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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 18 - 23, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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I have a Beaudry #4 Champion hammer and need to remove the bronze ram guide on the right side of the ram. There are two large bolts that keep it tight to the frame and I have the nuts and washers removed but can't tell how the bolts come out so the guide can be removed. I would appreciate any help if someone has done this on a Beaudry. Thanks, Hollis
   HWooldridge - Sunday, 04/18/04 00:28:07 EDT

Grant is right, I believe Clifton Ralph recommends that they be about 80 degrees... So that as they are driven in with the power hammer they will be forced to make a 90 corner because of the greater resistance on the longer angled face of the side set. And almost all tools for use under a power hammer should be radius, some more than other:-) I got to see Clifton and Kurt Ferenbacker work on a 600# Niles-Bemont-Pond steam hammer. Clifton was the blacksmith, Kurt drove the hammer and I got to play assistant, was a huge amount of fun and I learned a ton!!! (and I am in lust with Kurt's steam hammer:-)

One of the things demonstrated was setting down a section in the middle of a block of steel. Clifton used side sets to mark off where he wanted the shoulders to be, and how deep the set was in the middle then he flipped the block over and fuller the backside of the block, then he finished the set down, said it worked much better that way... ended up looking kinda like II__II
   Fionnbharr - Sunday, 04/18/04 00:28:24 EDT


Email coming your way with an attachment.

   eander4 - Sunday, 04/18/04 02:04:04 EDT

Forging Tools: There are a half dozen classic shaped power forging tools. The triangular side sets in Lillico (1930) have been largely replaced by a fuller tool that looks like a cutter but is a fatter taper (about 15°) with a rounded nose and back. The back is rounded such that when the tool is driven into the work with one side vertical the blow aligns with the smaller radius on the nose.

Power Hammer Fuller
Drawing from our fullering iForge demo #88. All tools of this type should have as much radius as the part can stand. That includes triangular side sets.

Oddly none of the "blacksmith" forging tools used in open die forging are shown in the 1939 ASM Forging Handook.

In the 1970 ASM Metals Handbook edition on forging they show a series of six "Cutting and Fullering" bars (p.42). The same series is shown in the 1981 Forging Industry Association Open Die Forging Manual (p.73). Neither series includes the right triangular side set. They do show the isolating fuller as in the drawing above.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 16:26:48 EDT

Anvil Collections and Displays: Tom, There are collectors all over the country with collections of dozens and hundreds of anvils. When a friend of mine in the midwest moved a few years ago he photographed his anvil collection completely covering the deck of a 30 foot long trailer. There was four rows of anvils! 80 to 100 anvils at least.

At every major blacksmith meet there are numerous dealer selling new and used anvils (see our NEWS pages). Often they will have trailer loads.

One of the largest public displays by one manufacturer was during the Centenial Exposition (1876). Fisher Norris the maker of "Eagle" anvils had a stack 12 of 15 feet tall crowned by a huge 1800 monster made especialy for the display. The only anvil know to have come from that display is the big one, now owned by a New Jersey museum (I think).
   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 16:36:29 EDT

I am currently building my first propane-based forge. I found a piece of 15" diameter by 14.5" long pipe that I'm using for the body. I have enough of the local brand of ceramic insulation (Cerwool) to insulate my forge body, but I'm not exactly sure how to attach the insulation to the body of the forge. I don't have access to a welder, so I can't use the method of welding stainless steel nails to the inside of the body. I'm pretty sure that I have the 8lb density of insulation, though I'm not 100% sure because I got the scraps for free from a contractor :D. Anyway, anyone have any suggestions as to how I secure the insulation to the inside of my vessel?
   Trevor Paulson - Sunday, 04/18/04 17:19:59 EDT

Overhead hoist: 5 tons is necessary to unload a 6,000 pound surface grinder or an 8,000 pound 16" shaper! My Niles Bement hammer is 4,200 without the anvil. To safely right it requires TWO hoists. It can be done with two 2 ton capacity hoists but only if they are large HD ones (like a Yale), not the little cheap Taiwanese ones. I have two 2 ton hoists on my mono-rail so it needs to be rated for overloading both hoists. I also have a "strongback" that can used to single point pick an object using both hoists OR as a spreader when turned upside down.

Other heavy stuff . . . My small weld platten weighs a ton, my welding bench weighs 3/4 ton the pieces to make the Bement anvil weigh 6,000 pounds. There are some pieces of 8" round that weigh about 1,500 pouds each (to make a couple air hammers). I also have several lathes, heavy drill presses Then there is two Sulivan Sul-Air portable air compressors that weighs 2,700 pounds each that need to be made into one good compressor.

Five tons is puny capacity. . .

The things you can't get enough of is hoist capacity and overhead height. Monorails take the least overhead height. Start with an 8 or 10" beam, add a trolly and you have lost 16". Hang a hoist with 20" minimum between hooks and you have lost 36" (3 FEET!). Now back in a flatbed ton truck with a bed 4 feet off the floor and a load 2 feet tall (a 50 pound Little Giant laying on its side. That is 9 feet and there is no room for rigging of lifting the load. You need four feet minimum to safely rig that hammer. Now you are at 13 feet. In this real world scenerio my shop with 16 foot ceilings only has 3 feet of working room. Using good rigging practice I lose another foot of that. The hammer needs to be lifted 6" to a foot to safely let the truck pull out from under the hammer so in the end there is only one foot extra.

After a lot of these barely managable lifts you learn to appreciate things with integral lifting eyes. You also learn to design lifting points into everything you build that you cannot pick up by hand.

16 feet sounds like a lot of head room. It is not. If I can afford it my next shop will have 18 to 20 feet.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 17:39:14 EDT

Kaowool Blanket in Tube: Trevor, Normally Kaowool blanket is self supporting when fitted inside a tube. After the Kaowool (2") and firebrick is placed in the tube it is coated with ITC-100 to provide a hard surface and prevent creation of hazardous dust. This also helps support the Kaowool later.

Some forges support the Kaowool using screws from the outside. These act as pins in the Kaowool not screws. Just drill holes in the pipe and use sheet metal screws that are a snug or slightly self taping fit. They can penetrate about half to 3/4 way through. Stainless is best.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 17:53:54 EDT

The side sets I referred to weren't machine type, they were handled top tools with the cutting side at a ninety degree angle to the striking head, but unlike butchers such as Kaynes sell, they had a sharply angled side (away from the cutting edge) and from looking at them I think they would tend to drive into the corner of the shoulder. Maybe not, but that's what they appear to me.
   Ed Long - Sunday, 04/18/04 18:36:25 EDT

Five tons is puny!!! I would of disagreed but I was offered a 12' x 6' surface table this week for about $400. Using the mass calculator I'd estimate its weight at about 4 ton plus about 1.5 ton for its frame.

Anyway my question is this. Weld plattens. I've been unable to source one so I've decided to make one. Has anybody else here made their own?
   Bob G - Sunday, 04/18/04 19:21:15 EDT

Advice for Trevor:
If you have an option, I would try to avoid building a cylindrical forge. I have had a cylindrical gas forge for about a year and a half now (right Guru? :) and I am getting sick of it, primarily because it simply does not have enough flat internal space to comfortably work more than one or two pieces at a time. If you have the option, find or fabricate a flat rectangular housing and line that with kaowool. Nichrome wire will affix it to the shell, if memory serves. I'm going to be building a forge like this fairly soon (with a kiln shelf bottom). The cylindrical will be relegated to glass use and heating of large round things (hammers, etc). In any case, if you're a guy like me who likes to maximize the value of his time by working three, four, five, six pieces at one time (cycling them through the forge), you're going to need a little more flat space. If you prefer to do one or two pieces at a time, then your 15" pipe will be good. Also, if you're mainly working with fairly flat stuff (dimension by dimension by less than 2-3") then you're wasting a fair bit of gas by heating all that "headroom" in your forge. (Side note: I will be "borrowing" the design of the Forgemaster Blacksmith model, but building it in kaowool and kiln shelf. Remember, kids, 1"/8lb kaowool = 8-9" refractory brick!!)

Cloudy and cool (will it never end?) in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 04/18/04 19:44:43 EDT

Bob G.

Acorn Platens is still in business.

Their Web site is located at:

You can start your search there, and follow it to several different sources.

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/18/04 20:02:24 EDT

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   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 20:09:59 EDT

Weld Plattens: Used ones are usualy dirt cheap. Striker (an good advertiser here) sells NEW plattens at a good price.

There is no way to make one and compete with the real thing. The light duty ones have a 2 to 3" thick top and 6" tall edge. The heavy duty ones (very rare) are full thickness all the way across (as much as 8"). To be of use you need need to drill the hundreds of 1-1/2" through holes in that 2" plate. . If you think a weld platten is a bulky heavy item then the drill press required for this job will leave you breathless. You COULD torch the holes if they were machine cut. Another BIG very expensive machine. You could hire the work out but then a new weld platten will be much cheaper.

My light duty five foot square platten weighs exactly a ton. Its a tad small for archetectural work or even making furniture like beds. A five by eight would suit me just fine.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/18/04 20:30:41 EDT

Thanks for the links/platten ideas. Sadly the shipping across the pond may be prohibitive. I've just found a water damaged surface table 6' X 3' for about $200. I will use it as a platen with the help of metal T-squares and magnets. Don't need the holes, don't even know what they are for!
   Bob G - Sunday, 04/18/04 20:43:20 EDT

Guru, I have my eye on 6, 4 x4 platens, that are set in the floor in a semi-abadoned building where I work. If I can figure how to get them from the floor, the repair will probably only be some gravel in the hole. What do you guess these might weigh? These have the square holes, but I don't know how thick. I'm guessing these were acorns.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/18/04 20:54:08 EDT

Bob G,

There is really no substitute for a good weld platen such as an Acorn table. The holes all over it serve more than one function. They are a place to put bench dogs to allow wedge clamping of parts, the allow scale and dross to fall through the table instead of crudding up the top, and they are a convenient place to anchor you temporary drill press to bore those holes you forgot until the piece was too big to get to the drill press.

I have a 3' by 7' layout table with a 3/4" thick steel top. It is not really as rigid as it should be for tweaking work into alignment. The lack of holes for pins is a frustration altogether too often. Plus, it only weighs a little over half a ton and is therefore too light for cold bending stock on. I would much rather have a good weld platen, but I can't get one in the shop. There is no place to drive a big flatbed truck up to the shop and I don't have a forklift, so I only have what I can move single-handedly. Yes, I DID move the 750# table top myself. It only requires a working knowledge of jr. high physics to do so safely. :-)

There is an outfit here on island that has the weld platen of my dreams, a 6' by 12' by 6" thick Acorn table. I could get it for a very reasonable price, but how do I get it home and into the shop without removing the roof? Sigh. Want, want, want...
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/18/04 21:24:08 EDT

Weld platens- moving and alternatives; Rich, somebody on the island must have a knuckle boom with enough capacity to move that platen. If they don't you can always float it in on planks and rollers- I'm sure Riley would be up for the adventure (grin). If he isn't I bet a few of us could come down and help watch you do it.

I don't currently have a platen table but I do have two heavy T slot tables which I use for welding and layout tables. One of these is actually an old table from a boring mill so it is ground square at all corners and face to sides. It works wonderfully for setting up accurate weldments. I have several different types of clamps and fixtures which slide into the T slots for setups.

   SGensh - Sunday, 04/18/04 23:33:51 EDT

Vic silly Vic:-)

With most of the really nice toys, you get them home, and then build a building around them:-) A guy I know has a 1500# Erie Steam hammer!!!:-) single frame double acting, very sexy hammer;-) There are very few buildings you could drive into and unload that hammer into:-) Heck even the 500# Little Giant you would be hardpressed to find a home shop you could unload into easily:-) Heck it was a challenge to get my 75# Bull air hammer into the shop 6'6 door 6'+ hammer:-) plus the pallet it was bolted too:-) As all men of action know bigger is definitely better!;-) Luckly I have a neighbor who has ALOT of heavy equipment (I am often tempted to ask just how heavy a load his crane can swing??? just incase a steam hammer, or other heavy equipment fell into my lap per say???:-) This discussion has gotten me lusting for a really nice big acorn table, thanks guys!:-)
   Fionnbharr - Sunday, 04/18/04 23:44:06 EDT


I'm not going to start with a plate and drill the holes, I'm going to use ready made holes and fabricate the platen around then. All I need is about 2000 x 3 inch long pieces of 1.5 inch bar. Lets hope there is a powered hacksaw for sale on Ebay!
   Bob G - Monday, 04/19/04 00:30:59 EDT

I figured out the Beaudry question. The bolts slip thru the guide and are held from turning by a cross pin. The heads are under the ram. Thanks to anyone who did research but hasn't posted yet...H
   HWooldridge - Monday, 04/19/04 10:49:27 EDT

Vicopper, you don't remove the roof to install the platen, you park the platen beside the shop and build around it!!!
   Ed Long - Monday, 04/19/04 11:21:18 EDT

Plattenae: The first weld platten I ever saw was an 8,000 pound (solid) 5 x 5. It was in Josh Greenwood's old shop which was in the basement of a old abandonded church. Both stairwells were steep and narrow with the door about two steps up . . I was not there when that platten came out but I WAS there when we moved a 100 pound Little Giant out. Josh and I got half way out and up the stairs before we gave up in fear of breaking something. If we had one or two more helpers we probably would have gotten it into the truck. That hammer was replaced by a heavier Fairbanks and they were just the final two in a LONG line of hammers that had moved in and out of that dirty hole of a shop.

The Point? If you are serious you will find a way.

Acorn brand plattens are generaly the lighter weight type with a heavy rim that makes them look thicker than they are. Mine as mentioned is a 5 x 5 and weighs exactly a ton. It was hauled home in my old 3/4 ton HD Dodge pickup resting on top of the fender wells. A job for a REAL truck. I've moved it on rollers AND with a hoist. A hoist is MUCH easier.

Full thickness plattens are VERY heavy (about 3 times an Acorn) and a serious moving job. If you don't know how thick the platten is then clean out a hole and see where it stops.

Burried plattens can be removed two ways. Dig them out (a back hoe can do the digging AND load the platten). Clean a center hole or set of holes and rig it out. This second method assumes you have a crane, hoist, tow truck. . . Clean a center hole and insert a special made toggle eye-bolt. OR clean out two holes and insert a pair of heavy bent dogs (almost full hole size made of high strength steel) and rig to the bent dogs and lift. I've used the last method twice. The first method is the easiest and fastest and probably the cheapest even if you have to pay for heavy equipment time.

Shipping these across the big pond is not cost effective unless you fully load a container. Then the shipping (same for empty or full containers) is divided by the number of pieces.

Bob, you might want to consider the impact on your electric bill before welding around all those holes. . .

   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 13:17:45 EDT

I just wanted to share an experience.Yesterday I thought I'd try forge welding some 1095 to some old wrought iron that I have.I haven't done much forge welding but damn this time it seemed like a no brainer it just worked so well.Is it because of the wrought iron ? I did use a new flux recipe I mixed 20 mile team with some of that stuff that builds up under the belt grinder comsisting of steel dust and leather glove dust this was just spur of the moment.
   Chris Makin - Monday, 04/19/04 14:44:21 EDT

Chris, it was the iron. Grinder dust has a lot of stuff in it that will only hurt your weld, so that ought to show you how easy wrought will weld! Try your new flux on 5160 and A-36 and I bet you'll have difficulty.
   Alan-L - Monday, 04/19/04 14:57:39 EDT

Welding Plattens on ebay:

Acorn Tables 5' x 5' x 4" thick 2500lbs, they say they have 30 of them. Shame they are in CA....

   -JIM - Monday, 04/19/04 15:09:03 EDT

1095 to Wrought: This is one of those best situation welding combinations. The 1095 has a low welding temperature and the wrought a very high. You can heat the wrought to nearly sparkling and it will transfer heat to the not nearly so hot 1095 while making the joint. This made the act of "steeling" wrought iron tools one of the better forge weld joints.

Grinder Debris: Ocasionaly belt sander debris is high in iron and may work in flux. However, most grinder offal is burnt iron plus the aluminium oxide grit. This will often prevent a weld from sticking altogether. The aluminium oxide and most other grinder grit do not melt at forge temperatures and are just impurities in the joint.

I suspect you were lucky and the steel dust was from a worn belt that wasn't losing a lot of grit as they do when new. Grit from wheels is never as clean and makes NO-WELD flux. . . (been there).

Now. . my surface grinder generates POUNDS of fine iron powder that can be extracted from the cooling water with a magnet. This is done with a "cow" magnet in a plastic tube. The magnet attracts the iron to the tube, when the magnet is slid out the pure iron/steel dust falls off.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 15:57:54 EDT

Hello, I was hoping that someone would be able to advise me on the most appropriate CAD software that can be adopted for the use in railing & general blacksmithing designs. I’ve only found one smith online that refers to using Canvas 6 to lay out his railing & then print them out on a drafting print. I can’t find anywhere that still sells Canvas 6, the latest Canvas program seems over qualified & over my budget. I was hoping to pick up something for around the $200 mark. I would appreciate any help you could offer, Thanks, Troy
   Troy Chambers - Monday, 04/19/04 16:09:55 EDT

I have a hand-crank bellows mounted in the wall of the barn on my property. It is hooked up to a brick forge, but it seems that the crank is locked in place. It moves just enough that I am sure it is not rusted stiff. When remove the intake pipe I can see the fan from the other side of the wall, and it spins freely. Unfortunately I cannot get the cover off the inside half of the bellows to see what is stopping the crankshaft from turning. Are there models of bellows that can be purposefully locked in position, and if so how?

David Rice, NJ
   David Rice - Monday, 04/19/04 16:56:52 EDT

Hand Crank Blowers: David, No, none lock to my knowledge and there is no reason that I can think of.

These devices often have ball bearings and most have worm drives. Both can lock up due to rust and are hard to free up.

The free spining fan with the handle not cranking indicates that something is seriously broken. There are no parts available (including bearings). Your best bet is to attend some blacksmith meetings and to buy a used replacement blower.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 17:04:06 EDT

1095 to Wrought:
I had the two metals bound together with wire and I got the bundle up to where the flux was kinda flowing and scittering about lemon yellow.Iheard somewhere that there is commercial flux with iron filings in it thats why I tried the mixture.
   Chris Makin - Monday, 04/19/04 17:48:01 EDT

David, without knowing what brand and type of blower you have it's kind of hard to suggest what to do, However some brands you remove the bolts holding the top on and *slide* the top piece "uphill" and then it comes off as there is an internal slot that is engaged until you move it an inch or two up the incline.

Guru, I thought of another possibility I have seen: the fan might seem to be "free" to a new person if there is a little play in the handle as the gear ratio is enough to spin it a number of times with very little travel of the crank. If this is true then most likely there is old hardened grease on the gears that jam things up when you get to it and might work fine after a through cleaning and re-oiling.

Do *NOT* try forcing anything, if you break something you've most likely have junked the blower

   - Thomas P - Monday, 04/19/04 18:01:41 EDT

There's a forge for sale on Ebay with either the largest tuyere or smallest blower I've ever seen. It's described as a wheelwrights forge. The tuyere also seems a little high for normal use.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ item = 4163361344
   Bob G - Monday, 04/19/04 18:43:49 EDT

CAD: I could write a LONG disertaion on the pros and cons of CAD systems. Most including the top brands are poorly writen, overly complicated CACA as software goes. The only GOOD CAD program is the one that you have put in the thousands of hours to learn to use and works with your hardware (printer, plotter). Most professional CAD draftsfolk don't use the programs properly or understand the technique of properly using CAD.

The only "standard" program is AutoCAD. AutoCAD LT is affordable and will do everything anyone needs and more that they will never learn. AutoCAD is a "mature" program which in modern terms means it has a lot of pre windows legacy code that was poorly designed way back THEN. .

The program I started with and still use is DesignCAD (originally ProDesignII). It is a better program than AutoCAD but the windows version is CACA. It outputs better DFX files than AutoCAD (all programs do better). Despite DesignCAD's accertation that they handle ALL file formats they DO NOT not even handle their own non-windows versions.

However AutoCAD is THE standard. If you make a drawing and give it an architect to import into their drawing then yours had better be AutoCAD.

The cost of the CAD program is usualy insignificant to the cost of output hardware (printer or plotter) and the learning curve. My 11x17" HP printer cost close to $5,000 five years ago and now the large sheet tray is acting up. . . This expensive machine is the bottom end in the CAD world.

1) CAD WILL NOT make an artist out you.

2) CAD WILL NOT make a draftsman out of you.

3) CAD is NOT faster. It takes much much longer to use CAD to produce a drawing even when you are a full-time professional. However, changes can be made and do not show as erasures or ghosting, every copy can be a NEW original print. Pieces of one drawing can be used in another such as pulling out details.

If you cannot draw and do not know how to produce first class engineering drawings then do not expect to do so with CAD. It takes years to learn how to make good mechanical drawings by hand and longer with CAD.


4) Input is done numericaly with the keyboard NOT THE MOUSE. The only purpose for the mouse is to select areas and operate the menu system. Both tasks can be done better and faster from the keyboard IF the software allows it.

4.a) Every corner is set numericaly (X, Y, Z) to the last decimal place in full scale.

4.b) Every intersecting line or line using existing points is made using one of the "gravity point" commands. Failure to do so will result in exploding drawings on output, conversion or rescale.

4.c) The very few items that are drawn "free hand" are done so by setting points and connecting them with standard line forms, NOT dragging the mouse. DesignCAD has the best curve algorithm (a cubic spline). Those using the Bezier curve with the control points off in space are junk.

4.d) There are hundreds of other technical "rules".

5) Line weight IS critical to acceptable mechanical drawings. Tools to do this properly in AutoCAD are terribly clumsy. They are better in DesignCAD. Early AutoCAD versions abandonded line weight for color for technical reasons. This was wrong and is not acceptable in my shop or anywhere that cares about quality. CAD drawings with all the same line weights are common but are bad practice just the same.

6) Hatching is still critical. Like line weights it was abandonded for color. However, the standard coping methods are still B&W or mono-color diazo prints. Any draftsperson that expects color to be available is a fool.

7) Layers are a powerful tool that MUST be learned. Seperate parts in assemblies go in layers, borders and special graphics go in seperate layers.

8) DO NOT expect to use "library" images or details. All are poorly drawn, do not follow line weight conventions or rule #4 above. This causes them to blow up when the scale is changed. If you want to use items repeatedly make your own library items. I have library drawings from dozens of manufacturers and NONE are worth the disk media to distribute them on much less the labor to create them.
IF you are not willing to learn the core techniques outlined above (they are NOT in any CAD reference) then you are wasting your time. If you cannot think out your drawing as points on a graph and are not good at simple mathematical conversions then you are wasting your time.

If you need to make good drawings to show customers this YEAR then buy a roll of K&E Herculene (mylar) with grid (1 x 8 x 8 for inches 1 x 10 x 10 for metric) and a box of E3 Berol Filmograph pencils and a couple filmograph erasers, a straight edge and assorted templates. Then learn to use them. Get an old drafing book from the used book store (they are cheap) and learn line weight rules and line technique.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 19:08:16 EDT

The forge Bob is speaking of is a side blown water cooled forge.
The tank ( or as it is properly called bosch sp?) is filled with water and the nozzle is filled with water Well the outer sleeve is. This is then kept cool so the nozzle is not as likely to be burned away. They work well, at least the ones I have used, which to be honest were not like this one exactly but the same principle. Also if you look it is in England.....
   Ralph - Monday, 04/19/04 19:11:44 EDT

Wheelwright Forge: Bob, that is a fairly standard water cooled tuyeer system typical of British forges. The output pipe LOOKS oversized but it is a double wall pipe with water circulating around the inner air pipe. These were never popular in the US.

LONG EBAY URL'S Please do not post long ebay URL's in our forum. They break the page and I have to go in and edit them. Post the ITEM number only. IF UK and US item numbers are different then note that it is a UK number.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 19:16:56 EDT


I've seen CoralDraw used to good effect. You can import a photo of a house (for example) then draw the railings on top. Once you've drawn one finial, cage twist etc. you can clone it to help speed the process. You will soon build up a catalogue of shapes, rail endings etc.
   Bob G - Monday, 04/19/04 19:22:23 EDT

Drawing Curves using Computers:

In the early days of the computer revolution some folks wanted to draw smooth curves in drawing programs. Someone found the formulae for the Bezier curve, wrote code in C and published it. Almost everyone since has used that code in CAD and drawing programs. The code uses control points and vectors off in space, not on the curve. It is the worst piece of legacy code used in the computer industry and it is used by almost everyone.

The guy who wrote the original Prodesign in assembly language used the Cubic Spline. This uses some fairly hard to understand matrix math but produces perfectly beautiful curves using only three control points on the cureve (no vectors). A curve can be defined with any number of points greater than 3 and plots exactly on the points. It is great for graphing data or "free hand" CAD drawing using points.

I found code for generating a cubic spline and used it plot curves in BASIC programs. The same code can be used to calculate missing points on a curve and fill a data set. This in turn can be used for read only data for plugging into complex formulae as a variable.

I still do not understand matrix math. But I do know that this is the slickest bit of mathematics in the world of curves. ProDesign and DesignCAD use it as their only and native curve program. In AutoCAD 13 they reluctantly added it as a tool but not very well. Most programs still use the Bezier code even though it is not a good method.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 19:43:29 EDT

CAD and art:

Ever see one of those new public buildings where some self-designated architect has used CAD to try to imitate historic details such as cupolas, arches, and so on? Ever notice they look like they were assembled using off-brand LEGOs? This is the hazard of relying on a computer to do your work for you. It can be done IF you follow all the Guru's rules above AND have a good sense of art to begin with. I've been studying firearms engraving (not doing it very well at all, but I'm working on that) for a couple of years now. NO professional engraver uses CAD to develop patterns. This is because of the learning time, the drafting time, and the fact that even if you're a whiz at CAD, the results just don't look right. Computer animation has this problem too. Things just look too sterile.

Sorry for the rant, that's just one of my hot buttons.
   Alan-L - Monday, 04/19/04 19:46:42 EDT

Troy, corel photoshope is good but you may want to check out autocad! Used it and it is good. Good luck
   - Steven - Monday, 04/19/04 19:57:27 EDT

On Cad,
Having started drafting in the day of T-squares and plastic triangles in high school, and moving on to drafting machines in college, I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I got my first Rapi-graphs. LOL I have noticed that Virtually everything the Guru said was gospel. A true cad driver has spent many thousands of hours to learn to use about 60% of the capability.
Having been exposed to CADCAM from IBM, and then PRO-E, I then moved to a company using Autocad 2000. Please note here that I am NOT a cad driver. I have worked with true experts on these systems. The first 2 were $30,000 a seat systems as we had them. I tried, with excellent draftsmen to get a 1930's airplane wing cross section layout made from loft points. Neither could do the simple job. I could do the loft line, and use a french curve, and bingo, I had the Eifel airfoil I needed.
For a one off part, I can make a shop-worthy sketch with a pen and paper in the time it takes them to boot up and get a plot templet. They can program machine tools from theirs, I have to use the tool and die makers brain. For a one off, my way in quicker. Not as elegant, most young engineers look at you funny and say"what happened to your cad?"
I usually reply that I used Pentel cad version 0.5
   ptree - Monday, 04/19/04 20:12:20 EDT

CorelDRAW: I use this program a lot. Almost every banner you see on this site was created in CorelDraw. However, it is difficult to actually DRAW with. It uses primitive shapes which then use Bezier curve tools to modify. The funky Bezier math does not scale well and shapes that look OK in one scale blow up in a larger scale. CorelDRAW is a page layout program. It does that well but it is not designed for drawing despite its name.

CorelDraw WILL import CAD files as will other programs. The CAD linework can be used to fit CorelDRAW

Mass3j logo The logo for Mass3j was draw in DesignCAD-3D then exported as a DXF, then imported and rendered in an old DOS demo copy of Macromedia Extreme 3D. This is typical of computer graphics. One program is used for one thing that it does best then another program for what it does. Professionals will often use half a dozen packages to produce one illustration.

One of my more interesting uses of DesignCAD was to import digital photos of a hydro site as a backgound and then draw the machinery and river bottom survey over the photo of the dam. The hardest part was getting far enough away to not have perspective in the photo.

On the same job I took a series of photos from a tower, merged them together in iPhoto Plus v.4, then imported a sample into DesignCAD, set known points on the image, then distorted the original image in iPhoto until it fit the survey points THEN imported back into DesignCAD where the nearly impossible to measure and layout geometry was used to design and build a bridge. The bridge layout was pulled from a layer in the site drawing then detail drawings made. Anchors were set in concete and the 80 foot bridge installed with only +/- 1/8" clearances.

Later the bridge drawing was expanded to include the entire site (two turbines, fish ladder, canal, dam) by taking triangular measurements at specific points with a long tape measure and then using CAD to create a mathematicaly perfect drawing of a site that had been growing haphazardly for 300 years without a single scale plan drawing.

This is an example of using CAD as the powerful tool that it is. It can also be used to create accurate custom LOG/LOG graphs and other things. AutoCAD allows linking of a spreadsheet of data which dynamicaly changes the drawing IF the person that setup the files knows what they are doing. Machinery could be scaled up and down using pages of engineering formulae in the spread sheet.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 20:20:28 EDT

CAD programs:

I've been using CAD programs since I got my first plotter back in about 1980. The program I used then was DesignCad by American Small Business Systems. Purely DOS-based program that I used for laying outsigns and driving the plotter to cut them in screen stencil or PSA vinyl. As JOck said, that program had terrific algorithms for cubic spline curves that would generate beautiful smooth curves very easily. IF you knew that the smoothest curve was obtained from the least number of points, and IF you had a good mental algorithm for placing those points correctly.

I purchased a copy of DesignCad 2D last year, to try it out in the Windoze format. It isn't nearly as nice as the old DOS version, but it is still a very powerful CAD tool. The learning curve for simple things is only a couple hundred hours, brief by AutoCad standards.

One simple, cheap CAD program that I have found to well worth the money is TotalCad by IMSI. The copy I bought cost only ten bucks and it does nearly everything that DesignCad does. It, too, uses cubic spline curves injstead of those miserable Bezier curves that only a psychopath can manipulate correctly. The layering in TotalCad is not as good as DCad, but is effective enough to be useable, certainly for blacksmithing purposes. For ten bucks, it is hard to beat.

Personally, after twenty years of working with various CAD programs here and there, I prefer graphite CAD for 90% of my work. Even when I know I am going to need the final drawing in digital format, I find that I do the initial work with a pencil and THEN translate it to CAD. I just think better with a pencil than with a computer. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 04/19/04 21:03:00 EDT

Design Cad and others. I have been using Design Cad since the days when it was a simple DOS program. I still have a stand alone DOS computer in my office just to access some of those old drawings. (Or is it just to experience a time warp?) The first few Windows versions were total junk but they improved them to the point where it's quite usable now. (almost as good as 2D V6 DOS) And it does still use the cubic spline thankfully. Handling 3d space is not exactly intuitive and is probably not its strong point but it can be done. The company has been sold and is now IMST who also have Turbo Cad. I have Auto Cad LT also since I need to import and export lots of architectural drawings. Auto Cad is alot more complex to set up and operate and it will drive you crazy unless it's the first CAD system you learn. If you decide on Auto Cad you can probably find a class at a local vo-tech or adult education program.

If you really want to work in a 3d world be prepared to pay for a good solid modeling program and spend lots of time working with it. If you have not experienced working with modern modeling programs you will be amazed at the progress in the last few years.

If you import any drawings from another source be suspect of the details. It's very tempting to grab dimensions from a drawing without confirming that there are no extra points lurking about to throw off your measurement. Watch out for non intersecting lines or fudges where somebody is too lazy to correct a "close enough" placement. Always check what the dimension tolerances are before you trust a called out dimension. 31 1/8" may really be 31.156 if you dimension it yourself- innacurate dimensions only work for architects and people who don't need things to really fit.
   SGensh - Monday, 04/19/04 21:03:00 EDT

Aerodynamic Curves in CAD: The old ProdesignII (1983) could make your curve perfectly from a handfull of points.

Back when my friend Josh was designing hydroturbines from scratch we had LONG conversations about the math necessary to generate the curve. The problem on a turbine, pump impeller or air plane prop is that at every diameter moving from the center the curve is different. A wing is EASY. One curve based on angle of attack and various load factors. A good turbine prop uses hundreds of curves all at different angles.

Now. . the real problem was that all the books and long complicated series of formulae produced a handfull of points that were then lofted together with a lofting curve (bent stick). A lot of THAT data came from trial and error curves. . .

SO, I worked up a geometrical method that distorted a harmonic curve and overlaid its location points with a parabola using the lead angle, attack angle, zero lift line and the 1:2 balance point proportion. . . This produced a hydrid curve that met all the known conditions.

THAT was converted to the necessary math to generate points on a line. About a page of basic code using descrete anotated steps. All simple geometry.

THEN the program directly wrote a ProDesignII CAD file. THAT was the hard part, reverse engineering their file format to produce a perfectly scaled drawing. I calculated enough points that curves were not necessary but I connected them all with the cubic spline command just for good measure. The program also created a title block with the parameters.

So, launch T-Curve3.bas, enter three variables, and POOF the curve was drawn to scale in seconds (on a old PC-XT). Then the SLICK part. ProDesign had a GREAT printer driver which output the drawing to a dot matrix printer. These little digitaly controled machines are amazingly accurate. Using tractor feed there is no slip and curves spanning three or four sheets (40") could be measued and found to be accurate to within +/-.005 (about the limit of measurement).

We never built a turbine from the curves. But we DID check the hand lofted curves against the machine curves. Perfect results. It was a technical excersize for me.

This is another example of how CAD programs can be used in a technical situation. Most have a programming language. AutoCAD has AutoLISP and DesignCAD DesignBASIC. I prefer to use a standard language (QuickBASIC) and then figure out how to export the data. The exaple above was generating one curve at a time. All it needed was a loop and a couple more parameters to generate a series of points for a 3D shape. Add another setup of parameters and you would simply input the hydraulic head and volume and the program would tell you how much HP could be produced AND display the tubine blade.

I did this stuff day-in day-out for YEARS and was only so-so at it. It is where a LOT of my computer skills were developed. I've designed machinery and musical instruments in CAD as well as drawn drawn human figures and coats of arms. I like it for its pretty output (IF you learn to use line weights) but it is not profitable to use in many cases.
   - guru - Monday, 04/19/04 21:05:04 EDT

A friend was charged with the task of selecting a CAD program for a large company, the 1st task it was to be used for was to design building layouts, the company had mega sized building that had movable walls, so that you could rearrange the building on the night shift, come morning nobody could find their offices.

He looked at several programs (this was the 1980s) and came up with a simple test, he would tell the demonstrator to draw him a 5-leg OSHA office chair. Most of the programs could not do it, he finally found a good program, the company then laid him off and went belly-up
   - Hudson - Monday, 04/19/04 23:24:06 EDT


That brings back fond memories. It's the program I cut my CAD teeth on, before I realized that calculus causes cancer and switched to a biology major. (grin) It was a wonderful and elegantly simple program to use.
   eander4 - Tuesday, 04/20/04 00:04:35 EDT

Yes, an Anvil Can Be Too Big!

I had an interesting conversation with Messrs. Green and Mengel, from whom I bought the smaller 31” X 7.5” 90# ( 78.74 cm X 19 cm, 41 kilo) slotted cone mandrel as my major equipment purchase of the year. (I’m starting to do larger rings of late.) Their anvilian trophy, displayed upon their trailer, is an 800 pound (363 kilo) Hay Budden, secured from a former Navy-yard chain shop. It is the largest London-pattern I’ve ever seen (in my limited Tidewater Country and medieval areas of expertise). I was expressing the normal anvil envy when they admitted to me that the thing was almost useless for normal blacksmithing! It’s perfectly fine, they said, when you’re doing fine adjustment on hundred pound+ links and very large chunks of capstans and windlasses, but when they tried any normal size blacksmithing work on it, it would suck the heat right out of the object. With any sort of low ambient temperature, it would become and 800 pound heat-sink! Just a little too much of a good thing. I hadn’t come across this before, but it makes sense. (…and besides, you sort of have to trust folks who think enough of you to take your money in return for good blacksmithing equipment. ;-)

So, it’s nice to know that a more moderate, well mounted anvil has certain definite advantages over the behemoth that I was envying. A moderating temper to the normal anvil lust.

Just no bragging rights… ;-)

Still stashing tools and loot from the BGOP Spring Fling on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby (a laid-back medieval arts and crafts camp-out) June 25-27, 2004; Oakley Farm, Avenue, MD
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/20/04 00:13:40 EDT

CAD Info,
Wow, I never expected such a quick & thorough response, thank you Guru & everyone else who contributed to my question. As you can tell from my question I'm new to the blacksmithing world. Lots to learn. I'm having a tough enough time finding time to learn smithing, so I guess I was just hoping for nice simple solution to trying to draw out scrolls & other compliciated designs, but I guess that I was dreaming. I appreciate your help, it sure is nice to have a great tool like this forum.
Thanks Troy
   Troy Chambers - Tuesday, 04/20/04 00:31:43 EDT


If you like the foruum, may I suggest that you investigate the idea of joining Cyber Smith's International (CSI)? For the price of a cup of coffee a week, you can help keep this site running.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/20/04 00:43:07 EDT

I just realized I haven't paid my CSI dues in awhile. I tried the store but after taking the order it seemed to lockup on the password. Send me an address and I will pop a check in the mail. Thanks
   Dief - Tuesday, 04/20/04 01:36:27 EDT

Dief, if you look at the bottom of the STORE page there is an address
   Ralph - Tuesday, 04/20/04 01:46:29 EDT

As a cad user for more years than I'd like to recall, and having used pencil, T square and triangle for at least as many years before that, I can testify that the computer is just another drafting tool. A very cool, accurate and powerfull tool but still just a tool. If starting from scratch, drawing with cad is no quicker than doing so with pencil. The big advantage however is that you never have to draw something twice. Draw a scroll, a curve, any item and use over and over again. You also - with the newer versions of acad and acad lt - draw at full scale. The print setup is how you arrive at a specific scale. You want a fence with pickets or scrolls, just draw one and "array" the item(s) rectangularly or radially at a given distance and "voila" you've just drawn 50' of scrolly iron fence in a few minutes more than it took you to draw one. Another stupendous advantage is you plot the drawing (or portion) and you have a full size layout for making templates etc. No cad program is an easy start but it can be a very fast tool if you can be taught by someone who knows how to take full advantage of its features. Unlike the Guru, I have a vast inventory of libraries which is use on a regular basis and, with only some exceptions, these are accurate and useful. In the blacksmith world however, I have found that the best libraries are created by me. My designs are sketched in pencil, refined to a fair state and scanned into image format. This is then inserted into an acad file, a reference line drawn to a given length and the image scaled to match the refernce line. Then I trace the image using accurate dimensions and member widths and make final refinements (I've found that attempting to convert the image directly to vectors does not save time and is not very accurate) . This works well for me and is VERY accurate (but only as accurate as the drafter). Line types, line thickness and all the concerns of the Guru can be addressed in Autocad 2000 for producing the quality drawings he speaks of. Use of customized lsp commands (only with full version of acad not availabel in acad lt) makes the actual drawing with mouse very quick by activating commands with one or two key commands made with the left hand while pointing and clicking to execute the commands with the right hand on mouse. With a proper set up and a little practice, you can increase your efficiency by 20% to 30%. Full version of Acad 2000 is pricey however - $3,200+. Upgrades have been running approx $300 per version upgrade. I am not sure about cost of acad lt. I believe it is $400 to $600.

Hey SGensh, I happen to be an Architect in practice for 28 years and take it from who knows, accuracy in dimensions of great inportance for us. For those architects who are not accurate in today's invironment, they'd better have a great "Errors and Omissions" policy!
   David Bernard - Tuesday, 04/20/04 02:40:49 EDT

One of the hazards of AutoCAD, I learned to my regret, was the apparent ease of revisions. Back when I worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission a new Chairman wanted to relocate his office suite to another floor that had just been vacated. I did my usual brilliant let’s-save-the-taxpayer-some-money layout using existing walls and minimizing demolition and construction, plus some alternate, flashier layouts. He picked one of the latter, and then wanted a few tweaks. And a few more tweaks; and another revision and… Each time he had a change made, his office got bigger. By the time we got to version (no lie!) “R” his office was huge, and he had a little sub-office where he could get away for “quiet time” and privacy. At that point, the boss pulled me off the job and brought in some “real architects”. Guess what? They couldn’t please him either. He never did move to the other floor. The problem, in this case, was not actually the AutoCAD, but the perception of the ease of the revisions. Like any powerful tool, it can be employed in “interesting” ways; but it’s still a matter of GIGO: When you dump fuzzy information and big egos into it, the results are not happy.

It’s a management problem, really. These days I usually tell the architects I work with to give me three good concept designs (at most) and then we tweak them until they work “good enough” for the divisions or operations involved. CAD is useful, but no better than the communication and specifications that you help develop with the client or patron.

Well, it was fun to play with, but I’d rather have the more talented folks employ it on our behalf, these days.

(Names in the above text went unmentioned to protect my tailbone. I will willingly deny everything. I only worked there, Senator Proxmire!)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/20/04 08:59:39 EDT

Where is the gallery of the friends of anvilfire located?
   - LARRY SUNDSTROM - Tuesday, 04/20/04 10:25:30 EDT

Accuracy and Cad:

David Bernard, I suspected after I posted that someone might miss my point and take offence- I'm not taking shots at architects in general I have received lots of miserable drawings from other designers also. My point is that many drawings which are dimensioned using Architectural Notation- Feet and Fractional Inches can not be used to accurately produce items by simply reading off the dimensions. If the system is set to dimension only to 1/8" or 1/16" of an inch and the person doing the drafting is not rigorous in placing all lines within those constraints errors will creep in. Add up a row of called out dimensions which have been rounded to the nearest 1/8" and you can have a significant error. It is all a matter of how the drawings will used. I have received drawings showing supposedly concentric arcs or circles which do not share a common center point because someone didn't snap to the proper point on placement. I've gotten two elevations of the same object in different positions showing two different heights- copy an object slightly out of position and trim to a common element and an easy error occurs. Too often people assume that a CAD drawing has to be correct- as though there where no human operator of the system. A drawing intended to show large scale placement or concept simply does not require the same accuracy as one intended for detailed production. A draftsman producing a drawing for a machine shop would call out dimensions in a minimum of three and most likely four decimal places and add tolerancing information as well. Same CAD system different applications and both valid when used properly.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 04/20/04 10:28:01 EDT

Larry, The Rouges Gallery is in the Slack-Tub Pub.

As anyone who's name appears in color can attest to, big thing happenin on the CSI side of the house and change doth comuth. What to be a part of these changes? Join CSI for a dollar a week.
   Nomad - Tuesday, 04/20/04 11:30:21 EDT

Atli, I'll gladly take any "too big" anvils off your hands as I have found the opposite to be true, once you heat up the anvil it stays warm the entire time you are forging...

We used to pre-heat a 400# anvil in the winter in an unheated shop by hanging paint cans on horn and heal and burning some scrap wood in them. By the time the forge was up to temp and the iron was hot the *warm* anvil was ready to go---also used to fight over who got to sit on it between heats---lots warmer than standing on a cold concrete floor...

CAD, not you Jock, when I worked for XXXXXX I once had responsibility for the hardware configuration drawings for our system. Rather simplistic drawings where the writing was more important then the "geometry". Making any changes through the drafting department took about 6 weeks. We got versacad and "took over" our own drawings and had turn around of about 1 week for a complete re-draw with reviews! We left drafting to concentrate on things that *needed* 9 digit accuracy (chip design). And now a nightmare from my logging geologist days when I had to draft and *letter* the logs by hand: LeRoy lettering set!

Thomas--it's amazing how fast the old Bach'g habits come back, I hope my wife will be up to civilizing me all over again when she moves down here!
   - Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/20/04 11:47:03 EDT

Accuracy in CAD: In the beginning in the 2D days, before solid modeling and photo real rendering all the point locations needed was to be accurate enough that lines met. And often they did not. Then came along auto-dimensioning which required drawings in true scale with points set to within the smallest dimension shown (could be +/- 1/2" but in machine design it was often +/- .0005 or less). When CAD drawings became paintings the alignment accuracy had to be absolute. 10.12345 is NOT equal or close enough to 10.12346 to prevent fill from running out or a solid to render with a hole in it. That is my reason for rule #4.

3D CAD and Rendering: I've done enough 3D CAD to know that it can be a huge waste of time unless you are very experianced and have the best tools. If you need a 3D rendering it is worth it to take the job to an expert.

You can give my brother Paul a 2D drawing and a photograph and he can create PERFECT photo real images in a few days. He has done everything from Coors cans and Zima bottles with frost and water droplets (all digital including labels and container) to complete houses with people for bill board advertising. With all my years of computer experiance and art before that I cannot do what he does or even produce a distant faximilly. If you need this kind of 3D work find someone that does it and pay them.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/20/04 11:51:29 EDT

I have a Rock Island #574 vise that has the main nut worn out and has a main acme thread shaft of 7/8" OD and a 5 threads per inch. I am looking for the manufacturer or where I might be able to get parts for rebuilding of this fine vise so that I don't have to have this part machined custom. Thanks
   Juan - Tuesday, 04/20/04 16:14:37 EDT

Platten tables:

Anyone know of anyone looking to sell a small to medium (5'x5' or smaller) sized Platten table near Northern VA?

I saw a good table ebay (sorry for the long url Guru!) but I would have to arrange my own shipping. I don't have a relationship with a freight company at this time, so it would be expensive and annoying. Does anyone out there who *does* have a good freight company want one of these tables, or want to act as a middleman for a fee?

Feel free to email me....


   -Jim - Tuesday, 04/20/04 17:12:55 EDT

Rock Island Vise: Juan, these have not been made for many years. The only place I know of that has sold replacement parts for heavy vises is McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com). You will have to call them and ask to speak to someone in their vise parts department. I do not know if they still offer this service but if they do they are your only choice.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/20/04 20:17:40 EDT

To Rock Island vise:

You can purchase Acme allthread and nuts, which can be welded in as replacements.
   HWooldridge - Tuesday, 04/20/04 21:48:54 EDT

Hi all. Have a few questions.
got a burner form rex price, it works great. So much better than the one I tried to make. I'm using a brick pile forge. Now, I can get the iron (1/2" hot rolled I bought) up to a low orange heat with the one burner no problem at 5 psi, at 10psi its a bright orange. Question is how long can I smack that before I need to reheat? First several hits it feels like putty under the hammer but after the fourth hit or so it starts to harden. I know I need to work faster, cuz the piece I played with developed cracks and by testing how cold I could let it get the piece was easily broken off. Thanks in advance for your sagely advice.
   nuked - Tuesday, 04/20/04 22:14:19 EDT


When it stops feeling like putty, put it back in the forge.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/20/04 22:27:14 EDT

Thomas P,
All I'm going to say, is Leroy lettering was a pain in the... Wait this is a family forum. LOL Ever try a ruling pen that you load with a ink dropper?
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/20/04 22:45:10 EDT


Yes. I still have a couple in my old K & E drafting set.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/20/04 23:06:41 EDT

Layout table/surface plates

I've found a cast iron table for sale, 4' X 3' with a T-slot cut through its length. What is the purpose of this slot? I believe the plate once belonged to an engine remanufacturer.
   Bob G. - Wednesday, 04/21/04 00:49:24 EDT

Just a couple of quick questions:

How does a cubic spline in cad compare to a NURB spline in a 3d modeling program?

To join CSI, do I print out the form in the store page and put it in the envelope with the payment, or e-mail the form, and send the payment by snail mail seperately with a note to tell you who I am??
   - HavokTD - Wednesday, 04/21/04 01:07:29 EDT

T slots are cut in all kinds of machine tool tables, like milling machines, to fasten down the piece you are working on. You put a T nut in the T slot, a slotted piece of bar on top, a washer and a nut, and tighten it down. Many machine tools exert so much lateral force that several bolts are needed. And many objects just wont fit in a vise. Often these tables have been removed from really big obsolete machine tools like vertical boring mills.
The explanation of Bezier curves in Autocad explains to me why all of the plasma, waterjet and laser cutting shops I have ever used can never seem to get curves to look right. Because almost all of them use autocad, which is then translated into machine code. And even thought they all will assure you that they can digitize "any" design, and cut it out, in reality anything that isnt straight lines or part of a circle usually comes out looking wrong. Human figures are the worst- autocad mangles them every time. But any curve with a changing radius or reverse curves in it seems to send autocad into a snit. I usually have to pay my waterjet cutter by the hour to go back into autocad and tweak it. And even then it usually requires quite a bit of touchup with a 4 1/2" grinder on critical curves. Easy enough on 16ga. A little more work on all 25 of the 3/8" stainless ball players I made for the Seattle Mariners Stadium- But the human eye/hand interface was required to make them look good. Thats why I have never spent the money on a cnc cutting system. I have an optical trace table for my plasma cutter, which takes 4x8 pieces of butcher paper. I hold em down with those flexible magnet strips. I hand draw all my critical designs, life size, and that way I can redraw and erase until I get em looking just right. Then I ink them in with a sharpie, and the machine cuts out exactly what I drew. For an artist like me, (I mean that as a job description, not as self acclaim) old fashioned drawing works a lot better and is a lot quicker than doing it all on an itty bitty computer screen.
On the other hand, I have a friend, heath satow, who does all his design work in a program called Rhino, then has 14ga stainless laser cut straight from his computer files. He is making an amazing set of animals right now for the Denver zoo- kind of cubist realism. See them at his website- publicsculpture dot com
So some people can get the computer to work for them. Just not me.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 04/21/04 02:15:25 EDT

The iron I have is Hot rolled steel, whats the numbers on that? 1020? I was foolish not to ask but its probably something obvious. Thanks.
   nuked - Wednesday, 04/21/04 06:48:33 EDT

Nuked, it's probably A-36.

I had a boss once who didn't trust computers for anything, but who grudgingly recognized their use as correctable typewriters. He would edit hard copy via cut-and-paste. Really. Cut with scissors, paste where you want with a glue stick. I'm the youngest guy I know who can do drafting the old-fashioned way. I never minded the LeRoy lettering, but I hated cutting out fill from sheets of sticky. We also ran an old-fashioned darkroom, despite the fact that we had a perfectly good scanner. In the late 1990s we were producing reports on the cutting edge of 1960s technology, I'm proud to say.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/21/04 09:03:25 EDT

nuked. Hot rolled, off the rack normally in 20' lengths, is A36, nowadays called "mild steel". The optimal forging temperature is a bright lemon color. In losing heat while forging, you descend to bright orange, orange, bright red (or salmon), three cherry flavors...bright, medium, and low. When you get to the medium and low cherry red ranges, it's usually time to reheat. If you can't obtain a lemon heat, you'll be working harder to get a particular job done.
The cherry red heats can be used for "easy bends and twists" on smallish stock.

Many, many smiths get in the habit of working their stock at too low a heat right out of the fire. There may be a couple of not-so-good reasons for this. One is that the metal is a little harder to see at the optimal, bright heat and two: the scale is heavier at the optimal heat. Too bad. Get over it. Take the bright heats.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/21/04 09:28:08 EDT

Ptree, I have used a ruling pen but only with blood, (mine).

As to lettering with the leroy, you probably didn't have the context: You've been up for 30 hours, you're trying to letter your log in a small trailer in a 40 mph gusty wind that's blown out the propane heater numerous times and spread a fine layer of dust over everything. Once you're done you have to make 36 copies of the blasted thing using a rotolite and the full strength amonia---then if your releif makes it in through the snow and wind you can go sleep in your van...

Thomas Ahh the good old days!
   - Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/21/04 11:20:51 EDT

AutoCAD and CAM: For most machines the digital curves should be converted to vectors (short straight lines) before outputing to DFX. Same for all text. I used to do work for a friend with a computerized engraving machine converting files. Customers would send him AutoCAD DFX files, I would import them into DesignCAD, convert curves and lettering to vectors and then export as DXF AGAIN. None of his customers CAD drivers understood how to convert drawings to vectors. I also did all the fill in areas by putting in hatching that was sized so that the cutter would overlap a few thousandths leaving a clean field.

Rules for torch cutting machines are the same. One major problem is line ends that do not connect. The machine software has a filter that searches for loose ends that are close to each other and then connects them. When that happens you are letting a dumb blind machine redraw your art. To prevent these errors you have to zoom in on all line connctions and use a gravity point command to hook them together. Sometimes you just need to pull one line to meet the next but other times you need to put in fill or reposition a fillet. Radii and fillets that are not absolutely tangent and properly aligned is a major issue. Then free hand line work is another. It is the technical part of CAD than must be learned for it to be a productive tool.

SOME machine tools read the Bezier curve data and direct the cutter. But unless the versions of the systems are well matched it often does not work.

The only folks that seem to have Bezier curves under control are the FONT people. All scalable fonts use Bezier curves.

I think most of the 3D modeling programs use a cubic spline or b-spline. There are a bunch of these "spline" curves but they are all based on matrix math and points on the line.

To join CSI by mail just print the form and send a check to me made out to Dempsey's Forge. In the very near future CSI will be a legal entity and then dues will go directly to the organization. You can also pay by credit card through our gateway OR via pay-pal.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/21/04 13:35:15 EDT

Thomas P,
No, I didn't have to letter in the conditions you mentioned. I did have to letter in a 1903 drafting room, far to close to a city block sized forge shop full of steam drop hammers, with the biggest one being 25,000# them 15,000# and 10,000#. There were about 15 smaller hammers in the 5000# range. Ever Leroy in a 4-5 Richter earthquake? Makes for a very special font. LOL
We drew on starched linen, that had to be roughened prior to drawing so it would accept the ink. We were still using drawings from at least as far back as 1880, on the material. Still usable and printable, and still stable.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/21/04 13:44:27 EDT

thank you all for the info. Very helpfull.
   nuked - Wednesday, 04/21/04 14:03:38 EDT

Starched Linen: now THAT is going back to my father's era. . . When he was first starting out as a draftsman they used ink on linen. Being just out of school and poor my mother recycled quite a few old drawings into material for shirts by washing out the starch.

They used to hust rabits from the hood of a moving model A Ford too but that is another story . . . from a much different America.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/21/04 14:36:30 EDT

I am a collector of metal items. In my latest collection I have not been able to find items that were made by Romans or even medival Italians. I have metal plows, plates,plaques,and other items from countries such as England,Ireland,China,and Greece. If there is a place to look or something like that it would be great if you let me know. Also I am very interested in the different techniques black smiths use to do their work. If there would be one thing that distinguishes Roman metal workers from other Ancient black smiths that would be helpful to know. Thank you very much for your time and I appreciate your genius and help.

sincerely, Michael
   Michael - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:09:55 EDT

hunting from the car.....
some places in TX they still hunt rabbits from cars and trucks......
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/21/04 15:33:49 EDT

In parts of TN, they still hunt rabbits (and other game) WITH moving cars and trucks...
   Robert "Asgard" - Wednesday, 04/21/04 16:50:10 EDT

Michael all the roman stuff I have seen for sale was made by the Romans in Germany...and no there are no specialized techniques that would define a piece as "roman", the same techniques and pretty much the same tools are used today as by the Romans... you might be able to define a piece as Roman vs Dark Ages by the quality of the metal; but even that would be iffy I believe as it ranges so much depending on who, what where, etc.

Have you checked the archives of the archeological metallurgy list?

There is a lot of very nice roman smithing on display at the Saalburg Museum near Bad Homburg Germany (near Frankfurt AM).

   - Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:13:01 EDT

Hi, I'm a new guy looking for some fun. I've been quite itnerested in steel forging for two years now, and haven't really given it a big jump until recently. However, I feel the sources I read from where tainted. I do know one peice of equipment will have to be modified/replaced, but the rest seems ok for now. I have a small set of work hammers, Thanks to Paw bringing home every type of hammer he sees, some tongs, a large chunk of railroad-track (for anvil usage), some leaf springs, and rebar for begging projects, and the good-ol-300 pound wood burning stove, made fomr cast iron. This thing is huge. However, from plans I see online, it's no good. I'll clean the garage alter, and psot pictures, but I'm not sure if it will help. Now onto why I post. I want to get started in basic sword making. I would like to start with maybe a dagger, or something of a 2-foot blade, and then go up to a large sword. I was hoping you all could help me a little bit. I don't have alot of money to spend, but I do have lots of ideas, and good 'ol strength. I like this website, and hope to stick around.

-Kyle Yankanich
   KyleYankan - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:20:31 EDT

where is the best place to find information on building a power hammer?
   Shauna - Wednesday, 04/21/04 18:40:24 EDT

Shauna, check the power hammer page under navigate anvilfire!
   - Billy - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:24:21 EDT

Kyle: find your local chapter of ABANA, everywhere I've been the meetings are free and you will learn a lot!

Check out "The complete bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas form the library---ask about ILL if they don't have a copy.

Start out making simple 4-6" single edged knives. When they forge and heat treat correctly and *test* well, then bump the size up a bit and so on.

Thomas P
   - Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/21/04 19:28:17 EDT


   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/21/04 20:44:51 EDT

I agree with Thomas P about starting with 4-6" blades instead of 2 feet long. For your woodburning stove, it could be made to work if you could figure out a way it get an air source to blow in there.
   AwP - Wednesday, 04/21/04 21:42:32 EDT


While the wood stove COULD work, I'm not sure it should be used that way. If it's cast iron, it would probably be OK, but if it's sheet steel, the forging temperature is may be too high.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/21/04 21:45:43 EDT

CAD: If you want drawings done in CAD that may not be perfect but definitely cheap/free it may be worth talking to students studying mechanical engineering. My first year of the degree was spent doing a lot of cad work. I don't claim to be an expert but i can quite quickly get something that looks like it should.

   Peter Caldwell - Thursday, 04/22/04 00:54:03 EDT

Forge Design: I am currently considering a building a new forge and was interested in getting ideas/advice on the two designs i had in mind. I use charcoal as fuel, the first design is just a flat plate with air holes drilled and plumbed back to the blower. Using refractory bricks to make the fire the size and shape required. Secondly i was looking at using a channel shaped forge. Any experience with these designs???

Sorry if this is a common question

   Peter Caldwell - Thursday, 04/22/04 00:59:28 EDT

i want to learn to make a double folded steel katana blade do you know where i can find out how to forge some and all the eqiupment people need in order to forge swords im thinking of making katana forging into a major hobby.
   rhodeder - Thursday, 04/22/04 01:49:53 EDT

Paw Paw and Ptree, next you'll be competing to tell how you traded in your penknife and sharpened quil (I believe large feathers were used) in order to upgrade to the split nib drafting ink pen. Ever try to draw a circle with a split ink nib? VBG!
   Ellen - Thursday, 04/22/04 02:39:01 EDT

quil = quill, darned 'puter can't spell tonight.
   Ellen - Thursday, 04/22/04 02:40:31 EDT

rhodeder - :
Look up a few entries and you'll see responses to a similar question. Sword forging is subtle and difficult. Once you are a competent blacksmith it can be learned in just a few years ..maybe. Then you'll have a 19th century weapon in a 21st century world. Isn't that encouraging? You won't have a chance if you aren't stubborn enough to take this info and keep going. Most aren't. It helps to like loud noises and have an iclination towards pyromania.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 04/22/04 03:38:28 EDT

Paw Paw: True, if it's sheetmetal it wouldn't last too long, I just trusted him when he said it was cast iron though I ran across someone on another forum that mistook black pipe for cast iron, so I guess I shouldn't assume.

Peter Caldwell: Depends on what kind of things you plan on forging, the bricks sound like a pretty good idea since you can arrange them differently for different sized stuff. A channel would be good for straight things but you'd have problems if you plan on bigger curved stuff. I really like the firebrick idea, I might have to steal it on my next forge. I'm not sure on the flat plate with holes for air though, seems like it might be tricky to get a blower through the whole thing properly. You might be better with some sort of pipe setup, though you might be able to make the flat one work if you have something in mind.
   AwP - Thursday, 04/22/04 06:16:21 EDT

Peter Caldwell,

I've got some charcoal forge pics that might be helpful. Email me at: donabbottATciDOTalcoaDOTtnDOTus

if you would be interested. Be sure to put "blacksmithing" or "Anvilfire" or some such in the subject line.
   - Don A - Thursday, 04/22/04 08:49:09 EDT

Kyle; Uses for Woodstoves:

It's possible to overheat old cast iron stoves and I've seen some cracked this way; using it as a forge is really pushing the limits.

According to some conversations I had with the Williamsburg crew at the Spring Fling, woodstoves are useful for case hardening. (They also mentioned that the charcoal that you get at aquarium shops is actually bone charcoal, and is not only good for case hardening, but frequently leaves the interesting colored pattern that you see on old gun locks.)

So save the woodstove for heating the shop and case hardening (should you take an interest in it; it was used on medieval and colonial small knives in some cases) and check out the references here to build yourself a proper simple and inexpensive forge.

Peter; Charcoal Forges:

I have better results with a side blast than a bottom blast when using charcoal. Otherwise you tend to get the "Vesuvius" effect when you turn up the blast after the coals have burned down small. The oriental model, with the side blast and the clay wall about 8-12" in front of the tuyere seems to work very well, and we’ve used a similar setup, with good results, with our early medieval style forge for our demonstrations.

Sunny but hazy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby; a laid-back medieval arts and crafts weekend, June 25, 26 and 27 at Oakley Farm in Avenue, St. Mary’s County, Maryland.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 04/22/04 09:42:17 EDT


Get a copy of "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Kapp and Yoshihara. It is one of the best modern books on traditional Japanese methods and has a lot of good color pictures.
   HWooldridge - Thursday, 04/22/04 10:14:49 EDT

Roman Metalwork: Michael, beside what Thomas said the problem is RUST. Very little iron remains from this period due to rust. There are literaly thousands of brass Roman keys in collections but only a very few rough pieces of the iron locks. There are so few lock pieces that nothing is known of their mechanism other than generalities from earlier wooden locks. The Romans also used tens of thousands of edged wood working tools and only one plane iron is known to exist. The few tools that are illustrated in stone or pottery indicate that they had beautiful tools.

The lack of Classical Greek metalwork is even worse. Even though they were a transitional society (Bronze Age converting to Iron) there are almost no tools of any type left from this period and absolutely no iron tools. Due to the recyling of bronze by the Romans the majority of Greek Bronzes are those that have been retrieved from shipwrecks. Most of the great Greek bronze statuary was converted to armour and weapons by the Romans.

Iron was also commonly recyled as it was more valuable than bronze at the time. Iron items that were not recyled was lost rusted away. Even in the driest tombs of the Mediterranean basin only the rust stains remains of iron items. For all these reasons the very few iron items from this period are all in museums.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 10:49:17 EDT

rhodeder, A good reference is Nippon-To Art Swords of Japan, Japan Society, Inc. After looking at the pictures, it might be advisable to start out making a tanto without the folds. Even that may eat your lunch.

Peter Caldwell, Multiple air holes get clogged easily. Better to have a single hole maybe 1½" tp 2" in a side-blast setup as Atli has mentioned. The bottom blast works, but the hot ash tends to create "flying ash holes" on your bare arms.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/22/04 10:59:33 EDT

Peter Caldwell,

Your plan of a forge using firebricks arranged on a flat plate base/tuyere sounds good, particularly for coal. For charcoal, you might consider making it a side-blast design. I have a bottom-blast forge that I use with charcoal, but I find that it is not as efficient as the side-blast, and it blows sparks all over creation. There is no reason that the smae concept couldn't be done with a side-blast tuyere though, and work extremely well. You would just have to have one firebrick that had a hole or slot for the tuyere.

For your long trough forge, I have seen a design somewhere for one that used a pipe with several holes drilled in it for the tuyere. The unused holes were blocked off with bolts dropped in them. If I was going to do a long narrow adjustable size forge like that, I would probably use a pipe tuyere with slots cut in it. Say, one slot every inch or so, the slots being about 1/8" wide and cut halfway through a piece of 1" pipe. Then a piece of 1-1/4" pipe could be slipped over the slotted pipe and slid back and forth to uncover as many slots as needed. Firebrick stacked around it to form the firebox. You would need a variable speed blower to accomodate the different air requirements, of course.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/22/04 11:30:57 EDT

Forges: For occasional use forges with multiple hole grates work but most end up burnt up or clogged. The two traditional forge twyeers that WORK are side blast (just an open pipe blowing into the forge) and bottom blast with heavy clinker breaker or simple replaceable grate. The heavy rotary clinker breaker divides up the bottom blast into two air streams. I prefer no grate to one that clogs, burns up or gets lost in the fire. Good coking coal can be used with no grate.

Athough the bottom blast coal forge is the most common in North America the side blast was the most common charcoal forge for a couple millinia. These used either a stone, brick or ceramic tuyeer pipe. Forges were built of stone, earth or brick. Always be careful when selecting stone as many types spall explosively when heated. Brick is safer.

In brick table forges a simple passageway about 2" square passed through the back of the chimney at the level of the forge surface. The fire was built against corner of the forge. Later the English extended the tuyeer out into the fire using a water cooled cast iron tuyeer.

In the Asian trough forges the air enters from the side through a hole exactly like the brick forge described above. The 8 to 10" wide trough is a foot or more deep and about three feet long. If the spacing is just a bit more than a brick length then loose bricks can be put into the trough to make the fire deeper or shorter as needed. The interesting thing about the Asian trough forge is that it is shaped much like the long box bellows that was used next to it.

The Viking forge used a "shield stone" with a hole passing through it. The paired bellows blow air AT the tapered hole in the shield stone rather than connecting to it. This prevented burning the wood and leather bellows nozzel and acted as a pneumatic switch and check valve.

This loose connection blowing AT the opening in the forge rather than being snuggly connected was probably very common on all paired bellows setups to prevent sucking hot gasses into the bellows which had a single intake valve and always sucked some air back in through the nozzel.

All these charcoal forges use the simplest design possible and were found to be the best by many generations of users.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 11:31:34 EDT

Wow, a consensus on charcoal forges!

Swordmaking See our Swordmaking FAQ (in progress) and its completed resource list. Obtain them, study them. Knowledge is your most important tool.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 12:00:46 EDT

Hey don't pick on Paw Paw (that's *my* job!) that quill was a *big* step forward compared to doing all his lettering with a wedged shaped stick in cuniform...

Charcoal forges: charcoal forges tend to have "dead" areas where unburnt charcoal and ashes tend to build up. A good design helps "funnel" the charcoal down into the "hot zone" and minimizes dead areas.

Working with my Y1K setup it's been easy to modify the forge shape till it works well for the tasks on hand.

Remember that you will need a taller fuel pile and lowewr air flow using charcoal than coal!

Rhodeder; basically what you are telling us is that you have decided to make Formula 1 racing into a major hobby and do we know where you can buy a race car and learn how to drive?

May I suggest you decide that this will be a major hobby after you have made your tenth patternweldeed sword? May I suggest you not invest in large ammounts of equipment until you are *sure* about your liking for it?

If you look at a traditional japanese bladesmithing set up- it is really quite easy and cheap to make one: box bellows, simple forge, large chunk of steel for the anvil. The dogheaded hammers are a bit more difficult to find; but they can be bought or forged, or you can just work with an european styled hammer.

So learn to forge, lots of folks out there happy to teach you and even some great schools out there---You do mknow about the American Bladesmiths Society's bladesmithing school in south western Arkansas right? Get a set-up on the cheap. Work a while and then decide you need a 500# anvil, a triphammer, a 4 burner gas forge and a variable speed bader...shoot if you are doing good work you can *pay* for the expensive stuff selling it!

Thomas Powers
   - Thomas P - Thursday, 04/22/04 12:01:53 EDT

While I am EXCEEDINGLY grateful to The Rural Development Commission of Great Britain for releasing those terrific books for downloading, bear in mind that the one on weathervanes is a SERIOUS consumer of black toner cartriges, should one decide to print out the whole thing, even in "draft" mode. One might consider just printing the individual pages as needed. Otherwise, you will soon be placed on the Office Max "Preferred Customer List" as a big spender.
   3dogs - Thursday, 04/22/04 13:02:24 EDT


It eats black deskjet cartridges, too!
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/22/04 13:33:08 EDT

What is the web address for book downloads?
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 04/22/04 14:58:21 EDT


Go to the Hammerin Forum, I'll post the URL there.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/22/04 15:35:55 EDT

Just thought you folks, might be intersted in this letter and thread, as many of you smith weapons.

Hello from Smith and Bolton Knives,

This letter is meant to address recent concerns over our production of balisong knives. It is our belief that the definition of prohibited weapons as it pertains to balisongs is in direct contravention, not only to our artistic freedom of expression, but more importantly is a matter of discrimination against not only the rights of Canadians, but of fellow free thinking people in the United States and abroad. We feel that as makers of these knives, it is our duty to inform and take what action we may to draw attention to a matter that is not restricted to the field of knifemaking and knife-carry issues, but also to other wide-ranging civil rights issues of which this is an example. This matter could be used to strengthen the ties not only between the community of knifemakers in Canada and the U.S, but with any member of any society who feels these are crucial matters of civil rights implications. We have started a page on our website which includes as much information on the matter as possible, as well as a petition that outlines the problems inherent in this legislation as we see them. We hope that knife afficianados and concerned citizens alike will feel free to voice their opinion on this matter to us directly, or via the opinion forum on our site.

Our Petition is located at: http://www.SmithandBoltonKnives.com

on our Canadian Knife Law Page.

“In the face of increasing pressures for
censorship in the various jurisdictions of
Canada, this Council affirms the right of
artists to present their work to the public and
the right of the public to experience that work.
The requirement that works of art in literature,
film, video, painting, and other media be
approved before the public is allowed access
to them can rarely, if ever, be justified: it
denies to the artist on the one hand and to the
public on the other the protection to which
they are entitled within the laws and before
the courts of this country; it obliterates that
exercise of responsible judgment which is the
right and duty of every citizen in a free
Censorship Resolution
The Canada Council
January 21, 1985
   davebolton - Thursday, 04/22/04 17:09:54 EDT

lomg trough forge. Instead of dropping bolts in the holes, why not make a sliding air gate that is inside the pipe. Pull or push to allow more airhole s to be availibe?
This could then be done hot and on the fly..... the otherway will require some more effort....
   Ralph - Thursday, 04/22/04 18:05:23 EDT

HavokTD etal, I just found that the CSI membership e-mail form was broken. . . (due to the server move). It works now. Totaly red faced. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 18:59:59 EDT

Canadian Knife Law debate: Dave, sending folks prematurely to a broken web page without the promissed content will do your cause no good.

The law as written is too vague and is much like the US state laws that prohibits switch blades.

The whole switch blade as illegal weapon is an archaic debate in this modern era. It originaly started during the 1890's labor riots and anarchist movement. The powers that be were scared of "hooligans" and banned their favorite weapon. However, today we know that terrorists can hijack an airliner with a utility knife and use it as a bomb or blow up a building with a rental truck and fertilizer. There are other ingenious methods and more that will be thought of that will be used as long as there are people bent on murder and destruction.

Where the "gravity" part of the law comes in is tweeky. A smooth action knife like my Buck 505 locking folder can be opened single handedly with a push of your thumb without help from a spring or stud. In fact, I can open this little knife in my pocket. Is this knife illegal? It is designed to be opened with two hands . .

On the other hand when traveling we are no longer allowed the one thing that seperates us from the rest of the animals on the planet, tools. On a recent trip with Paw-Paw we stopped to get something to eat during a layover in Atlanta. He bought a hot-dog and the mustard came in one of those tenacious little packets that you are SUPPOSED to be able to tear open with your fingers. . this one was tough and as he fought the little packet we BOTH reached for our pockets simulaneously! And simulaneously we shook our heads as we realized that we had been striped of the one thing that makes us human. . tools. Neither of us had the smallest edge tool or metal object to open the stuborn little packet. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/22/04 19:59:10 EDT

Home made swage blocks.

What type of iron should I specify for my swage blocks?

   Bob G. - Thursday, 04/22/04 20:34:11 EDT

No Worries, Guru, I can't get to the bank to cut you a money order till tomorrow, anyway. :-)
   - HavokTD - Thursday, 04/22/04 20:56:31 EDT

Bob, are you having them cut or cast?

   - Thomas P - Thursday, 04/22/04 20:59:30 EDT

As one who has always carried a knife or two, usually a switchblade, I have to say that I think laws that attempt to ban any one sort of knife, or size of knife, are ludicrous. Just when does a knife become illegal?

Al of the best brands of folders are smooth enough to be opened with nothing more than a practiced flick of the wrist. Are they "gravity knives" or just finely tuned tools? Is the machete that resides in almost every vehicle on this island a tool for brush clearing or a tool for mayhem? I think it is easy to see that the USE for which the tool is employed is what divides the legal from the illegal. As it should.

Why is my automatic knife (switchblade) illegal for anyone not in law enforcement to carry? Because it can be opened with only one hand? I think not; a sheath knife requires only one hand. In many states, an automatic knife is legal for a handicapped person to carry. Are they less likely to commit a crime of violence than I am? In the final analysis, it appears that automatic knives are illegal ONLY because they carry the connotation of danger. If we outlaw everything that APPEARS dangerous, then hide your weedwhackers.

Placing the blame on the tool instead of the user is just one more example of modern man's disinclination to take personal responsibility. It is way past time that the burden be put where it belongs; on the user. It is the ACT that should be proscribed, NOT the implement. Any other courseis folly and only reinforces the tendency to try to escape personal responsibility.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/22/04 21:17:12 EDT

Thomas, Cast. I never thought of having them cut but I do have a big spark eroder!
   Bob G. - Thursday, 04/22/04 21:20:41 EDT

Welding repairs to anvils.

One of my anvils seems to be perfectly useable but when I started to restore it I noticed cracks in the face and between the face and wrought body of the anvil. I have decided to attempt a repair using arc welding. What rods would be best for a) the face and b) welding the face to the wrought iron body? I have uploaded some photos of the damage to the gallery. There is an interesting photo of a fault line/slag intrusion in the horn. (well I found it interesting!)
   Bob G. - Thursday, 04/22/04 21:25:29 EDT

Good Evening,
Could anyone please tell me if the booklet on JYH's will be printed?
   - HouseKarl - Thursday, 04/22/04 22:20:42 EDT

My two cents worth on woodstoves and forging: I've seen dry hemlock (which burns really hot but not as hot as coal) warp the cast iron top of a wood stove right down at least two inches. I shudder to think what a good draft on coal would do. remember that the only reason a cast iron forge works is the principle that hot air rises and the air sraft at the bottom keeps the whole mess from melting
   Ed Long - Thursday, 04/22/04 22:51:06 EDT

i am in the process of building an anvil
my question is
the anvil body is cut from a nice piece of 4" plate i supose is mild steel
i intend to,
do to surface area weld a section of 20 ton truck over load spring to the body for the face

approx 5/8" x 4" x 34"

after the body surface is coverd
i intend to tig hard surface to the bick and re wittle with the grind stone

What would be your procedure
To insure a sound job is done.

Dave Martin
   Dave Martin - Thursday, 04/22/04 22:54:24 EDT

I have repaired about 30 anvils in my time. Several required new plates. I sent my procedure to Anvil's Ring several years ago (can't remember which issue) and they did publish it. In a nutshell:

1. Set off the hard plate for the face far enough from the body to get a 1/8 stick rod down to the middle. I used 3/8 round - one piece down the center from end to end but leave room to surround the hardy and pritchel with similar material. You don't want weld metal slipping thru into the openings.
2. Begin welding down in the root and flip the anvil back and forth so the plate doesn't draw to one side. 6010 and 6011 rods can be welded over without removing the slag or you can use a 7018 and sand blast between passes (the only way to get down in the root).
3. Finish all the welding in one sitting and keep the anvil hot - let it aircool afterwards.
4. I built a special forge to harden faces. It was a slit about 30 inches long in a piece of 1/4 plate. A piece of 3" pipe cut in half lengthways was welded to the plate and T'd to an inlet. The anvil was slung to a crane upside down and hung about 3-4 inches about the plate then a fire lit and coal packed all around about 3-4 inches toward the base. We used a Champion 400 hand blower so we could go slowly and not introduce too much blast. After an hour or so, the face would be bright red with the heat well soaked into the body.
4. The anvil was removed and flipped. During the heat, we filled a BIG horse trough with water and kept two other large galvanized tubs handy. We also had a hose hooked to normal house supply. After the anvil was set base down, we started pouring water with the emphasis on keeping the face cooled but let the hardy area sizzle if we couldn't get enough water on it. We used the hose until it no longer steamed. The face was then ground and polished with right angle grinders.
5. DO NOT immerse the anvil. I did that once and it cooled so quickly that the face cracked in places.
6. If you do get cracks, V grind to 1/4 deep or so and weld up with a MIG. You usually will not experience a soft spot.
7. Do not worry about hard surfacing the horn. MIG weld any gouges or holes and grind to a nice contour.

Hope this helps...Hollis
   HWooldridge - Friday, 04/23/04 01:07:26 EDT

Interesting procedure, HWooldridge. That's a good one to know.

Gurus, I'm designing my own glass furnace and I thought you might be able to help me. See, as part of my designing, I'm assessing the fuel consumption rates of the school furnaces. I was wondering if there was a chart or something that I could use to figure out gas consumption rates given the orifice size and pressure? If I had one I'd figure out the consumption rate for my little forge too... it would be nice to know. I figure with this information I can also calculate the BTUs that run each furnace so I can figure out what size burner to use. If anyone can give me some help on this, I'd really appreciate it.

Warming up for summer in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 04/23/04 01:56:57 EDT

Thanks for your help everyone with respect to forges. I'll experiment with some of the ideas and get back to you on which i've chosed to stay with.

Thanks again

   Peter Caldwell - Friday, 04/23/04 03:32:23 EDT

My apologies if any of y'all spent any time on my question. I found a calculator for this problem thanks to Google. Some of you guys might find it handy, so here is the link (hope it's not too long, Guru!):

   T. Gold - Friday, 04/23/04 05:18:46 EDT

I don’t want to get into any politics, but I will make a few observations from history.

Weapons laws are always a mixed batch, but the general trend is to keep weapons available to upright and trustworthy citizens (like you and me) or at least those we trust (duly appointed folks like you and me) and out of the hands of the lawless and irresponsible (like THEM; whoever “THEM” may be at that present state of society and time). It’s not about hunting, it’s about power and politics, and frequently involves a long chain of unintended consequences.

I will also note that firewood (cudgels) were the murder weapon of choice according to 12th century English court records, Montezuma was killed with a rock, and I lost a beloved relative to person or persons still unknown wielding a Williamsburg brass candlestick. "When blunt heavy objects are outlawed..."

Now for some good news: We’ve been contacted by the History Channel regarding some footage on a 13 part series on tools. They want to do a session with us working on the longship with both traditional and modern tools, in a medieval and modern context. Since we’re replacing part of the gun’l and I have to forge some proper extra-long rivets, their timing is ideal.

Cooling down a hair on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/23/04 09:24:16 EDT

I must say everyone handled the last couple sword making questions very respectfully & with great patients. I remember about a year & half ago when I visited this site & lurked, I was very must interested in becoming a "Instant Bladesmith" I went to your "Getting Started" link & followed its advise. I have just(6 months ago) finished my first Blacksmithing course(many more to go) I now have a huge respect for you fellow smiths & a new understanding of just how hard & long of a journey its going to be before I get to that "Master Bladesmith" level. I really appreciated your good advise way back then & I see your still giving it out patiently. Thanks, because blacksmithing has totally changed my life. & Yes I will be joining CSI ASAP.
   Troy - Friday, 04/23/04 10:02:16 EDT


Welcome to the Fraternity!

It's especially gratifying to see someone who has actually READ the GETTING STARTED article and learned something by doing so.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 10:18:44 EDT

B0b G.

I have not done any anvil repairs myself, but the following quote is from another smith. His work looks good, but I cant vouch for how good the working surface is.

" Harris Ultra Super Missle Rod. Pre heated to 350 deg. on my wood stove, finished heating with a torch to 500 deg.. Built it up to what I though was enough and put it back on my stove to slowly cool. pulled it off at around 200 deg. then wrapped in blanket to finish cooling. The next day dressed it up with a grinder and finished sanding with a 4 1/2" grinder with a 60 grit wheel."
   Brian C - Friday, 04/23/04 10:29:01 EDT

VIRUS HOAXES and more If you recieved a mail instructing you to search for and remove a file named "jdbgm" this is a HOAX. It is a VERY OLD HOAX but it keeps bouncing around.

ANY Time you receive any kind of virus warning always go to any anti-virus site (like antivirus.com) and look up the name of the virus or file.

Almost all current viruses forge the return address on the sent mail. I recieve 40 or 50 bounce mails every day from all the people that visit this site that have computer viruses. Which in turn use addresses from mail OR cached web pages.

Folks, PLEASE clean up your systems.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 10:46:42 EDT

Anvil Repairs -
All of the buildup rods leave something to be desired but sometimes you just have to live with it. I used some high manganese rods years ago on a Fisher anvil, which built up well and did not crack but any mislick with a hammer or other hard tool would cause a dent so I was always dressing the face. The rod was advertised for use on the railroad and work hardening to a high Rockwell but I did not find it to be true on anvils. Conversely, a hardsurfacing rod will be hard but more prone to crack when welded to an existing faceplate. This is not meant to knock any of the buildup rods, they simply need to be used with your eyes open to the possible results.
   HWooldridge - Friday, 04/23/04 12:00:36 EDT

guru, I think you'll find our page works. If you are having trouble use Explorer.

Thanks for the comments, and we invite you to email us your thoughts on the matter to post to our page. Core and myself feel your opinions are relevent as expert weapon makers etc...
   davebolton - Friday, 04/23/04 12:09:53 EDT


With out any intention of starting an argument, my personal opinion about web pages that only work in Internet Exploder is that they are a waste of time. I do not use IE, and I *WILL NOT* use IE as long as it is a security swiss cheese.

End of rant.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 12:36:34 EDT

I get all sorts of return mail to my NPS and home e-mail address that I never sent, and a lot of them are from anti-virus program responses. Legitimate addresses are constantly being spoofed. If in doubt, please feel free to contact me to see if I actually sent something to you.

"Oh, brave new world that hath such people in't..."
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/23/04 14:36:23 EDT

Broken Web Page: Dave, The broken image at the top (your missing logo) and under construction notice on the "our opinions" page are not browser problems. Neither are the improperly sized images. . but that is a whole different problem. . .

Bounce Virus Mail This junk is SPAM just as bad as any other. Sadly the top anti-virus folks write some of the fiter software used on servers to send this junk. Ocassionaly I get bent and send the server owner a nastygram. It is surprising how many "computer professionals" don't have a clue to the big picture.

Anvil Repair: Can't look at Bob's images on the Yahoo site due to some change in their code (doesn't work in Netscape). We need to find a better way and dump the Yahoo portal.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 14:52:49 EDT


re: Yahoo Portal

I'm looking for software. Have been for a while, haven't seen any that I like.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 15:24:59 EDT

Help! I am in the final stages of buying a TIG welder. I have come across a welder called an HTP160DC. It is manufactured in Italy and sold by a company out of Arlington Heights, Illinois called http America. I have called all the local St. Louis welding repair companies and nobody has heard of it. The HTP160DC has many more features than any of the more common brands such as Hobart, Miller. ESAB and Lincoln selling for the same price or hundreds of dollars more.
Frankly it seems to good to be true. I am NOT an HTP Company spy or any other devious type. I am just a guy who is a little hesitant to lay out $1500.00 for something that seems too good to be true. In my 62 years of experience something that seems too good to be true usually is.
Can anybody give me any advice and/or feedback, good or bad regarding their experience with this company and this welder?
Many thanks in advance,
David Chisholm,
3D Shop Technician
Washington University School of Art
St. Louis, MO
   David Chisholm - Friday, 04/23/04 15:30:52 EDT

Hmmmmmm. . . gallery doesn't work in IE now. . . Wouldn't take my password earlier.

Bob, I can't tell without seeing your photos but your description indicates a possible cast-iron steel faced anvil. Welding cast iron is highly problematic and on anvils often does more damage than good.

Major Anvil Repairs or Construction: Refacing an anvil is serious business. It is very expensive. Don't just look at the price of a few rods, think about your electric bill. . . We had a fellow build a power hammer and then find his power bill increased by over $100. He wanted me to tell his wife there was no way a little welding could cost that much. . . I'm sorry, but fuel costs are fuel costs.

To build an anvil you need to consider WHY. If it is to save money then it is like making a sword. There are lots of folks that do it better AND cheaper than you can (even if you forget your labor cost). Check the prices on Euroanvils. You can't buy the steel, rods and abrasives (a significant part of the expense) for what these very nice anvils cost.

If the steel is scrap and the other materials and fuel are at someone else's expense (a "government" job) then you MIGHT come out ahead.

On the other hand, if you want something DIFFERENT that is another matter. Bigger, unusual shape, special purpose or a work of art is a good reason to make an anvil. But its going to cost more than a factory anvil. I've estimated costs on making anvils over and over and it always comes out the same.

The BEST way to make a shop fabricated anvil is to start with a medium carbon steel slab (SAE 4150 or similar). This can be cut and worked then flame hardened. It also work hardens well. It is possible to cut the horns from the slab but you can create the hardy hole by welding on one horn with the hardy hole cut as a slot then full penetration welds from the slot edges out.

I have a design for a big fantasy anvil I would like to build. But the steel is pricey. More than a nice new anvil. I don't need the anvil and can not afford the art.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 15:35:50 EDT

Cast Swage Blocks: Bob, This is up to your foundry. Most small foundries cast one material or another and your only choice is to go to another foundry. If they pour grey iron that is what you get.

Old blocks are just common grey iron. New blocks are ductile iron which is better. A good steel would be the best but is generally unnecessary. Smage blocks generaly see low use or relatively light use. They are a universal tool for ocassional use. When a job requires heavy forging in quantity that needs backup then you make a tool steel swage or plate for THAT particular job.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 15:41:50 EDT

Italian Welder: David, Back in the mid 1980's I was talking into buying an AIRco DipStick 160. It was a new multi purpose welder that had MIG and AC-DC taps, a spot welding feature and other odds and ends. It listed for about $1300. I added a heavy duty cart, a TIG attachment and two regulators and cylinder leases. . . THEN I had $3,800 in it. . .

A year after I bought it the main switch failed mechanicaly. I went to the supplier. . He said,

"OH, they quit making that welder, we MIGHT be able to order parts".

I noticed about 10 of my model welder in their repair shop in pieces so I went elsewhere. I ended up at my local electrical supply matching the switch from pieces off the shelf.

A year after that the wire feed quit. I did some trouble shooting and it was a diode bridge. I ended up getting a similar (slightly heavier) part from Radio-Shack. I was lucky, this was a simple part, there are a ton of other electronic parts that are not so easy to repair. . .

I had started out to buy a Miller. I should have stuck to my original plan. It would still be maintainable. Today I cannot get tips for the MIG unit. I will have to replace the entire cable/hose and stinger assembly because the 75 cent tips are not available for this bastard orphan. But I might be better off unloading the entire machine and starting from scratch.

So what are YOU going to do if Tweeko doesn't make a replacement for your odd ball Import machine? Send to Italy for parts when you need them?

Buy a brand name from a reputable manufacturer AND dealer that you KNOW you can get parts from. There are no garantees than any of these folks will stay in business but the probability is greater that you will get support longer.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 16:01:15 EDT

As usual, the guru is right- it is false economy to save a couple of hundred dollars on a welder. A welder is one of those tools that will pay for itself literally hundreds of times over its life. So saving a few hundred up front is just not worth it. The italians make some very nice tools, but their idea of what a welder should and should not do is a little different than ours. For example, I am sure they never hang their welders 50 feet up in the air from a crane on a job site, but I see em that way all the time- anti theft trick. They dont expect you to drop your welder off the back of a truck at 30 mph- but I did that with my old miller 110volt wire feed welder, and once I pounded out the dents, it has worked fine ever since. They dont expect you to routinely ignore the specs, and run it too much, too long, or too hot. To run it on questionable input power, that fluctuates. To weld 1" aluminum plate with it. To drop it, drag it, yank it, spill stuff on it, and just plain abuse it.
All the stuff that miller and lincoln welders do every day on jobs all over america. Plus, if you buy miller or lincoln, you can get parts, usually in stock, at welding supply stores everywhere.
Blue or Red- pick a color, and you wont be sorry.
   ries - Friday, 04/23/04 16:53:46 EDT

on picking a welder,
What Reis and the Guru said!
   ptree - Friday, 04/23/04 17:24:55 EDT

Reis, ya forgot a color....Yellow!

I am really fond of miller TIG systems, and stick is good. But when it comes to MIG and Stick nothing sits out like the nice yellow ESAB box. Just MHO
   Joe R - Friday, 04/23/04 18:24:46 EDT

My first welder was a little blue Miller 225 buzz box. It has burned at least a ton of rod. Now 32 years old the insulation is falling off the leads and the power cord. It has sat outside, been in a flood and never been anywhere "clean". But it still works. I have new cable for the leads, just need to spend a few hours making up new cables. I have a friend that has one just like it that I keep trying to talk out of. . . But he has come to appreciate it since he has had dozens of big expensive welders that have come and gone and the little blue box keeps humming away.

When I bought the Miller I was asking for a Lincoln tombstone (the old red curved top welders). I had seen them in shops since I was no taller than the welder and figured that if that was what everyone had and they lasted forever then THAT was what I wanted. My supplier talked me into the Miller. That could have been a mistake like getting talked into the AIRco. But it wasn't.

Cleaned and tweeked, a little paint and new leads and that little Miller will be working until it is 50 years old or more. . . THAT is the kind of equipment I like.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 19:24:49 EDT

I have been looking and searching for information on dressing out a new anvil. I have a Nimba Centurion and need information on what needs to be done to it prior to hitting hot metal on it. It is fresh from the factory...still has square corners etc... I would also like to know about things not to do to it as well aside from the obvious like dont hit the face with a hammer.
thx rg
   Randall - Friday, 04/23/04 19:25:05 EDT

need advise on rivet supplier; who can i contact??

   rugg - Friday, 04/23/04 19:36:34 EDT

Anvil Corners: Randall, There are two schools of thought on anvil corners One is to round the heck out of them, the other is to leave as sharp as possible (about 1/32" radius).

I prefer rounded corners (about 3/16" or 5mm R). Good forgings do not have sharp inside corners. Sharp corners also tend to create folds that turn into cold shuts. AND sharp corners chip easily IF they do not ding your hammer.

I've been lucky over the years in that I have not had to make the decision to round the corners of a NEW anvil. All my anvils have been old and chiped and I rounded the corners to get rid of the chips. The two new Peddinghous anvils that have been in my shop moved on before I had a chance to use them.

Many of the old shop manuals call for Chamfering the face over the body (about 3/4 of the length) to about a 45° 1/4" chamfer and then rounding THAT for the first 1/4 near the horn. The heal area was rounded about 1/32" (1mm) R. This was for anvils used in shops with multiple smiths of various skills. The heavy chamfer and radius was to prevent chipping as well as provide a round corner to work over.

TODAY due to many old anvils being badly chipped and worn sharp corners are desirable as an indication of low useage or good care. HOWEVER, this has been carried to the extreame and resulted in many owners and dealers welding up corners that were gracefully worn to a nice radius. This is a cheat and an undesirable repair. It is the result of greed and the ignorant seeking sharp corners. Be wary of OLD anvils with sharp corners.

The same situation exists in power hammer dies. The forging manuals call for flat dies to have gently elliptical corners and have tables with dimensions based on the die and hammer size. The reason for the soft corners is to prevent sharp corners and cold shuts and to alow for long gentle tapers without marks.

I have a couple ancient Colonial era junker anvils that are sway backed and the corners worn to large radii. One actually has the face worn THROUGH. It is easier to do nice work on these old worn anvils than on a new one with too sharp corners.

If you need a sharp corner then use an anvil tool or block.

If I had a new anvil that I was going to use daily I would be forced to radius the corners.

Generally you want the most radius over the body of the anvil. On a Nimba this is all of the straight sides. How much is up to you. On the square horn leave the corners as-is or smooth the existing radius if it is chamfer like.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 19:58:13 EDT

What is the best procedure for bending 90 degree angles in 2 1/4 inch stainless steel exhaust pipe? I appreciate any info.
   Mikey - Friday, 04/23/04 20:03:10 EDT

I am just getting back in to smithing. I shoed horses from '72-'86 and did some functional smithing. I have got my first trip hammer (a 25 lb. Little Giant). I didn't get bolts in the right spots in the floor to secure it. Do you have any ideas for me to secure it well to the floor. It's presently on a wooden base made of 4x4s and it doesn't work well when I hammer with more pressure. It starts to rock. The floor there needs to be evened out but I still need a way to secure it.
   bonners dave - Friday, 04/23/04 20:06:25 EDT

I like JayCee rivets- they have everything, including all the wierd ones I like to use, like 1/2" x 3" round head brass rivets, or 1/8" x 2" stainless.
quick mail order service, huge stock, located smack dab in the middle of the country.
MSC, Mcmaster Carr, and Centaur Forge all also stock smaller selections of popular sizes, but JayCee has everything.
   ries - Friday, 04/23/04 20:07:03 EDT

Rivets: There are two places, McMaster Carr (mcmaster.com) and Jaycee Sales.

I give the later reluctantly since they have been spamming me and when I responded that advertising on anvilfire would do them more good than spamming. Their response denied spamming AND denied that our readers would have any interest in their products. Since we ALL know this is not true the only reason for that statement was that they are CHEAP and think free spamming is the way to advertise. They also lied and said I was on a customer list (I last did business with them in 1976. . .)

So you have a choice, McMaster-Carr or the spammer.

My policy is to never do business with spammers. It is the only way to stop them.

   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 20:10:09 EDT

NOTE: Because I KNEW this was a legitimate business I politely ASKED to be removed from their mailing list. They DID NOT. After their "we don't SPAM" and we don't need blacksmiths reply I asked to be removed AGAIN. The same stupid mail (they never update it) keeps coming about once a month. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 20:14:28 EDT

For bending exhaust pipe, go to a muffler shop.
Exhaust pipe is usually 16ga or thinner. A real bear to bend without a specialised $10,000 machine.
Yes, you could try filling it with sand, welding caps on the ends, and making some kind of jig that is welded to a table or on a platen table. But it will kink. Its just the nature of the beast. And it will frustrate you no end.
Go to a muffler shop, pay a few bucks- usually 10 to 25, maybe slip them a six pack if you can find a small locally owned shop, and you will get the best quality bend you are gonna get with exhaust pipe. Even then, there will be some deformation at the bend- its pretty much impossible to bend stuff that thin, and that big of diameter without it.
Some things you can do yourself. Other things it just isnt worth the bother, unless your time is worth absolutely nothing, and you are the worlds most stubborn cuss.
   ries - Friday, 04/23/04 20:12:54 EDT


I agree with Ries about JayCee Rivets. In additon to the widest assortment of rivets I've ever seen, they also send out a bumper sticker with each order. (or at least they used to do so) The bumper sticker read:

   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/23/04 20:13:34 EDT

guru- next time I make an order with Jaycee, I will mention that I am a blacksmith, and that they should advertise on this site. I am not the worlds biggest customer of theirs by any stretch, but I have bought several hundred dollars worth of stuff in the last year, and it cant hurt for them to hear it from someone who is sending them money. In fact, if you have any other potential advertisers that we all purchase from, maybe we should all mention it every time we order- the power of an actual order from a paying customer is not to be underestimated.
   ries - Friday, 04/23/04 20:17:14 EDT

Thx for the info ;) Do you know of a specific book or shop manual that can help me out with pictures of the process? Should I be doing this with hand files or a small angle grinder? I want to do as little damage to the tempering as possible. One more question to boot, should the face be polishied to high sheen before use or can I expect the work face to polish and even out with use. The current texture is smooth and flat though not shiny.
   Randall - Friday, 04/23/04 20:22:46 EDT

Little Giant Bolting: Dave, Bolting a hammer down to an unven foundation will result in either cracking the hammer frame or the foundation.


1) Put the hammer on a larger base about four feet square.

2) Put a heavy mat like a cow pad under the hammer. Then drill for anchor bolts in-place and use tamp-in lead anchors. The holes must be clean and the anchors fit tight. To shim them wrap layers of copper or lead foil around them until they are a tight fit. Then use the tool that comes with them to expand in the holes. SHIM under the hammer at the bolts so that you do not break the flange trying to make it match an uneven floor.

3) Drill pilot holes using the hammer as a guide. Then drill BIG (1-1/2" - 2") holes with an industrial impact drill. Clean the holes. Set the hammer over the holes with long bolts for studs. Raise the hammer about 1-1/2 to 2", shim level. Then using the open space fill the holes in the floor with epoxy anchoring compound (you will want to borrow the $75 tool used to mix/inject it). Then grout the hammer in place using expanding grout. After the grout has set tighten the nuts on the anchors. It shouldn't take much.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 20:30:13 EDT

Bolting Down Machinery: All the old manuals show using a precision level while setting up machine tools. Carefully checking on multiple axis as it is shimmed and bolted in place. However, they never flatly state WHY a machine tool needs to be PERFECTLY level. . they do not.

The REASON is that you can easily warp or bend a machine tool with the mounting bolts. Constantly checking with the level makes sure you are not putting the machine in a bind as you bolt it down. This is more important than how level to the world the machine actualy is.

The BEST way to bolt down a machine stress free is to use leveling bolts under the machine at or near the anchor bolts. THEN use a dial indicator at each bolt as it is tightened. If the machine moves DOWN, counteract with the jacking bolt. Start with the machine leveled and keep it there as it is tightened down. You can make the bolts as tight as then can take and not distort the machine even a hair.

We had a crew training on a portable machine with four jacks and mounting screws. Instead of following my instructions to work one axis at a time before tightening any bolts THEN using the dial indicator method above this group of "experianced" machinists tried to trail and error the thing level going point to point. When they finally thought they had the machine level (to the work surface) it would not run. They had tightened one axis 2" LOWER than the other axis putting the whole machine into a big potato chip deflection that bound up the 18" diameter spindle bearings. . . luckily they did not wreck the machine. After this lesson I wrote more explicit step by step truing and leveling instructions. But we had another "crack" crew from circle dubbya that thought they were smarter than I am who did the same thing after taking 8 hours and never got completly level! It only takes about 10 minutes going by the procedure and works PERFECT every time. Sometimes it helps to rad the instructions.

SO, when bolting down machinery THINK about what you are doing. If the bolt keeps tightening and tightening then you are doing something WRONG. Back up and LOOK at the situation. Don't assume anything (machine bases are not necessarily flat. . .).

   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 20:56:38 EDT

Anvil Finish: Dave, the only books with instructions show the heavy chamfer method I described and you probably don't wnat to do that.

The actual finish depends on the type of work you are going to do. Russel Jacqua puts the best finish on his anvils of ANY modern manufacturer. It is perfectly adequate for forge work.

Workers in non-ferrous metals such as silversmiths and cold workers such as armourers want their anvils, bickerns, swages and hammers polished to a mirror surface.

However, when doing hot work the scale is rougher than the anvil is likely to be. THEN there is also the problem of the anvul being too slippery. This is rare but ocassionaly a demonstrator working on someone elses anvil that was polished up for the demo will find that they cannot pull the metal and that it scates around on the anvil.

So don't get carried away making the anvil too smooth.
   - guru - Friday, 04/23/04 21:03:35 EDT

What advise would you give on bending 2.25 inch stainless exhaust pipe with a mandrel.
   Mikey - Friday, 04/23/04 21:27:34 EDT

On Anvil Corners - I have a 250lb Peter Wright that I replated per the procedure mentioned above. I work with the horn to the right so the end nearest the horn was left sharp (I broke the edge with a file but that's all). The near and far edges parallel with the horn start with a very rounded edge (about 1" radius) and gradually get sharper toward the heel. I often draw steel with the heavily rounded area using it as a bottom fuller and the rounded edge of the hammer as the top fuller. I make a lot of snub scrolls so I set the shoulder farther down the anvil, draw it near the horn and move back down the anvil to hammer out the fullering dents.

Anvil Finish - Using a right angle grinder and an 80-120 grit pad will give a good finish and allow rounding the edges neatly. At least once a week before I quit for the night, I power wire brush the horn and all forging surfaces, then spray with WD40. Over time, you will get a finish that resembles the back of an old silver watch.
   HWooldridge - Friday, 04/23/04 21:33:27 EDT

As I am starting out...which JYH would you pick for moderate skills and tools as a first hammer? Then where would I get the plans?

   HouseKarl - Friday, 04/23/04 21:43:23 EDT


There simply are no plans for junkyard hammers, as every one is a one-off that was built from whatever was on hand at the time.

If you want to build a powerhammer from a set of plans, then get the plans for the Kinyon-style air hammer from ABANA. Also check out the air supply modifications on the Alabama Forge Council website or Larry Zoeller's website. That is as close as you are ever going to get to a set of plans for a powerhammer.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/23/04 22:38:26 EDT


Hire a pro to do the mandrel bending. The bending machine is an expensive piece of equipment that comes with a definite learning curve. You want to get someone to do it whohas done a lot of bends.

That said, you have to expect that the resulting bend is NOT goint to be a perfectly smooth change of direction with no change of cross section. It simply ain't gonna happen. What will happen is that the bend section will be somewhat reduced in diameter and usually slightly off-center of the axis of the tubing.

If you want a perfect 90 with no change in diameter or cross section, you'll have to pay Jesse James or someone like him a hefty chunk of money to fabricate one.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/23/04 22:43:22 EDT

hello, i am wonder about one of the designs for the miniforge. It does not seem to show anywere that you need to supply a greater oxyen supply for the burner like a bellow. Will this design be able to operate efficiently enough to do metal work or will i have to create some sort of device? If anyone has any answers please email me at maj273@hotmail.com.
   - John Mahoney - Saturday, 04/24/04 00:43:30 EDT

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