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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 16 - 22, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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A Cheap, dirty and effective method to reduce hammer hit load from going to the floor or foundation is to attach the hammer to a big radial tire on it's wheel with the tire laying sidewall against the concrete. The hammer base can be bolted or welded to the steel wheel. The tire will flex and act as an isolation spring. Be sure to select a tire and wheel combination that will not have the steel wheel hitting the floor. Play around with tire inflation pressure. Be sure to use a radial tire, not bias ply. Tire center must be close to the center of the dies. A piece of plywood or sheet metal over the top of the tire will keep hot stuff you drop from melting into the tire which is a safety issue as well as a BIG STINK. Yes, the hammer may buck around some, and that is far less than optimal, but you do what you have to do. Must be respectful of the neighbors.

Sounds disgusting doesn't it? It is, and I hesitate to admit I did it, but it works. I was using my first air hammer on a spancrete floor over basement for a while and didn't want the spancrete to get vibrated a lot. A heavy supplementary steel baseplate over plywood or conveyor belting is far better. I used to prefer conveyor belting. Plywood under a large enough base might be working better since the wood cells permanently crush as required to conform to the irregularities of the concrete and spreads the load out a little better. I have another method on test. Won't know the durability for a year or so.

As always, I am an advocate of large mass, but not an advocate of deep. Spreading the load out over a bigger area will result in less severity of load to the soil or floor in most cases. Less pounds per square foot means less vibration transfer in most cases. Not all, but most.
   - Tony - Saturday, 04/16/05 07:04:29 EDT

The guru's post on isolation bases reminds me of the old tool and die shop at the valve shop. It was on the 7th floor of the machine shop, with a drop forge shop about 50' away. Now this hammer shop had a 25,000# steam Erie drop hammer, as well as 15,000 and 10,000 down to 1000#. When that 25,000# hit, the whole machine shop bounced. If a coffee cup was about 2/3 full, and was placed on the headstock of a certain lathe, the cofee would come out of the cup about 2", hang a moment, then fall back into the cup. Seems the lathe was in the middle of the span between posts. Now we had 7 floors of heavy machines, something like 450, with many in the 60,000# range, and they all bounced to some degree. That hammer shook about 20 square blocks of louisville. The hammer anvil rested on a timber foundation, sitting on a poured foundation that went down to a roughly 20 square block of limestone. That block was floating on the old Ohio Riverbed of sand and mud. Talk about an almost infinite weight of base!
Now for those who would ask, the toolmakers learned to know the sound od the big hammers tupping,(exhaust muffler was close to their shop) and the rythem of the blows, and would not be in the cut when it hit.
   ptree - Saturday, 04/16/05 08:25:51 EDT

I am amazed that a guy (Hrisoulas) that can put a perfect double hollow grind with a perfectly straight mid-line on a dagger cannot draw. He obviously has a great sense of line and proportion which is a key to making beautiful blades. Furthermore, that he would not have collaborated with someone like yourself is puzzeling. I still would argue that it is a gift and one that you have refined to a high degree.
By the way, there seems to be very little difference between normallizing and annealling. It's kind of confusing. What I do before annealing is, last thing, heat up the blade above magnetic and leave it nestled down in the dying coal fire overnight. I wonder if that would anneal air hardening steel. Probably cool it too fast.
   - lsundstrom - Saturday, 04/16/05 11:02:15 EDT

I think those illustrations were done by a girl friend or something like that. However there is another smithing book out that I gave the spidery thin CAD illustrations low marks on eight years ago and the so called "revised" edition has the same drawings. The only thing revised was the cover. . so WHAT do you say to that?

Normalizing is letting air cool. Many very high carbon steels cool too fast and normalizing is not recommended. Annealing rate is VERY slow on these steels, in the order of 20°F/hr. It cannot be done by normal methods. However, if you are doing a normal or small piece you can heat a large heavy block of steel as a heat sink and put both pieces in the annealing medium together and get an anneal. Note that the large heavy piece needs a larger volume of medium, thus a larger box.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/16/05 11:18:43 EDT

Hammer Foundations: John, I quote,
When a supplementary baseplate for a power hammer is massive enough it negates the need for a special hammer foundation. Effectively, the supplementary baseplate serves much the same function as a special foundation.
This is only true in some cases. Soil conditions mean everything. Several years ago I had a long letter from a fellow in the Netherlands. He had put a small Kuhn hammer in his shop. He had built the standard foundarion for that hammer, a foundation block that started below the floor and rose above the floor to the proper height for a Kuhn. The hammer rattled the plates of the nighbors shelves. . . So at Kuhn's recommendation he put the hammer on the optional steel foundation block they sold with rubber feet. This block is on the order of 50:1 but I only give it the front half under the anvil for 23:1. But that is still a substantial anvil mass. The first foundation was cut flush with the floor and the new more massive hammer/base on cushions set on the old foundation. It still shook the neighbors house the same. . . In the end he tore out the second foundation and put in a third, an engineered inertia block foundation similar to what I describe above WITH the 8" steel under the hammer. It solved the problem after spending considerably more on the foundation than the hammer.

The problem was the high water table that you expect in the Netherlands. Push DOWN in one place and the water pushes UP elsewhere with equal force. In a densly populated area each building is like a piston in a cylinder each affecting the other. The point? Every situation is different.

Bruce Wallace bought a Nazel 5B that had been mounted on an inertia block foundation. We calculated the block weighed 100,000 pounds and had an 80,000 pound hammer seting on it. The inertia block had steel beams that extended from the sides with coil springs under them. Centered under the anvil was a hydraulic shock absorber. The pit was big enough for access to do maintenance on the suspension system. As heavy as all this was, Bruce said you could feel the block settle down when you steped onto it. .

On top of measurable movement being created by power hammers noise can also be trasmitted by the foundation. Any noise associated with the hammer can increase the phycological effect of the hammer or vibration. Often small vibration mounts will kill the transmission of noise.

When using rubber you must understand that solid rubber is an incompressable liquid like water. You cannot squeeze it and make it smaller. The rubber DISPLACES but it does not compress. Where the confusion comes from is foam rubber and air filled rubber balls. The air is the compressable medium not the rubber which simply contains the air.

When rubber is used for cushioning it must have room to displace. A sheet of solid rubber under a hammer can only displace outward a very small amount due to friction and can thus be considered nearly full contained. It will not allow much motion thus it cannot absorb shock. However, if the sheet of rubber is punched full of holes reducing the area captivated by friction and alowing room for the rubber to displace into then motion can be absorbed.

The cow pads John mentioned are a foam rubber or filled with sawdust. They are quite compressable and inexpensive. I recommended them as power hammer cushioning several years ago but had questions about oil resistance.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/16/05 12:08:08 EDT

I'd like to get the address of the people dealing in flutagon steel stock. The address llokup on the net is useless. Astoria something or other. Thanks, Mike
   Mike Poythress - Saturday, 04/16/05 15:00:40 EDT

I looked up that old anvil at ebay, looks real nice. I`ll try hard to buy it then weld up any flaws grind the face and edges true, next I`ll take it to a machine shop and have a hardy and pritchel hole drilled into the anvil. It make make a nice user anvil after all that.
   - Robert IW - Saturday, 04/16/05 15:51:44 EDT

I`ll have to soak heat it in the forge and rework that droopy horn over good as well.
   - Robert IW - Saturday, 04/16/05 15:53:56 EDT

Compressed Air with oxy-propane torch?

I was recently wondering whether or not it was possible to hook up a compressor to my torch instead of using compressed oxygen. This would be much more economical then oxygen but would it work?

   Louis - Saturday, 04/16/05 17:03:39 EDT

Guru: Can you cut brass with an acety-oxy torch? What about cast iron?
   - John - Saturday, 04/16/05 17:20:57 EDT

Robert, I hope you are kidding?
   Ralph - Saturday, 04/16/05 18:04:58 EDT

Robert IW: I assume your post was in jest. My gut-reaction is that anvil could quite likely date back to the early days to the colonization of the U.S. Who knows, perhaps it is the anvil unloaded at Jamestown as I have been told there is a blacksmith listed as one of the first settlers. Even I wouldn't do anything to that anvil. It is a museum piece, not a user.
   Ken Scharabo - Saturday, 04/16/05 18:10:15 EDT

Grain flow, Phosphorus and Sulfur, etc. First, remember that we are forging the AUSTENITE grains. Austenite is a face center cubic crystal shape that iron takes when we heat it over about 1340F. When the iron cools, the austenite transforms to FERRITE which is a body center cubic crystal. When this change takes place, several ferrite grains can form within a single austenite grain if the austenite grain has been crushed. The ferrite will be fairly fine. If the metal cools slowly from austenite, the ferrite will be equiaxied, or roughly polygonal, not long or flat. Normalizing will do this too. As for Phos and Sulfur, todays steel making gives us steel so clean the P and S are almost irrelevant. 40 years ago, P and S levels needed to be watched by manufacturers because most specs were .050 Phos and .040 Sulfur. Today, .012 P and .005 S is common. Grains at the edge of a blade don't know where they are. We usually grind to a finished edge anyway.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/16/05 18:23:47 EDT

quenchcrack: ok, I am confused now. I thought that heating changed austenite to martensite and that quenching froze the structure in Martensite, and that is why you quench the steel above critical, then temper it back down to take the stresses out of it. Liveral fart majors dont learn much that is of any real use.
   John - Saturday, 04/16/05 19:49:16 EDT

I wonder if there are different cow pads. We have three versions around here. 1/2" thick solid, 3/4" thick solid top, but ribbed underside and 1" or so thick solid. All of them are VERY stiff and wouldn't provide much cushion or dampening. $36 ish for the 1/2 and 3/4" versions, 4 foot by 6 foot. Plus they crumble when hit hard. I was going to use one, but the crumbling and the potential oil problem kept me from it. There's probably different versions in different areas. We also have some rubber fatigue mat that has 3/4' or so holes spaced about 1.5" apart. That would probably cushion well and is oil resistant, but it's also much more expensive.

And yes, soil conditions are everything. I think I mentioned the hydraulic transfer thing from the foundry shakeouts to the 5 star hotel. That was fun. Drill wells to take out the water in clay soil. Only had the problem in spring and fall high water table.
   - Tony - Saturday, 04/16/05 20:02:55 EDT

John, Heating above 1340F changes the FERRITE to AUSTENITE. Rapid cooling can change the austenite to martensite. Slow cooling allows the austenite to change back to ferrite. In steels with between.60 and .90 Carbon, just heating to the point where the steel becomes non-magnetic (which occurs at about 1460F) is sufficient to change all of the ferrite to austenite. Above or below that carbon range requires heating 100-200 degrees hotter to achieve a fully austenitic steel. Failure to complely austenitze before quenching will reduce the amount of martensite formed. You will have a mixed structure of ferrite and martensite and this is usually undesireable.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/16/05 20:13:48 EDT

OK, less confused. I am now going to read up on the difference between the crystaline structures. If you want to short circuit the googling process by mentioning a primer type metalurgy site that will explain it in small words with lots of pictures. Well, feel free.
   John - Saturday, 04/16/05 21:03:31 EDT

Why is the face centered crystal harder than the body centered crystal?
   John - Saturday, 04/16/05 22:29:26 EDT

I'm looking at buying a welder (stick), and I was wandering what exactly the "rated duty cycle" represents. I've seen verying percentages, but I don't know what they mean. What kind of numbers should I be looking for if I'm going to be welding 1/4 to 1/2 inch mild steel?
   Dylan - Saturday, 04/16/05 22:33:56 EDT


No, you can't make an oxy-[ropane torch run properly on compressed air. Air is about 72% inert nitrogen, which only serves to cool the flame. You'll just have an air-propane torch with all the wrong tip geometry so it won't even work well for that.


You can sort of melt/blow brass with an oxy-acetylene cutting torch, but you're not truly cutting it, and you ARE truly making a huge mess out of it. Use a saw. Or a plasma cutter. A water-jet or laser works really well, and can usually be jobbed out at a fair price.

The problem is that brass won't ignite with the cutting jet the way that iron does. A cutting torch preheats the steel to glowing hot, then the cutting jet supplies pure oxygen that oxidizes (burns) the steel along the kerf. Properly set up and run, an O/A cuting torch leaves almost no residue from the cutting, as nearly all the iron in the kerf is consumed. The slag that is formed is a liquid that the cutting jet blows clear of the kerf.

You *can* cut cast iron, but it takes a special torch set-up to do it properly. You need a torch that injects powder into th eflame stream in order to combine with the refractory oxides that cast iron forms when it melts/burns. The powder forms a fluid, low-melting point slag than can be blown out by the cutting jet. Without it, the slag is refractory, that is it has a higher melting point than the cast iron, so it just gums up the whole process. The same thing happens with stainless steel, as a matter of fact.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/16/05 22:46:06 EDT

thanks for the insite. i'll be looking into a nother methode now
   Lakesactor - Saturday, 04/16/05 22:47:37 EDT


The duty cycle refers to the percentage of time that the welder can be welding, as opposed to "resting". A 20% duty cycle means that you can weld for one minute, and then you need to let the machine idle for four minutes. The percentage thing gets out of whack when you get to the extremes at either end, though.

If you have a machine that will supply 140 amps (about what you need for 1/4" mild steel single-pass welding) at 20% duty cycle, you can't weld continuously for ten minutes and let it rest for forty minutes. It will overheat and either shut down or burn up. Conversely, if you only weld for five seconds, you can probably rest it for only ten seconds with no ill effects.

The necessity of changing electrodes means that in practice you'll take about half a minute or so to consume an electrode, and about the same amount of time to change to a new one. At least until you get some practice at it, anyway. At that rate, you're operating at 50% duty cycle.

I fmost of your welding is going to be done on 1/4" to 1/2" mild steel, I would suggest that you get a 250 amp AC/DC welder that will allow welding at the rated amperage (250) at 20% duty cycle. With that, the machine should operate at 140 amps at or near 100% duty cycle.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/16/05 22:57:53 EDT

Ok, I need to make some sort of door for my freon tank gas forge. I have some KAOwool left (thanks for the prompt delivery!) but its like a 3 ft long, 3inch wide piece, so I'd have to cut it and fit it. I also have standard hard yellow firebricks, and some furnace cement. Any suggestions? Currently forge has no front door, its just a open freon can end, it works, but I'm singing my armhair using tongs even!
   SteelGeek - Saturday, 04/16/05 23:02:39 EDT


Use the end of the tank that you cut off. Hinge it on one side, glue pieces of Kaowool in place with ITC-100, and then coat with ITC-100. Cut out the center between the two handles, and you'll have a smaller entry hole and be able to work from the side of the hole without the Dragon's Breath shaving your arm for you. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/16/05 23:40:31 EDT

Old ebay anvil...I was trying to get a point across with my post. I agree the anvil needs to be left "as is" and I would like to own it. My post does sound like an idiot wanting to mess up a perfectly good anvil much like people wanting to mess up a perfect user 100 year old anvil by welding/grinding ect. So if any of you have your anvil on the cutting/welding table take another look, it probably doesn`t need any repairs! If you want a new condiction anvil buy a new anvil!

Ken Scharabo, I see the anvil as an important piece of history also, hopefully it will go to a good home.

   - Robert IW - Sunday, 04/17/05 01:00:33 EDT

Dylan -- " Duty cycle expresses,as a percentage,the portion of the time that the power supply must deliver its rated output in each of a number of sucessive ten minute intervals without exceding a predetermined temperature limit." AWS Welding Handbook Vol 27th edition. What that means is at 20% duty cycle You can weld for 2 minutes, then must let the machine cool for 8 minutes, at 60% You can weld for 6 minutes,& let coll for 4 minutes, etc. This is per NEMA guidelines. If a manufacturer is using a shorter time interval, it is a way to "fudge" the numbers for a more favorable [looking] rating. Another consideration is the arc voltage that the rating is given at. For real world use the rating should be given at about 25 volts, give or take a few. A 225 amp AC machine like a Lincoln "tombstone" or similar is a handy & inexpensive machine that will do the work You describe, as long as You don't try to use over 5/32 diameter electrodes. I use an old 180 amp "Farm Welder" and have not had a need for more amperage in a stick machine.[I allso have a 600 amp @ 60% duty cycle machine, I just have no need to run over 5/32 rods]
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/17/05 02:14:53 EDT


I am going by the assumption you cut out the handle/valve area for a opening so don't have a piece to put back in. You didn't say if you had forced air or atmospheric burners. If you have forged air, by limiting the opening you are only concentrating the exhaust in a smaller, more powerful stream in essentially a blow torch effect. If you have atmospheric, closing the opening will not allow the forge to operate properly as the gas will be backed up in the tubes and not able to draw the air needed for combustion. I make my atmospheric 30 lb freon bottle forges with a 4" high, 5" wide opening as that is the smallest I can fit the side insulation into. Dragon breath is very limited. Take a look at eBay auction #6156474785. I can hold my hand a foot or so from the opening but, as PawPaw noted, with a propane forge you need to learn to work from the side as much as you can, rather than directly in front of the exhaust.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/17/05 05:21:37 EDT


Also notice how I put on the front to my model of forge. Perhaps you can do something similar.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/17/05 09:18:58 EDT

John go here: www.iforgeiron.com, click on Blueprints, scroll down to Number BP0078. It is a summary of metallurgy of heat treating. There are several good summaries on the internet but after you've read one, they all seem a bit tedious. The face center cubic is the softest because most of the alloy atoms than create hardness (mainly carbon) are hiding between the iron atoms. The body center cubic is next hardest because some of the atoms take the place of the iron atoms in the crystal. Hardest of all the the body center tetragonal, or martensite. This is a cubic crystal with some distortion caused by the presence of carbon and alloy atoms being trapped between the iron atoms. Go read that primer on metallurgy; it has drawings that will explain it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/17/05 11:21:32 EDT

How can I make lawnmower blades last longer? I just learned to "not" sharpen them on a grinding wheel, a problem with temper, I think. Can I build up the cutting edge by welding? I don't have a forge, but do have cutting torch and welder. Thanks for the help.
   David Beatty - Sunday, 04/17/05 11:35:25 EDT

Duty Cycle Clarification: Welder and Air Compressor duty cycles are percentages of 10 minutes. On welders that is at 100% capacity. So a 10% duty cycle is 1 minute at full power. It is 5 minutes at 50% capacity. Generally on a decent welder (200-250A) with a 10 - 15% duty cycle you cannot outperform the duty cycle stick welding with 1/8" rods. The rod burns for less than a minute then you pickup a new rod fiddle with getting started or chipping the first pass. Welding only occurs for 60% of the time IF you are doing a big job and you are practiced at welding.

HOWEVER, If you use larger rods say, 3/16" or 1/4" you can max the duty cycle in one rod and need to let the machine cool for the full recovery period.

With air compressors the normal duty cycle is 50%. The compressor should rest for as long as it takes to pump up. Some compressors have higher duty cycles, others are based on the rated CFM (not the max capacity) and most department store compressors do not give the duty cycle.

For both machines you can exceed the duty cycle ocassionaly, say twice in one hour. As long as the machine has time to cool sufficiently you are not hurting it. However, the difference between a heavy duty industrial rated machine and a home user machine is that the more expensive machine is over engineered and the cheaper under engineered. . .
Exceeding the duty cycle can be a gamble as is exceeding all ratings.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/17/05 11:47:07 EDT

Dave B, Sorry I did not see your post. . . At least we agree.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/17/05 11:47:55 EDT

Lawn Mower Blades: David, Modern lawn mower blades are made soft so that they do not break and maim or kill. For safety reasons you should do nothing to the blades other than replace as necessary.

If you insist on sharpening the blades you will note that the outside corner wears the most. This is where most of the cutting occurs. When resharpening the edge lasts longer if you leave the edge round and sharpen the curve.

Note that when professionals sharpen mower blades they do it OFF the mower and balance the blade. If you grind more off one side than the other the blade will be mechanicaly out of balance. This causes vibration which will result in early bearing failures. On engine mounted blades this means early engine failure.

ME. . I use the same blade until it has to be replaced.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/17/05 11:57:24 EDT

Flutagon® Atlantic 33® (Shaped Non-Tempering Tool Steel): archive from June 21 - 30, 2001 on the Guru's Den

Altlantic Steel Corp.
35-27 36th Street
Astoria, NY 11106

(From Thomas Register)
215-T Liberty Ave.
Minela, NY 11501

anvilfire NEWS mention
   - guru - Sunday, 04/17/05 12:12:01 EDT

Thanks for the Info. But at $25- $35 for blades and using 2-3 sets a season, I would like to re-work an old set by adding addition material to the cutting edge. Any thoughts?
   David Beatty - Sunday, 04/17/05 12:20:57 EDT

David Beatty:

IMHO there is nothing wrong with sharpening lawnmower blades. The problem you note of perhaps ruining the temper can be avoided by just taking your time and do light passes. As Guru noted, blades should be balanced. You can purchase a small device for doing so - essentially a cone on a short mandrel.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/17/05 12:46:11 EDT

Ken, I'll agree with you that there is nothing wrong with sharpening mower blades, PROVIDED that the person doing the sharpening knows what he is doing. For the average homeowner, I don't advise it.

Another way of balancing a blade is to suspend it from a piece of string. When the blade stops all movement, if it is level it is balanced. If one side hangs lower than the other, it is out of balance.

On modern blades, I usually use a file for sharpening.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/17/05 13:28:14 EDT

To reitterate on mower blades, DO NOT apply heat by welding or forging or other methods. Mower makers make blades soft today because of the many injuries that have resulted from hard blades and the resulting legal libility battles.

Say you weld on a blade. And it shatters, not hurting you, but a neighbor's child walking by or playing in their own yard. YOU will be the first one held responsible. However, your lawyer paid for by your homeowners insurance will rightly try to shift the blame to the mower manufacturer. However, it turns out YOU modified the blade. . the manufacturer is safe. AND the homeowner's insurance lawyer finds some fine print in their policy that makes them not lible for your unsafe modification of the mower. . Now you are out of an insurance company, the lawyer paid for by the insurance company the the neighbor will end up owning anything of value you have. . .

Read the owners manual and sharpen only as recommended. There will be limits to the amount prior to replacement as well as balance recomendations. The cost of replacement blades is just like fuel, oil, belts. . They are part of operating costs.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/17/05 14:18:44 EDT

David Beatty,

There is one possible answer to your dilemma. See if you can find mower blades made by one of the makers of commercial/industrial mowing equipment that will fit your mower. I have a type of field grass down here that is terribly abrasive and wears away blades quite rapidly. On one of the mowers I was able to locate a commercial replacement blade that was theright length and mounting style. It is almost 60% heavier steel and much more abrasion resistant than the homeowner type blade. NOw if I could just find some that would fit my riding mower, I would be set.
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/17/05 14:32:24 EDT

Thanks for all the great advice!
   SteelGeek - Sunday, 04/17/05 16:47:47 EDT

Appreciate the comments about the Dutch watertable problem. Jock, I reckon you've heard of Fabreeka from old Anvils Ring fame. I'm wondering if the stuff could be absorbant enough of hammer vibrations to overcome the bad ground conditions. I don't know anyone with Fabreeka experience. I'm back from Spring Fling where there were lotsa new and old friends. Saw Tom Latane', Peter Renzetti, and some CW guys. Peter once again showed his cool little helve hammer for repousse'--no foundation needed for that. The rumor mill said that Grant Sarver is coming out with a bench top 20-pound machine. I parked my trailer, unloaded a 90-pounder, and demonstrated it. Didn't sink outta sight in the wet clay! Good to be back home and away from the freeway madness.
   - John Larson - Sunday, 04/17/05 17:29:58 EDT

If Grant does come out with a 20 pound, bench top machine, I oughta demand a cut! (but of course, I won't. big grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 04/17/05 19:09:54 EDT

MOWER BLADES: If you are not pretty sure of your self, you would be money and time ahead to buy new blades. If you hard surface you should do it when the blades are new. When a set of blades are wore out throw them away, you would have a dickens of a time balaancing them. Knock a hub(spindle) out and you could have bought several blades.
   - sandpile - Sunday, 04/17/05 20:50:12 EDT

Guru: No offense taken at Your post, VICOPPER: I was not chalenging Your machine reconendation, That would be a great one for any shop, several steps up the performance/cost ladder from the "adequate" machine I described. Unless surfacing or doing verry large or production work actual welding duty cycles are pretty low.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/17/05 22:16:22 EDT

There is a William Foster anvil for sale on ebay. The make was unknown to the owner when the auction first started but now he has been alerted "by email" to what it is. Now the heading has "RARE" in it but his price didn`t change which is high anyway.

If a person is going thru 2 to 3 sets of mower blades a season I would tend to think they were in the mowing business? If this is a correct guess the blades are making you money therefore paying for themselves time and time again before there wore out.
   - Robert IW - Sunday, 04/17/05 22:32:42 EDT

ROBERTO F. That is why I said he would be money and time ahead to do any customizing prior to installing the new blades.
We have, between the daughter and us five acres that we keep mowed and two more that gets clipped a couple times a year. We normally go through one set of blades. Of course he could be cutting BAHIA GRASS. It won't grow any more than four/five feet in a summer.GRIN
   - sandpile - Sunday, 04/17/05 23:49:11 EDT

Hi Guru, I am being requested to sharpen / dress jackhammer points a lot these days, and I'd like to get some power hammer dies made up for the job. I was going to get them made by a machinist. Obviously the machinist will need to know the angles to cut the tapers. The guys I know who do it, usually have two different taper dies, with two different angles. Can you tell me what angle tapers I need machined into the dies? Would a 4" die be deep enough?

   malcolm hollis - Sunday, 04/17/05 23:57:10 EDT

Robert IW,

He may not be in the business. Where I live right now (Coastal NC), we are sorely lacking in what you'd call dirt. It's all sand - vicious, blade-eating sand, and yet the grass still grows like crazy. It's not unusual for the blade on my mower to last through all of two cuttings, three at max and only assuming I don't hit any fire-ant hills, which will bend my already paper thin blade into a friggin' mess. My property constitutes a little over an acre. It came as quite a shock to me when I moved here, as back in Arkansas, I might change the blades once in the lifetime of the mower.

   eander4 - Monday, 04/18/05 01:16:29 EDT

Somoe grasses are more abrasive than other, too. We have a grass that was imported from Africa, I think, called "guinea grass" locally. It will grow as much as 4" in one day after a good rain, and is abrasive enough that is wears down the back edge of mower blades pretty quickly. On the riding mower, I change blades about every 3-4 months, after the backof the blade is eroded and the front is too used up to sharpen again. I'm mowing around 7 or 8 acres, I would guess.

I think that the design of the blade has something to do with how it wears, too. I have an old DR bush mower that uses a heavy, plain flat blade that outlasts the fancy multi-level, "mulching" blades on the riding mower by 10 to 1. Too bad those blades won't fit on the rider.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/18/05 08:19:34 EDT

If you are mowing several acres you might consider an old Ford-style farm tractor, such as the 8N series or earlier (often called 'Red Bellies'. Then can handle a 4' bushhog. Reconditioned ones run about $2,500 locally and a good 4' bushhog about $200-$400. $2,900 is still less than many new riding lawnmowers - plus you can do a lot more with one of these small tractors than mow. I have a Ford 4000 with 6' bushhog. I use it to cut hay just going low and slow. IMHO it does as nice of a job as a haybine, which is a fairly complicated piece of equipment.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/18/05 08:58:48 EDT

Well, Robert's posting on the anvil had me laughing out loud at work; just our sense of humor, I suppose.

Lawn Cutting:

The more I know of lawns, the more I appreciate goats. Good thing my wif talked me into letting her buy the little John Deer; she LOVES runing that thing over the lawn. I have to ask her permission, and promise not to hit any stray steel scrap, just to trim up along the rifle range, barns and forge.

Back from Marching Through Time; swords, armor, fire arms, jeeps, anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, British Home Guards, quite a sweep of history. I wish it (and the Longship Co. Annual Meeting) hadn't been on the same weekend as Spring Fling; I may have to alternate.

A bright, sunny, spring day on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/18/05 09:13:38 EDT

Bit Sharpening: Malcolm, Grant Sarver says 22 degrees for pavement breakers. The angle is only cut in the bottom die. The length does not need to be any longer than tapered part of the bit and in fact can be shorter.

You also need some way to "nip" the points as it is common to end up with some extra material when you forge behind a crack. A punch press with HSS cutter bits set in a V-block type holder does a nice quick clean job.

After forging the bit is oil quenched then the tip ground to a short pyramid point. When heating you heat is little as possible.

The pros in this business also sell replacement bits. When a contractor brings in a barrel of a couple hundred bits he wants the same number in return. Usualy 5 to 10% are damaged in some way the they need replacing (cracks, too short, bent shanks).
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 11:17:31 EDT

Hello all,

Most excellent site. Been studying up on black smithing for the past few months and am now in the process of setting up my shop. I was fortunate enough to find an old coal forge that needs a bit of tender care before it will host a fire again.

I beleive it is from the 1910ish era as I have found catalogues with similar pictures. The fellow I aquired it from is 93 years old and has not used the forge for about 30 years and had misplaced the handle/pump that drives the geared wheel, which inturn drives a smaller gear that drives the belt that turns the blower.

I have been looking through the archives and found similar requests for restoration information. I've sent a note and pictures off to whthrst@bellsouth.net (Rob) but alas have not heard back. Can anyone point me to a decent picture?

I also think the bearings in the geared wheel need to be replaced as it is difficult to rotate when the belt is attached. There are two set screws on the bottom of the drive gear axle but playing around with those has not corrected the problem. I've soaked the section in kerosene to lubricate the parts and that has helped.

Any tips would be most welcome!

Best Regards,
Joe Zellmer
   Joe Zellmer - Monday, 04/18/05 11:24:47 EDT

Lever Forge: Joe, Restoration of one of these is a lot of work. The problem is that coal ash is highly corrosive and eats everything. It is worse on steel shafts and babbit bearings than other parts. On this particular type forge it is not unusual for the mechanism to be corroded far beyond simple fixing up. Most of these type forges that I have seen were not very heavy duty or designed for long use.

You will need to completly dismantle the forge mechanism. Shaft ends that are not smooth will need to be built up by welding and machined true. Bearings will need to be removed and replaced with new bronze or babbit. Gear surfaces will need to be dressed by hand to remove rust. On assembly you will want to be sure the segment gear is not meshed too tight or too loose. Too tight makes it difficult to operate and produces excessive wear. Too loose and gears are noisy and also produces excessive wear.

There is an image of a lever type forge listed on our 21st Century page. It will be of little help. There was dozens of mechanizms and they are poorly shown in the catalog images. The only source of detailed information would be another identical forge.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 11:59:38 EDT

Ken S,

Thanks for the suggestion. I would love to get my hands on a good little 8N or similar tractor with a bush hog, tiller, grader box and a few other goodies. Unfortunately, they aren't happening down here. What I would want would have to be purchased up there and shipped down, or I would have to buy new equipment here. That ain't gonna happen, as you might imagine.

The mowing that I'm doing right now is lawn for the most part, or former bush that is transitioning to lawn. It takes a low smooth cut to make it look right. More a job for a lawn machine than a bush hog. There are about 120 more acres that need the bush hog pretty seriously, though.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/18/05 12:47:05 EDT

I have an 1828 William Foster that I plan to abuse quite a bit. Of course it's missing the heel and nearly all the face with only a tad left in one corner by the horn. I want to try forgewelding a new faceplate on it sometime and use that last bit of 1828 steel for a knife or two. Of course it cost me $5 at the fleamarket. Blacksmithing is a rare hobby in that we often are working with equipment that may be several generations older than we are; deciding what to use and what to archive can be a tricky process.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/18/05 13:20:37 EDT

I have a small jet lathe (9") which I have made a adaption to which gives me a belt grinder. I have a slightly crowned 2x8 inch drive wheel coming out of the head stock.
Out of the four sided tool post (I know you hate these) I have mounted a bar and on the end, a contact wheel. I have the ability to adjust the angle/alinement and belt tension with the tool post controls. My problem is that the belt alinement is very very delicate. My question is, if I add an idler pulley, will this reduce the belts tendency to wander off center. I am wondering if a three wheel system is inherently easier to keep centered than a two wheel system.
If this would help, I will end up with a three speed, reversible belt sander and save $1600.00. I am able to work off the two wheel system but it is very touchey.
   - lsundstrom - Monday, 04/18/05 13:25:50 EDT

I have built many belt grinders- normally I build a 2 wheel
for 2 x 48" belts-but I converted one to use 2 x72" belts by adding a 3rd wheel-- It is really touchy to keep the
belt tracking- I crown my roller(one) 1/2 degree to each side centered - one roller flat- if either roller is the least bit low in the center-not crowned or flat -it will be hard to keep tracking-also I make my tension spring loaded- tension is very critical to tracking- I have always heard that you should not do grinding near your lathe as the grit on the ways will will wear them out sooner- Maybe your $1600 savings will be false saving if you destroy the lathe accuracy.
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 04/18/05 14:13:50 EDT

Grinding and Lathe: Larry, I agree with Ray. If you get any grit, especialy abrasive, under the lathe carriage or in the tailstock or dovetails it can wreak a lathe in a hurry. When I do minor cylindrical grinding in a lathe I cover the ways and carriage with a leather apron. To do it right you need a hole for the spindle and then need to tape it down to be sure nothing gets under it. Before removal you must vacuume the grit off the apron then remove with care. The chuck and all exposed parts must be carefully cleaned and checked when done.

Tensioniong and Tracking: Tracking is a tricky thing and sometimes it is a problem on comercial machines. First, the frame must be stiff enough. If you are pushing against the belt springs the frame then the tracking will change. Then the tensioning MUST be spring loaded. Spring loading allows for variations in belt thickness like the glue joints AND changes in use (load applied or not).

Adjustments must be easy to make then stay put.

Crown is critical. See Machinery's Handbook for specifics. It is best to have crown on all wheels but contact wheels are flat.

Ray Clontz Belt Grinder
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 14:35:30 EDT

Lever Forge: Part 2. Fortunatley this forge seems to be in pretty decent shape from a corrosion perspective. There is some surface rust but the gentlemen had stored it in his barn out of the elements.

I will take your advice and disassemble the mechanism. Part of the charm of smithing is taking something that is just sitting around and making it useful again. Yes, it is a big project, but symbolic the art. At least that is my take on this craft.

As far as remaking the shaft and the bearings my uncle is an old hand at this type of work and if I look bewildered (which is not that hard) he should some to my rescue.

I had looked on your pages for the pictures. What I need to see is the connecting rod and how that attaches to the ratchet mechanism. I've enjoyed my quest in seaching though web pages and archives and visiting the local antique shops.

Many thanks for the information. I will try to post some pictures of the before and after images.

Joe Zellmer
   Joe Zellmer - Monday, 04/18/05 15:03:25 EDT

c.a.strelinger wood chisles anyone know anything about them???all i know is they were made by strelinger detroit mich. they are very nice chisles
   terry homer - Monday, 04/18/05 17:23:08 EDT

Does anyone know how fencing foil blades are forged? What sort of tooling is needed?
   John - Monday, 04/18/05 17:36:09 EDT

If you fence you should know that blades are made in a very special way. They are tapered and tempered so that if they should break, the break point is at a distance from the blade which will deflect the remainder of the blade- still in the hand and forward thrust of the "attacker" - away from the "defender". I am a hobbiest smith but also fenced in my college days and had a blade break during a turnament after a direct "hit" in my mid chest area. The blade broke approx 3" from the tip and the remainder was deflected into my upper arm - ...still have the scar. Better there than through a lung or heart though. Heavy jacket and padding wont stop a fencing thrust of a broken blade. My advise is to buy the blades you fence with, forge one to hang on the wall!!!!!
   David - Monday, 04/18/05 17:59:22 EDT

Can't see the Peter Foster on ebay but there's a nice little Peter Wright ....
   Paul Ujj - Monday, 04/18/05 18:49:47 EDT

Der, I mean't William Foster.
   Paul Ujj - Monday, 04/18/05 18:54:59 EDT

Is a hot cutter, cleaver, set, and chisel the same thing?
   - Trapper - Monday, 04/18/05 20:20:50 EDT

Hydraulic press:

I want to add a hydraulic press to my workshop. It will be used for punching, mokume and making pattern welded steel billets. Where can I find info on hydraulic presses as I'm not sure what size need though I think the ones I have been using were 150 ton.
   Bob G - Monday, 04/18/05 20:21:00 EDT

Hey Again
i have got all the materials i need for my tire rim forge but i was wondering what i can use for a blower and if it matters it theres a few holes in the bottom of the rim, should i put a peice of half inch sheet metal in there and can i use bellows or some other type of blower instead of a vaccum motor and coal is really expensive and hard to find around my house so would charcoal(not charcoal Brickets) just charcoal do the trick. thanks in advance to anyone who answers all of my questions
   Draconas - Monday, 04/18/05 20:38:01 EDT

Junkyard Forge: Draconas, Yes, you can patch the holes in the rim with sheet metal. However 1/2" is heavy plate.

You can use almost any type of air source. Vaccume cleaner fans are noisy and make too much air but will work. Hair driers are about right for a small forge. If you talk to an appliance serviceperson you will find they have all kinds of odd fans that you could use. Oil furnaces have a nice blower that usualy outlives the rest of the burner assembly. Belows of all kinds work.

Real wood charcoal was the traditional fuel for thousands of years and is still the primary smithing fuel in many countries that do not have mineral coal readily available.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:00:13 EDT

Hydraulic Presses: Bob, Dr. Jim Battson sponsor of the AFC Battson Blade Symposium has a booklet on building a small hydraulic press for the blacksmith shop.

The size normally used in small shops is 30 to 50 tons. The trick to hydraulics is that they take a LOT of horsepower in order to move reasonably quickly AND produce all that force.

Don Fogg used to have some information on his web site and many years ago I was going to purchase the Batson plans from him but never got a round to it. .
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:05:22 EDT

Paul Ujj: That listing does not have William Foster in the title line - unless it has been changed. It does have the anvil date - something like 1839. Just do a search on anvil in the collectible category and you should be able to see it. As it notes in the item description, Anvil in America says WF was the only English anvil manufacturer to date their anvils.

There are a bunch of nice smaller anvils (150 or less) on eBay at the moment. There is also a 'fixer-upper' 150-LB Hay-Budden as it is missing most of its top plate. Seller says they can read Hay-B, but there is no serial number. I suspect it is one they sold on the secondary market due to the plate not being solid and in use it broke.

While on eBay, someone just listed a 25-lb Little Giant (In IN or IL) without motor and it does have past repairs. May be a bargain for someone who can properly overhaul it.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/18/05 21:09:20 EDT

Hot cutter, cleaver, set, and chisel Trapper, No and yes and not usualy. Blacksmithing tools are more often defined by what they are not than what they are.

Handled "set" tools include any handled shaping tool that is not a fuller, chisel or punch. Fullers have a striaght rounded edge for forging and dressing various radiuses. A "hot cutter" is a handled chisel with a relatively thin blade. A cold chisel can be handled or not and has a thick heavy edge and body. Punches can be handled or not and cover a vast range of tools. Most of these tools should be prefixed with "blacksmiths" as as trades have tools of the same name.

Most "set" tools are the upper half of a half round of square swage. But are other other special shapes.

A flatter is handled tool with a flat face and struck pien. The face is usualy square but can also be rectangular or other shapes. A flatter with a face no bigger than the body of the tool and nearly sharp corners is a "set hammer". It is NOT swung like a hammer but struck like other flatters. It is for dressing sharp inside corners.

A hardie is a hot or cold chisel that has a shoulder and square shank to fit the hardie hole of an anvil. People call any variety of tools that fit the hardie hole "hardie tools" but I prefer NOT to call them that as it is confusing. They are square shanked tools which can be used in the anvil, vise or stake table.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:19:57 EDT

funnily enough, Don was a guest at our hammerin in the UK last month, wish I'd known he was the man to speak to!
   Bob G - Monday, 04/18/05 21:22:23 EDT

Bob- there are some hydraulic press plan books by Dr James Batson on ebay at times- The builders sell the books after
they have built the press or decided not to build the press
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 04/18/05 21:25:56 EDT

David: I understand and really have no intention of homemaking blades. My question is basically for two reasons. 1.Simple curiosity. I like to know how things are done. 2. I have heard that there is a forgeing company for sale in France for a "reasonable price" and my twisted little mind started wondering what sort of process and machinery is involved. Rest assured I have had blades break and have read about the rare fatality. I wouldnt hand make a blade even if i could.
   John - Monday, 04/18/05 21:32:24 EDT

Fencing Foils John, Davis covered it quite well. As to the hazards of foils note this. Back in the early days of movies almost every sword used in a "swashbuckler" was a foil even if it was not right for the time or place. Today nobody makes movies with foils even if it IS the right time or place. . . They have gone to flat albiet slender swords but not foils. Too hazardous. . .

Other swords can be made of relatively soft metal, left dull and other a bruise or at worst a broken bone they can be handled safely by experts. Foils by their very nature must be spring hard which means they can and DO break resulting in a far sharper point than you would make on purpose.

See all the warnings and all the references in our Swordmaking article. Although a simple blade the metalurgy must be as near perfect as possible.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:32:35 EDT

John, As little forging as possible or as quickly as possible. A whole variety of machinery would be used. I would go the rolling mill route. In the blade business more grinding is done than forging. Foils are a special problem due to their slenderness. If you heat the entire blade it will droop like a cooked noodle from its own weight. . . Support during heat treating is especially tricky. The best method is to heat and quench verticaly so that gravity doee not have an effect other than straightening.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:40:31 EDT

Bob, 6=8 years ago the cost of the Battson press was around $1500 in parts not including steel. I have some REAL nice 24" 75# beam that would make a nifty press or two. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:44:32 EDT

More Foils (slender forging): When long slender pieces are forged they are handled one of two ways. By hand short sections are forged a little at a time, the cool parts used to support the hot. Much care must be taken.

OR starting with a short piece a long piece is rapidly forged or rolled so that it is above a red heat when finished. It is partialy supported while working but then laid on a flat surface and quickly straightened while still hot. In a rolling mill a finished piece can be run across a flat surface and through straightening rolls as it cools. In either case where the whole is hot it it worked hot ONE time. After that (or after heat treating) it is finished by stock removal. This results in the best metalurgical condition.
   - guru - Monday, 04/18/05 21:51:52 EDT

DON FOGG has a tremendous amount of info on his site. Hydraulics or about anything else pertaining to a blade. Super nice guy and very helpful.
   - sandpile - Monday, 04/18/05 22:31:30 EDT

Foil forging: Sounds like a process with more to it than meets the eye, like most things. I looked around to see if there were any web sites from the foil forges like Blaise and Prieur but didnt see anything. What about an enormous drop hammer that whacks out a whole blade in one swell foop in a three foot die?
   John - Tuesday, 04/19/05 07:56:59 EDT

Level forge : Part 3...well great news (for me at least) I pulled the flywheel assembly apart on the forge. The segment gear and connected babbit shaft look to be in excellent condition, very little wear and still gleaming. There was a thin cuff brass that serves as a bearing. I beleive if I replace that with a thicker peice that will correct my wobble and make the mechanism function as designed. The teeth on the gears all look to be in good shape, perhaps a little wire brushing to clean them up.

I did speak with my uncle. He's caught up in the quest too! He had even taken a trip down to a local historical museum and got some photos of some forges (these are not is as good condition as the one I have) but the general concepts are all there to copy when I replace the pump handle.

I also found some references on the alt.blacksmith listserv about running a rope from the ratchet to a set of pulleys attached to the barn rafters as an alternative to the level handle. This would not be "original" but it would probably work.

Happy Hammering!
Joe Zellmer
   Joe Zellmer - Tuesday, 04/19/05 08:13:44 EDT

Joe, It is possible but may tend to rock or try to tip over the forge (depending on size). The whole point was a mater of portability and ease of setup which is generally lacking in full sized bellows setups. For historical purposes you are bettr off to try to make it as original as possible.

One problem you have with looking for images at this point is that you have not said if you have found a brand. There were three major manufacturers and numerous minor and resellers of this type forge. Buffalo Forge, Champion and Canedy-Otto were the big three.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 08:42:22 EDT

Jock, thanks for the article on belt sanders. That's a nice looking design.

Quench, Your atrticle on heat treating was great. Am I right in reading that it is not a good idea to anneal before hardening because of the grain growth? I didn't get the part about multiple hardening. If all the molecules turn into austenite when heated above critical temp. what advantage is there in doing this more than once unless there are differences in the austenite caused by the previous hardening cycle? I have read Ed Fowler's article on the benefit of hardening three times and then heard Bill Moran say "harden once, temper thrice". Last question: Is there any advantage to sticking 1095 in the freezer or if this is not cold enough, into liquid nitrogen?
Thx for your expert advice, could you move that article over to this site?
   - lsundstrom - Tuesday, 04/19/05 08:34:51 EDT

Foil forging: John, Drop hammers COULD do the job but you would still need a long billet to start and the have the handling problems before and after. When a big hammer with closed dies is used a forging has "flash" like a casting that much be trimmed off. This is normally done in a "trimming" die on a seperate machine. The trimming process would mangle such a long slender forging. The whole process would be very inefficient.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 08:50:32 EDT

Larry, I was very impressed with Ray's drive shaft grinder design. I need a couple small belt grinders and this is the one I would build.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 08:52:16 EDT

Heat Treating: Larry, The anneal/not to anneal question depends on the steel and how it has been handled previously. Forgings are often soaked too long or worked too cold or have internal stresses from forging. Annealing is recommended for most forgings. When done correctly there is not an excessive amount of grain growth However, on the very high carbon tool steels a proper anneal is difficult and even normalizing is not recommended for some of these steels.

If you are going to VERY picky and want the optimum job you need a reference like the ASM Heat Treaters Guide to Ferrous Metals which has articles on each individual steel with recommended processing, graphs and charts. It covers almost every common heat treated steel using the SAE/AISI numbering system.

Cryogenic Treatment No, freezers (-40 to -50 °F) and dry ice (-109.3 °F) are not cold enough. Also, only certain steels are known to benefit by cryogenic treatment. You will find a lot of hype on this subject among bladesmiths that will say anything to make their product more exotic than the next guy's.

From a previous post:

Dry ice is solid at -108.76°F (-78.2°C). Most cryogenic treatments need colder temperatures and use liquid nitrogen at -328°F (-200°C). So don't believe those pushing products treated in dry ice. They may be blowing CO2 up your shorts. . .

From the ASM page:
Cryogenics: The Racer’s Edge: Cryogenic treatment of metal parts is performed at temperatures below –185°C (–300°F). If done correctly, it causes permanent changes in the material that can enhance wear resistance. This article concentrates on applications in race cars and other performance vehicles. Roger Schiradelly and Frederick J. Diekman

Cryogenic Treatment of Tool Steels; Two mechanisms are involved during cryogenic treatment of AISI D2: transformation of retained austenite and low-temperature conditioning of martensite. The former leads to an increase in hardness (and reduction in toughness), while the latter boosts wear resistance (and enhances toughness). You can choose the results you want by proper selection of the austenitizing treatment.

ASM Also sells a book titled Cryogenics, for $36.95. I would start there if you are interested in this subject.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 09:22:21 EDT

Well, just a quick note of thanks for the review of the NC whisper Momma. I did not trust my abilities to play with gas to make a forge myself, so saved up to buy a good one. The Momma is as advertised, took me about a half-hour to get connected and take care of small leaks in the system. Then fired it and had the first half-inch stock forging in under 5 minutes. I was jawing with a neighbor a little while later and ended up sparking the piece as well. Quite hot.

Absolutely fabulous. Of course, now I have to clean out my shop (read falling down garage) and put in more tools . . .

Join CSI, it is certainly worth the price.

( proud member since . . . well, awhile now anyway ;-)} )
   Escher - Tuesday, 04/19/05 10:50:41 EDT

More on fencing weapons:

It's been more years than I care to admit since I was a fencer, but I remember when Prieur was making a big deal about their new blades that were "robotically forged." I got the impression that what they were actually doing was using a rolling mill. Then France-Lame got into the act with their gold blades, which were ordinary blades that had been given a nitride treatment for surface wear. Then FIE (Federation International d'Escrime, the regulatory organization of competitive fencing) changed the rules so that blades used in competetion had to be heat-treated in such a way as to break with a flat face instead of little sharp splintery points. This resulted in blades treated to be mostly martensite by holding (aging) at heat. They gave it the sexy name "maraging" steel, for martensitic aging, which of course all non-metallurgically inclined fencers pronounced with a french accent under the assumption it was a special formulation. They didn't really work as well as advertised, of course, and that's when FIE made a ruling that your plastron (the little padded shield that fits over your shoulder and under the armpit beneath the jacket) had to be kevlar. Then the blade-hand side of the jacket had to be kevlar. Then I got too lazy (and poor!)to keep it up. No scars to show except for a bum ankle, but I can tell you epee blades will get sharp through rubbing other blades, and this is a good reason to keep your off hand well out of the way. Don't ask how I know (insert rueful grin here).
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/19/05 11:40:45 EDT

Thanks Guru
Is A company like kinsford charcoal a good one to use and if i patch the holes do i need to weld them on or can i just put a chunk of plate metal the same size as the holes or do i have to solder or weld them on/
also do i have to weld all the pipes to it for the stand

p.s. im not on my computer right now so the IP is different
   Draconas - Tuesday, 04/19/05 12:48:09 EDT

also on another note does anyone know what i should use as a powerized cutting tool(saw) to cut chainmail making coils out of 14 guage galvanized steel wire so that thelinks are cut like ][ instead or >< like wirecutters
i dont know if u can answer this because i may be the only chaiinmailer here
thanks anyway
   Draconas - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:04:43 EDT

Draconas, Kingsford makes "briquetts" it is not real wood charcoal.

Real Wood Charcoal is made from 100% solid wood that is converted to charcoal through cooking or "coaling".

Briquetts are made of sawdust, starch glue, bituminous coal and some charcoal. They are not real wood charcoal. They are incredibly dusty and do not burn with the intensity of real charcoal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:41:32 EDT

Wheel Forge Patches can be almost anything. Small bolts and washers will work. Get fender washers for large holes. All you are doing is keeping the fuel from falling out of the farge bottom.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:44:53 EDT

after a long winter hiatus from this site, i have a blower question.

40 miles from me at a display village (local historical group) that I'm not a member of, they have a quite small blacksmith shop (a forge, anvil, leg vise, dirt floor). Last year at their main event, some kids had been playing in there trying to get a fire going (you'd think scouts would know how) and were cranking the blower too fast. When I tried to get a fire going later that morning, I found that I couldn't turn the crank more than maybe 6RPM before something inside would start shimmying/howling. I tried ioling what I could, but it didn't seem to help.

Did they ruin the blower, or does it just need to be taken apart and oiled/greased thoroughly?
   Elliott Olson - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:45:04 EDT

Blower bearings: Elliott, Probably what happened is that the bearing backlash nuts have been tightened. On some blowers, particularly Champions there are backlash adjustment nuts on the ends of the shafts for each bearing. If they are not properly locked they can self tighten in use. This is just like putting on the brakes and can wreck the bearings. They each need to be loosened and readjusted.

These are critical adjustments that should not be done without permission or knowledge of bearing and gear backlash adjustments. It could also be an all day job.

Note also that most blowers hold a LITTLE oil but not much as it leaks out (there are no seals). There should be a hole, plug or oiler near the top to lubricate the gears.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:52:43 EDT

what companies do you know of for charcoal that would be good
also is charcoal cheaper than charcoal briquets example charcoal is 5 bucks for 10 pounds and briquets are like 15 bucks for 10 pounds.
and is charcoal what people use in those circular (bowl) barbeques
about welding the legs onto the forge
do i have to or can i just set it on a tripod?
   Draconas - Tuesday, 04/19/05 13:52:55 EDT

Real Wood Charcoal is generally only available from resturant suppliers. Let your fingers do the walking. Brands do not matter.

Charcoal Briquetts are what people use in home grills for hot dogs, hambergers, steaks. . .

Legs can be setup any way you wish. Building a brake drum forge is a simple project that can be done many ways. It is also one of those projects that you make with what you find and figure it out as you go. Having the mechanical apptitude to do these things anf "think on your feet" is a requirement of being a blacksmith.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 14:01:32 EDT

Fencing: Never been a fencer but a friend of mine was run through the abdomen when a sabre blade snapped. Just grazed his liver.
   adam - Tuesday, 04/19/05 15:44:45 EDT

hacksaw, arm power....
   - rugg - Tuesday, 04/19/05 16:33:26 EDT

Re: William Foster
Thanks Ken. Should have realised global search via ebay.com.au would only list things that are available to Oz ...
   Paul Ujj - Tuesday, 04/19/05 16:58:55 EDT

Draconas, I *finished* my first mail shirt in 1980/81, there are maillers here; but may I commend to your attention an armour making forum like armourarchive.org where the answer to that question has been hashed over hundreds of times.

Remember to use the english spelling of armour!

For the Pennsic smelting furnace I used to be the blower thrall on we would go to Humphries charcoal in Brookvale PA. I assume that since you don't list an address spending more for shipping than the charcoal is not a problem

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/19/05 17:29:34 EDT

Real Charcoal Sources:

Ace hardware carries 8.8lb and 20lb bags $7-$12, they will order from their catalog if it is not stocked. My local store offered a small discount if I bought a full 40 bag pallet.

walmart carries 10lb bags in some stores $5.50
these may be sesonal items for both suppliers.
   habu - Tuesday, 04/19/05 18:20:40 EDT

Larry, when you heat to form austenite, the carbides dissolve into it. The carbon and metallic alloy atoms can hide between the iron atoms and even replace the iron atoms. When you quench austenite, it wants to go back to ferrite. However, upon rapidly cooling, the cubic crystal of the ferrite becomes distorted and the carbon atoms get trapped between the iron atoms, putting further strain on the crystal lattice and increasing hardness. By austenitizing several times, you make sure that most of the carbides and alloys get dissolved into the austenite. This ensures maximum hardness and promotes uniform hardening, minimum distortion.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 04/19/05 20:13:29 EDT

Mail Rings: All the mailers I know use snips and are picky about the brand because they wear them out. There are several good mail forums and web sites. See the Amourer Ring on our Armoury Page.

Charcoal Sources: Habu, Thanks!
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/19/05 21:10:29 EDT

Elliott, Another thing that commonly happens to blowers is a loosening of the set screws that hold the gears to their respective shafts. The old fashioned set screw has a square head which can be tightened with a small wrench. Some gears are held in place with tapered pins, and the pins can break or become lost...like the Buffalo 300.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/19/05 22:27:59 EDT

Charcoal sources: part 2

here is a site that tests and rates lump charcoal for bar-b-que usage. It shows prices and suppliers. http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm?bag (this is a kid safe site in spite of the name)

   habu - Tuesday, 04/19/05 22:51:26 EDT


Please if you have it, could you give me information this machine: Bull Firedesing 125 Lbs. Is there still service parts available? Are they a worthy investment?

Thanks for your time,

   Barney Connolly - Tuesday, 04/19/05 23:20:33 EDT

The mailer snips of choice out here are channellock bypass shears. They are a little lighter than linemans pliers, and only have ~3/16" throat on them, but they cut cleanly, and last a long........ time:-) Leaving a burr or a sharp edge on your rings is a pain, these shear them cleanly and leave the rings square and relatively burr free.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 04/19/05 23:24:20 EDT


I had the problem of finding fuel as well. It turned out that I was simply looking in the wrong places. I had looked in the yellow pages etc. but had not asked at my local home hardware ( I live in Canada, don't know what they're called in the states ) about real wood charcoal. They said sure and got me this HUGE ( like 25 lbs ) bag of the stuff out of the back and said it was the new hype/fad in the barbecuing world because it apparently gave a better flavour. I'm not to sure how concerned my arrowheads are about the flavour of the charcoal, but they come out of the forge real hot.

Also I built my brake drum forge not long ago and just used a really big flange to seal all the holes in the drum. You might want to consider putting your forge on a tripod because if you use bolts to hold the drum to the flange to the legs it could wigle. (had mine tip over once -- my mom was real impressed with the holes in my jeans and scorch marks on my shoes)

Hope some of this helps

Walker L
   Walker - Tuesday, 04/19/05 23:24:59 EDT

Elliott-- N.B. what Professor Turley says re: the taperedness of the pins. Tapping them too hard the wrong way will leave you with a gear that is cracked and perhaps extremely difficult to repair or replace.
   Armitage Shanks - Tuesday, 04/19/05 23:55:51 EDT

I have just recovered a very old shaper, which was in my wifes great, great grandfathers blacksmith shop. It is a very large piece of equipment weighing many pounds. It is about 3 feet tall, 5 feet long and 21/2 feet wide with a 18 inch knife and also a what I would call a spoke shaper on the same shaft.This was powered by belts that ran through out the shop, I am not sure of the power source. Can anyone give me information on this old wooden tool?

I hope to hear something about this.

Thank you in advance

John Hinz. Missouri
   John Hinz - Tuesday, 04/19/05 23:57:03 EDT

I've been looking at the armoury sections of this website and have found a lack of something that properly scares me. Within the numerous answers to the infamous "how do I make a sword question" there seems to be no reference nor talk concerning the use of, the respect of and care of a blade. Following the steps provided in the armoury a fearsome sword could be created, with seemingly no reference to what you then actually DO with this weapon you have created.

Please tell me that I have missed something and am being a blind idiot.

   Walker - Wednesday, 04/20/05 00:08:43 EDT

Tom the guy who designed the Bull air hammer, was bought out, and then shoved out of the company. I do not believe that the Bull is still in production by that company anymore. BUT Tom has started http://www.phoenixhammer.com/ The big Bull was and still is a very nice hammer, decent power, WONDERFUL control! If you want to use hand tooling under a power hammer, this is the berries:-) You can make or buy and modify the dies to do free hand toolfree forging on this hammer, and it will do a decent job of it, but the ability to get one stroke the right weight for the application is what this hammer is best at. It will draw fine, and it can clamp as well (depending on the model it might be able to clamp and walk away from the hammer...) But control, stroke length, and throat are the selling points of this hammer. I think the 125# hammer is rated at production forging of 2" square and occasional forging of 4" square stock. It has an 11" inch stroke and can accept a fair amount of tooling under the dies.

I like hand tooling under a power hammer, I have done some free hand forging, but I still prefer using hand tooling and spring dies. I have a Bull 75, and enjoy it quite a bite:-) It does not hit as hard as a 100# little giant, but I have SOOOOOOOO much better control it is not even funny. If you are serious about this hammer you will need a really nice compressor!!! I have a 7.5hp Quincy Air Master light industrial two stage compressor, and have 22.3 CFM@150PSI. In my opinion you need 25 CFM or higher to get the most out of the hammer, which really means 10hp or higher compressor. Ingersol Rand makes 7.5hp compressors that are rated at 25 CFM, but they use a higher speed motor on them, and I have not heard good reports on their duty cycle:-( They are nice hammers and can do things easily, that other hammers have to be tuned and finessed to do, or can't do at all. BUT they are an investment, the hammer being only half of the investment likely, big compressor, industrial air line 3/4 lines, F/R/O, and a foundation. Great tool, just not cheap and easy to set up, real easy to run:-) Best thing next to a proper steam hammer, IMHO;-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 04/20/05 00:22:22 EDT

If you are doing production runs of anything you will be getting into your compressor, and it will be running a lot. So make sure it is rated for the duty cycle you are working it at, and if you are in a climate that gets COLD, remember you have to provide a warm environment for your air compressor, or have a crankcase heater installed. Funny they don't seem to lubricate quite as well @ -15, good way to make a compressor go bad fast... Did I mention that they are also VERY loud if you just shove them into your heated shop... It does insure you wear proper hearing protection, but conversation in the shop while the compressor is running is hard, and if you are working hard so is the compressor... :-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 04/20/05 00:44:49 EDT

Mr Walker
About swords.... Lets see a sword can be used as a hammer NO
A sword can be used as a wrench
a clamp?, a axe?, a paint brush? NO NO NO NO NO

A sword, much like a gun has one and only one use. TO KILL.
Don't get me wrong a good knife can do the same but so can a claw hammer.A sword is a tool for killing and really has no other purpose. As for Mr Guru he has stated( at length) in print and in general about the reasons why and why not to make swords, brass knuckles, maces, fighting knifes ect...
As fer me this good old boy has been hacking out high grade historical blades since 1988 with out the use of a forge or the help of the infinite exp of REAL blacksmiths. Let me tell you after spending weeks of filing, months of stone polishing, days of shaping and fitting no one would want to mess up his or her work and thoes that would tend to give up after the second trip to the hospice to get stiches" Opps I slipped".
Yes you haved missed some thing and know you are not an idiot.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 04/20/05 00:59:49 EDT

discuss the advantage and disadvantage of using an induction machine as a generator and as a brake.where are those type of machine generaly used?
   tefo - Wednesday, 04/20/05 06:09:50 EDT

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using an Internet forum to do your homework for you.
   - Bo - Wednesday, 04/20/05 07:53:38 EDT

Hi I am looking at a buying a plasma cutter but I need to know if my air compressor will run it. What is the conversion factor for horsepower to cfm? (the plasma cutter runs at 75 psi)

   - Hayes - Wednesday, 04/20/05 09:43:10 EDT

Tefo, Bo got it right. We repeadly have folks post their homework questions here and will WILL NOT do your homework for you. AND we will thougoughly chastise you for it. Perhaps if you had asked a properly formed question rather than asking for a thesis to be written. .

They again, this is the wrong forum for an electrical engineering question even though I do know the answer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 09:44:37 EDT

Bull FireDesign: Barney, Bull hammers was bought out then bankrupted. However, Tom Trozak, the original designer is now in business again building and selling the Phoenix Hammer line. He can provide repair parts and service information. See link in the drop down menu.

These were well built machines. However, the new owners may have substituted some of the original parts such as the cylinder with lower quality parts.

As a used sem-orphaned machine the value is what you want. Consider that the last Little Giant was made in the 1950's and models built in 1908 are selling for much more than they did new. 75 year old Nazel Power hammers are selling for more than NEW Chinese machines of the same type.

See Fionnbharr's post above.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 09:45:48 EDT

HP to CFM: Hayes, This is not a straight conversion and depends greatly on the type of compressor and its efficiency. Is it an electric motor driven or internal combustion engine driven? Piston or diaphram? Single stage or two stage? Normal shut off pressure? Reciever (tank) volume? Commercial compressor (brand) or shop built?

Even with all the above I could not answer your question as it is a serious engineering question. Often compressor pumps are mismatched with motors and the pump/motor mismatched to the reciever size. Small differences here make a big difference in efficiency.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 09:53:40 EDT

HP to CFM . .

A common problem is you need to get all your units of measurement lined up. Pressure means nothing alone. The Plasma cutter needs 75 PSI at what CFM? The compressor will supply how many CFM at that pressure?

Usualy plasma torches use very little air. However, it needs to be clean and dry. Filters and driers will reduce the capacity of the air compressor. As add-ons the manufacturer will not be able to tell you how much loss there is but I would guess 10 to 15% (both presure and CFM) with a clean filter of the correct size.

The best source of information about your compressor is the OEM. If they are unknown then I would look at similar new machines and assume the old machine to be less efficient.

Let us know your compressor size and the plasma torch capacity and one of our members with similar equipment MAY be able to say YES/NO.

One critical aspect of volume and pressure is the length of the pipe or hose. A long hose can reduce the pressure and flow to nothing. However, with no flow the pressure will be the same at both ends. At 100 feet of 3/8" air hose I have seen a 50% pressure drop when running high CFM air tools. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 10:07:45 EDT


Just so you aren't thrown off completely, you can buy hardwood charcoal from Kingsford. Comes in 40# bags, the last time I bought any it was $16 a bag . . . so .40 a lb or thereabouts. Do make sure it is hardwood charcoal. I do another guy that makes his own charcoal using a 55gal barrel and burning old pallets. He has 3 2in holes around the base of the barrel and loads it over the top of the barrel. When it burns below the top of the barrel (which is standing on end), he puts a cover on top and blocks the hole. Next morning he has a new batch of charcoal.
   Escher - Wednesday, 04/20/05 10:46:48 EDT

what is the best way to work brass
   carolinaginboy - Wednesday, 04/20/05 12:22:08 EDT

Brass: Copper alloys can be worked by almost all metal working methods. About the only method that does not apply is torch cutting.

Copper alloys can be sawed, drilled, machined, cast, forged, buffed and polished.

Brass forges quite easily but judging temperature is tricky as it must be kept below a red heat (where it melts). It is also a good metal to cast using sand or plaster molds.

Brass and Bronze sheet can be used for repousse' and for raised shapes or vessles. Brass braze welds and silver solders nicely.

The BEST way to work brass is the method that produces the results that you want. Usualy a combination of methods are used such as casting and machining, forging and machining, welding, forging and hand finishing, hammering and polishing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 12:37:03 EDT

I'm in a state of shock! Got a package from Garland Mfg. Company. From UPS. Opened the package to find two rawhide mallets in different weights and a split head hammer with rawhide, nylon and copper insert faces.

I hadn't ordered any hammers! Then I found a letter from Dan Garland, saying that he had read a review of work and that I had supplied a link for a rawhide hammer. These were complimentary hammers!

I immediately heated a piece of 1/2" square stock, twisted it, and deliberately bent it. Then I straightened it with the copper inserts in the split head hammer. Worked perfectly, and has both a nice weight and good balance.

I can't reccomend them highly enough!

Yes Jock, I will do a product review, and I suggested to Dan today on the phone that he contact you reference advertising on Anvilfire.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 04/20/05 13:24:16 EDT

hi i am sorry to do this to you but i am not even new to forging yet but please read on before sending me the link to the geting started section of your site

as i have read this a few time and it has been a big help in geting information ie books and stuff ( hard to get in the uk tho)

i have been looking into forging as a hobby for a long time now but i am disabled. i have only part use of my right leg but can get about fine with a cane, i can move a few steps and turn 360 unaided.

i have tryed to get on to local welding courses but have been told that they can not take me on due to my leg even tho the teacher say he would teach me the collage still say no.

my father welds at work and reguly passes the course at collage, he has offered to teach me but on yor site it says to do the courses even if you can already do the welding can i ask y this is.

also i dont know what type of forge i would need ie coal or gas, i live in a town all work would be in my back garden and garage.

all work would be carred out with asistance from my frend/carer so would my leg be a large problem in this hobby, is there any tips, tools or items that could help me if ther is a problem.

ps if you know of any uk supliers of tools parts and stuff i would be very grate full

kind regards


   lee - Wednesday, 04/20/05 14:37:51 EDT

Real Wood Charcoal - there is a brand of 'real charcoal' available, ROYAL OAK "StarGrill" CHARCOAL. The bags are blue with red striping, yellow and white lettering. You do have to ask around for it (the suggestions about restaurant suppliers is excellent.)

Wet (raining) and warm (12 Cel.) North of the Lake (Ontario).


   Don - Wednesday, 04/20/05 14:51:32 EDT

Lee, If you live in the US a college cannot refuse you due to a disability. I do not know what the rules are in the UK. Perhaps you could "audit" the class?

The reason for taking a course in a school environment is because the majority of what needs to be learned is the hundred or so safety rules. Without a book, course materials and check lists these are easily missed. If you make sure to learn all the safety rules for gas and arc welding then you can do it on your own. The problem is when people learn "on the job" or on their own they often miss important rules.

If you are going to have an assistant they should know the welding and shop rules as well. It is often the assistant that is asked to "grap that torch", or "hold this torch", or "hold this while I weld it".

With your equipment properly arranged rotation in one position is plenty of motion. Forge, anvil and vice (possibly a power hammer) should be at a convienient distance so that rotaion is the only needed movement. The forge should be such that it is at arms length PLUS about 2 feet for tongs. You do not want to stay too close as it is very hot. When I have worked outdoors doing demonstrations I often wear a hole in the lawn in front of the anvil.

I've met several several smiths that worked with one arm and one that works from a wheel chair. With persistance and imagination they manage to do the same tasks that everyone else does.

In the UK the major supplier of blacksmithing equipment is Vaughans. Now Baker-Vaughans. www.anvils.co.uk
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 15:08:29 EDT

Good Guru,
Using sharpened or modified mower blades is not excluded from CPL (personal liability) as long as:
Servicing your residence (not a rental prop or other non residence location)
You are not in the business of sharpening.
You did not expect or intend to cause the harm.
Not required to carry Work comp on residence employees and they get hurt.
Read your policy or call your agent. Standard disclaimer, blah blah blah.
   Tone - Wednesday, 04/20/05 15:18:29 EDT

Hey again
i was just wondering what the price difference between charcoal and coal would be and if coal is better and if i can burn coal in my backyard

also with the chainmail question (sorry again) do any of you know of a saw blade thats thin and will cut 14 guage galvy wire wirecutter no matter how expensive make the links like >< and 2 can slip past each other but a saw will alwasys cut ][
   Draconas - Wednesday, 04/20/05 15:58:07 EDT

Rio Grande jewelry supply sells a jewelers saw frame and a thing called a jump ring jig check it out I think it would help.You probably only need the saw and you could rig up something to hold the rings
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 04/20/05 16:22:39 EDT

is coal better than charcoal? From using both I would say that it is very variable. Good coal is hard ot beat but bad coal is almost worthless. Charcoal is different than coal but I personally like it.
Costs also depend on location. Generally speaking coal is a fair bit more expensive on teh West coast than farther East.
I get Lazzari hardwood charcoal for about 20.00 USD per 40 lb bag.
A 40 lb bag of coal is costing about the same. But so far the charcoal has been of fairly uniform quality but the coal is radically different at times.

Also I get my charcoal form a local resturant supply house. I have also gotten it from a local hardware store.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/20/05 16:33:38 EDT

thanks for the help

ps would it be better for coal or gas forge
   lee - Wednesday, 04/20/05 16:41:17 EDT

Solid, Liquid and Gas Lee, Gas forges are clean, efficient and easy to use. You can heat several pieces at once without worrying about burning one up. But they are only efficient for the size work they are designed for.

Coal and charcoal forges are dirty and coal is smokey. However, solid fuel forges have the advantage of having a great range of flexibility. It is easier to get a small concentrated heat with solid fuel and generally easier to forge weld. The solid fuel is also safer to store indoors.

There are also oil forges which are similar to gas forges however they need good venting like a coal forge. They are also easier to forge weld with than gas. However, there are no small commerical models that I know of at this time.

The thing that usualy makes the decision is avaiability of fuel and your location. Many places do not like or alow small coal fires. Great Britian was the first place to have to regulate them due to massive air polution in the 1800's.

Most smiths end up with both gas and coal forges each for their advantages IF they can use both in their location.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/20/05 18:17:35 EDT

Hello Everybody

This is a glove question/situation.

I am having a hard time finding gloves that fit and offer good protection. (last experance with flux was not nice)

The problem that I am having it that most gloves fit a 9" palm. I have an 11" palm. The last gloves I had fit a 10 1/2" palm and I got it off just in time.

Anyone know a good to exceptional glove company/modle that will fit my paws.

   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 04/20/05 18:43:18 EDT

Lee, have you noticed that the greek, roman and NE smithing gods are always portrayed as *lame*? Looks like having a bum leg would put you one up on the rest of us as long as it will support you as you work.

Guru, there is once case where disability will keep you out and that is if it would be unsafe. Seeing how most schools are extremely liability phobic I can see where they might try to invoke that clause. Lee can you get a signed document stating why they refuse you entry to the class? If so try to go up the management tree for the school to the board of Govenors or other extreme upper management and present your case calmly to them.

Good Luck and welcome to the brotherhood of smiths

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/20/05 19:24:33 EDT

So the overall conclusion is coal heats better but charcoal is easier to get cleaner and is mostly the same quality
i live in canada, just for anyone who doesnt know (i remember someone saying they dont know US prices of coal and charcoal) how can i tell if a coal is good or not good
and is either of them more suited for a tire rim forge (not brakedrum forge) and of your knowledge what are some supliers of "good Coal" in the calgary area ,if there are any. or should i just not bother with coal and just buy some charcoal

thanks guru (or others )
   Draconas - Wednesday, 04/20/05 20:51:06 EDT

also do you know what the largest suplier of blacksmith equipment in my area would be
   Draconas - Wednesday, 04/20/05 20:57:01 EDT

I'm looking for a steady, or at least a large one-time supply of old used rasps/files. I'm looking for heavy stuff like good old Nicholsons or farrier's rasps that are carbon steel throughout, to make knives from. I'm also looking for scrapped sawblades such as lumber mill blades or two-man saws for same purpose. Hopefully L6 material.
   Mark - Wednesday, 04/20/05 21:00:47 EDT

Mark: I have 4-6 (not sure) old horseshoer's rasps you are welcome to have for the shipping cost. Have no idea on brand. Scrapyard saves old horseshoes for me and these were in the last bucket of them. Can send as priority mail flat rate box for $7.70 to any U.S. zip code - so about a buck or so per. If interested just click on my name to bring up the e-mail form.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/20/05 21:11:43 EDT

Arron Cissell,
The name brand industrial glove makers all pretty much can supply in your size. A kevlar glove is probably the best choice. Try Hagenmeyer, at 502-961-5930, and ask for Mike Morrison. Tell him you saw it here at Anvilfire and that he should advertise here.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/20/05 21:29:42 EDT

Guru, did you recieve my email re: webdesigner work needed?
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/20/05 21:31:35 EDT

carolinaginboy-- one thing to be careful with in heating up brass is good ventilation.
   Armitage Shanks - Wednesday, 04/20/05 22:23:19 EDT


MicroMark sells slitting saws as thin as about .025" that will do what you are asking. You will need to already have a flexible shaft grinder such as a Foredom tool or similar that will hold a 1/8" shank mandrel for the saw blade.

I should warn you that those slittin gblades are SHARP and will cut meat and bone (your finger) even faster than they cut steel. You should make a jig to hold both the stock and the cutter so that your hands are protected. Small circular saw blades are notorious for snagging in a cut and suddenly lashing and savaging you when you least expect it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/20/05 22:44:40 EDT

Mark-- Ask for old files at a machine or tool & die shop, Or ask someone who works there, make sure they know You don't want good ones,& tell them what You want them for. The last place I worked the floor was littered with them. Allso ask if they have power hacksaw blades. Modern sawmills use a large bandsaw, old ones use a blade with replacable teeth, the blade itself gets re-used even after encountrring the infamous horseshoe hung in the crotch of a tree. Two-man saws, if really old probably wont be L6, usually called "antiques"
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/20/05 22:55:20 EDT

Hayes -- To further muddy the waters, the people who manufacture,& advertise compressors dont always give an honest horsepower rating. 1 HP=746 watts with no friction,no effort to turn a cooling fan,in a vacuum & most importantly WITHOUT GENERATING ANY HEAT. The motor that does this has not been invented yet. In the real worold, a 1 HP motor will draw about 10 to 15 amps, yes that is quite a range. Sears and others seem to think they are exempt from the laws of thermal dynamics, one of My pet peeves. A small compressor with a tank can suply air for short intermitent cuts, but for long cuts the compressor has to suply the full ammount the unit requires. One of My friends uses a 40 amp cutter with a 1 HP compressor that has about a 10 gallon tank. I dont know if it would run it continuously, it would be close.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/20/05 23:26:02 EDT


Thanks for the reply. However, I disagree with your statement that a sword has only one use. I do fully understand that the exterior purpose of a blade is to kill. I have now have realized that me and you are talking about what seems to be the same thing but is quite different; like bannana's and oranges -- both friut, but quite different things. I've also realized that I have incorrectly stated the point I was trying to convey.

I've been doing martial arts for over half my life now and I guess I no longer have the perception of a sword some people do. I see a blade which was made to hew and hack as no more than an instrument to hone ones mind and a fine piece of art. What I was trying to say in my previous post now strikes me as inconsequential, and thus I am sorry for wasting your time.

Walker L
   Walker - Wednesday, 04/20/05 23:34:21 EDT

Hp for CFM...

Hayes, it takes .16 hp to compress 1 SCFM to 75 psig from 0 psig in a single stage compressor. SCFM is not CFM. You must convert. Jock, didn't I (or someone else) do that here once or twice before? Hayes, did you search the archives for CFM, SCFM etc?

Also, as has been said, there are flow losses that will lower the delivered pressure.

Note that if your compressor is set for a pressure higher than 75 psig, as most are, it will take MORE hp to deliver the same SCFM. It takes .22 hp to compress 1 SCFM to 150 psig from 0 psig in a single stage compressor.

My 60 amp Hypertherm plasma has my "7hp" 220 volt compressor running about 2/3 of the time if I use it hard.

Hayes, you need to know the CFM at 75 psig that the plasma requires or the SCFM it requires. And get numbers for when the air tips is worn out if you think it's close.
   - Tony - Thursday, 04/21/05 00:16:19 EDT

Hayes -- I forgot to state in the example above that I was using 115 volts. As an example, my lathe has a 1/2 HP motor, draws 8 amps@ 115 volts,where as My compressor draws 22 amps@ 230 volts to make 5 HP, this motor uses running capacitors, both are 4 pole motors[1725-1750 RPM@ rated HP]
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/21/05 01:01:38 EDT

Draconis, I am not sure I would say coal heats better than charcoal. Both will get to welding heat quickly ( IF YOU OPERATE IT CORRECTLY)
Coal smell worse and produces more smokey firires at first. Charcoal has a plesant smell ( good for neighbor relations) and produces more sparks ( hot fleas) generally.

Like I said earlier, they both work well, but they are slightly different.

Actually you can not have too many forges. I have a solid fuel forge, a NG forge and a propane forge. And I am considering on making an oil fired forge.

   Ralph - Thursday, 04/21/05 01:06:02 EDT


SCFM = Standard Cubic Foot per Minute?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/21/05 08:50:11 EDT

Dave, I was going to say the same thing. If you are running on 220v you will get nearly twice the hp for the same current (amps)My air compressor is rated at 3 hp and the motor is rated to draw 15 amps @ 220v at full hp. Then if you are talking about 3 phase power, the numbers get even better. I think my 3 hp 3 phase compressor motor draws 13 amps, I would need to check on that for sure though.
   - Wayne Parris - Thursday, 04/21/05 08:52:46 EDT

coal vs charcoal

As stated before there isn't necessarily one better than the other. Depending on where you are and how good you scrounge, you can make charcoal for next to nothing. You can't make coal. Smithing coal, per pound, heats the same as charcoal. But the density is quite a bit higher, so coal for forging will take up less space than the equivalent weight of charcoal. I've used both and have both in my shop(ramshackle garage). Course, now I am using gas because it is my new toy. ;-)}
   Escher - Thursday, 04/21/05 09:29:28 EDT

Use of Swords: Walker L, I agree with Timex. But you are correct, this is not a martial arts site and we do not instruct folks in how to use WEAPONS.

The ritualist use of weapons in practice is still in keeping with the weapon's purpose. It does not matter if it is a gun, knife, sword or fighter jet.

IF (and I am really stretching the point), IF your martial arts sword practice had nothing to do with killing your opponent then the tools used as excersise devices would never be an actual edged WEAPON, they would be nice round bars or padded staffs. YES, there is a purpose in practicing with real weapons but that NEVER changes the purpose of the weapon's design, to KILL.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 09:33:44 EDT

Arron C, have you tried McMaster-Carr. We buy all of our gloves from them, welding, fabrication and grinders. They sell left only, right only, or pairs. Naturally pricing depends on quantity. They also have a very large selection of styles and types to chose from.

not picking on you but......

JOIN CSI - help support Anvilfire.
   daveb - Thursday, 04/21/05 10:11:40 EDT

Sorry Arron didn't see your colors.
   daveb - Thursday, 04/21/05 10:12:48 EDT

Well now the most use I have made of a sword was for trimming the honeysuckle back to the chain link fence with a hand forged tulwar of no special virtue save that it cut nicely and didn't mind the occasional steel pipe edge meeting. I've also used swords to harvest misletoe---to me they are a tool...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/21/05 10:59:06 EDT

Oh drat, I have to blow off some steam on the coal vs. gas matter. I was reading an article on heat treating on a blade site, not related to Quenche's fine article, and this very fine knife maker said coal was the worst possible fuel for heat treating. I think he should have said that a poorly made forge with a poorly tended fire by a prejudiced gas burner is the poorest way to heat treat a knife. A well coked coal fire with a very precise blast control produces a range of heat from a smokeless bed of coals, to a gentle pure blue flame to a blinding white hot fire. You can form the coke over the top of your material to make a little oven or like was shared the other day, put a domed lid with a hole in the middle of it over the coal for a very localizing heat source. However, if you like the deafening roar of a gas forge and instant heat without the care of fire-tending, gas is great. Not even the great blademaker, Bill Moran, who forges in coal, heat treats with coal. He uses a gas torch. However, I am convinced that you can get the same great control from a coal fire if you practice blacksmithing the old way, (which some would hastily remind me was with charcoal.) There are even folks out there who love the smell of a good coal fire. And after all, a forge is not just a tool. It's the soul of a smith's shop and a reflection of his soot streaked face.
Fortunately, here in the Shennandoah Valley we have a wonderful source of coal or I would be looking for hand cut charcoal.
P.S. I am sorry if this falls under the prohibition of religious controversy.
   - lsundstrom - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:21:32 EDT

Does anyone know what the bench vise at eBay #6172619089 would have been used for. It would also be marked Towell Mfg & Fdy, S. Milw. WI. Came with several accessories to fit the slots in the top. I have a photograph of a complete unit I can e-mail upon request. The Towell company has been out of business for a number of years. Only thing I can find out about them is they might have manufactured a pulley and rail hay loading system for barns.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:28:15 EDT

AH . . . Sword = Machette

I brought a Machette back from Costa Rica my last trip. My daughter had bought it for a friend and *I* got to carry it in my checked lugage. .

Top brand in Central America is German made Solingin. . . Fancy leather sheaths are made localy and the whole sells for about $10 US.

In rural areas the machette is part of everyday garb. Anywhere in the US where you would see a holstered folder you would see a machette hanging in Central America. Both men and women carry them but they are primarily the symbol of the campisino or farmer.

The amazing thing is to watch a Tico cut the end off a green coconut with a couple wacks of his machette and not lose fingers in the process. Green coconuts are mostly full of coconut milk and do not have the heavy husk and hard inner shell whith white meat that we think of as being a coconut.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:28:36 EDT

does any one have a set of plans or demensions for turning a peice of RR track into an anvil? I can get a piece about 2 feet long. and get I want to get it cut for a horn and for hardy and pritchle holes.

   dean - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:37:48 EDT

hi, i am having a problem with induction heating.i make rotary cutting dies the problem is the blades are sometimes hard and soft.the rockwell is between 58/60 on the ends but the blades seem softer.i use 4150 steel? should i be using a different type of steel? what temp should the part be while scanning? what temp should i be tempering at?
   - jeff - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:43:04 EDT

Does anyone know of a calgary blacksmithing suply place?
also what should i use as tongs if i cant find any fitted for blacksmithing
should i just use the kind that come in most fire poker sets?
also when i start a fire with carcoal do you simply coat it in lighter fluid or can you just light a peice of paper on fire and set it into the charcoal
does anyone have any designs for a throwing knife or axe (all metal axe) thats nice looking and throws well
if there are any just email them to me (if you like)
   Draconas - Thursday, 04/21/05 11:50:32 EDT

Dean: After all that work you are still left with an anvil of questionable use. IMHO, you would be better off with one of the Russian anvils purchased directly from Harbor Freight retail outlets and than try to convert the track.

Draconas: Use the navigator bar to go down to the advertiser area. I suspect all will delivery to Canada. If you have a bandsaw and arc welder you can reverse engineer many of my offerings at Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/21/05 12:06:44 EDT

Odd Vise:

Ken, I am not sure if this is a special purpose vise or just another unusual one. There have been thousands of unusual vise designs. I would bet there are patents by the truck load at the Patent Office and that would be the best place to identify many.

I have an old (broken) vice that has a triple jaw head. Both the front and back jaws can be rotated so that the jaws you want are at the top. There is a wide jaw, narrow jaw and a round pin jaw. They can be used in mismatched combinations and the base has an angular adjustment. Sadly it is not repairable. . .

In our family shop we have a vise with a set of joints so that it can be rotated at any angle or direction as well as raised and lowered. Was my Grandfathers and it was old when he got it in the 1920's.

I used to have a Greenfield caulking/heading vise and have found numerous types and brands of them with various features. I also purchased an all wood broom maker's vise from Bill Gichner many years ago as a gift to a friend. . . hmmmm. . .same time I bought the Greenfield.

Then there are the common milling machine, shaper and drill press vises which are all similar but different. Shops are also full of air and foot operated vises. . .

Except for the two Prentise chipping vises I have and a couple leg vises I've had all the others are unique and I've never seen others of the same type/style. And even the leg vises are different styles.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 12:14:24 EDT

TRAVEL: NOW. . you like old tools and you want an interesting trip? Go to the US Patent and Trademark Office in Crystal City, Virginia and spend a day or two. Research ANYTHING and you will find hundreds of ideas, good and bad as well as impractical. Major cost is a place to stay and parking. There is a hotel directly across the highway from the Patent Office and it pays to stay there and walk across the street (There's a tunnel I think). Rates are typical of the DC area but you are saving $20/day on parking.

If a group would like to go I'd glady act as tour and research guide. If you want the best deal it also pays to hire someone to do the gophering and makes copies. . . A day goes by VERY quickly and you don't want to spend the whole time standing at a copy machine. You can easily spend $100 on copies in a day. However, it is cheaper to make copies then take them home to study them than to try to read the details while at the PTO. I've never been that I did not need two days minimum. One day to get your focus and determine the "prior art" top look at, the night to plan the next day and that day to TRY to finish up.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 12:22:38 EDT

RR-rail Anvils: Dean, I agree with Ken on this being a waste of money. If you have to pay someone to this work you can afford to buy a real anvil and have an infinitely better tool. There is no shortage of real anvils, new or used.

The problems with RR-rail anvils:

1) Too springy, mass improperly distributed.
2) Curved face. requires machining or heavy grinding
3) Too light except for VERY small work.
4) DIY anvils are usualy not cost effective.

There is insufficient room for a standard 1" (25mm) size hardy hole or mass to support using such large tools. The proper scaled hardy hole is about 1/2" (13mm) and will require that you make all the tools to fit.

Although we have written much on this subject it is not worth making plans. It is just something you do or don't.

Examples of RR-Rail anvils from anvilfire NEWS The good, the bad and the ugly. SOFA 2004.

iForge, Tools from RR-Rail Includes anvils and best use of rail (figures 16 - 19).

Fabicated Anvils, Plans page

Making inexpensive Anvils

Selecting an Anvil Includes links to all the above and to new anvil dealers.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 12:49:13 EDT

Draconas, if you can't find a pair of tongs---why don't you *FORGE* a pair! What a concept...there are a couple of easy designs shown in i-Forge IIRC that don't require a pair of tongs to make if you start with longer pieces and are using a solid fuel forge---a gas forge can do it too but you would need gloves and cooling the "reins" pretty often.

Jeff, what are you cutting? I would think that 4150 would be a poor choice of alloy for most cutting tools I know of.

Higher carbon content for more wear resistance is indicated IMHO.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/21/05 14:02:36 EDT

Go to http://www.wcbg.org/index.php and then click on executive and it will give you some contacts in Calgary.
   JimG - Thursday, 04/21/05 14:32:37 EDT

Draconas, Check the iForge page we have several axe demos. Once you understand the process they are all alike except for shape, that is up to you.

This July make it a point to go to the Calgary Stampede and watch the FORGING contests. In Calgary they are using coke for fuel. There will also be several suppliers selling tools. Most of what will be sold is farrier related but many of the tools cross over.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/21/05 14:44:01 EDT

thomas, i my tools are made to cut different type of paper the tools cut out lables i am part of the printing industry
   - jeff - Thursday, 04/21/05 14:49:21 EDT

A good way to make a railroad rail anvil is to take about a 4' section of rail (that way you have enough weight that it's not so bouncy) and flip it upside down so that the flat side is up. Then, weld pipe onto the sides to make a stand. A hardy hole can be cut with a torch after cutting out a small section of the webbing. It's defenitly not as good as the real deal, but you could probably make it for next to nothing if you have a good scrap guy.
   MIKE HILL - Thursday, 04/21/05 15:11:07 EDT


If you have a good scrap guy, get a piece of heavy shafting or plate of about 100# and use that. If you need a hardy hole, weld one on the side of it, don't waste time and energy trying to carve one out of it. Leave the railroad rail on the tracks; it was designed for that, which it does well enough. It makes a crummy anvil, especially if you try to work on the bottom flange.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/21/05 15:28:47 EDT

Paper is very abrasive to cut, you definitely need to "alloy up"; perhaps by reading what others are using and checking into that as a starter material.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/21/05 19:06:30 EDT

can someone please tell me it there is an easy way to stretch fireplace screen.
   michael - Thursday, 04/21/05 19:26:53 EDT


The Patent office has moved from Crystal City to Alexandria, and the paper patent collection is no more. There is still a search room, with electronic search tools much better than those on the internet. Some of these tools are also available in Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries in each state.
   Mike B - Thursday, 04/21/05 19:38:22 EDT

Paw Paw, yes. I'd go into it more, but time is limited and I'm pretty sure it's in there somewhere.
   - Tony - Thursday, 04/21/05 19:58:21 EDT


No problem, I wasn't sure that was right, so wanted to clarify.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/21/05 20:27:11 EDT

thanks all
i was just wondering how much i should spend on a pair of tongs and some other well used and needed tools
can you give me a quote
like how much is too much to spend
i dont want to get gyped

   Draconas - Thursday, 04/21/05 22:07:16 EDT

Jeff -- I suggest A2 toolsteel with a hard chrome plating. when the chrome starts to wear through, send back to the plater to strip & re-plate. I asume You are cutting against a hypalon [rubber] belt or roller?
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/21/05 22:19:54 EDT

do you make your own sawblades?
if so do you think you could make a thin slitting saw that would cleanly cut 14 guage galvy steel
or if you know of aa company that does
   Draconas - Thursday, 04/21/05 22:25:56 EDT

Larry: While coal forges have been used to heat treat steel for as long as smiths have burnt coal, if You expect to get the mechanical properties the reference books list for the material You are working You need to get& hold the temperature they call fore within prety close limits, 25 degrees or so. A controlled atmosphere helps allso. If You are spending a lot of money per pound on good alloy steel then heat treating it by eyeball, You would have been better off to use cheaper material in the first place & lower Your performance expectations. Just My $.02
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/21/05 22:39:50 EDT

does anyone know the best material to make throwing knives out of
and what the stepps involved are
like do i have to heat treat and stuff
   Draconas - Thursday, 04/21/05 22:42:31 EDT

Charcoal (follow-up to earlier post) I found 10 lb. bags of Royal Oak chacoal at the local grocery store today. Cost of CDN$6.98 (plus taxes) for a 10 lb. bag. A pallet full from a distributor would probably be cheaper.

Cool at 1 Cel and clear skies North of the Lake (Ontario.)

   Don - Thursday, 04/21/05 23:53:17 EDT

Swords, the use of-- I find that chauffeurs, limo drivers, doormen and maitres d' just simply treat me with just a whole lot more respect when I wear my broadsword, and, truth to tell, I feel better about myself, too. More centered, more in touch with my inner Celt, don't you know. So, I find it extremely useful, nay, downright practical, although admittedly it is a bit of a bother when sitting down at the movies.
   - Nelson Magruder - Friday, 04/22/05 00:03:15 EDT

Patent Office. . . Well, no wonder the quality of new inventions sucks and the PTO is granting patents on prior art on a regular basis. . . You still can't beat hardcopy. I've used the Satelite libraries and they stink. The microfilm ststem was impossible to use. The old hardcopies were grouped by category and most of the patents on one subject were all in one box, not spread across a couple dozen rolls of film. Well, maybe I will have to try the new PTO. However, the Satelites had nothing prior to 1967 or so on film and nothing prior to somewhere in the 1980's on the PC. About 99% of mechanical prior art was created before 1900. Between the time Nasmyth invented the steam hammer in 1834 and Edison finished most of his just about EVERYTHING practical had been invented in mechanics. Most new stuff is design patents, not basic inventions.
   - guru - Friday, 04/22/05 00:20:21 EDT

DRACONAS! Please get a few of the books suggested, read our FAQs, do a little metalwork, THINK some for yourself THEN come back and ask questions. We will still be here.

Your saw question was answered several times. However, you will find that the cost of saw blades would be thousands of dollars to cut all the rings for a mail shirt. If you go to the mail sites suggested, several sell rings cut on chain making machines which shear the ends square. But then if you had tried the proper shears they do too.
   - guru - Friday, 04/22/05 00:28:43 EDT

   SPHIWE - Friday, 04/22/05 07:12:51 EDT

yes my die sits on a anvil and the paper runs through it.is a2 able to be inductioned hardened?
   - jeff - Friday, 04/22/05 07:31:16 EDT

saw blades,no i don't make my own u i do use a company called lenox that makes my blades maybe you could check them out.
   - jeff - Friday, 04/22/05 07:36:06 EDT

Dave, I agree with your good point. I was limiting my comment to simpler high carbon steels. How do reference books deal with Damascus? Seems to me that brings you back to the old way.
   - lsundstrom - Friday, 04/22/05 08:54:45 EDT


BTW, typing in all caps is concidered SHOUTING on the internet
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 04/22/05 09:00:01 EDT


One of the key elements of economic price theory is the law of supply and demand. All other things being equal, as the supply increases, prices decrease. As supply decreases, prices increase. For example, in the U.S., used blacksmithing tools tend to be significantly cheaper east of the MS River than west of it. Reason is simply by the time the U.S. population expanded significantly west of it, the Industrial Revolution occurred and there wasn't as much of a need for blacksmiths there. By the time CA was settled, very few blacksmiths were employed (vs population) and thus tools are subsequently far scarcer there. You are in Canada so that throws an entirely different complication to the matter.

When you come to farrier tools, they seem to be more widespread. Reason? Likely because it was a service needed just about everywhere prior to widespread introduction of automobiles or tractors.

Today eBay is about as good of a current price guide as any, although you do have to take S&H costs into consideration.

In the end it comes down to what you are willing to pay for anything given its intended use. But even here a collector may be willing to pay far higher than a user.

As noted in other replies, there are several active blacksmithing groups in Canada. Become associated with them.

If you can't make even a simple pair of useable tongs, likely you have no business trying more complicated items.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/22/05 09:14:47 EDT

Magruder and All, I say who needs a showy sword, when all you really need, if your serious, is that long darning needle hidden up your sleeve, a la Peter Lorre in that old movie I remember as a kid. You simply sidled up to your unsuspecting victim, allowed the needle to slide out into your waiting palm, and shoved it hard into his ear and brain. Viola!
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/22/05 10:01:03 EDT


I answered your question regarding saw blades and where to get them, earlier. If you choose not to follow up on that it is up to you, but then why keep asking?

As for making knives to throw, the key thing is make knives that don't break. Pretty much rules out high carbon, wouldn't you say? The steps in forging one are the same steps in forging any edged weapon. Get the books by the experts and STUDY them, then you will be on the right path. The first few knives you make will be thrown, most likely in the scrap pile. First efforts are rarely worth keeping.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/22/05 10:15:20 EDT

I have a certain fondness for those who carry a sword. They're hard to conceal and no match for my 40 cal Glock. Advantage, me.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/22/05 10:18:18 EDT

For throwing knives, I am rather partial to a good vulcanized rubber.
   Ralph - Friday, 04/22/05 11:27:54 EDT

For throwing knives, I find that 5160 works well. Easy to forge (compared to say, Vascowear) and easy to find. A ton of automobile leaf springs are made out of it. One more thing. Seriously, there is no reason to make or own a sword other than for the hell of it. I love the challenge of making such a long blade. Heck, I have trouble just forging a perfect neo-tribal knife (no stock removal). And I love hacking 2x4s into little bits. But I recognize that if I needed to defend myself, I would be a lot better off with a desert eagle than a short sword. There are many historical and mystical reasons one might want to have such a famous weapon. In the end however, all it boils down to is wanting to have one for the hell of it. By the way, the martial arts is, as the Guru said, an exception. A bokken is not a sword, nor is a shinai, nor is a "practical katana", nor is an aluminum blade. Only live blades are truly weapons.
P.S. I was wondering how one would go about making a historically acurate mace. Not that I even have the time or energy to make it, and not that I intend to. I was just wondering if forging would be completely out of the question, or if I should try sand casting. Would the lost wax process work?
   Matthew Marting - Friday, 04/22/05 14:45:42 EDT

I just realized that there was an inconsistency in the wording of the P.S. portion of that last post. I did not intend to type "if I should try sand casting" but rather I meant "or if sand casting would be more efficient". I stick by my claim that I do not intend to make a mace. It would be unweildly, dangerous, unneccecary, time consuming, and probably illegal. I simply have a voracious appetite for knowledge and wondered about how something with so much mass and so many extentions that are not along the x, y, or z axis (ie; diagonal spikes)could be made.
   Matthew Marting - Friday, 04/22/05 14:55:46 EDT

Would anyone please suggest reference materials (books or online) that might help me identify and old blacksmith's mark? I've got an old iron flax rippling tool (on eBay here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7317404229 or here: http://tinyurl.com/a3793) that has 3 dots, connected by 2 lines. Someone wrote me to tell me it was Austrian, Hungarian or German, and a "very typical symbol of the Holy
Trinity used by blacksmiths on ironwork. Frequently seen hammered into the iron on the goosewing broadaxes ..."

Well, I don't know the origin of the tool, but it was acquired in Scotland nearly 40 years ago. Any information on reference material to marks will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!

John (Venice, CA)
   John J. - Friday, 04/22/05 15:33:07 EDT

Is that young man, "Whitesmith", still around, or has he gone off to college? His posts are well thought out. He does the research first...
   Ron Childers - Friday, 04/22/05 15:55:01 EDT

MICHAEL Francis Whitaker has 2 pages devoted to "Fire Screen Assembly" in "The Blacksmith's Cookbook". I have never tried this myself as I had someone make two firescreens of an entirely different design for my two fireplaces 26 years ago and don't want a flat screen. The method he uses for a flat screen looks good and involves a special set of tongs made to stretch the screen to fit it tight to the frame. If you can't find the book or need further help finding it post here and I will see about getting you a print some way. My own screens stand out about 8 inches from the wall face and go back on both sides and the top to completely cover the fireplace opening so that I can walk away from a still-burning fire at night and go to bed without worrying. Nothing will pop and go over the top of the screen. They are not artistic, just safe, and that suits my wife.
   - J.Myers - Friday, 04/22/05 16:10:21 EDT

Mace, what were you planning to cast it out of? Historically the casting of steel came about in the 1700's in Europe. Cast iron is about the start of the Renaissance. Cast Brass maces do not seem to be very popular during the medieval period.

Forging was/is the way to go. Of course they were using wrought iron and so forgewelding was a common process for the early smith.

I want to try making a flanged mace by taking sheet and folding it for each flange and forge welding the folded part and cutting the shape out and going on to the next till time to lap weld the sheet to finish off the eye.

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/22/05 16:39:28 EDT

Swords and their uses.
Once as a young man, I witnessed another teenager ask a drill instructor when we would learn to use the bayonet. The old grizzled(think of Pawpaw here)DI said "You @*####@**, why would you want to use a knife when you are carrying a rifle? People who knife fight always get hurt, and at least one is usually dead. SHOOT THEM you #@@#$%#@@!"
From that point on I never had much interest myself. I figure that bayonet was pretty fair for cutting food, although a bit long.
   ptree - Friday, 04/22/05 17:23:06 EDT

Didn't Robert W Service write a poem about "My Bayonett" or was it Kipling?

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/22/05 17:45:00 EDT

I am in 4-h and am doing metal crafting and i have been trying and trying to find somewhere that sells pewter and brass. DO YOU KNOW WHERE I COULD FIND SOME? Please help
   billy shearer - Friday, 04/22/05 18:38:29 EDT

Questions/Throwing knives: Draconas, you seem to ask a lot of questions that could be answered by a bit of research on your part. I'm not speaking for anyone but myself, but I've found it's really easy to find answers to almost all your questions by browsing this site and those listed in the Links page. I've spent MANY hours researching every corner of this site and going through all the related links. I've learned things I didn't know I didn't know by stumbling onto pages in this site. Doing research on my own saved me from asking the scores of questions I had, and possibly annoying people. When I FINALLY got my smithy together, it was so much easier to make what I wanted, AND I felt better about learning it on my own. There's an old saying, "God helps those who help themselves". I see the Guru, et al, bending over backwards to help out anyone who asks, but when the asker seemingly wants knowledge spoon-fed him, it shows disrespect and a lack of appreciation for their time and knowledge. I appreciate everything I've learned here, that's why I joined CSI. My advice, free and worth every penny.
As for throwing knives, go to throwzini.com for all your knife-throwing answers. Scott Gracia will happily answer all your knife-throwing questions, for a price.
   Koomori - Friday, 04/22/05 18:52:04 EDT

my email is in this one sorry for the mistake
   billy shearer - Friday, 04/22/05 18:52:34 EDT

i got no one to talk to either but i think you could help me if what you say is true
   billy shearer - Friday, 04/22/05 18:55:33 EDT

Bill Shearer. Check with local scrap yards. For example, the one I use sells it (and bronze) for $1.00 pound.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/22/05 19:07:08 EDT

Billy Shearer,

Try Atlas Metals in Denver Colorado. They have non-ferrous metals galore.

Also, try using the shift key on your keyboard to capitalize the beginning of sentences, etc. Maybe use periods at the end of sentences, too. Us old guys who know what you want to know really appreciate being able to read the questions easily.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/22/05 20:12:34 EDT


When I took my first close combat course, the instrutctor said the same thing, then added: "But if you are out of ammunition, prepare to cut him to deat. ACCEPT the fact ahead of time that you ARE going to get cut! When it happens, don't be shocked, just keep cutting till he falls down!"

I listened, the message was clear and remained with me. And I've got the scars to prove it!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/22/05 20:27:52 EDT

I heard that later, but the DI's first statement in basic, in a previous century... Wait, does that make me old?
   ptree - Friday, 04/22/05 20:44:50 EDT

Jeff -- A2 is usually heated for hardening with some means to prevent decarbarization, controlled atomosphere,stainless foil,salt bath,etc. Otherwise it won't be hard on the surface. Harden from 1725 to 1775 Deg.F Quench in still air unless parts are extremely thick, then You san use an air box. Draw at 400 F for Rc 60/62 or at 700 F for Rc 57/59 for greater toughness.The hard chrome plate is the wearing surface, it can be renewed indefinatly. Friends of Mine have been manufacturing beverage coasters on printing machinery for 2 generations this way [flat type & dies]striking on a hypalon belt. The machinery was previously used to make adhesive lables.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 04/22/05 23:08:40 EDT

Larry -- I don't mean this as a wise guy, but do people actually use Damascus knifes & swords? I figured they are mostly art work,& mechanical properties not much of an issue. I have done a bit of seat of the pants heat treating allso. It's OK for non critical jobs.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 04/22/05 23:34:10 EDT

Dave, I use my patternwelded blades hard! Nice to see the eyes bug out when someone catches you digging a fire pit and chopping kindling with your PW seax. They're *tools* after all.

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/22/05 23:52:17 EDT

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