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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 9 -17, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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Arrangments for Jr Strasil's wife:

The funeral time and location:
10:30 am EST Tuesday morning.

First United Methodist Chruch
17th and Harlan street
Falls City, Nebraska

Jr's 3 daughters should all be there by some time tomorrow.
   Ntech - Friday, 04/09/04 00:43:26 EDT

Ed Long, Many auto leaf springs are of 5160, a carbon-chromium steel with additions of silicon and manganese. If without flaws, 5160 can be cut and reforged at a lemon heat down to about a medium cherry red. When air cooled, it will sometimes retain some of the springback properties. If you don't get enough spring from air cooling, you can harden in oil @ 1525F, a bright cherry red heat. Tempering will be a matter of experimentation. After removing scale down to virgin metal, heat uniformly over a forge fire or "wash" with a torch until you reach a thin oxide pale blue color (590F) or perhaps a gray/green color (626F). If neither of these work for you, you need to reach temperatures above the "heat rainbow". The auto springs are sometimes tempered at 800F or above. I believe 800 is a "black heat": incandescence does not show in ordinary shop light, but there will be a slight red glow in the dark. 900F is what I call a "faint red", the first red you see upon heating in ordinary shop light. All of this is assuming you have AISI/SAE 5160 steel. With recycled steel, you're kind of "guessing at tomcats".
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/09/04 10:20:29 EDT

Re: grate for grills
Home Depot has cast iron cooking grates sold in pairs for Weber grills. These are the cooking grates, but would work for the coals as well. I have a set on my weber gas grill that once seasoned well, don't rust,(covered) and have lasted for about 6 years, so far.
   ptree - Friday, 04/09/04 11:33:06 EDT

Trap Springs: The long bent leaf springs on traps are often mild steel. All steel has the same springyness (believe me, its an engineering and physics fact). The only difference between a high carbon string and a low carbon string is how far it springs before yeilding. Properly designed low performance springs are made of mild steel every day.

Mild steel plate or cold rolled bar is often work hardened quite a bit. If it is not heated it makes better longer travel springs than normalized.

The "best" steel for any spring is the least expensive and easiest to handle for that application. If the spring is a high performance coil spring designed for an infinite life of hundreds of millions of cycles it requires a different steel than a low performance (weight not critical) spring that may only see a few hundred or a thousand cycles in its life.

For the amature spring maker that does not understand heat treating or know what kind of steel to use for their application mild steel is best.

   - guru - Friday, 04/09/04 12:28:23 EDT

I was on this site a few weeks ago, and there was a link that listed upcoming events, and when I entered the site, it showed pictures of events past where there were anvils for sale, and forges, and I am quite sure that it was in the michigan area. I have looked and looked for that site, with no luck. There were about five selections listed, and one picture showed a selection of anvils and such. I have looked all over and have had no luck. Any direction would be appreciated.
   john - Friday, 04/09/04 14:10:26 EDT

John, It's a bit far in time and space; but the Quad-State Blacksmiths Round-Up Last weekend in September (IIRC) in Troy Ohio is a truly amazing source of smithing equipment---both new and used! The Indiana Blacksmith's Association conference should be coming up in early June but it's quite a bit smaller than Quad-State
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/09/04 14:17:29 EDT

Thanks Frank and Guru for the discussion on springs. Up here in the Great White North, old fashioned bear traps sell for ridiculous sums for people wanting to decorate camps and such. I just thought I might try one as a matter of interest to see how hard it would be to make. Last sled of the year is out of the shop and I've got some spare time now.
I remember reading a booklet at the public library that was a treatise on the excavation of an old trading post and blacksmith shop somewhere in the west, and most of the articles dug up at the smithy were trap parts. Seems that was a large part of their line of work there (I think the post dated late 1700's). Reason I was unsure about the springs is that the old traps I have here sure seem to be stiff. It takes a pole jammed under a tree root to set them for the leverage.Frank, your idea on car springs is probably the simplest route, but I'm sure the old smiths didn't have access to Ford rear ends. :-)
   Ed Long - Friday, 04/09/04 14:28:23 EDT

Events and NEWS: John, See our Calendar of Events page (drop down menu) for events. The links there are to the event's web sites and the content may vary. The listings are posted by the various groups and may not have been posted for this year.

We report on many of these events in our NEWS. All the editions of the news going back to 1998 are listed. I've posted hundreds of photos there of acres of tools. As Thomas noted the biggest and best (if you are looking for tools) is SOFA's Quad State event in September. It is not yet listed on the calendar.

If the event you found was an ABANA convention they are in a different city/state each time and are held every two years. The next comference will be this July in Richmond, KY.
   - guru - Friday, 04/09/04 14:34:15 EDT

Thomas P. I see you mentioned a conference in Indiana in June. Where will it be located?

   PRF - Friday, 04/09/04 15:06:46 EDT

Thanks for all the BBQ advice!
   -JIM - Friday, 04/09/04 16:10:55 EDT

BBQ grill-- beware those tempting grill/shelves out of old refrigerators. I've heard they're plated with some highly toxic caca released into air and food when heated. Muy peligroso!
   Smartleigh Smitten - Friday, 04/09/04 16:47:39 EDT

PRE, Tipton IN; bout an hour north of Indianpolis.

Went to ABANA's web site, (.org) and clicked on Affiliates, then on "I" then on the IBA's link

" June 4-6 -- IBA 24th Annual June Conference - Tipton IN
Demonstrators: James Michael Walker - Blacksmith
Tony Palermo - Bladesmith
Ron Newton - Scrimshander -
Mark Thomas - Blacksmith"

you might want to stroll around ABANA seeing if there are any chapters local to your area...

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/09/04 16:50:20 EDT

Shear steel
What is it and were can one obtain some?
   Chris Makin - Friday, 04/09/04 17:52:17 EDT

since ford rear ends ( the cars that is) have been for at least 100 years that is not exactly true, Old smiths did have them...... (smile)
I never have completed any trap I have started. The ones we make at Ft Vancouver were usually just beaver traps but the design is not that different for a bear trap. My problem is getting all the parts to be just right. As there are several moving parts and it is critical to have them all in the correct alignment for the trap to work smoothly....
   Ralph - Friday, 04/09/04 17:54:02 EDT

Ralph, do you forge weld teeth onto the jaws of your traps? I've seen old beaver traps with teeth, although most of them didn't have them. Pretty well all the bear traps I've seen had them though. I have seen old bear traps with beaver tags wired to them too. Seems over kill to use a bear trap on a beaver, but some of the old guys did. I guess if I sold a trap for purely decorative purposes the function of the springs wouldn't be critical, but it would be nice if they were fairly authentic. These things sell up here for upwards of $200.
I agree with you on the alignment issue. I made replacement pan/triggers for a couple of old fox traps a few years ago. Takes some figgerin. :-)
   Ed Long - Friday, 04/09/04 18:12:27 EDT

Thanks Thomas, I will have a look. I am about 2 hours south of Indy, so it is just a jump, skip, and hop away. Well... lets skip the skip!! I would like to join a local chapter. I plan to join here. Need to sell a few more tripods, and I'll be in.
Thanks to everyone here. This web sight is a great tool. It has helped me so much. I don't think I would have my shop set up and operating without the information (Knowledge) I have gathered here. I don't say much, but I listen well.

Tom J.
Pleasure Ridge Forge
   PRF - Friday, 04/09/04 18:17:50 EDT

Chris Makin, "Shear steel" is one of those terms that is thrown around and doesn't mean much unless you get specific.
In the 19th century and maybe before, shear steel consisted of plates of blister steel which were piled, fluxed, and forge welded into a solid. Though the carbon was distributed unhomogeneously, it was used for cutlery. In my 1948 "Metals Handbook", several steels are recommended for cold and hot shearing. Two common steels listed are: 1)carbon steel of 0.75% carbon, 0.25% silicon and 0.25% manganese, and 2)the shock resistant steel, S5.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/09/04 18:51:33 EDT

I registered for slak tub pub and i think my junk e-mail filter might have caught the response. What addresses do the responses come from so I can add them to my safe list

   Joe R - Friday, 04/09/04 18:52:00 EDT

Springs, struts, and stabilizer bars: What Guru said is quite true. However, Detroit has decided that stabilizer bars need to be 4130 quenched and tempered to 40 Rc. The theory (borne out in testing) is that high hardness means a high strength. This means it takes a LOT to start a crack that can propagate by fatique. The stabilizer bars undergo millions of cycles (less if it was a Pinto) before failure. I don't think a trap is in any danger of failing by fatigue unless you are a lot busier than the beaver.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 04/09/04 18:57:44 EDT

Another note on shear steel... The reason you hear about it alot these days is that the impurities make a pretty pattern on the metal similer to wootz steel. Shear steel is not made professionally anymore though I wouldn't be surprised to hear of a few people making smaller batches of it similer to how people are still making wootz.
   AwP - Friday, 04/09/04 18:58:25 EDT

Yet another note on shear steel (I wish I waited a moment before I hit post), your best bet for finding some is very old saw blades. Whenever I hear about something made from shear steel, an old sawblade has always been their source.
   AwP - Friday, 04/09/04 19:01:17 EDT

the beaver traps were smooth jawed... remember a whole pelt was worth a LOT more. But the bear traps... now that is different. depends on why you are trapping them. I have seen traps with teeth but all but one had the teeth rivited on with what looked to be about 3/4 " rivits.
The bear traps I have seen must have been for LARGE bears as they were all about 3 foot across. whereas the beaver traps are only about 12 inches across
   Ralph - Friday, 04/09/04 19:10:01 EDT

Ralph, was that 3 feet across the jaws? Surely not, or else you have a lot bigger bears than down here :-) Looking at the specimens I have, two had welded on teeth and one had riveted. Not sure why the bear traps were used for beaver. Like you say, they'd tear up the hide.
As a point of interest, there was an old chap around here years ago that used to trap bears all the time. He died suddenly in a car accident, leaving dozens of traps set somewhere in the woods. Made for some VERY careful travelers for a few years after that.
   Ed Long - Friday, 04/09/04 20:17:40 EDT

Joe R,

Anything from anvilfire.com.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/09/04 21:00:37 EDT

The Indiana blacksmithing assoc. has satalite groups around Ind. The is one in N.Vernon, near Seymour. The Tipton hammer-in has been very nice, with camping on the fairgrounds for $10/night. I intend to attend. I also am about 2 hours S of indy.
   ptree - Friday, 04/09/04 21:03:47 EDT

I would like to email some (photos) of some small anvils that have been found in N/W Pa. at auctions, old time saw mills, oil field rigs. etc. Who would you recommend that would accept these images and help me identify my smaller anvils? Thank you, Don Please send directly to my email address.
   Don Neiman - Friday, 04/09/04 22:29:15 EDT

Renaissance Junkyard Hammer

This year at Camp Fenby (Fri-Sun, June 25-27) we will be doing something a little different. In addition to some basic blacksmithing courses and the usual open forge sessions for more experienced members we will be putting together a team to assemble a Renaissance Junkyard Hammer (RJH). Given that the weekend is available, this should p[lay-out something like Junkyard Wars for medievalists.

First, some definitions: A junkyard hammer is a powered hammer cobbled together from available parts, scraps, and odds and ends. Cheapness, ingenuity and effectiveness are the ultimate goals. Power hammers take the place of the traditional blacksmith's helpers and strikers (usually journeymen and apprentices) used to bash heavier metalwork into submission in the pre-industrial age. The RJH is based on mechanisms shown in Agicola's De Re Metallica (written circa 1550) and is planned top be a timber-framed helve hammer, actuated by a rotary roller cam system and dropping a 12 pound helve hammer on a 300 pound anvil. The major concession to the 21st century is the replacement of a water wheel with an electric motor. Jock Dempsey and Paw Paw Wilson have already donated anvil and motor and I have salvaged numerous other items, including ancient black walnut beams (not suitable for furniture or gunstocks, I assure you) from ancestral structures.

There will be general plans, but the exact details will need to be worked out onsite. IF we are successful, we hope to have the finished project displayed (with appropriate credits) at the biennial Artists Blacksmiths' Association of North America national conference in Richmond, Kentucky on July 7-11.

The finished hammer will be available for use at Oakley Forge; but we plan to make it semi-portable in nature, so that it can be trucked to events for display and demonstration.

Please notify us if you would like to be part of the RJH team. Metalworkers, woodworkers, "mechanicks" and just-plain-grunts are most graciously welcomed.

Looks like a lovely day tomorrow on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/09/04 22:51:19 EDT

Do you know of any blacksmiths or blacksmithing groups in central Oklahoma (Norman)?
   - Andy H. - Saturday, 04/10/04 03:03:00 EDT

Do you know of any blacksmiths or blacksmithing organizations in central Oklahoma (Norman)?
   - Andy H. - Saturday, 04/10/04 03:14:04 EDT

Andy H.

Check at:

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/10/04 08:21:15 EDT

I don't think anyone is going to be making much shear steel these days, as it is not a crucible product like wootz. You'd have to take bars of very clean, highly refined wrought iron, pack them in a fireclay (or whatever) box filled with charcoal, cook that at a low red for a week or so, then do the stack, weld, and fold routine until you reached a reasonable homogeneity. It certainly can be done, and it was the usual method of making steel from antiquity up until Bessemer, but few people are going to be willing to do the long-term soaking heat part. Think of it as kind of like case-hardening that goes all the way through, and is then further refined.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 04/10/04 09:44:00 EDT

Good Morning
   Housekarl - Saturday, 04/10/04 11:36:27 EDT

can any one tell me if its possible to forge weld stainless ,316 or 304 .

allso is there any sites any one knows of that have any pictures of wrought grave "stones"


finally getting cool in ipswich ,australia 27-12 c
   - wayne - Saturday, 04/10/04 12:22:26 EDT

oh , and a happy easter to all
   - wayne - Saturday, 04/10/04 12:23:59 EDT

Forge Welding Stainless: Wayne, YES, but it takes a strong flux to disolve the chrome oxide. Bladesmiths add 5 to 10% flourite powder to borax flux. Flux grade flourite (flourspar) is available from ceramics suppliers. See the link to kickwheel pottery on our links page and borax/flux FAQ.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 13:16:06 EDT

Ren-Fair JYH: Bruce, Count me in. I will bring the mag-base drill press (works on wood with a plate and C-clamps), and some other portable tools and rigging (come-a-longs). Will clean out and reload my carpentry box too. .

Let me know what other junk I might have that you need. . (bigger hammer. . 30-40 pounds?). Pulleys and such. . .I am trying to "clean house" and a LOT must go. You might want to schedule a trip down between now and then :)

   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 13:37:37 EDT

Speaking of "Everything Must Go":

I have 8 or 10 old cast iron radiators. Perfect for anyone that wants to do cast-iron casting. They break up easily. FREE - You haul.

I will take offers on the infamous EC-JYH. It is as-is when built for the 1998 ABANA conference. If I can't unload it I will dissasemble and keep the structurals and base plate for another hammer.

Will list more and more details on the Hammer-In at some future date.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 13:43:23 EDT

One quick question for the metalergests out there. What's the deal with 18.8 stainless? I keep getting stainless bolts and screws made out of the stuff, and I'd swear that 304 is harder. These things strip like they were aluminum or something. what's 18.8 made out of, and are there better stainless aloys for hardware available that won't strip so easily?
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 04/10/04 15:18:39 EDT

SS Fasteners: HavokTD, Without looking it up I think 18/8 is the about the same as 304 (18 chrome, 8 nickle).

The strength of all common stainless fasteners and rigging (shackles, hooks, wire rope) is only about 60% of mild steel for the same size. Although stainless is tough to cut and difficult to work it is NOT a high strength material.

Stainless has a tendency to gall (friction weld when surfaces rub together then shearing making balls of material in threads that proceed to make matters worse). Galling is usually misdiagnosed as stripping. It is usualy not the failure of the threads (stripping).

To prevent galling most stainless asemblies must have the threads coated with Molly-Cote or Never-Sieze. Fancy special nuclear grade SS fasteners have hard chrome plated surfaces to help prevent galling. Maximum torques must be derated compared to steel.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 15:38:41 EDT

Ah, ok. So I guess getting stronger ss screws and bolts would be a pretty expensive proposition then. Thanks for the quick reply.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 04/10/04 15:49:29 EDT

So I have a probably stupid question.

Does basic geometry apply to drawing out material? As a hypothetical example is I have a bar, 4 inches, by 1/2 inch, by 1/4 inch, and I hammer the whole thing out to 1/4 inch square, is it safe to assume that I should have then 8 inches in length (roughly)?

Or les hypotheticaly, I have a knife blank I'm working on. I want a 6-6 1/2 inch handle. I plan to peen the tang over the end of the pommel (for historic reasons and because I'm too cheap to buy a tap and die set). I'd like to have a little extra for potential 'oopses'. I'd need about 7-7 1/2 inches of tang. The blade blank is roughly 3/16ths thick, and 1 inch wide. If I start tapering the tang out at 4 inches, I should in theory have plenty... right?

And another inane question...

Hypotheticaly I have a need for a tool (Say.. tongs for another less than hypothetical example) that is not readily available at the local hardware store my only real option becomes to make this tool. The best answer is to forge it out (I could certainly use the practice). But I don't have the time, patience or scrap to go about this method of manufacture. Is there any real drawback to manufacturing something from composite parts and mig welding them together? Obviously it takes more (blacksmith specific) skill to forge it out and would earn me some 'braggin rights' but will I miss out on anything else?

   mattmaus - Saturday, 04/10/04 15:57:45 EDT


Actually, there are two very simple method of making tongs in the iForge section. One is the "Dempsey Twist" and the second is an alternative method developed by Whitesmith.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/10/04 16:28:25 EDT

Volumetrics: Mattmaus, Yes your first example works.

Whatever volume you start with, you end with.

To figure the second example you can use area IF the thickness stays the same. If you take a piece 1 x 4 and forge a triangle out of it with changing the thickness the triangle will be twice as long (1 x 8). Pretty easy to questimate on paper. If your estimation skills are bad draw it on graph paper.

At some point it was written that there is a 2% loss in material with each heat. It has long since been proven that this is incorrect or the fellow had a TERRIBLE scaling problem. For practical purposes with a low number of heats you can assume ALMOST zero loss.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 16:36:01 EDT

High Strength SS Bolts: These ARE available in hardened and tempered 400 series stainless. Try McMaster-Carr for priceing
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 16:37:59 EDT

Electric Welding "Cheats": Mattmaus, there are some advantages to making things one piece however it IS much faster and more efficient to weld.

Any time smiths had suitable bar stock for tong reins they would forge the bits, then weld on the reins. This assumed good forge welding skills and lack of a power hammer.

I've made tongs the same way and arc welded the reins. Note however than weld filler has the consistancy of cast metal and is often not as strong as the surrounding metal. I found that if I overlaped the pieces somewhat like a forge weld, welded, then forged the lump to shape that I got a very strong joint. Forging the weld metal takes out any excessive crystalization. This also spreads the weld joint over a long distance which reduces the stress unlike a butt joint where all the stress is focused on a narrow joint plane.

A first class weld on well designed tongs would hold up fine. If you forge your bits with a taper to a point then overlap the reins a couple inches (depending on size) then you should have strong tongs with little to dress after welding. In other words, don't make a butt welded joint out where the tongs see the most stress. . .

Note that all the old tong failures I have seen were at the forge welded joint.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/10/04 16:53:49 EDT

Stainless Steels: Most stainless grades of steel have VERY low carbon, in the .05-.10% range. Cutlery grades, like 440C have much more, of course. 18-8 is a general corrosion resistant grade used for flatware, low stress hardware, pipe fittings, etc.. As Guru points out, the material is gummy in the extreme and will gall if not handled properly. The microstructure is austenitic, the same structure of steel in the non-magnetic range. The 8% nickel is responsible for this because it has the same crystal structure as austenite.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/10/04 18:23:59 EDT

As an addition to the Guru's thoughts on SS fasteners,
It is absolutly required to use a moly based lube on any 300 series fasteners that are run together with any power tool that moves faster than by hand. At my previous employ, we built thousands of 316L SS valves with 316 bolts a month, assembled with impact wrenchs. To reduce the galling and fastner failure we used a moly paste with about 70% moly. Reduced our failure rate to about 2% from the 40% we usually got with nickel never-seize.
Also be aware that the use of this lube will decrease the running friction, increaseing the clamp load( tensile load) for a given torque, by about 40%. This applies to any threaded joint with this type lube.
We used this lube on union bonnet valves, with 6" threads, in 316L that required about 2500#ft torque to acheive a tight joint, and this was with the lube reducing friction. We could usually disassemble these!
   ptree - Saturday, 04/10/04 18:46:48 EDT

I have two questions for you this fine day.

My first is, how horrid would it be to weld pipe handles onto tong bits? I have a pair of hand-me-down rivet tongs with handles like this that seem to work pretty well. I'm hoping for moderate weight and good rigidity without drawing out my own reins. I was considering 1/2" pipe, with bits forged out of 1/2" stock and drawn down slightly on the weld end for about 1-2" so they'd fit and give me a good solid joint. I might cut a slot in the pipe to give me more surface to weld, too.

The second is, can anyone suggest something good to practice sledge strikes on? I got my first sledge and I'm pretty sure that I won't be anywhere near as accurate with it as I am with a regular hand hammer... don't want to ding it or my anvil face. I was thinking a stump of appropriate height. Ideas?

By the way, I've decided to do the hold-down, something like a post vise with a 1" bolt with one arm under the anvil, one on top, and a really wide hinge joint so that the top jaw will be about parallel with the anvil face at around 1-1/2" away from face. Pictures will come if/when I build it. I think that the equivalent of a large vise should have enough oomph to hold a piece while I hit it with a 6lb sledge... so nyah, Vicopper :-)

Thickly overcast and blessedly cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 04/10/04 23:10:04 EDT

T. Gold: I have alot of experience with sledge hammers, but much less with blacksmithing, so "for what it's worth", I would suggest splitting firewood with steel wedges and a sledge.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 04/10/04 23:47:39 EDT

T. Gold,

I'll be interested to hear how the screw holddown works out. I'm concerned that it may be a bit slow to set, but it should work.

As for sledge hammer practice, are you talking about a regular length two-handed sledge? And do you mean to use it the way a striker would? If so, try to find some video of strikers at work so you can see the way the hammer is held. It is not held the way you would for splitting firewood, but rather across the body. The hands do not normally slide down the haft when striking for blacksmithing, either. I learned striking from a Danish smith and this is what he taught as the "European" method:

The grip I was shown has the left hand (for a right-handed striker) holding the end of the haft backwards; that is, with the thumb pointing to the end of the handle. The left hand is held relatively stationary near the right hip. The right hand holds the haft about 1/3 to 1/2 the way down from the head and powers the head down across the body to the left. It seems awkward at first, but offers good control albeit it with less power than the over-the-shoulder full swing of splitting wood. More control is more useful than powerful misses that knock the corners off your anvil face.

I still think you should consider air-over-oil hydraulics or pneumatics for the holddown. Are you trying to be some sort of traditionalist? :-)
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/11/04 01:11:34 EDT

Guru, I just scrolled up and read your ideas about blacksmith demonstrations. They sound like great ideas. I have some experinces that might help along those lines, but you guys have so much more forging experience than me that I don't want to come across as a "big shot" or "too big for his britches", etc.

I've done some "timbering tools demonstrations", the biggest being 4 days a week, for a month each year, 3 years in a row, at a theme park nearby. As time went by I developed better ideas of how to do a show.

The show was in two parts, the first part a demo of the tools, in the appropriate types of wood (froe, 6' crosscut saw, log hewing, rail splitting, draw knife, and pit saw). The second part was telling how the pioneers used the many different kinds of wood. After the show, I would ask if anyone wanted to use a crosscut saw for themselves. The little kids could use a bucking saw and saw off a 3" round piece of cedar, which I had them smell (eastern red cedar) and keep. I also offered a detailed explanation of crosscut saw sharpening. One thing I used was a "visual aid", a very oversized section of saw, includind cutter and raker teeth. This is made of aluminum, with exagerated set in the teeth, for clarity.

As I've gone on, what I've tried to develope is MORE SENSE INVOLVEMENT. I hand out strips of aromatic fresh cedar to pass around the audience. Also pieces of sasafrsaa root, with that wonderful root beer smell. At the end of the woods use talk, I tell the audience, "now if a pioneer was out of candles, he could use a piece of fat pine." Then I light a piece. Then, from behind the round buzz saw blade, I start to pull out a bag of corn chips. As I'm pulling out the corn chips, I'm saying: "Now folks, if you're ever out of candles, AND you're out of fat pine, you're still not out of luck...you could use corn chips! That's right folks, ordinary everyday corn chips." I then bite and chew a piece of corn chip, while lighting one. It always maintains a pretty good flame, I hold it up and say: "You see folks, I'm not even working, and I'm burning calories!" Gets laughs every time.

Maybe the forging demo could include facts (Like from Alex Bealer's book) about the contemporary and historical importance of iron and steel in civilization. Maybe a picture in the back, that would only light up at the right moment, of a young couple being married at the smith's anvil. Some emotional involvement. Maybe pass some samples of coal, coke, and charcoal around the audience. Maybe a visual aid showing how metal is drawn out in preparatoin of forge welding.

Sorry to ramble, but this stuff is exciting.

PS: the round buzz saw blade is painted on the side facing the audience. Around the outside are 12 marks, positioned as clock numbers. In the middle are the words:" next show at". I made two clock hands, one long, one short, out of magnetic sheeting used for signs. Very handy for going out to lunch, going to get a log that somebody was supposed to deliver but forgot, for whatever. Sometimes I get back, and the audience is waiting around just prior to the next show. If everything's ready, but the time says 5 minutes from now, I look around the audience, reach over and move the "clock" hand back to start the show. Another sure source of laughs.
   Jim Donahue - Sunday, 04/11/04 01:26:15 EDT


Thanks for verifying the volumetrics/basic geometry. I'd had issues sizing stuff before, and now that (for whatever reason) it's clicked in my head that what I start with is what I finish with, I don't get no more from the metal fairy, it don't evaporate mysticly, things should go smoother.

Tongs: What you describe is what I've been doing for the reins on the few that I have. I didn't know that hammering the welds would help the bond... it's just faster and easier than grinding. That, and having to weld them back on at the twist using your tong method (sigh).

Thanks for the answers!
   mattmaus - Sunday, 04/11/04 02:16:52 EDT

Vicopper, I have a video (think someone linked to it on the Hammer-in a few months ago) of about eight guys forge-welding a generator ring with fairly large sledges. I'm going by their technique and what I've read online and in the smithing books I have. Regarding the hold-down, I'm not trying to be traditional, I'm trying to be CHEAP... the only place I know of to get inexpensive pneumatic cylinders locally shut down about six months ago, otherwise I would be asking about cheap substitutes for foot valves instead :) Still thinking about going to the local Grainger outlet and getting a cylinder... would be easy to refit to the thing I want to build, but I'd have to have a pedal and a bunch of valving too, way easier to just use a viselike apparatus...

Right after I typed the above I grabbed my new sledge and tried your technique (slowly). That really seems to strain my left wrist! Unless I'm doing heavy drawing out, I think I'll stick with the style where one holds the sledge with the left hand near the bottom of the haft and the right hand about 1/3 of the way from the head and swings the sledge from the right of the head (with the right forearm initially resting on the right bicep). If I need some really powerful blows I'll emulate those generator ring welders and use overhead blows from the right to the left.

Cool and calm in Kaneohe, Hawaii... thank goodness, we had to clean out the garage today.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 04/11/04 02:58:50 EDT


Email coming your way.

   eander4 - Sunday, 04/11/04 03:10:12 EDT

good morning i,am looking for books with designs of animal heads in them i like the design for the door knocker in the italian masters of wrought iron can you tell me if it shows you how to forge it and do you know of any other books of this nature
regards david
   david - Sunday, 04/11/04 04:58:19 EDT

"The Art of Blacksmithing" by Alex Bealer has how to make dragon, ram, and human heads, hope this helps.
   AwP - Sunday, 04/11/04 06:40:36 EDT

David, check out "Metal Menagerie", Pieh Tool carries it, and I believe Centaur. Also, look in "Iforge" on this site, esp. demos by Bill Epps.

T. Gold, there is a video, I forget the name at the moment, shows a striker working working very fast with a sledge, and the the sledge is more closely gripped, i..e. closer to to the hammer head that I would have thought, the blows are rapidly delivered, and with great accuracy. I have seen this demoed at a hammer in, seems to work. More details later. Overhead blows seem slow and not accurate in delivery. Of course this must be individual and some folks may get better results with diffeent techniques.
I use a six pound sledge with a traditional bent steel hold down throught the pritchel hole and get results which work for me. The handle is short and close gripped, I have seen many ferriers use a short handled four pound sledge without a hold down and get good results.
I think acuracy and speed are the key, not raw brute power. That is what treadle and power hammers are for.
   Ellen - Sunday, 04/11/04 07:38:44 EDT


Did you mean the IRON MENAGERIE by the Guild of Metalsmiths?
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/11/04 11:04:44 EDT

T. Gold, First of all none of my sledge experience came from striking in blacksmithing. As a Union Ironworker we carry and use sledges in our everyday work, a 6lb to 8lb is carried on your work belt but we also use 10lb and 12lbers. The first thing we do is cut the long handle down to 17" to 20" and wrap with friction tape, even other crafts cut the handles down cause theres no need in the long handle. Ironworkers drive pins in bolt holes, the heads of the pins are 1/2" to 1" across. I have swung a sledge 10s of thousands of times and I swing overhead from my right shoulder to center. I hold the end of the handle in my left hand and start the swing with my right towards to head, as the swings starts my right sides down the handle meeting the left gripping frimly just as the heads hits its target. I use body motion also to create a whip like action. If your not swinging a sledge overhead leave it on the floor and use a hand hammer for forging. You could clamp a wood piece to your anvil face and practice striking, you don`t have to use killer blows just try to hit the same place everytime.
   - Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 04/11/04 11:59:34 EDT

For very good prices on cylinders, available from the net try Burdens Surplus Center. They have a huge variety of surplus cylinders, valving, and blowers ETC. New cylinders are perhaps cheapest from Bailey's Sales in Knoxville Tn. 1-800-800-1810 will get you a catalog, and I think they are also on the net.
Now for a holddown, that will not require a cylinder, I have had a lot of success with a simple foot operated clamp the runs in a guide along side the anvil stump. Swings out of the way, and below the anvil face when not in use. Took about half an hour to fabricate. E-mail me and I will send you a sketch.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/11/04 12:00:18 EDT

Pipe Reins on Tongs: TG, I have seen this and may even have a junk pair. The problem is that tong reigns need to be springy and relatively small diameter. The springyness is needed in order to maintain a tight grip on the work while forging. Tongs that are too stiff are difficult to work with. When you get pipe or tubing small enough to use it is also not strong enough to take the clamping force.

The springyness factor is why the best hand made tongs often have gently tapering reins.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/11/04 12:59:35 EDT

Sledge Work Practice:

The first thing to remember is that HOLDING BACK hurts. The LEAST blow you should apply is that of the naturaly falling sledge. If the blow is too much get a smaller hammer.

Second, is that in all hammer work your grip should change as the work changes. Using a sledge is a lot like using an axe in that your grip changes or slides along the handle during the stroke. If you lock your hands in place and do not move them during the stroke you will hurt yourself.

So there are two things that can make using a heavy sledge uncomfortable AND hurt you.

Many folks set rules on how to hold a hammer and almost ALL are wrong. There are an infinite number of ways to hold a hammer and it is possible to use many during ONE stroke of the hammer. For delicate light work you grip toward the head, for powerful blows you grip toward the butt. I often change from the two positions with EVERY blow holding the hammer differently as I raise it and letting it slide in my hand to where I want it on the down stroke.

Almost everyone uses a hammer this way to some degree but do not realize it. Not understanding the change in grip they do not practice or take advantage of it on purpose. You want to be smooth and FLEXIBLE in how you grip a hammer. If you are rigid and inflexible in your grip you and your work suffers.

Try practicing a comfortable sliding motion when hammering both single and double handed. This is the ART of using a hammer.

TG, Since I doubt that you cut much firewood in Hawaii you will need to find SOMETHING to practice on. Anything solid that does not matter if it is destroyed. . (I would say indestrctable but NOTHING is industructable under a sledge). Posts and piling work. If you place a waste board on top to reduce splitting you can pound for quite a while on the end of a piling until you need to replace the waste board.

Breaking up old concrete is good practice but it is hard on a metalworking sledge if the concrete has hard granite agregate.

The big problem with sledge practice is that a single missed blow, or even off center blows can break the handle. I had one guy wreck the handles on almost every hammer I had in a couple months.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/11/04 13:24:39 EDT

Have you had your annual "Handle Day" this spring?

Spring is time to tighten, sand and varnish or replace those well used or abused tool handles.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/11/04 13:26:11 EDT

Cybersmiths International (CSI): is well on its way to officialy becoming a legal non-profit organization. As such it will be able to take over anvilfire if necessary and fund it after I am gone. It will also be able to apply for grants and funds that it could not in the past.

CSI needs more active members and YOUR input about the organization. Many folks are for making anvilfire a fee based web site with limited free access. I prefer to keep it free to the public. If you want to put your two cents worth into the discussion, vote on board members, BE a board member, you need to be a member of CSI.

JOIN CSI! We need both your financial support and voluntary input. The future of this forum and website is at stake.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/11/04 13:49:06 EDT

As someone that recently joined CSI I've been amazed at just how much is going on. I'm glad I can be part of the future of CSI and anvilfire.com. I echo Guru's call to arms, Join CSI!
   Nomad - Sunday, 04/11/04 14:40:57 EDT

I heartily second the comments of our good Guru, who has performed miracles on an unbelievably thin shoestring, as well as Nomad.

Presently this board is financially supported by fewer than 100 CSI members. That's not much of a budget to keep this gold mine of information going. Join CSI!
   Ellen - Sunday, 04/11/04 17:59:14 EDT

I've seen a couple of people say that they are not really joiners, and I can respect that. But in any organization, there are a certain percentage that are what I call "dues payors". They join and pay their dues, but do not participate in the work of the organization. That's fine, their regular payment of their dues helps to keep the organization financially afloat.

That's as true of CSI as it is of any other group.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/11/04 19:10:11 EDT

What amazes me most about mordern blacksmithing is how free and open the transfer of information is. I apprenticed for a time in the 70's to a German goldsmith. The transfer of knowledge was still from master to apprentice mostly. Secrets were the stuff of guilds etc.
As I begain to smith, I found that there were some books, sort of how tos, but then a working smith in Louisville, Craig Kaviar, to whom I am greatly indebted to, told me of Abana. I joined, found the Indiana Blacksmithing Assoc. from there, and from the Abana magazine an ad for Anvilfire.
Boy was it an awakening to go to Anvilfire. Information, how to, pictures of real smiths doing real things. I-forge. All free, All very good info. Got the inspiration to build a powerhammer from this site. Had smiths at hammer-ins show me the techniques that they made their living with. Did I mention that I find most of the hammer-in info here? On the slack tub pub, found a good friend that is close, and has a hammer-in not advertised anywhere else. I have joined CSI, and wish I had know of Anvilfire sooner. I have many new friends, that I met here. May have never seen them face to face, but freinds nevertheless.
If you have learned one tip, it makes the dues a pittance. If you have used the I-forge you received good value from your dues. Not a joiner, not a committee joiner? They who pay dues, but listen quietly, also serve.
Join soon.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/11/04 20:16:20 EDT

Wow! The sledge hammer ideas! First, let me say that an ironworker, a circus roustabout, a gandy dancer, and a smith all use the sledge in different ways, and the sledge heads may vary.

I was taught to strike by a Danish smith who worked as an apprentice in the 1940's. He did NOT turn his left hand, thumb toward the haft butt, and there was NO sliding of the hands on the haft in blacksmithing. When trading blows with the journeyman, I can't see where the striker has time to slide his hand around. A right handed striker would hold the sledge on the right side of his/her body, the left hand coming pretty much under the right forearm. The legs are either side by side, or the right leg is drawn back a bit. This is the Continental style, and it may feel awkward at first. One advantage is that a striker can hit a vertical blow on something fairly high in the vise jaws. When trading blows on hot iron, the hammer goes up and down; no sideways motion is allowed. However, there is some slight circularity to the blow, a slight pullback as you come off of completing a blow on the workpiece. If you leave this part out, there is the possibility of the hand hammer and sledge colliding, especially when learning. You're trying to get a metronomic rhythm and get some work done. When hitting a top tool, the striker sets his or her own rhythm, and the slight drawback is not important. Hitting a top tool, it is up-down, up-down. In holding the hammer to the right side of the body, one can hit a light, moderate, or fairly heavy blow, relatively speaking. Peter Ross said that sometimes his strikers put both hands next to each other and touching, but that is a new one on me, and haven't seen it done anywhere, unless it's an all-around swing, which I will talk about.

The all-around swing is for heavy work. The two hands are near the haft butt and contacting each other. There is a sideways movement of the sledge, where the head is close to the floor and there is a full swing, the hammer head coming off the work and lowering again for the next full-around swing.

At my shop, our haft lengths vary from about 20" to 24", depending on how big a guy is. We remove the varnish on store-bought ones, reduce and smooth them, then rub in a mixture of turpentine and boiled linseed oil.

Signaling systems between smith and striker vary a good bit, depending on what country and what smith a guy learned from.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/12/04 01:23:54 EDT

When I mentioned splitting firewood, I wasn't thinking so much about the swing as the object being hit. My swings vary, depending how warmed up I am, and other factors. But hitting a steel wedge is probably good practice, 'cause if you strike a glancing blow, or an angled blow, the wedge gets angled in an undesireable way. The you have to stop, tap it straight, and try again.

Do have to wonder about trees in Hawaii though. Or even the NEED for firewood. Must be rough :)
   Jim Donahue - Monday, 04/12/04 01:51:27 EDT

I would like some information on trying to braize or solder thin stainless steel (approx. 28 mils)for an application that will see operating temperatures around 600 degf. Is this possible? What kind of solder and flux?
   - Bob - Monday, 04/12/04 05:51:00 EDT

T. Gold, Im'sure you know this but if you are swinging a sledge overhead, don't do it on your anvil. Get a heavy piece of junk steel that it doesn't matter if you ding it or destroy it. Sledge practice: use 2"x 2" wooden stakes until you can drive them in straight. Grampa used to stick wood "strike anywhere" matches in the splits in a log and we young'uns had to strike the matches with an axe without breaking them. That's good practice for splitting rails as 2 axe men have to strike on the same line within inches of each other's axehead.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 04/12/04 09:24:03 EDT

Dear sir,

We are in the requirement of 750 KGS of BECHE make hammer.

Saw the same at your site but was unable to contact you.

If it is there we are interested in buying the same.

Please reply.


Om Prakash
Electro Copper
   Om Prakash - Monday, 04/12/04 09:29:21 EDT

Hey, I have a question. I just inherited my great grandfathers antique post vice and anvil. Only problem is that the screw on the post vice is stripped. I was thinking about tig welding the threads on the screw, and filing down, in an effort to refurbish. Part of the problem is on the female part of the screw assembly. Any way to fix, or any experts I could send the screw to? I am not a regular visitor here so if you could reply to my email, mailmosley@yahoo.com. Thanks very much.
   mark mosley - Monday, 04/12/04 09:32:15 EDT

Bigger Hammer for RJH:

Present state of plans allows for head substitution, so alternate heads will prove useful. We can also match heads to available power/speed ratios. Pulleys, especially if we can use the counterweight control system that you proposed, would be useful too. How are you fixed for belting?

Tight schedule this week due to workload/special project/backup from last weeks seminars, Spring Fling and family dog's health problems. Three weeks work and three days to do it in- back on skimming mode.

Rainy and chilly on the banks of the Potomac.Spring Fling looks better according to NOAA-NWS weather site at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/forecasts/graphical/sectors/nemetroWeek.php.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/12/04 09:34:48 EDT

Ive been giving some thought to making some simple eating utensils (probably a small spoon and a two prong fork) for Renfair use. Any problem with this if I use one of the mild steels? My thought is to bake on an Olive Oil coating with instructions for cleaning similar to cast iron cookware. I really have no desire to poison anyone or make junk so input would be appreciated.
   Nomad - Monday, 04/12/04 11:18:13 EDT

Just to add some fuel to the topic of whether you should attempt to repair an anvil or use it as found I decided to try some restoration work for myself. I had not intended to do any repairs but the anvil I recently purchased was in worse condition than my initial inspection had revealed.
I was informed that it was a 2 Cwt anvil in good condition but the face was rusty due to years of standing idle in a garage. I tested the face for rebound and the anvil was as good as any I had tried before. The price was below current scrap value anyway so I did not spend too long inspecting before buying.
When I got the anvil home I removed the surface rust with a wire brush mounted on a 4.5 inch angle grinder. This revealed something resembling the surface of the moon. I proceded to photograph the work as it progressed and have uploaded the images to Imagestation, the link is:


Images are quite large and Imagestation can be a PITA at times. You can view the full size image if you click on the slide and then select 'view original image'

1) This is the anvil before work started
2) This shows the hardie and how it is square at the top and round at the base
3 - 10) These show the face during and after wirebrushing
11 - 13) I ground the top by hand using a 7.5 inch, 40 grit flapdisc in a 9 inch grinder. This removed metal very quickly without generating much heat. Dings in the edges were also quickly removed and the edges reprofiled.
14 - 16) I found the weight (2 - 3 - 18) stamped on the side (overall length is 34", face width 5")
17 - 18) A line can be traced around the anvil, probably where 2 pieces were forged together.
19) If you view the original image file you can see slag intusion in the horn.
20- 21) Here you can see folds of iron in the horn
22 - 25) I smoothed the top with a belt sander and random orbit sander. I used magnets and a blower to stop iron fillings damaging the powertools.
26 - 29) Here you can see wear in the face. Along the length there is a 1/8" gap under the centre of the rule.
30) General wide shot.
31 - 32) You can see the amount of fillings generated from these 2 shots. I wore a dust mask and did not leave powertools where the fillings would fall. Unfortuneately fillings got into my extension lead and produced a minature fireworks display.
33 - 35) Me dressed in safety clothing head to toe (except gloves which I rarely wear, wirebrushing being the only time)
36 - 38) Looking under the anvil we can see some delamination of the wrought iron.
39 - 40) Cracks were found at the rear of the anvil running up to 2 inches across the face.

Despite the cracks in the face this is still a useable anvil. Rebound cannot be faulted at any place on the face but I suspect the heel is relatively weak, best used only for fine work.Only 2 marks (other than weight) were found, the letter W on the front and L on one side. I suspect they were used to ensure the seperate bits were forged together in the correct orientation. Total time spent on the anvil was about 5 hours. Would I do the same again? I've already started on another anvil!

Any Q's, feel free to email me.

   Bob G. - Monday, 04/12/04 11:50:12 EDT

Bob, I started to ask if you mind if I copy your images and setup for an article on anvilfire? . . Then found I needed to register for image station. . . I've quit registering for ANYTHING I don't have to for business purposes. Despite anti-spam policies everyone changes their policy and resets the NO mail too YES. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/12/04 14:03:03 EDT

Mild Steel Utensils: Nomad, these are best off descaled and sold bright. The owner can clean and derust with steel wool. Oil based finishes on eating utensils can harbor any kind of bacteria that grows in food or oils.

Stainless looks like mild when forged, won't rust. . . can be a combination of bright and dark.
   - guru - Monday, 04/12/04 14:05:51 EDT

Hope everyone's doing well. I remember someone posted some advice recently about a detector that senses toxic gasses. I have a propande forge and found myself a little light-headed after doing a burn for about 20 minutes. Not good. Do you remember the mfg of the detectors? Thanks.
   Pancho - Monday, 04/12/04 14:07:23 EDT


First Alert Carbon Monoxide Detecter.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/12/04 14:16:27 EDT

On Shear Steel:-)

Making blister steel doesn't need to take days! In period they tended to do it slowly, but it is actually much more efficient to do it at over 1700-1800+. If you have a tempil chart this is listed as the Carburizing range(funny how that work;-). There is some ongoing research into how well different carbon sources work in this type of process. Charcoal works pretty well, peat gets a deeper case, and dried powered horse manure gets a very deep case, but can convert the skin into cast iron. As long as the cast iron layer is thin, when you weld your bundle of blistered pieces together into shear steel it shouldn't be a problem. Working in the higher welding temperatures will cause a little decarb on the surface, and will cause a higher rate of diffusion. The longer you work the shear steel the more evenly the carbon is distrubuted, you will still likely have a very faint pattern because of the patterning of the wrought iron used intially to make the blister steel. But to get a more noticeable pattern, you need to work quickly and at a lower temperature when you weld up the billet and then forge out your knife:-) It is really cool to weld up a bundle of blistered pieces square it up and do a quick deep twist in it, and then watch as the different carbon contents of the steel and wrought iron produce scale at a very different rate. The pattern jumps out at you:-) Very cool... Blistering wrought iron and shear steel are a lot of fun (really quite different from modern steel, but fun nonetheless:-)

Most wrought steels are going to be cold short (at the very least intially) What is scarey is that early period steels were often hardened with Phosphorus, which embrittles them metal and makes it hot short as well!!! So if you think wrought iron isn't very fun because of the working range, think about NOt being able to work it in the white or even the bright reds into orange:-) ANd then think about the early patternwelded swords and think about what type of skill that took!
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 04/12/04 14:16:31 EDT

   david - Monday, 04/12/04 15:35:24 EDT


Another is Nighthawk digital:
   habu - Monday, 04/12/04 15:37:50 EDT

Howdy. I recently attended Frank Turley's three week class to learn how to blacksmith as part of my new job as the blacksmith at Buffalo Gap Historic Village. I have been in the forge for a couple of weekends now and have been able to handle most of the questions thrown at me about blacksmithing (I got more than three weeks worth of instruction from Frank) but one has stumped me. People keep asking how much it costs to shoe a horse in the 1883 or 1905 (The two time periods we interpret with a blacksmith). What resources would you suggest I look into to find pricing for common ironwork in these times? Internet searches have revealed little, other than it cost a teamster $21 to shoe a horse in an oil boomtown. Since this was talking about the overinflated prices at these places and 10-15 years after 1905, I assume that $21 is pretty high but I don't want to give out bad information.

Thanks for the advice,
   BullJustin - Monday, 04/12/04 15:59:34 EDT

BullJ, what would be best would be a "Smithy Daybook" where all the money in/money out from the forge is listed. A good historical society may have them, or check with a local universitie's collections.

Also think about photo's for those time period, folks standing in front of a "Horse Shoeing" XYZ sign would help.

Asking this question to a farrier's mag/forum might bring up some specific data. IIRC I have some data on earlier times from "To Forge Upset & Weld" but unless something is mentioned in Practical Blacksmithing by Richardson I don't have any data on "recent" times...

If you can find a daybook you might look into getting a copy made to have for the shop. (Ebay has had some folk piecing out daybooks and selling them page by page---ARGHHHHH.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/12/04 16:32:02 EDT

Puncheize: David, Puncheize, is a proprietary product made by Oak Hill Ironworks, North Carolina, USA (see BigBLUhammer.com). It is distributed directly by them. I'm sure they will ship some to you if you arrange payment.

Puncheize is a mixture of graphite, molybdenum disulfide, water and an emulsifier (detergent). It is one of the better products for hot punching but other products work.

For centuries smiths have used coal dust to cool and lubricate punches during hot punching. Before that they used beeswax. Modern bearing greases work but tend to flare a bit. I have also used Never-Sieze (a copper or nickle powder anti galling lubricant). This is one of the better choices.
   - guru - Monday, 04/12/04 16:39:27 EDT


I've got a copy of THE BLACKSMITH IN 18TH CENTURY WILLIAMSBURG. It has a couple of journal pages from that time frame. It's about a 100 years before you time frame, but I can scan the pages if you want them.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/12/04 18:08:29 EDT


You could try Swan-Eze from the Swan Portaforge people, based in the UK. Personally I use graphite grease.
   Bob G. - Monday, 04/12/04 18:33:51 EDT

David, typing in all caps is considered to be shouting and to be rude. Many people will refuse to read a message if it is typed that way. Please take off caps lock when you post, it makes everything much easier to read. Thank You
   Joe R - Monday, 04/12/04 18:41:46 EDT

You might look for Henkel surface technologies, to see if they have a presence in Scotland. The make a product called ATOFORGE180 P3 that is the best punch lube I have seen. They used to be Auto-Fina. Also Fuchs Lubricants.
   ptree - Monday, 04/12/04 19:10:02 EDT

Hi BullJusin, I talked to a blacksmith, Mr. Kuhn of Clayton, New Mexico, in the early 70's, and he was probably about 60 years old at the time. He said that when he was a teenager, he and his brother used to shoe broncos. They roped them and tied their legs to the spokes of a large wagon wheel...nailed the shoes on while the horses were on their side (the hard way). He said, "We did all that work, and got just a quarter a foot!". Buena Suerte.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/12/04 19:36:54 EDT

Thanks for the ideas. I am now searching for one through the local universities, our own collections, and the ALHFAM network.

Paw Paw,
I appreciate the offer but since the difference in time and distance is so great I don't think it would help here.
   BullJustin - Monday, 04/12/04 19:52:23 EDT

Something else to keep the priceing in perspective is to find out how much a glass of beer cost, price per bushel of wheat, average monthly wage of a labourer was for the same time period. (more work and less answers I know)
   JimG - Monday, 04/12/04 19:55:03 EDT

Bull J,

No problem. It is quite a stretch.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/12/04 21:28:50 EDT

Picturetrail, ImageStation, et al. While these sites do offer a way to post pictures on the web for free, they are not as benign as they seem. They are basically spyware websites that gather information for marketing companies. How do I know that? I read the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions of Use. I find that because I have disabled Java Script (to prevent malicious Java aplets from hijacking my computer) and block cookies, these sites will not let me participate. Fine. Small price to pay for privacy and security. They can have my computer when they pry four of my five dead fingers from around my mouse. The fifth one will be rigidly extended in a symbol of defiance!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/12/04 21:41:07 EDT

Paw Paw,


Is this still in print, and where might it be found?

'preshate it,

   - Don A - Monday, 04/12/04 22:55:42 EDT

Hey I just want to thank everyone for helping me out with the blacksmithing search down here in Bakersfield California. I have more questions though; I might possibly be moving back to Wyoming, where I'm from, so does anyone know any blacksmiths that are near Cody Wyoming....as in the north western part of the state? The town is only 10,000 poppulation and I couldn't seem to find any blacksmiths around the area. Thanks for you help,
   Matt Hunter - Monday, 04/12/04 23:21:42 EDT

Matt, while this is NOT COdy, Steve might be able to help you out.
   Ralph - Monday, 04/12/04 23:37:21 EDT


No, not in print. It used to be sold through the Williamsburg book store, but they've been out for several years now.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/13/04 00:08:31 EDT

I was just wondering if perhaps you would beable to send some designs to make a homemade forge because so far both of our forges have melted the blower bit in the bottom. also dad wants to make a homemade forge thats the main I would like it if you could send us some designs for a homemade cupola furnace.
   Brian - Tuesday, 04/13/04 07:37:29 EDT

if you are melting the blower then you need to move the blower away from the forge. I would extend the air inlet with some 2 or 3 inch black pipe. Several inches. Then connect the blower to that with a bit of dryer vent. The blower on my coal forge is at least 2 1/2 to 3 feet away from the tuyeer.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 04/13/04 09:24:56 EDT

Andy H. You can email me at Lmills@etilab.com or click on the name and send to my home address. There are now about 25 active blacksmiths that get together monthly around Norman.
   Mills - Tuesday, 04/13/04 10:11:19 EDT

check out http://www.rockisland.com/~marshall/ for cupola plans.
   Shack - Tuesday, 04/13/04 10:38:49 EDT

Brian, Coal, propane, oil, natural gas---what *kind* of forge you looking to build?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/13/04 11:15:10 EDT

Alti, you catch the Monster House they aired last night with the Viking Theme? Though of you. :)
   Nomad - Tuesday, 04/13/04 13:17:18 EDT

Forges and Coupolas: Brian, we have book reviews on two books by Chastain that cover Coupolas in detail.

If you are melting your blower then it is probably plastic and needs to be some distance away from the forge. A simple piece of pipe will cure the problem.

Be sure to have an ash dump and dump the burning coals that drop down as this put heat where it does not belong.

If you have too clean a forge sometimes radiant heat is a problem. A piece of sheet metal about 1" from the hot surface of the forge bottom and 1" from the overheated part will create a "heat shield" that allows air to cool the shield and part. Be sure the edges are open to allow the air to circulate. Double heat shields will stop almost 100% of the radiant heat.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/13/04 13:32:18 EDT

Norm Larson Posted the following message across the street.

CoSIRA, RDC, Countryside blacksmithing books

Sorry if the below information has already been posted to this site. It turns out that the Countryside Agency has made several of the popular blacksmithing books from England available for free download. The URL for the books available is listed below:


The books available for download are: Blacksmith's Craft, The Blacksmith Manual Illustrated, Wrought Ironwork, Catalogue of Drawings for Wrought Ironwork (also the catalogues for Gates, and Weathervanes), Decorative Ironwork, and Metals for Engineering Craftsmen. Plus a few other titles such as Wheel Making, and Thatching.

You'll need Adobe Reader to make the downloads. The smaller books like the Blacksmith's Craft can be configured to print two pages per sheet.

While these are all great books and very popular, I've always thought they were fairly pricey--but now for FREE!

Norm Larson
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/13/04 16:35:41 EDT

What type of forge would be the most efficient in use and in it fuel?
   - Steven - Tuesday, 04/13/04 17:08:05 EDT

Forge Efficiency:

Steven, that depends on a number of different factors. There is no one right answer.

I live in a place where coal has to be shipped ocean freight for thousnads of miles and costs accordingly. Therefore, coal is VERY inefficient here, from a strictly cost standpoint.

Still, coal has the advantage of being very adaptable to different size work and fires, oxidising or carburizing fires, etc. I would use coal if I had a good source that I could afford. Since I don't, I use charcoal instead when I need an open fire or a clean fire for welding.

For most of my work, I use propane to fire the forges. Note that I said forges, plural. With propane you need more than one forge if you want to be efficient, as a small forge uses little fuel but won't accommodate l;arger pieces. A big forge can accept big work, but gobbles fuel like you would expect.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/13/04 17:45:15 EDT

Forge efficiency, cont'd:

Okay, that last post got cut off too soon...pilot error, no doubt.

Another option, common in Europe, is to use coke. Good coke is clean, hot and consistent. It also requires a steady blast, it doesn't "idle" well, and it has a learning curve. But many British smiths use nothing else.

For my situation, the best fuel would probably be oil, and if I had a good design for an oil-fired forge burner(s), I would switch to oil. The largest oil refinery in the Western Hemisphere is right here on the island where I live, so oil prices are reasonable. Oil allows for a very controllable fire, plenty of BTU's per pound, and ease of use. If, of course, you have a really good burner design. So far, I haven't found a design that is simple and safe, or safe and affordable. Oil burners have some physical considerations that make them a bit tricky to build safely.

For simplicity, propane is the winner. For a clean fire, I think charcoal wins. For thermal efficiency, relatively pure carbon (coke)is the hands-down choice. The winner of the all-around compromise sweepstakes is coal. Good heat, controllable, mostly available (for a few more years, anyway), and very adaptable.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/13/04 17:54:46 EDT


Nice analysis!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/13/04 18:20:36 EDT

Just out of curiosity, what would stop you from using a diesel engine injector, inside a forced air duct as a burner for oil? Diesel fuel is pretty close to the same thing as fuel oil, isn't it?
   - HavokTD - Tuesday, 04/13/04 18:47:27 EDT

ok, this is built for melting metal, but if it could be turned down is there any reason it couldn't (or shouldnt)be used in a forge?

the inside design is at

if you can't (or don't want to) see it, it's a waste oil burner with a blower to increase the heat. the oil is piped around the edge of the burning chamber, then dripped or dumped on the floor where it evaporates and burns with the help of the burner. the flame is vented out the top of the side and into the furnace. it gets to propane heat.

any obvious problems?

john tobako
   john tobako - Tuesday, 04/13/04 19:24:35 EDT

Forge Efficiency: The most efficient forge is the one that has the smallest fire or combustion chamber for a specific sized piece. Fuel efficiency is very similar in forges but forge and work sizes vary greatly.

The most FLEXIBLE forge for a given size work is solid fuel. However, maintaining the fire requires TIME which is part of the work efficiency.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/13/04 20:49:57 EDT

Oil Forges: Most oil forges use some type of pressurization system (pump or pressure tank) to atomize the oil and mix it with air. These used to be very common but are hard to find today. Numerous folks have built oil forges using domestic furnace burners.

Waste Oil Burners: I don't want to live in the same COUNTY with a waste oil burner much less have one in my shop. TOO MANY unknowns and MANY known hazzards (heavy metals, non-flamable poisions. . .).
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/13/04 20:55:51 EDT


I thought of that too, but am no tyet ready to start the experimenting. I have too many other projects ahead of it right now. But I do think that the idea has some merit.

Maybe if I got an injector pump from a V8 and put all eight injector nozzles in the flame tube, I could have an adjustable burner. (grin) I'm being facetious of course, but that illustrates what I see as one hurdle to jump; the need for an adjustable flame size and air/fuel ratio. I need to study up on oil burners some more before I start experimenting. I don't want to blow myself up.

John tobako, I looked at those sites and I have to say that the way they do things would make this man very nervous. The second site, in particular, gave me real concerns. If what is happening is what I think, that fellow is piping oil into a combustion chamber in copper tubing. When the chamber gets hot enough, I imagine the tubing melting and the burn becoming uncontrolled. Scary.

As I seet it, the way to go is to atomize the oil as finely as possible and then mix it with air and burn it. Atomization can be achieved with both heat and pressure, but both have to be tightly controlled. I would also want a total shut-off safety valve in the event of flame out or other malfunction. It will take some serious design and experimentation to make something that I feel is both controllable and safe.

   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/13/04 21:05:39 EDT

Like Jock, I don't want anything to do with burning used motor oil. That stuff is terribly toxic. Used cooking oil would probably be alright, but the lower viscosity heating oil is much more predictable and available. When you're burning stuff, known factors are much better than unknowns.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/13/04 21:07:38 EDT

I need to find that site that has a simple table forge for a friend. I think that site was electricanvil.com or something like that.
   - Lone Blacksmith - Tuesday, 04/13/04 23:02:56 EDT

Monster Viking House:

We were actually contacted about doing a "faering boat" sofa on this show, but turned it down. (Also referred it to our shipwright, who also turned it down.) Things worked out much better than I feared, and on the whole I think they did a good job, but I don't regret ducking this one. ;-) (Conflict may create drama, but we have quite enough drama in our lives right now, thank you.)

Absolutely inundated on the banks of the lower Potomac. Looking forward to a dry, lovely weekend at the BGOP Spring Fling.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/13/04 23:40:41 EDT

Power hammers.

I've been looking at a range of powerhammers whose effective blow weight ranges from 75 - 140 lbs. What sort of applications need the heavier blow weights? I rarely use heavy stock so would the smaller powerhammers suit my needs?

I'm also in the process of submitting plans for my new workshop. What minimum thickness of concrete should my floor be?
   Bob G. - Tuesday, 04/13/04 23:47:12 EDT

When did heat treating of metal start? and what was the first thing heat treated?
   Brian Davis - Wednesday, 04/14/04 00:00:01 EDT

I have used a oil fired "rivet forge" it was a portable rig on wheels, it was a steel box about 12" wide, by 14' long by 12" high, it was lined with firebrick and had a archbrick for a top and a 4 x 4 opening on each side for inserting the work. It used a compressed air jet shyphoning #2 fuel oil from a tank below the fire box.

We could never get it hot enough for riveting 3/4 x 4 rivets, so we used it to preheat the rivets and then carried the rivets over to a rosebud torch for the final heat, it worked fairly well for heating work for forgeing, never did try to weld with it.
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 04/14/04 00:03:34 EDT

Concrete Floors: Bob, Shop floors vary depending on what you put on them. Although all the new hammer manufacturers say you don't NEED a special foundation you should have an isolation pad for a power hammer. If you are looking at certain classes of hammers they require special foundations just to install and run.

Other loads shop floors see include things like multi ton benches (weld plattens), machine tools like lathes and shapers. Jib cranes are common too. Even though the machines do not need heavy foundations they are best bolted down. Bolting to a thin sidewalk thickness pad is difficult. Jib cranes should have heavy counter weight foundations (heavier than a power hammer foundation).

I would not pour a pad less than 4" thick with steel reinforcing. You can also go with a dirt floor and special pads and work areas.

This is one of those things that depend on your personal preference and what you want. One thing I have learned is that you always want to put the largest foundation in possible for a power hammer. If you PLAN on a 50 pound hammer you will end up putting a 300 pounder in its place. . .

Other floor considerations are drains, wiring, vise mounting posts, rigging anchors and so on. Running electric and air under the floor to work stations can prevent a lot of clutter, trip hazzards or over head dangling cables.

Power Hammer Size: Rule #1, You can do anything on a 150# hammer including VERY delicate work that you can do on a 25# hammer but NOT the reverse. If you do ANY kind of architectural work or furniture you can make good use of a hammer up to 300 pounds. 200 pounds is very convienient and 100 pounds is about the minimum to be productive enough to make a living. If you specialize in small hardware and make LOTS of it and nothing else you can afford to have small hammers.

Even small work often starts as 1" and larger bar stock. Short compact sculptural pieces dont weigh much but they are TOUGH to forge by hand.

Bigger hammers also run slower than small hammers. Slow is much easier to control if using hand held tooling like punches or chisles.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/14/04 00:28:24 EDT

Heat Treating of Metal: Brian, Heat Treating to soften metal for cold work (annealing) would have started in the Bronze age some 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. The first item heat treated will never be known but knowing mankind it was probably a weapon, a knife or spearpoint. Hardening and tempering would have started almost immediately at the beginning of the iron age. An early transition era (bronze to iron age) smith probably tried to use his annealing technique on a piece of steel and found that it was so hard that it dinged his hammer and anvil or shatered like glass.

Tool making, the use of hammer, anvil, punch, scrapers, saws and drills were stone age technologies that were already well known when metals became common. I started to say "discovered" but native gold, silver and copper were known to earliest man in very small quantities.

Stone (age) tools were immediately applied to metals. When iron became available there was a well developed metalworking technology that would have been applied to iron. Some of the methods would have worked and others not. But within just a few years of working a NEW metal many of its peculiarities would have been discovered and compenstated for. Those early workers may have had primitive tools and shops but they were just as smart as modern people.

The begining of the Iron Age was somewhere around 1500 BC. Most of the techniques of handling iron that were known up until the modern era would have been discovered in the first generation of the Iron Age.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/14/04 00:48:02 EDT

Guru, I am forced to defend my friends at BYMC... I believe that the oil burners we are working on over there are designed to burn waste *VEGETABLE* oil or liquid fuels (paraffin oil, diesel, heating oil). I think some guys use motor oil, but I do not believe Lionel (the guy who runs the site) is one of them. I'm not a fan of the vaporize-by-heat-then-burn method... I prefer the Babington style oil burner in terms of design simplicity and overall design quality. No experience yet.

Correction: Just checked the site. Lionel has used motor oil to try it out, but strongly prefers vegetable oil.

Boy, those British books are something. Anyone who has broadband should check them out, particularly the "Blacksmith's Manual with Illustrations".

Cloudy but pleasant in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 04/14/04 04:17:33 EDT

I am writing to you in the hope you may have some infromation on a william blacker who invented the blacker hammer and is one of my distant releatives. All i know about him is that he invented this power hammer in stalybrideg cheshire, do you or any of you colleges know any thing about him or his company, any information would be greatly recieved. Thank you for your time and i hope you can help me. Ian Chenery.
   ian chenery - Wednesday, 04/14/04 04:33:44 EDT



Is this the one you were looking for?
   - Don A - Wednesday, 04/14/04 08:55:56 EDT

I want to get a good rough etch in a piece of nickel using a nitric or other acid. Can you suggest anything? I use ~30% nitric now, but I'd like to get the roughness up (to see the engraving better.
   Kevin - Wednesday, 04/14/04 10:27:53 EDT

Waste Oil: TG, In most cases when folks speak of burning waste oil in the US they are talking about used motor oil. One of the hazzards of using waste oil is that a significant percentage of it is now synthetic oil that has a VERY high flash point and is very difficult to burn.

In the early 1980's there was a big scandle with heating oil. Big companies discovered that the specs on it allowed for a high percentage of other solvents. So they started mixing industrial waste solvents in heating oil and selling it. Many of the solvents contained things that needed to be broken down at much higher heat than a domestic furnace produces. The result was that nice neighborhoods unwittingly became dumping grounds for hazardous waste.

The problem with this practice is the very large companies were invilved and almost nothing was made of it. When these things quietly die it bothers me. Has the practice stopped or did someone just get paid to be quiet?

Properly setup deisel or fuel oil forges run hotter than gas and have the advantage of a more controlable atmosphere for welding. They are not quite as convienient as gas and MUST be well vented due to the fumes and stink.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/14/04 11:25:50 EDT

treadle hammer
any thoughts on utilizing drive chain and sprockets to transfer motion/energy from foot treadle to "swing arm"/hammer on a treadle hammer?

also, i am thinking of forging a conical cutter bit from an earth auger into a cutoff hardy. i think the steel is t1 or something similar. input?

   - pilemonkey - Wednesday, 04/14/04 11:27:40 EDT


If you want a rougher etch, you can increase the strength of the mordant, heat the mordant or use less agitation. Most people want a smooth etch, so they use a weaker solution, use it cold and maintain continuous glentle agitation to prevent the formation of bubbles. Doing the opposite will give a rougher etch. You can also use a faster mordant, such as aqua regia. I would recommend against that, however, as the increase in danger outweighs the increase in speed on nickel.

If you tell me what you are trying to achieve, I maight be able to offer some further suggestions. I'm not sure what seeing engraving has to do with etching, as the two are very different techniques. If you mean that you wish the engraved areas to be more visible, then I would suggest that you color them to contrast with the surface. This will increase their visibility without the need for a very deep etch.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/14/04 11:37:43 EDT

Guru, I'd have to counter that it's very hard in iron/steel to determine when heat treat for hardening occurred *purposely* and when it may have been an accident in early work.

Since iron with an appreciable carbon (or phosphorous) content is harder/tougher even un-heat treated it was prefferentially used for things needing those properties---"The Celtic Sword", Pleiner; has a nice set of analyses of iron age blades and their "alloy" content and if they had seen some sort of heat treatment (and if it had made any difference!)

But it's had to take a single item and determine that it was heat treated on purpose or just through the accidents of production. You really need a statistical sample of items over a range of times and places to determine that.

One date I remember is 1st century AD for purposefull use of heat treating for carbon containing alloys--but that is sure to have been superseeded by now as it was quite some time ago that I read it.

Even in the renaissance heat treating of armour still seems to be rather hit or miss for quite some time and as they perfected the methods they went through a period where armour that had been trending toward larger and larger plates dropped bac to smaller ones that they could heat treat with less problems with warping---then growing larger again as they became more skilled and then doing less heat treat as armour became more decorative rather than functional and "soft" is easier to decorate. (The Royal Armouries at Greenwich" Alan Williams et al discusses this in some detail).

I have always held that the "magical" swords mentioned in earlier times may have just been well made weapons where *everything* lucked out---good clean alloys, right forging temps, right heat treat temps---everything came together and produced a weapon that was noticable better---but hard to reproduce as you are guessing at alloys and temps back then. So you end up with the rare "magical" blade that outcuts, doesn't bend or break and generally outperforms a "normal" sword. And for a great bladesmith this happens more often than it does for a regular bladesmith and so you get "magical" smiths as well.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/14/04 11:59:17 EDT


These folks apparently manufacture said hammer:

A start perhaps.
   Escher - Wednesday, 04/14/04 13:46:58 EDT

I am looking for a wiring diagram for an old KH Huppert Electric industrial oven. Serial #215 Type ST Style 10DL. This one is 220 Volts and was made in 1958. It may originally have been used in a dental lab;I want to use it for a preheat and tempering oven. Huppert is still in business but doesn't have diagrams going that far back. They still have the coil units available for it though and were as helpful as they could be on the phone. I know this one is a long shot but I've been surprised before.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 04/14/04 19:56:03 EDT

BOB Concrete floor thickness is one thing and the reinforcing in it is another, but what hasn't come up is the condition of the soil under it and that, as the old saying goes, makes all the difference. All fill dirt will eventually shrink and crack ordinary floors unless the thickness of the fill is uniform and the compaction of the fill is uniform. Proper compaction is most important and next in line is not having a deep fill on one end and a shallow or no fill on the other. If you make the slab thick enough and with enough rebar it will "float" and not crack or if you have it all on "cut" it is good. Normally you accept cracks and try to keep them to minor ones.
   J Myers - Wednesday, 04/14/04 22:02:19 EDT

In one of the old books published by COSIRA, mentioned earlier on this forum, it refers to using "silver sand" on small pieces of metal to prevent them from burning when welding to larger pieces. Any ideas on what silver sand is? Is it borax with iron filings?
   Ed Long - Thursday, 04/15/04 12:21:30 EDT

Silver Sand:

My guess is that it was a silica sand that made a good flux. Especially with wrought iron I've found that sand can work as well as borax once you get the hang of it, but there are sands and there are sands, all with different compositions according to the rock(s) they eroded from.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/15/04 13:04:07 EDT

Hello there,

Is there anything safe one can do to a NC forge to accurately regulate the temperature within a 100 degree F range?

I'm looking at the 6 burner tunnel model. I'd like to be able to temper high speed steel and from what I understand it can take 2 or more hours at about 1100 degrees F.

Ultimately I'd like to be able to do this without needing to constantly monitor temperatures and progress. A.k.a. put the steel in and not have to worry or sit there watching it.

Thank you VERY much for your time & take care,
Ben Finowski
   Ben - Thursday, 04/15/04 13:47:15 EDT


The only way I know to get close temperature regulation with a gas-fired oven is to use a computer controlled burner(s) and redundant thermocouples. It is done for pottery work, but the burners and controls are NOT cheap, being on the order of several hundred dollars. Also, you would need to convert the forge to a muffle furnace, or radiant heating would cause dramatic variations in the temperature of the work.

To build a gas fired muffle furnace gets expensive because of both the controls and burners mentioned plus the cost of the muffle, which is a chamber within a chamber to isolate the work from the direct flame. Unless you do a huge amount of heat treating, I doubt the expense would be worth it. And converting your forge would render it useless for forging.

A simpler, cheaper and better solution is to build an electric heat treating oven. All the necessary parts can be purchased from kiln manufacturers and pottery supplies. Fully computer controlled operation allows you to have a controlled rise and fall of temperature, exact holding times, and pretty tight temperature control. Check out the website of Paragon kilns for some information.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/15/04 14:35:44 EDT

I need input from those of you who have used or have a flypress. I have a P6 from Kayne and Son and would like to build a stand for it. Please recomend height, size of mounting surface for the P6 flypress, and any thoughts you would incorporate in a stand to make it be ergonomic in my shop. I have reviewed the i-forge pages and there seems to be one mounted to a stand made from angle iron. All input would be greatly appreciated.
   F.Mitchell - Thursday, 04/15/04 15:29:58 EDT

F Mitchell - Flypress stand - I have a P4 and built a stand by bolting four pieces of 6x6 timber together, each 3ft long. I have 2x4 spacers between them, forming roughly a 13x13 inch square stump 3ft tall. I set it on end, then made angle iron brackets for the bottom that pin into holes drilled in the garage floor so it won't move. the press sits on top, with 12 inch pins through the mounting holes and around the frame, sunk into the timbers. Altoghther, the stand twists a little, but most of the force is directed into the hammer blow. I'm very happy with it. I managed to assemble it alone, too. I built eh stand laying down, used a floro jack to position and angle the press on its side, fastened it down, and used a long lever to stand the whole contraption as one piece. My wife would kill me if she'd seen that. :)

I'll try to take a pcture tomorrow if you're interested. Sadly, my time has een taken up by the most "un-blacksmith" of hobbies... a saltwater aquarioum I inherited from my favorite uncle... along with the responsibility of saving all his fish. Its beautiful, but there's not more than a handful of steel in the whole ton of stuff!
Sunny, 60 in Columbus, OH
   MikeM-OH - Thursday, 04/15/04 16:42:08 EDT

Flypress Stand: Foy, There are several considerations. Sitting or standing (a P6 is big so it is probably going to be used standing), and the type of work. The table wants to be a convienient work height. Small work can higher (to see better) than large work. Again this is a large press. I would want it about 4 to 6" below elbow height. Howver the height of the press and the shop ceiling may be a consideration with a large press.

The stand should have a hole under the center bushing. You want the hole larger than the bushing so that anything that goes through can fall clear. A built in bucket or tray to catch hot or cold biscuits and bits is handy.

I like machine stands that provide some work space for tools. The alternative is a tight fit so that junk does not get piled on the bench surface.

Flypress stands need to be bolted to the floor OR heavy enough to resist twisting. Rubber friction pads help prevent movement.

I also build shelves or tooling racks off the floor under benches and machine stands.

Note that the slotted stand the Kaynes built was designed to accept a variety of press sizes. A solid bench top is better
   - guru - Thursday, 04/15/04 17:04:48 EDT

F Mitchell, I have a large old flypress which is mounted on what I assume is the original stand. The table area is about 28" deep and 36" wide with the top surface at about 34". This puts the top of the flywheel at anywhere between 70" and 78" when in use. Make it strong and bolt or pin it to the floor- If it's left loose it will definately try to walk around as you bottom out your tooling. You store an enormous amount of energy in the flywheel. Also be sure you leave an opening under the ram for drifting or punching through material.
   SGensh - Thursday, 04/15/04 17:05:52 EDT

I've added a photo to the yahoo gallery(not a good one sadly) of my flypress base . It's made from half inch plate, (4'x3'),with channel legs. It supports a size ten press so it needs to be sturdy. The legs are about 3' long A hole has been cut in the top of the base to correspond with the hole in the base of the press. I also have a smaller flypress that does not have a base as such, it is designed to sit on the edge of a bench and various narrow bases can be added that allow you to do things that you cannot do with a normal flypress. I'll post a photo oneday.
   Bob G - Thursday, 04/15/04 18:50:24 EDT

To Vicopper

Thanks much for the info - I'll look into building and electric one - sounds like fun! :) I did some surfing and found tempering ovens and they were quite expensive (at least 2.5k) and they wern't the size i needed. I need somthing about 6"x6"x50" - barely over a square foot.

I will probably touch base here a little more often since I'm investigating these things. My last post which still shows up on search engines was from 1998!

Take care

   Ben - Thursday, 04/15/04 22:12:03 EDT

Just a note to anyone going to the Spring Fling: Due to "Something that came up" I will have to schlep to HQ tomorrow, so I doubt that I'll make the 3:00 Friday tailgate opening. I expect to stagger in Friday night or early Saturday morning. Save some tailgate stuff for me!

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/15/04 22:52:30 EDT

SPAM: Has anyone else gotten spam from ANYANG AKA Chinahammers 163.com?

They prommised to quit but have started again.

NEWS Vol.26 page 2
   - guru - Friday, 04/16/04 13:22:52 EDT

I have been looking for an answer to a simple question for some time and can only find conflicting stories. Can anyone tell me what scale on mild steel actually is? Is it actually carbon, vanadium, iron, impurities, ??? I have been asked that question so many times when I do a demo to the public and I cannot find an actual solid reference on the matter.
   Louis - Friday, 04/16/04 15:45:32 EDT

Hello everyone. I need some advice about shop layout.

I'm in the process of buying a house that has no garage, but there is plenty of room to build my super heavy duty double throw down dream shop/garage. I will have enough cash from the sale of my current home to actually get right on it, and my wife is insisting that I get it done quick so I don't start welding in the dining room like I did in my apartment before we married.

I am looking to build something about 40ft deep and 40 to 60 ft wide. I plan to have one end near the house sectioned off about 15ft with a closed in drywalled shop/office area that will really be my wifes work shop/studio, and will also have a bathroom. Then, I will have the remainder with a couple of large roll up doors. I'll have one side as a wood shop, and the other as a blacksmith/welding shop.

What I am looking for is any kind of resourses on good shop layout for the blacksmiths side. I plan to have both a coal and propane forge as well as 2 anvils. I don't have them now, but I plan to get a treadle hammer and fly press soon, and also an air hammer eventually. In my current shop I have never been totally happy with how I laid things out, and I'm just looking for some ideas. I knew you folks would have a couple of opinions. :-)

Thanks for your help

   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 15:47:52 EDT

Louis, it's magnetite, an iron oxide, AKA "the black form of rust"

Fredly, still need info---are you going top be making gates or knives (big stuff or small stuff)---do you need large ammounts of layout room and room to work big stuff or could you get by with several small "concentrated" work areas?

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/16/04 16:13:43 EDT

Louis, What is nowadays termed "mild steel" is usually A36, an American Society for Testing Materials number. The carbon content is supposed to be kept to about 0.27%, the manganese 0.60-0.90%, maximum phosphorus 0.04%, and maximum sulphur 0.05%. Knowing that and a few bucks will get you a cup of coffee and a breakfast pastry. Reference: Jorgensen Steel Stock List.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/16/04 16:13:45 EDT


Currently most of the stuff I do is pretty small, knifes & hooks etc, but I do know that I plan to do gates and a fence in my own yard. Who knows where that will lead to. I hope to start doing more art & sculpture type stuff as my skills improve.

My plan is to build a layout table from a 4'x8' sheet of prolly 1/4" or 3/8" plate. I figure I'll do bench area around most of the perimiter that does not actually have a forge or power hammer eventually.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 16:21:08 EDT

I think what I'm really looking for is some ideas on actual forge to anvil, to vise & table layout reccomendations. I'm pretty much self taught so far off this site and a few books, and then my life of high school shop classes and maintenance jobs. So far I have been in a few different shops, but nothing has struck me as a great layout. THey all worked, but there was always something that didn't seem like it was in the best place.

Also, I'm looking to build with at lease 12' walls. I was wondering about overhead lift ability. Does anyone have some reccomendations on how to rig us that kind of stuff?


   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 16:26:56 EDT

Doh, proof read before posting dummy.

Also, I'm looking to build with at least 12' walls. I was wondering about overhead lift ability. Does anyone have some recommendations on how to rig up that kind of stuff?

   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 16:36:20 EDT

In no particular order:-)

Ian Chenery? The only thing I can suggest is get a copy of "Pounding Out the Profits" The Blacker hammer is covered in there, the section is a few pages long, but doesn't go into a huge amount of detail, about the designer...

Size of Power hammer:-) Even if you are going to be using mainly smaller stock, it is a good idea to have a bigger hammer, because you can more easily make your own tooling. And you can fit more tooling under the dies. (bigger hammers generally have a deeper throat and a longer stroke.)

FredlyFX :-)

You didn't mention any room for new stock racks, and sorted scrap bins!!! You wife will frown on that sitting outside where the neighbors can see (we have no neighbors that can see our house and my wife is planning on me "cleaning" things up a bit:-) She has graciously givem me permision to build a nice looking platen table that is out infront of the shop, (to replace the rusty old steelcase desk that is my chopsaw table that sits outside:-) ANd she finally agreed to move the fenceline so I don't need to drive through a gate to get to the big doors on the shop;-) Tried to persuade her that would work better when we put the fence in years ago:-)
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 04/16/04 16:39:26 EDT

I just finished building a nice 10' rolling stock rack for my current house that I will bring along. I'll actually keep it outside behind the building probably. Although there will be plenty of room inside for it if I like.

I'm pretty lucky over all. My wife lets me get away with almost anything. Her only thing is that I quiet down at 10PM so the neighbors don't complain.

Now that I'm thinking about it though, I could put a nice 20' stock rack along an end wall pretty easilly and still have space for stuff in the corner. I'll probably build some kind of scap bins out back as well. I hadn't really thought of that. So far, I havn't generated a lot of scrap, and I just kind of have a pile in the corner. I bin would make much more sense though.

Boy, the projects just keep growing. It will probably be 10 years before I get this thing to where it's actually done.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 17:01:15 EDT

If I were building a new shop, I would include a set-up for a chop saw, with 20' of table on one side, and 10' on the other. Makes cutting any lenght out of a bar a peice of cake. I have the 20' table, but shorter on the other side as I don't have room for a 10'er. My is on a wall, and i have racking abovle the table for the sizes I commonly use.
I would plan several exhaust fans in both sides to draw in cool fresh air, and I would plan on lots of power. I would try for receptables every 4' on the perimeter.
Hope this helps
   ptree - Friday, 04/16/04 17:35:11 EDT

hi there!
i have a small wheel hub forge in my yard and recently ive started forging the 4 -5 weeks and ive been making knives and whatnot. i use charcoal and i find it very hard to get to a white heat. How do i acheive this.
Also how do i forge a hammer.
   Bootboy - Friday, 04/16/04 18:48:10 EDT

by charcoal I am betting you are using something like Kingsford briquettes? If so you need to be using 'real' charcoal ( whole wood charcoal)
If you are in fact using real charcoal, then we need to talk air flow. What /how are you getting air to the fire?
   Ralph - Friday, 04/16/04 21:11:55 EDT


I actually built a setup like that for a screen shop I used to work for years ago. I hadn't even thought of it. I can't believe all the cool stuff I have forgot about. This building is gonna end up being 100' long. (wouldn't that be cool?)
   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/16/04 21:12:12 EDT

Side sets.

Many of the 'old' books I have read show techniques using side sets to cut square shoulders. I was wondering why the use of side sets is rarely mentioned in the more modern blacksmithing books, have they been superceded by flypresses and powerhammers?
   Bob G. - Friday, 04/16/04 21:40:42 EDT

FreddyFX, ptree is right on the money again. Having a cutting bench below your stock racks is really convenient. If you make the bench as a cantilevered surface you can have roll out carts below it for shorts or other storage. Mine has about 20' from one wall to the blade of the cold saw and 12' to the next wall. Not perfect for 24' tubes but close enough. If you make roll out carts be sure to only use non swivel casters so they will track in and out easily without trying to shift sideways.

On overhead lifting- think about how much you need to lift before you start. It's really great to have an overhead crane which can reach every part of your floor but it's not all that easy to achieve. You can't just attach a crane to most buildings so you have to plan on a separate structure to support runways and at least one cross beam. Components to fabricate a simple system are available from several sources including McMaster Carr but you may well find that a used forklift is more flexible and cheaper. A simple boom extension (available commercially) makes a forklift into a very flexible lifting machine. The other alternative is to mount one or more single I beams in a fixed position to allow you to use a trolley and hoist to lift objects from the floor onto your layout table nd back. You won't cover all of your floor area but you'll find it incredibly useful. I have relatively low ceilings but the one ton Shaw box on a fixed beam in my welding area gets a great deal of use. The forklift and a rolling gantry do the rest of the lifting. Remember what the chiropractor said- never lift anything heavier than a skirt!
   SGensh - Friday, 04/16/04 23:15:28 EDT

Bob G. and side sets...

Lack of strikers!!!:-) An aweful lot of the traditional technics require two men and a boy to do easily. With hold downs, practice and luck you can use a set hammer on a piece, and other common toptools (heck you can freehand it stablizing it with the tool when you drop the tongs to grab the hammer, but I don't like to if I can avoid it:-)

Partly it is efficiency, and partly it is the shift to single man shops, (and even in larger multiperson shop, time is money, and you don't want to pay two guys to do a job that one can do faster with a tool or jig) So technics have adapted, and new tools have made things more efficient. But to be honest I think people have just moved away from some of the designs that REQUIRED this type of tooling, or they cheated and found other ways to fabricate it. I still think not nearly as many people use and understand set hammers and butchers to their best advantage any more. You can do some really interesting things with set hammers and butchers, and really change up your crosssection of your steel... :-)

Now I have a question for you Bob... Is the side set you are talking about what I would call a set hammer, with a flat working face, like a smaller cross section flater, or is it more like what I would call a butcher and the working face has a shallow taper down to the edge (or more deeply tapered like a chisel with a radiused edge?:-) I know you speak a different language over there, we only call what we speak English;-) (Is it upseting to hear one of us americans call jumping up upseting?;-)

FredlyFX and shop bins:-)

I wasn't talking about bins for cutoffs of bar stock or tubing:-) I was talking about bins for sorted scrap like: leaf springs, coil springs, files & rasps, chunks of H13, M2, S3, 52100, & 4140, and sliced up L6 bandsaw blade, old disks, cultivators and plowshares (1065-1095 the good old ones shatter and crack chunks out, the new ones bend:-() Then there is all the stuff you save cause it could be a useful size for some future project, big bolts,flanges, a odd parts off of tractors:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 04/17/04 00:29:30 EDT

Bob G.:

Side sets, eh? I'm a little confused as I use side sets IN fly presses and power hammers. As you say they are perfect for making tight, square shoulders, like for starting tennons.
   - grant - Saturday, 04/17/04 00:32:17 EDT

Subject: Repair old home fireplace shovel of wrought iron. I oxyacetylene fabricated and welded a mild steel replacement shovel section to this old shovel; however, where I used the grinder to smooth out and shape a bit I now have rust. I would like to replicate the old wrought iron (non-rusting) brownish/black finish. Is there a way to do this at home? Morgan
   Morgan - Saturday, 04/17/04 04:37:35 EDT

Does anyone know where I can order 10 inch stove pipe. All I can find in 10 inch is galvanized, and I don't know how safe using galvanized vent pipe would be in a high temp setting, such as a coal forge. Thanks!
   Keith B - Saturday, 04/17/04 07:05:04 EDT

I had a local Vocational Technical School metal shop make my stove pipe in 10" and 12". It's less expensive than having it made in a sheet metal fab shop. The only drawback is that you may have to wait untill the class schedule has time for that project. In my case the pipe was made in about 1 week.
   Harley - Saturday, 04/17/04 07:37:15 EDT

Stovepipe: Keith, you WANT galvanized. Coal ash will evaporate the thin unplated stuff in less than a season of use.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/17/04 10:35:45 EDT

Brownish Black Finish: Morgan that is a combination of scale and rust oiled or waxed ocassionaly over the years.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/17/04 10:37:29 EDT

Heavy Stuff: Every blacksmith shop needs a minimum of a stout mono-rail and trolley OR a HD all terrain forklift. You can waste months trying to figure out how to move heavy items OR damage the equipment OR yourself. . .

Dirt floors are the best for the feet but smooth flat concrete cannot be beat for moving machinery. However, one you have a packed shop there usualy isn't room to skid or fork lift stuff to where you want it. But you CAN do amazing things with 1" pipe rollers on a smooth surface.

NOTE: Things like a set of 1" pipe rollers do not just appear out of a scrap pile. They all need to be the same diameter AND if moving really heavy stuff I prefer schedule 80 pipe (about double the wall thickness of standard schedule 40 pipe). A new 21' length makes a set of 7 three foot rollers. It also helps to have a few shorter ones for tight places. You do not need a lot of rollers. All it takes is two or three to move heavy machines with a flat bottom. You roll forward until the load tips, then pull back and put a roller in the front and then roll until balanced on that one and add another to the front. I've done it alone but it is MUCH easier with two people. One controlling the load and the other the "log man" moving rollers from back to front.

I am already planning a new shop for when I move and a mono-rail capable of about 5 tons is the minimum to start with. Also a nice smooth concrete floor. Anchors in the floor are also handy for pulling loads. A rectilinier overhead hoist is the best but cost big bucks in steel and assembly. You can do a LOT with a monorail or two and a couple job cranes. .
   - guru - Saturday, 04/17/04 10:50:16 EDT


I've got a layout of the new shop I hope to build someday. It's 40' X 60'. Want me to send it to you?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/17/04 13:01:38 EDT

I have a question to go along with the discussion of side sets. I recently downloaded the old blacksmithing books from COSIRA's site, and in one they picture several types of side sets that are really just a triangular junk of metal with a handle jumped on them. The long side of the traingle leads to the cutting edge. Looking at them, I can see one problem right from the start: striking the top would cause an off-center blow that would tend to turn the cutting edge into the shoulder, rather than giving a square shoulder. Any thoughts on this, folks?
   Ed Long - Saturday, 04/17/04 15:18:43 EDT

Thanks Guru et all for the great suggestions.

Yes Paw Paw, I would love to get a look at your plans.

Besides the great suggestions I have recieved so far, I am looking for things like how far should the anvil be from the forge? Is it better to have the vice to the left or right of the anvil, and where compared to the forge?

My current setup is like a box with the forge at 12 o'clock, the anvil at 6, and the post vice at 9. I also have a smaller anvil that I rarely use at 3. I work in the center which is about 3 ft across each side. It works, but I just know there is a better way to do it.

I am also looking at setting up a second forge in the new shop so that I will have both propane or coal available. I am thinking of putting the coal forge against a wall with a side draft vent running up and out through the outter wall. THen, have the propane forge eith right next to it, or on the opposite side of the anvil, so I have 2 boxes. Any ideas on that layout?

Thanks much


   FredlyFX - Saturday, 04/17/04 17:02:43 EDT

Cosira sidesets
I've seen those as well Ed, never used them, but I would assume that under a powerhammer with flat dies they'd stay square, (flat top surface of set contacting flat surface of hammer die) with a hand hammer I would hit so the centre of the hammer face is directly over the cutting edge, correcting as needed. Never having used them this is just a guess. I'm sure I will be corrected.
   JimG - Saturday, 04/17/04 18:39:07 EDT

I was given an old forge. I cannot find any info on it and I'm not sure exactly how far the burner sits on top of the forge since it is separated. I looked all over the internet and still cannot find anything. It has an info plate on it with the following. Wm Allday & Co, Ltd Alcosa Works, Stourport-on-seven Works, Alcosa GF 070 Portable Forge. Can you direct me to a web site or someone to contact. I am trying to get a photo of the forge so I can put it together and use it. Thank you in advance, David
   David - Saturday, 04/17/04 18:49:12 EDT

Paw-Paw, I'd love to see those plans too.

I used my sledge for the first time last night. Fun, but it sure doesn't replace a power hammer... I'd rather be using compressor power than Armstrong power, especially given how my right arm feels this morning! (Grin) Should come in handy for a couple things, though.

Cloudy and peaceful in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 04/17/04 19:37:45 EDT


Alcosa is now owned by Vaughans. Contact them via www.anvils.co.uk

I think there is something similar for sale on ebay.co.uk
   Bob G. - Saturday, 04/17/04 20:20:53 EDT


What I think of as side sets can be found on page 92 (of 220) in Lillico's book found below.

I downloaded and printed all the Cosira books from the above site and now have a pile of paper about 12" high. Sometimes it's good to work night shifts!
   Bob G. - Saturday, 04/17/04 20:26:59 EDT

5 ton overhead crane! What exactly are you planning on moving with that? Do you make big stuff or is it for moving your machinery?
   Bob G. - Saturday, 04/17/04 20:30:07 EDT

When I run across tongs marked "Champion", are they from Champion Blower (Lancaster)?, Champion DeArment (Meadville)?, Champion Tool Co (?)? or ???. Thanks
   Tom H - Saturday, 04/17/04 21:48:47 EDT

Some years ago I lived in the Kansas City area and remember seeing a big collection (couple of hundred?) of anvils on display. I think it may have been at the Ag Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs Kansas. Anybody else ever run across this display?
   Tom H - Saturday, 04/17/04 22:56:14 EDT

Ed Long:

I'm not real fond of the side sets as shown in that book, although Clifton Ralph seems to get along fine with them. If I remember right he dosen't make the angle axactly 90. I like side sets like they show in "Machine Blacksmithing", - a quarter round. In any case, they all work much better if a groove is first put in the piece with a small round bar.
   - grant - Saturday, 04/17/04 23:00:59 EDT

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