WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 March 23 - 30, 2007 on the Guru's Den
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Does anyone know if there are plans for a CSI or Anvilfire booth at the Galgary Stampeed this year? I think there was an ABANA set up there last year, but I just got to Calgary, so I don't know for sure.
   - Hound - Monday, 04/23/07 04:46:26 EDT

Cameron: A 20-lb propane tank would be extremely suitable for a one-burner. I ran my two-burner on one and have a slight problem with them frosting up if I run the forge too long at full bore. A 30-lb would lessen that problem, but I have gone to a 100 lb tank for shop use and will keep the two 20-pounders as portables. If you have to buy a tank, go with a 30-lb.

Were I to try to use a 20-lb propane tank I'd go with probably double insulation (2") and two burners each with a 2" x 1" bell coupler and 8-10" of 1" nipple for each. Gas hole sizing would be a bit of experimenting starting with my standard .0330 and then go one one drill size to the point it just seems right.

If you use a propane tank make sure you take off the valve and then purge with water (and I'd use soapy water myself). There was a discussion a couple of days ago about cutting into 55-gallon drums. Same concepts would apparently apply.

I get my 30-lb Freon tanks free. Two H&A/C companies drop them off as the local scrapyard will no longer accept them. I suspect if you stopped at a local H&A/C shop they would readily give you an empty one.

In addition to leaving the valve fully open I drill a couple of vent holes around the valve area and let the tank sit for a couple of week before cutting into it. Otherwise I often get a somewhat intense 'muratic acid' smell from the cutting.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 07:27:08 EDT


If you meant to ask whether or not a 20# propane cyllinder would be a good size to use to make a one-burner forge, the answer is probably "No." Too big for just one burner. For one burner, use the smaller freon cylinder. The bigger freon can makes a two burner forge. A 20# propane cylinder is a decent size for a two burner forge if the burners are efficient and you have a large enough propane supply to keep them running at high output.

The one way you can make use of a larger forge body with less burners is to use up some that excess cubic volume with additional insulation. Use three inches of insulation, instead of two. Raise the floor height with more insulation under it. Stuff a few chunks of insulating firebrick inside the forge to take up volume. The rule of thumb is that one 3/4" atmospheric burner will heat 350 cubic inches of volume. Do the math.

A two burner forge, if you're trying to keep it really hot, will draw more propane than a picnic cylinder can supply adequately. It will start to cool too much and quit delivering enough gas in an hour or so. You really need a 100# cylinder to supply a jtwo burner forge that you're working hard.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/23/07 09:06:42 EDT

Getting the air out of my keg was a lot easier than I expected. I created a jig (a board with a screw halfway in it) and depressed the ball valve. No raunchy beer spray or smell at all! Must be older than I thought. Thanks all for your sage advice.

Anvil question:
I have a small 50lb London style anvil I purchased about 10 years ago at an antique store for $50 (to be my first anvil). I thought it was an ASO until I decided to do a couple of tests against my larger 150lb anvil just to see which was better. I got 60% rebound on the ball bearing test and almost no marring at all from the ball pien hammer test which shocked me. The only marking on this apparently well made anvil is a raised "USA" real big on the side (horn pointing left). Any thoughts as to it's make?
   Rhordae - Monday, 04/23/07 10:42:26 EDT

After several years of demonstrating at small state parks and schools, the same old "speels" are getting a little old (ie nails and their historical importance, the difference between farrier and blacksmith etc). Can you recommend a good source of reading material for smiths putting on demos? The projects come naturally (usually someone in the crowd wants something and I just explain how to make it, but it would be really nice to have some additional stories or trivia bits. Any suggestions?
   - NATHAN - Monday, 04/23/07 11:08:59 EDT

Rhordae, your USA anvil was cast in Alabama; I think they are still made. They work ok for small projects and were used in the green coal classes at Madison in 2005. At least they have a decent shaped horn. I was thinking they were 100#, but they may be made in both sizes.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 04/23/07 11:31:57 EDT

Guy in local area bought one. Horn broke off first time he tried to use it. They are one-piece cast.

I suspect these are done at the end of production runs when they have extra material left over. As such, anvil quality may vary day-to-day.

My understanding is they are basically produced for the flea market trade. I don't know of anyone who sells them retail otherwise.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 11:55:17 EDT

I have an old Calvary Forge with fold up legs, a hand-cranked Buffalo Blower, and a rusted fire box. I would like some information on how to rebuild the firebox, maybe some old catalog photos, etc. Thank you. Burns
   Burns Cleland - Monday, 04/23/07 12:04:20 EDT


The English book, "The Village Blacksmith" by Ronald Webber is full of blacksmith stories and lore. The Brits hang the horseshoe heels down, so that "all the luck pours forth upon the forge." The blacksmith says to the machinist, "I can put a half inch hole through a half inch bar, but you can't." Then proceed to slit/drift a half inch hole through the bar. Hold up some yellow hot iron and tell the audience, "Give me a quarter, and I'll lick it." When you get the quarter, lick the quarter and pocket it. I like to relate King Alfred's story of his having a castle built and inviting all the craftspeople to a big banquet...but he forgot the blacksmith. All heck breaks loose when the smith boards up his shop. See Webber's book.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/23/07 12:18:31 EDT

demo's are a lot of fun but it's challenging to keep new material!!
as always this site is wonderful!! where else can you tap years of combined experience and on the job training!
   - NATHAN - Monday, 04/23/07 13:19:35 EDT

just ordered "The Village Blacksmith" by Ronald Webber - (first online purchase - quite frightning how easy this is!!) - there are MANY books with the same title - watch out if anyone else is ordering.
   - NATHAN - Monday, 04/23/07 13:37:53 EDT


I heard this one recently. A machinist walked into a blacksmith shop and was bragging about the tolerances he worked with. He said, "Why in my machine shop, I sometimes have to work with a three thousandths of an inch tolerance. How do you handle something like that?" The smith replied, "That would never do here. Our work is perfect!"
   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/23/07 14:15:12 EDT

Here is another for you - there were only 2 blacksmiths that ever went to hell - one for beating on cold steel, the other for not charging enough.
   - NATHAN - Monday, 04/23/07 14:30:29 EDT

The Village Blacksmith by Aldren Watson has been renamed The Blacksmith, Ironworker and Farrier. Actually I think it is: The Blacksmith: Ironworker & Farrier as a title and subtitle, but it is usually listed as a run on title.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 14:43:50 EDT

is it a good reference for demo's? short stories full of historical facts are sort of hard to find.
   - NATHAN - Monday, 04/23/07 14:47:42 EDT

So you would ship the concentrate in a 16 oz jar without the water? Or with the water? Shipping would be less without the water, of course. A plastic container should work just fine since we will not be putting a really hot tool into the lube.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/23/07 15:12:35 EDT


I plan on purchasing a new anvil this fall (which I am still torn between the Nimba and the Rathole Forge Anvil) due to a shabby repair job on my existing anvil. It is an eagle branded Fisher I bought at a flea market and at the time it had half the plate missing. I paid $150 for it (150lb anvil) and thought I could repair it to at least a working condition by brazing a new plate on the top, so I ground what was left of the existing plate off, built a moderately sized fire pit using coal as my fuel, got all the supplies I needed for brazing (using brass as the adherant) and after heating for about 15 hours I thought I had done it. The entire anvil was at a fairly bright orange heat and the heel was solid (as far as I could tell; it wasn't easy to get close to at that heat). Well, after it cooled two days later I got it out and the whole front half of the plate was still loose.

Out of impatience and anger I welded the plate on the rest of the way and set to working with it. It has held up fairly well the past two years but has developed a distinct hollow thud. Using the ball bearing test I get a whole 10% or less on the front half and about 50% on the heel. My thinking is the brass compressed and hollowed out the area between the plate and the anvil body. So I figure it is time for a new anvil; I really don't want to strain my arm any more either.

Anywho...I was wondering if there was any way to restore this anvil to any sense of workability now that I have had my fun with it or is it now and forever an ASO? I know Ken has repaired several by building up a weld and grinding smooth and repeating. Is that a feasible fix? I really hate to give up on a potentially good anvil but if needs be there is a really nice place in the front yard I could put it (after grinding off that hideous plate/weld job).
   Rhordae - Monday, 04/23/07 16:32:49 EDT

The jars I have purchased are the same type used by pharmacies for creams and such. Screw down lid. By buying two cases I got free S&H on them.

Yes, I will ship just the concentrate. All buyer has to do is to add water. However, I will recommend shaking well before each use, as well as applying lube to a hot punch.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 16:56:16 EDT

Rhordae: I'm dumb enough to try something like that. What I would do, after that section of plate has been cut off, is to apply stainless steel rod on top of the cast iron. Essentially using the torch at almost cutting heat to preheat an area and then arc weld directly in the flame. I suspect once there was a good base of stainless it could be built up with mild steel welding rod, such as 7018. Likely wouldn't be any harder than the back half of the anvil, but still likely useable.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 17:01:38 EDT

P.S.: My technique on 7018 is to only lay down a bead about 4-5 inches long and then quickly hammer it flat. Flux is then brushed off. This seems to help work harden the metal laid down. I've repaired about a dozen anvils this way and see some of the owners at Quad-States. All report them holding up very well.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/23/07 17:04:34 EDT

Hello, I haven't been to anvilfire for a long time, but I'm working on another one of my nutty projects. This time, it's a fuel vaporizer that is supposed to get over 100mpg. What I need to know, is how thick should the steel of the gas tank be to withstand the pressure of five to seven gallons of gas being vaporized? These old plans call for half inch steel, but with the way it's made it should be able to hold up if it were thinner because of valves that let air into the tank when the vacuum pressure gets too high, and I plan on adding a relief valve for safety. Any advice on the subject will be appreciated. Many thanks!

   - Rob - Monday, 04/23/07 17:58:12 EDT

Rob; if you will have air mixed with vaporized gasoline I would suggest going with 2" thick steel; all welds pressure tested, etc.

Before you get too deep into this project you may want to check if an auto insurance company will insure such a modified vehicle and if so whether the cost will be greater than the savings.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/23/07 18:27:37 EDT

Rob, a fuel-air bomb on wheels? You should have a ready market in Iraq.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/23/07 19:09:56 EDT

I second the thought expressed by Quench and Thomasp. DON"T!
In the military, i have witnessed fuel air explosions. A good one is hard to tell from a NUKE! A small one is still unbelievable. I have also seen the aftermath of vaporized hydraulic oil that hot a hot forgeing. Really, really ugly.
   Ptree - Monday, 04/23/07 19:29:38 EDT

Ken Scharabok.
Iwould ship the punch lube in plastic, as that is what the maker ships it in. I do not remamber corrosion of any of the metal parts in the industrial spray systems, but they were also primarly plastic as well.
Shaking after adding the water is a good idea. I have never seen this stuff to settle. I have several containers in my shop that have been in use since 2005, and never stirred or shaken. I do add water back as I often forget and leave the lid off and the water evaporates. Shaking before use can't hurt, just probably not required. I find that a plastic coffee can works well. Wide enough to allow getting a handled tool in, but not get lube on the striking surface. It is lube, and on the striking surface a off angle blow will slide off.
   Ptree - Monday, 04/23/07 19:36:04 EDT

Do you need to seal refractory brick or board, or is it only the wool type refractory that must be sealed to keep from getting cancer stuff in your lungs?>

can the wool be sealed with refractory cement, or does it need to be with itc 100?
   Cameron - Monday, 04/23/07 19:38:28 EDT

Another thought on the fuel vaporizer, With a relief valve, are you aware that reliefs on fired pressure vessles are required to be sized to handle that max rate of gas generated if the heat stays on and no vapor is drawn? and that the vapor screaming out of the relief at about suprsonic velocity will be flammable and looking for an ignition source so that it can be a rocket engine?
Liquid fule rocket engines have fuel cooled nozzles to serve two purposes, one to preserve the nozzle in the extreeme heat, and to preheat the fuel to allow vaporazation.
   Ptree - Monday, 04/23/07 19:39:37 EDT

I seem to have very bad spelling tonight:(
   Ptree - Monday, 04/23/07 19:41:10 EDT

Actually, my idea is to make the tank similar to, say, a propane tank. Not all of the gas will be vaporized at the same time, only enough to keep up with the demand. I figure if I do that, then the pressure inside the tank when the vehicle is not running shouldn't be so high as to explode the tank. The vapor hose would be fitted with an emergency valve to keep any engine back-fire from entering the tank. I don't plan on exceeding ANY pressure limits and I plan on doing as many tests as possible to figure out the speed I should heat the tank.
   - Rob - Monday, 04/23/07 19:55:19 EDT

Stair Rail Education: Brian, See NOMMA.ORG They have books and video tapes on the subject.

As to working in someone's house. . THAT is a problem for you you to solve. In complete homes only bolted connections are safe. Any welding or grinding is a huge libility. So you design smooth clean bolted or pinned and wedged connections.

On a project a friend installed the house had finished oak stairs and polishsed black marble floors in the entry. . . It was a nightmare job to install. He used a lot of joints that allowed cold fit up.

One thing that helps is to use covers over the posts and pickets at the floor. These can cover a gap is the floor is low. What my friend did was drill the ends of the posts and pickets to accept 1/2" pins about 3" long. Big 1/2" headless lag bolts were installed and the rail set over them. Decorative covers hid places that did not fit up perfectly. . . lots of tricks you can find.

Measuring EVERYTHING as triangles results in a layout that compensates for out of square, out of level, non-circular. .. Start with two fixed reference points, measure to other imovable points and work off those as well. You would not believe how out of square a house can be.

Powder coating is good for production work but friends of mine that HAD swore by it are now reaping the negative rewards of flaking, rust, inability to repair the finish. . . There are other much better finishes that can be touched up in place.
   - guru - Monday, 04/23/07 20:32:01 EDT

Rob, I hope you don't think that this is a new idea. I worked on something similar about 15 years ago with a friend of mine. we used exhuast gases to heat the fuel but a special pump is needed along with check valves so fuel may be pumped from the tank and only heated in a special chamber far away from the tank. By the way IT DOESN'T WORK and it's extremely dangerous. It turns out that problems turn up in the injectors and distributor..good luck but DUCK!
   - dale - Monday, 04/23/07 21:53:29 EDT

guru, do you have any input on creating arrow heads? would it be best to forge, or maybe weld together cut sheet metal, or what would you recommend?

i asked the question up there but you guys were gone for the weekend, i was told.
   Tony - Monday, 04/23/07 21:53:38 EDT

Sounds like someone is trying to build a Coleman stove on a grander scale !!!
   - Mike - Monday, 04/23/07 22:34:27 EDT

I am a blacksmith who competes in mining events such as singlejack drilling. Singlejack drilling is the old process of using a hand-held high carbon drill steel along with a modified 4lb. sledge hammer to drill holes in hardrock for setting dynamite. The "dago" hammer is the modified sledge that most of the pro's use. It is a curved sledge referred to as a "dago" hammer because it is said that Italian immigrant smiths made them for the miners back in the late 1800's.
I have 2 questions:
1st. Most of the old pros say you want to use 1085 hex stock to turn out the rock chisels. Problem is I cannot find any sources for this steel. I have also heard that the chisels need to obtain 65-70 Rockwell to take the incredible abuse when drilling and keep an edge. I know of other readily available hex tool steels. Are there any that compare metallurgically to a 1085 in hardness along with ease of hardening and tempering? Also it does not have to be hex, they can be turned from round section.
2nd. What would be a readily available tool steel for making the hammer to impact the chisels? It would would have to be quite tough, to handle the impact against a cold high carbon chisel while not marring the face of the hammer. The section would optimally be 1.5" square.
Any help, history or advice of where to get these steels would be greatly appreciated!
You can see a "dago" hammer on the following link:
   Emmit Hoyl - Monday, 04/23/07 22:40:33 EDT

Mr. Guru,

I'm a beginner who is interested in bladesmithing. I'm doing as much research as i can, but i'm still confused on one mayjor thing. Are dirty coal/charcoal forges better than propane for making blades? Some of the lititure that i've read says that carbon is lost while working the steel...my concern is that a propane forge burns cleaner, and there isn't any carbon present to replinish the steel. I know most of the concerns over controling the carbon level in blade steel is because they had to smelt it first...but,I plan on working with modern known steel.
Thanks for the oppertunity to ask an expert,
   bfleming - Monday, 04/23/07 23:47:46 EDT

Forge "Cleanliness": BFleming, That dirty coal or coke made from it and in a different era, charcoal, were used to make the steel in the first place.

There are two problems in forge atmospheres. One is excess oxygen causing oxidation. This not only burns the surface of the steel but it can absorb carbon from the steel. This is known as decarburization. The reduced carbon surface must be ground off critical tools such as blades and may extend as much as 1/32" into the material. This problem is most severe in propane forges.

The second second problem is sulfur in coal. Almost all coal has some sulfur. However, the sulfur is more of a steel making problem is much less of a problem in forging. Using low sulfur coal and taking the advantage of being able to control the atmosphere of a coal forge better means it CAN result in cleaner forgings.

Charcoal has no sulfur but is a tad more difficult to control the fire's atmosphere than coal. Altogether it is the "cleanest" for forging.

There are however, other differences between the two forges. Solid fuel forges require constant attention to keep the fire just right. They also have a learning curve AND each grade or batch of coal acts a little different than the other. Gas forges are basically a light it and use it type device. DIY gas forges may take some tweaking to make them operate right but once there then they will run OK.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 07:38:54 EDT

Drill Steels: Emmit, Many steels are becoming difficult to get and are being replaced by others. For tools the letter/number series alloy tool steels have replaced many of the plain carbon steels.

For toughness most modern smiths use S7. However, it is not as wear resistant other steels. Crucible Steel's CPM-V3 is not as tough but it is many times more wear resistant.

In the case of most steels the care in heat treatment is more critical than the selection of the particular steel.

Hammers are made of a variety of steels. Many are made of SAE 1050, a few from SAE 1075 and some from 4140. Again, for heavy use the heat treatment is critical.

One big difference between factory type heat treatment and blacksmith heat treatment is the use of localized hardening and tempering. Using a combination of accurate temperature controls and blacksmiths localized hardening and tempering can result in a much superior tool than either method alone. However, for specific applications you many need to experiment.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:18:22 EDT

Does anybody own a Rathole Forge Anvil? Or has anybody worked with one?
   Rhordae - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:28:37 EDT

Thanks Ken for your insight. How much do you generally spend repairing an anvil using that method (time and money wise)?
   Rhordae - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:33:26 EDT

Forging Arrow heads: While I have used various arrow tips in my youth I have never made any.

First point to be clear about is that we are discussing metal tipped wooden arrows, not fence points.

Many small items made hundreds of years ago used very delicate forge welding. I have seen hinges made of material as thin as 1/32" forge welded at the pin. I also have a piece of a Japanese screen that is a series of stems and leaves with the stems no larger than 1/8" and often smaller that have as many as five leaves and multiple stems all forge welded from each shank. This small welding was once common in the smithing world.

So it would be logical that an arrow head would be made from two preshaped pieces welded together to create the socket. It would also be possible to take one piece, form the two half sockets, fold it then weld. This would be easier to handle than two loose pieces.

This small work was done in a very small forge using a small bellows, the smith close to work. Often a very small anvil was kept on or immediately next to forge so that the small pieces did not need to be moved more than a few inches. The tool arrangement is critical for the small scale of the work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:36:30 EDT

Plans for the new forge building on my side of the road are staggering along. My wif has STRONGLY suggested that I might want to get an electric range and oven for heat bluing my smaller ironwork, so that I wont have to use her new oven in her new house. As a side benefit, she suggests, I would be able to cook pots of chili for my friends, and the women could use it for dying experiments (coloring cloth, not dropping dead ;-) at Camp Fenby sessions.

Since I would have to have the electrician run electrical service for the cook stove, and wire and outlet for the same, why not put in an outlet for a small arc welder? Could some of the smaller arc welders be compatible for amps and volts and outlet as the stove, or are they two separate types of beasts? This would, of course, determine where I put the outlet(s). If the stove and an arc welder could share a common outlet, or even a common line, I would place the stove near the sand box and the front double doors. Otherwise, I would just place it back on the pavers near the back door and away from the work areas.

Inquisitioning minds want to know.

Warm and cloudy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:41:52 EDT

Sealing Refractories: Cameron, any refractory that breaks down and creates fine dust is often a problem. Kaowool blanket, board and molded products all break down at forge temperatures and should be covered with ITC-100 or other coating. Soft insulating firebricks wear but generally do not make dust. Note that these are different than the fiber blocks which are not fired like a brick in their manufacture.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:48:48 EDT

Forging Arrowheads:

Theres a nice site on this at: . His second method resembles the method used in the spearhead articles here at the Anvilfire Armoury and also on the iForge page.

The key thing with arrowheads, for consistent shooting, is to match them as closely as possible (within each group of a half to two dozen) in weight and form. If you forge six different styles and sizes/weights, youre going to get six different points of impact. Uniformity of stock and technique will go a long way, and will come, mostly, with practice.

On the other claw, if theyre for display, go wild! I really liked the medieval naval broadheads, made for slashing rigging and sails (needs big fletching, too.) The Vikings also used forked heads for waterfowl, and there are a number of good illustrations of historic examples available. Also, the range of your imagination and skill can provide you endless hours of amusement.

Good luck.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 04/24/07 08:59:07 EDT


I would run a 60amp feed, 6 guage -3 wire with ground to a small box and split it. That should take care of both quite easily. I have fed two subpanels in my house this way (garage and second floor) for the purpose of not doing a bunch of home runs.

   Chris J - Tuesday, 04/24/07 09:00:47 EDT

Arc Welders: Atli, Arc welders in the Viking shop???

Small but HD buzz boxes are often rated up to 90A on the service side. However, the small cheap ones are often rated half of that. BUT, the thing to know is that either WILL WORK on the 40-50A stove outlet just fine as long as you are not using large rods (over 1/8") or running the welder at maximum capacity.

It is fairly common to make an adaptor cord to run a welder on a stove outlet (the plugs are often different). But I have also seen folks just replace their welder cord with a stove cord. . . As the limiting factor is the circuit breaker there is no safety problem.

Ideally if you are going to run both a stove and a welder off the same outlet the 50A stove outlet should be wired for the full 50A and have a 50A breaker on it. If you let the electrician know what you want I THINK this is within the rules of the building code. Just be sure to locate the outlet next to, rather than behind the stove as is normal.

Normally each of these "special" circuits are run separately unlike common outlets that may have multiples on one line. Again, you will need to ask your electrician.

Note also that most building permits ask how many outlets and how many "special" outlets. Each has a fee (tax) for their inspection. Again, talk to you electrician.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 09:10:18 EDT

Calgary Stampede: Hound, Sorry no, we won't be there. There is a SLIM possibility we may go to CanIron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 09:16:41 EDT

Punches Sticking: There are a variety of materials and methods to prevent this.

The first thing to observe is that if you punch too deep with the wrong punch material OR too close to breaking through the punch end swells and no amount of punch lube will help.

Ancients used a little bees wax. It is not the best, melts and flames off at relatively low temperatures.

Coal dust works, yes it flames a little. Good bituminous coal works best just as in forging.

Grease (axel/bearing) works just fine but it also burns off.

Never-Seize. I have used this and seen it used with no (or very little) smoke and fumes. However, it is not the best.

Puncheize by Big BLU. This is a mixture of graphite and molybdenum dioxide emulsified in water. Both are good high temperature lubricants and a mixture that has been used in industry.

The new alkaline salt water based lubes such as Ptree recommends are necessary in industry and large operations. It would be interesting to test against Puncheize.

But whatever you do, use SOMETHING when punching holes. It does make a big difference. Note that some lubes work on small scale but not large. Those that burn off do not work well on large punches.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 10:08:12 EDT


I'm using a Rathole Forge anvil. It's a good one.

Emmit Hoyl,

The alpha guru has mentioned some currently available alloy steels. The old timers used octagonal steel, and 1085 would address the carbon content: 85/100 of 1% carbon. Nowadays, drill rod is sold as W1 and O1. The W1 is plain carbon, water hardening tool steel and has about 1% carbon. It comes annealed, and in a round cross-section, scale free. You may obtain it from McMaster-Carr or MSC. The O1 is oil hardening and is an alloy steel.

If you're going back in time, The "Dago hammer" is simply a hand forged version of manufactured stone cutters' hand drilling hammers. They were made of square stock with chamfered corners going into the face, the faces being slightly rounding as a result. Looking at the non-hafted side of the head, there is a few degrees of drop from eye to either head. Each head is dressed at a slight angle to the haft length. H. Holford (see below) calls this tool a "mash hammer", and he suggests punching a round eye rather than an oval or elongated eye.

The best book I've found for the fashioning of early tools is "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" by H. Holford, 1908, Frederick J. Drake, Chicago. For the hand drills, Holford suggests having a well shaped bit and hardening not more than 1/2" back from the cutting edge. If using W1 for, say, granite, you can temper to a straw, or if the stone is extremely hard, no temper is drawn.

Limestone, sandstone, and marble may require different shaped bits and different temperatures for tempering.

See if you can obtain the book from campusi.com.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/24/07 10:34:06 EDT

Atli: I run my old Lincoln tombstone from the stove outlet in my house---when my wife is not at home to complain about the cord going across the kitchen and out the window over the sink. Never have thrown the breaker with it, (yet).

You might check the habitat for humanity resale store for an old *large* stove that would suit dyeing, if you find one with 2 ovens, (large, small) itr would help for bluing small items like knife hardware as well as large items like helmets or captains...

Arrowheads: I have a medieval/renaissance bodkin boint from Germany. It was done of one piece of wrought iron and had the socket forge welded where the edges lapped. David Starley of the Royal Armouries in Leeds presented a paper on medieval arrowheads at the 37th Annual International Conference of Medieval Studies: they were not steel; but rather plain WI. Don't know if it's been published yet.

Bryan; propane contains carbon---that's how you get the CO issue when burning it. My blown propane forge can go from extremely oxidizing to extremely reducing; very handy in knifemaking.

As a beginner I will tell you that you will ruin fewer blades working with propane than with coal/coke/charcoal; however building a solid fuel forge is a lot quicker and simpler than a propane forge.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/24/07 12:57:23 EDT

Rhordae: It, of course, varies by anvil. When you purchase welding rod by the pound it is the rod and coating. How much actual metal you get out of a pound of rod?

I use stainless fairly extensively. I have been fortunate to find it on eBay (or through an eBay dealer) selling surplus and don't pay much more for it than mild steel rod. You go purchasing it in a welding supply outlet than it is expensive.

Even discounting time there is the electric for the welder, the grinding disks and wear and tear.

Another words, I don't know.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 04/24/07 13:07:22 EDT

hey everyone i was wanting to smith this summer and i bought these books. the artist blacksmith the new edge of the anvil and the art of blacksmithing. i was thinking i could build a forge in the ground or build one in welding shop and if i built in the ground would a fan like a house fan work to blow it. i need to get an anvil and i read about euroanvils being a good value anvil but i was wondering where i could get a good cheap anvil around 100+ pounds. my defenition of cheap would be 300-400 dollars thanks
   - newbiesmith - Tuesday, 04/24/07 15:37:51 EDT

i forgot i was reading where everyone was talking about different kinds of tools steels and wanted to know what the letters meant
   - newbiesmith - Tuesday, 04/24/07 15:38:57 EDT

Newbie: When I lived in Columbus OH I averaged an excellant anvil a year for less than a dollar a pound by talking with everyone.

Newbie, since I know nothing about where you live I can't tell you any specific place to start looking. Ebay is *bad* in my experience and the shipping costs can get quite high on anvils not located near you.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/24/07 15:42:17 EDT

i live in kentucky close to lexington which is southeast of louisville
   - newbiesmith - Tuesday, 04/24/07 16:07:22 EDT

More on finding anvils: Newbie, as Thomas noted, asking everyone you know, AND all your relatives is a good start. Tell them you are interested in learning blacksmithing and need tools. You never know when some distant Aunt has her departed husband's anvil in the shed out back or in the basement shop. Then start on neighbors, school teachers, the hardware store owner. . . Relatives are the best bet for a free anvil. From widows and children you should pay at least flea market prices (no less than $1/lb).

Ads in the local "free trader" or even paid ads in local papers can have you phone ringing off the hook. Something like:

Blacksmith Tools Wanted: Anvils, bellows, blowers, chisels, cones, hardies and forges. Call BR-549.

This has been known to work surprisingly well in cities AND in the country. Be prepared to sell as much as you buy. You start paying cash then wheel and deal a little. . .

There is nothing wrong with NEW anvils but as Thomas noted avoid ebay. Check our advertisers. They all sell quality tools, their prices are fair. When you find something for a lot less then there is a reason for it. ALSO, you can end up paying more for some of the junkers on ebay than a good first class anvil. Every NEW anvil listed on ebay is misrepresented in some way or often in EVERY WAY.

Going to blacksmith gatherings is the best place to find used anvils at reasonable prices. At our small CSI gathering this weekend there were good anvils from $100 to $800. Two were new Peddinghaus anvils. Others were fairly common old anvils at good prices. If I hadn't just spent over $1,000 on travel expenses I would have brought back both the Peddinghaus anvils.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 16:09:26 EDT

See. . . we were about 300 miles from you. The dealer that had the couple old anvils for sale is from Nashville I think which is even closer.

Metal Designations: You must be careful about these. Some are duplicated depending on the class of steels and the organization who's terms you are using. However, in US tool steels the AISI letter group indicates the general type of steel. When talking about any designation the organization or standard SHOULD be given as in AISI H13, SAE 1020, ASTM A36.

AISI tool steels:

A = Air quench
D = Cold Work steels
H = Hot work
O = Oil Quench
P = Low carbon Mold Steels
L = Special Purpose
M or T = High Speed Steels (very high carbon, molybdenum, or tungsten)
S = Shock Resistant
W = Water Quench
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 16:25:32 EDT

I know this is probably going to be an ABSURD question, but... how difficult is it to make an anvil?

I read a little HOWTO thing on a website that said it involved little more than finding a hunk of anvil-sized tool or scrap steel, cutting it with an acet torch and grinding to shape, then using solid welds on all the working faces, then grinding and finishing, and you're done.

Is this a crock, or would this be something a novice metalworker and their very welding and working-with-hands savvy father could undertake? Could this be a viable recourse for a low cost first anvil?
   Tony - Tuesday, 04/24/07 17:04:42 EDT

Tony, It depends on the quality of anvil you want.

First, doing it RIGHT to get the results of a first class anvil is not cheap or easy. Cost can be close to a commercial anvil.

Second, you CAN do better than the junkers sold on ebay as "Professional" anvils by unscrupulous dealers.

Third it is NOT a job for a complete novice. The tools required, HD cutting torch, arc welder, HD angle grinder all require some skill to use.

Fourth, The facing of an anvil with hard facing rod is expensive and not the best way to go. Large pieces of hardenable steel plate or bar ARE available at a cost lower than applying hard facing rod and spending many hours grinding it flat (electricity and grinding wheels have a cost as well as labor).

But, the job CAN be done in a small shop. However, I have tried to convince shops with the proper tools and skills to go into the anvil business and they say there is not enough profit in it. . . So it is not a CHEAP way to make an anvil, even with the right tools. Otherwise someone would be doing it.

The skills are not so simple. Almost anyone can torch a piece of bar in two with a cutting torch but try torching long straight lines or graceful curves. THEN try doing it on 4" to 6" thick plate. You can EASILY create such a mess that there are not enough grinding wheels in existence to straighten out.

Heavy welding, even with a buzz box can suck up some electricity that has significant coat. A friend built a JYH air hammer using some 2" plate which he dutifully welded with 1" beads. . . his electric bill for the month jumped $200. He wanted ME to explain to his wife how that little bit of welding could not have possibly cost that much. . . I'm afraid the truth could not save him.

I have several HD B&D (now DeWalt) Wildcat grinders. The HD high speed 7" ones. They weigh about 14 pounds. I love the weight for grinding because I know how to use the weight. But many flinch at this size grinder and cannot control one. These are what it takes to make an anvil from flame cut steel. Try building an anvil with one of those little 4.5" baby grinders and you will wear out several good ones, MANY wheels, and kill a lot of never endings. But they are really handy for tight places and light finishing. . .

So, yes and No and not without skills or the right tools.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 17:43:05 EDT

Thank you for the very informative reply Guru and Mr. Turly,

I am curious about the W-1, O-1, and S7 drill rod. Will they get hard enough? I have been doing a bit of research online, and found that W1 gets to 56c, O1 gets from 62-64c, and S7 gets to 55-57c, on the rockwell hardness scale. None of the sources say if this is measured pre or post hardening.
I was told by one of the pros that you want the chisel hard enough that a new file will nearly skate across the surface somewhere around 65-70c after hardening and tempering. Will any of these work?
Also do you know where I can find any of the SAE 1050 in 1.5" square stock?
Once again thankyou! Emmit
   Emmit Hoyl - Tuesday, 04/24/07 18:24:44 EDT

Making Anvils, comments, details:

There is a long step by step article on the net showing how to make an anvil with a torch and welder. The end result is pretty ugly. If you don't think so then you have looked at very few anvils or don't have any sense of the art. DIY ugly anvils have little or no market value. However, a pretty anvil, even if it has some DIY faults it can be a work of art and have some value.

So, either make one that is a work of art or forget trying to emulate a modern double horned anvil with curved body and feet. A two dimensional silhouette of an anvil with feet welded on is an ugly piece of junk. But if the overall style is suitable then it can be art.

Another Style The drawing at right is taken from a Hofi pattern anvil. It could easily be fabricated from 3 to 4" thick plate and the results look like a fabricated anvil should.

To make a proper hardy hole is a difficult task. Welding up around a square tube in a hole is a lousy weak method. Below are three methods of making a hardy hole.

Patent hardy hole making techniques by Jock Dempsey

The two methods above top require machining with a mill or a shaper. However, the top left COULD be made by sawing or torching, then cleaning up. The method at top right is designed to make a full penetration build up weld but with only a narrow weld at the face. This is for making a tool or alloy steel anvil and making a small specialty weld on the face and the rest with common welding rod. This one requires milling or shaping a slot.

The last method is a simple piece of square tube or doubled angle welded to the side of a block anvil. Then a collar is welded at the top to provide strength and a work surface. This is for the typical DIY anvil.

To not waste your time making junk you can use a simple slab of steel for an anvil. If you need a hardy hole on the same use the above method. If you need a horn then make a stake anvil. A stake anvil is easier to make and was the common auxiliary tool before anvils had a built in horn.

You can spend a LOT of time making a work of art. OR you can save a lot of effort and learn to use what is necessary, not what you THINK is necessary. There is nothing wrong with making a work of art. But if you are going to do so, then do it RIGHT.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 18:35:38 EDT

Thanks for the input guru. I was hoping it might serve as a less expensive alternative to buying my first anvil. I suppose not, eh?

As another question, is there any material to work with or process to be finished with to make a shiny product, so to speak? For instance, if I wanted to make a spoon with a nice, shiny, 'stainless steel' finish, would I be working in anything other than tool steel, or perhaps working in tool steel and plating it? Or can forged steel be buffed and polished to a nice luster?

Sorry I'm being such a pest.
   Tony - Tuesday, 04/24/07 19:07:29 EDT

Steel can be polished to a mirror finish. Forge, de-scale, sand, buff. However most steels will rust with time and exposure and will need some sort of finish applied to slow that down.

If you want it handforged with a nice, shiny, 'stainless steel' finish why not forge it from stainless steel to start with?

I've forged spoons from stainless steel, wrought iron and Titanium and find that Ti and Stainless have not lost their finish even in the dishwasher while the wrought iron one is getting quite a patina on it.

EMMIT Rc 70 sounds a bit much to me a new file will skate off steel at a lower Rc value and high Rc can mean high brittleness.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/24/07 19:21:47 EDT

I guess I just erroneously thought stainless steel was unforgeable.

If I were to forge with a corrosive steel, is there any novice technique toward adding corrosion resistance to it? May it be anodized?

Is there a reason why blacksmith's tongs are often portrayed like the link below, and tongs on this website are decidedly more linear?

   Tony - Tuesday, 04/24/07 19:40:51 EDT

I have seen a plan for sale on Ebay for the construction of a forge from a stainless sink and a vacuum cleaner motor. I remember seeing something you blokes wrote about a vacuum cleaner being too powerful for the average forge, but couldn't you just put an adjustable vent into the tuyere to limit the flow? Also, would a stainless sink be too thin for a firepot?
   Craig - Tuesday, 04/24/07 20:15:35 EDT

Tony, one anodizes aluminum, and sometimes Ti, but never to my knowledge steel. If you want shiny and corrosion free, there is a series of very special alloys that have Cr and Ni, usually in the 18%Cr and 8%Ni range that forge well but take a little extra effort to move and if pickled, sanded and polished with tools and materials that have not been used first on steel will keep the shiny surface nearly forever. The easy alloy to find is ASTM 304. This is the proper call out for a special steel that will not easily corrode. It is the most common STAINLESS STEEL, is used to make kitchen sinks ETC. Use the right material for the job.
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/24/07 20:19:42 EDT


Those are probably NOT forging tongs. They look more like tongs for handlng a casting crucible or hot pickup tongs. They appear too light for serious control when forging, and are sized to fit pretty darn big stock for their relatively light construction.

Blacksmith's tongs must be fitted very closely to the stock they are intended to hold in order to provide the necessary control for decent forging work, and must be strong enough to resist the forces working against them. Typically, though not always, this means the bits are relatively short in comparison to the reins, to provide the leverage necessary.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/24/07 21:26:06 EDT

Emmit: As Thomas points out 70 RC is extremely hard, and I doubt anybody is using a steel that is hardened to that degree. HOWEVER they might be using a drill that has been nitrided after heat treating and sharpening, and that could provide a 70+ RC surface. O1 is an easily worked, readily available tool steel that is versatile enough to make most simple tools, and a better material than anybody had 100 years ago.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/24/07 21:33:37 EDT

Emmit Hoyt,

If your Rockwell readings are accurate, they would indicate steel that had been either hardened or hardened and tempered. Rockwell C doesn't tell the whole story. It is the measurement of how far a conical pointed instrument can penetrate the steel under a predetermined load. Other factors might be flexibility and shock absorbancy. Fully hardened W1 will cause a new file to skate across the surface; no metal removal. When tempered, the file will barely remove a little metal, and with reluctance.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/24/07 21:36:55 EDT

Thank you for the insight gentlemen!
I supose my source didn't really know what he was talking about. I will give the O-1 a try and let you know how it performs.
Any sources of SAE 1055 square stock that you know of?
   Emmit Hoyl - Tuesday, 04/24/07 21:58:06 EDT

I picked up a 2x1/2" steel strap a while back. When I tried to forge it, it crumbled, split & was generally horrible. I had assumed it was some kind of high carbon steel & I wasn't working in the correct temp. range.
However, I recently got a bench grinder & was spark testing different steels I have around the place. The strap had long, straight sparks with no branches or sparkles at all. I compared to mild, a file, a jack-hammer bit & some broken tools so I had a fair range of comparisons.
One other issue is that I had just put a new fan on the forge & suspect it had too much air & so was oxidising. The peice was at a good orange when I was working it. My question is, is this normal behaviour for very low carbon or wrought? Could an overly oxidising atmosphere cause this crumbling? At one point I was working one end in the vice & the other end simply broke off a few inches below the vice. Nothing was quenched....
   andrew - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:09:18 EDT

Emmit, McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) carries both 1050 and 1045. They list 1045 as higher strength than 1050. Read the details. See also matweb.com for more material specs.

McMaster-Carr sells a wide variety of steels in small amounts. Otherwise you would be ordering truckloads of some of these alloys. We also have some tool steels available from our On-Line Metals store found in the anvilfire store.

AND see Temper Color Chart with hardnesses. I compiled the hardnesses from the ASM Heat Treaters Guide. Much of this is extrapolated from graphs thus is not perfect but it is within +/- 1 point hardness I think. None of the plain carbon steels achieve the hardness you state. In general the hardness is proportional to the amount of carbon. Thus you can pretty well determine the steels not listed between those that are.

Note that nitriding and case hardening to increase hardness will do little good to a rock point that wears away rapidly. An abrasion resistant alloy might be better than a super hard one.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:19:57 EDT

Crumbling: Andrew, It sounds like a piece of rusted wrought iron. Wrought needs to be worked very hot. At low temperatures it tends to split. However, if heavily rusted the iron will be in separated strands held together by rust, not the original silicon and iron slag. Once in this condition it cannot be forged. However, with great care and a lot of flux it has been known to be repaired. . . but it is probably not worth the effort.

If it actually just crumbled it may have also been cast iron. But you spark test says wrought iron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:24:33 EDT

Vacuum Cleaner Blowers: Craig, There are two problems with these, one is the high flow, the other is the noise. The noise is due to the very high RPM that also heats the air. Stalling a blower is actually a good way to control it UNLESS it runs at so high a speed it overheats. These tend to overheat and fail.

And yes, the SS sink is too thin for a fire pot. It would need to be lined with something else.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:28:54 EDT

Tongs: Why would you believe an image from a Cuban Folk art site over images from a blacksmithing site????
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:30:10 EDT

I cannot say what type of steel it may have been, however having forged wrought iron before this does not sound like its characteristics in the fire. Wrought iron is very ductile and malleable and can be worked at the upper limit of the forging range. Because it is such low carbon it melts at a higher temperature than higher carbon steels. My geuss is you have a poorly maunfactured alloy steel. Better luck next time.
   Emmit Hoyl - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:35:09 EDT

Whoops. .

Tongs: There are many types. There are Salad tongs, foundry tongs, surgical tongs. . . Among blacksmiths tongs there are dozens of basic types and hundreds of styles. Then there are Farriers pull offs and wire cutters that are both often labeled blacksmith's tongs. AND the earliest tongs were wood tweezer type. Metal tweezer type tongs are used for small crucible tongs and smaller ones for jewelery work.

Many many types. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/24/07 22:41:56 EDT

it's not so much "believing" that site. I was just curious as to why pop culture (video games, movies, cuban folk art sites :P) always seems to portray tongs as those really circular types. i just used that website to give a picture reference of what i meant.

just another example of the media having no idea what they're talking about i suppose?
   Tony - Tuesday, 04/24/07 23:49:02 EDT

Technical details of a field are often little known to those in other fields and technical details of anything mechanical is less and less understood by the general populace.

At the most basic many people do not know the difference between a nut and a screw or bolt much less a hex bolt and a socket head. Once many years ago I saw an international engineering magazine with an illustration about fasteners. There were only a couple BIG fasteners in the illustration. The bolt had 5 sides and the nut 8 (both should have been 6). It is understandable that an illustrator might not know the difference but for it to get past the EDITOR????

In our field there is hundreds of years of development in anvil design yet few people, even in the industry, can draw or sculpt a good anvil shape. Those outside the industry, particularly pattern makers often dictate new anvil shapes. The result is often disastrous. It is like asking a being from another planet to sculpt or draw the face of a human being. Even though there is great variety of faces, colors and expressions a human knows its kind well enough that even a cartoon can have the necessary characteristics to LOOK human. It is in the technical details.

As an artist I can draw many things. But I am primarily a constructivist and build the drawing from what I know or formulae I have practiced. I can render almost anything I see and many things from my imagination as well. But I have no skill at cartoons or fashion design (nudes OK, but a disaster with clothes). It is a matter of study and practice. But while I have not studied fashion I have studied musical instruments and can draw them from both an artistic and technical point of view. However, I am no good with animals either.

But I have a wide range of experience and have spent my life studying what THINGS look like (and how they are put together). Other people study other things and most do not study the SHAPE of things. They know things well enough to recognize them. I can recognize a Panda and tell if from a black bear and both from a grizzly but I cannot draw any of them with skill. Drawing animals is not my field.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 08:36:53 EDT


TGN, I sent you an email you may be interested in. Heads up!
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/25/07 08:41:48 EDT

Re Guru's 2nd paragraph above. I lived in Lansing, Michigan, for my college years, and a friend from there was recently wearing a T-shirt advertising the Lansing Lug Nuts Softball team. This probably relates to the fact that Motor Wheel Corporation was in Lansing at one time. The T-shirt front had a big lag screw pictured.

I wonder how many folks know what a Detroit Piston is.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/25/07 10:45:53 EDT

Many high alloy steels will crumble---the cottage cheese effect---when forged at too high a temp.

Wrought iron usually frays when forged too cool which an orange heat can be for WI.

Was this strap "old"? Any idea what it used to be? Old Wagon Wheel Tyres are often WI and they were recycled way back when as well as today---I have a lot of forged items made from wagon tyre that I have picked up to forge into yet different things.

Stainless is a bit more difficult to forge; but not nearly as much trouble as some of the high alloy steels. Get some and try it out! I first forged a piece over 20 years ago so about twice as long as I have been forging Ti...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/25/07 10:49:02 EDT

Learning Opportunities: One way for a young person to learn about hardware is to have to sort out a batch of it. Besides fractions, nylock vs. castellated they also learn thread pitches, self threading, sheet metal vs. lag and wood screws. Then there is flat head, pan head, socket head.

Almost every shop has a bunch of hardware that needs sorting and put into labeled bins. Most of us cannot afford enough time to these things in our own shop but it is a great job for a kid from 10 to 20 years old. AND a great learning experience.

Lug nuts, not only are they a fine thread hex nut, most have a chamfer to provide a centered fit. Some are even left handed. . .

What causes the common locked and won't come off lug nut? Freewheeling air wrenches operating at too high a pressure, thus speed. When they bottom out all the inertia of the wrench pinches the chamfered end of the nut into the stud. After that it will not come off or will strip or break the stud in the process. The air wrench may be adjusted to not create too much torque but that does not prevent the damage from stopping too fast a rotor.

I carefully explained this to the service manager at our dealership when they charged me for half a dozen new studs when I went in for brake work. I also pointed out that THEY were the ones that put the new tires on and were the only shop that had touched the car since new. . . He grumbled and I asked if the owner was in. No charge for the studs and nuts. It pays to do business with old family owned businesses.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 13:04:45 EDT

Crumbling Steel: I wonder if this might have been a piece of resufurized or leaded steel? You don't see them that often but I would expect them to forge like rotten wood due to the sulfur or lead at the grain boundaries. Sulfur and lead were added to improve machinability and forging it was never intended.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 04/25/07 13:14:26 EDT

I just attended the traditional joinery class at the John C Campbell folk school and had an opportunity to try out the upgraded Big Blues with the new valve setup. They hit much harder than mine using the same ram weight and air cylinder. They upgrade should be around $500.00. Just a heads up for anyone with the old setup.
   Mike H - Wednesday, 04/25/07 13:48:07 EDT

I think Quenchcrack may be on to something.

I had some interesting pattern rebar from an old WW-II barracks building. It gave a whole new meaning to "red short"! Wouldn't forge worth horse droppings. Probably the end result of one of the scrap drives and "get 'er done" wartime pressure. I'd be happy to provide a sample if anybody want to do an analysis.

Warm, cloudy, and rain is coming to the banks of the Potomac. They started the fireplace at the new house today, and they are incorporating the fittings for my fireplace crane. :-)

Visit your National Parks; Im working on the pier on the right hand side of the photo: http://www.nps.gov/cacl

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/25/07 14:21:37 EDT

Frank (Rathole Forge Anvil)

How often do you use the extension table or the upsetting block? Do they make a big difference in functionality as far as taking the general London design and adding those features? And what about the hardy hole being by the horn instead of the heel? Do you find that more convenient or just awkward? The oversized hardy hole would make for some stouter hardy tools and I love the look of this anvil. Bending and scrolling would certainly be easier with the added surfaces.

I am looking for a tie breaker between the Rathole anvil (250lb) and the Nimba(260lb) and would like whatever insight you can offer. I have spoken with a couple people who absolutely love their Nimbas and am having a hard time deciding between the two.
   Rhordae - Wednesday, 04/25/07 15:49:08 EDT

"Making a Hammer"


I am a new poster and also new to the fun of blacksmithing. Have some questions regarding the making of hammers. Basically I would like to make a hammer myself, a good useful long lasting hammer, not just a throw away. Also, I would like to make the hammer as it was made by blacksmiths hundreds of years ago. So my questions are:

1) What kind of steel should I use? Tool steel stock may not be available in my area...
2) My resources are limited, can I use steel from say old truck springs, or fireweld, like a bunch 1" square stock together ?
3) I have access to a hammer, anvil, forge and power hammer, do I need anything else (like the rolling machine deals that I read about)?
4) How did they do it long ago before electricity?
5) If I want a 3 or 5 pound hammer how much steel do I need to start with.

From what I read the process is basically , get a chunk of steel, punch the handle hole (hammer eye?), bevel the edges to desires, harden, temper, add handle. is that right? Also, I don't fully understand the process of hardening or tempering, as apparently it depends alot on the type of material involved.

I really, just don't know the right steps in what order to take, and my access to the above tools are limited, so I would prefer to use the time effectively. While I firmly believe the power hammer is a great time saver, I know they didn't have them long ago, unless you count the bunch of guys with sledges or otherwise primitive power hammers (pully's, mules, whatnot), so making one with just a good old fashing hammer,anvil and elbow grease would suit me just fine :)

I'm saving up to get some blacksmithing books, but in the mean time I have to make due, while chilling here in central europe. So any advice would be greatly welcome and appreciated. But please, try not to use words/terms (or atleast try to explain) like annealing, upsetting, etc, because I do not really understand.

Thank you all, and look forward to your comments.

   Bruno - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:07:16 EDT

"Making a Hammer"


I am a new poster and also new to the fun of blacksmithing. Have some questions regarding the making of hammers. Basically I would like to make a hammer myself, a good useful long lasting hammer, not just a throw away. Also, I would like to make the hammer as it was made by blacksmiths hundreds of years ago. So my questions are:

1) What kind of steel should I use? Tool steel stock may not be available in my area...
2) My resources are limited, can I use steel from say old truck springs, or fireweld, like a bunch 1" square stock together ?
3) I have access to a hammer, anvil, forge and power hammer, do I need anything else (like the rolling machine deals that I read about)?
4) How did they do it long ago before electricity?
5) If I want a 3 or 5 pound hammer how much steel do I need to start with.

From what I read the process is basically , get a chunk of steel, punch the handle hole (hammer eye?), bevel the edges to desires, harden, temper, add handle. is that right? Also, I don't fully understand the process of hardening or tempering, as apparently it depends alot on the type of material involved.

I really, just don't know the right steps in what order to take, and my access to the above tools are limited, so I would prefer to use the time effectively. While I firmly believe the power hammer is a great time saver, I know they didn't have them long ago, unless you count the bunch of guys with sledges or otherwise primitive power hammers (pully's, mules, whatnot), so making one with just a good old fashing hammer,anvil and elbow grease would suit me just fine :)

I'm saving up to get some blacksmithing books, but in the mean time I have to make due, while chilling here in central europe. So any advice would be greatly welcome and appreciated. But please, try not to use words/terms (or atleast try to explain) like annealing, upsetting, etc, because I do not really understand.

Thank you all, and look forward to your comments.

   Bruno - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:12:20 EDT


Ya mean, I gotta be a dirty tie breaker? The rathole suits me. I haven't used it long enough to need the widened face extension. The upsetting block is handy for certain lengths of stock. Some people hammer the stock into the corner rather than hitting vertically. There is a tiny drop where the base of the horn starts, not too far from the hardy hole. When I put in a large tool like a 2" swage, for example, it lacks a bit of support there. I'm thinking of doing a small arc welded build up in that area. Other than that, I'm tickled with it. I was using the same weight Trenton for years, and the hardy hole is the same size, 1 1/8", so no problem for me transitioning bottom tools.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:27:57 EDT

Hi, I got a basic but well working propane gas forge. I would like (insurance reasons)to add something which allows ignition and makes sure gas stops if the flame ever goes out. I know the more expensive gas forges have that. Can I add this to my (basic) gas forge in line and if so what is it properly called? I think I did hear it once refered to as a gas stop, but can't find anything useful under that. Also if you would know a company I could look up that would help a lot. Thanks a lot for any help.
   Katharine - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:29:15 EDT

IIRC, the vacuum cleaners I've taken apart had universal motors. This means it would probably work ok on a dimmer switch. That would cut down the airflow, and at the same time reduce the noise. I still don't think a vacuum cleaner should be a first choice for a blower, but if you *had* to use one, a dimmer switch might be worth trying.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:47:06 EDT

Hammer Material: Bruno, Many hammers have been made of truck axles. The steel is the right carbon content and they are fairly available. Check with a truck garage, as trucks occasionally break axles. Otherwise, SAE 1045, SAE 1050, SAE 4140 are suitable hammer steels and available from various places in short lengths.

IF you are going to forge weld a hammer then the body is made of mild steel and the faces higher carbon such as spring steel. You CAN laminate a hammer but the lamination grain is hard and soft and the hammer wears to show it. So steeling is best. On a cross pien both the face and pien would be hard material.

Very little steel is lost when making a hammer. When a blacksmith punches a hole only about 10% of the hole is lost the rest of the material spreading. So if you want a 4 pound hammer then use 4.02 pounds of steel. . . or just don't worry about it.

You may need to make an eye drift before making the hammer.

See our heat treating FAQ and Junk Yard Steels FAQ.

Before electricity they had steam, before steam they had water power and before that they had big guys with sledge hammers. Anywhere from 1 to 15 strikers would work on a piece at one time.

Note that the average smiths hammer is about 3 pounds. Larger hammers will hurt you and you will not have good control. Start light and work up.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 16:51:50 EDT


Just to add to your confusion:

I love my Nimba, especially the tapered heel and the large mass directly under the work. I kind of wish it had a side shelf, and I may very well add one. Since the work done on a side shelf is generally smaller, welding one on the Nimba would be no big issue at all. I like the fact that the Nimba has a 1" hardy hole, which is the most commonly available size for bottom tools these days.

That 1-1/8" hardy hole in the Rat Hole anvil is great for Mr. Turley, who already has the tooling for it, but you might find that size a mite more difficult to obtain.

The Rat Hole is certainly a sexy looking anvil, but I still think the Nimba is probably a better forging tool due to the concentrated mass. The disclaimer here is that I have never worked on a Rat Hole anvil, so anything I say regarding them is pure guesswork. Frank has one and knows what he likes about it.

In the end, you have to decide for yourself.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:12:38 EDT

Forge Controls: Katherine, Most forges do not have fully redundant controls. The better ones have a full time ignition and occasionally a solenoid valve. If the power fails and the blower or ignition then fail the normally closed solenoid gas valve automatically closes. But this is not flame out protection.

For flame outs you need a "fire-eye". This device uses a photo electric eye to tell if the fire is burning and if it goes out then it shuts off the forge. The fire eye is a separate control and it will not come with the necessary solenoid valve and bypass circuitry to operate the forge.

See www.fireye.com

Full time ignition consists of a spark plug in a corner of the forge or near the outlet of the burner. This is fired by an AC ignition coil.

All the parts, the fire eye, ignitor, solenoid, relays and such will cost about $1500. OR you can use a fire eye alone with a gas solenoid and manual controls for around $1000.

THEN, there is a simple temperature shut-off type device like a hot water heater or stove uses with a pilot flame. NC-TOOL provides these as an option on their forges. However, temperature type controls do not shut off the gas immediately. There is a delay.

All this does not include engineering. AND on that point your insurance company will not approve a DIY re-engineered forges no matter how safe the controls are. Unless the controls are part of a complete UL package they will generally not even talk to you about it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:15:11 EDT


The same sort of safety device as is used on gas stoves will work on a forge. On a stove, it's called a "100% safety shut-off valve." On a big furnaces, I think they're called flame safeties or 100% shut-offs.

Therer are a couple of different ways of handling the issue. One is the type found on gas stoves, which uses a pressure/temperature operated valve, and the other is an optical flame sensor with solenoid valve. Both work, but the solenoid valve requires electricity. In the event of power failure, most of them default to "Off", so they're still safe.

For more information, check places like Ward Burners, (www.wardburner.com) or other folks who supply potters, glassblowers and heat treaters.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:19:53 EDT

Bruce, as others have said, 60 amps is enough for a buzz box most of the time.

However, I'd give serious consideration to putting in a 100 amp branch circuit and a panel in the shop. The last I looked mid-sized 100 amp boxes were pretty cheap, and I think you'll find it cheaper to run one heavy circuit to the house (or power entry, wherever that might be) and a couple other circuits for lighting &c.

Then I'd put in a gas or propane stove. . . (But then I do hate electric cooktops with a passion! "If God had meant for man to cook with electricity, he wouldn't have created fire.")
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:37:18 EDT

Try it again: That should be: ". . .I think you'll find it cheaper to run one heavy circuit to the house (or power entry, wherever that might be) than a 60 amp and a couple other circuits for lighting &c."
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:39:36 EDT

Hardie Hole Sizes: While the modern standard has been 1" for a few years the European anvils are largely metric and not true 1". For me a 1" shank should fit a 1.010" hardy hole but these sizes came before the era of standard fits and tolerances. A true 1" shank will not fit a true 1" hole. . .

My collection of hardy tools include some with 3/4" shanks up through 1-1/8". My 300 Kohlswa and 200 Hay-Budden use shanks in this neighborhood but my old English anvils used smaller. As I have changed anvils I have gotten used to hardy tools sitting loosely in over size holes.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 17:50:56 EDT

Vacuum cleaner motors, etc.
Why use a vacuum cleaner motor when old furnace blowers (squirrel cage fans) are available. That's what I use for the electrical side of the blower setup and am very satisfied with it (the manual side involves a 3ft. flywheel on a post running to an old direct drive, non-geared, forge blower all operated by pulling on a rope attached to an eccentric....still needs a BIT of R&D before full implementation) Seriously though, furnace blowers can be had with universal motors, are usually pretty cheap if not free, and are all but noiseless compared to a vacuum motor.
Try it....you'll like it. (maybe)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 04/25/07 18:10:43 EDT

Bruno the traditional method of making a hammer at least in one time/place was to roll up a length of real wrought iron and weld that solid and then weld on steel faces

Remember that about 100 years ago the type of metal used for blacksmithing *changed*! If you want to smith like they did before then you will have trouble finding the old stuff to use.

Thomas in haste!
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/25/07 19:34:26 EDT

Quich Addition: power hammers are pretty recent in smithing only dating back about 1000 years (one thousand) for the water powered helve hammers.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/25/07 19:40:16 EDT

hey does anyone have an idea what an "anvil press" is there are two auctions on the same day at the same time one has blacksmith tools and one has an anvil press Im trying to figure out what auction to attend thanks luke.
   coolhand - Wednesday, 04/25/07 20:28:20 EDT

A good source for gas trains with safety equipment is an industrial boiler repair shop. Small industrial boilers all MUST have proper gas trains to get a inspection to allow insurance. These guys are who are normally called when there is work to be done on industrial furnaces as well. But remember that this will not be a cheap install no matter how you do it if it is to meet insurance requirements. Good luck

Bruce, I second the thought to get the 100 amp panel. They are about the cheapest panel available. You can find them in a kit form as well with the main breaker as well as a selection of small breakers as would be used in the typical house. I put in 100 to my shop and have used it all.

Bruno, heavy truck axles if made in the recent past say 20 years in western Europe and America will be a material that is optimized for induction heat treat. It will however nicely harden for a hammer if quenched in OIL. Temper within 45 minutes. Do not hold above the critical for long without working as grain growth will rear its ugly head. Good luck.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/25/07 20:35:16 EDT

Coolhand, not a clue. However, there are a TON of products sold under the "anvil" brand including equipment cases, restaurant mixers and other items. I would pass on the "anvil press" as it is probably a steam iron. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/25/07 20:38:48 EDT

Anyone making their own anvil can make hardy tools to match by drilling two holes in a short piece of heavy flat bar and using this as a gig to drill matching holes into their anvil. Weld two short stubs of rod into the flat bar then arc weld whatever shapes you require onto the top of the little platform. Mild steel lasts for years if you are working only hot metal. If you are lucky enough to have found a hardened piece of junk like a big bolt heading die for your anvil, this can be drilled with drills available now that will bore holes in steel as hard as files. The drills I have are German and called "Profi-Line". Keep one drilled piece for a pattern to make it easier to make more tools that will fit your anvil.
Hugh McDonald
   - Hugh McDonald - Thursday, 04/26/07 05:33:34 EDT

I just had this drop off at my shop. It's made by Prentiss, New York. It has 53-93 on one side of the face. Any idea what the 53-93 means????
Thanks IG
   Indian George - Thursday, 04/26/07 06:53:21 EDT

Indian George. More importantly, what is it we're talking about?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/26/07 07:58:54 EDT

Burner safety, insurance:

Ward Burner Systems, http://www.wardburner.com/ has pretty much what you might be looking for. They have different types of safety systems, from power-fail solenoids ($) to full-blown IR safety systems ($$$).

My fire dept. would not approve my forge setup unless I had a commercial burner, with a UL listing. However, they didn't have a problem with not having a safety shutoff. It could be that the inspector didn't really know what to look for.

I bought a burner from Ward, but was pretty unsatisfied with it. I got their cheapest cast-iron burner that Mr. Ward said would be fine for my lower pressure (3-PSI max). When it didn't work well at all, he said it was my fault for not specifying the pressure.

So I can't really recommend them as far as customer support is concerned. But the website has tons of pretty good technical burner information.

And, FWIW, I reverted to my previous blown burner design.

   - Marc - Thursday, 04/26/07 08:10:55 EDT

Indian George, Prentiss made vices, the numbers would be casting numbers which probably mean nothing except to the foundry. However, occasionally they are part numbers. But this means nothing since the manufacturer is out of business and I have never seen separate parts listings.

If you tried to post an image or link in HTML brackets it was filtered. A plain text post will work as we all know how to cut and paste. Just keep the URL's short. Long ones break out page. Ebay items should just have the item number posted without a link.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 08:27:32 EDT

thanks for all the suggestions regarding additional forge safety equipment. I guess I should also talk to the insurance people what exactly they want, before I get something they don't care about. Thanks everybody!
   Katharine - Thursday, 04/26/07 11:25:01 EDT

more and more over the last week or so through reaserch i've been think about using a propane forge, most companies say that they are self regulating to around 2350 deg. and other posts by other blacksmiths have said this isn't hot enough to forge weld with. So is the regulated temp the max temp. of the comercial propane forges?
   jimbo - Thursday, 04/26/07 12:06:26 EDT

Jimbo, That is all they will guarantee their forges to reach. There is no regulation of the temperature. They often reach higher temperatures and the temperature of propane burning in free air is 2950. The other point is that the light weight refractories used in these forges are not rated over 2400°F and claiming that the forge runs hotter than the refractory rating is a problem for the manufacturer.

One thing many folks due to raise forge temperatures is to coat the interior with ITC-100. This reflects more heat than the refractory AND helps protect the refractory from breaking down at high temperature.

You can also tweek the space in the forge with a piece of insulating fire brick or kaowool to raise the temperature. Blown forges also run hotter than atmospheric forges.

Forge welding is done every day in large and small gas forges by bladesmiths making billets. However, this is a easy weld to make and common blacksmiths tasks like welding forge reins or other small loose pieces are almost impossible in a gas forge. This is where solid fure (coal or charcoal) reins supreme.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 12:51:48 EDT

Given a choice most blacksmiths will have both a solid fuel and a gas forge in their shop. Gas forges are clean and easy and most will heat more metal than you can forge by hand. But coal forges are more flexible and will accept odd shaped pieces that will not fit a gas forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 12:56:12 EDT

Anvil question
I recently set up a shop around a Peter Wright anvil, average size, at least 100 lbs, but I haven’t weighed it and it’s now mounted to the stump w/ sheet metal straps. The numbers on the side: NOTING to the left, two in the center, and six to the right. These are large, deeply stamped numbers, but from what I understand, their should be a number or “0” as a placeholder to the left, and I can’t see anything at all, not even something that could have been a number, deformed over time. 0-2-6 would equal 56lbs – it’s definitely much heavier. Can I assume 1-2-6? Did they commonly forget to stamp a number?
Btw – it does not say “England” or “London, “so this means it is pre-__? And it’s in fair shape, except for a large chip out of the edge of the face on the far side near the horn (horn points left), and average amount of gouges in the face, and the face is swayed about 1/8”out of flat. Very usable for my new hobby. Auction price - $200
   Dave Leppo - Thursday, 04/26/07 13:25:30 EDT

I think I have made my choice for an anvil. I plan on purchasing late Summer/early Fall after I get a chance to do some slight remodeling to my building. It was a tough choice and I certainly did my homework although if I had gone to the Hammer-In at Ken's I probably would have one of those Peddinghaus anvils guru spoke about , but it would have been difficult for me to attend.

For those that are interested I have chosen the Nimba Centurion:

I think this will suite my needs a little better than the Rathole Forge anvil. Thanks for your responses and opinions and for helping me reach a decision. You guys are great!
   Rhordae - Thursday, 04/26/07 14:29:24 EDT

Dave, This is not really sufficient information. However, it was common for the lettering including weight and trademark in forged anvils to be very shallow and it takes very little dirt and rust to make them illegible. Cleaning is often necessary to read them. A 0 would be normal but this large figure is hard to stamp the size they stamped them.

The hundred weight system divides 112 by 4 so a quarter hundred weight is 28 pounds. 0.2.6 is 62 pounds. Nearly 2/3's of 100 pounds. . .

The price was right even if it is a 62 pound PW and very good for a 100.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 14:31:36 EDT


Thank you for the reply/info, and sorry bout the double post.
I'll keep an eye out for truck axles, and will see if all these foreigners here know what SAE 1045 is, wonder how to translate that :)

What do you mean by "Laminate a hammer" ? And for clarification, an eye drift is not a sharpened cutting tool correct ? read a little on it, from what I can understand, its flat on the bottom, and same size from top to bottom, give or take. Does this just spread the metal, or does it actually knock a piece out at the bottom. keep seeing references to punching, and don't heat too much cuz it "will just spread the metal". I'm a little confused. I'm sure all will be evident when I can start the project...

I agree that 5 pounds is too much for normal use, but I did really like the sledge hammer when I got to play with it.

Thanks again,

   Bruno - Thursday, 04/26/07 14:55:50 EDT

Thomas P,

So in theory, I can use any sort of junk metal (even rebar if need be) for the hammer body, so long as I have good steel for the faces (all sides yes?), plus the pien. Correct?

Heh, not really interested in the metal so much as the technique of long ago. Maybe its just some sort of syndrome, you know like them guys that live in the back woods of montana that make their own lead balls and black powder for phear of primer shortage.

No Offense Indended :)

Thanks much for info,

   Bruno - Thursday, 04/26/07 15:09:41 EDT


An older 18 wheeler axle averages 2"D. Forged square and you get about 1 3/4 to 1 5/8 square for a hand hammer. Eye punched first to make sure it's centered. It's embarrasing to punch a crooked eye after the hammer is shaped. After the eye is punched, you get a side swelling. Many smiths will drive the drift from both sides to shape and smoot the hole, and flatter the swellings while the drift is in. The face and peen are hardened and tempered separately, because if you quench the entire head at a red heat, you sometimes get a crack on the thin cheek(s). Temper the face to a dark straw, the peen to a purple. There's more, but I'm going to take a nap. I hope the job doesn't eat your lunch. Why not start with a cold chisel?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/26/07 15:37:47 EDT

Bruno: steel used to be a lot harder to come by and a lot more expensive. Even as late as the 1860's, steel cost 5 times as much as wrought iron did so they would use as little steel as possible for most jobs. For the hammer only the face needed to be hard so they would weld on a piece 1/4-1/2" thick to the ends of the hammers to make the faces---the sides didn't need it.

Wrought iron isn't junk metal---they used to make steamship engine shafts from it after all, but if you are a good forge welder you could weld up the body from pieces and then face the ends.

Re-Bar can be of variable quality I generally do not use it myself.

As for interest in the historical techniques; I share it and have even smelted iron from iron ore using nothern european techniques from around the year 1000.

Note one common non-historical smithing practice is to have only *1* person in the shop. There should be a bunch of apprentices and journeymen, hammermen, finishers, etc. it's only as smithing has died out that the number of people in the shop becomes few (accompanied by the rise in powered equipment as well)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/26/07 16:25:05 EDT

Hammers: Bruno, PLEASE note Thomas's comment about number of folks in the shop. Heavy work was done with the smith directing the work and perhaps holding the work in tongs while strikers pounded away. The strikers were low, low cost laborers, slaves, apprentices (nearly slaves) or anyone that might happen to be hanging around the shop. The situation varied according to the society and economic structure but there was always help. If the hunter wanted spear points he would have to take his turn at the bellows. . .

Working alone limits what you can do or do SAFELY. Experienced smiths hold tongs between their legs and balance tools in ways you could not imagine in order to do it alone. But is takes years of practice.

Lamination Is what you do when you take a lot of small pieces of steel to make a large one. This was most common in the wrought iron days as welding wrought was easier and make big out of small by welding was easier then making small out of large OR upsetting large from small. Welding up a bundle of small bars into a large one is called a "fagot" weld (putting same together).

Steeling Is the process of welding a tool steel edge or face to a soft wrought iron tool. It was a common historical method used to put expensive steel on less expensive and easy to work wrought iron. It is also part of the process of making certain Japanese blades and plane irons.

See our Re-bar FAQ

See our iForge demo's #63 and 64 on punching.

See our iForge demo #93 on Hammer Making:

See our FAQ on Junk Yard Steel and FAQ on Heat Treating.

See Frank's note above about selective hardening hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/26/07 17:21:17 EDT

Bruno, If you could advise which of the European countries you would like to buy the steel, I could probably get the equivelent designation for the C1045. We have a equivelents handbook at work.
Be aware that 1045H is the standard spec for axles in the USA that are 1.375" or smaller, and 1541H for bigger, up to about 2.5". This refers to the diameter of the unforged portion of the axle shaft. This has been the spec for perhaps 20years+. I suspect that the europeans are pretty similar if in the western part. In the US, the company I used to work for made most of the heavy truck axles. When there many friends got scrap from me, and reported very good luck with making hammers.
The 1541H in the larger axles is very easy to get a good case and core hardness. We induction scanned the axles and followed with a polymer modified water quench. We got a nice deep hardness with a fairly soft core for a very tuff axle. Use oil to quench these axles. As Frank notes be wary of quenching the thin walls of the eyes. I made a smaller hammer from this stock, and it slipped in the tongs, and was quenched as it fell into the fluid. Cracked badly at the eye walls. I also experimented with water quench, and cracked the faces.
   ptree - Thursday, 04/26/07 18:23:09 EDT

I have now listed the punch lube on eBay. Will come in a concentrated form in a plastic one pint cosmetic jar. Just add water and it will be ready to use. Listing #280109304474. Once that listing ends I will put it in my eBay store.

ptree: Thank you!!!
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 04/26/07 19:16:27 EDT

Ken, No problems. I am trying to get folks to try the new technology in forge lubes. I was certainly blown away when I tried it.

I have had the folks at J & M to send frank Turley and grant Sarver a sample. I got some early feed back that was good. Anything new guys?
   ptree - Thursday, 04/26/07 19:45:40 EDT


Just ordered a jar of the lube. Thank *you* for making it easily available.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 04/26/07 21:51:43 EDT

Anvil identification: Received an e-mail request to help identify an anvil. Likely an odd ball or orphan. Has 15 cast under horn. May have a top plate. On one side cast in is a six-pointed star with a small circle within it.

Vaguely remember a past discussion if it (logo) might be Iron City, but star is a different shape than that used by them. If them, I would expect to see IRON CITY within star.

Anyone with further information on anvil? According to AIA it isn't an America Star or a Northern Star.

(I can forward their e-mail with three photographs of it.)
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/27/07 07:52:21 EDT

Historical Methods: Knowing historical methods and doing them accurately are two different things. Many people get focused on this but do not really understand what it is they are giving up.

100 years ago a blacksmith shop was almost as mechanized as it is today. But 150 years ago it was much different and at the beginning of the 19th century technology was not much different than 1000 years before.

There was no HSS (High Speed Steel) and drill bits were much more primitive than the modern twist drill. Drilling was done with a hand cranked beam drill and was a slow painstaking process.

All files were made by hand and quite expensive as tools go. They were used a lot but due to their expense they were used carefully. Filing technique and maintenance were carefully taught.

Grinding was slow and only used as a final process. There were no aggressive high speed grinders or even good sand paper then. Chiseling, hand scraping and filing were used to finish both cast iron and forged iron and steel.

Tool steels were greatly variable and there were no scientific standards of measurement of properties or published methods of heat treatment.

C-Clamps, Vise-Grips and Channel-locks were inventions of the distant future.

Charcoal was the preferred fuel in the U.S. while in England coal had replaced wood hundreds of years earlier, largely due to loss of forests.

So throw away your modern steel tools, your grinders and sandpaper. Work in the dark (no electricity and candles were expensive as well). Your helpers will be uneducated, missing eyes, fingers and toes from working in dangerous conditions. Treat files as treasured possessions and recycle them into scrapers, tool edges and faces or weld them into a larger lump for all steel punches and chisels.

Make all your fasteners as need be, including nuts, bolts, screws, nails, brads, staples.

And remember above all that even though you may have been taught heat treating skills it was all non-scientific, full of old-wives tales and made as much sense as witch craft. There was no science to it and it sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Failure of parts was due to "crystalization" in service (not due to poor heat treating resulting in large crystal growth).

When you try to reproduce historical methods, THINK about every tool you touch and the materials you use. It is not just the processes they used at the time, it is the environment and the times.
   - guru - Friday, 04/27/07 11:28:07 EDT

Speaking of Historical methods, I am currently taking a Civil War class and was wondering if there were any books or videos that you would recommend for a intermediate blacksmith who wanted to recreate some period pieces from the Civil War?
Thank you
John Scancella
   John Scancella - Friday, 04/27/07 14:45:02 EDT

John, the easiest thing to do would be to go to the civil war sutlers sites- such as Fall Creek sutlery, Blockade runners sutlery, or James Country Mercantile Sutlery, Old South Blacksmiths etc and see what they are selling- they have already done the research of the items such as cooking gear, heel plates, D -guard knives, tent stakes etc
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 04/27/07 15:28:28 EDT

How purist do you want to be? Metal tentstakes?....mild steel? etc.

Thomas still hoarding some 1828 steel for the "right" job...
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/27/07 16:41:39 EDT

Purist ways,
Does that mean you forsake tetanus shots? Do you forgo the antibiotics when you get a cut and since you are a purist you pretend to not know any better and leave it to fester and than make up some poltice to "Draw the infection?
Remember that these were the times when the average guy had several wives as they would fail to survive childbirth? When ear infections killed children?
My self, I love knowing how it was done, and if convient, to do it that way. I am also, much as the blacksmiths then, a techno-freak. I love to do things with both the old and new. And I take the tetanus shots :)
   ptree - Friday, 04/27/07 18:46:00 EDT

Ptree: can you examine an artifact and tell that the smith had no tetnus shot/antibiotics/etc? Can you examine an artifact and tell that it was made from wrought iron vs mild steel?

BTW Why would any civil war soldier pack metal tentstakes? I'd think he would throw them away first chance and just cut wooden ones as necessary. All the accounts I have read seem to indicate a number of "un-necessary" items were discarded as quickly as possible.

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/27/07 19:21:42 EDT

Nobody said the individual soldier packed metal stakes-In "Matthew Brady's illustrated history of the Civil war" there are pictures of headquarters tents with metal stakes- They after all had supply wagons- not everthing was hand carried. The Army of Northen Virginia' wagon train leaving Gettysburg Pa was over 17 mils long
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 04/27/07 19:39:18 EDT

Ken, Thanks for the lube, been to busy with orders to play around making what I want to make so I haven't used it yet. I'm gonna keep the pop bottle it came in and put it up on ebay in a few years, should be worth a small fortune cause it was the original packaging before you went to mass produced bottles ;-)!
Purist work? No such thing. The smithing art has been evolving since it's creation, so by definition, there is no purist form. However, if you want to work using only pre-electricity methods, I think that would be called the "self abuse" method.
   Thumper - Friday, 04/27/07 20:02:02 EDT

My Point about "old ways" is that those that often focus on certain sticking points completely overlook others. If you want to play around with historical methods then study them and figure out just how "pure" or to the exact period you want to be. However, the problem with trying to reenact historical technology is that even the knowledge of modern science can the performance.

In blacksmithing almost all methods are historical in one way or another depending on how far back you want to go and how "pure" you want to be. We have recently had some long posts on making anvils. The (recent) historical methods were to built up a large block from small pieces keeping the block hot largely by the addition of more white hot wrought pieces. . It was grueling hot dirty work that took a team of experienced smiths, numerous forges and trip hammers powered by water AND it is virtually impossible to reproduce those methods today. BUT, with access to modern supplies of relatively inexpensive heavy steel blocks and a few modern tools (gas ax and a buzz box) an individual can do the same job. These technologies are rapidly approaching 100 years old. . .

When Alex Bealer wrote that the one tool a blacksmith could not make for himself was his anvil he was talking about an individual in a small shop using 19th century tools. But even then it was POSSIBLE if that individual was someone like James Nasmyth or anyone with the finances to own industrial tools. It was more of an economic distinction, not technical, even in second half of the 19th century.

Traditional is a word that is tossed around a lot but it always begs the questions who, when and where? Pick a time in the last last four centuries and traditions somewhere in the world vary from relatively advanced industrial to the stone age. And there are still stone age cultures as well as peoples just a little more advanced in numerous parts of the world today.

When asked about traditional ironwork, Dean Curfman of Big BLU says. "We are creating today's traditional ironwork".

To any future, THESE ARE the "good old days of tradition".

It all depends on your point of view and knowledge of the history.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/28/07 00:48:13 EDT

ThomasP, I often can tell the difference between wrought and mild, from the weather appearance and welds, but not always. I go to the blacksmiths family grave yard to determine the other. I love old style work, tools etc. I simply would not have liked living in those times.

Soldiers who have o hump their stuff have atradition going back to prehistory of lightening the load. You may start out overloaded, but as the first few days go by, things that are not essential seem to disappear. Ask any grunt about his first trip to the "field" and see if he mis loaded, and learned.
And, ThomasP, ever tried to drive a green wood stake into hard packed and dry clay. You can barely drive a steel stake into my land in the summer.
   ptree - Saturday, 04/28/07 07:17:17 EDT

Thumper, sorry but I own the first bottle of punch lube from Ken. I got it at the CSI Hammer In and we put it in a 1 pint water bottle. Ptree made sure to peel off the water lable and re-mark it as punch lube. I will sell it to you right now for $20 plus S&H. :-)
   - Quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/28/07 07:45:40 EDT

On the road today. Going to my daughters baby shower. . . Yep, I will soon be a grandpa.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/28/07 08:02:13 EDT

Ptree; I will endevor to never encamp my army on your lands in the summer...I was thinking of more of the common grunt than the "gentlemen" in the high rent section.

If you are interested in the ACW there is a small museum at Fort Seldon NM where they have one of the original Sibly stoves and when I was there they were quite nice about me examining it in detail---I have a couple of sibleys surplused from the filming of The Blue and the Gray in AR...

   Thomas P - Saturday, 04/28/07 15:13:05 EDT

Congradulations Guru!

Hope everything goes well and that your daughter is already stockpiling sleep.
   Frostfly - Saturday, 04/28/07 16:44:13 EDT

ThomasP. The grunts seldom use tents. In my time in, we mostly used a poncho or several snapped together. and a little 550 cord. A poncho weighs maybe 1# and the d*** shelter halfs made from canvass weighed about 10# and 30# wet. When possible I selpt inside something like a APC, or the all time best a missle repair van when I was Ordance. (the missle vans had HEAT! and in Germany that was pretty sweet.
By the way, John Hunt Morgan was a relative, and i served in the KYARNG unit that is directly descended from his raiding unit. Interesteing story, ask me at Quad State.

Congrats Guru.
   ptree - Saturday, 04/28/07 20:28:41 EDT

Jock : congrats on the soon to be Grandpa status. Tec. note: Gas ax and electric welding with covered electrodes are both about 103 years old already. I don't know when the electric drillmotor was invented, but the 3/8" Thor drill from My Grandpop has a patent date of 1913. The industrial revolution had made some great strides by 100 years ago to be sure.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/28/07 22:26:24 EDT

When I worked at the valve shop, I found some really old test reports from the initial testing of electric welding on boilers. They spoke of the much improved welds from the newly arrived "clay" covered electrodes. Still not good enough for boilers but better. They had just put in the largest riviter in the world to push large seam rivets. 6 months after the riveter was up and running, they switched to arc welding! I think 30's from memory. I scrapped the riveter in the early 90's. The old man who owned the shop told me that when he had a hard decision he would go and sit by "His" riveter and think.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/29/07 08:14:55 EDT

Another anvil id request:

   - Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/29/07 09:30:06 EDT


Thanks much, very informative. Whats the difference between a hot and cold chisel ? I mean, I figure cold is for cold metal cutting/denting, and hot is for hot metal, wouldn't the same material be useful for both ? Or am I missing something?

   Bruno - Sunday, 04/29/07 15:10:30 EDT


Thomas P.: Smelting iron from ore ? now that is interesting. Would you be interested in sharing how you went about that? Purist ? I'm a big fan of strong metal, and stuff, maybe due to my fascination with hitting stuff, dunno. 1828 steel would be cool to play with, compare it to modern stuff.

Guru: Thank you, very informative. I see now I have to make a punching and drifting tool first, before my hammer, and decide on a good size/shape hole. will I need good steel comparable to the hammer face to make such tools ? Or can I get a away with something else? On your historical methods note, all quite understandable. Being able to make things such as screws, nuts and bolts, without modern equipment is fascinating. I myself, can't think of any easy way to make a screw, for example. It's the theory and techniques used with such primitive tools that really interest me. Never know when I'll need a screw just THAT size, power died, and not gas in the truck. Would be cool to be able to just make one. Them guys back then had to think about how to make things, with only the tools they had, whether it was the decision to make another tool for the job, or just a crazy technique that works. All cool stuff.

ptree: Thanks, that information would be much appreciated. I am located in the Ukraine right now. Cracking in the eye walls sounds like a bad thing. I'll attempt to be careful. I think we're of the same mind in reference to purist ways. And no, tetanus shots are expensive, not getting lockjaw has always been a good indication that I didn't need it anyway... Purism, doesn't mean I forsake all modern knowledge, but if putting aloe on my cut works fine, why bother with the antibiotics I pick up from the pharmacy. Or some other natural method. The Chinese been playing with herbs for how long now? If I need to make or do something, I try to imagine the easiest, best way to go about it. Maybe a modern method will be better, but if the same problem existed 100's of years ago, and they solved it, I believe understanding their process would make it easier to adapt to modern methods then going the other way. dunno, just a thought.

Thanks All,

   Bruno - Sunday, 04/29/07 15:37:48 EDT

The first electric-welded boiler drum was manufactured here in Chattanooga. It uese to be on display here until the demise of Combustion Engineering in the '90s
   - John Odom - Sunday, 04/29/07 16:03:42 EDT

HEy yall i got 2 questions today. anyone know a good fire clay mortar mix for my new masonry forge top...and i got some top and bottom swages (never had any before) that are half round mid-ball style but the balls are discs and barrels. there is a size 5/8 stamped on the side...how do i use them? do i upset a blob in the middle of a 5/8 bar and forge in between swages? my first attempt wasnt so hot. any tips besides get it hot and hit it fast and hard. thanks
   coolhand - Sunday, 04/29/07 18:03:32 EDT

never mind about fire clay mix i found it int the FAQS dudh.
   coolhand - Sunday, 04/29/07 18:20:14 EDT

Bruno, I will see what is listed as the Ukrainian, or perhaps Russian equiv to C1045.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/29/07 18:58:16 EDT

coolhand: I believe traditionally top and bottom swages were used for finishing tendons and such. The tendon would be forged out and then put between the swages for final shaping. I suspect this was striker work and you may not be able to apply any appreiable force using just a forging hammer.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 04/29/07 19:18:53 EDT

Ken these swages are more than just a half round shape in the middle of the half round there is a large disc imprint...if you go to blacksmith depot and look at mid-ball spring swages that is sorta what i got just not springed handled and hardied. i used a striker but it was his first time striking.
   coolhand - Sunday, 04/29/07 19:39:17 EDT


I think I undertand what type of tooling you're trying to use. The best way to achieve success with this sort of thing to have sufficient stock available in the area where you're going to need it, before you put it between the swages. So yes, you upset a bit in the middle, or you startwith large enough stock and draw out the ends away for the middle to get the "blob" in the middle effect. You want just a bit MORE stock there than you're going to need, but not much more.

The key thing is to isolate the metal you want to move or shape from the rest of the stock. For your situation, the blob in the middle will pretty much do it, I would think.

You have to keep in mind that you are dealing with "open" die forging, rather than closed die. That is, you're not forcing the hot metal into a mold, you're shaping it with a pair of tools. What this means on a shpe like yours, is that you have to put the metal between the top and bottom tools and hit the top tool, then rotate the stock 60 to 90 degrees and hit it again. Do this several times until you lose the heat.

Generally, tenon and ball swages and the like are pretty heavily relieved at the edges so as to prevent pinching off a "flash" between the faces. So, only about 20-25% of the die is actually the net shape you're trying to achieve. The rest of the shape can be thought of as a "funnel" to get the metal flowing into the right area.

I hope this helps to clear things up.
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/29/07 20:06:03 EDT

When drawing out and shaping the blade of a knife or letter opener, at what point should you decide to switch from hammering to grinding to complete the shape? I think I took to grinding too soon with my letter opener and left the blade too thick. Is this a silly question?
   Craig - Sunday, 04/29/07 21:38:57 EDT


With mucho practice, you can forge a blade down to where you have about 15% cold stock removal remaining. I saw the professional, Phil Baldwin, do this.


Tenons can be done with top and bottom spring swages under
the power hammer. Francis Whitaker always started the shoulder at the anvil with a "side set hardie", a thick tool dressed to about 75º. Then he would go directly to the big hammer with his swages.


I think your tool is shown being used in the British book, "Wrought Ironwork." For their work, they wrap a collar about the bar for the central ball, and it is forge welded between the swages. The swages have alignment pins, as I recall. They put a drop of oil in the swages, allowing for easy release.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/29/07 22:08:03 EDT

dose anyone know anything about antique portable forges? i've come across one with Challenge Mfd. Chicago Hights, IL
cast into to blower housing.
   jimbo - Sunday, 04/29/07 22:35:23 EDT

I had the Viking Age forge set up at the Longship Company reenactment camp during the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival on Saturday. It drew quite a crowd when we fired-up. Once again, I could point out the lack of efficiency and high manpower requirements (by modern standards) with twin bellows and charcoal fuel. When we were running our best, we had one person on the bellows, one feeding and tending the fire, and one working the metal. We even managed to have "too many irons in the fire" and burned some steel (which I happily showed off). I was able to pass around the limonite and some samples of wroght iron and modern mild steel, explaining the differences. (Thomas would be proud ;-)

Anyways, between the forge and the camp and the faering boat, we pulled the first place medal for best historic camp. :-) We may have even picked up a new enthusiast, who was willing to pump the bellows and shovel the charcoal before even asking to try the hammer. Always a good sign.

The running joke for the crowd- every time a bagpipe band would march down the street behind us, we'd shout: "Would you please be quiet, we're trying to blacksmith here!" I doubt if the pipers and drummers heard it, but the crowd loved it.

Guru: Congrats on the pending granchild. Now, just how soon can we get him or her paying into Social Security? ;-)

Warm and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 04/29/07 22:53:56 EDT

Don't know if anyones interested, but ebay item # 220106362313 is a nice old 139lb Mouse Hole anvil, over in 30, minutes.
   Thumper - Sunday, 04/29/07 23:12:22 EDT

Hi, I have an anvil (Wilkinson) with the plate broken off behind the hardy. I've asked previously and received good advice on repairing it, but decided to hold off until after I used it a little. That's done & now it's time to get a usable hardy! I already have the details for welding a on new plate section.
My question is now on preparing a surface for said plate. The wrought iron under the broken section is very uneven. Should I simply grind it flat & use a thicker plate? Or should I build it up and so use a thinner plate. My hesitation is that grinding will thin the solid material in the heel even further. Alternatively, I could heat the new top plate and mold it with a sledge. Obviously this would need a well supported heel to avoid it breaking off.
   andrew - Monday, 04/30/07 00:15:53 EDT

Lockjaw & aloe-- how to tell the aloe isn't working: when the spine involuntarily bends backward to the point where it snaps.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/30/07 00:22:59 EDT

jimbo: Most portable forges were originally rivet forges. At one time most metal construction was heavily dependent on rivets to join plates or beam together. Rivets would be heated in the forge, tossed to a catcher, then then put the rivet in the hole and backed it up while the head was formed on the other side. When used as blacksmithing forges most suffer from a shallow pan.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Monday, 04/30/07 02:01:22 EDT

Would a large, squat terracotta flower pot serve as a half decent firepot? Most of them already have a 1" hole in the bottom for the tuyere.
   Craig - Monday, 04/30/07 03:04:47 EDT

Hi. Recently I purchased a second hand anvil from a fellow in the knowledge that it was damaged on the hard face as many anvils are. I am guessing that the anvil is a cast steel item and want to repair the hardface to as high a level as possible. Could you recomend an electrode to do this. I probably will not use a hard facing electrode for this job as it could create a conflict as it were. any guidance would be much appreciated

   Eric Laird - Monday, 04/30/07 06:53:27 EDT

Terracotta For Forges: Generally this is not a high enough temperature refractory AND the shape is generally too deep. Most ceramic refractories melt and then foam at forge temperatures. However, they can be used to line pit forges because the ground it the heat sink. But eventually they will fail if the forge gets hot enough. In the case of a pit forge the clay even when cracked and burnt stays in place against the soil it is molded against. So the clay does not need to be a perfect refractrory for the purpose.

I suspect that if you use a terracotta pot for a forge it will just end up cracking and falling apart. But I have not tried it. Note that to prevent cracking of clay or delicate refractories you need to warm it slowly until all water is driven out then continue heating up to working temperature. While good refractories do not require slow heating every time they DO last longer if heated slowly after a long period of storage.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/07 07:50:39 EDT

Bruce, Congratulations on the first place. It pays to spend the big bucks!

Social Security: As is now the law in America my grandchild will be given a government ID number prior to leaving the hospital. Zeig Heil!

THIS despite the promises of congress that the SS number (note that it is the same acronym as the the WWII German secret police), would NOT become a government ID number and it IS despite the original law saying it could not be used for any other purpose than tracking Social Security.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/07 08:08:02 EDT

A pattern-welding question for every one. I read that stainless can not be forge welded to high carbon, is this true and if so why? It would seem that if you can forge weld nickel plate to steel then some thing as similer as stainless would not be an issue.
   Jed - Monday, 04/30/07 11:34:15 EDT

Guru---I remember when it stated on the SS card that it could *not* be used as an ID number and have annoyed many a business when I refuse to give it to them.

Terra Cotta: I once melted a flowerpot in my forge when I was trying to use it for an enamelling kiln---Theophilus mentions using a clay cover with hot charcoal for enamelling. Wrong shape for sure, the flow pot holders---wide and shallow would work better; but better still would be building an adobe forge in any convient steel container.

Hat's off to the Capt'n! and he didn't even have to use a red hot poker to adjust the scoring....sure is a lot more fun to forge that way when you do have the bellows/fire thralls.

Eric what gives you the idea that the anvil is cast steel? Most anvils are not...any ideas on make or history of it?

Tetnus: having read several accounts of people dying from tetnus I am *QUITE* *HAPPY* to get my shot and endure the discomfort. My Dr gives me the update shots every 5 years instead of every 10 because he knows I like to dig around rusty farm scrap piles.

Forging to shape: for items that decarburization is not a problem with (letter openers) forge down till all that is left to do is to clean the scale off and maybe polish the surface.

For items that decarb can be a problem with---it depends on your skill level: the old "neo-tribal" goal was less than 10% stock removal; but they were not so conserned about hammer marks or forge pitting left on the surface.

The old Sheffield saying was "If a good blade you would win; forge thick and grind thin"

Gas Forge enhancement: while out walking a found a 4" cube of industrial coke that I broke up and lined the walls of my pipe style gas forge. More rough area for IR emission and it acts as an O2 scavanger! My heat treat was nearly so scaless it was unbelievable. Quenched in warm vegetable oil I was able to wipe off most of the surface to gray steel with a rag.
   Thomas P - Monday, 04/30/07 11:53:22 EDT

ptree: Thanks much that would be very much appreciated. Russian would work just fine too.

Miles: that sounds painful. guess yoga would be a good precautionary measure too...

SSN: Just a secret number that everybody asks for, for any legitimate purpose, like work, credit, livelyhood. I wouldn't worry about simple Government ID numbers, its the implants that are troublesome. Nanotech, wireless, sputniks, and secret alien tech them canadans are calling for have come a long way in the past many years.

Off topic: Can any steel/metal be polished to super shiny, like mirror shiny (that shows an accurate reflection), or just certain materials. I imagine the grain size would matter. Is there something anyone can recommend, or is glass just the ultimate?

   Bruno - Monday, 04/30/07 11:57:06 EDT

Jed this is not true: However it is MUCH more difficult due to the oxides that make stainless stainless. To do so you need a more aggressive and toxic flux to clean the stainless. Addition of Flourspar in fairly small ammounts to the flux is often suggested *but* flourine is *NOT* good for your health so make sure you have proper ventilation indeed!

Also after welding steel usually moves a lot easier under the hammer than stainless steel so it's a lot easier to get weld shears when trying to work the billet down or to pattern it.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/30/07 11:58:50 EDT

Polishing: Bruno, Glass is merely a protectant for the mirror metal (sliver) to keep it from oxidizing. Early mirrors where flat silver plates, chrome due to its color makes a good metal mirror, stainless steel can be polished to a mirror surface and will maintain it but its color does not give as pleasant a reflection.

In the mid 1800's James Nasmyth (inventor of the steam hammer) built a reflecting telescope with a bronze mirror. He called the alloy "speculum metal" and the ingredients are in his autobiography (see our Story Page). The mirror was cast to shape then finished by hand. Using his large (for the day) telescope he made many early observations of the surface of the moon and the sun as well as studying sun spots.

In SOME cast alloys the grain size does make a difference. I have a lot of experience machining large stainless castings used in the nuclear industry. Our machines produced a very fine surface (16 RMS) which clearly showed the large crystal structure as well as many repairs to the castings.

Metals that are dark in color or oxidize rapidly make bad mirrors or reflective surfaces. Zinc is a wonderful white color and will take a brilliant polish but the brightness only lasts minutes. Steel is a blue grey and will polish beautifully (see any knife collection) but it will dull rapidly from oxidation if not cared for and the blue distorts what you see reflected.

One reason gold is so highly prized is that it does not oxidize under normal conditions. Polish a piece of gold and it stays brilliant just about forever. Even when the surface is worn it still looks bright due to lack of oxidation.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/07 12:20:14 EDT

Anvil Repair: I repeat my usual advice that is almost always right, DON'T DO IT! Welding on anvils is bad, machining on anvils is worse, light grinding and polishing is normal maintenance. Rounded corners are better and result in good technical forgings.

Often if an anvil is old enough to have excessive wear then it MAY be more valuable as an antique AS-IS.

That said, If you are going to make repairs you need to know what you are doing. This is NOT the place to learn to weld. The face is hardened tool steel (IF it was a good anvil). Making weld repairs that do not produce soft places around them is impossible and matching the hardness of the face is also nearly impossible.

Minor repairs are done with E7018 rod and peened. Major repairs are made with hardfacing fill rod or tool steel welding rod. Both should be done with the anvil preheated to about 300°F (149°C) or a little more. Careful mixing of the boundary of the weld reduces stress and obvious color differences.

Welding patches onto and anvil face will always show. The old crucible steel was nearly a pure carbon steel where todays steels have at a minimum a fair amount of manganese. This results in an obvious color difference (same with welding rods). Welding a plate without a 100% penetration (full face to face weld) will always result in a dead hollow sound or the buzzing of a bad face weld. The zone between the old face and new face will be an obvious color and hardness difference. As a significant repair to what COULD be considered a valuable antique in the near future you SHOULD stamp R or REPAIRED and the date on the anvil. Know these things before you start.

I would fit the two pieces together as best as possible. However even if you have two precision flat surfaces they will not be flat or in perfect contact after you weld the two pieces together. So flat is good but perfect is worthless. Wrought iron does NOT like to be arc welded. The non-iron component is considerable and melts out when welding and becomes part of the arc welding slag. So make your weld preps in the carbon steel piece not the wrought. The weld preps should be at least 3/4 of the materials thickness.

The weld procedure.

Clamp tightly.
Preheat to 300 - 350 °F
Run a single small pass at the root working from one side to the other.
Clean and peen. Test the preheat.
Weld stringer passes one layer deep all around.
Clean and peen.
Continue as above until flush. Use tool steel rod for last passes on face.
Clean and peen then grind flush. Clean out any weld pits and reweld then grind again.

Peen weld zones and surrounding area of face as anvil cools. Grind and dress as needed.

Personally IF my only anvil was one with a broken plate at the hardy (I have several) I would make a couple hardy tools that worked at the split and then forget it. These could have a spacere welded on one side and would work fine. For everything else I would use a hole in a swage block OR make a bolster plate to hold odd tools that are not used very often.

AND, Every corner repair I have seen on anvils in recent years was to create a sharp square COSMETIC corner in a place where grinding a radius would have resulted in a better anvil.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/07 13:05:24 EDT

Greetings all! My question is about Plistix 900 for forge lining, I'm using a home-built freon tank propane forge with a single "zoeller" burner. It's working great, but I want to protect the Kaowool lining. Here are my questions: 1. How thick should I apply the Plistix? 2. Should I apply thin coats or glob it on all at once? 3. I'm using a fire brick as a floor, should that be coated or removed and the lining underneath be coated? 4. Does the plistex air dry, or should I fire up the forge to cure it? Thanks in advance for your help. I've been following this site for some time and have learned tons about the blacksmithing craft, what to do, and, sometimes more importantly, what NOT to do.
   Mark C - Monday, 04/30/07 15:37:49 EDT

Mark, Follow the manufacturer's instructions. We sell a ITC products and I know nothing about what you are using. ITC has all kinds of information about using their products this way and we have experience with it adding more details. All of this is on-line HERE.
   - guru - Monday, 04/30/07 16:48:37 EDT

The C1045 equivelents according to the 3rd edition of the ASM manual of equivelents are;
Austria C45SW
Belgium C45-1
Bulgaria 45LI
Czechoslovakia 12050
Europe Euronorm 119/iV C45KD
Germany Din 1654 1.1192
Hungary MSZ 61 C45
Romania S TAS 10677 OLC45CS
Russia GOST KSt.6ps
Yugoslavia JUS 2.020 C.1501
I hope one of these gets you to the steel you desire.

OBTW, yoga is a poor treatment or preventive for a condition such as tetanus. Tetanus is a TERMINAL illness that results is muscle contractions so severe that bones snap and the jaw becomes so rigid it earned its nickname, "Lockjaw"
Myself, I am a firm believer in mordern vaccanations. My older brother had polio prior to the vacanations. I have seen the photos of variola, also called smallpox. I'll take the small risk of the shot etc.
   ptree - Monday, 04/30/07 17:59:44 EDT

The top plate has broken off the anvil across the entire width, from the hardy hole back. It looks like a hardy tool with a wedged shank put too much shear force on the weld. I don't want square corners or a flat face. I just want a level surface around the hardy hole so I can use hardy tools. I was also thinking of making a new top plate with a peice of angle that drops into the hardy hole and rod to drop into one of the pritchel holes to hold it in place. That could reduce the hardy size to 1" and not require any welding to the anvil.
   andrew - Monday, 04/30/07 19:36:43 EDT

ok i hate to ask it... but i was wondering how old my anvil was...im pretty sure its a peter wright marked 1 2 19 on one side and i think it is stamped P WRIGHT on the other side but its barely readable. its got two square tapered handling holes one on either side of the waist...is there some way to say when it was made?
   coolhand - Monday, 04/30/07 21:00:33 EDT

Bruno-- yoga as a tetanus preventive-palliative? Surely you are joshing, right? Pulling the old leg? Trolling? Hmmmmmm? If not, then hark! Ptree is once again correct. Anyone working with steel, and as many of us are, working with it in a rural, agricultural environment, around animals, jaggedy sharps, barbed wire, etc. who does not keep her tetanus shots up to date is runnng a dreadful, foolish risk.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 04/30/07 21:11:17 EDT

Bruno: In the quest for an "acurate reflection" the surface must be perfectly flat. This is another obstacle if You want to use the shiney surface for a mirror.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/30/07 21:29:36 EDT

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