WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from April 23 - 30, 2005 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

"Whitesmith" is still blacksmithing, continues to ask questions, and continues to learn.

Last year he wanted to learn to arc weld. After some instruction here, he put in several hours arc time to get the feel of the process. It also gave him some working knowledge on which to base his questions. He then studied for several hours under a nuclear welder.

When we returned home, he burned up most of the rods in the shop practicing what he had learned. One sputterball into a shoe, and he now insists on wearing leather gloves, sleeves, and chaps when welding. All part of the learning process.
   - Ntech - Saturday, 04/23/05 04:36:13 EDT

vicooper: Proper grammar, sentence construction, capitalization, punctuation, penmanship, etc., etc., etc., seems to no longer be emphasized in secondary education. Emphasis is to get one's thoughts across in whatever way they desire. Works in high school, but soon crashes in the real world in all but the lowest paying, dead-end, minimum wage jobs. About same for math. Given a formula and a calculator most kids can figure out the cubic feet in a grain bin. However, ask them to multiple 8 x 9 in their head and you are likely to get a blank stare. My rant for today.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/23/05 07:14:06 EDT


Reference the math skills. I'm continually amazed at how little real math is taught in the schools today. I frequently tell the cashier how much my total is, including tax, while he/she/it is entering items. Then I tell them what my change should be when they start entering that. They get the most shocked look on their face.

I wonder what they will do if they go into the military and are stationed in a foriegn country. Who will calculate the monetary exchange rate for them?

And I'm not particularly gifted when it comes to math.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/23/05 07:36:22 EDT

A tip when the change comes. I noticed that when the change was dropped in my hand as a bunch of loose coins, instead of counted into my hand that it was usually short a dime or nickle. If you figure the number of transactions at a fast food joint, a dime or nickle from every transaction about doubles the wage. Some play dumb but they have to be pretty quick to kep the drawer straight. I have gone to counting the change in my hand, at the register, and it is amazing the number of times the missing coin is handed over before the count is finished with a "oh, sorry, I miscounted"
   ptree - Saturday, 04/23/05 08:46:18 EDT

does the guru or anyone else know where i could find a large sheet of pewter. i have looked around and found what i wanted but it was a little expensive for my liking.
   bill shearer - Saturday, 04/23/05 10:49:41 EDT

Pewter: Bill, Pewter is mostly pure tin and used mostly for crafts and by a few shops that make high class pewterware. Pure tin is not cheap ($14/lb) and the demand for pewter sheet is low. The combination is why the sheet is expensive.

An option to pewter sheet for sme applications is aluminium sheet. It is not quite as easy to work but annealed is very soft.

For small quantities of brass sheet you can purchase it through our on-line metals store. McMaster-Carr sell pure tin ingots but not sheet.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/23/05 12:49:27 EDT

HELP: Where did I see a buffalo/bison head chiseled on the head of a RR spike? (having another AARP moment)
   - Tom H - Saturday, 04/23/05 13:14:05 EDT

Dave ---I made them; nothing can happen to them that I can't cope with!

Bill, I don't work with sheet pewter; but I can suggest a few things to get an answer you might find usefull

1: where are you at? The best piece in the world may not help you if you have to pick it up in person 12000 miles away

2: How large is large? 5"x5" or 5'x5' or 50'x50' or...

3: how thick?

   Thomas P - Saturday, 04/23/05 14:14:21 EDT

those fortunate few who join the Military will not worry about exchange rates. They will just feel that they are making more $ than ever before and they will also realize that living on base allows them to spend freely.
At least that is how it looks to me from observing my Marine.
   Ralph - Saturday, 04/23/05 15:09:53 EDT

i have a lean to on my workshop with a dirt floor , i have been collecting equipment to start blacksmithing .
i have a bunch of bricks left over from building my house, do you think it would be a good idea to use the bricks as a floor for the blacksmithing area ?\

   ray.s - Saturday, 04/23/05 17:46:58 EDT


Wait till they have to live on the economy. Although the Corps doesn't do that much.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/23/05 18:22:18 EDT

Ray S.,

A brick floor will work well. If they are construction brick (with holes) you might want to install them on edge, or sweep dirt or sand into the holes to fill them. If they are paver bricks, (no holes) you can just sweep sand between them. But it's fireproof and easier on the feet than concrete. The only problem is that unless you lay a good base for them to sit on, keeping them level can be a bit of a challenge.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/23/05 18:40:23 EDT

Using Pattern Welded Tools: Well, there is pattern welding and there is high art pattern welding. . . However, the advantage of being a craftsperson, particularly a blacksmith is that you can make and use many tools that others cannot afford.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/23/05 19:03:13 EDT

Brick Floor: As Paw-Paw pointed out, leveling and re-leveling can be a problem and constant maintenance task. Although many people do it all I have seen with brick over sand or dirt floors is problems. The bricks may be much more useful building a chimney or forge.

The late Francis Whitaker always insisted that the ONLY proper forge floor was dirt. However, unless you have the right type of clay soil and are willing to do a lot of maintenance a dirt floor also has many problems.

Often these decisions are a matter of personal preference and the local climate, soils and traditions. You have to do what you think is best.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/23/05 19:11:31 EDT

As I might have mentioned in passing, Dawn and I will be gone til May 4th.
Going to Hawaii to welcome our Marine back to US soil!
Not sure what type of access to the net I will have so you might not hear from me for a bit.
   Ralph - Saturday, 04/23/05 22:46:13 EDT

I just made my first batch of charcoal! ( yellow pine )
It took about 3 or 4 hours and made loads of smoke. Does anyone know how to control or limit the smoke? What wood does the best for converting to charcoal( hard or soft ) or is it better to mix wood types in the burn? Also does anyone know a site or ref. book that has the general chemical process that is ocurring to the wood during the 'charring '?
Sorry for the long post, I'm just excited about my first charcoal experment.
   - Timex - Saturday, 04/23/05 23:08:39 EDT

I have a few questions but first I wanted to say how much this sight rocks. I give it an A++++++++++++++++++(Ebay style)
1.) I recently bought a russian anvil from harbor freight and after grinding it into something resembling an actual anvil I realized how dang soft it is. I am new and my hammer control isnt great but even a few light misses left dents. I want to make something resembling a cutting plate but instead of soft iron I was going to use some good steel that I can harden. What kind would be the best for this and should I weld a hardy on to it or maybe I could just JB weld it to the face of my anvil.
2.) I was given a forge that was made from a steel barrel and it has a pipe running the length of it with several holes in it. I think it was made to be used with a lot of coal because there are 2 dips in the barrel that are about 8 inches above the pipe and parallel to it. I want to build some sort of firepot to put over the pipe and use it like a normal forge (at least until I can get or make something better) what is the best way to do it (I already tried clay and without a way to fire it, it just explodes) I was thinking of welding one out of 1/4 inch mild steel with a thinner hearth maybe 16 gauge.
3.) What oil(s) work best for quenching and would soybean oil work well or at all? (I work in a restaraunt and that is our salad oil so I can get a lot for cheap)
Thank you for your help,

William Conn
   William Conn - Sunday, 04/24/05 01:25:57 EDT

Not a long post... why do people apologize for long posts, anyway? I don't get it.

William Conn,
1) Work around the dents. They don't matter much, honestly -- just live with it or grind them out if they bother you that much. Your "cutting plate" question doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, but it seems like you want to put a harder steel plate on the face of your anvil as a wear plate. Not a good idea unless you can through-weld it, and that's either many pounds of rod or an electron beam welder. :) If you want a REAL cutting plate, it is supposed to be soft so as to not mess up the edges of your cutting tools.

2) Make a new forge. Doesn't sound like there's any reason for you to work within the shortcomings of this one. Dig a hole in the ground... works pretty well.

3) Soybean oil sho uld work fine. I use canola oil, I think. Most any food oil will work, as far as I know, and they're far safer than used motor oil, etc.

Cool and clear in Lithgow, Australia! :)
   T. Gold - Sunday, 04/24/05 01:39:35 EDT

William Conn: Someone I know uses one of those russian HF anvils and noticed it dings easily too, and I've heard it posted here and elsewhere too. There is something you can do to help though, peen all around the ding and it evens out the surface, it still won't be perfect, but much smoother then just one ding sitting deep in the face.

The forge you describe sounds much like a charcoal forge style called a washtub forge (though it doesn't need to be made from a washtub), I actually use something very similer myself. You can tell it's for charcoal instead of coal do to the lack of an ash dump or any other way to conviently remove the ash, since wood/charcoal ash isn't harmful to the steel. You're right in that it's probably designed for a good amount of fuel, but with charcoal you generally need a deeper fire then with coal anyway.

If you're going to use coal you probably do want to make a new one from scratch, if you're using charcoal you might want to hang onto it. You can reduce the fire size and fuel required by putting clay over some of the holes to block the air, or you can do what I do, stack some bricks (preferably hard firebrick) in there to contain the fuel in a small section and don't worry about the air coming out of the other unused holes, with no fuel above it the air on the sides of your fire isn't hurting anything.
   AwP - Sunday, 04/24/05 02:47:55 EDT

Oh, and SNOWING here in Columbus Ohio, what's up with that?!
   AwP - Sunday, 04/24/05 02:48:50 EDT

William Comm:

Use the navigtor box to the upper right and go down to the list of advertisers. Select the one for my eBay store: Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools. Once in it do a keyword search on Russian. You will find my solutions for dealing with the soft surface and lack of a pritchel hole. If you do a search on sleeve you will also find my solution to reducing the hardy hole to a more practical size. If you do a search on propane you will find my solutions to not having to deal with either coal or charcoal. You are welcome to reverse engineer the designs since I am aware others do also.
   Ken Scharabok (aka Poor Boy) - Sunday, 04/24/05 05:30:55 EDT


The smoke coming off of your charcoal making operation is the volatile gasses and water in the wood. One way to minimize the amount of smoke is to make your charcoal in a retort so that you can feed the volatiles into the fire. Doing this allows the volatiles to be burned, reducing smoke, and it provides additional heat for the coalling process.

The simplest way to do this is to put your wood into a metal drum and close it up. The bung hole in the lid, usually about 2" diameter, can be piped under the drum to feed the fire, or you can punch a few 1" holes in the side of the drum. Either way, you heat the drum with a fire built below it, and have the gasses from the wood feed into the fire.

When the wood has finished gassing off, you have done what you wanted and the result is charcoal. Let the fire die down, or pull the drum away from the fire and let it cool. It is a good idea to put the holes in the drum on the ground side to cover them during cooling, lest any glowing wood inside the drum use them to draw oxygen to support combustion. If that happens, you end up with ash, not charcoal.
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/24/05 07:28:16 EDT

William Conn: I bought one of those Russian Anvils, too. I used it for about a year before I bought a better cast steel anvil. It will ABSOLUTELY encourage you to work on your hammer control! LOL! I still have the anvil and would use it at a Demo or perhaps sell it to a local BS beginner. A cutting saddle is a must for any anvil but forget trying to weld/glue a hard steel plate to the face. Use it, try to learn to guide the hammer, save your money for a good anvil.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/24/05 10:39:40 EDT

I wanted to say to Ken that what American schools teach in the way of communication skills doesn't matter. Most of our execs are from elsewhere and speak and write English terribly. I need spanish, middle eastern and far east language knowledge more than english and that's in Indiana.

Thats why I'm going back to farriery. Horses make more sense.
   Mike Ferrara - Sunday, 04/24/05 10:52:19 EDT


On coaling, see our Coal and Charcoal FAQ as weel as what VIc had to say above. Chemicaly there are some VERY complex things going on in burning wood or making charcoal. The combination of cooking cellulose reducing it to carbon while releaseing wood gas and burning the volatiles could fill a book on organic chemistry. The type of wood also varies the chemistry.

Most production coalers feed the gases into the heating fire and burn them off. This greatly reduces the smoke and coaling fuel costs. At a certain point the only fuel needed is the wood gas.

At the begining the process releases steam as water is driven off. Then the volatiles in the sap (you get turpentine and pine tar from pine trees, sugars from maples and others) gases off making a lot of smoke. These will burn with some help. At the end the cellouse (wood cell walls) is reduced to nearly pure carbon as the hydrogen and a little carbon is driven off as wood gas. This last step is not carried out 100% as this is good fuel but it results in hotter burning charcoal.

Coaling is done using a variety of methods. For an old fashioned charcoal pit see my recent article on Costa Rica in our news. I need to add that page to the charcoal FAQ links. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 04/24/05 11:02:18 EDT

I have to do a report on a what a blacksmith's life, or day, is like and I was wondering if you could help out. I would greatly appreciate it! Please and thanks!
   Haleigh - Sunday, 04/24/05 14:52:52 EDT

Haleigh, we all did our homework years ago. You can do yours. Try going to the anvilfire story page and click on one of the stories about blacksmithing like this one :


Read it yourself, summarize what you read, write your report. Be sure to give credit to the person who wrote the story. Good Luck!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/24/05 16:33:39 EDT

Bill Shearer; Consider looking for a supplier of babbit metal. It approximates real pewter more closely than anything else out there. It is available in various alloys, and requires relatively low heat to melt, in the mid 400 degree range. With a little experimentation, you could probably cast your own sheet in a leveled up, preheated Pyrex baking dish. Just remember, if it contains lead, don't use it to make ANY kind of food container. It is generally an alloy of lead, tin and antimony in various proportions of each, depending on the hardness required, the cost determined mostly by the amount of tin. Try the Thomas Register for a source if your local Yellow Pages can't help you. As with all activities involving molten metals and the fumes thereof, you're on your own. BE CAREFUL !
   3dogs - Sunday, 04/24/05 21:10:43 EDT

MIKE: I was visiting with a FARRIER buddy of mine and he had to pay taxes on a $100,000.00 for last year. Might not be a bad deal, if our in the right place.grin.

   - sandpile - Sunday, 04/24/05 21:54:37 EDT

OK, time for your dumb question chuckle. I have never tapped a hole before for bolt threads. The need never has arisen. I do have to use for it now vs welding on nuts. It is as simple as drilling a slightly undersized hole and running a cutter through it?
   Ken Scharabok (aka Poor Boy) - Sunday, 04/24/05 22:24:26 EDT


Would your farrier friend also happen to be a licensed vet? Sounds like you are talking race track shoeing.
   - Ken Scharaobk - Sunday, 04/24/05 22:26:05 EDT

Hi Ken
Do a google search online for a Decimal Equivalents and Tap Drill Sizes chart. This will give your the proper drill size for tap. i.e. 1/4-20 thread uses a #7 drill. The number seven drill is: .201 thousandths of an inch. This is for a 1/4" hole is .250. the 20 is threads per inch or coarse thread. 1/4-28 is fin thread and uses a #3 drill or .213. You want to start with a taper tap. You can use that if it is a through hole for the complete thread. If a blinf hole use a taper tap to start then a bottom tap to finish. Keep tap staright and tur clock wise a little. Then slightly turn counterclockwise to break the chip anf then turn clockwise again. Us e a tapping oil on the tap or in the hole to prevent wear and tap breaking. I hope I explained this in a way that it is easily understood. Just so know one dislikes my methods-I am a trained machinist. I hope this helps you Ken. :)
   burntforge - Sunday, 04/24/05 22:36:51 EDT

BTW-I can't spell tonight in my previous post. Also Ken you may want to buy a cheap t tap holder to help you turn the tap and keep it straight. You may use a cresent wrench if you are careful also.
   burntforge - Sunday, 04/24/05 22:40:19 EDT

Ken S. If you only need to thread one size hole (like for a 3/8th or 1/4 inch bolt, you may be able to find a tap (threader)/drill bit set at a hardware store. The tap holder will have to be bought separately. It is difficult, at best, to use a wrench as a substitute for a tap holder.

If you want the capability to thread many sizes, buy a tap and die set. This is much more expensive, but will have many taps and dies. If you do this, the drill bits would be purchased separately.
   djhammerd - Sunday, 04/24/05 22:54:10 EDT

Taping: Ken, burntforge pretty much covered the basics. Some pointers:

1) Threads are rated at the percent of thread. 70% is normal, 60% is half as easy to tap and about 75% as strong as a 70% thread. Percentages higher than 70% are almost always going to result in a broken tap. You should use 60% threads when hand drilling.

2) Crooked holes and crooked taping is the cause of 90% of all tap breakage. Both are the normal result of hand drilling and taping. You can greatly improve the life of a tap by drilling in a drill press, then using the drill chuck or a center in the drill chuck to get the tap started straight.

3) A threaded hole 1-1/2 diameters deep at 60% thread will hold until the bolt tears in two.

4) Through holes are MUCH easier to tap. Bottomed holes should have about 2 to 3 diameters extra depth for the tap lead and the chips.

5) A tapping fluid like Tapmatic Tapfree can reduce taping force greatly thus reducing breakage as well as increasing tap life from a dozen holes to hundreds.

6) After a tough tapping job or as soon as ANY dullness is noted (felt) used taped should be scrapped. The cost of removing broken taps is hundreds of times the cost of a tap. The only way to maintain a set of taps is to replentish the set after each use.

7) Most hardware store brands (Ace, Hanson) are junk that will cause nothing but headaches. If they are plated they are junk. Go to a REAL industrial or machine shop supplier to buy taps.

8) Taps come in three types start (taper), plug and bottoming. You want plug taps. Bottoming are only used in rare cases and used AFTER the others.

9) Part of drilling and taping a hole is chamfering the hole. If a worker gives me a part with unchamfered holes it is like handing me a part with sharp edges. I will return is with no other comment other than "Show it to me when its finished". Buy a single flute countersink for chamfering.

10) Some cutting tool manufacturers like Morse make dril and tap wall charts with tap drill sizes. These are one of THE most useful references in the machine shop. I have one next to my Tempil guide over my desk where they have been for 30 years.

I have found that even with 70% taps if the hole and tap is straight and you use a "Spiral Point" or "gun" tap with taping fluid that backing up to break the chip is counter productive. Once the tap is started just keep going unless it gets hard to turn.

See the McMaster-Carr article "about taps", Also see MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/24/05 23:09:12 EDT

I will mail you a drill size tap chart tomorrow. I have extra ones in my machinist box. Guru added some great pointers to the tap info I posted for you. I forgot to mention champhering the hole first as he noted.
   burntforge - Sunday, 04/24/05 23:33:38 EDT

Ken -- Guru's post coveres it. I will add that there are a few sizes to avoid if possible: 4-40,6-32,& 10-24. These are very coarse for the diameter, and break extra easy. In industry spiral point or"gun" taps are almost always used because they can be used by power. As Guru pointed out They shouldn't be backed up unless needed. If used in a blind hole A LOT of chip space is needed as the chips spiral out in front of the tap. Make bottom taps out of dull or chiped taps by grinding, look at a bottom tap & duplicate. Don't use cutting oil on cast iron.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/24/05 23:56:54 EDT

I'm looking at an old forge in like new condition (a hand crank blower) with a cast pan. How does that compare to a steel pan and is there anything special a cast pan needs before use.
thanks, Mike
   Mike - Monday, 04/25/05 01:22:24 EDT

I was hoping someone had some info that might help me I am getting ready to repair an anvil of my grandfathers. What I need to know what kind it might be, it has an looks like an eagle on its base with wings outspread on the right side of the base with a #6 on the front under the horn . Thank you for any Replies Sincerely Travis Hopkinson
   Travis - Monday, 04/25/05 03:46:12 EDT

I would like to know if store bought BBQ charcoal is a suitable fuel for a forge, as I have heard differing views, one said it is no good because of impurities that would effect the metal and make it brittle, another said it is O.K. to use.
   GARETH - Monday, 04/25/05 06:55:54 EDT


Send me some pictures via email, and I'll help you figure out what type of anvil you have. It sounds like an American Eagle brand.


In a word, no. On the pull down menu, go to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and read the article on Coal and Charcoal.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/25/05 07:58:45 EDT

Travis: You have a Fisher Norris 60-pound anvil, made in Trenton, NJ. The eagle should be holding an anchor. The 6 represents weight without last digit. May have mold date under heel and FISHER on front foot. Cast iron bodies with a steel plate on top and, on some, expending to tip of horn. Top plate can be reworked if damage isn't down to cast iron portion. If so, repair requires preheating and cast iron welding techniques. Anvils like this were known as 'dead' or 'city' anvils in that they didn't have the ring of ones with a soft body (e.g., wrought iron). Today not ringing is an advantage in a suburban neighborhood.

Different folks have differ repair techniques. Some insist only hard facing rods be used. Personally I just use 7018 with hard peening on each bead as soon as it is laid. Once top is repair, I use a 7 1/2
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/25/05 08:02:55 EDT

Anvil Repair: First rule, NEVER do weld repairs unless the anvil is unusable. Cosmetic repairs to chipped corners that SHOULD have been radiused before they got chipped is NOT a reason to repair an anvil.

Welding on a Fisher can cause seperation of the plate to body weld which was done in the mold and cannot be repaired.

Small chips (up to 1/4" or so) can be dressed into the edge radius. Larger chips can be lightly dressed to remove the dangerously sharp edge. Over all surface cuts on the face are better off ground out by hand using an angle grinder or blet sander. Rust defects should be lived with.
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 09:53:51 EDT

Hi Ken
Dave mentions:industry spiral point or"gun" taps. They push the chips forward. That is why you don't want to use those. That is why they break and you don't back them out to break a chip. I recommend only using four flute taps. The resist breakage the best. Three flute break very easily in smaller diameters.
   burntforge - Monday, 04/25/05 10:09:31 EDT

Cast Forge Pans: Mike, It depends on the size and type of forge. The heavy cast pans with a heavier (5/8 to 3/4" 16-19mm) thick fire pot can be used as-is. However water can crack any hot cast forge so be careful using water on the fire.

Those that are thin with a flush grate need some protection and are often labled "Clay before using". The clay does not need to be anything special. If your local soil hardens like brick as it does here in Virginia then you can use that. Just be sure it is fairly clean and you use as little water as possible to reduce cracking. About 10% portland cement can be added to help it harden, however this means you must use what you mix. Pottery modeling clay can also be used, come premixed and is less likely to crack. Terracota type with grog also work.

The ONLY diagram of claying a forge I have seen showed a doughnut shapped mound about a foot in diameter at the crest build up around the tuyeer or grate. This creates a fire pot or "ducks nest" which improves fire control. If you clay the bottom of the pan it should be no more than an inch (25mm) thick. Many people have wrecked forges by filling the entire pan with a deep layer of concrete or refractory cement. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 10:11:08 EDT

Spiral Taps: Only time I use then is on a through hole when high speed power taping with a CNC. They push the chip forward when power tapping to prevent breakage. I thought I would clear up Dave's good point with the reasons behind it.
   burntforge - Monday, 04/25/05 10:12:02 EDT

Ken, I never considered wrought iron to be "softer" than cast iron.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/25/05 10:26:26 EDT

MM, ok, I got a question about powerhammers .vs. flypresses.
I have been making knives and martial arts weapons for over 20 years now and graduated from being a stock removal guy to a forging type smith using stock removal as a refining step.
In the next 6 months my company (Budo Weapons, budoweapons.com) will merging with another company that will be paying me a considerable amount to leave my current position to join with them and do it fulltime. Once this happens my production rates will have to increase dramatically as hammering all by hand is a daunting task even now.
The company will be buying all of my tools that I need to accomplish this task and $$ is will not be a problem.
One of the tools I know will be a must have is a powerhammer. I am looking at one of two models a big blu or a phoenix. Since most of the items I make are rather small in nature or simply blades to be fitted to wooden handles I don't need a HUGE hammer. My question is this for the forming of solid items would a power hammer also do the job of say a flypress?? I am under the assumption from looking at the construction of a flypress that it can be fitted with dies to do blank forming as well. I will be using 0-1 or higher carbon steels. I would like for someone to help me in answering my questions rather than relying on a salesman answering my questions to the advantage of selling me his tools. Please email me at info@budoweapons if you can help me with some of my dilemmas.


Ed Green
   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 11:15:52 EDT

Another question while I am at the keyboard-
Recently I purchased a new anvil. the top plate is hardeened steel at you would expect and the body is of softer steel. Since my switch from my old anvil with a steel hardened steel topplate and an iron body I am finding that my arms from the bicep to the tips of my fingers are now suffering from numbness. Is this a result of the shock not being absorbed by my anvil and transmitting it up my arms through my tools?? I get this on both arms. If so is there any ideas out there on how to dampen that shock and keep it from traveling up my tools nto my arms. I am finding that I have to stop after about 20 minutes of constant pounding and regain the feeling in my fingertips and it's cutting into my production time.

   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 11:27:49 EDT

Numbness: Ed, you are definitely doing something wrong. Usualy these old anvils have excellent rebound, which is good. However, if you have been working on an anvil with poor rebound then you may have picked up some bad habbits. Holding the hammer with your thumb on the back will send shocks up your arm that will pinch nerves and cause many problems. Griping the hammer too tightly will do the same.

The new anvil may not be at the same height as your old OR you are standing in a different position. It is difficult to analyze what you are doing wrong in the blind.
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 14:35:10 EDT

Thanks everyone for the advice on my char coal making process. I think that I'm just gonna have to play with the retort feed system untill I find out the right mix.
Guru, GOOD GOD you wern't kidding about the the chem process that occures during the charring. I was dumbfounded by the amount of variables ( and math and chem reactions ) that are present in what appeared to be a simple operation. (Loved the pic.s of Costa Rica.)
If I find any pub.s of the charring process I'll pass them on.
Thanks again.
   - Timex - Monday, 04/25/05 14:51:47 EDT

Well not much except height has changed. I still stand the same way and my basic setup hasn't changed. My tools certainly haven't except for the anvil..
1) the height is def not the sameit is approximately 3-4 inches higher. I never have prescribed to the old anvil at knuckle height thing. I find, for me( I have tried both ways), that I have better control if it is slightly higer since I am a pretty tall guy (6'2). I am just wondering if the change in material composition could be causing this problem. I certainly do not hammer with my thumb on the back- never have that's a good way to get tendonitis, torn ligments, and many other nasty afflicitons. In fact, I keep a pretty loose grip and let the weight of my arm and the hammer do most of the work. For large material draws I use a 3 lb club hammer (kind of use it like a jack but with a shorter handle) and a 1000 gram swedish style hammer for my finer detail work. Going to a powerhammer shortly if I can get some answers to my questions so this all may be a moot point anyhow but I am still curious about why this started happening recently. Since the only thing that has changed is my anvil and the 3-4 inch height diff. I can't imagine 3-4 inches making that big of a deal. could it??
   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 14:52:26 EDT


A difference of ONE inch can make a major difference in how your body deals with the physical shock/stress of hammering.

Try re-setting your anvil to the original height and see if the problems go away.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/25/05 14:57:04 EDT

I have never used charcoal as my medium but I heard it was fairly straight forward to making it. Get a 20 or 55 gallon drum with a lid. Go to your local cabinet shop get as much hardwood scraps as they will let you have. I live very close to an actual hardwood store that GIVES away it's scraps to anyone that wants them and they are sometimes pretty large pieces of 4 foot or more but they have a large 5 foot high by 4 X 6 bin full all the time and more out back.
Anyhow try to get oak if you can but stick with the North American species and avoid exotics as they can be poisonous and give off noxious fumes.
Take your scraps fill your barrel about 1/3 full and set them ablaze for about 20 minutes(25-30 if you are using air dried wood). then put the top back on the drum and close it tight. leave it overnight. the fire will slowly extinguish itself and you should ahev some nice piece of charcoal left over.
that is what I heard can be done. I toyed with the idea of using charcoal at one time since I use ALOT of hardwoods for the other half of my business but opted not to since I now try to use all my scraps for something and try to limit my waste. and besides I find that gas is much cleaner not cheaper(certainly) but cleaner.

   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 15:00:03 EDT

Thanks Jim. that is the oine switch that sounds like I should flip back to where it was.
Some wise old man once told me this:

airplane pilots follow one simple rule in a crisis:
if you flip a switch and the plane takes a nose dive- flip that switch back. If that doesn;t correct it- try something else- quickly.
While you're here jim can you please try to answer some of my questions about power hammers?? I don't want to use up the forum space for this so if we could go offline I would appreciate it.

   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 15:03:01 EDT

Flypress vs. Power Hammer vs. Treadle Hammer vs. Punch Press: Each of these machines has a different pupose and each has its place. Although you can do many of the same tasks on each they are much more efficient doing THEIR job.

A flypress is a production manual tool and die machine. In forge work they can be used for small bending, forming, punching, hot slitting. They do not produce as much force as a treadle hammer and due to their slowness they cool the work rapidly. As a punching machine they are very handy however they are greatly limited by their tonage. A flypress can produce its full force at any height and is designed to be stalled, then retracted. They are much safer than a punch press for hand fed jobs. Being manually operated they are a relatively forgiving machine.

A treadle hammer is good for jobs needing single hard blows or slow repetitive blows. They are not suitable for heavy drawing. Leaving both hands free means you can manipulate the work and a tool while you work. However, this also puts hands in danger. There is considerable overlap between a treadle hammer and a flypress but the press is more controled and the hammer hits harder.

A power hammer is used for heavy forging, drawing and shaping that must be done quickly. When working high carbon steels they are good because you can often finish a forging in one heat. This is better for the metal as repeated heating leaves more and more decarbonization. Tooling such as for making diamond cross section blades can be made inexpensively. However some types of tooling is not very adaptable to a power hammer and is best used in a press. Power hammers are probably the most flexible of the forging, shaping machines.

For production blanking a punch press is the best machine. However, dies and die sets for blanking are expensive and blanking require a fairly heavy press. Unless you are making the same part by the thousands per week it is cheaper to use other methods. Currently plasma and laser cutting is used for low and medium production blanking. Setup costs are very inexpensive compoared to a punch press.

A punch press is a totaly unforgiving machine. Once its trigger is tripped it is like firing a gun, you are done and inertia is in control of what happens next.

A punch press is NOT a power hammer. They are fast and efficient but tooling for anything other than the most simple hole punching is relatively expensive. Punch presses must have the tooling designed so that the job alows the full stroke of the machine EVERY time. Generaly setting one up is a job for a tooling engineer.

In a production shop you may need all four types of machine depending on your product and processes. A power hammer can greatly increase production in a knife shop but it WILL take practice to achieve this efficiency. Open die forging is an art like any other that requires practice.

See our iForge article on presses and the links to other pages. There is a flypress rating chart on flypress.com and we have a couple calculators for punching and riveting to give you an idea of capacities.
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 15:09:51 EDT

Draconas et al interested in thrown weapons feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I make Japanese thrown weapons professionally for sale and have made these items for over 20 years. I am a martial arts practitioner for the like period of time as well. Currently I throw book binders needles Meifu Shinkage Ryu style- now there a challenge to learn. In any case I have experience with just about anything you can mention to be thrown as a weapon from nails to screwdrivers to book binders needles.
Happy to help if I can.
BTW, throwzini is an ok zine for limited info but I find that Scott is more interested in promoting his own needs than the sport of throwing sharp pointy things. Which is ok just not in line with my philosophy of any art such as blacksmithing, swordsmithing, etc.

Ed Green
   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 15:26:25 EDT

thanks for the input. the types of die pressing I will do will result in a 3 dimensionally shaped product such as a tapered hex shaped product going from 25 mm down to say 8mm.
I am thinking that a mold can be used to perform the tapering. The rest can be quickly hand shaped and finished. I am not looking for extremely fast production but accurate production at a moderate speed. Some of these items will be used in a variety of products I produce as projectile weighted chain items.
My main interest in the power hammer is for it's ability for fast drawing. That is my main draw back right now is I am limited only by how much and how fast my body can continue to produce the needed force to continually do this action which is generally only at 4 hours continuously (not couting rest times in between heats) a pop then I have to rest.
Other questions that concern me is what to look for and consider in a good power hammer so far I have seen Big Blu (pretty good chunk of change), the phoenix models, and a couple of other huge MONSTERs that I would never even consider.
I have seen the Phoenix in action and it looks very impressive to me.
Other questions- can you control the down stroke of the power hammer so that it stops at a certain height ?
Sorry if I seem ingnorant about such matters but I am. I have lots of stupid questions(or they may seem stupid to you). that is why I wanted to take the discussion offline with someone in the know and with experience with many differnt types of PH's.
treadles and punch presses do not even fit into my equation just yet as the power hammer seems to be, as you say, the most flexible of all of them.

   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 15:41:23 EDT

Dies, Control Ed, to control a hammer's stoke you use a stop block, a piece of metal the thickness that you are working to.

Closed dies (molds) are most efficient on big hammers where the excess metal squeezes out as flash and then must be trimmed off. However, you can use hybrid techniques on a power hammer where you taper a blank then use dies to finish the part (without flash).

There is LOTS to learn about hammer tooling. See the book by Lilico on our book review page. The B2 Power Hammer School is also a worthwhile investment.
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 16:03:35 EDT

Ah, MONSTRER power hammer. . ??? MORE POWER!! ugg,ugg! ;)
   - guru - Monday, 04/25/05 16:05:59 EDT

Yeah I figured something like that.
I checked into B2 and their schedule looks like they are only having one class this year (?) and the time for me to plan to go to it has passed.
MONSTRER- sorry spell check wasn't working ;-P. by monster I mean HUGE in size. While I am sure that has it's advantages I like smaller footprints because the one thing we always run out of in a shop is space. the smaller and more compact the machinery the more working space I have.

Oh well nuff of this for today. Anything along the lines of considerations on what to look for when purchasing a powerhammer?? this decision is going to come upon me fast and I will be visiting some places personally that sell them so I would like to be armed with some knowledge on what to look for.

Thanks guru and paw paw for your input to my otherwise stupid questions today.

Ed Green
   Ed Green - Monday, 04/25/05 16:14:09 EDT


Let's get something straight right now. The ONLY stupid question is the one that isn't asked. (grin)

Questions may be simple, but they are never stupid. We do sometimes get impatient with the kids who can't be bothered to check the FAQ's, or want us to do their homework for them, but we try to answer them.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/25/05 16:27:10 EDT

Life Rule number 2, "A stupid question is easier to answer than a stupid mistake is to fix." And while we're on the topic of stupid questions, and new employers buying tools, think you could suggest that a CSI membership would be the perfect thing for researching the pros and cons of equipment..........
   JimG - Monday, 04/25/05 16:37:59 EDT

Re: very old anvil on ebay. Looks like Paw Paw missed out on a nice piece of history ....
   Paul Ujj - Monday, 04/25/05 18:24:22 EDT


It would help if you would include the item number when you post about an eBay item.

As for missing out, I don't think so. Read the Hammerin for why I feel that way.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/25/05 18:40:06 EDT

Ken S.
re: tapping holes, If you have more than one hole to drill and tap, don't drill all your holes at once. clamp the piece in the drill press drill the hole, then remove the drill and replace with counter sink, then useing a pointed tip in the drill press in the hole on the top of the tap(in the handle) use the drill press to apply a light pressure to start the tap. then move to the next hole. This will keep the drill counter sink and tap in alinement. This was tought to me by my brother who is a tool and die maker, it seems that breaking a tap off in a $50,000 tool is bad form. :-))

Tap Chart http://www3.telus.net/public/aschoepp/tapdrill.html
   - habu - Monday, 04/25/05 18:52:39 EDT

I am quite new to blacksmithing, and need an anvil, but unless absolutly necessary, i would rather not buy a new, or even used one just yet. Is there anything that can be substituted for an anvil? Something besides a RR-track. Would a piece of steel mounted to a wooden block work sufficiently?

Also is the iForge demonstration area still running? The last archive date is November of 2003.
   Dan Q - Monday, 04/25/05 19:25:02 EDT

Does anybody know of a supplier selling frying pan blanks?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 04/25/05 23:21:49 EDT

Paw Paw, I found frying pan blanks at this website:
and the same ad at:

I don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but it's the only thing I could find.
   Rantalin - Monday, 04/25/05 23:28:30 EDT

Ed and open dies

If you are blanking octgonal pieces you can have a simple sping fuller with the tapers and forge it square quickly then break the corners to get it octagonal. Dies can be adjusted for lots of different shapes. Bill Epps has a picture of a fixture that drops over the bottom die of a power hammer in the iforgedemo on powerhammer tooling. It clamps to the bottom die and spring dies have a hardie/tang welded on to them and they drop right in to a matching hardy hole on the bracket.

IN power hammers bigger is better:-) It is all a matter of control, small hammers can be ill behaved, and big hammers can be polite enought to point 1/8" (B3 Nazel with a 650#ram:-) You may not need to use them power, but it sure is nice to have when you need it:-) and making new tools for your hammer is one of the times that the "extra" power really comes in handy...
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 04/25/05 23:29:38 EDT

As a side note, I am also the "Dan Q" above, just a different name.
   Rantalin - Monday, 04/25/05 23:29:40 EDT

There is also a "steel fry pan" for sale at this site, but again, I'm not sure if it is what you are looking for.
   Rantalin - Monday, 04/25/05 23:40:52 EDT


Thanks, I sent Bob an email about them. I've got a customer that wants one.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 04/26/05 00:23:28 EDT

Some charcoal observations from CBA. I just got back from the California Blacksmiths Association Spring Conference. Great event! The enthusiastic and hard working volunteers were especially memorable.

I attended Phil Baldwin's session on edged tools. An interesting comment came up about charcoal for blacksmithing. This was kind of new to me, and since there is some recent discussion on the topic, I thought I'd bring up what I heard. Several bags of charcoal were provided for the demonstration, but Phil was not using it. Instead, a helper said that the charcoal was completly unsuitable, and they were using coal instead. Anyone who wanted to buy discount charcoal could buy one of their several (useless) 20 pound bags for $6 each. But, we were cautioned not to use the charcoal for blacksmithing.

The bags were non-descript, and had "Hardwood Lump Charcoal" and "Product of Mexico 20 lbs." written on the front of them. There was no manufacturer listed. The helper said that it was fine for BBQ, but had too much ash and phosphorous to use for blacksmithing. The coals would ash over and not get hot enough. In addition, the the phosphorous displaces carbon in tool steel and damages it. This charcoal could not be used for welding. The demos were full of forge welding. Not just Damascus blades, but steel edge inserts, lap welds, welded tangs, and repairs! What a great demo! But it was done with coal, due to the apparent unsuitability of the charcoal. Anyway, a handful of the charcoal was used to start the coal fire, with the usual shower of fleas, but that was about it. Interesting, nonetheless. Has anyone else noticed this problem with some lump charcoals? They said it was most prevalent with oak charcoals from Mexico.
   EricC - Tuesday, 04/26/05 02:44:12 EDT

Dan Q: Essentially any heavy and flat piece of metal can serve as an anvil top. Cruise scrap yards and see what they might have available. If you go to steel suppliers which supply machine stops you might be able to find the cut off ends of stock, such as 6
   - Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/26/05 07:20:17 EDT

I need to paint a outdoor railing. Can any one direct or recomend to me a good primer and paint for outdoor steel railings.I know this has been discused but i cant seem to find anything in Anvelfire.com Do i rember something about zink primer?
Thanks in advance
   Slagcity - Tuesday, 04/26/05 09:01:37 EDT

B2 School Schedule: See our Calendar of Events page. Their website has not been updated (but will be soon). I'm their new webmaster as soon as the domain transfer goes through.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 09:35:08 EDT


Clean by grit blasting or chemical etch. If chemical then neutralize.
Apply zinc powder primer (cold galvanizing with 98% zinc)
Apply a neutral primer (red oxide is good) rated for the top coat.
Apply top coat(s) of your choice.

Note that "zinc rich" and "zinc chromate" are rip off advertising terms for paint that does nothing except rob your pocketbook.

The zinc paint is sold by professional paint and automotive suppliers. When applied over sandblasting it is the exact same color and texture so you have to work carefully.

Powder coaters can apply a similar paint system for marine use but it is very expensive and not all of them do it. They can also powder coat over hot dip galvanizing BUT the galvanizer must be one that can produce the correct grade of galvanizing for powder coating. The powder coater would know who.

A great advantage of the above paint system is that it can be repaired in the field where powder coating cannot. Depending on the job it may be advantageous to apply the two primer coats in the shop and the top coat in the field. The only catch is being sure to keep the primer oil free.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 09:57:29 EDT

Grades of Charcoal: Eric, Yes, the wood charcoal is made from makes a difference. It turns out that certain softwoods like pine make better charcoal than hardwoods. There are also types of wood that produce more ash than heat. The big problem is that most charcoal is made from mill scrap and the coalers will not tell you what kind of wood.

Besides the considerations you gave there is also the problem of fire fleas. Certain hardwood charcoals continously POP and crackle as they burn sending off showers of hot little burning pieces of coal about the size of a flea. Working near one of these fires is almost as bad as having arc welding or grinding sparks raining down on you all day. I have a blacksmith friend in Costa Rica that works with this kind of charcoal when nothing else is available. He hates it but he does not have the option of using mineral coal. When working with it he wears a long sleave cotton shirt buttoned up to the top and safety glasses are absolutely necessary.

The hardwood charcoal we bought in Costa Rica ($5/40 pound bag) LOOKED like coal, it was hard and shiney. This was made from mill scrap where they cut all kinds of exotic woods like rosewood, cedra (a hard mahogany like wood) and other woods unknown to most of the world.

Good charcoal looks like fine coke and is easy to break up. It burns without the constant popping and leaves little ash.

Both COAL and Charcoal are organic products and vary like all organic things do. Charcoal varies according to the wood it comes from and coal from the degrees of impurities as well as the raw materials.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 10:30:50 EDT

Anvil Substitutes: Although there ARE anvil substitutes they are rarely any good OR cost effective unless you are very lucky. Years ago we were in a business where 4, 6 and 8" steel plate and drops from it were plentiful. A 100 to 200 pound (40 to 90 kilo) piece of this compact mass could make a fair anvil substitute. However, we had a 300 piece of 8" round that the shop used for an anvil on occasion. . . it worked but was not great.

Today with steel prices what they are you cannot buy new plate for less than a NEW anvil. Scrap is difficult to get in many places and fairly expensive. By the time you buy scrap, welding rods and grinding disks you can easily be up to good used anvil price (ignoring labor).
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 10:46:35 EDT

Ed Green

I have found that when I go from my anvil (set at Knuckle height) to my friends (1" higher) I get the same affliction. Upon my friend watching my arm, I am letting my arm drop that extra 1" before returning with the hammer. this results in a numbness starting at my elbow and traveling out to fingers and shoulder.

I worked on arm following hammer and was able to correct this problem just find that I have to pay more attention then feeling my way on an unfamiliar setup.

1” makes a big difference.
   Arron Cissell - Tuesday, 04/26/05 11:42:21 EDT

I am looking for a source of wrought iron. Either salvaged or new. I need 1" x 6" bar for a historical site. Any idea?

I recall "real iron"; Bliss Hill iron and Swedish wrought iron are no longer being imported.

Anyone offer any help?

Bob (NYSDB-Niagara)
   Bob Corneck - Tuesday, 04/26/05 12:05:51 EDT

Lump Charcoal...
I've had lots of flea problems trying to use charcoal. I had hoped that getting the charcoal from Lazarri in San Francisco, same place I get coal from, would mean high quality stuff, and for the most part, it is, nice heats. But the fleas and burns from them are still with me. I use charcoal on calm days, but if the wind picks up, out comes the coal. The trials of residential neighborhood blacksmithing.

Anvil, by the way, is a 75 lb piece of I beam, 15 inches long. .30/lb at Action Metals in Richmond, but I got lucky they had a piece that didn't need cutting.
   Michael - Tuesday, 04/26/05 12:06:45 EDT

Power Hammer School

This is a temporary link (do not book mark it). Note that the contact form will not work until the address is transfered to our server. All the current schedule is posted.

The Power Hammer School provides all the steel you can beat up in three days and the shop is open in the evenings if your feet can take it. . . This is an intense learning experiance with a LOT packed into a couple days. All the instructors are pros that make a living with their blacksmithing.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 13:15:42 EDT

Wrought Iron: 1 by 6 by what?

Daryl Meier of Damascus steel fame and retired anvilfire guru had an old wrought iron bridge. The side tension bars are either 1 x 6" or 3/4 x 4" to 6". He may have some left. He was selling it for $1/lb a few years ago. Many of these are over 10 feet in length.

This would get you close if not the exact size. If the size is picky you could weld up a couple slabs and draw to the necessary size. . Big power hammer time.

See the "THE - GURUS" link at the top of this page for contact information. I do not know if the e-mail address is good or not but his web site is still up.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 13:23:16 EDT

Thanks for the input on the RR Anvil question, I know that RR makes a poor anvil but it's a start and I figure that maybe I can use the chunk of track about 12 or 18 inches and use a bittern from a pick and maybe a bolster plate instead of the traditional anvil design, I've always had to make due before so I guess this is nothing new.

Btw I think I have the body for a forge in an old propane BBQ that was converted to charcoal, IE: the guts were ripped out when the burner rusted out. I plan on lining it with fire bricks and adding a twyre and blower, this should give me something like tim lively uses to forge blades, I intend to do light forging with this set up and learn from there. since I'm learning I don't want to spend a lot of money till I get somewhat proficient. I don't have any one around here who is smithing at this time, even the old timers are gone, so I'm using my own thoughts and trial and error. so any input from experienced hands is benificial.

Any input?

   dean - Tuesday, 04/26/05 14:18:48 EDT

further to my last post, I was planning on making my own charcoal because of expense and a lack of local supply of coal or comercial charcoal (real wood type) so we have alot of soft wood such as spruce, and hard wood such as eastern larch, and some birch, any ideas on this wood for forging? not the best but like I said making do is old hat.

   dean - Tuesday, 04/26/05 14:29:09 EDT

Dean, See my post above about wood grades for making charcoal. At this time I have no list of good vs. bad woods other than the generalities above.

Firebrick is not really necessary but it works. If bought new they are pricey. Red brick works in a coal forge for make do.

You didn't say where you are but thee are smiths to be found everywhere is you look. Most do not have a shop on main street with a big sign saying "smithy". Many are not even listed in the yellow pages. However, you can find them if you ask around or go to your local blacksmithing organization meetings. Look for them on our ABANA-Chapter.com page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 14:56:30 EDT

There was a fellow at Quad-State that used to have some 1x4" WI; Keith Sommer of Pandora OH. How long you need it?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/26/05 15:12:28 EDT

I was curious to know your opinions about using charcoal or coal in a forge that's primarily used for armoring and hardware construction. And if you have any suggestions as to where I may be able to find some good grade coal in the pennsylvania area.
   Patrick - Tuesday, 04/26/05 15:21:33 EDT

Just a small question is titanium a hard to smith metal for sword making and other weapon type implements
   Jason - Tuesday, 04/26/05 17:03:47 EDT

Well Jason, CP Ti is softer than steel but will pick up contaminants during forging and become very brittle. I have a set of CP tongs I forged and a CP Ti penannular brooch I did.

The basic problem is that Ti is not very hard. I like a blade that keeps a good edge. Another problem is that Ti has a different density than steel so it's hard to get a good blade using forms designed for steel---a piece of paper has a mean edge---but it doesn't make a good sword.

Over at Sword Forum dot com there is a very good article on TI and swordmaking. I commend it to your attention.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/26/05 17:34:00 EDT

Charcoal or Coal: Patrick, I do not exactly understand the first part of your question. Charcoal was used almost exclusively for the first two thousand years of the iron age for both smelting and forging. It is still a popular fuel where coal is not available. Coal is a better fuel for forging than charcoal due to its intense heat and the higher density of the fuel (it takes less volume).

Depending on where you are in PA you are in the middle of some of the best coal country on the planet. Look around. Ask other smiths. See our Coal and Charcoal FAQ.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/26/05 18:24:43 EDT

Steve Barringer's B2B Design and Power Hammer School is a very worthwhile educational investment. I have done the school, as Jock has, and I learned what I set out to learn. Whether you use a mechanical hammer or an air hammer, what you learn about dies, metal forms, proper methodology, and southern hospitality will make you want to take a second class when the opportunity arises.

   - John Larson - Tuesday, 04/26/05 19:13:19 EDT

I don't know New York very well, but out here in AZ a source for wrought iron is old abandoned mines(with old abandoned equipment). Usually too heavy/bulky to be moved easily. Seen some good damascus made with it. As the steel deteriorates it resembles wood fibers. Good luck.
   Mark - Tuesday, 04/26/05 19:51:31 EDT

Those of you who remember a week or so ago when I mentioned that I probaly lost a job because of advice I read here on anvilfire and didn't lowball it...........

I got the job. Took a few committee meetings, but again thanks to what I've read on anvilfire I had the confidence in my discussions on why things had to be the way they are.
Definatly worth the CSI dues.
The moral?
Join CSI and get the jobs you bid on.
   JimG - Tuesday, 04/26/05 21:31:59 EDT

Join CSI and get the jobs you bid on... and make money on them!
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/26/05 21:37:29 EDT

Hey everyone I've been working on building my new burner for awhile now and alot of the parts need to be taped. My old taps are worn out(most likly because the were cheap) so I'm planing on buying new ones. What should I look for? Ive been told that HSS is the best so I should probly go with that, however where can I get these?thanks for all your help.John
   - John S - Tuesday, 04/26/05 21:42:08 EDT

Burntforge -- We used gun taps with reversible drillpresses, Bridgeports,& radial drills. A 10-32 at 700 RPM keeps You on toes, but it gets a lot of work done.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/26/05 21:46:47 EDT

John S,

The best bet for general purpose taps is to go with what are called "plug" taps, and get the best you can find. I suggest getting taps from MSC, Grainger or McMaster-Carr, where yo can get true industrial quality taps. Anything less is a waste of money as they gall, break and end up leaving you with a tap broken off in the hole, a real nightmare. When you're ordering the taps, order a can of tapping fluid like Tapmatic or something similar. I believe Ptree has a favorite brand of tapping fluid that has tested out excellently in industrial use, but I can't remember the name.

Yesterday, I think, the Guru posted a very informative bit on taps and tapping, scroll up and check it out.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/26/05 23:18:09 EDT

Patrick - if you're at the western end of Pennsylvania, check out PAABA - Pittsburgh Area Artist Blacksmith's Ass'n. (http://home.comcast.net/~paabasec/ They have information regarding charcoal sources, meet roughly monthly in the general area, and are a bunch of good craftspersons and people. Next upcoming event is a weekend hammerin at Touchstone Center for the Arts, down near Uniontown the weekend of May 14 & 15.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 04/26/05 23:36:57 EDT

Hello gang...Peter here with a request for info on how to go about selling an entire blacksmith shop dating back to early 1900. I have spoken with Ron Reil from Idaho who recommends selling the equipment as a shop and that I should contact you for possible help and or suggestions. My wife and I are very receptive to any and all suggestions. If you respond directly by email, remember that the period between my first name and last name sometimes comes out as a forward slash. On that note, looking forward to hearing from all you smithys. (I hope that is a common tern. If not, please forgive!) Pete
   Pete McKinley - Wednesday, 04/27/05 00:08:49 EDT

Hi Dave
Tapping. I did them that way at one time also. The CNC was just so much faster and less time involved for small tapped holes. I got so I only do the 3" diameter and up tapped holes by hand with a large wrench and a 6' pipe. Many of the items I made had hundreds of tap holes of all sizes on all ports. I used some monster machines along with the little ones too like you mentioned. I machined so many different materials too. I think it just depends on application and machines in the shop. Doing it on a bridgeport, reversable drill or radial drill is fine. Most of those machines were the size of the parts I worked on and therefore could not handle the parts. I think You, the guru and I helped Ken out enough to tap the holes he needs to do. I don't think he is looking to do anything real technical anyway. I suspect for his nice poor boy blacksmith tools.
   burntforge - Wednesday, 04/27/05 00:23:38 EDT

Burntforge -- What kind of equiptment were You building?
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/27/05 01:10:09 EDT

It will help if we know where basically the shop is. We do have members literally all over the world.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/27/05 03:25:43 EDT

LCpl Nathan Douglass is back home safe and sound!!!!!
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/27/05 03:26:22 EDT


You would seem to have a couple of options:

- Try to sell it as a functioning business. However, most of the money in forging today seems to be in either high quality knives or custom ornamental ironwork. A shop dating back to the early 1900s likely isn't suitably equipped for either.

- Try to sell it intact to an organization setting up something on the order of a pioneer or historical village. However, I have no idea how you would go about that. Perhaps there is an organization or publication which supports this area.

- Piecing it out:

-- eBay is certainly a readily available outlet. I have seen large powerhammers listed on it. The larger tools might be line-shaft powered, so that would limit their appeal somewhat. However, small equipment and tools would certainly find a market. (I sell extensively on eBay and it is far more time consuming than most assume and eBay/PayPal fees add up. Always willing to share my experience.)

-- Loading most of it up and carry it to one of the larger blacksmithing conferences. Some of these, like Madison and Quad-State have grown to be large events with both tailgate and auction sales. The larger items might find a good market here and at least Quad-State rents a forklift for unloading and loading.

-- Some combination of the two above with eBay for the readily saleable items and a blacksmithing conference for the remainder.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 07:32:47 EDT

On tapping holes, yes, they would be for my Poor Boy and Hobby Boy propane forges. I weld short pieces of 1" black iron pipe onto/into the top or sides. These then hold the 3/4" black iron nipple gas pipes with a 1/4" bolt in the receiver to hold them in place. Nothing fancy. I have just been drilling the 1/4" hole and welding on a 1/4" nut for the bolt. These are selling well enough now to where I make up the parts a half-dozen or so in advance, with assembly when purchased. Now I have a standard design and construction technique I am looking for ways to pretty them up a bit to add form withing having to increase cost via significant additional labor on my part (or having to purchase additional equipment. (And the couple of people who have picked up purchases have seemed somewhat surprised as how little of it I require.)

Tooling is somewhat an interplay of form and function. You would forge out a precision-made pair of tongs and have them chrome plated. Form would be beautiful, but function wouldn't work any better than something you might pick up at a flea market for a couple of bucks or even a pair of visegrips. I've built up Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools on the concept of providing function first, form secondary, in order to hold down costs. Concept somewhat uses the 80/20 rule: 80% of results come from the first 20% of effort. For example I do not market my propane forges as being capable of forge welding. To do so would require a good deal more effort resulting in either eating the addition effort to having to raise prices. There are lots of other sellers willing to satisfy the market requiring forge welding capable forges and I'll gladly let them do so.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 07:47:27 EDT

Pete-- Last year a friend's father left her his father's fully-equipped 19th Century cabinet-maker's tool box. Rare, and to a tool nut, beautiful. Few such available, and they going to collectors at auctions for $3,000. She wanted to move it, sold it to a local flea market dealer for $600. Moral: what you do depends on how fast you want to unload the shop. For maximum respect to this rarity-- and maximum bucks-- you will have to advertise, perhaps through this venue and Early American Industries Association and Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America chapters in your area to reach high-end buyers-- a wealthy collector, a museum perhaps. And be patient. Otherwise, have a garage sale.
   Nelson Magruder - Wednesday, 04/27/05 09:12:36 EDT

Smithy is the place, not a person.

Selling Old Shop: Pete, As mentioned above it depends on what results you want. Depending on the equipment you may make a lot or a little.

First, a LOT depends on the shop. Are you selling the realestate as well? Was it a large commercial shop with heavy machinery or a little country shop.

Some blacksmith shops had thousands of small tools that add up to being very valuable sold one at a time. Sold as a whole you will make much less. Old hammers and set tools, particularly certain brands sell for $20 to $50 to collectors. Even a couple hundred of these would add up to a lot.

As mentioned above few people would be interested in a whole shop unless it is worth building a museum around. Otherwise, they will buy it from you cheap and then part it out.

Some equipment may be worthless when moved. Built in place forges are almost never worth moving. Old forges left with coal in them in humid environments can also be worthless due to extreme corrosion.

Too many variables.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/27/05 10:05:18 EDT

Tapping Efficiently: Ken, It helps a LOT to tell us where you are going. In production situations the rules change. When you are tapping dozens of holes over and over it is time to invest in some tooling.

Using a standard drill press you can use a tapping head. Tapmatic is one brand. A tapping head has a clutch and reversing mechanism. Holes are drilled in one operation in a jig, then using the same jig the holes are tapped. The operation takes seconds and the tapping head and jig will alow you to tap hundreds of holes per tap rather than a dozen. The tapping head will pay for itself in the first 50 taps saved. OR the first 5 plus time saved.

See my iForge demos, #118 Drill Press 101 Furniture, and #121 Drill Press 102, Accessories.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/27/05 10:16:05 EDT

I think that Pete wants to sell all the equipment from the shop and *not* the building. He said he'd like to see it all go back into use somewhere. It's all line shaft from the pictures he send a while ago and probably a pretty long drive from most of us.

I don't know of many folks who buy entire old shops; most of us are more likely to want just a piece or two---selling as the complete shop may lower the final total price as arranging to ship stuff is expensive. Selling to blacksmiths will generally see it in use; if we don't use it we're generally pretty good about letting stuff go to other smiths who will.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/27/05 11:07:01 EDT

Yet another stupid question:
Guru, Paw Paw, or someone in the know....
I have been speaking to some folks about doing folded blades lately. I want to start playing around with it a bit. The problem is that I have no experience in forge welding. I have read up on it enough to make myself believe that I am ready to try it. I have just about all the materials and such to do it but I am lacking two things:
1) I have been told that flux will literally eat through the brick on the floor of my forge and that I should find some such suitable piece of material that it will not "eat" through- any suggestions??
2) the second is easy as I am not shy but requires the first answer. Getting the gumption to "just do it". I just don't want to ruin my forge doing something without the proper set up.

any help and further advice you might offer on the subject of forge welding would be appreciated.


Ed Green
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 04/27/05 12:05:57 EDT

Ken, Your application is a perfect place for a tapping head and a combination drill and tap. The first part of the tap is the correct drill size and then a short tapping section follows. They only work well for relatively thin materials like your pipe but for a rounded part like yours they insure that the tap is perfectly alligned with the hole you just drilled and you save the time from another operation and setup. I particularly like the Procunier tapping heads but everybody has their own preference.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 04/27/05 12:47:10 EDT

Ed; one thing that may help is to realize that the lining of a gas forge is a consumable. You expect to have to replace it with use. Don't let "Pristine Panic" keep you from getting stuff done. (I read about a fellow that when he bought a brand new PU would take something and deliberately scratch the bed so he would worry about messing it up...)

If you forge has a hard firebrick floor it will resist flux pretty well. If it's soft you need to cover it with a piece of kiln shield or a shallow SS tray full of kitty litter---the cheap clay stuff. Over at the store they sell stuff which will help prolong the life of your forge lining, keep it from shedding stuff you don't want to breath and even reflect more heat back into your work.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/27/05 13:57:59 EDT

Just out of curoisity, is there a rule of thumb for stop drilling a crack?
   smitty7 - Wednesday, 04/27/05 14:17:58 EDT

Thanks Tom.
Believe me I don't pay too much attention to the appearance of my forge. What I do worry about, however being inexperienced at this sort of thing, is rendering my forge inoperable by something eating a holoe in the floor of my unit. Not knowing I figured I should ask someone. I realize the lining is a consumable and has to be replaced regularly.
I don;t know what kind of firebrick is on the bottom of my forge but I have been told a piece of ceramic tile would help also- any thoughts on that too??

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 04/27/05 14:24:48 EDT

The name of the very good tapping, rolling and Spline rolling fluid is "Master Chemical OM 303" and is available thru Hagenmeyer. They are they same people that offer very good prices on lennox saw blades, and they also sell taps and tapping heads. Tell them you heard about it here on Anvilfire, as I am trying to get them to advertise. They have 1700 locations, but the Louisville location has been offering special pricing to blacksmiths for a year or so. The contact is Mike morrison at 502-961-5930.
Vic, want a small sample when I come to Quad state?
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/27/05 16:49:20 EDT

re forge-welding.
There is no reason you can not do it. A few tips that I feel are good. others may not think so)
For me the metal is ready to weld once it and the flux looks like a pat of butter under a broiler that is just starting to melt. try the buttrer thing first so you know.
Once you get the metal to the anvil hit it, but hit it fairly lightly. It will have a fairly mush sound. But once you have a good weld it will have a more solid sound.
Do not be afraid to re-heat to weld and finish it up.

But before welding I would suggest that you practise your movements etc first. So that you will know precisly what you are to do, and can do it with out thinking.
One more thing. You might want to practise welding with tool steel ( like 1084) Mild steel will work, but it is harder to weld generally speaking.
Feel free to email me if you have questions.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/27/05 16:50:25 EDT

ptee: Thank you for the reference. I'm in credit card limbo now as I reported the old one lost and new one hasn't shown up yet. Will call Mr. Morrison when I can credit card charge again.

If you use a drill press for tapping holes don't you have to quickly shut it off, release the item from the vise and then manually back it off the tap head? Since I'm a newbie, perhaps I should do the manual tapping. I'm only expecting to do two dozen or so taps a month. Dilling the holes, then slightly countersinking all of them, then tapping shouldn't be too much effort over what I do now.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 17:01:58 EDT

Ken- I don't know why no one has mentioned using your portable battery powered drill- Most have a high-low
speed - are reversible- portable and work great for tapping. I use mine for tapping all the time- would work better if I had a newer one-mine is the old 9.6 volt,
but the newer ones with more power work better.
   - ptpiddler - Wednesday, 04/27/05 17:30:55 EDT

Ken, the tapping heads mentioned have speed reduction in them so a drill press could work. A couple dozen holes at a time, once a month, should most likely simply be done by hand but tap each one as it is drilled as it will be easier to keep the tap lined up straight. Ken, a couple dozen holes at one time will give you a 'feel' for tapping and I suggest that. You might try a couple of dummy pieces if your work-pieces have a lot of work in them before you drill and tap. The spiral point or gun taps will work better for you since the hole goes all the way through. A little can of TapMagic will be a great investment. (Been a toolmaker for 41 years now) Please feel free to contact me with any questions. By the way, the 200lb Columbian export anvil sold for $380 and the buyer didn't know cast from wrought from pot metal. Oh well.
   Tom H - Wednesday, 04/27/05 17:48:56 EDT

On Pennsylvania coal: I saw an ecology topography map of Pensylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia which showed sulpher concentrations in coal. The epicenter for lowest sulphur coal was Pittsburg. Sulphur rose dramatically south of Pittsburg, into Md and W. Va. My experience with Md coal is that it is indeed sulphurous--to be avoided. I get pretty good coal from Nolt's Mill in Bird-In-Hand, PA and it apparently comes from western PA. Almost as good as the superb southwestern w. VA coal sold be the Westminster, MD guild.

On tapping: I have been getting spectacular results using a type of tap that has spiral flutes like a twist drill and that has only about 3/4" of tap grooves at the bottom. Use of tapmagic dramatically eases cutting torque requirements. I use my magnetic drill for tapping up to 3/4" NC. On blind holes I drill the pilot hole much deeper than needed as a form of insurance. If in doubt with a blind hole, stop, back out the tap, and use a magnetic scribe to getting debris out of the hole. The mag drill runs 350 rpm. Should be half that for tapping.
   - John Larson - Wednesday, 04/27/05 18:49:57 EDT

Ken Scharabok
The tapping heads are planetary gear reducers, and also reverse. To use one, the head is mounted in the drill chuck and a reaction bar keeps the body of the head from turning by reacting against the column. The tap is fed into the hole, and then, when the drill press quill is backed up, the head automaticly reverses, and the tap runs back out.

Now to really run production, with out a CNC mill with a tool changer, a neat machine to use is a turret drill press. The one I bought and installed for the valve company a few years ago held 5 tools. Each time the quill was fully returned to the up stop the turret indexed to the next tool. Each tool had its own depth stop, and speed control. So, you could center drill, index, drill a big diameter, index, drill a small diameter, index, tap, index and then champher. All in a machine that would drill a 5/8" hole in cast iron, and in good used condition on the surplus market was about $5000 delivered, and we are talking a production machine. The one I bought had two tapping heads that came with it!
Ken, if you are into cheap tooling but want to up the production rate, set up two identical bench top sized drills on a common plate. Mount the columns direct to the plate. Put the tap drill in one and the tapping head in the other. Chuck the part in a decent vise and drill. Then slide the vise under the tapping head and tap.
We tapped several million parts a year that way in small runs at the valve co. If you need a hand sketch e-mail and i will sketch from memory.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/27/05 19:50:01 EDT

I am not a 'tool guy'.

One of my neighbors is Hunter Pilkinton. He likely has the largest private collection of old tools anywhere. Each is numbered and has it's own 3" x 5" identification card. Last I heard they were in the 16,000 numbers. He has a T-shirt with the saying, "He who dies with the most tools wins." My comeback to that is, "He who dies with the most tools is nevertheless dead."

A friend, although not an engineer by training, is just naturally prone to a mechanical solution. On my Hobby Boy forges I weld on a ring to the front and back plates which slide inside the culvert section and then are locked in place with self-tapping screws through drilled pilot holes. I bend the rings (1/8" x 1 1/8" stock) mostly by hand around a shopmade jib. They come out more or less round. When he saw what I was doing I got a half hour presentation on the benefits of various bending machines, including producing perfectly round rings. They go inside of 16-sided culvert, so don't even need to be perfectly round, and hand bending works fine for my application. Were I producing several hundred forges a month, than that would be another matter.

For what I envision, and my limited need of a single size hole in fairly soft black iron pipe, I'll try the battery powered drill technique for the tap. Thank you for all of the advice.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 20:19:58 EDT

Ed Green: You can use a common fireplace brick as the bottom brick. While far stronger (denser) than a firebrick, it will also act as a heat sink so you would need to likely have to let the forge run at near welding heat for a while until it absorbes all the heat it will take.
Just a comment on spring steel to knife blades. I borrowed a three-point hitch rock rake off a friend of a friend to try to find where I had buried my wallet while spreading gravel in a French drain (and actually did find it!). The spring teeth on these rock rakes look like just the right size for blade stock. I have no idea of steel content, but they are definitely springy.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 20:26:32 EDT

KEN I made a little yoke affair to slip up on the spindle of the drill press and start the tap while the stock is still in the same position as when the pilot hole was drilled. Simple thing with handles on both sides and a set screw.

   - sandpile - Wednesday, 04/27/05 20:47:29 EDT

Charcoal in Costa Rica. When I was there, Johan was getting it delivered from the colliers, and we were getting the flying fleas (fine ash) landing on our arms. We used long sleeves for protection.

But worse, I found some plywood charcoal mixed inwith the solids, and I brought it to Johan's attention. Johan contacted the head collier, and told him, "NO MORE PLYWOOD"!
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/27/05 21:21:31 EDT

Pete McKinley: Consider contacting the Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil Chapter of ABANA. At one time I believe they were talking about relocating an old shop next to their building at the fairgrounds. I think Bob Zeller's old shop in Medway was considered but it was decided it was more of a machine shop than smithy. Might be something they would still be interested in, and they are a bit 'well-heeled' as the result of holding Quad-States. However, I have not been very versed in SOF&A affairs since I moved to TN about ten years ago now.

For those of you not familiar with SOF&A set-up at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH, they built their shop building and it (building, not contents) became the property of the fairgrounds. This let it fall under the fair's insurance policy. I believe they do pay some annual rent and extra for Quad-States, plus agreed to provide blacksmithing demonstrations during the annual county fair. Apparently has worked out very well for both the group and the fairgrounds.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/27/05 21:51:20 EDT

I read through the material on tapping. only addtional info I thought needed to be addressed was the thickness and the hardness of the material to be tapped. I have found some materials work fine when you use the suggested drill with the tap, others I drill a little larger. One of my first journeyman told me to have three threads cut in the material, to keep the threads from stripping out when you tighten the bolt. It works. When I tap a thick piece of stock I increase the pilot hole. I always hold the bolt up next to the pilot bit to judge the amount of threads being cut.
   - Mark - Wednesday, 04/27/05 22:05:45 EDT

I read through the material on tapping. only addtional info I thought needed to be addressed was the thickness and the hardness of the material to be tapped. I have found some materials work fine when you use the suggested drill with the tap, others I drill a little larger. One of my first journeyman told me to have three threads cut in the material, to keep the threads from stripping out when you tighten the bolt. It works. When I tap a thick piece of stock I increase the pilot hole. I always hold the bolt up next to the pilot bit to judge the amount of threads being cut.
   - Mark - Wednesday, 04/27/05 22:07:22 EDT


Sure, I'd love a sample when you come to QS, thanks! I probably won't get around to ordering any before then, but if I do, I'll let you know to save you the trouble. I've put Hagenmeyer's cntact info into my files, so I'll have it when I want it. (Assuming, of course, that I remember where I put it...)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/27/05 22:33:05 EDT

Ken -- You might think about wiring Your drillpress for reversing.Asuming You are on single phase: On some motors the leads are already in the junction box, on others You have to find them Yourself. It takes a double pole double throw switch, if You use one with a center off position it is handy, otherwise You have a switch for forward & reverse and the original one for on & off. The motor must stop before reversing[or at least slow down enough for the starting switch to close]. If the leads aren't in the junction box, You must find the end of the starting winding where it joins the running winding. The starting windings are smaller diameter wire than the running windings.Open this junction and splice on enough wire to EACH of them to work with in the junction box. The other end of the starting winding goes to the starting switch [the device with springs & weights that goes "click" as the motor slows down].Open this junction & splice enough wire on each to work in the junction box allso. To reverse the motor the starting winding must be fed in the oposite direction[the end that originally went to the starting switch now goes to the running winding]This is where the DP-DT switch comes in. A lightswitch with 4 conductor screws [not counting ground]will work. A drum switch does this but is expensive. If this isn't clear, talk to somebody who services motors.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/27/05 23:34:25 EDT

Seven yeas ago spent a month in Mongolia.
My fire was dried horse+cow dungs.
The forge was a pit in the ground.
Air came from anold jeep blower with a piece of
an old exost pipe conected to the blower withe mascing tape.
Worked allright.........WITH A VERY GOOD SMELL.
   uri hofi - Wednesday, 04/27/05 23:52:34 EDT

Corection to My post about reversing motors: To use one switch for reversing & OFF-ON You need at least 3 pole double throw with center off. The lightswitch I spoke of is a 4 way switch. Also, if You don't have low enough speeds You can add a jackshaft between the motor & spindle to get double reduction. This used to be an option on the better small drillpresses.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/28/05 01:43:28 EDT

Mid forties with long experience of maintaining classic wooden yachts (that have all kinds of metals on board).

I am repairing the top 2ft or so of a rudder stock on a 43ft 1959 yacht. The original stock is 1 1/4" ferrous metal probably steel. The idea is to cut off the top part and couple a new (stainless) top part onto the existing bottom part.

The problem and the question relate to the coupling. The intention is to use a straight sleeve coupling, noting that the finish on the lower (existing) part of the stock is corroded and lightly pitted (say up to 1/16").

The options for fixing to this corroded and pitted existing stock (which cannot be removed from the boat without major major surgery) include grub screws, roll pins, keyways and possibly even a split (longitudinally, with clamping bolts) coupling.

There was a discussion on your site earlier this year (pawpaw et al) but no firm conclusion was reached or outcome described.

The questions is in all the circs including difficult access and working conditions what are the relative merits of grub screws (with dimples), roll pins, keyways and split couplings.

Many thanks in anticipation.

   chris - Thursday, 04/28/05 04:41:26 EDT

Difficult Connection: Chris, First note that you will have a bimetalic corrosion problem between the carbon steel and the stainless steel part. This is going to be the worst at a lap joint and between fasteners. Welding would be your best solution. You can weld stainless to carbon steel with stainless rod. The next best solution is to have a carbon steel part plated except at the joint. However, this will still produce bimetalic corrosion at the joint. More. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 09:03:39 EDT

Difficult Connection II: For those that do not know in the US we generally call a grub screw a "set screw".

Without seeing the shape of the joint it is hard to make a recomendation. However, I would think that for a high stress stearing joint that a socket over the old part with numerous grub screws in multiple directions would be the strongest joint. Pins and key weaken the existing part.

In a joint of this type you can reduce the bimetalic corrosion by using a conductive grease or paste in the joint. In the US we have a thick powdered metal lubricant called "Never-Seize" and another brand called "Never Seeze". If you packed the joint with this and lubricate the grub screws with it then seal the joint to prevent the grease from washing out it will prevent or reduce bimetalic corrosion. However, this is slick stuff and if your joint relies on friction it will fail with this lubricant on it.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 09:13:17 EDT

Day in the Life: First call this morning was from a fellow at LIFE magazine. He had an interesting question I could not answer. Do blacksmith schools have any interesting or traditional graduation celebrations? I thought not but did not know.

Frank, I sent him to you. I figured if anyone would know it was you.

After I hung up I realized I could have told this guy a WHOPPER. . Described something like the Naval crossing of the equator ceremonies. . . This would be better for the MIA Cracked Anvil who is an ex LIFE mag author and teller of high tales . . .

I also recently had a question about the origin of the gas forge by a PBS film researcher. Like many people he assumed it was a modern invention that just suddenly replaced the coal forge. I sent him a couple long e-mails on the history of blacksmithing in America and the gradual adoption of gas forges and the reason why.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 09:31:31 EDT

Flux in Gas and Oil Forges: Ed, Borax and Flourite fluxes disolve metal oxides. Clays are various minerals but most refractory bricks are high alumina (aluminium oxide). So. . flux WILL eat brick.

Now, there are many types of refractory brick. They vary chemicaly and in density. Most hard refractory brick available at foundry suppliers is fairly resistant to flux as it is designed for lining furnaces AND large crucibles where agressive fluxes are used.

Forge lining density varies from the hard heavy refractory bricks to Kaowool blanket. The hard refractories are fairly resistant to flux but Kaowool EVAPORATES on exposure to flux. Both can be protected with coatings such as ITC products and greatly increase their life.

Comercial forge and kiln linings include refractories that vary greatly in density. The lower the density GENERALY the better the insulating properties. Foundry bricks are made that are as light as styrofoam. Then there are medium density bricks that are very weak. The general rule is the lighter the refractory the greater the problem with flux.

The other things that eatup refractories are scale and non-ferrous metals. Brass and copper do a real number on forge linings. Worse than flux alone.

The folks that do production forge welding of laminated steels end up with pools of flux in their forges that must be drained out ocassionaly. They also report the formation of flux stalagtites and horfrost on sufaces of the lining especialy around vents. These forges must be lined 100% with hard refractory.

In modern light weight high efficiency gas forges the floor is a hard refractory and the walls a low denisty pressed kaolin product that resembles Kaowool board. Doors and walls are sometimes light Kaowool blanket. In these forges the low density surfaces must be protected from flux damage. Normally ITC-100 is used and can be applied to all surfaces. This will reduce (not stop) flux damage and increase the efficeincy and life of the lining. To stop flux damage ITC-296A can be used over the ITC-100. However, at this point your costs have gone up. You have reached the point of diminishing returns.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 09:57:46 EDT

Forge Welding: One of the best videos on forge welding is Wayne Goddard's The Wire Damascus Hunting Knife

My review of it is incomplete but it is a very good video packed with information on every aspect of making forged blades.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 10:01:48 EDT

Jock....What could be more fun than blowing smoke up a media person's umm, tape recorder, yes, that's it, tape recorder. ('scuse me, I purtnear said something else). One of the great joys in life is feeding them a current buzzword and watching them paint themselves into a corner with it, trying to make it sound like they know what the h311 they're talking about. Never give them the straight poop unless it's to your advantage. Yes, I know, they're just trying to make a living, but it's the ones who try to take a swamped rowboat and turn it into The Titanic, that are the most entertaining.
   3dogs - Thursday, 04/28/05 10:11:47 EDT

actually there are no smiths in my area but I perservier. as for where I am, I'm in eastern Newfoundland, Canada.
   dean - Thursday, 04/28/05 10:45:05 EDT

How about cast iron and flux? Any harm there? Also, does a klinker do anything other than block the air flow? I mean, is there anything in it or given off by it that can get into or between a forge weld or effect carbon content?
Also, are impurities from coal actually absorbed into steel at forging temps?
P.S. Goddard pours on the borax with a can with holes in the bottom, Hrisoulas sprikles it on lightly using a spoon.
I've tried both and no flux at all but on Damascus, I have never had the nerve to go fluxless. A billet weld is the easiest weld to make because its either wired together or the ends are welded and it's not moving, but on the other hand, you have 200 or 300 chances to mess up and you sometimes won't know until you've spent several hours welding, forging and grinding. I was grinding on a blade the other day and it started to bleed. Fortunately, I was able to grind most of the "wound" out but it was kinda eerie.
   - lsundstrom - Thursday, 04/28/05 10:48:24 EDT

Oh BTW, I got the fire brick for free, it came from one of the chimmney stacks from the generating plant at the Argentia Naval Facility here in Newfoundland that my dad brought home 30 years ago.

   dean - Thursday, 04/28/05 11:27:28 EDT

Yes, those iresponsible so-called "journalists" are just a bunch of sensation-seeking busybodies, brainwashed minions of the giant cartel that runs everything. Who needs them, anyway? The government and the police and the CIA will tell us everything we need to know. Won't they? I mean, look how well that works in Russia, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia!
   - Nelson Magruder - Thursday, 04/28/05 11:30:55 EDT

I've been looking at this anvil to begin blacksmithing with. It's only six pounds and its cast steel. The description says it can be used "for the hobbyist in his home basement or shop along with most professional jewelers and blacksmiths as well. Any input? It's only $20 with shipping
   Rantalin - Thursday, 04/28/05 12:52:51 EDT

Well the generally considered lower limit for an anvil is around 75 pounds with 150-250# being a "good size" for a shop anvil; my small "travel" anvil is 91 and I sure notice the difference between it and the larger ones in the shop.

6 pounds is only good for leatherworking, jewelry or the straightening the odd nail.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/28/05 13:02:07 EDT

I need to put 1 5/16" holes in the side of 10" galvanized driveway culvert. Thickness is about 1/8". Is there a panel plug cutter in that size which will handle that thickness via just manual (OK, wrench assisted by cheater bar) turning? Keep in mind the sides of the culvert have ridges and the holes don't go in the bottom of the grooves for the distance between holes I desire.

I am only seeking a manual solution to this. Please, no recommendations on laser cutting, plasma cutters, etc.

Somewhat like tapping the 1/4" holes in the black pipe. Improvement in product doesn't justify additional tooling beyond manual (or low-speed drill) cutting. Welding on nuts work, just not as pretty as a tapped hole.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/28/05 13:29:40 EDT

Actually, regarding the above P.S. you may have 300 layers but only 10 welds so for 10 perfect welds you end up gettin credit for 300 perfectly welded layers. Not a bad return.
   - lsundstrom - Thursday, 04/28/05 13:52:26 EDT

There are "journalists" and then there are the hair sprayed talking heads, Mr. Magruder. Which do you represent ?
   3dogs - Thursday, 04/28/05 14:03:57 EDT

Ken; How about a hole saw with bi-metal teeth in a big ol' honkin' drill motor ? Milwaukee Tool makes a pretty good product in the hole saw line, and I'm sure they have the 1- 5/16" size.
   3dogs - Thursday, 04/28/05 14:09:58 EDT

Ken, you might be interested in a hole saw. They come in just about any size you want, chuck into an electric drill and away you go. They either have a pilot or a pilot drill. Most people use them for things like holes for door hardware etc. Just get one that is designed to cut metal and use cutting fluid with it.
   - Wayne Parris - Thursday, 04/28/05 14:13:34 EDT

Journalists and bad press: It depends on how true the person (and his/her editiors) choose to be. I'm afraid the local paper here tends to put editiorials on it's first page and title it news. The bias is actually so bad in some cases that it is bordering on yellow journalism. Some times I think it crosses the line.
   Monica - Thursday, 04/28/05 15:04:57 EDT

Found the example, Artilce Title "UNDER THE GUN -The NRA's success with the deadly force law is just the latest example of how much power the group has in Florida's Legislature"

You don't even have to read the article to spot the biases.

Now, the "Deadly Force Law" says that when threatened with bodily harm by an intruder, a homeowner/resident/guest has the legal right to defend oneself, with lethal force if required.

Prior existing law was that if there was a back door/escape route possible, the resident/guest was REQUIRED to flee (regardless of locks, physical infirmity, etc.) and that if the resident used deadly force to defend him/herself, they would be subject to criminal prosecution. There was also a gender component in Florida about escilation: I could grab the pistol to defend myself, but my hustand could not. As a "weaker" female, I "need" the gun to even the odds agianst a male intruder. And what? My husband should be able to wrestle the knife away???

Now, I see the new law as correcting a legislative "what the heck were they thinking?" rather than creating new regulations. Now days, you can't just repeal a law. You have to make a law to change an existing law.
   Monica - Thursday, 04/28/05 15:51:58 EDT

Smithing in Nova Scotia: Dean, You will be swamped with smiths later this year. Aug. 30th - Sept. 2, 2005 is CanIron. Check out the link on our ABANA-Chapter.com page.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 16:53:08 EDT

Cast Iron and Flux: No detrimental effect in forges. very little gets on the forge nor does the surface get hot enough to melt the flux.

Clinkers: These have little or no effect on working in a coal fire other than clogging the grate. Good smithing coal forms clinkers rather than piles of ash. The ash can contaminate welds, is corrosive and just more dirt. Coal needs a certain amount of silica to form good clinkers. Coal that forms more clinkers than necessary is dirty coal.

Absorption: Impurities in coal only effect the surface of a piece of forged steel. For general work a high sulfur coal has little effect. However, if making laminated steel the surfaces are repeatedly added to the interior of the steel and the steel is in the forge for a long period of time. Time and mixing can have and effect. High sulfur coal is bad for MAKING steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:03:45 EDT

Larry, etal. We will be having a meeting of the NEW Blue Ridge Blacksmiths Association of Virginia ten days from now (Saturday 7th). If you can make it to just South of Lynchburg please join us. See the Calendar of events for details.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:06:56 EDT

6 pound anvil: Rantalin, Some of us use HAMMERS that big!

The physics of anvils is thus: For efficient hand work an anvil should be roughly 50 times the weight of the hammer in use.

The proper size hammer to use with a 6 pound (2.7kg) anvil is 2 oz.(57 g).

If the anvil you are looking at is NEW and on ebay or sold in a discount tool catalog, then it is NOT cast steel. So not only is it too small but it is probably not as represented. See our FAQ about anvils and the link to ASO's on ebay.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:18:31 EDT

Ken re. the holes in the culvert. If you know an electrician they have a tool called a knockout where you drill a pilot hole and attach the knockout. tighten a bolt and it pulls a die through the metal. For the larger holes they use a hydraulic rig. Don't know about 1 5/16 but there is 1 3/8 "
   Mark - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:29:39 EDT

Don't know if a chassis punch would work on corrugated metal pipe...

Folks can we move the "discussion" to the hammer-in and leave this page pristine for the erudation of smithing knowledge? (or was that eruction?---*display* I can spell display..." for the display of smithing knowledge"...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:43:59 EDT

Back to forging physics. . .

Ignoring the size of the anvil, the hammer you use needs to have sufficient mass and velocity to forge the size steel you wish to forge. In mild steel a smith will use an 8 to 10 pound (3600 to 4500 g) sledge on 1" (25mm) square stock. When hand forging with a 3 pound (~1350) hammer 3/4" (16mm) is about the limit. Using a 2-1/4 pound (1000g) hammer 5/8 stock is roughly the limit. If you graph this that is about 9 pounds (4kg) per 1" square section or a little less. However, velocity is nearly constant so the curve is not a straight line and a smaller hammer can usualy do proportiantly larger work than the big hammer.

Using the above a 2oz. hammer is sufficient to forge wire of about 1/16" diameter (coat hanger wire) . . . So you can forge doll house furniture, fish hooks and very small knife blades. Using a hammer scaled for working on a 6 pound anvil.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:44:23 EDT

Ken Scharabok,
As several have noted the bi-metal hole saws work pretty well. I have used them alot, but never on ridged culvert. If you want to locate the pilot in the valley, the pilot drill supplied may be a bit short, but a long shank drill modified on a bench grinder can perhaps solve this. If you have a drill press it is moot as the drill press can guide the saw. I find that in the large sizes the hole saws work much better on a drill press, and don't tend to get stuck in the cut.

I do not believe the electrician's knock out punch will work on the ridged culvert, especially at the thickness you use.

My previous posts on the auto tapping was more an observation than a direct suggestion for you. But one can never tell, 12 a month now may grow to 100 a month one day, and that idea that you heard may be handy.
   ptree - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:44:50 EDT

Electrical Knockout Punches: Normaly they are clearance sized for pipe with the pipe size being the nominal for the punch. In other words the actual dimensions are much larger than the stated size for knockouts.

Most of these are rated for 14 ga steel max. if I remember correctly. However, the hydraulic ones WILL do more. The limiting factors are the threads holding the parts together.

To use any KO punch about 1/2 NPT you drill a 7/16 hole and use the 1/2" KO first. Then the larger size tool shanks will fit that hole.

I would think these punches would have a fit on the irregular surface of culvert pipe.

These style punches also come (came) in inch and mm standard sizes with and without keyways as chassis punches (for radio tubes) and square for other purposes.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 17:57:43 EDT

3dogs-- I represent the school of thought that the First Amendment is an absolute right, not a privilege, a right, to say or print any thing you please. The so-called "talking heads" you refer to are protected by that. "Yellow journalism" is protected by that. They are, alas, the price you pay for a free press.
   - Nelson Magruder - Thursday, 04/28/05 18:40:08 EDT

I was talking with my son and a few of his buddies last night. They have just returned from Iraq. They were telling me about a reporter who was with them for a short bit. He told them he was there to get a story that would earn him a Pultizer and he had no interest in reporting on them that he just wanted them to do something that he could make a big deal of. He also said it would be best if it were something like Mai Li. Seems to me that he was a busibody to me
   Ralph - Thursday, 04/28/05 18:49:34 EDT

OK Folks,

The political discussion does not belong on the guru's page. either take it to the Hammerin, or drop the subject, please.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 04/28/05 18:57:23 EDT

On the holes in the culvert, rather sounds like I need to subcontract the job to a local welding shop which has a plasma cutter. While it increases my unit cost, it also saves me time in not having to fuss with the holes.

ptee: I am somewhat in a position of not wanting to grow much beyond what I'm doing now. Poor Boy is intended as a part-time operation. Hiring local labor isn't really an option. That's one nice feature of eBay. I can drop items from my sales list rather easily.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/28/05 20:09:53 EDT


Try a bimetal hole saw. The ones from Lenox are my personal favorites, but there are other good ones. Cheap ones are never good.

I HAVE use hole saws on corrugated metal...lots of it, in fact. There are a couple of things that will make it go well for you. One, use a hefty, low-speed drill motor. Drill press, if it goes slower than 300 rpm, will be okay. A 1/2" hand drill of no more than 400 rpm will work, but you MUST use a sturdy side handle or you risk a broken wrist.

Two, drill a 1/4" pilot hole first, then use the hole saw with a smooth pilot. A piece of 1/4" drill rod works great; there's no need to grind a flat on the side for the set screw, since you're not drilling with it, only piloting. If you try to use the bit for piloting, you'll find that it wanders under the uneven loads from the hole saw's large radius and the bit flutes being in thin metal. The smooth pilot will just stay nicely where you want it.

As someone said, use cutting fluid of some sort. Diesel fuel, light oil, even tallow will work fine for what you're doing. It should only take about 30 seconds to make a hole, but don't force it.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/28/05 20:32:46 EDT

Ken: I'd go with the piloted hole saw. But because you have a culvert wuth a twisted ridge, you will probably need to do a little trick. The trick is that you take and drill your hole first in a piece of flat bar, then postition that over where you want to drill your hole. Should keep it from wandering. Again, it really just makes a guide collar, until your drill goes deep enough into your culvert.
   Bob H - Thursday, 04/28/05 20:42:54 EDT

Pilot Substitution VIc, GREAT IDEA! I have never had a need to do it but what a GREAT trick! That is the kind of thing one stores in their mental bag of tricks and could be a life saver in the future.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 20:59:25 EDT

Pilots: I have had to make custom sized pilots for various tools such as counterbores. They use a 1/4" shank.

To make a pilot with a tough hard shank I drill and ream a press fit hole in a piece of steel or brass a little larger than the pilot I need. Then I press in a long hard 1/4" steel dowel pin. Then while chucked on the dowel I machine the pilot to its finished size. This makes fast cheap pilots using soft steel. If the whole was machined from soft steel the set screw would tear it up making it difficult to change AND the soft steel may not be strong enough in that small shank diameter. It would also be tough to get a good precise slip fit on the shank. The dowel does it all. .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/28/05 21:07:01 EDT

Chris -- There are split couplings available in 1&1/4" that are used to join sections of propshaft. They are maleable iron. Is this joint inside the hull in the lazerett ? If so the location shouldn't be exposed to salt water continuously. I know that no location on a boat is dry, I lived & cruised on My sailboat for 12 years. Painting the asembled unit and a few inches of the shafts with cold galvanizing compound with MANY coats of the stuff, then checking for rust bleeds regularly is the best option for corosion protection. as to the key Vs setscrew issue, the rudderpost side will have to be drilled to accept the setscrews because You don't want to remove it. The coupling and the new piece of shaft could be keyed if You have acess to a milling machine. Roll pins or solid pins aren't a good idea because the shaft is weakened by the hole drilled through it, with no more gain in transmiting torque than 2 setscrews. Is the rudder mounted in such a way that the only loads on this junction are torsional? if not plan on adding a bearing on EACH side of the coupling.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/28/05 21:19:13 EDT

A Little More Clinker. I think I read in a British book that clinker "chills the blast". OK, that may be hyperbole, but since the clinker is non-combustible, it is not creating heat.

Furthermore, when enough clinker is present, it creates an oxidizing fire, and for pretty much the same reason as above. Oxygen in the blast bypasses clinker, and that can result in a heavier scale. The scale can be thick enough that the flux won't have full effect. In that situation, more and more flux just doesn't do the job. Getting the weld, then, is analogous to shinnying up a rope.

Wife, Juanita, dealt with the Life Magazine journalist who called. He saw my web site and wondered about a graduation "ceremony", if any. Juanita was pretty straightforward. She usually fixes a larrupin' salad, pozole, chile, and apple pie for a last week lunch at the house. I give each grad a homemade certificate with an affixed "Well Done" Ziggy sticker, or somesuch.

I heard of a German method of initiation after the long apprenticeship, and I wonder if it's regional or widespread. The journeymen throw a shop party for the initiate where beer and schnapps is available in large quantity. When everyone is fairly well schnockered, the journeymen grab the initiate and sit him in the middle of a hearth that has a large overhead hood. He is held and drenched with beer. The hood is then hammered on, allowing soot and creosote to descend upon the hapless lad. Fun, eh?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/28/05 22:34:09 EDT


I just recently cut a hole, with a hole saw, in my forge to fit a larger nozzle. The problem was I was going over an already existing hole, so no chance to pilot. And it's a curved surface (old propane tank), although it doesn't have ridges. It was almost impossible to keep the thing steady.

I cut a hole in a piece of scrap wood and used that as a guide. It only took a minute or so after that.

   - Marc - Friday, 04/29/05 07:48:32 EDT

I am seriously interested in blacksmithing, and I know the risks that come along with it. I've been search the web for cheap beginner classes for teens and I have not been able to find any that under 1000$ or closer than austrailia. I am 16 and I live in eastford connecticut and was hoping you could get me started on this. If you can help me I would appreciate it greatly, however if you cant i will just have to find some other way.
   Mitch - Friday, 04/29/05 09:59:05 EDT

Rudder post repair. Another method is to use a taper lock style of hub to shaft coupling. Friction only. No holes, no setscrews, No welding. Very strong.
   - Tony - Friday, 04/29/05 09:59:44 EDT

To the Lurkers (readers that don’t post ) and Regulars, Just an observation, This site is a literal gold mine of information from yacht repair to the secret life of flux to dealing with dragon droppings. I have yet to see a question that someone here either didn’t have experience with or have an idea to deal with the problem. What makes it so wonderful, is that people from around the world and all walks of life can commune together without prejudice or fear of being chastised for asking a question. And all this is free for the asking. It really isn’t free we have a little group called CSI ( in comparison with the amount visitors it is little ) that support this site through membership dues.

It is my sincere hope that if you have benefited from the vast combine knowledge of this site, that you would consider joining CSI and contribute back just a little. Go to the store and look for the CSI listing.
Thanks for lending me your ear or eyes in this case.

Jock maybe you could expand on the amount of visitors and countries they are from.
   daveb - Friday, 04/29/05 10:28:59 EDT

Mitch: Use the nagivator link to find the list of blacksmithing groups. One for your area is likely the CN Blacksmith Guild. Contact the president of the group and explain your problem. They might be able to refer you to an experienced smith within a reasonable driving distance willing to tutor you one or two evenings a week through the basics.

Pres / Ed: Bill Scheer
4 Haley Street
Mystic, CT 06355-2612
(860) 536-0679
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/29/05 10:48:22 EDT

The Power Hammer School NEW web site is now at its official URL www.powerhammerschool.com
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 11:33:21 EDT

Looking to date my Hay Budden. I do not own the book that has all of this info, and have not been able to find the dating info on the net.
My 200lb Hay Budden has "24296" on it, and there MIGHT be a "1" in front of the 24296, but I'm not so sure about the number "1".
Can anyone help me date this one?
Also, can anyone direct me to the premier blacksmithing forums on the net?
I have not found any blacksmith forums that are very active, and I figured there had to be one...
Thanks fellas...
   Paul Cataldo - Friday, 04/29/05 12:05:57 EDT

Paul Cataldo,

THIS is the premier blacksmiths forum on the internet. If you will take a few hours to look around the site, I'm sure you'll find that the array of material here is orders of magnitude broader and better than elsewhere.

Jim Wilson or one of the others will, no doubt, provide you the year of you H-B fairly soon. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the site and consider becoming a supporting member of this valuable resource. For more information on support, click on the CSI link at the bottom of this window.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/29/05 12:25:04 EDT

Paul, you just posted to it, the hammerin page is for general discussion, the Guru page is for technical questions and the slack pub is a chat type room , chat room activity varies with the time of day, but you must be registered. The first two rooms are board type rooms- post and wait on answers, but they usually get answered rather quickly. I’m not up on dating anvils, but I guarantee someone here is.
   daveb - Friday, 04/29/05 12:26:08 EDT


If the number is 24296, then it was manufactured in 1896.

If the number is 124296, then it was manufactured in 1905.

You've just found the premier blacksmithing forum on the net. Out of the top 50, anvilfire has been number 1 for several months now. Ever since the list was started by a blacksmithing magazine.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/29/05 12:33:07 EDT

anvilfire stats and CSI

Currently we are getting 6,600 visits a day. That is 2.4 MILLION per year. It has taken us 7 years to break 6 million accumulated visits but we will probably break 8 million by years end!

These visitors come from 152 or more countries. Roughly 3,000 are regulars, 2,000 visit weekly and the rest once a month or are one time visitors. These include besides blacksmiths and would be blacksmiths, engineers from India, members of the US Armed Forces world wide, students from the second grade (8 year olds) through graduate students AND their teachers. We have also had numerous authors use anvilfire for research as well as asking questions on various subjects. We have been mentioned in the New York Times, Design News, and many other publications. We have recently consulted with PBS and LIFE magazine.

I answer about a third again as many questions by e-mail as here.

Many folks find the guru's den or iForge and visit nothing else, howerver as of August last year (last time I counted we had):

357 news pages
312 archive pages
165 iForge demos
45 Book reviews
35 FAQs
30 Stories (not including Paw-Paw's TRB)
25 articles not on the FAQs list
19 Power Hammer pages
15 JYH pages
13 Armoury pages
13 Plan File
1029 TOTAL HTML article pages

Not including the home page, indexes, the Pub, Classroom, the Touchmark Registry, Mass3j calculator, Paw-Paw's TRB,
Blacksmiths Ring "home", live forums and many others. Many of these HTML "pages" would equate to many print pages. The
200 iForge and book review pages would be 500 to 800 full size print pages.

Since then there have been new issues of the NEWS and more FAQ's added. Archives are up to 352.

There are 1,630 images in the NEWS alone. About 2,000 site wide. The edition covering the last ABANA conference had 162 photos alone. Everyone of which has been processed to be as clear as possible.

THEN. . we also host about half of the ABANA affiliate websites on our server and I am webmaster for 4 now. . .

What all this adds up to is that anvilfire is expensive to maintain. Besides a full time guru there is full time web work and articles to write. The site requires a dedicated server as well.

Most of this was built and maintained at my expense. Advertisers cover about a third of COSTS and CSI has been helping for several years covering another third. Without the help of these generous people whom get little in return except the satisfaction that anvilfire is still on line we would not be here.

CSI (CyberSmiths International, Inc.) is currently organized as a non-profit and is trying to raise funds so that anvilfire can continue with or without me. The more members CSI has, the better the organization will look to potential grant or endowment givers. We need more members both as a show of popular support AND the financial support. Currently there are only about 127 dues paying members. For the number of folks we serve that needs to be 10 times that number.

Currently what absorbs over half my time is running the little anvilfire store. However, it pays the bills. Sales from the store will let me travel to and cover events for our NEWS which many of you cannot get to. But this is a double edged sword, the time going into the store is needed for to POST those news articles and add more iForge demos and keep up with Pub registrations. . . The anvilfire office has run on a shoestring budget from the beginning and now needs a full time office person as well as my skills as guru and webmaster. The goals of CSI are to raise enough funds to alow me to close the store and to provide a full time office worker. Without this kind of funding anvilfire could easily go the route of Keenjunk.com. Even though I would never just PULL the site there are server fees and constant HTML maintenance. The goal of CSI is to keep anvilfire on-line as an educational resource in perpetuity.

Joining CSI is doing a good thing.
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 12:37:11 EDT

i am currently attempting to make a pair of bracers and am having dificulty because my metal is twisting as i work it haow wolud you fix this
   raven white - Friday, 04/29/05 12:46:09 EDT

Top50 List: Not only are we #1 on the Blacksmiths Journal list we are #1 by about a 10x factor over the next site listed. Our traffic is estimated to equal all the other blacksmithiing web sites on the Internet combined.
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 12:46:15 EDT

I just bought my first anvil. A demo 300# TFS Blacksmith, I picked it up for $3 per pound at the CBA auction, donated by Delta Horseshoe (thanks). I need to know how to radius the edge(S) this is a european style double bick anvil, in reading "The New Edge of The Anvil" it is recommended to radius to 3/8 at the horn and taper to 1/4 towards the end leaving the heal sharp. I am not sure what to do with the bick end should I radius all the way to the point? Also is there anything I need to watch out for when grinding away all that metal. 3/8" radius from that sharp edge is a lot of metal to remove. Last question for now what can you tell me about this anvil? It rings, and my hammer bounces back allthough using the steel ball test described on this site I only get about a 25% rebound. Thanks, by the way this site has been great in helping me get started. As soon as I get my anvil set I will be joining Thanks again Jeff
   Jeff G - Friday, 04/29/05 13:17:37 EDT

Raven are you working hot or cold?

Generally I stick things in the postvise and wearing heavy gloves twist them back straight.

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/29/05 13:56:54 EDT

TFS Anvil - Radiusing: Jeff, First, a 3/8" radius is a LARGE radius. Are you sure you do not mean 3/16" radius (equivalent to a 3/8 round)?

Start by lightly chamfering about 1/16" wide all the way around. Then file this to a smooth radius. That is the minimum for all edges and is still considered "sharp". Normaly most smiths like a large radius on a short section of the anvil. I would make this a 3/16" to 1/4" radius (this is a large anvil) for about the first 3" from the shoulder at the horn. Then the straight sides (not the square horn) would be radiused to about 1/8". Optionaly I would blend the two radii over about a 3" distance OR not. For looks a very short blend might be best.

Radiusing at the shoulder is common and traditional. However, engineering logic would have us put the heaviest radius at the center of the body where the anvil is capable of taking the heaviest blows and where the heaviest work is done. In life this is where most anvils end up chipped and worn then get radiused to clean up. . . Its something to think about.

Also, the heaviest forging gets done on the side AWAY from the smith. This is the best side for a heavy radius. The near side is often used for forming offsets like for tongs and needs less radius.

Most folks are scared to radius the edges of their anvils and end up chipping them, dinging hammers or maring a lot of work. Start with the minimum radius above and then think about it over time.

It would be a LOT easier if manufacturers just did the right thing and dressed their anvils to a standard. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 14:48:21 EDT

Small Anvils:

Of course, when the Great Guru refers to hammer to anvil ratios, he's contemplating efficient forging; as the ratio is reduced, efficiency is diminished. You can, of course, use an inefficient ratio, but it’s, umm, inefficient! ;-) I have a couple of small anvils, mostly for very fine work and converting 12 to 10 ga. copper wire into ring pins and jewelry.

Blacksmiths in Newfoundland:

I think there are one or two knifemakers up that way, and when last we were there Norstead, up by L’Anse aux Meadows, had a “Viking blacksmith” reenactor on staff.
Darrell Markewitz od Whareham Forge might be able to help you, and you can check out: http://www.darkcompany.ca/museums.htm for some more Norstead information.

Rudder Shafts:

Why stainless steel? You may reduce some maintenance, but setting up for galvanic corrosion sort of negates that. Especially in a high stress and critical member like the rudder shaft. Why not just match a carbon steel shaft and accept the maintenance that comes with keeping the lower half carbon steel anyway? Even with matching the carbon steel, the weld or other coupling needs to be solid; I hate it when the steering goes, as it tend to do, in the middle of a squall. (The crew hates it even more.) I’d forget the stainless steel, and accept the extra maintenance, as long as the joint was STRONG.

Back from the REALLY HIGH banks of the Colorado at Grand Canyon to the user friendly banks of the Potomac. GRCA is a beautiful place, but my bad foot feels a lot better at this elevation.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/29/05 14:48:53 EDT

Jeff G,

I'll leave the details of where and how much to those who know more than I do, but let me offer one little tidbit. Almost every reference I have seen to easing the edges of anvils says to "...radius the edge to x/x" radius..." or language to that effect. However, a 3/8" radius is a 3/4" diameter, (about like a broom handle), and that is simply way too big for anything but fullering.

The purpose of easing the corners is to prevent chipping and to create a radiused corner in work done over that corner so as to avoid cold shuts that result from sharp corners. An actual 3/8" radius inside a corner would be sufficient to prevent cold shutting in stock of about 6" or maybe bigger. It just seems like a LOT more than necessary to me.

Most of the anvils I've seen used by really good smiths have the first 3 or 4 inches of the off side edge radiused to something on the order of the diameter of a common pencil, and substantially smaller radii on the rest of the anvil. Nowhere have I seen a truly sharp corner, but some of them have been as small as a .020" radius (about the same as the wire used for medium sized paper clips).
   vicopper - Friday, 04/29/05 15:01:35 EDT

I do keep one pretty sharp edge on my anvil, located at the heel. I don't use it often, but it does come in handy at times. The biggest problem that I have found with a sharp corner is the stress that it sets up in the center of a 90° bend.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 04/29/05 15:19:00 EDT

Typically what I see advised is to radius the edge and if you need a sharp edge for a particular process make a hardy took with one...

Thomas flogging a dead horse as a first step toward dinner...
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/29/05 15:38:24 EDT

Thanks for the advice. I thought 3/8" was an awfully big radius. I will follow your advice and just remove enough to take the edge off at first. I will pay atention to how I work and put a larger radius at that spot. Since I am new I guess I can just train myself right and put that larger spot in the middle of the mass, I just haven't decided which side of the anvil I want to work from (ie. horn left or right). Is there a standard preferred side to stand on? or is it like everything else and we all have an opinion?
   Jeff G - Friday, 04/29/05 15:45:35 EDT

Can anyone help me or point in the right direction with contacts to company's that might have modern machine that produces "cut nails". I have been purchacing from National Nail here in US and need a specific #8 and #6 nail that I have gotten from them in the past. Thing is when I reorder I get another type #6&8 that will not work in the product. The nails do NOT need to hard. What I want is an old machine that dould be used "inhouse" to produce my own nails. All the nails on the market are produced in S.Korea or China. The few nail mfg here in US make "vintage" nails that do not work on our project either. Getting mfg to run 2000lbs they don't want small orders. I'll just do it myself.
Thanks Joe Myers
   Joe Myers - Friday, 04/29/05 15:49:25 EDT

JEFF G.: There are many thoughts on what you are asking.
#1 If you are right handed start with the horn to your left. If this not comfortable, turn the anvil around.
#2 The radious of the edge on my anvil is not quite 3/16th, at the front and more like 3/32nds on the back. I will leave about two inches with a sharp corner on the front right next to the shelf. I use this often.
#3: The ringing can be quitened down with big magnets, wrapping a 3/8ths or bigger chain around the waist, fastening the anvil tightly to the wooden base.
#4: I would not be in a hurry to grind anything off of the anvil use it and see what you want to do, if anything at later date. Just do not hit the edges hard and do not let a striker hit anywhere but the middle of the anvil.GRIN

   - sandpile - Friday, 04/29/05 16:18:58 EDT

Jeff, I assume you have already checked with Tremont Nail Co; they were the company we bought the nails from when I was helping build the viking boat---I was brought on because they were having problems annealing the nails to use as rivits and I showed them a trick---and ended up annealing the rest of the nails for them...

As for buying a machine---the 2000# of nails might be cheap...

I do recall that one of the Industrial Archeology guys I met at the Ironmasters Conference specialty was cut nail machines and the variations they went through in early America---you might check the journals for a reference and track him down...

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/29/05 17:00:20 EDT

Joe Meyers,
From what I know about true cut nails, a simple die in a punch press could make a cut nail. This cut nail would be a simple tapered nail. No formed head. Is this what you are looking for? If so, a sheared rectangle of steel of the correct thickness is pushed into the die. The punch press is cycled, makeing a taper on the end of the rectangle. The rectangle is pulled out, flipped 180 degrees and inserted. The press is cycled again, making the nail. Every stoke from then on, flip, and make a nail, till the end of the rectangle. This is how the first cut nails were made as far as I know. The die will have to have a stop to set the width of the nail. I would think that if the nails have the same taper, that the same die set, with adjustable stops could make both.
I did see a TV show that showed the last cut nail maker in the US. Don't know if they could help or if they are still active.
   ptree - Friday, 04/29/05 17:09:23 EDT

Tremont nail Co has been making cut nails since 1819- I am pretty sure in the same building- in New England- dont remember which state- I bought a small quanity from them but the box doesn' give the location
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 04/29/05 17:57:54 EDT

From Google: (Google Rules!)

Welcome to Tremont Nail Company 800-842-0560 - Steel Cut Nails for ...
Tremont Nail is the oldest manufacturer of nails in the US, producing the most
extensive line of steel cut restoration nails at its historic mill in Wareham ...
www.tremontnail.com/ - 8k - Cached - Similar pages
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/29/05 18:20:59 EDT

Nailmaking pretty much moved overseas 20 years ago, at least. And the nail factories that used small scale machinery that you could put in your shop, as opposed to having to build a building for- well they bought their equipment before WW2. So the factories that made nail making machines in the US have probably been gone for 80 to 100 years.

Now I think that unless you have a real high ticket item you need these nails for, it probably isnt practical to make your own- but if you really want to- here is the company that will sell you a brand new nail making setup, and I am sure they will build one to make just about any nail you want- www.atlasmachinesindia.com - they make all kinds of machine tools for third world countries, and if you scroll down to "multipurpose plants" they have nailmaking machines, paper clip making machines, barbed wire making machines- you name it. And I am sure their prices are about as low as you are gonna find anywhere.
   ries - Friday, 04/29/05 18:45:29 EDT

Jeff G. One our English texts speaks about radiusing the edges of English pattern anvils. I believe it said to put a 1/8" radius on the face edges from the anvil step to about the center of the waist, near and far side. That is what I have always done, and it works for me.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/29/05 19:14:23 EDT

Cut Nails: Nails without heads can be manufactured with a simple punch press and the proper die set with auto feed. The alternating right and left is a tad tricky but a tooling engineer would figure it out pretty quick. I suspect that with each stroke of the punch it and the die would rotate a few degrees at the top of the stroke and reset in the oposite direction each time. . . The whole would set on a heavy roller thrust bearing. I could design it in about a week and detail it in another. . . if that was all I was doing. But it is one of those jobs I would like to have a month to do nothing but research, think about and make idea sketches before deciding on a plan of action.

There is no "special" machine, just a common machine with the proper tooling. A little 10 ton punch press operating at 150 to 225 cycles per minute would make that many nails a minute. Running continous it MIGHT run faster but if you need higher production rates it is best just to build multiple machines. Stock could be in 20 foot lengths or could be fed from coil. Howver, coil stock this heavy needs straightening rolls. Altenately a magazine type feed could be setup.

Assuming a 1/8" x 1.5" nail you would get 1920 nails per 20 foot strip in 8 minutes @ 200/min. That is 70-75 pounds/hr., 612 pounds/day or over a ton a week at normal (guessing) punch press speeds and hand feeding stock as needed. That MIGHT be able to be sped up by running the machine faster. Coil feeds run continously but must be watched. However this would give you your ton in 24 hours.

At these production rates you need vibrating chutes to move the pieces and automatic finishing equipment to debur the parts.

All these are seperate issues from the "machine" it self. One problem you will find with OLD companies is that the guy that designed the tooling retired or died 50 years ago or more. The current owners are just maintaining the old tools and rarely have the skill in-house to build from scratch.

Good autofeed devices and auto rotate systems are part of the mechanical art of production tooling. Some of this can be found in the patent office and more in books on tooling. However, the majority of this stuff was one off design by a mechanical wizard who did his part and moved on without acknowledgement or a record of his work.

Cost to design/build and implement without auxillary machines, between $20 and $30k. $0.29/nail for the first ton or 85,500 nails. . . ROUGH numbers. . . Tooling cost after 10 tons 3 cents each. You have to make a lot of nails.

Yep, Exporting our production jobs to Czechoslovakia, Poland and China is killing the other small manufacturers that rely on parts and pieces from those exported plants. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 19:17:48 EDT

Cut Nails: Ries probably has the best solution but that is sending more work overseas. . . If you believe in Internationalism then that is good, if not then bad. . .

The only good thing is that cut nails are a dead market and you would not be sending design work for a hot product offshore. The problem with going to India, Pakistan, China or Korea with a tooling problem is that YOU pay for the design work and THEY will sell the resulting tools to anyone OR go into production themselves. . . Many a company has forgotten what "proprietary" means in the glare of dirt cheap design work. . . and given away the details of their product line to people that become their competitors.
   - guru - Friday, 04/29/05 19:39:01 EDT

Hello. I have a question about fire control. I have a railroad forge, aout 2'x 3' with a side draft hood and an electric blower. The fire pot is about 7"x 11", and the top of the pot is above the floor of the forge about 1". I have fire bricks lining the bottom (floor)of the forge, and they are about 1" above the top of the fire pot. When I start a fire it fills the pot. Once that is burning I put a little more coke on and then about 4 to 5 coal shovels of coal on. After about an hour or so of forging the fire widens to all the previous coal. Is this right or should my fire be smaller, and if so how do I keep it smaller ?? Sure would appreciate your input. Thanks!
   Ray - Friday, 04/29/05 19:59:40 EDT

i am a 11 year-old boy who is very interested in becoming a blacksmith! Is there anything available for me to learn and do blacksmithing as a kid. My dad's E-mail is listed and he knows i am writing this. Also,what courses or colleges that you suggest for becoming a blacksmith. Thankyou!
   will - Friday, 04/29/05 20:58:21 EDT

Mitch, I have a small shop in Windsor, Ct. just north of Hartford ( about 30 min from you) I would be happy to show some of the basics if you are willing to make the trip on some Saturday. You can send me an email @ jmacclintic@aol.com or through my website @ j-pdesigns.com I will do what I can to help you get started in this verry rewarding line of work.
   Jeff - Friday, 04/29/05 21:58:03 EDT

Rudder post & galvanic corosion : I should have mentioned it in My post yesterday- The rudderpost MUST be conected to the bonding system on the boat so it will be protected by the zink. Mild steel is less noble than bronze, stainless,& monel, some or all of which will be present in other underwater fittings.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 04/29/05 23:37:53 EDT

Rudder Post:

Why go with stainless, the the good old steel shaft seems to have lasted 40 years, so one could assume that with replaceing it with the same thing should (with proper maintenance) last another 40 years. Why reinvent the wheel and add to your problems.

If the machine is older than me, and the planned repair will last longer that me, I consider it to be a proper repair.
   - Hudson - Friday, 04/29/05 23:55:39 EDT

Cut nails -- If You are willing to flip the stock or change the angle each hit it could be done with a shear. With a tapered punch & die the stock can be fed in far enough that the material between the nails cut by the punch is another nail, with the wide end on the other side. The punch must be wider than the width of the stock, which controlls the length of the nail, one punch& die wide enough for the longest nail. Air powered feed units are off the shelf, cheap, acurate & reliable. Incline an OBI punch press so the nails slide out the back & fall into a box under the press. More modern cutnails aren't made from flat stock, the strip is rolled to an "I" shape before punching to form the head.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/30/05 00:00:57 EDT

Cut Nails.
Dave, Your thoughts are excatly what we had in mind if we have to build our own machine. Incline the feed and get 2 nails per hit/stroke. Putting the head on would be a secondary operation that I really don't want to deal with but is nessary. Tell me more about rolling the "I" shape befor punching. All the nails we are using show signs of tool marks where they have been gripped in a heading operation. Thanks, Joe
   Joe Myers - Saturday, 04/30/05 00:41:27 EDT

Tremont Nail Co , Wareham , Ma. 1-800-842-0560 or www.tremontnail.com
Just ordered from them Yesterday (fri) they said I would have the nails by Mon.
   Harley - Saturday, 04/30/05 01:57:27 EDT

needing information on a foot power grindstone wheel, how to clean, the value, general information thank you
   penny - Saturday, 04/30/05 02:06:13 EDT

Will: Use the link for "Getting Started". You will find a wealth of information there. At 11 years of age you likely don't have the upper body strength or hammer control to work with stock much larger than 1/4". However, there are a number of nice items, such as S-hooks, which can be made from that size stock. Don't try to do items like knives until you have developed both the basic skills and strength.

Second problem will be tooling. You are looking at several hundred dollars for a small forge, small anvil and starter tooling. Your dad may not be willing to make the investment in what might be a passing interest for you - so keep that in mind.

Depending where you are, likely there is an active blacksmithing group within a reasonable distance. Get connected with one and attend their meetings and particularly regional conferences. I have been to few blacksmithing events which weren't totally family friendly.

If you display a genuine interest the group is likely to 'adopt' you.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/30/05 07:46:22 EDT

Regarding copper waterpipe for hand rails.(2 inch)
If I need to span 6 foot sections, does a person need to buy type M or type L?
Thank you agan S.C.
   slagcity - Saturday, 04/30/05 08:38:02 EDT

Good day Sir,
I am 22 yrs old, I live in Missouri, more closely the bootheel in the town of Dexter. I am seriously looking to start the trade of blacksmithing, Mainly armor and weaponry. I am an avid read so when this idea came to me a 3 years ago I got a hold of every book and studied them. Sadly although I learned much, I find I learn more by hands on teaching. At this moment though I am simply requesting information on what I "really" need to get started. I wish to keep my skill and work as Oldworld as possible. Any information and help you can give will be most appreciated for a longing smith-to-be.
I thank you for your time.
   Quentin - Saturday, 04/30/05 09:51:17 EDT

For the second time this year I have had to send a load of hot rolled steel back to the dealer because of linear cold shuts. This is 5/16"x3/4", 3/8"x3/4", 3/8"x1" and 1/2"x1" used for forged horseshoes not turned cold. It's supposed to be "mild steel" A36. With a test heat and quench some of it bends nicely when hammered over in a vise and other sections shatter like glass. My dealer will come and pick this **** up and replace it but there is still lost time. Without having to hand inspect every bar is there something else I should be doing? Never had this problem when I was getting 1020.
   goodhors - Saturday, 04/30/05 10:04:12 EDT

Castable Refractory: Last week I made my first forge floor with castable, let it dry for 3 days, and began heating it slowly. On the second day, it exploded into gravel sized fragments.

After pouting, I set the full mold on my lawnmower engine running for 30 minutes [it vibrates a lot] and plenty of air bubbles surfaces at first, then nothing.

I understand it exploded because of air pockets. How can I avoid this with the next mold?
   MikeM OH - Saturday, 04/30/05 10:23:34 EDT

Ray, every couple of heats, pull the coke that surrounds the center of your fire in towards the middle.
Add fresh coal to the perimeter. I use a garden sprayer to wet the out side of the fire and really pour it on. I have never put to much water on and when the fire gets really hot it doesn't do too much good anyway. Your coke bed is getting wider and wider and if you are not pulling it into the middle of your fire, the core of your fire will hollow out and be pretty useless. I'm sure you are turning the blast off between heats but if not try to get into the habit. I try to mess with my fire between very heat,: Rake in the coke, poke down the center of the fire and throw some coal into the back and sides of the fire. I you're using coal, it's just a given that you like messin' with your fire.
P.S. Of course you don't "pour" water on your fire. I think that if you did and it reached the hot cast iron it might crack it. The reason I like using garden sprayer is that you can direct the stream of water to the exact place you want it and it probably never gets to the bottom of the coal and directly onto the bottom of the forge.
   - lsundstrom - Saturday, 04/30/05 11:02:22 EDT

Will, actually you can build your own starter kit *much* cheaper. I did one that cost under $25 and the most "unusual" tool needed to build it was a 1/4" drill;

The forge was a brake drum picked up off the side of the road. The support for it was the frame from a barstool, (1/4" drill & bolts to hold it in place) The tuyere was from plumbing parts from the fleamarket as was an old Al bodied handivac---universal motor, (cost $3 the most expensive part of the system!), got a rheostat as a blower controler and a piece of radiator hose and clamps at the fleamarket too

The anvil was the broken knuckle off a RR coupler and was scrounged too.

Tools were large pliers and visegrips and hammers all from the fleamarket for a dollar or two.

Was the forge any good? I used to use it for welding up billets for pattern welded knives as it was the only forge I had with an electric blower on it...

Now you can buy all new stuff and pay a pretty penny; but it's the skills that make the smith; not the tools!

Thomas---nortorious cheap
   Thomas P - Saturday, 04/30/05 11:23:57 EDT

Quentin; almost all the armoring done nowdays is done cold with modern sheet steel, no blacksmithing involved and the tools are more sheetmetal tools. Welding skills will get you further than smithing skills

Quite a bit of the weapons making is Stock Removal and so no smithing is done there as well.

So if you want to go into armor and weapons making is not a necessary prerequisite.

However, the *best* top end makers do work hot in both endevors...

I assume that one of the books you read was Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction" better known as ToMAR in the armour making forums---of which I would recomment the armourarchive.org and arador (not english spelling of armour in url, a common affectation with armor folks)

I would also suggest you find the local SCA group and see if anyone is doing any armouring near you.

As for weapon's making the American Bladesmith's Society School in Texarkana AR would be a great place to learn bladesmithing. (forging and heat treat learned can be applied to other weapons)

Thomas built my first mail shirt in 1980, apprenticed to a sword maker in 1983---still crazy after all these years!
   Thomas P - Saturday, 04/30/05 11:39:14 EDT

Cleaning Antiques, Grinding stone: Penny, First, if it is an antique and has any collector's value than any cleaning may be detrimental to its value. The dirt grime, moss or paint is all part of the history of the tool.

The biggest problem with grinding wheels is called "loading". To remove the gum imbedded in the working surface you can use the edge of a worn our rasp or a "start" grinding wheel dresser. In both cases you operate the grinder and dress it while it turns. This will leave a fresh clean cutting surface. This is the ONLY surface that needs to be clean to use and doing so would on show recent maintenance AS A TOOL.

Value is a hard nut and I tend not to deal in apraising antigues because the prices are as crazy as the stock market. For folks that want one to use $100 to $150.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/30/05 12:24:03 EDT

Castable refractory: MikeM, Air is not the problem. Air is often added to refractory to increase its insulating value.

STEAM is the problem followed by patience. It takes WEEKS for castable to cure then air dry in warm dry weather. THEN it requires VERY slow forced drying. Slowly heating to dry means less than 212°F at sea level. After the free water is driven out THEN the refractory must be calcined (driving out the bound water). This is done above the boiling point slowly with the temperature eventualy rising to about 1400°F. The thicker the refractory and the more it is enclosed (such as in a steel case) the longer it takes. After the refractory is calcined you can take a hour or so to bring the forge up to full temp.

You can speed this process up by first using as little water as possible. The fact that you could vibrate out air bubbles means you mixed it MUCH TOO WET. Castable refractory is also called "ramable". It should be mixed to a thick stone mortar consistancy then forced into place. If it pours or trowels easily then you have used too much water. Mixing dry mortar mixes is a skill that takes practice. You mix a LITTLE at a time to as stiff as possible adding a little more dry mix as needed. Attempting to mix an entire batch at once (like you do plaster) is a disaster.

Then after the refractory has set for at least a week you can start force drying it. Years ago we used to use an old elctrolux vacuume cleaner to dry plaster molds. The exhust air from the vacumme cleaner (if high HP) is hot. We would line up the mold parts in a cardboard tunnel and let the hot air blow by for hours. Then we would rotate the parts and let them run for another hour or so. Elctrolux made one heck of a product back in the 1950's! We used Mom's vaccume for this until the 1980's. . . when it finally died. IF you have a good industrial duty hot air gun or spot heater with fan you can so the same.

After a couple days forced drying then you would need to use higher temperature. If you use a SMALL burner and some distance the temperature rise over days should be slow enough. When I last did this I used a standard propane torch stuffed in the burner port of a 30# propane bottle forge lined with castable. I used up three standard small bottles of fuel. Surprisingly they eventualy heated the entire 50 pound mass of the forge until you could not touch the exterior! Then after it cooled overnight (it was still warm the next day) I installed a burner and ran it for about 5 minutes or until the interior JUST started to glow red in spots. Then I let is cool for a hour and repeated the process letting the burner run a little longer each time. As I said, the second problem is PATIENCE!

Once a hard refractory is dry and in use everything is fine. However, if it sets unused for a period of months it will absord water from the air. This will need to be dried out slowly or the refractroy will crack or spall. However, the diference is the refractory has be calcined (the chemicaly bound water driven off). So this is just a couple hour heating and letting steam off process (again dependant on how thick the refractroy).

This process takes as much patience as calcining lost wax plaster molds which I have been a complete failure at. To do it right you need a calcining furnace that slowly raises the temperature of the plaster up to that magic 1400°F value. THEN while the molds are hot you pour the metal. Patience AND timing.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/30/05 12:56:22 EDT

Bad Steel: Goodhors, US industry and the US government has brought this upon us. The problem of supply of good materials will eventualy destroy what industry we have left. It is a matter of National Security that is more important than chasing Alcida.

At this time the only choice you have is to buy cold drawn stock (drawn not finished) and pay the higher price. Due to they type of processing this steel must generaly be better.

OR you can insist on certified stock of a certain grade. However the paperwork will cost you more than the material.

Note that even good 1020 will harden to the brittle point if quenched from a bright red heat. Also note that some of the worst steel is now produced IN the US.

My Costa Rican friend Johan who is a Venezuelan says that the American and Chinese steel they get is trash compared to the high grade steel they make in Venezuela. Steel is one of their big exports and they make very good steel. He says it was wonderful to work with. (Ah the good old days. . . of the 1980's).

I've also been told by users of heavy plate that they can no longer us US made plate and have had to go to China to get good quality plate. . .

It is a serious problem and the people we elect to watch over this kind of thing have been too busy money grubbing to pay attention to the real problems for the past 25 years. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 04/30/05 13:13:40 EDT

Castable... Ahh.. should have known better than to follow the directions that came with the mix. "Mix 2 parts castable with 1 part water, vibrate to remove air pockets, allow to dry 3 days before firing." Yes, by your description, I had WAY too much water! So say that I was able to "pour" it is generous... I could have siphoned this stuff through a straw.

See folks? $50 in wasted material AVOIDED [the other half of the mix] because of ANVILFIRE and CSI. If Anvilfire weren't here, I'd be busy blowing up another $50 worth of castable and probably losing an eye this time.

Stop wasteing time and money!
Join CSI now!
   MikeM OH - Saturday, 04/30/05 13:36:38 EDT

i've been into forging since 2000. i began running chambersburg drop hammers from 1000 to 4000#. i had an opportunity to get started into the flat die rough forging and took a new position as a hammerdriver. i need some info, manuals, blueprints about chambursburg 2500-8000# high frame, and open frame hammers. thanks!
   whipple - Saturday, 04/30/05 14:08:31 EDT

Thanks for all the information this is Will again the 11 year-old. I have a couple more questions. Where can i find and buy coke and coal for a forge. Where can i find 1/4 inch iron to make stuff out of. I already have a blacksmith hammer and anvil.
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:12:53 EDT

My name is Will and i am 11 years-old 11. I am asking about would a stone blacksmithing hammer work.
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:23:09 EDT

Its will ounce more where can i find a forge for a low price. thanks
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:25:39 EDT


Stone hammers were used for many thousands of years before Bronze and Iron hammers were made. They don't work WELL, but they do work. If there are flea markets near you, you can almost always find old, used hammers there. They may not have handles, but you can usually find hammers in the same place, and they are both cheap and easy to put on the hammers.

You can find 1/4 inch stock at your local hardware store, or big box store (Lowes, Home Depot, Home Quarters, etc.) Or look in the yellow pages of your local phone book for Steel Suppliers. You are far better off starting and working with new steel than with old rusty used steel.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:29:22 EDT

Will, when I said you can usually find hammers, I meant that you can usually find HANDLES in the same place.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:30:08 EDT

Will: Read the information on Getting Started in Blacksmithing. You will find a wealth of information there. If you make contact with one or more of the blacksmithing groups in your area they can held you find coal or coke and a supplier of small diameter stock. I strongly recommend you not to go banging away on your own. Take the time to master the basics under an experienced tutor.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:36:19 EDT

PawPaw: I believe he meant stone mason's hammer. Basically a double flat faced hammer. Actually one was my first blacksmithing hammer.

Will: If so, they are likely too heavy for you to use effectively at your age. A 1 1/2 to 2 pound ballpeen hammer would work if you cannot find a small crosspeen of similar weight. Tell ya what, e-mail me an address and I'll mail you a small crosspeen a neighbor gave me today. Too light for me, but would be find you for. Just click on my name and an e-mail form will come up.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:41:26 EDT

ok thankyou guys
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 15:53:51 EDT

Guru, don't believe everything you read about Venezuelan steel. The US can still make supurb steel, you just have to know how to order it! I have evaluated steel from all over the world and our steel is as good as anyones, better than most. Venezuela likes to "allow" US suppliers to bid on their domestic applications. However, they really just want to steal any production secrets they can and find an excuse to "disallow' any comptetive bids that threaten their domestic industry. Our steel industry is on the ropes but we can still make "world-class" steel. What you choose to buy in the DIY store is what ever is left over after they make the good stuff.....
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/30/05 16:46:30 EDT

US steel can still be very good to excellent. We forge about 50 million pounds worth a year. We had to try some Korean steel during the shortage, Boy we won't willingly do that again.
Much of the A-36 at the steel service centers is NOT US steel, but junk import.
   ptree - Saturday, 04/30/05 16:58:36 EDT

ANYBODY know how to heat-treat a newly made hammer?? It came from a Pitman arm, off of a combine. It will air harden a little.
   - sandpile - Saturday, 04/30/05 18:21:07 EDT

I am going to heat-treat it by the seat of my pants.BOG thanks anyway.

   - sandpile - Saturday, 04/30/05 18:28:39 EDT

I've posted 3 pictures of an old anvil in the user gallery (djhammerd). I haven't found any text on it, other than it looks like there is a "1 1 0" on one side. Those numbers, if that's what they are, are far apart and only about a half inch high each. The anvil weighs about 135 lbs.

This anvil has had a lot of use. It has a saddled top with a wear depression about 5/16th" (at center) from the hardy hole to the sholder. As is evident, one side has a significant chunk broken off. I cannot tell if it is solid (one complete unit) or has parts added to a core (how do I determine that?)

If there is somewhere I should be focusing on it to find a name or serial number, let me know.

Otherwise, please make a guess as to who the manufacturer may be and what the age range could be.
   djhammerd - Saturday, 04/30/05 19:43:18 EDT

Here we go once again on anvil's marked in the old english system. It's so simple I don't know howcome you guys can't remember it. It's all based on the stone (which stone I don't know)which is 14 pounds. The first number is the number of hundredweights. A hundredweight is 8 stone, or 112 pounds
the second number is 1/4 weights or 2 stone or 28 pounds. The last number is pounds. So one hundredweight, and one quarter weight add up to 140 pounds.

Something else you can do is take a pencil rubbing of the side that has the weight on it. This will often bring up letters you can't see.
   JimG - Saturday, 04/30/05 19:59:34 EDT

Wire brushing, dusting with flour and then lightly brushing off works also to make letters and numbers stand out.

Is it 1 1 0 or 1 . 1 . 0? Latter would identify it as a Mouse Hole Forge anvil as apparently only they used the punch mark between the numbers. My neighbor has an old MH on which only the punch marks remain to identify it.

Without the logo it is difficult to tell English anvils apart except for Peter Wrights. They had small ledges on the top of the front and back feet. Some also had two extra rectangular handling holes in the front and back feet.

On age, pretty well anvils had stopped being exported to the U.S. from England not long after WW-II (although Brooks/Vaughn are still imported).
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/30/05 20:10:21 EDT

I went back, and with better lighting, it appears that the anvil has been pieced together. I took several more pictures (closeups) for your further purusal. I used some chalk on the side that has the 1 1 0. It is hard to tell if there are periods there.

   djhammerd - Saturday, 04/30/05 21:35:44 EDT

So, it's safe to assume that 1 out of 4 loads of A36 is going to be junk. These linear cold shuts are bearly visible until heated and turned; some are just surface wrinkles others go halfway thru the bar. What else can I ask for? I need a forgeable low carbon steel with little or no alloy. I would like to avoid using cold rolled because I would prefer to not have to knock the edges down.
   brian robertson - Saturday, 04/30/05 21:43:28 EDT

How can i find a nearby blacksmith
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 22:02:32 EDT

Will, put a sign in your fron yard that reads "Free anvil to good homne". Actually, it would help if you included where "nearby" is located.
   dief - Saturday, 04/30/05 22:50:50 EDT

Well,i mean maryland i need to find a blacksmith in maryland
   will - Saturday, 04/30/05 23:12:55 EDT

Joe Myers: The easiest way to understand what I was saying about the rolled shape of the blank is to line up a row of modern cutnails [hard nails for masonry] on a table alternating the heads the way they were cut from the strip. You will see that the strip was wider than the nails are long, the rolled shape makes the head on 2 sides, the way they were punched from the strip makes the heads on the other 2 sides [at least on some large ones I looked at yesterday]. This is NOT the shape You would get making them the way I described in the first post. I am not sure what all shapes nails have historically taken, but I GUESS they have been made simply the way I described as well as any number of more complex ways to achive a better defined head. Rolling the strip would not be practicle for limited production volume.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/30/05 23:14:08 EDT

Will-who-needs-blacksmith; where in Maryland are you? We're not that big a state, but there's a big difference between Southern Maryland, the Western Panhandle and the Eastern Shore.

I'm in St. Mary's County and there's a few smiths down here, but ther's a whole batch, belonging to the Blacksmiths' Guild ofthe Potomac, near the Washington Metropolitan Area, and another batch near Baltimore in the Central Maryland Blacksmiths' Guild, and still another group near Furnacetown on the lower Eastern Shore.

Fire Control:

When I'm running my coal forge I might use a gallon per hour in keeping a small, intense fire; or far less if I'm letting it spread out for working on a cook pot. A matter of style and expedience, your realities may vary.

Warm and wet on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby- a laid-back medieaval arts and crafts weekend in Southern Maryland: June 24-26.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/01/05 00:00:49 EDT

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