is is rare and valuable. I have concluded that his machine is from the 1920's...made in the U.S. ...and may be rare.

Since the Company no longer exists...where can I find information about his drill press? It is about 7.5-8 feet tall and has a 24" round table with a Morse Taper. The information on the side indicates that it was made by the "Miscellaneous Department." Was this a special order?

Any information or links you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your assistance.

Ron Stone
Pueblo West, Colorado

   Ron Stone - Tuesday, 04/29/03 00:21:56 GMT

Thanx for the input, I have determined after speach with a Concrete Guru that I'd be better off bolting the thing to the surface of the base. Also they were pushing me for an installation for a May 30 unveiling of the big head. I worked thru the wkd and got the thing assembled so I could take it to Oakland for Galvanizing the day before flying to Hawaii for two weeksof desperatly needed R&R. I put aside profitable work for an excellent client who will be upset to not get their wine cellar doors before I leave . This morning I get a call saying that the sculpture won't be installed until Sept.
Kirk out
   Kirk McNeill - Tuesday, 04/29/03 00:42:24 GMT

Click for detail
Niles Drill Press Ron, Does it look sort of like this? At that period in time those drill presses were a common commodity and almost every major manufacturing company made them. Many made them only for in-house use or to sell with other equipment.

Although you would THINK that old flat belt drive equipment like this should be in a museum or have collectors value it does NOT. If in good working condition these machines sell for $250 to $400 to people that want to use them. They are great tools and generally under priced.

These are the finest drilling machine ever designed. They will drill 1/8" holes as easily as 1" holes. Even worn out these machines are infinately better than most new drill presses.

These were made from the late 1800's until the 1950's. Comprable NEW machines cost as much as a small automobile. They are the perfect machine for any blacksmith shop.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 01:20:26 GMT

Lately I've been giving some serious thought to making an air hammer. Since I don't have air, yet, and this is still just a hobby, *and* I've got a small shop, I need to find a design that will work with a non-industrial (10cfm @ 90psi or less) compressor. I do have 220V, which I ran for the welder, but a $1000 compressor is not in the budget. And even a 60gal might not physically fit.

I ordered the Kinyon plans and found the Alabama mods to lighten it up to 25 lbs or so. But my other problem is height. My shop is about 6'6" tall, with maybe 6'10" between the upper floor joists.

Even the reduced Kinyon looks to be 7' or so tall. I can probably shave enough off to fit, but then I noticed the Kiwi hammer, from the PowerH page, http://www.anvilfire.com/power/ahooper/ah-air1.htm
Any idea on the air requirements of this one? Could it be scaled down without too many problems? If so, does Andrew Hooper, the designer, have plans available? Any other thoughts?

   Marc - Tuesday, 04/29/03 01:24:20 GMT

Armour in Florida Ricky, Armor and weapon making are the technical top of the hand metal working fields. They ARE technical and there is a lot to learn. Part of the learing is reading and understanding technical literature on the subject. See our Getting Started article for some sugestions as well as a reading list.

And yes, there are folks in Florida that can help you but you will need to help yourself first.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 01:28:07 GMT

Marc, Kiwi's hammer was based on the original Bull hammer (a design no longer in production). The ram slides up and down on a piece of heavy 2" square structural tubing and the cylinder is mounted down next to the anvil.

The design is very compact and I plan on building one or two similar this summer (Want to fund some R&D? I have the anvil steel and used cylinders for several.). There are some engineering problems in the original design. However, I think the compactness is worth it.

The problems are:

1) Stopping in the UP position. There needs to be a shock and spring mounted cap. I have a design that fits inside the tube.

2) The cantelevered connection between the cylinder and the ram. The guides need to be long and well built. I am going to use a split "V" guide built from angle iron that can be shimmed.

The original Bull had some design problems that made it hard to manufacture. The guide system was not maintainable and was hard to make even though it looked simple.

The air controls were a special design on the Bull but the standard system will work. However, there needs to be a control rod to activate the reversing valve. Otherwise you end up with some weird bracketry in precarious space.

Reducing the ram mass neccesitates running the hammer faster and longer and in the end using the same air to do the same work. You are better off building in the 50 to 100 pound range for general blacksmith shop work and take your lumps on waiting for the compressor to pump up.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 01:51:03 GMT

Compact power hammers: If you REALLY want compact check out the KA hammers (see the Wallace Metal Work page). And I think we still have a slide show of it on our long ignored AnvilCAM page. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 01:57:52 GMT

guru - I took a look at that KA hammer. Pretty neat. What does one cost. BTW - drop me a note off the web. I might be interested in funding some R&D PH work
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 04/29/03 02:14:48 GMT

Jock, what would be the smallest PRACTICAL self-contained?

Could a 25 pound SC be made? And how large would the resulting machine be, approximately? Under 6'?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/29/03 02:34:07 GMT

I was working on a set of spurs for a friend and was upsetting the rod. I found that after about five or six blows the rod began to bend. I figure it is cooling unevenly resulting in uneven deformation. I've run into this particular result every time I upset any kind of rod and was wondering if I'm doing something wrong. Any recomendations? Thanks.
   Will - Tuesday, 04/29/03 02:55:25 GMT

Mark Krause built a .14b self contained air hammer, it was about three ft tall. It hit just fine for anything 1/2" sq and smaller
   Kirk McNeill - Tuesday, 04/29/03 03:26:06 GMT

Will, If upsetting the end of a bar, HOT END ON THE ANVIL, keep the heat not longer than 2½ x native thickness. Pour on water to isolate the heat before going to the anvil. Whitaker used to give the bar about 1/8th turn after each hammer blow...said it helped to center the upset. If you do get a bend, give it a quick straightening blow or two and continue upsetting. If using the vise, leave about 2½ thickness sticking beyond the vise jaws. If the stock bends, use rapid angle blows to bring it to center. You can blunt-point the end before upsetting. It centralizes the blow and pushes the stock back farther. Upsetting a plain right angled cut will give a thin golf tee-valve head look to the upset. In other words, it will be a crappy upset.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/29/03 04:35:22 GMT

whats the needed temp. for smelting copper and tin for bronze?
   - ben - Tuesday, 04/29/03 12:05:11 GMT

Thanks, Jock. I've seen the KA in action at a friend's shop. He was playing with it to get it to cycle instead of the one-hit. I really liked the compactness of it, but he said it was pretty air-hungry.

I know almost nothing about pneumatics outside of filling my tires, so please pardon some newbie questions. Does the size of the compressor only affect the fill/empty time?

For example, if I bought a little 26gal, 5hp, from WalMart, that had maybe 6cfm @ 90psi, how much hammering could I get done? If I were drawing down a 1"sq, would there be enough air to last until the piece cooled down? And then, how long does something like that take to fill up before I can start hammering again?

I think I'm looking for some idea on total cycle time. The best would be if the tank filled while the steel was heating back up. Since I use a propane forge, that takes a little longer than coal, so more time for a compressor tank to fill. Smaller tank takes less time to fill, but empties faster.

   Marc - Tuesday, 04/29/03 12:41:35 GMT

Does any one know where I might be able to obtain some high carbon railroad spikes relatively inexpensive?
   Kevin King - Tuesday, 04/29/03 13:42:19 GMT

I could use some suggestions from this august body. Does the Aluminum alloys commonly used to manufacture trailers contain Zinc? I am tracking an elusive problem and can't let it go. I have a client whose corporate guy can't find the Zn contamination in their truck wash bay and it is keeping them in dutch with the City. My latest theory is that IF there is a significant amount of Zn in the alloys and IF they are using a hydrofluoric acid wash as many do then there could be leaching taking place. We have run through the standard list of checks for Galvinised floor drains and siding and the rivets on the trailers. So far I getting nowhere. And I have seen very esoteric questions answered here I thought I'd give it a shot.
   Mills - Tuesday, 04/29/03 13:53:09 GMT

Marc and Compressors
The three things most important that you need in a compressed air system is CFM, air reciever capacity, and flow through. Even relatively small air hammers will often consume 90 CFM of air in small bursts. So you need as much CFM at sufficient pressure as you can afford, and fit in or next to your shop (compressors are noisy, a seperate building is not a bad idea...:-). My Bull 75 runs at 135-150PSI. If you have a small reciever you will be waiting for the hammer to recharge more often, and working the compressor motor harder . IF you are working smaller stock and doing simple opperations it MIGHT not be a problem, but are you really going to be happy doing that for long:-) The other important consideration in the air supply system is the piping, and making sure you have sufficient flow through! One undersized fitting in your deleivery system and you can starve you hammer. So don't even think about running a decent sized hammer off of a 1/4 airline:-) Think 3/4 and work hard to keep the air moving hard and fast through the system.

You can get used compressors from reputable equipment dealers, and in "trader" want ad style newspapers, and some times they go pretty cheap, especailly if you can deal with 3phase:-) course right place, right time, and having the money to pay the right price is so hard to find:-)

As for the 1" square question, the compressor would kick in and start running almost as soon as you depressed the treadle all the way and the hammer started to cycle, and it would likely hit with a limp wrist before you lost your heat.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 04/29/03 13:54:51 GMT

Marc and Propane

Why would it take more time with propane than with coal? are't you working multiple pieces at the same time? Propane is great for production style work, get a neutral or slightly reducing atmosphere throw however many pieces you can handle at once and can fit inside the forge and go to town:-) AND if you are using a power hammer, then definitely stack them high and deep:-)

A good propane forge isn't really all that slow, coal may get welding heat faster, and be better for heavier stock, but propane will get mild to a working heat pretty darn fast, especially forges with a door working on small pieces.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 04/29/03 14:04:24 GMT

I am a welder, metalfabricator, which had my own shop for a while, good at design and love to work with metal. My wife and I do Civil War Reenacting, and I have a forge, anvil, hammer, but need a post vice, and hardys which would be appropriate for that era. Where would be a good source for finding tools for that era? Thanks
   Gary Taylor - Tuesday, 04/29/03 14:25:19 GMT


Any post vice will be time frame appropriate, they date back to the 16th Century. Same thing for hardy tools. Every blacksmith made his own hardy tools, and they could look like any that are made today.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/29/03 14:33:04 GMT

1). Flea Markets, junk shops, old businesses going out of business.
2). Find a local forge group, see ABANA chapter listing, located on here.
3). Put out the word to all your friends & customers. You will probably have to get pictures. You will be surprised how much stuff people will have that they don't know what it is.

Tim S
   slattont - Tuesday, 04/29/03 14:36:44 GMT

Zinc Contamination: Mills, almost all high strength aluminium alloys contain zinc in small amounts. But you would need to ask a trailer manufacturer what alloy they use. And not only the frames are aluminium on these trucks, so are the running boards, fuel tanks, bumpers and wheels.

It could be coming from other sources.

Zamac castings (zinc-aluminium) for marker lights, brake parts and some simple bearing blocks are zinc. Zamac is rapidly replacing brass and is heavily used on engine parts. The distributor and carburrettor on your car are probably Zamac.

Brass (as in plumbing fitings contains lots of zinc). Does their wash pumps have brass housings or impellers. . .

Water tanks often have sacrificial annodes mounted inside to reduce corrosion.

How about the wood decking on the trucks? Certain zinc compounds are used as mordants to prevent rotting and may be in treated lumber along with the arsenic salts. . .

OR. . how about any electrical conduit in the wash bay?

Zinc is used in a lot of places. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 14:41:33 GMT

Compressors Marc, A few years ago all the manufacturers of the "new" air hammers were pushing them as capable of being run on a "3HP K-Mart air compressor". This was in an attempt to lower the installed cost of the hammer. The hammers WOULD run on that power but many people were disasatified with the fact that the compressors ran constantly and often could not keep up.

Today most are more realistic and recommend a 5HP compressor as a minimum. If you shop around these are very affordable. I saw a big 6-1/2 HP unit with a 60gal tank at Lowes last summer for $750. But big is a relative term.

Horsepower is Horsepower AND air operated machines of all types are very energy inefficient. What they DO is pack a lot of punch in a smaller lighter tool.

Every shop SHOULD have a good air compressor. There are a lot more tools you can run on air besides the power hammer. Air die grinders are wonderful tools and many smiths make use of air chisles when carving hot or cold steel. The compressor can also be used for When you spread the cost of the compressor over more tools then it becomes much more affordable.

Fionnbharr's comments all are right on the head.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:01:12 GMT

PawPAw, I am suprised at you! Didn't you remember the small hammer at Flagstaff? Sat on a table top and was able to work 1/2 and down.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:08:21 GMT

Small Hammers: Paw-paw, Dentists use a little air power hammer to tamp in filling material. . ram is maybe 1/2 to 1 gram, is that small enough?

Bradley and others using their style of mechanical helve hammer linkage built little riveting hammers with approximately a 1 pound head.

Little 15 pound hammers were made for cutlers drawing out table ware and filemakers forging tangs.

Practicality of a self contained hammer is related to cost. The bigger these machines get the cheaper they are for a given amount of work capacity. Since they are rather complicated compared to other designs a small self-contained hammer is not very practical UNLESS there is a definite need for it like the the dentists hammer. . .

As to size. . . The little Chineese self contained hammers are designed such that they can be used while the operator is sitting on the ground and must be raised a considerable distance to be used standing as is customary in the West.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:17:09 GMT

More ZINC. . Mills, Ah.. . has anybody dropped any pennies in the drains or traps ? ? ?
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:19:59 GMT

Kevin King: Is FREE inexpensive enough?(grin) Go out in the country and take a casual stroll down the tracks. They'll be laying on the ground. DO NOT touch any spikes which are still in the ties, no matter how loose they are, or you might find yourself doing some fast talking to the Feds or the RR cops. Most right of way spikes are HC now.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:24:42 GMT

Copper Melting: Ben, Copper melts at just under 1981°F (1083°C) and tin MUCH lower at 450°F (232°C).

To melt and cast bronze you need about 2,000°F. Metals generally need to be well above the melting point to cast otherwise they are slushy or cool too quickly.

Brass and bronze can be melted to cast tem using a gas furnace (like a gas forge) or a coal/charcoal forge. You need a good crucible and tools to handle it (crucible tongs, pouring shank). The best crucibles are made of silicon carbide, the next from graphite and cheap ones from refractory clay.

Brass/bronze casting can be done on a small scale melting a couple pounds at a time in a small shop or backyard foundry.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:37:46 GMT

Legal Spikes: McMaster-Carr sells them NEW. Or did a few years ago.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:40:06 GMT

All good points. Especially about Zamac, I had forgotten that stuff. I have sent a similar message to NATM but have not received much from them in the past. As for the manufacturers I have a couple of contacts here that may be able to get me this info. I think your suggestion on Zamac is the thing to look at closely next though, it is far more likely than leaching from washing. Thanks.
   Mills - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:41:03 GMT

I bought a nifty chunk of steel at a junk shop yesterday. I called it an upsetting block, the storekeeper thought it's a saw filers anvil.
It's a forged piece, the base is ten inch square, 1.5 inch thick, with a 9 inch round, 3 inch thick growing out of the base. i sandblasted the bottom and found "HENDY' stamped into the underside. it weighs 108 pounds.
The top surface is shaped into a slight dome 1/2 inch total rise, and it has some dishing like it had been repeatedly thumped in the same spots.
I searched the archives for 'hendy', didn't find anything. does any body know what it is?
thanks, mike
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:52:40 GMT

Zinc in Aluminium Alloys - CORRECTION: Mills, the most common structural alloy used for aircraft frames and skins is AA-2024 and it has NO zinc.

The next most common structural alloy is 6061 and it contains NO zinc. Some truck frames are made of 6061.

Only the very hard high strength 7000 series contain zinc. Highest percentage is in AA-7049 at 7.6. The most common alloy of this type is AA-7075 with 5.5% zinc. However, my ASM Metals Reference says that a recommended use is truck frames and dump bodies. AA-7005 is recommended for "heavy duty structures requiring corrosion resistance, trucks, trailers and dump bodies". 7005 has 4.5% zinc as well as a small amount of titanium and zirconium.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 15:54:58 GMT

Hendy Machine Company - Tools: Mike, Sounds like you identified it pretty well (at least for blacksmithing use). A google search didn't turn up anything directly however Hendy made machine tools such as milling machines, drill presses and shapers. It seems they were in business in the early part of the 20th Century (1910-1950 est). Many machine tool makers made other things.
The great Colorado mining boom developed about this time making a market for mining machinery and Arthur Hendey became a very wealthy man. It is my impression that either Arthur Hendey or the Hendey & Meyer Engineering Co. acquired a tract of Denver real estate in the days when Denver property went begging for purchasers and this property was afterward sold to one of the railroads at an almost fabulous figure. Doubtless, in the days of his affluence, the Hendey Machine Company of Torrington, Connecticut. . .

It may also be a work rest for large parts supported off the side of a shaper. . . Or some kind of balance device base. It is not a sawyers anvil (they are all flat I believe), but it sounds like a jim-dandy sheet metal working anvil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 16:31:19 GMT

Hmmmmm just noted the spelling of Hendy with an "ey" in the above quote. However other references spelled it "Hendy" as well as another place in the above article.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 16:37:47 GMT

Compressors and Propane and Hammers (Oh my!):
Thanks for all the feedback. Fionnbharr, I hadn't thought of multiple pieces. I heat multiples all the time, but so far my projects have been small, with only occasional 3/4" to 1" stuff. So when I think of big stock, there never has been a case (so far) of heating multiple pieces. And I'm a long way off from doing anything that resembles production work.

A seperate shed for the compressor is a thought, though. That would let me go to a 60 gal without worrying about space. Of course, now I'd have to build the shed, route air lines, ...

I just had a thought about horsepower. While the air hammers hit harder, bottom line is they need at least 5hp to do it. Do they hit 5 times as hard as a mechanical running off of a 1hp motor?
   Marc - Tuesday, 04/29/03 17:23:19 GMT

Wow!!! you just beat all the E types that I've talked to so far. I'm sure that they also have access to that reference but don't use it. I really appreciate the help, thanks.
   Mills - Tuesday, 04/29/03 17:40:11 GMT

What, praytell, is an ASO? Searched the archives to no avail..
Is natural gas too inefficient to use instead of propane?
   Michael Reinhart - Tuesday, 04/29/03 17:57:10 GMT

Thanks for the info, Guru! I've been using a beat-up hay budden on the floor for an upsetting block, getting real tired of cracking my shins on the horn daily. This hendy thing will work great.
West Coast Alert- Hanley farm hammer-in, May 30-June 1, Jacksonville, OR.. Ironwolf, Ralph, and myself have details.
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 04/29/03 18:33:33 GMT

ASO. . . Archives should have thousands of references. Anvil Shaped Object. Generaly referring to cheap cast iron junk things that are shaped like an anvil but are NOT anvils. Also referred to as "door stops" and "boat anchors" However an ASO is a lousy boat anchor and gives anchors a bad name. . . Most boat anchors would make a better anvil as many are made of steel or ductile iron.

Currently ASO's are being imported from China by the boat load (ballast instead of anchors/) and sold by unscrupulous dealers notably on eBay but in many other places including flea markets and farm supply stores. . .

Cast iron is brittle and will crumble under the kind of use applied by blacksmiths. However, they WILL work if you are careful to keep your iron very hot and not accidently strike the surface with your hammer and NEVER work on the edges. . . But most are not worth the price.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/29/03 18:39:18 GMT

Other uses for ASOs:

The little ones have some utility for working copper and light wire work or, if cleaned up and polished, jewelry.

Most of the rest of them can be used as novel blunt-heavy-objects in murder mysteries or for exterminatin cartoon coyotes. (Come to think of it, they even fail to exterminate the coyote, who shows up again in the very next cartoon.)

Changeable weather on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/29/03 19:19:00 GMT

Michael Reinhart:

Nothing "inefficient" about natural gas. I would bet that a hundred times (or more) as much forging is done with natural gas as with propane. That might not sound right, but I know forge shops that use as much gas in one hour as most blacksmiths will use in a lifetime. I've run both small and large NG forges for thirty years or so. Yes, even for welding. I've run NG at a few inches of water column up to 15-20 psi. Using a gas forge I'd doubt any smith could tell you if it was running NG or propane without knowing.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/29/03 21:59:52 GMT

One of my most used gassers is a NG forge. Manufactored by MIFCO
It will get hot enought to burn mild steel
   Ralph - Tuesday, 04/29/03 22:04:32 GMT


Lately I seem to have to hit "refresh" at least two times before I get the newest version. That's your refresh button on the left.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/29/03 22:30:25 GMT

Air Compressors -- I've noticed that the "oilless" compressors seem to put out a lot less air per horsepower than the belt driven kind. I think it may be the way the motor is rated rather than the efficiency of the pump. Either way, you need to look at the CFM, not just the horsepower. (The oilless ones look like toys to me, but could hold up okay for all I know).
   Mike B - Tuesday, 04/29/03 23:05:46 GMT

Refresh: Thanks Folks. . . The only change has been in where the server is hosted. There may be some local network caching that is new. Will check on it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 00:36:52 GMT

Air Compressors: Yesterday I changed the rear tire on the Harley and when I went to pump it up to set the bead, my air compressor motor went up in smoke. After only twenty eight years, half of those commercial use, my Sears 2hp compressor gave up and now needs a new motor. (I just happen to have a new 3hp sitting aside for just that purpose). I went to my brother's house to use his compressor, a 5hp Coleman direct-drive unit. Man, was that thing ever LOUD! Horrible racket and put out much less air than my old Sears belt-driven piston pump.

I was not at all impressed with the newer one, and am more convinced than ever to fix my old workhorse. Even with a newer, bigger motor, it probably won't be able to keep up with much of an air hammer, but I'll probably try it anyway. I would advise anyone looking at inexpensive air compressors to look very closely and critically at the direct-drive types.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/30/03 02:49:55 GMT

Recently came across a sword with the markings
E. Svalling with Eskilstuna underneath.
The markings are on both the sword and the scabbard.
I was hoping someone could tell me about it or perhaps
a website that might help
Thank you
   Barbara Taylor - Wednesday, 04/30/03 03:22:14 GMT

Dear Guru- I am a hobby blacksmith and have been at it for about 10 years. Recently, my forge fell apart because the blots that hold the ash dump/air intake together burned in two. I was talking to an old farmer friend of mine and was lamenting that my forge fell apart and he told me that his dad had a forge and they always lined the firebox with some sort of "mud". I assume it was some kind of refractory material. I have been using my forge and my fire has always just been on the bare metal of the tweer. Should I be lining my fire box with some kind of material to keep the direct temperature on the metal down? If so, what should I use?
Thanks for your help!
John Helscher
Washington, Iowa
   John Helscher - Wednesday, 04/30/03 03:31:29 GMT

Marc and Compressors/power hammers.

If you are heating multiple pieces and doing the same opperations on them, then you are doing production work. Small scale be still production style, which is all about efficiency. And big pieces is where the production style works best, because they take more time/fuel to heat up. So if you do one right after another, you are wasting time and fuel while the piece heats, and Gassers waste enough heat as it is. It takes functionally the same amount of time/fuel to heat three big pieces as it does to heat just one, and once you are cycling there is no waiting for the piece to heat. Which will shorten your over all burn time making you much more efficient.

If you live in an extremely temperate climate you might not need that much of a shed, but a compressor needs to be kept above freezing, or have its oil changed to suit the environment. You also need to drain the reciever, as well as the filters and oilers regularly (in humid climates daily) so that they are not damaged and can continue to opperate properly.

About horsepower: Jock pointed out in an earlier post that air powered hammers are less efficient for the hp rating. So they don't hit 5x as hard as a mechanical hammer of the same ram weight. Infact they will likely hit a little softer than one of the better mechanical hammers. But! the controls once they are fine tuned should be better than most Little Giants and even some of the better mechanical hammers. They are smaller, more compact, require less adjustment to keep running, and most importanly you can buy one new! The better mechanical hammers, are better hammers than the small air hammers, but you have to find one, and often fix it! Not to mention there were only so many made, and many have been scrapped or abused, and most of the rest are cherished and will never be parted with:-) So that leaves the lost and forgotten, and good luck finding them:-)

There is also a HUGE difference between a single stage compressor and a two stage compressor! To run an air hammer you really need a GOOD two stage compressor. I have a 7.5HP Quincy light industrial air compressor that generates 22.4 CFM@150PSI, and I get into it and run it, thankfully it is big enough that it can mostly keep up. But I can't watch the pressure guage on the FRO while I am running the hammer, but I am guessing that I have dropped the system pressure down to 90 or below while the regulator is set to 135PSI for the hammer.
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 04/30/03 03:56:06 GMT

Hi ya'll. I need some assistance. I have a shear, the brand name is "barth" anybody ever hear of it? It has a 8 inch blade. There are some indications that ther were attachments to it like a hold down or a table or something. It has surface rust, but works. If you can give me a source and maybe some indication of i'ts worth I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks in advance. You're a great bunch. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 04/30/03 04:29:17 GMT

Guru. First and foremost I want to add my voice of appreciation for this site and ALL the work that goes into its upkeep. Thank You
I am looking for a source of wide belts (2 to 3 inches) for a little giant that are put togeather with a pin. So I dont have to take the pully assembly apart to put the belt on. Any help would be greatly accepted thank you William
   triw - Wednesday, 04/30/03 05:24:51 GMT

Svalling-sword: The sword is Swedish, second half of 19th century. There was several familymembers and generations by that name producing swords and knives in Eskilstuna.
   - Olle Andersson - Wednesday, 04/30/03 09:42:28 GMT

Power Hammers and Tool Lust

Thanks, Fionnbharr. You're right, as usual. I guess I was thinking "production" in terms of day-in, day-out smithing, as in trying to earn a living out of it. But if I've got to make multiple pieces, then I usually resort to keeping as many in the forge as I can work at the same time.

It's a pretty efficient way to use propane, even though I do use an idler circuit. But if the pieces are the same, then I get better consistency in the way they come out.

I think I'll be scaling back my ideas, though. The more I look into it, the higher the startup costs are. As much as I'd like to buy another toy,... er,.. tool, I've got to remember this is just a 6-hour/week (if I'm lucky) hobby.

What happens to me often is something we in the high-tech industry calls "creeping elegance". I started out thinking I wanted a treadle hammer for those times I needed a heavier hit or when I needed a third hand. Then I went to a mechanical because I read some good advice that a power hammer would probably be as easy and maybe even as inexpensive to build, but give more bang for the buck. Then air hammers were better than mechanical. If I keep this up, I'll be pouring concrete for that Kuhn :-)

So, for now, I'll probably spend my time looking into mechanical ones. And the budget only allows for build, not buy. But that's part of the fun for me, anyway.

So how about that NC-JYH - the one with the tire-clutch? Any experience using that one from the experts? It's got a nice footprint to it and looks short enough to fit.

   Marc - Wednesday, 04/30/03 12:37:28 GMT


I use the Big Green Machine pretty regularly. It has very good control, I can single hit, or whale the tar out of the work with it, depending on what I want to do. I'm very pleased with it. I changed the anvil from the tube of sand to a solid piece of steel, and it does a lot more work than it did.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/30/03 12:58:44 GMT

Coat of Arms from the town of  Eskilstuna, SwedenE. Svalling with Eskilstuna Barbara, Eskilstuna is a metal working center in Sweden.


See also Olle Andersson's note above on Svalling.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 13:18:08 GMT

Flat Belts: TRIW, You can order leather and cotton power transmission belts from McMaster-Carr. I think they will make them up for you. Ask for "Clipper" belt lacing.

If they can not help you most power transmission suppliers can make flat belts. AND if you still cannot find anyone I have a Clipper belt lacing machine, laces and MAYBE some 2" leather belting. I am also lucky in that a local hardware supplier carries belting (or did 15 years ago. . .).
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 13:26:02 GMT

Claying Forges: John, LOOK UP! We had a long discussion on forge lining earlier in the week.

As far as bolts rusting out, that is common. Coal forges produce sulphur bearing ash that in turn combines with moisture and is VERY corrosive. It may not be sulphuric acid (probably is) but it is JUST as corrosive. Forges left out in the weather with coal ash in them will evaporate into rust dust. And even when indoors, condensation combines with the ash to eat up forge, tuyeer, stack and any tools left in the forge.

If your forge is stored outdoors or in an unheated building be sure to remove ALL coal and ash when not in use. Re-paint ocassionaly with high temperature paint and oil the working parts.

Replacing the bolts with stainless steel (not zinc plated) will help. When installing bolts in corrosive conditions I always coat the threads with Never-Seize.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 13:39:46 GMT

Running a Gas Forge:

As the Great Guru and Paw Paw are aware; I joined the 20th century (only two years too late) and bought a baby balrog, er, Whisper Baby for a gas forge as an auxiliary to my coal forge and my Y1King forge. I’m still getting used to the quirks of gas.

At the Spring Fling I noticed that the assistant would shut off the valve when there was no stock in it or when the demonstrators (charming women, both) would open the door to fetch the stock. He would then restart the forge (the gas instantly igniting from the retained heat in the refractory) with the door closed. As I remember the instructions for the baby balrog, they stated that reigniting the furnace with the door closed is a BAD thing. I took that as a general instruction, but now I wonder if it just applies to the initial startup, before the refractory reaches ignition temperature.

So, what’s your practice or experience? Do y’all tend to shut the valve on and off, with the door open or shut? Or do you just let the creature roar on in its happy hot way?

Looking nice on the banks of the Potomac, WWZ.

Visit your Nation Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/30/03 13:50:41 GMT

Power Hammers in the small shop: 20 years ago the purists thought it was sacrilege to use a power hammer in "traditional" work. Now most of those same "purists" have power hammers. . .

In full time blacksmith shops there were always helpers around to hold work and ocassionaly act as strikers. Anyone can hold the work (even the customer) but strikers were usualy the Journeyman smiths or regular helpers from local area. Smiths CAN work alone but historicaly they have done so rarely when heavy work was required.

Many old tools were lighter than their modern counterparts for two reasons. One was that iron/steel was expensive and the other was that when working alone you didn't make anything heavier than you needed. I've forged 1" stock by hand. . . it can be done but is HARD work and you do as little of it as possible.

Even hobby smiths have come to realize the need for helpers and either find friends or other smiths to help OR have obtained a power hammer. Even though 25 and 50 pound Little Giants are now selling for thousands of dollars in rebuilt condition they are still occassionaly found for less than $1,000 US. A smith with an arc welder can build a JYH or an air hammer for about the same. In most cases coming up with enough material for the anvil is the hard part. And for those with a good job that are serious about their hobby a NEW hammer can be purchased from Kayne and Son for less than a wide screen TV. . . AND the power hammer holds its value (used ones often appreciate) while that TV was worth less than half of new as soon as it was brought home and a year latter will be worth nothing. . . Meanwhile you will always be able to get at LEAST half of new from that power hammer.

On the other hand, there IS something to keeping your hobbies light weight. I do book binding with a pair of scissors and a couple boards and C-clamps. I would LIKE to have a big book press but I do not need one. However, like a power hammer it would make the job easier and faster. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 14:02:48 GMT

Baby Barlog: Bruce, I always start mine with the door closed but I hit the igniter quickly after turning on the gas. When in use it should be left running and not turned off. It takes some time for the forge to heat up and turning it off just costs fuel. Less restarts is also safer.

My big gas-hog forge is pretty much the same. I leave it running except to answer the phone. However, it has an automatic control that cycles on/off to keep the forge hot and use less fuel.

Most other folks that I know leave the forge running as long as they are working OR are going to be working without a long break. The general rule is to not leave the forge running unattended (in case of a flame out). Otherwise leave it running.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 14:15:08 GMT

Hanley Farm Hammer in in Jacksonville Orygun???
details please, directions, what to expect?
I know where Jville is, where is Hanley Farm?
Thanks....and go ducks.
   - Tim - Wednesday, 04/30/03 15:02:50 GMT


I just let your Baby Balrog's Momma roar.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/30/03 16:52:29 GMT

Running a gas forge:

Bruce, I've got the gas-saver setup and will turn it down to an idle when hammering if I'm not working multiple pieces. Except in the winter, though. Especially this past winter. My shop is unheated, so I let the forge dump all the heat it could, while I had a pedestal fan circulating the air around.
   Marc - Wednesday, 04/30/03 16:57:21 GMT

if you email me I will email info to you about Hanley.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:00:53 GMT

'smith blackstone, response to your gas forge comment/?. the igniter on my forgemaster is just below one of the stock ports. my right forearm is hairless from the "dragon's breath" when igniting with the door open. probably safer to ignite with door open.

i have read that when shutting down, the door should be open to vent the heat that otherwise would meet the jets/burner and potentially cause damage.

i have also read that there is a way to use a needle valve and paralell plumbing to keep the burners lit @ very low PSI (1 or less) while the forge is not in use. this allows the heat to come up very quickly with minimal fuel use. main flow into a t-piece; one way to ball valve and regulator, the other to the needle valve. when not in use, turn off ball valve and flow goes to needle valve, enough to keep burners lit. i will encorporate this when i build my new gas forge.

   rugg - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:08:13 GMT

Bruce, could that forge have had a fuel saver plumbing arrangement on it, where the valve the attendant was operating just reduced gas flow, keeping things warm and allowing a quick return to full heat when the valve is opened again? I know some guys that use this arrangement, to cut down the noise and heat while they're on the phone or talking to a customer, for example. For myself I've not been able to see the value; I'm either using the forge and want all the heat, or it's off.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:37:57 GMT

Oops. Saw Marc's post and then rugg's post about the gas-saver after I posted mine.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:39:54 GMT

Economizing on Small Forges: I just crank the regulator down a turn. . or UP a turn. . just as easy as a valve and much less expensive than extra regulators, valves and plumbing . . . Cheap little regulators are not stable and guages are not accurate so I do not get annal about the settings . . .

If I was running on a bulk tank I'd hang a local regulator next to the forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:41:51 GMT

Paw Paw, on your Big Green Machine, did you ever change the wheel size(s)? From the Power H page, I read that it might be desirable to make the driving wheel larger or the tire smaller get the stroke rate up.
   Marc - Wednesday, 04/30/03 17:54:29 GMT

Old and New Compressors: I have an ANCIENT S&R 1HP compressor. It was not right out of the box and after replacing valves and tank (after it rusted out) and fixing the motor it is STILL not right and never will be. . . But it has painted many automobiles and pumped up many tires. Since the last time it walked off a step it has had a terrible bearing noise. . . and now the power cord is rotted off and should be replaced. . but it still runs.

My Dad has a larger 2 or 3 HP S&R compressor we bought for the shop. The pump is about the same as my 1HP unit but it runs a LOT faster. Motor is 3600 RPM. Terribly noisy machine and has needed lots of maintenance. Those thin section multi-V belts on my compressor were still no-good 25 years later when this one was built. AVOID machines with those thin almost flat multi-V belts. A true flat belt would be better and would stay on.

To run power hammers I have a big old Sullair portable screw compressor (contractor type). 150 CFM @ 100 PSI from the start, no extra reciever needed. It needs some work to get it running and that is our early summer goal. I won't be short of air and being gasoline powered I don't have to mortgage my soul to the power company for 3PH power. . . Total cost will be less than a commercial duty 10 HP electric compressor.

And speaking of duty. . . most piston air compressors have a 50% duty cycle. Industrial compressor manufacturers tell you this but the folks selling to the home and popular market do NOT.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 18:01:22 GMT

More gas stuff:
I'm also working on a new, bigger, forge. My plan has been to get away from the gas saver and go to just one needle valve for on/off/idle control. That's easy enough to turn down. I usually have to play with the idler needle anyway, as the idle setting seems to change as the forge heats up. I'll continue to use the regulator/gauge, mostly because I have them. I'll use that to change depending on what I'm doing. I turn it up to the max to weld, but keep it much lower for forging.

The idler circuit is clever, though, and if anyone's interested, Ron Reil's site, www.reil1.net/design1 has a good description.
   Marc - Wednesday, 04/30/03 18:08:01 GMT

I just got around to puting my compresser together... tank is from a dental unit that a buddy of mine fried the compressor on, the compressor/motor is from my gramps shop and is at lest 50 years old(tank was shot and is now my slack tub) it won't do much more than paint or blow chips off the lathe but other than the new regulator it was FREE!!
   MP - Wednesday, 04/30/03 18:43:57 GMT

Please send me information regarding tools and some basic techniques for sheet metal crafting.
Thanks and regards,
   Jasvinder - Wednesday, 04/30/03 18:44:48 GMT


No, I havn't changed the drive wheel size. I need to have at least two more drive wheels made, in different diameters, in order to vary the speed.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/30/03 19:28:56 GMT


We answer all kinds of questions here but we are not a free e-mail tutelage service. If you have specific questions we will try to answer them.

But before asking blind questions you should go to a library first and try a book. If you cannot find the books you need then try Centaur Forge or Norm Larson books.

Sheet metal work is a broad field and includes everything from commerical tin knocking making heating ducts, vents and pipes to custom armour and hollow decorative vessel work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/30/03 21:18:43 GMT

guru, what do you think about opening the door when shutting the forge down??

hydrophilic=water loving
hydrophobic=water hating
hydroscopic=water optics
hygroscopic=water loving

any clever ideas on scrolling pliers???

   rugg - Wednesday, 04/30/03 23:12:41 GMT

I was one of the attendants at Spring Fling (the smallest one). We shut down the forge so that the demonstrators wouldn't have to deal with dragon's breath when they put stock in or took it out. I'd never heard of the trick before Saturday, but it didn't SOUND like it was doing the forge any harm.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 04/30/03 23:21:04 GMT

Rugg, Nothing clever. I tried to copy my scrolling pliers from the British book, "Wrought Ironwork". They wound up being about 12" long overall with drawn reins, not forge welded reins. The jaws are forged to a round taper; you're trying not to mar the material they're grabbing. My first pair of mild steel were too weak. The jaws sprung open when I applied pressure. Since then, I have forged them out of auto coil spring, which is 5/8" round. After assembly, I let everything air cool from a bright red [salmon] heat. The silicon and manganese in the steel seem to give enough strength and spring without further heat treatment. Mine fit 1/4", but of course, that can be changed if need be.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/01/03 00:20:22 GMT

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