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 16 - 22, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Disels & Cooking oil: This works better in some engines than others. Inline pumps like Bosch seem to tolerate it while distributer pumps like CAV and Roto don't. The ethanol is more for viscosity reduction in cooler weather, as it only has 1/2 the "umph" as disel or veggie oil. Used fryer oil is supposed to make the exhaust smell like frenchfrys. There are some good websites on it, but I forget the adresses.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/16/06 00:52:44 EDT

Daves right. on that one but all in all it will save you some serious cash. AND dont use the used cooking oil. It will cloge up several things on the motor unless u have a micro filter for it.
   Tyler - Sunday, 04/16/06 02:41:08 EDT

Animal or vegetable oil in diesel engines - normally called bio-diesel. Just do a Google search on it.

Friend in IN has access to used frenchfry oil so he bartered for a older diesel sedan. During warmer weather he runs a 50/50 mix of strained oil and diesel. For winter use he would have to install a heated tank so just parks it then. He said he notices a bit less engine power. Exhaust does smell like frenchfrys.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/16/06 05:51:01 EDT

Bio-Diesel: I do not know anyone doing this but I have known people with diesels of various flavors. What bothers me about it is that diesesl can be very finicky and repairs on the fuel systems are very very expensive. You must have HUGE cost savings to get a payback on these repairs (not including down time agrevation).

Over the years I have seen some really silly economic ideas about cars. Many folks bought MG's because they got great gas milaege (Midgits go 40MPG in the 70's). OK, so you got great mileage but you paid double for labor and things like clutches and universal joints went out like clockwork (undersized, normal wear) and neutralized those fuel savings.

I saw a cost comparison one time comparing buying a NEW Mercedes to a number of other cars of the time. The Mercedes cost twice as much, had almost no repairs and after 3 years could be resold at a very high price compared to the others resulting in a cheaper overall operating cost. A the time it cost less to operate the Mercedes for three years than a VW Beatle.

You don't need to mess up much to negate any savings.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 08:30:49 EDT

Dave and My numbers: Dave, I think everyone understood you were talking Hobby Shop numbers and I was talking low and mid range professional shop numbers. In fact yours were refreshingly honest. Your $10/hr means that you KNOW that if you sell S hooks for $3 each you are breaking even and making nothing for your labor. TO make $10/hr you have to charge $20 and since it is a hobby you ignore the non-productive cost time.

My numbers were also rough off-the-cuff numbers to use in an example and the expenses were in fact pretty low. It always amazes me what it costs to just to run anvilfire (mostly an office operation) and I do not have rent costs. However, I do travel quite a bit for the news. I also run the store so I have the cost of goods and shipping.

My point was to show how you figure your costs. Translating those to rules of thumb takes some job experiance. Without that experiance here is how I do jobs.

FIRST, list EVERY step in making the product. This includes every detail from getting the raw material, picking up fuel, unloading the steel and fuel, removing the stock from the rack, measuring the pieces, cutting the stock, fueling the forge, starting the fire, getting the right tongs off the rack, dusting off your anvil. . . right down to delivering the work and collecting the money. . Account for every second. Guess, walk through the motions, don't miss anything. Did you drill a hole? There is time to find the drill, put it in the chuck, tighten it, setup the vise. . .

Don't forget time to sharpen tools, sweep up the chips, make jigs. Paint? Box?

Many of these tasks must be aportioned to multiple jobs such as getting fuel (IF it goes to more than one job). Items you must purchase in minimums or you get extra but do not have a current job for must be billed to THIS job. Do not put in interuptions or dealing with the customer, this lost time is in your rate hourly rate we discussed above.

So now you have this LONG list of times to make one piece. SOme as little as 5 or 10 seconds. If you are making multiple pieces then multiple the parts that need multiplying. You would be surprised at how close to the real time it takes to do a job. Then multiply by your hourly rate.

After doing a hand full of jobs this way you will have a handle on how long it takes to do certain tasks. From that you should be able to work rules of thumb.

From a fellow that does REALLY fine work he said that over the years he should have used $50/lb to price his work. This is for work that is forged all over and includes lots of details. It makes more sense than price per running foot as it considers density of the work, variations in height and such. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 09:02:33 EDT

True biodiesel isn't just vegetable oil cut with ethanol. It's veggie oil that has been treated with various substances to remove the glycerin that clogs injectors, raises viscosity, and requires preheat, resulting in what is basically ordinary diesel. The same warnings apply, though, if you do it yourself, you have to be darned sure you're getting ALL of it out or you'll wreck the system.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 04/16/06 09:44:30 EDT

Rob, also check out www.key-to-steel.com for information. For books, The Making, Shaping and Treating of steel. Earlier versions of this book are usually availble used through your favorite used book seller on the web. I'm partial to the late 60's/early 70's vintage one, as I graduated with a degree in metallurgy in 1974.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 04/16/06 10:43:16 EDT

Sideblast forges:

Atli: Nice pictures. Is your tuyere stone any special composition, like soapstone?

One more question for the group: Does anyone know how the blast is delivered in the Williamsburg forges? I assume they would have to be sideblast, if re-created accurately, but exactly how is the tuyere built? Just a hole in one wall of the forge, or is something like a clay pipe used?

   - Eric Thing - Sunday, 04/16/06 11:06:03 EDT

Costs.... one of my employees mentioned to me yesterday that she wanted to get into glass blowing in her spare time. She said "I could pick up some money doing that on the side". I had to give her a reality check by explaining my shop expense. I figured the cost of what I bought at face value, then added what I have gotten for free (found, given or gifted). So far since I've been into smithing, my little basement "smithy" is worth about $2500 to $3000. Then there's consumables, abrasive discs, electrodes, welding wire, degreasers, so on and so on, the list is endless. I have yet to sell any of my work, I prefer to give away my creations to people who are close to me. But then again, this is a hobby for me and I do it for a certain self gratification. I think I love forging and working metal more than looking at the final product. Along the lines of "the trip is worth more than the destination". My employee realized that as well for her, she would probably be obligated to give freebies to all her friends.

BTW any answers about the matress coils?
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 04/16/06 11:20:52 EDT

Greetings all and Happy Easter , and don't forget the Savior . Being brand new I am not sure quite where I fit in here . I have picked up a little of the COST discusion , hope this fits . An eye-ball surgeon ?term? , came to our machine shop to have a specialized eye camera mount built . The following could apply to a small smithy just as well. He was totally dissilusioned at what other shops wanted to build this thing. My boss agreed to a time & materials adventure with the option of stopping at any point and settleing up! He was allowed to look over my shoulder the hole way,,, first ? was, how long do you suppose this first part will take ? He balked at my estimate. So I went on to explain this is our mill with a fast enough spindle for your fine work , but it's set-up couldn't be further from what i need for your stuff...and that further he wanted to stick with metric screws ,as that was what the rest of his stuff used . I will have to go next-door to get screws and taps + now we've been discussing this for over 5 minuits ...and that any unique machining has alot of stop+go engineering involved...
Next I wanted the floor saw to cut unattended to save time , but the blade gave it up , just previous . Another 5 to 10 to change out the blabe and make up one with finer teeth. A few hours later he recognised something on his scetches was missing , (and he had made remarkably fine scetches at that). More stop+go and a little backtracking.
He saw the job through , and we settled up as a breakeven affair , He remarked about (hell is in the details) and gave us his highest reguards , for working through it with him. Then said "how do you stay in buisness" if one effort gets this expAncive along the way ?
   Phil Johnson - Sunday, 04/16/06 11:22:13 EDT


I had s student do a broject on alternate fuels for his Diesel car. Diesels are very finiky, and if the vegeoil or biodiesel is not processed correctly then the injectors mess up. There are two distinctly different approaches, and this just touches the highlights. You NEED to do the research before you try it:

1. Vegetable oil. The oil must be dehydrated ahd filtered. The tank must be heated and the engine started on regular diesel, and switched over when warmed up. The dehydration and filtering is critical!

2. Biodesiel. This takes dehydration and filtering THEN the material is chemicaly reacted (not just mixed) with an alcohol such as methanol or ethanol. This prodyces the methyl or ethly ester of the fatty acids originaly part of the oil. These methyl esters must be separated from the glycerol by product, dried and filtered again before use. The advantage of this route is that no vehicle modification is required. Disposal of the glycerol byproduct and the water and filter waste is a problem. Strict testing and quality control is a must.

Neither route is easy.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 04/16/06 11:28:39 EDT

Question for Frank Turkey (or others): Do the creases in horseshoes serve any real purpose? Seems just punching the nailholes and then countersinking for the heads would be as effective. Are they perhaps by custom rather than necessity?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/16/06 11:43:58 EDT

Ken, perhaps to help with strengnthing the shoe without adding more material. See lots of examples in thinner metal work. But I am not nor have I ever even played a farrier.
   Ralph - Sunday, 04/16/06 12:39:39 EDT

Creases in Shoes: They increase traction as a horseshoe is not intirely a friction device, it relies on edges and the crease adds a second edge.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 13:23:03 EDT

Ken, iForge #7 by Rich Hale (a very fine smith) explains the use of the crease and how to make both types of shoes from scratch. Perhaps the primary benefit of the crease is that it allows one nail to be pulled without loosening the shoe. This becomes important when the last nail driven in a new show does not do what you want it to do and needs pulling. That way you don't have to loosen the whole shoe and start over. Time is money.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a farrier. I own horses and can, under conditions of necessity (remote area), get shoes on a horse, but they are only there until I can get my horse to a competent farrier. The trim is the really crucial part of the shoeing, and, it ain't easy folks. And the tools are not cheap. A pair of hoof nippers that actually can trim a hoof are going to cost you about $150, then there are rasps at clost to $20 a pop, clinchers, a puller, etc. You can easily have $400 at a minimum in a basic set of tools if you want quality tools that will work when you need them too.
   Ellen - Sunday, 04/16/06 13:42:32 EDT

Forges at Williamsburg; Eric, These have a simple square hole through the back of the forge created by spacing the bricks apart. The hole varies from flush to the deck to one brick above. These are also side draft exhaust. The fire is built piled up against the stack for small work.

Atli's Viking Forge: The shield stone on these is usualy soap stone. It is heat resistant AND it is easy to make a hole in.

Note that the correct way to blow a paired bellows set is to have the nozzels end close to one and other both pointed into the funnel shaped hole in the back of the shieled stone. The high velocity jet of air from one nozzel prevents air (and hot smoke) from being sucked up the nozzel of the other bellows. When these are plummed together as many people do you lose the pneumatic switching. The gap between the nozzels and the shield stone also prevent hot air and smoke from sucking back as well as isolating the raw hide nozzels from the heat.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 14:27:11 EDT

Don't come away with the impression that Guru's $100.00 per hour is the high end; it's more like the minimum! He's spot on with his comments. You need to be shooting for more like $200.00. So you want to stay in the $100 - $200 (or more) range.

This doesn’t always mean raising your price, usually it means GET EFFICIENT. Many years ago (the 70's) I worked in a general blacksmith shop. Once in awhile we re-sharpened paving breaker chisels and points. I probably did maybe 10 - 15 bits in an hour working out of a coal fire. Later I worked in a shop that only sharpened breaker tools. There I learned to do at least 50 pieces per hour, heat-treated and ready to ship out. At that time we were getting about $1.50 each. Also, don’t count parts per hour, count parts per day. I’ve seen many times when I had man doing say, 100 parts per hour but only got 500-600 parts per day. Well, for an eight-hour day that’s only 60-75 parts per hour! We say: throughput not output.

One thing that most people can't get a grip on is the doubling effect of losses. Most people think after a 100 hour job that lost money they are doing great when the next 100 hour job makes money. Wrong! They cancel each other out! 200 hours and you're back to ZERO! Many small businessmen have the same mentality as a gambler. After losing money at the tables a gambler wins say, $500.00. Wow, I won $500.00! No, he only offset his losses by $500.00 and is probably still in the hole! EVERYONE tends to over-estimate winnings and under-estimate losses. Sure it's over-simplified, but most people over-simplify in the other direction (to their regret).

O.K. I'll put my soapbox back in the closet.
   - grant - Sunday, 04/16/06 16:24:33 EDT

Ken, the crease or fullering also lengthens the stock so less steel is used to cover the foot. Less steel less weight and less cost.
   goodhors - Sunday, 04/16/06 18:22:51 EDT

I was hoping for more feedback on the Big Blu and air consumption. Maybe because of the holiday. With mine, 165 lb, on mild steel is OK. On S7, H13, W1 and 5160 it's a air glutton. I should have paid more attention to Whitetrash's air system when I tried out the hammer.

If I can't sell my 5hp 2 stage for $ to put towards a 10hp maybe I buy a second 5hp and set up a tandem system. What do ya think?
   Brian robertson - Sunday, 04/16/06 18:33:59 EDT

Brian Robertson,
Almost every big factory has a bank of air compressors. Usually it makes more sense to have say three 100Hp compressors than say one 200Hp running at capacity. That way you can do maint. in a planned manner and if one pump fails you still run while fixing the other.
Usually, in a large set-up one has a sequencer. This is a micro-processor that stages the compressors. It also lets you balance out the hours of run time.
For a small shop, I would rig as follows, plumb both compressors to a large single tank, after the tanks on the compressors. Reposition the pressure switches from the primary tanks to the big reciever. Set one compressor as the primary and set the switch to start compressing at the normal setting. Set the switch for the secondary to bring in the second pump at 10 psi lower than the primary. That way both compressors don't load at once. Much easier on the wiring. You may be able to adjust to 5 psi once you have system up and running.
Another possibility is to buy a compressor only, and plumb into the system, sort of the same way. Remember that the reciever needs a pressure relief valve. If you add a pump only to your existing tank, you need to change the pressure relief to one capable of flowing the combimed flow of BOTH pumps.
   - ptree - Sunday, 04/16/06 19:32:50 EDT

One of the forges I use at work is a "Kootenay Forge" design with two burners, fan, and a 5/64 orifice that runs very nicely at just 1 psi of propane.
My boss would like to switch the forges and furnace over to natural gas. We do have industrial pressure for the NG. Could the modification for the forge I mentioned be as simple as enlarging the orifice?
Can you reccomend any burner designs for industrial pressure NG?
Thank you kindly.
   Wendy - Sunday, 04/16/06 20:04:46 EDT

With regards to the pricing discussions -

Having worked for years in other industries, but with the same problems in costing jobs, three strategies or considerations I have found helpful --

Both require knowing your costs and including all of them in the rate -

1) When possible, don't quote per hour. It seems to scare people and leads them to watch what you do as you go along. Sort of "why are you sweeping the floor on my time?" Quote a flat rate for the work. Many people seem more comfortable when they know what the final cost will be.

2) Sometimes it is more practical to quote a price at which I think I can do a odd project and then a "not to exceed" price. The customer and I share the risk and if it goes as expected, I am covered. I minimize my risk and they get to share the benefits if the project goes well.

3) Some folks (be selective) have the time to run all over town picking up pieces and parts. If they do some of the running I can factor that into the cost. I do some work for people quite capable of picking up materials and who have both the time and desire to do so. It also politely gets them out of the way!

The step from hobby to business is a lot longer than most folks think. In Michigan you can talk to the snow plow drivers who make a mint while plowing -- and then belatedly realize they need a new truck. One mint of money less the cost of one new truck = a volunteer.
   DKHGRMI - Sunday, 04/16/06 20:06:59 EDT

Gophering: It takes a lot of experiance to realize when you have a multi employee shop that the Gopher (Go fer this, go fer that) is one of your most valuable employees. If you can send a gopher out with a short list and have him come back with everything on it before noon you have a solid gold employee.

Otherwise, YOU or an equaly valuable employee ends up doing the gophering. Years ago we had a big job that needed to be rushed to reduce the schedule from 18 months to 12. The big corporate client kept offering help and thought they could expidite purchases. I told them NO, we need a first class gopher with a pickup truck. Instead. . . we got a machinist in a late model Corvette. . I ended up doing much of the Gophering. Meanwhile, the ONE piece of hardware we put them on purchasing they upset the vender (a sole source for heavy lead glass) so that they refused to do business with them! It took a month of renegotiating to get the glass. . .

Big corps generally do not know how to do anything efficiently except delay paying bills.

I had told a friend of mine the Gophering story and he pooh-poohed the whole idea of needing a first class gopher. . . until he had a construction job with an 8 man crew and no gopher. He said that all he could manage to do was make sure that all the materials and hardware were on the site every day. . . yep, needed a gopher.

If you do ANY industrial buying you learn to recogize the local gophers. They are usualy easy going older gentlemen dressed better than a laborer but not like an engineer. They produce their lists, perhaps chat a minute, pick up their load and off to the next place. They know which counterman to go to and which place is busy when so he can avoid the rush. He knows where ALL the suppliers are and the town well enough that he doesn't need directions or a map and knows all the short cuts from here to there. Gophering MAY be all he has done for 20 years or more. The places that hire him make sure he has a comfortable new truck and KNOW how valuable he is.

A good gopher may make three or four runs a day to more than one place, return promptly and report anything that could not be gotten. Most days they are fully utilized but on the other days they are not begrudged a little slack time.

When you get to the point that you NEED a gopher you will know it. Don't delay, interview carefully. On my last management job I hired a woman as gopher and part time secretary. Worked great as she knew the local area and venders and we did not need a full time secrtary. And SOMETIMES a pretty woman can get things a lot faster than a guy that hangs around at the counter like a bar fly. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 20:40:46 EDT

In the little shop I have now I run two 5hp compressors each with it's own factory tank and such. I made no changes to the on/off pressure switch. They vary enough that I don't have to worry about it. When not using much air one cycles more than the other but, who cares?
   - grant - Sunday, 04/16/06 20:46:06 EDT


"orifice" as such means nothing on a forge with a blower, athough in this case it may restrict the volume of gas you can put in. With a blower I've often just had a 1/4" hose going in. Some say it helps a little with mixing. You should have no trouble running it on NG. I've run many forges alternately on propane or natural gas and can hardly tell the difference.
   - grant - Sunday, 04/16/06 20:58:46 EDT

Brian, see the compressor and hammer questions on the Hammer-In
   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 21:25:01 EDT

Wendy, not only does the orrifice not mean anything neither does 1 PSI unless it is on a 0 to 3 PSI gage. Most pressure gages above the 15 PSI range do not read accurately down at the 0 to 2 range. On 0 to 30 PSI gages +/-1 PSI is beyond the normal accuracy limit (3% of full range). On gages a few years old that have not been calibrated you may have 5 - 10 PSI when the gage reads 1. On my "good" gas forge setup my little melting furnace runs GREAT at 0 PSI (according to the gage).

"Industrial Pressure" is also a questionalble term when it comes to Natural Gas. This is whatever was negotiated between the gas company and the particular business and MAY or MAY NOT be controlled by local code.

What I would call industrial pressure would be measured in PSI rather than ounce inches of water column as most gas domestic supplies are.

As Grant noted the orrifice has nothing to do with the burner operation in this case.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/16/06 21:36:22 EDT

So Who wants to build a corn fired steam powered car? That might be the next hair brained scheme. Burn ALL the corn, not just the oil. Today My cousin was talking about a corn stove. The literature showed the cost per million BTU's of Corn , Oil, & Propane, but didnt give a unit cost for any of the fuels, so I am suspicious of the literature.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/16/06 21:36:32 EDT


I'm fairly certain that mattress springs would be of 1050 or close to it, a medium carbon steel.
"It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive" Robert Louis Stevenson.

Horseshoe Crease.

It IS traditional and was/is used more in the UK and Scandinavia than on the Continent. The old timers say that the crease fills with hard packed dirt, and that "dirt on dirt is the best traction". The shoe will lengthen when the crease is fullered, but the lengthening is negligible. I don't think you're going to save too much steel in $per# by fullering. Labor and profit are the big factors in shoeing. Ellen is correct too, in that an improperly driven nail is easier to remove from a crease than it is from a countersink. A special tool called the "crease nail puller" is marketed for this purpose. Fullering a shoe always seemed to me more time consuming than countersinking, the latter termed 'stamping' in the UK. First, the shoe needs to be "hemmed" by edge hammering at a slight angle and narrowing the branch a little. The fullering brings it to the correct width again. The eye-hand alignment must be right-on. Finally comes the pritcheling.

Williamsburg Bellows setup.

I've not been to Williamsburg, but the Williamsburg smiths set up the "Moravian Smithy" in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not long ago. For some reason they put the tuyere entry too low, and the fire was in a cavity lower than the hearth. Perhaps the masons didn't understand their directions. I think I would prefer the tuyere air entry to be one brick above hearth level, as Jock has already mentioned.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/16/06 22:41:23 EDT

Jhon I knew u had to do several things to ceratian oils for it work. Thanks for that info will keep it in mind next time I see my uncle. HE told me that one.
GURU is it just me or does the site have a repeat of the same postings twice?
   - Tyler - Sunday, 04/16/06 23:21:27 EDT

Dave Boyer: IMHO much of the information on corn burning stoves is hyped today due to high fuel oil and natural gas alternative comparisons. Seems to be lots of manufacturers rushing units on the market of questionable quality. People seem to either love or hate them. Really only make sense, at least to me, if you can buy corn in bulk (say by the flatbed truck or wagon load) and then have some control over moisture levels AND debris in the corn.

I actually tried corn in my coal forge one day. BAD idea.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/17/06 07:36:03 EDT

Tuyere Stone:

Yes, it's soapstone, the largest piece from a small batch that Finnr sold to me from a quarry in Virginia.

Soapstone is heat resistant, but not invulnerable, and I've had some ablation over the years, especially around any flaws. Still, this probably varies from quary to quarry with the composition and quality of the stone. As usual, you still need to be careful where you add water when controlling the fire or cooling the forge.

Having the entry point for the blast a little high enables some of the fire to lie under the opening for a deeper fire, and also gives the ash, scale, and clinker somewhere to go until you need to hook them out. With a charcoal fire, of course, you get very little clinker, but the non-heat-producing products still pile up.

Cold and wet on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 04/17/06 08:47:32 EDT

OK. I guess it's good to know that what I do know doesn't mean anything. Allow me to rephrase my question: Can you direct me to or can you recommend a natural gas forge burner design that is intended to run with a blower? I am interested in learning why or how a burner system might behave differently depending on the type of gas that is introduced to it. Thank you.
   Wendy - Monday, 04/17/06 10:59:04 EDT

Bruce/Atli, Ground field forge.

About 30 years ago, the copper vessel smiths came to the New Mexico State Fair from Santa Clara del Cobre, Mexico, and they were demonstrating raising techniques. Their forge was much like yours, on the ground with charcoal fuel, except that they used the old style of concertina bellows, two bags on vertical staves that joined below into a single, iron tuyere pipe. No tuyere stone was used.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/17/06 11:32:43 EDT


Check out the burner designs used by Johnson gas forges. They make forges for use with either natural or propane.


Mostly, with forced-air mixing, the orifice size, vis-a-vis gas type, isn't critical as long as it supplies sufficient fuel. The entrainment, mixing and flame front velocity is pretty much a product of the blown air, unlike a venturi-type burner where the gas pressure/velocity controls those things.

IDfferent fuel gases have different stoichiometry, that is, each gas has a particular ratio with air air at which it produces optimum combustion. Propane's air/gas ratio is about 14:1, as I recall. I'm not sure about the ratio for natural, as I don't have access to it here. Try a Google search for it.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/17/06 11:42:44 EDT

I second recommendation for the Johnsongas site. On their homepage go Industrial Furnaces, then Forge Furnaces, then Replacement Parts, then Contact Us at bottom. Parts guy has has gone way out of his way to help me on similar questions in the past.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/17/06 12:30:18 EDT

Wendy-- try http://www.ransomemfg.com/ or engineering@ransomemfg.com or 1-800-342-8265. They make all sorts of gas furnace & kiln stuff, venturis, burners, etc. Fresno, Cal.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/17/06 12:57:54 EDT

Could you provide me with contact information of some companies that convert steam hammers to compressed air? Thank you in advance!
   Michael W - Monday, 04/17/06 14:23:28 EDT

Michael, Most folks just run them on air with the addition of a forced lubrication system. From the factory you could get Chambersburg hammers with Nylon or teflon rings for use with air. Ajax Mfg, Cleveland OH is now in the parts and repair business on Chambersburg hammers. 800-451-2336

If is is a small hammer (less than a ton) then it is probably not worth going to Ajax. Smaller hammers are just adapted and run.
   - guru - Monday, 04/17/06 16:29:46 EDT

We have a 4,000# and a 3,000# chambersburg hammer. Will these require some extra parts for conversion from steam to air? Some say you need an air accumulator, a system to dry the compressed air, a forced oil lube system, and an oil collection system. Is this true? Also, what amount of air is required? We have a 4" and a 6" line at 100-110 psi air in the shop. Will that be enough? thank you for your technical advice!
   Michael W - Monday, 04/17/06 18:58:27 EDT

Wendy: On this website somewhere there is a page on gas forges and the Guru's Stupid gas burner. This can be made from pipe fittings and a cheap blower and will burn any gaseous fuel. Some people put the gas into the intake side of the blower and let the blower mix it. A way to regulate the intake air flow and the gas flow are needed. Natural gas takes a lot more gas volume than propane, a rough guess would be 4 times as much.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/17/06 21:31:28 EDT

A silencer/oil collector will be needed as the noise from the air exhaust will be pretty severe. The oil injected into the air will mostly go thru the cylinder and out the exhaust, (except for what drips out at leaks. Most industrial air systems have an air dryer at the compressor to stop freeze ups in the winter and protect everything down stream. You may already have an air dryer if you have that big a main. Now that you have the piping, do you have the air flow to supply the hammers? I don't know the air consumption for these hammers but just because you have that big a supply pipe does not mean you have the extra capacity to supply this new demand.
   - ptree - Monday, 04/17/06 21:52:34 EDT

I'm considering building myself rocking beam/spring helve type powerhammer. I was wondering if there is a simple equation that links tup travel, tup weight, hits per minute and motor size.
   Bob G - Monday, 04/17/06 21:54:12 EDT

Big Hammers: Michael, I am not an expert on this size hammer. However, I do have the Chambersburg literature for these machines. The air accumulator (receiver or tank) is optional but recommeded for best performance. The air line from the reciever to the hammer should be no smaller than the fitting on the hammer. This reduces the tendency for there to be noticable pressure drop from the air lines if they are long, which they normally are.

Air driers are recommended for all sizes of air hammer. Unlike steam which was heated and when dropped in pressure expanded and cooled a small amount, air at ambient temperature when there is a large pressure drop at the valve tends do create freezing conditions and either condensation occurs or water actually freezes in the valve. Excessive condensation can collect in the cylinder or reversing valve causing problems. Water, being incompressable can result in excessive pressures that may damage the equipment.

Oil is carried out the exhust as mist and it is common to plumb the exhust out doors. In this day you cannot just exhust heavy oil mist just anywhere and a trap is recommended to catch the oil.

The Model "L" High Frame hammers had the following:

3000# 12" bore, 42" stroke, Inlet 3" outlet 4"
4000# 14" bore, 42" stroke, Inlet 3" Outlet 4"

Model E" Hammers were similar but had 6" and '" longer strokes and called for a 1/2" larger inlet and exhust.

HP or CFM required is not given. I would guess about 40 HP per thousand pounds but it depends on your production rates. As open die forging hammers you can get away with much less air capacity than for a constantly cycled closed die operation. Their are engineering programs that will calculate the needed air.
   - guru - Monday, 04/17/06 21:57:06 EDT

Bob, No. The dynamics of these machines are just as complicated (probably more so) than other spring coupled hammers. It is not the mass so much as the enertia and spring stiffness that are involved.

HOWEVER, In general Little Giant had it close to right with the exception that they did not use fractional HP motors so they were considerably over motored on their two smallest hammers. See the curve on the Power Hammer Page Little Giant Motors graph.

I need to plot the Fairbanks Hammers against this for comparison. However, the Fairbanks are variable stroke machines. . . go by the maximum stroke.
   - guru - Monday, 04/17/06 22:04:28 EDT

Interesting reading.

Anyway $6000 for a 100lb LG in 1976, what's that in today's money, $20,000?
   Bob G - Monday, 04/17/06 22:22:45 EDT

Ah. . That is why they went out of business shortly after I received that flier from them. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/17/06 22:37:59 EDT

In 1976 you could by a NEW Dodge pickup truck, the most expensive then due to the weight of the steel in the body and frame, for $4,200. A bottom of the line Toyota (and they WERE the bottom of the line cars then) went for $2,950. You could buy a REAL Bridgport mill for what the LG was selling for. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/17/06 22:42:11 EDT

I'm planning running the hammer via a 3 phase motor which will be supplied electricity via a phase converter. The converter will have a soft start capability and will be able to control motor speed, theoretically, from 1 rpm to twice the rated motor speed. Another feature of the converter is its ability to brake the motor. I've used lathes braked in this manner and they come to a halt very quickly. Will the increased mass of the hammer prove to be a problem for motor/inverter combination? I'm hoping to use a 5HP motor and a 100lb tup mass.
   Bob G - Monday, 04/17/06 22:59:10 EDT

Jock & Bob G : I suspect it is even worse, I was quoted $3,000 for an 8 speed Bridgeport Brand mill[new] in '74 by a dealer in Pittsburgh. Should have gotten it instead of the worn out one for $1,500. Used equiptment just wasn't as available in those days.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/17/06 23:09:07 EDT

Hi--I am a 60 year old retired shop teacher with numerous degrees in the area. I have a nice Trenton anvil that someone used as a cutting bench. It has several flame gouges in the top. What method of repair do you recommend? I have gas, MIG, GMAW welding equipment as well as grinders etc. Pleaase help!!!
   Gary Waner - Tuesday, 04/18/06 03:45:08 EDT

Take a look at this eVilBay auction 6271602550

Do you think $1400 for a basket case helve is a little high?
   Stephen G - Tuesday, 04/18/06 08:15:57 EDT

Bob, When you use electronic speed controls on an induction motor the HP and torque usually drops relative to the drop in speed (unlike servo motors which have highest torque at lowest speed). This is NOT like using a gear box. To design using this control you need the RPM torque curve.

Dan Dreyer built his hammer shown at the 2000 ABANA Conference this way. The motor control was a surplus device that would have been very expensive otherwise.

Dans hammer had marvelous control but did not hit very hard. At low speed this hammer mechanism needs a very loose spring. At high speed it needs a stiff spring. Somewhere in the middle there is a carefull balance. The problem is that this is NOT the same as the Du Pont linkage that has infinite leverage in one position that drops off as the speed changes.

This first image is not clear but the Swedish spring helve used a mechanism to vary the spring tension and spring height depending on the work being done. I'm not sure how it worked. It would take a bunch of reverse engineering to figure it out.

The second is a different type but also had some picky mechanism including a rubber cushion.

Swedish Helve Hammers

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 08:24:01 EDT

Thank you for the NG burner input. Any additional guidance is welcome.
   Wendy - Tuesday, 04/18/06 11:20:35 EDT

I would like to know. Sence I need to make a new pair of tongs, What can I use to hold the materials I am going to use for the new tongs. I am useing RR spikes and was thinking that Channel lock pliers would work. Please tell me if this would work or not.
   - Tyler - Tuesday, 04/18/06 12:10:14 EDT

Re speed control.

Modern converters with sensorless vector control allow full power to be available at low speeds which is why I am considering it as a control method. They cost more than normal converters though.
   Bob G - Tuesday, 04/18/06 13:37:43 EDT

Tyler: Essentially no. To forge out a railroad spike you need something like a pair of 5/8" bolt tongs. The head is held within the eye while the jaws grip the shaft. You can make a pair by welding on short lengths of 3/4" angle iron to the jaws of a pair of old farrier nippers, then grind out the jaw triangles within them.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/18/06 13:47:59 EDT

This might not be the place for this post, but I really need some kaowool and ITC-100, can you ship it C.O.D.? I don't have credit cards. thanks
   - kc - Tuesday, 04/18/06 13:54:51 EDT

Tyler, rr spike tongs are easy to make. Several methods on iforge and my overlap method all work, but customizing is a matter of ergonomics. If you can make things with rr spikes you can make tongs.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 04/18/06 15:01:31 EDT


You could always send a postal money order, couldn't you?
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/18/06 15:17:07 EDT

Bob G: You are almost correst about the new 3-phase speed controllers. I think, that they deliver full TORQUE at the reduced speeds but that POWER is also reduced. I would defer to the manufacturer of the speed control, but this is what I have found.

John Odom.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 04/18/06 15:38:55 EDT

Tyler: see iforge #9
   cordell - Tuesday, 04/18/06 16:00:46 EDT

I have a champion 400 and my forge has a 2" nipple what can'd of hose should I use?
   Terry - Tuesday, 04/18/06 16:28:27 EDT

I was needing help on the cookbook method of how to heat treat D2 tool steel to RC 50. The specimen is 3/4" diameter and 1" long. Can you direct me toward tables or information where to find this.


   Jarrod - Tuesday, 04/18/06 16:53:50 EDT

I have built a rocking spring, guided ram hammer, that can be seen on the power hammer page of this site. This type hammer works very well with a constant speed motor and a compact spare tire clutch. Getting the ram moving and overcenter on the first stroke takes more torque than once the system is oscillating. I also think the spare tire acts as a flywheel to even out the load on the motor.
Is this the type of hammer you plan to build?
   - ptree - Tuesday, 04/18/06 18:02:21 EDT


Most forges have a 3" intake, at least on the firepot. Can you change from 2" to 3"?

Jarrod, D2.

Disclaimer. Info is from a 1988 Jorgensen catalog. Forge 1850-2000ºF; stop at 1700ºF. Anneal 1600-1650ºF; minimum cooling rate 40ºF per hour. Harden 1800-1875 (bright orange) in still air. Tempering from 400º-1000ºF depending on application. Rc hardness goes from 61 to 54 at these temperatures. I don't have a listing for Rc 50, but tempering at 1000ºF (dull red incandescence) should give you Rc 54.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/18/06 18:59:24 EDT

Today I made a spike tomahawk from some hex stock. After heat treating I saw that there is a slight bend in the blade where it is about 1/4" thick. How can I fix this with out having to forge it again? Draw it back to soft temper and hammer? Thanks
   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 04/18/06 19:20:12 EDT

Ptree. That seems similar but I wont be using a spare tyre clutch.
   Bob G - Tuesday, 04/18/06 19:59:53 EDT

Question for the metalurgists,
I have been offered a nice log hunk of A-2. It was ordered as machine stock. The steel supplier flame cut it, and as you might guess too hard to do anything with in the machine shop.
Can this stock be forged into useful stuff then heattreated? Require an anneal or normalize? It is about 1.5" by 23" by 48"
   - ptree - Tuesday, 04/18/06 21:11:01 EDT

Tongs from RR-spikes: That was my first ever project, I can not remember what I held the work with but I believe I used Vise-Grips (channel locks will work) until I had the reins drawn out to about 12" then I help the piece in my hands, cooled often and drew them out to about 15". There is only sufficient material in a spike to make very small tongs and it is a LOT of effort for very little results. The hard grade (and possibly the soft) are too high a carbon for tongs. Mine laid around for years then someone overheated them (just slightly red), quenched them and then snapped the jaws in two. . .

RR-spikes are fine for little projects but you REALLY need to get some bar stock if you are going to make anything of any size.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 21:23:26 EDT

Forge Pipe: Terry, Some folks use small gas appliance vent hose (aluminium) but I do not recommend it. Others use flexable auto exhust pipe but it rusts out FAST.

I prefer auto exhust pipe. You can get L's and adaptors that slip together and fit straight pipe. When I have a project that needs a bunch of bends I go shoppig at the auto parts store and pick a piece that has the bends I need not worrying about order. Then I saw it up and put back together by welding or brazing. However, you can do the same with bushings made of short lengths of split pipe and rivet or screw it together with sheet metal screws.

Note that some automobiles come with stainless exhusts and a used piece can be applied for less money. Use steel pipe will be too rusted to bother with.

A most durable route is regular plumbing pipe. Places like Home Depot and Lowes have short sections of threaded pipe up to 2" as well as couplings, L's and adaptors. It will all thread together except where you attach it to the blower and forge. At these places you will need a sheet metal coupling and clamps. Figure it out, you are supposed to be a blacksmith. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 21:32:20 EDT

I just built a propane forge.I am a new blacksmith.When I forge a something it always comes out realy pitted and scalley and burnt looking.Am I forgeing too hot or am I useing the wrong kind of iron? I use scrap or stock from Lowe's. Thanks in advance for your help.
   kirbster - Tuesday, 04/18/06 21:46:55 EDT

I just built a propane forge.I am a new blacksmith.When I forge a something it always comes out realy pitted and scalley and burnt looking.Am I forgeing too hot or am I useing the wrong kind of iron? I use scrap or stock from Lowe's. Thanks in advance for your help.
   kirbster - Tuesday, 04/18/06 21:49:56 EDT

ANSI A2 TOOL STEEL: Ptree, I would worry about thermal stress cracking on flame cut A2. . boy THAT was a bone head move. . . If you grind off all the possibly cracked (heat effected) material then it should be OK. It might even be all machinable.

To forge A2 warm on top of the forge or near the fire then heat slowly to 1200 - 1250 F, then heat to 1850 to 2000 to forge. Do not forge below 1650. Cool slowly. - ASM Heat Treaters Guide.

Do not normalize.

Annealing. Heat slowley and uniformly to 1550 - 1600 F. After soaking for section size (through heating) cool at a rate of no more than 40 F/hr until 1000 F is reached.

Stress Relieving. Heat to 1200 - 1250 F and hold for 1hr per 1 inch section.

Hardening. Preheat to 1450 then 1700 to 1800 F and hold for 20 minutes min. Air cool as evenly as possible (I use and oven rack and a fan).

Temper immediately at 350 to 1000 F after part has cooled to 130 F. I use 450 for precision punches and dies. Double tempering reccomended.

A2 can be cryogenically treated at -120F after initial tempering to a minimum of 350F. Then finish tempered after warming to room temperature.

I like A2, have had good luck with it but have not forged it and know better than to flame cut. You pay big bucks for that factory anneal and grind!
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:00:23 EDT

I did a google search on Porter-Ferguson "body & door machines" and found a post at this site, however, could not trace down the person who wanted to purchase PF "auto body spoons and pneumatic fender....." I've got a full set of the tools, the table, etc. and perhaps someone is interested in this high quality, barely used set? No where to go as of yet - The hit from anvilfire Guru's Den looked most promising? Thanks for any consideration. B.
   B Steen - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:22:49 EDT

B steen, I think that was years ago. . . The internet has a rather strange inertia. If you list them on our Hammer-In page you may get some hits. Armourer's use those tools as well as artists and sculptors.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:29:09 EDT

Jarrod - D2: From the carpenter book: Forging - "Heat uniformly from 1925F - 2000F, do not forge below 1700F". Don't normalize. Annealing - "Heat uniformly to 1550F - 1600F in a controlled atmosphere, cool vary slowly at not over20F/hour untill black.[This is really hard to do] Hardening - "Maximum hardness, best size holding - 1825F - 1875F, soak 20 minutes plus 5 minutes per inch of thickness, quench in still air" Tempering - For 50Rc, You are using the wrong steel, but 1100F should give 50/55 Rc, ans1200F 44/45 Rc. I guess You are using D2 because You have it, but O1, A6, L6, S5, S7, or H13 would be a more logical choice in this relatively low hardness range.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:34:02 EDT

Burnt Steel: Kibster, Gas forges tend to be very oxidizing and home builts can be worse than usual. However, many are also better than commercial forges.

Try reducing the amount of air going into the forge.

Also do not heat more than one piece. Once you have some experiance and you work faster you will not have to re-heat the work so often and that is what tends to increase the scaling problems.

It can also help to wire brush off the loose stuff quickly with a hand brush before forging. This keeps it from getting embedded in the steel AND removes the stuff that will remelt and make rough scale in the next heat.

You may never get fast enough to work more than two pieces by hand in a gas forge. The only time they get loaded up is when feeding a hungry power hammer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:34:45 EDT

Is anyone out there inerested in trading a good used 130#+ anvil for a good used rolling machine (Gesswein model G70, new price approx $800.00). I'm working on a 100# Vulcan and could use a bit more weight and a better shaped horn.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:38:57 EDT

I am making custom surgical steel nails for my friends in the sideshow biz. They/we use them for what's known as the blockhead routine where the nail is "hammered" into an empty nasal cavity. Most folks use common nails and I have offered my services to eliminate troublesome rust situations that can occur from excessive stage use. I sent an e-mail advertisement this morning and already have almost a dozen orders. I set up an order form so specific dimesions can be requested. Now, some of the performers are asking for nails using the pennynail system, which boggles my mind I have no idea how it works. Is there a guide I can go by to direct me to what "d" means by way of thickness and length of nail? How about the head? Any assistance is greatly appreciated.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:50:34 EDT

Another plug for the Anvilfire Conference opportunity:

Thumper. If you live anywhere near West-central, TN bring your Gesswein and see if you can't trade or sell and buy a nicer anvil. You might swap it and the Vulcan for a nicer, and larger one.

At the moment looks like there will be 18 or so anvils available at the conference/hammer-in. A guy from Southwest Tenn. is bringing his design of a forge hood which he says will suck the tongs out of your hand if you aren't careful.

For those coming, looking for a volunteer to do soft drink sales. Say a washtub, ice and soft drinks bought by the 12-pack or case, all of which need to be provided by that volunteer. Net proceeds to anvilfire.

My ag equipment trailer isn't really suitable for a low-hung forklift so if someone brings a more suitable one on Friday AM we may have to have a talk.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:54:45 EDT

Ptree - A2: At SOME of the shops I worked in We made precision tooling from A2, others just Automotive quality stamping dies, but We didn't bother with the double temper. However We DID temper at 1 hour at temp AS PER THE BOOK. As for cyro treatment, if there is any gain in hardness or ductility, that is not the angle the commercial heattreaters that offered it were pushing in the '70s & '80s. They called it "artificial aging" and promoted it's reduction in internal stresses[tat make warpage issuses while finish grinding] and better stability in the finished part. Jock's 450 temper 59/61 Rc will give You some lattitude for safety, Carpenter book says 400F - 60/62 Rc for best combination of hardness and toughness, 700F - 57/59 Rc for greater toughness with sacrificed hardness. The flame cutting was a definate NO NO on the part of whoever did it, abrasive cutting will also leave a hard skin, but not as deep.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/18/06 22:57:11 EDT

Forge air duct: I used a steel conduit bend on Mine. They come in "rigid" which is like Sch.40 pipe and threaded on the ends and "EMT' which is thinner, but still about twice as thick as auto exhaust pipe. They are galvanized, so if welding together, grind the zink off first.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/18/06 23:06:44 EDT

Mixture on Gas Forge: I added a raw gas line to the mixing chamber of My venturi burner. It is controlled by a needle valve, and uses a scrap of refrigeration capilary tube for gas delivery to the mixing chamber. I don't know if this is any better than choking down the air intake, but I can add as much gas as it takes to get a reducing mixture without making the flame smaller.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/18/06 23:15:30 EDT

Thanks for the invite Ken. I'd truly LOVE to attend, but with gas at just under $3.00 per gallon, living way out here in Idaho and having to buy hay for my horses comin' up soon, I'm afraid it's out of the question this year.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 04/18/06 23:21:46 EDT

TGN: The easy way would be to get the sizes of nail they are requesting from a hardware store and duplicate them. You could get stainless nails from a good hardware store, but they would probably be 302, 303, or 304, I supose You will use 316 or better.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/18/06 23:24:35 EDT


I search engined a nail chart showing length, shank gage, and head gage. www.inthewoodshop.org/general/wwa20.shtml
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/18/06 23:51:49 EDT

ptree - E - mail headed Your way.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/19/06 01:13:40 EDT

Motor Controllers. Hi Bob. A motor controller should give as good control as a slipping clutch, espeically if it is one of the "flux vector control" types. But, one has to consider where all the energy is going. If you command the drive to suddenly slow down, the energy is regenerated back into the power supply. Since the incoming bus is AC, there is noplace for the power to go except to charge the input caps. Lower priced drives simply shut down when the voltage gets too high (regen protection) and therefore freewheel the motor. The fancier drives will dump the excess energy into a load bank (resistive heater). Even fancier drives contain a synchronous inverter which will feed power back into the line and run the meter backward, but there are not common in the smaller sizes. Even without a sensorless vector drive, there is quite a bit of control over the RPM. The problem is that there may not be enough power/control to command a rapid acceleration ramp. The simpler V/F drives often work well enough as long as the application is not very challenging (servo motion control or traction control). I am thinking of a similar thing, and the hammer should slow down faster with any type of drive when commanded than just coasting down.
   EricC - Wednesday, 04/19/06 03:42:41 EDT


You have an article on your Power Hammper page about Tom Nelson and Bertie Rietveld from South Africa who designed and built a power hammer. I'd like to try and get in touch with them and would like to know whether you have their contact details or email address? Your help is much apprecited.

Kind regards
   Colleen Borland - Wednesday, 04/19/06 05:18:11 EDT


Just go to the hardware store and buy the relevant nails... they are sold by weight if memory serves. Or have the potential customer send you sample nails, which might be a particularly good idea in this case given the application. The customer may also have smoothed the points on the nails in a way that they will prefer, and this is hard to describe and almost as hard to photograph. Hope this helps.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 04/19/06 05:27:16 EDT

Guru, In my response to Tyler I meant make a pair of tongs to hold the rr spikes. I like the reigns long and springy. Making tongs out of spikes sounds like a lot of work but you proved it can be done.
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 04/19/06 07:26:34 EDT

Frank, thanks for the link. Unfortunately the chart seems to be more specific to finishing nails and it stops at 20d. Nice history about nailmaking in the article.

I could have the customer send me a sample nail, but that would tend to slow things down a bit, productionwise. They all smooth out any burrs or sharp edges for their stage use anyway. Most use sandpaper or steel wool.

Thanks for the help!
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 04/19/06 07:29:09 EDT

Ken, I hope we have more people than anvils at the HammerIn. Any ideas on how many folks plan to attend? I'm taking Friday off to get my travel trailer moved over to Birdsong and I will try to get by your place if time allows. I will be there Saturday. What time to plan to start?
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 04/19/06 07:36:08 EDT

Found a REALLY good nail chart, it's a PDF file. Just for reference if anyone else needs to know, here it is: http://www.accuratebuilding.com/publications/recipes/charts/chapter6_nail_sizes_chart.pdf

Man, I wish I could be at the hammer-in this year. You'll be sure to see me there next year!
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 04/19/06 07:39:12 EDT

Quenchcrack: On attendance, don't know. Apparently some folks plan on only driving up on Saturday and then going home that evening. No schedule has been set. Powerhammer demo is likely though to start about 8 AM or so. Tool Museum tour is at 1PM. Drawing for Iron-in-the-hat sometime late Saturday afternoon or early evening. Playing things by ear.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/19/06 08:19:55 EDT

CSI Hammer-In attendence. It is still a mystery. However since I posted directions the other day 44 people have looked and Ken has been e-mailing directions. 320 people have checked the site info and the rate is going up. We will be tickled to have 100 this first year but you never know.

I spoke to Richard Postman and he is definitely coming and BigBLU is bringing two hammers. Come try one out. I will probably be demonstrating the BLU's unless we have some volunteers that have used the Hofi Die system.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/19/06 09:20:09 EDT

More Hammer-In . . . we will have anvilfire hats and embroidered T-shirts, ITC-100 and more. . .

Lots of good stuff for the Iron in the Hat as well. Tools, videos, hats. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/19/06 09:25:46 EDT

I might just have to have a CSI Hammer-In Pity Party for folks who can't drive the 1500+ miles from out here...

One definition of a good gas forge design is that you can adjust the atmosphere to be anywhere from very rich to very lean---I've used the very lean burn before to "texture' an ornamental piece.

Note that the forge may need to be adjusted as it heats up so it's not a set it and forget it thing. I usually try to warm it up at perfect mix-a little lean and then if I do bladesmithing adjust it towards rich and make sure the ventilation is working at full bore.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/19/06 11:04:27 EDT

Wish I could come to the hammer-in, but I have a prior commitment this weekend. Oh, well!
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/19/06 11:21:25 EDT

Thanks Cordell for the posting but I have my own pattern to make tongs.
Ken Thanks for the reply on the channel lock pilers. I dont at the moment Have any horse farrier nippers I might try to find some or something along those lines.
By the way anyone in kansas (eastern kansas) Know were I can go to buy a pair nippers not new perfferably. Used would be the best.
   - Tyler - Wednesday, 04/19/06 11:47:53 EDT

I am looking for a basic book on sheetmetal fabrication. My welding instructor said he had an older green-colored book on the subject that was excellent, but no longer has it. Do you know what this could be? I am interested in being able to make cones and boxes, etc, rather than build auto body parts - the basics. Any recommendations?
   Patrick - Wednesday, 04/19/06 13:43:42 EDT

Tyler: Take a look at eBay #6273021029. The one size is 1/2", but could be easily adjusted to the 5/8" shank of a RR Stike. If you do an Advance Search and then on the keywords of spike tongs you will find others listed.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/19/06 13:52:19 EDT

Sheet Metal: Partick, Not very common books in book stores new or used but there is a ton on bookfinder.com. There are common books on industrial sheet metal and specialty books on aircraft and other sheet metal subjects. I have two old books on the subject but they are packed away for moving. . drats!

Practical Sheet Metal Layout : Specialty Items Used Today Including Methods of Design and Fabrication and Important Trade Topics, Budzik, Richard S. 1987

Practical Sheet and Plate Metal Work : E. Arthur Atkins

Sheet Metal Work : Neubecker, William, Chicago American Technical Society 1928 and 1942

Many more. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/19/06 14:22:57 EDT

My favorite two sheet metal books are:
Sheet Metal Shop Practice, By Leo Meyer, ATP books- this is the textbook for sheetmetal apprentices, covers hand and machine techniques, very clear and complete.
Metal Fabricators Handbook, By Ron Fournier, HP books- this is nominally an auto book, but it actually covers all kinds of sheet metal stuff pretty well- tools, materials, and techniques, including welding, riveting, and english wheels and hand hammering.

both of these books are about how to make common stuff today, using todays tools- I have a whole shelf of older sheet metal books, and they tend to get really obtuse about formulas for making hexagon to cone to round right angle transitions, with pages of geometry, and expecting you to have a shop full of tools that havent been made since 1910.
These two are simple and clear, starting with hand tools.

I like Abebooks.com- its similar to bookfinder, just seems a little clearer and easier to use.

Both these books are available on either one, used, for from 10 to 25 bucks.
   ries - Wednesday, 04/19/06 19:36:03 EDT

I will be taking photos of the Hammer in and I can share them with Guru to post in Anvilfire news. Between the two of us, we should have lots of pictures for the rest of you to check out.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 04/19/06 19:53:57 EDT

Dave, I have my atmospheric forge set up the same way as yours. I like it better then the choke I used to use (thought I didn't really fool with the choke for long).
   Mike B - Wednesday, 04/19/06 20:20:38 EDT

My old Bainbridge horizontal bandsaw wasn't cutting too well anymore so I got a new Jet model 56M. I was thinking of converting the old saw into a belt grinder/sander. Does anyone have any ideas on how to do that? I was going to replace its two wheels with wide caster wheels to hold the belt on.
   - rthibeau - Wednesday, 04/19/06 21:27:16 EDT

I am planning to be at the CSI event. I am bringing some of the die springs you looked up the data on, I appreciate the help, need some for projects?
   - ptree - Wednesday, 04/19/06 21:28:49 EDT

rthibeau: The only part that may do any good is the motor & pulleys. The gear reduction isn't what You need, but more likley You will need to increase the RPM with puleys & belt. You probably should shoot for about 3000 - 4000 Feet Per Minute at the middle speed if using cone pulleys. The idler wheel needs tracking controll to keep the belt on.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/19/06 22:09:24 EDT

rthibeau, Why wasn't your old saw cutting well? Almost everything on these old saws are adjustable, guides replaceable. Often using the wrong blade type is the problem. Your Jet will be in the same condition soon and need adjustments. I've seen new saws that couldn't cut straight or keep a blade and I've adjusted old saws that looked ready for the junk bin so that they cut perfectly. . .

The problem with converting your saw to a sander is the belt length. You will need to find a standard belt size and move parts to suit. Replacing the wheels on a cutoff saw will require a wheel with a solid center that is broached for a keyway for a drive wheel. The idler will need high speed ball bearings as bushings will not hold up.

If the saw was a metal cutting saw then it is going to run much too slow for efficient belt grinding. It WILL work, just not very efficiently. If it was a wood saw then the speed should be about right.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/19/06 22:12:27 EDT

Can someone point me in the direction of learning how to color steel? I have acces to an old forge and oxy/acet set-up.

I am looking to learn how to make steel blue, green or any adn all other colors possible using heat, oil or chemicals... please help... I want to help a friend with his custom home.. he is having me make him straps taht looked aged (distressed) and I was hoping to add some color variation to them.


B Williams
   Brian Williams - Thursday, 04/20/06 00:57:36 EDT

Can someone point me to info about coloring steel with heat/oil/chemicals, etc... how do you get colors in your steel?
   Brian Williams - Thursday, 04/20/06 01:06:30 EDT

Sorry for duplicate post.
   Brian Williams - Thursday, 04/20/06 01:07:09 EDT

rthibeau: It would probably be easier to start from scratch on the belt grinder.

The old saw can probably be tuned up/ rehabbed to work like new.

Where are you located?

I wish I could be at Ken Scharabok's, but things have conspired to prevent it. Y'all have a good time, now hear!
   - John Odom - Thursday, 04/20/06 08:07:53 EDT

Brian, For all the processes stated you start with absolutely clean, generally polished but always evenly finished steel. There are many books on coloring metals and different ways to do it. For those requiring chemicals you will find that many of the chemicals required are harsh, expensive and difficult to come by.

Machinery's Handbook has some basic information.

Firearm Bluing and Browing by Angier is good but assumes a VERY professional approach.

Most folks find that buying small bottles of bluing formulas from Birchwood Casey or our advertizer Vans Gun Blue is the best way to go.

Using a heat sink and careful control you can evenly color any bright piece of steel any of the colors on our temper color chart (see FAQ's). This works best on something with temperature control like a kitchen stove.

The only coloring finishes suitable for architectural hardware must be sealed with lacquer and you are best to just plan on painting the piece if you do not want it to rust. Most blues simply slow oxidation and must be cleaned and oiled regularly to prevent rust.

   - guru - Thursday, 04/20/06 08:46:27 EDT

Off to Tennesee!
   - guru - Thursday, 04/20/06 08:46:41 EDT

I got a question. How much charcoal would it take for me heat up a RR spike? Recently ran out of propane and can't afford a new bottle at the moment.
   - Tyler - Thursday, 04/20/06 12:06:58 EDT

Brian, besides gun bluing, you can use chemical finishes from King Architectural Metals or Sculpt Nouveau, or even Baroque Art Gilders Pastes. All finishes will need a clear coat finish, I believe. Prices are reasonable, as a little goes a long way. I recently saw a demo on color patinas using the chemical patinas. Starting with a clean peice of steel, the patina was either sprayed on from a small bottle of rubbed on with a rag. After only a few seconds, it was then neutralized in water. After drying completely, then finish with either a clear laquer or powder coat. Maybe even a wax finish would work for indoor applications. Do a search for the products suppliers, and you should be on your way.
   Bob H - Thursday, 04/20/06 12:41:51 EDT

Tyler, I don't know about Kansas per se, but here in CA I find things like that at garage & yard sales. You can also check out swap meets. I just bought 3 very large files for a dollar each that will end up being knives some day. I see hoof nippers all the time that are pretty much worn out, but will do fine for conversion to tongs.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 04/20/06 13:30:04 EDT

I just saw a video on a new wood table saw that stops the blade and retracts it within a few milliseconds when someone touches the blade. If there are any wood workers here, you NEED to see this video.
It is a new kind of table saw that monitors an electric charge on the blade and if it senses a touch by a human, it throws an aluminum block into the blade, stopping it instantly and the momentum of the saw throws the blade out of the way. It is unbelievable to watch!
The saw is a bit pricey but how much are your fingers worth? If you are in business, you can't afford to NOT buy this saw!
No connection with the maker just thought more people should know about this!
   - Wayne Parris - Thursday, 04/20/06 13:38:13 EDT

   - danny - Thursday, 04/20/06 16:17:00 EDT

Thanks for the info Wayne. That is one fine saw.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 04/20/06 17:58:10 EDT

Why is it necessary to normalize a knife or sword before heat treating?
   - Rob - Thursday, 04/20/06 18:38:55 EDT

Rob, Normalizing.

Not being a metallurgist, I will give you a quotation.

"The purpose of the treatment is to obliterate the effects of any previous heat treatment, (including the coarse-grained structure sometimes resulting from high forging temperatures} or cold-working and to insure a homogeneous austenite on reheating for hardening or full annealing."

"Heat Treatment and Properties of Iron and Steel" by Digges, Rosenberg, and Geil. National Bureau of Standards Monograph 88.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/20/06 19:19:39 EDT

Well, I brought home the A-2 that the boneheads at the steel service center cut with plasma. The cut edges are harder than woodpecker lips. About 70#s worth. May bring a brick or two to the CSI hammer-in.
I will bring some punch lube and springs. See ya'll there
   - ptree - Thursday, 04/20/06 21:00:56 EDT

On the old horizontal metal cutting bandsaw, the drive wheel was sticking, the spring mechanism for controlling the cutting pressure was funky and usually not working, and I would have to replace the blade guides and refab that part. Also the blade wanted to keep jumping off. I tore it down, cleaned, adjusted, etc, put it back together - no change. So I got a new saw at what I thought was an excellent price. The old saw was used and $75 seven years ago, so I figured I got good use out of it. The motor and frame work are good, so recycling it was the idea.
   - rthibeau - Thursday, 04/20/06 21:06:51 EDT

Ptree, I am a wannabe smith. I never turn down free steel! I am bringing some springs I scavanged off of some RR trucks. These are made from 1" diameter solid wound around a 3" mandrel. Big stuff I cannot really use. I will throw in some of the 3/4" hex rod I found, too.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 04/20/06 21:34:49 EDT

I hope the thunder storms arn't too bad for those of you in Waverly TN at Ken's. Supposed to get better tomorrow.
   - John Odom - Friday, 04/21/06 06:42:47 EDT

ebay anvil - pretty tidy size this one, any opinions if the dimensions given would be right for the quoted weight of 320 kgs? # 7611145381
   - John N - Friday, 04/21/06 09:07:27 EDT

Are racing springs made of a different steel than normal leafs? It might be a stupid question, but I want to be sure. A person at church has a race car, and knows other drivers. He said they only use the springs a few times before junking them, she he can get me as many as I want. I want to be sure of the steel that I am working with. Thanks in advance!

   - Rob - Friday, 04/21/06 11:59:09 EDT

I remember reading in alex bealers art of blacksmithing atleast i think thats were it was. That it takes a 12 inch deep pile to heat up X amount of SQ ft of steel. I dont remember the xact writing but its close to that. I'll keep a look out for garage sales and swap meets and things like that.
   - Tyler - Friday, 04/21/06 12:00:35 EDT

John N, That is one fine looking anvil. That's just over 700lb. With the 6.25 inch wide face, 45 in length, and 16inch height, that might be pretty close. If it was here in the US I would be bidding on it for sure. I have been looking for a large anvil for a while.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/21/06 12:27:09 EDT

Rob, racing car springs are supposed to be SAE 9260, an improved version of 5160. Steve Parker, accross the street, forges a bunch of it at his job, usually 10" rounds. He says it is a wonderful steel (in user friendly sizes, not all of us have industrial sized hammers to forge with). You can Google it. If you can get your hands on a bunch of it I'd love to try some, a flat rate box if the pieces are small enough is $8.10 anywhere in the country, glad to send you a check......contact me offline for more details on this steel if you like. Click on my name and you've got the right address. Thanks!
   Ellen - Friday, 04/21/06 12:47:32 EDT

700 lb anvil... What would a lump like that be worth in the U.S ? - im thinking about having a bid on it (dont need it, but its the largest ive ever seen up for sale :), it will go pretty cheap because by UK standards he is along way from most people.
   - John N - Friday, 04/21/06 12:56:46 EDT

Does any body on here use charcoal for there fuel? I am trying to use it and just want to know how much charcoal it would take me to heat up a RR spike. Thanks for the in put on this one.
   - Tyler - Friday, 04/21/06 15:01:04 EDT


Propane has a heat content of 21,500 btu/lb. Charcoal is mostly carbon, with a heat content of 14,500 btu/lb. That might you give you a starting point. Of course the relative efficiency of your two forges will make a *big* difference. I'd guess off hand that your average propane forge is significantly more efficient than a charcoal forge at converting fuel into hot steel. But I could be wrong about that.
   Mike B - Friday, 04/21/06 15:02:20 EDT

John N, the hammer man: Well, $2 a pound minimum, up to $4 a pound depending on condition and location; this is a generalism, unless one lucks into something. New anvils are selling for $5 a pound or so....except for some of the imports.
   Ellen - Friday, 04/21/06 15:31:33 EDT

usally the propane is better but if i mix my woods together i sometimes get better heating that my propane. Like locust and hedge with a little oak works really good i have found.
   - Tyler - Friday, 04/21/06 15:40:43 EDT

Anvil pounds: Right now to bid on a UK anvil might be foolhardy. The GBP is worth almost TWICE as much as the US dollar, so the anvil would probably go for GBP per Kilo, not dollar per pound and who knows what rate that would go for? Then you have to wonder about shipping, crate fees, freight charges, etc. If you got a steal at $1 per lb, it would still cost you twice as much to get your hands on it. New anvils go for that much?? ($5/lb) I need to get a copy of Anvils In America.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/21/06 15:55:07 EDT

English anvil. Looked outside and lo and behold there is none other than Richard Postman. He said it is a Peter Wright. Lee Lyles, at the National Horseshoer Hall of Fame and Museum, has one like it.
   - Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/21/06 16:00:24 EDT

Ken: Give us a weather report! How are things going at the Hammer-In?
   - John Odom - Friday, 04/21/06 16:36:17 EDT

Need directions for a granfather clock that does not run?
   william - Friday, 04/21/06 17:56:37 EDT

Need directions on how to fix a grandfather clock that the clock is not running? Any ideas????
   william - Friday, 04/21/06 17:57:48 EDT

TGN: just for your info, John N, The Hammer Man, lives across the water and has pounds sterling in his trouser pockets, not Yankee greenbacks. Grin!

Do the math; 75# Cliff Carroll $375 now, Russ Jacqua's very fine Nimba anvils 465# right at $2,000 freighted to AZ, 500# Euroanvil freighted to Arizona over $2100, 160# JMH at $760 picked up at store that carries like Pieh Tool Co.

My 200# Hay Budden, is of course, worth your life to take (grin!) If the dogs don't get you, I will, with 2 oz buckshot if close, 250 gr Nosler partition if a tad further out.
   Ellen - Friday, 04/21/06 18:00:59 EDT

Tyler, I use a charcoal forge. I've worked RR spikes before, and it doesn't take much charcoal. I personally think it takes less to heat an RR spike than to heat a leaf spring, and it holds heat pretty well. I would say probably no more than half a pound per heat, although I'm not entirely sure.
   - Rob - Friday, 04/21/06 18:25:37 EDT

Hammer-in Report: Rain off and on. BigBlu is set up for Saturday's demo. About a dozen total here today. Expected for Saturday??? Steve from Matchlessantiques is the only tool seller here so far and has mostly older, lower-quality anvils with him.
   - Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/21/06 18:26:06 EDT

Thanks, Kem. Keep us posted. Wish I was there! John
   - John Odom - Friday, 04/21/06 20:31:37 EDT

william: If there is nothing missing or broken the escapment may be gummed up from dried oil & dirt. If it is a valuable one You might get a professional to clean it up. If You try it Yourself, just be sure NOT to bend or damage any parts, and don't get any solvents or oils on the face.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 04/21/06 22:23:46 EDT

John N. An anvil that size, and in that shape, would probably go as high as $1000 or more US depending on a number of factors. However, the shipping might cost near that from the UK. I've never tried to ship something that big from overseas, but I imagine it can't be cheap.

If you get it, I would love to have a crack at it if the cost & shipping is reasonable. Could be a good deal for both of us.

   FredlyFX - Friday, 04/21/06 22:38:33 EDT

I have a need for small steel grapes for decorative work. My current method of making them is to get "burned" ballbearings from cars and weld a stem to them. Not as simple as I would like it to be. I have had some success in the past with tempering tool steel to make hammers and was thinking that I could shape two pieces for a top and a bottom swage. Then heat these one at a time. The first I would hammer a ballbearing into about half way creating a channel for the stem also. I'd let this cool leaving the ballbearing in place and mount it in a jig so that the second piece would mate up to it. Then I would heat the second piece, fit it in the jig and hammer it down until the top swage was made. I don't think it will be this simple but if I temper it properly and mount the two swages right it should work.
Does anyone see what pitfalls lay ahead of me?
Thanks for any help.
   Will - Saturday, 04/22/06 00:00:29 EDT


Making a spring swage for a ball is pretty simple, really. Start with two mieces of steel about as thick as the finished diameter of your ball, or a bit thicker, and three ball diameters long by two ball diameters wide. Make a spring handle by bending a "U" in a piece of 3/16" x 1" mild steel flat bar about 24" long. The two legs should be about an inch apart when you finish. Weld the two pieces of die stock to the ends of the legs.

Make a ball, with stem, as your master pattern. Heat the die pieces in the gorge until they're a good yello heat, place the master ball pattern between them and smack them onto the master with a sledge hammer until they meet. You'll now have an impression of half the ball in each half of the die.

Spread the die open enough to allow you to get at the impressions and clean them with a die grinder or riffler files. You want to ease the edges of the impression so that they don't pull out "flash" or cut into the stock when you forge the balls. Gently radius the edges, in other words.

To use, neck your stock over the far edge of the anvil using half-face blows, leaving enough lump on the end to make the ball. Take a good heat, place between the dies and whack away while turning the stock.

You don't need to use tool steel for the dies if you're only going to make a few hundred balls with them. Mild steel will work just fine, particularly if you super quench them or treat them with Kasenite™ to get a more abrasion resistant surface.

Take a look at blacksmith tool catalogues like Blacksmith's Depot (an Anvilfire advertiser) for pictures of spring swages and this should all be clear, I hope.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/22/06 01:05:09 EDT

Now that Paw-Paw is gone, do we have any anvil sleuths in the house? I've got an interesting specimen that I would love to have identified. Shall I post some pix?
   Wendy - Saturday, 04/22/06 12:02:36 EDT

P-H ? I have a champion 65 wt leaf spring type hammer
the main head shaft is lub by oil with an oil trough
I am thinking of setting it up to use a good High Temp grease instead
= Kendal Supper Blue instead, also thinking of putting gress fitting on hammer slides, I have used this gress on everything from worn out eqt= farm stuff to new
with out a problim for years GOOD stuff !!
?? is oil better for this than gress ??
   - IronWolf - Saturday, 04/22/06 13:28:22 EDT

Wendy, could you post a description? shape, visible forge welds, approx size and weight. Lots of us have Richard Postman's fine book and will help if can. Pictures would be quite helpful, can you post them in the photogallery at www.forgemagic.com please? Or you can email them to me if you like, click on my name and you'll have an email address, if not just post here you need my address and I'll make it more visible for you. We LOVE to identify old anvils!
   Ellen - Saturday, 04/22/06 13:30:34 EDT

Iron Wolf, our resident expert on spring type hammers is at a hammer in and blacksmiths meeting this weekend. He states, however, he puts zerk fittings everywhere on his hammer and lubes it every day when in use. Seems real sensible to me. Ask more from him on Monday, just address your comments to ptree.
   Ellen - Saturday, 04/22/06 13:33:01 EDT


The odds are that that Champion has babbit bearings on the mainshaft. That being the case, I would recommend sticking with oil on them. Every babbit bearing I have ever seen ahs run on oil; not one has been set up to use grease. I'm no expert on either Champion hammers or babbit bearings, but I usually figure that thousands of engineers/designers of heavy equipment probably knew what they were doing. The had grease available to them but didn't choose to use, so I wouldn't either.

The big heavy-duty hammers use oiler pumps to ensure adequate oil supply. You might consider rigging some sort of reservoir to hold a decent supply of oil that can be gravity-fed to the babbit bearings. One advantage of oil is that it doesn't trap contaminants and hold them in place, it flushes them out of the babbit.

I've always been told that one pretty sure sign of a well-maintained mechanical hammer is the generous coating of oil all over it. The oldtimers oiled them every hour or so of hard use, as I recall. When Jock is back from the CSI Hammer-In on Monday he can give you more and better advice, I'm sure.

   vicopper - Saturday, 04/22/06 14:36:15 EDT

Thank you, Ellen.
Little Old Anvil Desscription:
32-33 lbs. (small!)
All measurements are in inches.
The Face is: 6 7/8 x 3 3/16 or about 7 x 3 1/4.
The Heigth is: 6 3/16.
The Length is: 7 from foot to foot.
The Width is: 5 7/16 at the foot.
The Hardy Hole is approx. 1/2 w/wear and is centered on face 1/2 from each side and the end of heel.
The Pritchel hole is 3/8.
The Horn is 4 1/8 long.
There is NO step or cutting plate- the horn just juts out of the body.
There is an obvious weld at the waist that goes all around.
There is a sq. hole on the front of the waist under the horn.
There are two round holes at the waist under the heel that run into each other and look like the #8.
There is a "swelling" at the heel under the hardy hole.
There is a "cookie bite" out of the rear foot directly under the hardy hole w/ a dia. of 1 1/8.
There is a square hole in the middle of the bottom of the foot print.
And finally, there is some lettering that runs all along the left side about 1/2" down from the face. The first word has the letters: ISH and then another word has the letters N or M. There is a word that says (I think) PATENT and then a partial date: OCT 16TH 184?
Finally, there is a prominent 3 under the lettering.
It has that thick squat look of a Mouse Hole, but that's my best guess.
Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again.
I'll post some photos is need be.
   Wendy - Saturday, 04/22/06 15:49:34 EDT

Yes on the babbit bearings on main shaft there in good shape
forgot to say that, hammer is dated 1901 :) #1
back then I think grease was grease nothing spical conpaired
to whats availble now a days ??? I made wrong on that not sure ?
you do have a point about oil washing out contamints I didn't think about :)
I will have to cover hammer when not in use bad area for welding shop dust = metal grindinds where its at :(
   - IronWolf - Saturday, 04/22/06 16:39:21 EDT

hello guru,

i am an aspiring blacksmith, i was born into the art of blacksmithing, my ancestors are all blacksmith.

but due to advance in technology, i will like to expand my knoledge of the profession.

please ,if there is any help you can render for me to fulfil my dream of becoming one of the best blacksmith of my time.

i look forward to your favourable reply.


best regards.

kehinde oguns.
   kehinde - Saturday, 04/22/06 17:08:36 EDT

Can you lay the hammer on it's side, with the letters facing up, wire brush the dirt and rust (if any) away, and dust with flour? That usually brings all the letters up to maximum legibility. Right now there's now much for me to go on. A picture or two emailed to me or posted over on forgemagic would be very helpful as well. We **ALL** miss Paw Paw.....he would have had the i.d. for you by now, asked if you were a red head, and if you were free to discuss anvils in person a little later this week.....grin!
   Ellen - Saturday, 04/22/06 17:39:53 EDT

From information you have provided so far, I am beginning to suspect Fisher Norris, an American made anvil, starting in 1843, ending in 1979. Does the anvil ring when struck? These were cast iron, steel faced anvils, and this company made more anvils than any other American company. Something close to 400,000 anvils. They had a patent dated October 16th, 1847, for "welding cast iron to malleable iron or steel". They manufactured anvils weighing from 8 to 1,000 pounds. the feet had "swellings" or half round protuberances both front and back (under horn and heel). These had holes in them for bolting the anvil down. Many of these anvils had an Eagle logo on them. According to the 1899 catalog, a 30# Fisher & Norris Eagle anvil has a 7 1/4" face, 2 1/4" wide, a cutter hole 1/2" square and a 4" horn. It retailed in 1899 for....gasp....$4.50. With a lifetime warranty. The ring, or absence thereof, is one of the definitive tests so I await your report. Sounds like a really nice piece of history you have there.......
   Ellen - Saturday, 04/22/06 18:12:06 EDT

i am haveing 200lb bridge anils cast i need to learn how to heatreat them my self no one in my area has a oven big enough so i need to build one the face area is three inches thick x four inch wide x15 inchs long can only the face area be heatearted
   - sambowers - Saturday, 04/22/06 18:25:52 EDT

My anvil is most definitely a Fisher Norris. I could see the ish in Fisher and the N in Norris for sure, but once I knew what I was looking for, all of the letters eventually stood out. That date is right on, too.
The face does appear to be welded on- you can see the seam all around the inside of the hardy hole.
As for the ring- I wouldn't say that it goes "thunk", but the steel face could be adding a bit of ring to it. When I compared it's ring to a Vulcan that is similar in size and is also marked with the number 3, the Fisher had a brighter ring- if that means anything...
So! Mystery solved. I'm suprised that I've never seen one before. In any case, thank you for your detective work. It will complement my outfit of very small blacksmithing tools. I think I have one of the smallest forges ever manufactured (Prospector's or Jeweler's forge), a 2" hand forged post vise, and a number of tiny tongs, hammers, etc. Athough, I'm still looking for that quality tiny anvil. Thanks again!
   Wendy - Saturday, 04/22/06 19:34:53 EDT

You're welcome. I had fun looking it up.
   Ellen - Saturday, 04/22/06 19:42:00 EDT

Wendy and Ellen,

It does indeed sound like a Fisher and Norris, but I doubt that is is a cast iron body. The square holes in the waist and bottom sound like handling holes for porter bars used when forging wrought iron anvil bases. Also, the swelling around the bottom of the hardy hole indicates that it was punched, though Fisher did use a built up boss around the hardy hole on their cast anvils. Likewise, the "weld" around the waist indicates a composite anvil, possible a wrought iron base and the face forge-welded on. One other thing that makes me lean toward the wrought body notion is the stamped in lettering and "3" on the side. Cast Fisheers used the weight number cast onto the top of the front foot, and like all th elettering on cast Fishers, it is raised, rather than stamped in.

I seem to recall that the earliest Fishers were made this way, prior to the company patenting their cast iron body with the cast-in-place tool steel face.

I don't have a copy of Anvils in America, so I can't verify this. Can you check it in your copy, Ellen?
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/22/06 21:26:55 EDT

The cast iron on cast steel face patent was granted October 16th, 1847. The process would work with either cast iron onto cast steel or wrought iron onto cast steel. So either variation is possible. In later years (post Civil War Era), Fisher make a big deal about wrought iron bodied anvils sagging and in fact published pictures of Peter Wrights sent to their factory from Railroad Shops to be "fixed". From the pictures many of them were beyond fixing. I suspect strikers working on too small of an anvil. If the anvil goes "thud" it's cast iron bodied. That too was listed as a selling point, the smith didn't go deaf while forging. They must have done something right; they were America's first production anvil and also our last. 1843 to 1979 is a good record

Interesting side note: after the Civil War, as the South struggled to rebuild, Fisher made runs of Anvils without the Eagle on the side, for shipment to the South. Southerners considered the eagle an emblem of the northern armies of vandals, looters, destroyers, arsonists, defilers of all things pure, etc, etc, and Fisher wanted to sell anvils, so......
   Ellen - Sunday, 04/23/06 03:13:56 EDT

   - guru - Saturday, 04/08/06 13:09:51 EDT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2006 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC