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 April 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Has any one run across any books with detailed drawings of catapult and ballista hardware? I can't seem to find any that are detailed enough to scale down for copies. I was hoping to avoid trying to design one from scratch since it would consume loads of time. Thanks.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 03/31/08 22:41:19 EST

Scientific American Magazine has run detailed drawings of the fixings for trebuchets, etc. Unknow issue dates, but if Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature still exists, it'll be in there. Somewhere.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/31/08 23:34:07 EST

Robert Cutting,
When I was in Scotland, we ran across a supposed replica of a trebuchet at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. I googled and came up with www.shubs.net/Scotland/UrquhartCastle.html. I don't think it is more than 20 years old. There is a photo, and this may give you a start in your search.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/01/08 09:20:44 EST

Josh; WV and NM are both on the bottom of the list for open water area in the states; but NM has around 121K sq miles of land to put it into and WV about 24K sq miles. It really astounds our european colleagues that we might travel 60 miles (one way)just to see a movie... Next county over has just about the same population as my town does, we're the largest town in our county---county seat with a university here (specializes in explosives research!) and we are still below 10,000 people. Check out NM Tech if you are thinking about colleges.


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/01/08 09:56:13 EST


Depending on the level of detail you're looking for, yes. I pored over such a book for many hours as a kid. Unfortunately it was in my dad's collection, and I have forgotten the title. A few minutes of Googling has not turned it up, but I'll keep looking.

An Amazon search also reveals lots of promising looking titles, but I'm not personally familiar with any of them.
   Matt B - Tuesday, 04/01/08 10:05:40 EST

Louis: It is also 'smith' not 'smithy'. "Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stood. The smith, a mighty man was he,..." The smithy is the shop so your being one in the Middle Ages would be quite a trick in reincarination.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/01/08 12:55:40 EST

...and all this time I thought the blacksmith was standing under a tree practicing avoidance behavior, so that he didn't have to go in the shop.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/01/08 14:10:50 EST

   josh - Tuesday, 04/01/08 14:44:15 EST

Frank; he was probably just doing Yoga to loosen up before smithing.

Louis must have been very bad indeed in a previous life to come back as an inanimate object....

Jock; there has been some mention on another site of possibly radioactive anvils from use in a industrial set-up where they might not been too careful with radioactive materials. Do you have any idea of how bad such things might be and how long they may have to sit to clean up?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/01/08 14:50:54 EST

Do most all welders just plug into the household outlet or do they need somthing speacial. I am thinking of buying a used welder, but am worried if it will run on the electricity in my house.
   - Troy - Tuesday, 04/01/08 17:08:10 EST


I have a Lincoln MIG that plugs into house current that I purchased esecially for indoor installations. My Linclon stick welder is 220.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 04/01/08 17:40:24 EST


Every house out there has 220 volt service (at least I've never heard of one that didn't). But few if any have the right kind of outlet to plug a 220v welder into, so you'd have to have one installed.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 04/01/08 17:49:12 EST

Thomas: I think that if one of your anvils is radioactive that its high time to trade it in for a new one because it's been used waaaaay to many times.
   josh - Tuesday, 04/01/08 17:56:04 EST

*ALL* of my anvils are radioactive, just like me, the dirt, sky, etc---what they call background radiation...

Troy; most welders use more current than a standard household circuit is set up for and so must have a dedicated circuit for them. It may be 110 or 220 depending on the welder. (as Frank has noted there are some welders rated to use regular houshold service; however they are generally designed for light duty and not heavy long welding).

In my houses I have used an adaptor/extension cord for my 220VAC welder and plugged it into the dryer outlet or the electric stove outlet.

Now if you are in Europe you should have 220 outlets but they may still not be rated for the current draw of the welder---though the small welders are probably a lot more powerful than the ones around here.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/01/08 18:09:18 EST

Troy, when buying a welder, there are several things to look at to decide if your household circuits can power it.
Look at the nameplate on any used welder. It will tell what voltages and amperages the machine can run on. Often the industrial machines can run on several different voltages, but some must be re-wired at the connection to the machine. Some are automatic in that they sense the voltage and adapt, but these are the newer machines.
Also, many of the older industrial machines are 3 phase. It is almost certain that you do NOT have three phase in your house.
Many of the 110 volt machines are made to run on a 20 amp circuit. Most receptables in a house are 15 amp. the shape of the slots are a clue. Most 20 amp are not just two parrall slots. One has a cross shape.
My stick welder runs on a single phase, 60 amp circuit. I have this in my shop, and had the luxury of haveing the electrical panel that had the capacity, and just ran the circuit.
Look at those nameplates. If a voltage of 220V, 440V or 460V or 480V is listed look for a space on the nameplate to list phases. It will be marked 1 or 3, or single or sometimes a zero with a diagonal forward slash thru the zero and a numer 1 or three.
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/01/08 18:24:05 EST

On the subject of remote locations, I'd say Alaska is one of the worst, it's the largest state, with one of the smallest populations; most places don't even qualify as a city or town, they're villages with year round populations of a few hundred. Most of the state is also not connected by any road system. (Some of 'em don't even have roads or vehicles bigger than 4-wheelers, just wooden boardwalks!) You get used to flying REAL quick. This also makes it very cost prohibitive when it comes to obtaining building materials, or even groceries for that matter. It's for this reason that I worry about trying to start any kind of smithing venture there, as my hometown is an hour's flight from Anchorage (200 miles or so, one way). Speaking of, I don't suppose any of you knows of succesful smiths up in that neck of the woods, do you? I suppose nothing is out of reach if you want it badly enough though...
   MacFly - Tuesday, 04/01/08 19:42:54 EST

Macfly-- Blade Magazine May issue has a good story about a couple knifemakers who journey to Juneau and there meet one David Mirabile. The three go to Treadwell Gold Mine, pick up some wrought iron and drill rod, go back to Mirabile's shop and-- using the 750-pound anvil he dug out of the mine debris-- whomp out some staggering pattern-welded blades.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 04/01/08 20:22:24 EST

MacFly, I *knew* there had to be a reason they paid you to live there (grin). Actually, I always thought that was neat. Do residents still get a subsidy from the state?
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 04/01/08 20:51:10 EST

Thanks for the help on Treduchets and catapults. I have several newer bnooks on them and a couple from the early 70's and eighties but they simply skip over the metal working part of the machines and concentrate on the wood structure and torsion inducing elements. Useful but not all encompassing like I'm looking for. I think I might need to dig a little deeper into history than what is available on this side of the ocean. Might just be a project for later.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 04/01/08 21:00:15 EST

Troy: The 110 volt welders are quite limited in what they will do as others have mentioned. If You are looking at 110 volt stick welders the newer inverter types perform much better than transformer types due to the greater efficiency making better use of the rather limited power available. With regard to the 110 volt wire feed welders, the 140 size ones work a bit better than the smaller ones in My rather limeted experience with them. I strongly suggest that You get a 175 to 250 amp machine of either type if at all possible. These need 230 volts, but work much better.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/01/08 21:33:29 EST

Speaking of pattern welding--how come all of a sudden you can't find thin strips of nickel to use in pattern welding? Does anyone know of a current source?
   - tbird - Tuesday, 04/01/08 21:49:59 EST

Thanks For all the replys!!
   - Troy - Tuesday, 04/01/08 22:35:33 EST

i've tried forge welding quite a few times i use all natural charcoal that i make my self ... i watched the videos on youtube that you told me about an i read up on it some but still no luck any suggestions? thanks !
   Denny - Tuesday, 04/01/08 22:55:44 EST

Texian foundry & old tyme anvils-- long time back I happened upon a small foundry in Valley Mills, not far from Waco. Could this outfit have been the one cast the Williamsburg anvil? Jymm Hoffman, who posteth across the street, makes a scrumptious replica of a colonial-era anvil. Pricy little devil it is, too. Lotta hassle involved in getting a steel anvil cast.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 04/01/08 22:59:51 EST

Radioactive Anvils: Sounds like a crock to me. . .

For an anvil to become radioactive it would have to be in close proximity of a nuclear chain reaction where neutrons are being produced. In other words tired to the side of the pressure vessel of a nuclear reactor OR inside it. All kinds of metals become radioactive isotopes in this situation.

Now. . anything and everything can become contaminated with radioactive material of any type. Virtually all tools used in a reactor containment become contaminated. Many are cleaned to "street clean" using solvents or soap and water. Others that are released are sand blasted to remove all paint and contaminated surface. In general if any contamination can be detected it is not released. However, there are VERY VERY low levels of "fixed" contamination on items that are allowed to be released. This is generally at levels that are hard to detect because natural background radiation is greater.

I've had equipment (including personal tools) cleaned and inspected for contamination and released. In every case if ANY contamination could be detected in a very sensitive shielded device then the tool had to be cleaned again, and again. I know, because I was doing the cleaning.

The rules for the release of any contaminated items are very strict. If something cannot meet the stringent criteria then it either must stay under a controlled situation OR it is treated as nuclear waste.

I would suspect that to release an anvil that was used to work radioactive materials OR contaminated parts it would have to be sandblasted all over.

The fact is that there are many radioactive materials in the natural environment including uranium (ore and rock). Along the East Coast there is an ore bed that stretches from Georgia to Maryland. . . You know all that red clay Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia is famous for? The ore beds pretty much follow the same area and are also where radon gas buildup can be bad in basements. In Amherst county VA there are granite beds that emit higher levels of radiation than are allowed in most nuclear work places. . .

Now. . . that is not to say that something cannot get into the scrap and end up in an anvil. . but that is a whole different issue.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/01/08 23:08:24 EST

Forge Welding: I don't think I sent anyone to see forge welding on YouTube. There is some good stuff there but also a lot that is a crock. . .

Most forge welding problems come from being in too big a hurry. If you have a shallow fire and push it too hard you get an oxidizing fire that burns the steel and produces a surface heat rather than a penetrating one. When the environment in the fire is RIGHT you can touch two pieces together and they will stick, and if you pull them from the fire they will stay stuck.

While you do need to move quickly this often translates to getting in a hurry and hitting the metal too hard. This can "blow out" the weld or cool the joint too quickly for it to stick. Welding starts with gentle blows not forging force blows.

Relax, pay attention to your fire, practice simple joints.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/01/08 23:18:31 EST

I have a small ironworker that has a shearing blade whose edge has gotten dented at the sweet spot where I do the most work with it. I would like to fix it. Can I use hard sufacing rod to build it up and then grind it back to level with the rest of the blade? Or suggestions? Thanks.
   brian kennedy - Wednesday, 04/02/08 00:02:30 EST

Haha, yeah, it takes a different breed to live in AK, that's for sure; but even after traveling to some pretty far off places, I don't see myself settling down anywhere else. All Alaskan residents get the Permanent Fund Dividend every year; the actual amount fluctuates according to crude prices. I think of it as a kind of bonus from all the oil they pipe across the state. If I ever manage to get over to Juneau, I'll be sure to look that fellow up. My base of operations, however, is at the base of the OTHER peninsula, a little town called King Salmon(like the fish). Do welders/weldors play a major role in the mining operations of today? I can only imagine how difficult it would have been way back when without a Blacksmith in the general vicinity to do repairs. If they ever open the Pebble gold mine near Illiamna, I might go looking for a job...
   MacFly - Wednesday, 04/02/08 00:52:56 EST

And before I forget, thanks for all the information; I never fail to learn something new every time I'm here!
   MacFly - Wednesday, 04/02/08 01:12:53 EST

Robert Cutting:

Contact Lindy Hirst as http://www.hirststudio.com/ Lindy built a trebuchet a few years ago and researched it meticulously.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 04/02/08 01:47:50 EST

Troy: As noted the plug for an electric dryer or kitchen range provides the same type of current needed to a 220 volt arc welder. Plug is just different. You could change out the plug on the welder or make up an adapter from it to the power source. However, do check out the load amperage capability of the power source.

tbird: Someone noted above bandsaw blades can be high in nickel. Check out local machine shops. They may be willing to give you a dull or broken one you can cut up into segments. Such blade segments are also available on eBay.

According to a 1957 issue on Fisher & Norris, until Colonial Williamsburg had those anvils cast, they were using Fishers.

MacFly: It has been noted on the forum in the past typically you have to go where the demand is, not wait until demand somehow finds it way to you. Demand for say, ornamental, ironwork is probably in the few big cities. Likely the demand would be for a growing motiff now called something like Pacific Northwest Ironwork, which incorporates a lot of animal and marine elements. Likely today someplace like a mine would have a mini-machine shop, not a blacksmithing shop.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/02/08 02:20:12 EST

I'll second what Dave Boyer said about welders. One of our guild members brought in a guillotine he'd made. I was amazed when he said he'd welded it with a Millermatic 135 (new ones are 140). (Of course, I'm amazed at a lot of the stuff he makes, but I don't think even he could have made those welds with my 100A Lincoln.)

The other thing about the inverter-based stick welders is that many can run either on 220V or on 110V (at reduced output). That could be real nice if you sometimes need to weld away from your 220V outlet (or haven't installed one yet). They're not cheap, though, and may be hard to find used.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 04/02/08 06:40:09 EST

Shear Blade Repair: Brian, Normally these blades are very hard, very tough steel and welding is not recommended. Usually the machine has blade adjustments or the blade can be shimmed after regrinding straight. If there is not enough blade left to sharpen then its time for a new blade.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/02/08 08:07:56 EST

220/240 vs. 110/120: Old houses in North America generally had 220 circuits but only two, one of the stove and one for an electric hot water heater, both small 40A circuits. The old panels did not have places for anything else. Everything else was 110/120. However, I HAVE seen very old homes with only 110/120 V.

Modern homes (anyplace with circuit breakers) always have 240 but may not have extra circuits. But most have room to add circuits. It is not hard to do but most places require a licensed electrician to do such work.

Today circuits are rated at full voltage (240/120). The old 110 ratings were based on long power lines and few transformers resulting in significant line loses. 120 is the norm today and you often get 125 volts (which is devastating on light bulbs). Over the years as power distribution has improved we had a long period where 230/115 was considered the norm.

Most out buildings were wired for lighting only and this is where backyard garage shops get into trouble. They have no 240. This makes it difficult to operate a welder or anything else very heavy. Even modest sized air compressors need to run on 240.

While the plug on a welder is rated at 50A the circuit may be rated much higher. My old Miller 225 Thunderbolt and AirCo Dipstick 130 said use a 90A breaker! However, I have always managed to run the Miller it on 60A without tripping the breaker. These ARE NOT heavy welders. They are just adequate for work heavier than sheet metal.

We recently added 240V circuits to Paw-Paw's shop building. While he had put in a heavy circuit for his air compressor there were no other 240V circuits for welders or machines with large motors. Adding nearly a dozen 240 outlets probably cost more than all the rest of the wiring due to the heavy wire. I spent over $1500 in just materials. However, its done and it will not be a struggle every time a new machine needs power. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/02/08 08:33:25 EST

Unofficial motto of the National Park Service's Alaska Regional Office:

"Alaska is different; send money!"


I don't think we have any smithing sites up there, but I'll check with some of our folks when I get the chance.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 04/02/08 08:39:07 EST

Hi, I need a good book or video on traditional and modern metal finishing techniques. Any suggestions?
   Dan - Wednesday, 04/02/08 09:24:36 EST


There are one or two AK blacksmiths active on the ABANA listserve. One I know is in Meadow Lakes. You can hook up by subscribing at

   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 04/02/08 09:43:04 EST

Thanks; I figured it must be a surface contamination issue wrt the "hot" anvils; but I figured you would know the *real* info on this sort of thing.

The fellow said the site was a superfund site and all the stuff got bulldozed under a cap except for an anvil or two that walked---which I am willing to believe as well after having worked on oilrigs...

My Economic Geology Prof once showed us a picture of a very rich orebed in Canada that was actually warm to the touch! It would be hard to mine something so rich that you had to take precautions with the raw ore.

I live close to a mile high, in an area rich in volcanics with radioactive materials in our water supply---radiation doesn't scare me as much as the local drivers do! I can look at the statistics and see where the relative dangers lie. The local cooking will kill me first!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/02/08 10:13:04 EST

Hot anvils: If an item "walked" out of a nuclear dump in the US then it was not very hot otherwise the monitors at the gate would have caught it. Many items are just labeled "Possible Contamination" and just scraped rather than testing and cleaning. EVERYTHING in a nuclear facility is suspected of being contaminated unless proven otherwise. Even item in shirt sleeve environments.

One thing nice about radioactive contamination is that unlike other types of chemical contamination it can be detected easily with a simple meter at a distance. Chemical and biological toxins must be put through elaborate tests to determine what they are or IF they exist.

With much contamination all it takes is a single microscopic spec to make an item "hot". Do to smearing of the metal some ground surfaces will capture and hold dirty particles. Flushing with solvent is the best way to get these out. However, on an anvil surface the pounding may have trapped particles permanently. That is why they sandblast items (at great expense) for free release.

Real Cases: Back in the 80's there was the famous case of the radioactive restaurant furniture from Mexico. The truck passed some 40 miles away from Rocky Flats (I think) and set off all their radiation alarms! The Mexican government who has no nuclear facilities immediately blamed the US for dumping radioactive waste in Mexico. However, it turned out that a thief had stolen a donated radiation treatment machine with its cobalt 60 source from a hospital loading dock for scrap. The scrap was melted and turned into chair frames. . .

Sadly this story was repeated in Brazil. However, this time the scrapper took the shiny cobalt cylinder home in his truck. It broke open and the local children played in the truck and the dust. I don't know the rest of the details but I heard there were deaths and the entire village had to be buried. Sometimes modern technology and third world economies do not mix well.

Like you I worry more about what goes in my food than what MIGHT be in my environment.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/02/08 10:55:52 EST

On radiation detection, read recently the Sec. of Homeland Security was visiting somewhere out West (Oregon perhaps). As he was speaking a car going by at an estimated 60-miles per hour set off radiation monitors. Car was pulled over and it was found a cat within it was receiving radiation treatments. If true, man that is one sensitive monitor.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/02/08 11:24:52 EST

Trebuchet Triggers - Robert Cutting, below is a link to The Grey Company's page on that subject. The Company is a group of reenactors in Perth, Western Australia.


   Don - Wednesday, 04/02/08 11:35:23 EST

Brian Kennedy: What kind of ironworker do you have? I have a sweet little Wysong. Might be fifty years old, dunno'. My shear blades were chipped, but I found on inspection that they were symetrical and could be turned or rotated so that they actually had FOUR cutting edges. I turned them over and now I can go another fifty years.
   - grant - Wednesday, 04/02/08 14:10:51 EST


Where are you located? I'm in the Mat Valley, Meadow Lakes just outside Wasilla.

The next meeting of the Association of Alaskan Blacksmiths is 04/05 in Talkeetna.

   Frosty - Wednesday, 04/02/08 14:47:46 EST

My late father-in-law for years directed the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos nucular weapons lab, working on such WMDs as the A-bomb and then the H-bomb, making the latter ever smaller, cheaper, and, yes, more devastating. He and his colleagues had a devilish sense of humor. One of the ways they diminished tension during the height of WWII, for example, was devising and circulating an alphabetical list of the numerals 1-to-100. Another was walking around Washington,D.C. with a Geiger counter, measuring the radiation extant in all those marvelous granite and marble edifices and monuments. I have the paper he wrote about this here somewhere. Much of the public's fear of things nuclear, such as garden variety ambient radiation, radon, etc., is based on superstition and hogwash. The essence of popular thought, the late Walter Lippmann wrote, is paradox. My own fave is, "them cone-headed scientists, what do they know?"
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/02/08 15:05:54 EST

The alphabetical list was, of course, stamped TOP SECRET.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/02/08 17:24:23 EST

Radon is superstition? O.o
   Nabiul Haque - Wednesday, 04/02/08 18:51:36 EST

Radon is not superstition. It exists, and in large doses does indeed over time cause harm. The question is what is a large dose.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/02/08 19:10:05 EST

The problem is straining at gnats while swallowing camels: examples: probably more people died in car accidents on the way to protesting Alar than would have been harmed by Alar.

Removal of asbestos is one of the best ways to spread fibers throughout an area---I had asbestos tape on some of our old house's ductwork---this freaked one friend who stopped visiting up. Another friend *worked* in abestos abatement and told me to just paint it and forget about it.

Driving is so much more dangerous an activity that I generally don't worry about dangers orders of magnititude below it---and I *ALWAYS* wear my seat belt! Even coming back from shoulder surgery!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/02/08 19:37:15 EST

Thanks again. Great stuff for trebuchets and catapults.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 04/02/08 19:53:34 EST

do you know of anywhere to find plans to make a medium sized set of double acting bellows will be piped to a buffalo shop forge
   - T.J. - Wednesday, 04/02/08 21:22:47 EST

Driving. . . definite health hazard. Yesterday while driving the old F600 that I had spent a small fortune on various repairs including brakes. . . the brakes failed. The master cylinder suddenly failed. Luckily it was at the top of a hill and turning off the engine while in gear stopped the truck. I was one block from a Ford dealer so I hobbled in using first gear (top speed less than a walk).

If I had waited a block in the unfamiliar town there was a long down hill with an intersection and stop lights at the bottom. . . Could have been VERY VERY ugly.

Today on the way to pick up the truck we witnessed a typical back road accident. One car stopped in a weird place and another going too fast can't stop in time. . . Similar to my New Years accident but I was going much slower and was ALMOST stopped when contact occurred. . . The one we witnessed today COULD have pushed the car it hit into our path. . .

I used to commute daily. I came to the conclusion that it could greatly shorten your life. Listen to ANY major city morning or afternoon traffic report and EVERY DAY there are major accidents. . . I make a lot less working from home but I KNOW I will live longer, statistically. If the traffic doesn't kill you directly the pressure may.

Asbestos abatement is an area that has probably killed more people than it has saved. The full cover anti-contamination suits and full face respirators they wear are the exact same outfits worn in nuclear power plants. I've been trained in their use AND worked in them. The problem with these suits is that they are VERY hot. The respirators put a great deal of stress on the heart and lungs. SO you have heat and stress. . . on top of the work. People die from the combination. But it is not chalked up to "asbestos", its listed as natural causes (bad heart, bad respiratory system). However, the direct cause IS asbestos abatement.

I won't work in anti-contamination clothing again either. . but that is a different matter.

Life is a risk. We all have to balance risks and benefits. Those risks leading to early death do not have enough benefits. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/02/08 21:30:36 EST

Brian - shear blade: There are welding rods suitable for this type of repair, commonly called a tool & die repair rod. Some are roughly equal to hardened H13 others are about like hardened H21. This is not a simple repair. If You are going to attempt it, preheat to 400f, keep the part at 400f while welding and post heat treat at 400f for an hour afterward. It is really hard to build up a surface and not have any undercut at the ends of the weld. It is easier with TIG than stick, but still not easy. There is a great chance for distortion, the more You weld, the greater the chance and magnatude of the distortion. Grinding the welded surface flush with the rest if the part is a surface grinder job, and if the part is warped much You might not be able to salvage it. If You are extremely carefull You might be able to do an acceptable job by hand. If You try to bend it back to streight, do it at 400f. Pening the hollow side with a rounded end punch sometimes works.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/02/08 21:55:16 EST

On the guide called Anvil Making: "general notes on design and methods" I found this really cool hornless anvil that had this wicked,sinister lookin face on the side. I would love to find everything out about this anvil and if I could special order an anvil like it from some place.
   josh - Wednesday, 04/02/08 22:01:50 EST

By the way what are turning cams used for?
   josh - Wednesday, 04/02/08 22:12:55 EST

The two projections off the side or heel of the anvil allow the horseshoer to catch the shoe in between them thereby trapping it. He or she can then "kick in a heel" where it projects. The quarters can also be shaped that way. This is done when cold shoeing and the forge is not going.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/02/08 22:59:20 EST

Guru and Dave, Thanks for the input about the shear blade. It is a small blade on a 20 ton or so machine from Mineral Springs Texas, so the warping challenge is hopefully manageable. I'd just like to help it cut a little smoother than it does right now.
   brian kennedy - Wednesday, 04/02/08 23:19:42 EST

I did not say radon is a superstition. Read what I said.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/02/08 23:20:29 EST

Flame alert!!-- Here we go!! But before we don our haz mat suits and fire up for another lulu, may I suggest that Ptree has the right handle on this. It's the dose that matters. How much bounce to the ounce. That's what counts. But a lot of voodoo artists have made a lot of bucks peddling fear of the dread radiation, hawking radon monitors, etc., just as they have de-asbestosing old buildings, preying on superstition.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/02/08 23:26:37 EST

T.J.: There are plans for a double bellows in Aldren A. Watson's book: The Blacksmith, Ironworker and Farrier. Was originally titled The Village Blacksmith. Still in print, but your local library may be able to obtain a loaner copy through inter-library loan. You can copy that chapter. Very interesting book about rural blacksmithing in the early 1800s.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/03/08 03:33:04 EST

Miles: "hawking radon monitors". You're not confusing this with Hawking Radiation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawking_radiation) are you?
   Tim - Thursday, 04/03/08 03:33:06 EST

I have a friend whose wife made him install a device to air strip the radon from his well water (even thought the water was within safe limits to begin with). I kept teasing him about his new air filtration device -- the fancy hardware stores were selling an air filter/humidifier that worked exactly the same way, only you kept the air, not the water.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 04/03/08 06:27:03 EST

On horseshoe production I suspect in an area with a number of farriers within a reasonable distance of each other it probably didn't take long for one to realize they could make a profit churning out shoes in standard sizes and types for sale to the other farriers. Those farriers would realize buying shoes they only had to modify, rather than make, allowed them to do more business (eliminating much of the 'grunt' labor involved).
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/03/08 06:55:37 EST


Who is "they"? I suggest that "they" were large manufacturing concerns, selling nationwide, and they had a profit motive. When I started in the early 60's, Phoenix and Diamond were big sellers, and Multi-Product (Japanese made) had just started up. Heller Brothers, Champion, and Buffalo were still marketing farriers' tools.

There may have been a few regional attempts to form shoe blanks and sell them. Years back, I had a shoe making device with a lever handle. You still had to heat the shoe stock and insert it. By pulling a lever, two rollers pulled the branches around a central die. I sold it to a museum in Patagonia, Arizona.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/03/08 07:33:24 EST

Thanks Frank, but I really would like to know if any places would special make me one of those anvils that I was talking about earlier.I think I have an obsession about it.
   josh - Thursday, 04/03/08 07:54:04 EST

Tim-- I am confused about much of life these days. You name it, I am likely confused about it. But many moons ago, one could acquire a thingie one hung in the shower to alert one to how many roentgens of voodoo one was exposing one's bod to and infusing into the bathroom atmosphere by pulling all that hot (haha, that's a pun,son) water up from the bowels of the earth and... ewwww!... bathing in it. The purveyor (as hucksters prefer to call themselves in the knife mags these days) called it a radon detector. Woo woo!
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/03/08 08:42:34 EST

Custom Anvils: Josh, a one off will run you about $100 US per pound or more. The anvil you reference is a museum piece known as the Nuremberg anvil. There HAVE been cast reproductions made of it over the years but I do not believe there are any being made now. Nuremberg Germany was once the center of the finest and most elaborate ironwork in the world with specialists in armour and locksmithing who are held to have been the best ever. The original anvil was probably forged and hand carved. There are still artists today that do his kind of work such as Ward Grossman. It is also the kind of work that can be done using an arc welded and build up methods.

For more metalwork from Nuremberg see Armada Chest on Old Locks . com

   - guru - Thursday, 04/03/08 09:06:00 EST

Im going to school for welding and I have a fab class that we have to come up with ideas for projects to make.
I've always been interested in bladesmithing and have done it on and off for a couple of years. I've finally got a shop where I can comfortable fit everything I need. I was wanting to make a power hammer. Specifically the south african mechanical hammer. That one to me looks quite simple to build and also doesnt take up a lot of room. The designer gives some detail drawings but their are still questions on how everything goes togeather. I was hoping you could send me something to help me out. Or at least send me in the right direction. I'd really appreciate your help. Thank you for your time! Eric
   Eric - Thursday, 04/03/08 09:45:50 EST

Shoemaking Industry: The development of the anvil horn coincides with production of shoes as a specialty as early as the 1600's and shown in various anvils illustrated by Diderot. This development in Europe was the result of specialty smiths that did nothing but make shoes for others in the same shop that shod horses and oxen, then later shops that made the shoes for other shops.

In the early 1800's machinery was developed for shoe making and there have been advances ever since. Today many are made on specialty machinery and others from bent blanks under large drop hammers. If you look at photos of blacksmith and farrier shops from the 1800's you will almost always see hundreds of factory made shoes hanging on nails from every beam in the shop.

Factory made shoes were shipped from English then US manufacturers all over the world. Today, much of this manufacturing is in places like Pakistan and India. Whether mass produced by hand or machine the factory shoe has been the most economical way to shoe an animal for some 200 years.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/03/08 09:46:51 EST


I think that the John Woodman Higgins Armory in Worchester, MA, has at least one such anvil, quite old. A few early leg vises also had grotesques carved and chased.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/03/08 09:47:28 EST

Hi, I'm new to the blacksmithing scene and I'm curious about quenching. I know water is used often, but I've also heard of oil being used. I know that swords are cleaned using mineral oil, and being thinner then regular oil, but still having properties of thicker oil. Would mineral oil be a plausible quenching fluid? If I'm not mistaken it'd still transfer over the needed carbon to strengthen the metal, am I correct in thinking this? Please help, I'm really interested in bladesmithing as an art form, and I'd like to get started soon, but I don't want to do anything wrong to ruin a blade.

Thanks for all the help in advance,
Oryan Baker
   Oryan Baker - Thursday, 04/03/08 10:30:55 EST

Oryan-- you need to get and read a copy of the text book Metallurgy, by Johnson & Weeks. The various quenching media afford varying cooling speeds is all.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/03/08 10:56:49 EST

So Josh, find an old sawyer's anvil and cast the grotesque in something easy like Al and affix it to the side.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/03/08 11:04:04 EST

Thanks Miles, I'll do that asap. I really appreciate it.
   Oryan Baker - Thursday, 04/03/08 11:05:15 EST

I have seen ads for 'no key' chucks for 1/2" drill presses. Has anyone tried one?
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/03/08 11:52:36 EST

Oryan, Also look at our FAQ on heat treating.

There is a huge difference between cleaning and quenching. When cleaning or oiling to prevent rust mineral oil is used because it it clear and oderless (unless perfumed like baby oil). Motor oil has a stink due to various additives and is not clear.

When quenching you are going from a red heat where the surface may be blackened or scaled. Mineral oil CAN be used. However, it is cleaned and the blade ground and polished after the quench which hardens and the temper which toughens. So use of mineral oil has nothing to do with later cleaning.

The quenchant has nothing to do with the carbon in the steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/03/08 12:29:34 EST

Keyless Chucks: Ken, there are old fashioned keyless chucks which were simply a standard chuck like a Jacobs. These had a fine locking thread and relied on your hand strength to grip the drill. I've never had much use for these but I may have had cheap ones. . . The new keyless chucks have some sort of cam action in the mechanism and I have been surprised at how well they work.

That said, I have 1/4" hand drills with 1/2" Jacobs chucks that apply a LOT of torque. I do not know how heavy duty your '1/2" drill' is. There are two types of keyless chucks listed in the McMaster-Carr catalog. The expensive ones are for machine tools and the cheap ones for portable (hand) drills.

I personally prefer standard Jacobs key type chucks and their ball bearing type (which grip much tighter with less effort). I also rebuild old ones when the jaws get worn. . .

Note that many small drill presses that came with Jacobs chucks had their "Home-craft" line which are not very good. THEN there are the real cheapos that come on many imports which are less than useless.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/03/08 12:47:46 EST

SA-JYH Eric, Those simple drawings and the photos are it. As shown the springs are too light but close to the right shape. The Costa Rica hammer is a similar design that needs the springs re-arced and the toggle links shortened.

The SA-JYH uses a belt clutch which is a very good design. The CR-JYH uses a spare tire clutch which works very well and uses less parts than the belt clutch. However, it results in a slightly taller hammer.

We are currently building a similar type hammer using a new simplified more compact spring arrangement of my design. When complete and tested we will offer detailed plans with engineering drawings for every part. The debut' will be at our 10th anniversary Hammer-In in two weeks.

A big part of building a hammer is the cost of the steel. We are currently paying around $1/lb for cut steel. The Anvil should be close to between 7:1 and 15:1 anvil to ram ratio (normally 500 to 1500 pounds). Finding a big piece of steel for the anvil is tough. We are using both of the designs I show on the built up power hammer anvil page

Suitable stock for the ram is easier to come by but can still be expensive new. We bought some of our materials on-line from places that commonly sell by the foot because even though the per foot price is high we did not have to by whole lengths. This type steel is selling for $1.7 to $2/lb. With shipping a 100# ram cost about $250. However, we were looking for rectangular cold finished stock. The finished steel saves machining.

Our hammer is not a Junk Yard Hammer. We are building with new steel and new parts. You can save a LOT by going the junkyard route but you also have to do your own design when you start making substitutions.

We also have very very little machining in our hammer. However, there IS machining. A lathe and good drill press are required and we did use a vertical mill to machine our guide inserts. You can sub out much of your machining.

After we finish this hammer we may look into designs that require less machine work. However, at this point the design we have has less machining than the CR-JYH and much less than the SA-JYH which is more of a fabricated than junk parts hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/03/08 12:49:53 EST

Well, Miles, I spent a number of years in the UK nuclear industry and we used to (informally, between ourselves) refer to radiation as "magic moonbeams", which makes it sound so much more user-friendly.

But on a slightly Anvil-related note, and talking about radioactivity, if you are ever bored check out 'Plutonium – A Wartime Nightmare but a Metallurgist’s Dream' which can be downloaded from the Los Alamos Laboratories website. There is a *bizarre* material (although probably unwise to handle it in a forge, even if the FBI did allow you to).
   Tim - Thursday, 04/03/08 14:55:57 EST

Thomas:A few of my friends have suggested that I try something that you have just said but I would like mine to be made out of the anvil its self mainly because I would like the art of the anvil to just be like a diamond you know something that looks good and lasts forever but i will probably cost the same price as a diamond to.
   josh - Thursday, 04/03/08 16:17:47 EST

Someone was asking about information sources for trebuchets and catapults a while back. I brought it up as a topic on Forgemagic.com and there has been some response. It would be worthwhile to check it out over there if anyone is still seeking info....
   - djhammerd - Thursday, 04/03/08 16:37:56 EST

Tim-- I can see Los Alamos from my backyard, just 30 miles away over there across the Rio Formerly Known as Grande Valley. Not a cheery thought as one hears of our sino-soviet friends and their zippy missile technology. But, hey, plutonium is our friend, right? Used to have a machinist neighbor who ran the stuff on his lathe. He sells real estate now.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 04/03/08 18:01:43 EST

The Higgins Armory does indeed have anvil with a grotesque face, and double horns. I could probably procure a picture of it if you like, as I live in worcester. Pronounced wiss-ter, or wis-tah, not worchester!
   - Josh S - Thursday, 04/03/08 20:30:55 EST

Yes I would like to see this anvil that you and Thomas are talkin about Josh.By the way nice name.:)
   josh - Thursday, 04/03/08 21:08:30 EST

Does this mean that Im gonna have to be called "Joshua" or "Josh C"?!
   josh - Thursday, 04/03/08 21:11:23 EST

Ken, Keyless chucks: The good ones for machine tools are Albrecht brand, I think probably owned by Jacobs. There are many copies of this chuck, the "real McCoy" being an excelent piece of gear. I have used them in industry, but I don't own one. They grip like all hell in forward, but I think they will loosen if run in reverse, Im going on memory here, and it has been a while. If Your machine doesn't reverse this wouldn't be a problem.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/03/08 21:12:38 EST

In my experience, Albrecht makes the ONLY usable keyless chuck. Every one I've ever had on any drill, regardless of price, has been an unmitigated piece of junk. The Albrecht, on the other hand, is a precision piece of equipment and is priced accordingly, but it works a treat.

I'll take a keyed chuck any day over a crappy keyless chuck. I recently purchased a new 3/8" drill motor that came with a keyless chuck touted as "new and improved" - I would surely hate to see the unimproved version! I'm ordering a ball bearing keyed chuck to replace it.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/03/08 21:35:49 EST

i have a peice of metal an i cant figure out what it is it is extreamly hard to work even at a yellow an i have sofened it twice i picked it up at a N.P.S stor it was wrapped in chineese news paper when you grind it there is barly any sparks thrown but they are a dull orange it looks like it might be stainless but i dont, know any clue? anything helps thanks
   Denny - Thursday, 04/03/08 21:58:46 EST

Josh S. Any chance of being sent a good contrast photograph of that anvil? Richard Postman is finalizing the follow-on to Anvils in America and he might be able to slip it in. He hopes to have it out before September.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/04/08 02:26:24 EST

I have a SEARS 3/8" battery drill with a keyless chuck. I am quite pleased with that one.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/04/08 08:37:23 EST

Ken, Dave and Rich are both right about the Albrecht keyless chucks. They grip like mad in forward but can release if run backward. Not a big problem on a drill press but not so good on a mill or a lathe when holding a tap. (Yes I know- but we all do!) If you put one on your drill press be careful about jamming a bit into the work; the sudden exra torque load can tighten the chuck to a point where it is difficult to release it by hand so you'll be tempeted to get out the vise grips or channel locks but don't use them on the unprotected knurling of the chuck. A strap wrench or a leather protector is a better choice. It's interesting that with an Albrecht in good order you'll never need a tool to tighten it but may need one to release if you make a gross mistake.
   - SGensh - Friday, 04/04/08 08:37:37 EST

Albrecht keyless chucks: I have no experience with these but they are the most expensive chucks for their size listed. This is one of those areas where you generally get what you pay for.

I try to buy the wide range Jacobs chucks that have repair kits available. The chucks rarely go bad even when abused but using turned down (small 1/2") shanks on large drill bits often results in slipping and wearing the jaws. Our guys in the shop wrecked the jaws in my big ball bearing chuck trying to push a 1-5/8" dril these had turned the shank down on. . . The problem is the jaws end up worn tapered so they no longer grip right or can grip crooked.

The cost of repair kits for chucks is ALMOST not cost effective but I like to keep the good old chucks going.
   - guru - Friday, 04/04/08 09:15:55 EST

Unusual Metal: Denny, It could be many things. There are dozens of high nickel alloys (some more nickel than iron) that are VERY difficult to work and a designed for their hot strength. Look up Inconel, Hastaloy-X. There are also various stainlesses that are difficult to forge. Most of these materials do not anneal like steel but more like non-ferrous. However, we are talking about a wide range of alloys.

Then there are the super strength cutter bit materials that have less iron than almost anything else. They are usually made primarily of all the alloys added to steel to make it stronger. Nickel, chrome, manganese, cobalt, tungsten. . . You rarely find large pieces of this as it is very expensive and usually made into small inserts.

There cal be a LOT of mystery to mystery metal.
   - guru - Friday, 04/04/08 09:17:00 EST

Unusual Metal: sounds like a high speed steel; sparks like cast iron but is hot hard.

My wife was going to buy me a drill recently as my old 3/8th "household" one has about bit the dust; but I turned it down when I saw it had a keyless chuck. I am a hand drill abuser--- and I want a keyed chuck and a powercord so I can destroy it getting stuff *done*!
   Thomas P - Friday, 04/04/08 10:33:34 EST

Hand drills are definitely in the category of "consumables" in my shop. That goes for the corded ones and the cordless ones. They typically get overworked and constantly surprise me by managing to survive it.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/04/08 12:05:51 EST


As the Guru says, factory made shoes are the most ecomomical in many situations but there are still a lot of shoes built from scratch by working farriers.

Plain-jane shoes like the damond brand that Frank mentioned can be had for about $3 US/pair. It doesn't make much sense to forge a shoe where one of those will do. However,there are many "specialty" shoes that either can't be baught or are far more expensive.

   Mike Ferrara - Friday, 04/04/08 12:52:23 EST

Tempering 4140
I've made a die for my 100# Little Giant. Its has a "U" shaped groove through the top, and a tang on the side to clamp it to the anvil of the hammer. The die will ovalize and put a flat bottom on 1 1/4" round mild steel. The top of the die will also act as a stop block for the ram.
I was wondering what color to draw the temper to after hardening the die.
   blackbart - Friday, 04/04/08 13:49:02 EST

I have a keyless chuck on my 60 some year old Delta drill press and it works fine. Dad used it in his orthopaedic shop daily for all those years until I got it about 10 years ago.
   Brian C - Friday, 04/04/08 14:44:08 EST

Blackbart what will be the use levels for the die? 100' a year or 100' a day?

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/04/08 14:46:37 EST

Use levels:
First job is only about 30 feet, but a 200-400 feet a year would be realistic.
   blackbart - Friday, 04/04/08 16:23:45 EST

"As the Guru says, factory made shoes are the most ecomomical in many situations but there are still a lot of shoes built from scratch by working farriers."

The point I was trying to make is I strongly suspect very early in the horseshoeing occupantion some shops decided to specialize in making shoes for other farriers. May have only serviced what one wagon could make a route out in one day. Mass producted (factory) shoes came later as the transportion systems developed.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/04/08 17:21:57 EST

4140 Dies: Since SAE 4140 is primarily a tough steel, not a steel used for hardness I would temper toward the soft side rather than risk breakage. The kind of job you are doing can be done in mild steel or A36 dies and hold up quite well. Of course tool steels are better.

What damages hammer dies (and anvils) more than anything is wear from scale. Some tool steels are more abrasion resistant than others in this respect. To prevent die wear you can use an air system to blow scale off the dies as you work OR give the work a few taps with another power hammer or a big hand hammer to break loose the scale before going to your special dies.

Punch lube also reduces wear from abrasion.
   - guru - Friday, 04/04/08 22:44:45 EST

Factories, Mills and productivity: There are "factories" and there are "factories". A single worker mass producing any product can be labeled a factory.

When you look at a tool, a wrench or prybar, can you tell what kind of place it was manufactured in? Bruce Wallace manufacturers a line of tools sold by a New York hardware distributor. Most of the time he runs a one man shop. He goes through tons of steel a month. The steel is cut with an ironworker or saw, forged, heat treated, ground and shipped in bulk to be packaged. HE is the "factory".

I've built heavy machine tools in a small shop with less than a dozen employees and folks like Big BLU manufacture hundreds of power hammers a year with just a handful of employees and also makes tools AND does custom ironwork at the same time.

So what is a "factory"? We all have an image of a huge building with a smoke stack and many employees. . . But our blacksmith shops have smokestacks and we convert raw materials into a product just the same as a huge multinational corporation. . . Where do you draw the line? The US Government defines a "small business" as having less than 200 employees. 200 employees is a HUGE business compared to moist of our micro businesses. . . Many manufacturing magazines consider 30 or more employees a significant business and indeed they are.

Much of early European industry was based on the cottage industry system. The "factory" supplied raw materials and sometimes the tools to many workers who produced the product, a step in the product or a part of the product and then the factory finished, labeled, packaged and distributed the product. There were internationally known brands of products made by "factories" that did not manufacture anything directly. . .

The term "Mill" was applied to many early factories because they were water powered and located in the same places as grist mills. We still speak of linen mills and such. In modern terms these are a factory. How much more can a person produce then they have the advantage of water power?

It is a fuzzy area. But any blacksmith shop that mass produces a given product can be defined as a "factory".

Today I had four people working in the shop besides myself. We hauled material in a heavy truck, moved and organized the materials with a fork lift, had deliveries from UPS and the US mail. . . all this preparing a demonstration shop that will not manufacture anything to amount to much. We are setting up a glorified hobby shop or show shop. But if we were making a product, we would be making a LOT of product. We have a facility and machinery suitable to produce millions of something small a year or thousands of large items.

In early manufactories products were often made no differently than we make then in our small blacksmith shops. The only difference was the "factory" was the equivalent of dozens of one man shops, owned all the equipment and hired employees. But today one man with a power hammer can out produce 8 or 10 men working by hand. Electricity and modern tools can make a single worker as productive as a dozen or more hand workers using relatively primitive (un powered) tools. A little automation and maybe that one man can out produce 20 or 30. . . SO if 30 handworkers constitutes a factory cannot a single worker that produces the same amount using modern tools?

I currently do not operate a factory. But I could with what I have, either working alone or with others.

   - guru - Friday, 04/04/08 23:38:01 EST

I concede your point. A matter of scale. I don't consider what I do to be a factory, but then perhaps technically it is.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/05/08 01:46:06 EST

I used to run non-ferrous slitting and leveling lines for sheet and coil products. Along with repackaged bar and flat stock going out the door of our "factory", there were three production machines and six people pushing $20,000,000 a year out the door of that place. One slitter was from 1943 and the other was from around 1960. The shiny new leveling line could spit out 10,000 lbs per hour. Profit margin was absurd and so was or pay.
   Robert Cutting - Saturday, 04/05/08 07:10:32 EST

The first meaning of "factory" listed in my OED is a merchant company's trading station in a foreign country (one usage example they give refers to a Hudson's Bay Company station).

The second meaning is a "body of factors in one place." "Factor" in this sense means a commercial agent, and one specific meaning the dictionary gives is a trader at Birmingham or Sheffield who buys hardware goods from workmen and stamps his own trademark on them. A current meaning of "factor" is a lender who finances commercial inventory.

I guess I'm rambling on, but it sounds like "factory" in the cottage industry sense may be referring to a financial role more than a manufacturing one. On the other hand, the dictionary lists the word being used to refer to a manufacturing building as early as 1609. So my vague sense that a factory was an assembly line was clearly wrong.

   Mike BR - Saturday, 04/05/08 08:57:07 EST

Speaking of financial matters, I checked my old email to see when I needed to renew my CSI membership. Turned out it expired two months ago. I guess we're on the honor system, and I've proved I don't have much (I did just renew, though).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 04/05/08 09:30:10 EST

In your vast travels, which of today's anvil brands has the softest ring? I live in a residential neighborhood and, even though we have no restrictions, don't want to disturb my neighbors. Also, do you have any advice on sound insulation for a shop? Thanks
   Mike - Saturday, 04/05/08 09:46:11 EST

Softest Ring? Fisher Eagle!! Ooops, you sid "today's". Well some of us have a very loose concept of what that means. I have two Fishers: 285 and 140, and wouldn't trade them straight across for Peter Wrights, mainly because of the inherent lack of ring. Rebound is just fine, and mostly I get a nice satisfying "whump" when forging, the occassional "whack" and rarer still "clank", but never a ring.
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 04/05/08 10:35:14 EST

I've noticed that my railroad track anvil barely made any noise while it was covered by snow, I think it would be pretty feasible to wrap some sort of non flammable insulator around anvils, no?
   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 04/05/08 11:17:04 EST

Ken and Josh-
I will see about getting a picture of that anvil next week. I tried clicking on your name, Ken, but some mail system that I don't use on my computer tried to do something. maybe you can email me.
   Josh S - Saturday, 04/05/08 12:53:14 EST

Built a stand for the new TFS 100B anvil today. Borrowed heavily from the iForge lesson on stands using 2x6 lumber cuz that is what I had available. I made one similar to the hollow one Guru made. Maybe tomorrow I can actually try it out. Looking for the 1" ball bearing Guru sent me to do the Russian Anvil review, too. It's around here someplace.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/05/08 19:01:49 EST


I was just doing some bending on the ol' Hossfeld and thought I'd pass along something I hit on many years ago. Seems like on small stuff (and sometimes on bigger stuff) you can get the bender set up just right with stops and such and you still get some variation in the parts. Well, I've determined one cause is that sometimes the center pin turns WITH the swinging frame and sometimes not. A simple fix I started doing was putting a Vise-grip (TM) on the center pin so that the swing frame pushes it around too. That way the the pin always turns with swing frame. A better solution is a little piece of steel that looks kinda like an open end wrench with a hole in the handle. One of the smaller pins goes thru the hole and the wrench end engages two flats ground on the center pin.

Can I brag a little? HA! Try and stop me!! I was bending some little 5/16 X 4-1/2 inch long pieces into a teardrop shape. Using my induction forge I could heat about 1-1/2 inches in the center and still pick them up with my fingers to put in the bender. Takes 6 second to get a real nice yellow heat. I'm bending them hot so I don't have to deal with spring-back. Besides, it's a lot easier.

   - grant - Saturday, 04/05/08 20:05:44 EST

josh S: thats ok I tried to see what you was talking about and I think I got what you got.
   josh - Saturday, 04/05/08 20:39:33 EST

how well would break fluid harden ,will it even work that well
   Denny - Saturday, 04/05/08 21:44:32 EST

I'm wondering how thick should the wall of the vent pipe be for a coal forge. Would sheet metal work, like stove vent or heating and air vents ? thanks Kelly
   - kelly - Saturday, 04/05/08 22:42:01 EST

Denny: traditional brake fluid is alchoal based, I wouldn't sugest trying it. Synthetic brake fluid might work, but would be pretty expensive. A 5 gallon bucket of turkey frier oil is pretty cheap and workes pretty well from what the people using it report.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/05/08 22:46:23 EST

Kelly, stove pipe is the better choice, as it is thicker than duct pipe. Any of it will las untill it rusts out.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/05/08 22:48:14 EST

Forge Stacks: Yes, they can be sheet metal and often are. However, coal fumes attack carbon steel and rapidly consume it. You want the thicker galvanized stuff OR stainless steel. Common black stove pipe is thinner than duct, the galvanized type is the same or heavier than duct.

However, and whichever you use, consider it temporary and plan on replacing it on a regular schedule.

Note that the rate of corrosion varies with the moisture in the air. Pipe that may last 10 years in New Mexico may only last 18 months in Virginia.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/06/08 00:55:04 EST

Bending Irregularities: Grant, that is a VERY useful fact. Folks that have not tried to produce quantities of identical bent parts may not appreciate it. It is a great tip. So either it wants to roll or not, but being consistent produces more uniform parts.

Quiet Anvils: Nobody makes anything different in this respect today except for cast iron ASO's, which are not really anvils, they just LOOK like one.

Anchoring the anvil to the stand using silicon caulk or industrial adhesive does a lot to quiet the ring.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/06/08 01:01:07 EST

Brake fluid is nasty stuff. It is bad for the skin, eats paint and stinks. It is only good for what it is designed for.

Stick to mineral oil or non-additive oils.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/06/08 01:02:49 EST

Thanx Guru! Yeah, it does work a lot better when BOTH the pin and the swing arm are pulling the work thru. One of those things you can't see until you believe it.

Why Brake fluid? You got a cheap source? Go with the peanut oil or canola or even cod liver oil! Actually fish oil is a really good quench oil.
   - grant - Sunday, 04/06/08 03:12:46 EDT

I've tried brake fluid for punch lube once (there was a bottle sitting on the shelf that had been open too long to use otherwise). Not sure if it kept the punch from sticking, but it made a nice smell when it burned (not). I found one MSDS that says the stuff gives off toxic fumes when heated.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 04/06/08 11:13:45 EDT

On bending/shaping, one thing I was taught is my introduction to blacksmithing class is if you bend metal hot and cold you will wind up with differences between them due to hot bending stretching the metal far more than cold.

I have a Hosfeld (sp?) #2 bender I primarily use to put in eye for pokers or spits. GREATLY beats hand shaping. I can do 3/8" cold but above that I put a bit of heat into the area to be formed.

Certain things stick with you. I attended an IBA meeting in which Nol Putnam was the featured demonstrator. He had just completed and installed a grill in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. It involved something like 200 small S-scrolls. He said he made 400 of them and picked out the best 200.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/06/08 12:30:31 EDT

I have attracted some interest from a regional living history museum and submitted a steel flint striker to the education department there as a demo. Got an interesting response. "It looks very good, but is it all steel or iron with a steeled edge?" Actually, I made the whole thing from 1045, with max hardness (About R50C) on the striking edge and straw tempered elsewhere. It sparks just fine. I thought it was pretty good, but they insist that even so small an item as a striker should be steeled. This from the organization that sells machined scissors stamped "CHINA" in its crafts center as colonial reproductions. Oh well, they are buying and i am selling ,SO just to humor them I said I woulod look into steeling the edge, but can't find out anythng specific about the process.

The business ende of this item is about 3/16 x 3/8 x 3 1/2, one of the long edges being the striking surface to be steeled. Couple of questions:

Would I split the thin edge to insert the steel or fold the piece over the steel?

What combination of mild and high carbon steels can I reasonably expect to forge weld in this configuration, and are there any special problems, other than the obvious mechanical ones of size that i need to look out for. I am willing to do this by trial and error, but would prefer whatever guidance I can scare up.

   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/06/08 12:31:33 EDT

Peter, if your client is so obsessed with historical accuracy, you really need to find a source of wrought iron to which you can forge weld blister or shear steel. I would expect to pay $50 for an authentic striker. I am betting they won't.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/06/08 17:55:21 EDT

Peter- If they insist on steeled edges then QC. is right, wrought iron is the way to go as it forgewelds very easily. He is also right on the price. Around here the best sources are wagon wheels and the oldest of silo hoops. Instead of splitting and inserting I would just bang on a lamination of steel along the length of the striker. Seems to me that in period these were the commonest of items and would be made the fastest, easiest way. Splitting stuff that thin does not sound like fun if you have to do it more than once.
   Jud Yaggy - Sunday, 04/06/08 19:01:21 EDT

Guru, sent you an email with a review of the TFS Anvil and some photos. Since you have considerable spam filter and fire walls, let me know if you get it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/06/08 19:08:45 EDT

Peter, try this site: www.angelfire.com/journal2/firefromsteel/
I don't think any of these are steeled but that begs the question as to whether any of them were steeled in historical times.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/06/08 19:14:00 EDT

Is it possible to use a car battery charger as a low duty ark welder?
   - sammuel - Sunday, 04/06/08 19:42:51 EDT

Sammuel, No. A few of the old ancient ones were nearly enough amperage but the voltage is too low. Good arc welders also have capacitor circuits that help stabilize the arc.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/06/08 20:08:37 EDT

Historical Organizations: I had a Virgina Presidential homeplace museum curator ask me to bid on a a fireplace lintle bar. It was a bit of odd proportions but old wrought merchant bar and rolled and slit bar varied considerably. After I sent in my quote he called and asked if it included hammering all over. I asked why and commented that lintle bars for brick were just plain bar with tapered ends. OH NO, he insisted, they are always hammered all over. . . I told him he could get someone else to do the job if he wanted phoney texture that did not exist on original lintle bars. What he was seeing was heavy rust texture. He insisted that in the 1830's they were hammered all over. I did not do the job. I offered to show him my collection of 1700's and 1800's lintle bars if he would like. . .

I would like to see the historical examples before making a steeled striker. I suspect that many may have been made from heavily case hardened iron or blister steel that was only worked enough to shape it.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/06/08 20:49:36 EDT

Horseshoes and fire steels.

I didn't live back when, but it seems to me that there would be hardly any horseshoe making concerns where the horses were not shod as well. Because of the different sizes involved, such a firm would need to make quite a large stock of shoes. Also, well placed nail holes are a feature of a shoe, and they vary. Some hoof walls are thicker than others. In the past, I've had my troubles attempting to move and redefine nail holes on manufactured shoes, especially on the old Phoenix brand shoes.

In the old shoeing shops, there were normally at least two men. If only two, one was the "fireman", the shop owner or Master, and the other would be the "floorman". Flooring the horses meant that the floorman would be responsible for trimming the hooves and nailing on. The fireman would be in the fire and "turning the shoes" at the anvil. Working thusly, each horse would get a custom fit.

I don't know whether steel was welded to wrought iron to make a fire steel. A smith who did so would be miserly, I would think. I've seen early steels that still had faint file cut marks on them. What I gather from my reading, flintlock frizzens were made in one of two ways. One way was to faggot weld wrought iron to high carbon steel and the other was to forge braze the two together.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/06/08 21:59:28 EDT

QC: Thanks for the advice. It confirms my instincts. But I am not yet convinced they are even historically accurate in insisting on strrling in so small an item. Aside from their assertion, I have not found any other instance of a steeled striker, and I have seen a couple dozen from three or four different web sources. I am going to produce a few more in all tool steel, and point out that they surpass a couple other items they already carry in their shop for authenticity. If the want em steeled after that, $50 sounds fine to me. Thanks again.
   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/06/08 22:33:05 EDT

somebody mentioned the ring of their anvil and how to quiet it ...
the slickest thing i've ever tried is to stick a strong magnet to the underside of the tail, about at the hardy opening.
my Russion pattern has a very loud ring at the tail and the magnet cancels it right out!
Way back up the page Grant mentions the incandesence of refractory brick that does the heating in the forge not the flames.
ever since I read that I've been very carefull to keep my work surrounded by the white hot coals in the forge and, of course, it does seem to go much faster.
I'm planning on building a perminent brick forge in my shop and to run it with coal and I always thought that if I ever got realy good I might build a gas forge.
A freind of mine is a glass blower and has a clear glass LP furnace that will run up to 200lbs at a time.
When he opens the door on that for a gather it's like an atomic bomb going off in the room, we have to cover him with wet plywood paddels so he can do his bit!
To cut to the chase, I have often wonderd if I could get the same effect with a coal fire and refractory brick lining? Would the brick hold up? What would be the ideal material to line the heating chamber with? (brick, refractory clay, ....?
One more question I have concerning my coal.
My present batch of coal is some that I got from another smith this winter. Seeing as we had to "chip" it from the frozen pile it seems to have alot of fines in it.
The fines don't do much to add to the heat value of the fire but they do help a little when I want to make a hollow fire. Do you think I should sift the fines out??
It seems like I would get a better fire( less smoke)
What does everybody else use? I have to keep in practice with the coal for the benifet of our annual show otherwise I would be using an Oxy-Propelin torch for most of what I do now.
   - merl - Monday, 04/07/08 01:20:56 EDT

More horseshoes

There are a few examples of small production. Id say local but with mail and internet, they sell all over. One is Anvilbrand in Ilinois. They make a variety of punched and unpunched blanks for shoe styles that would normally be made by the farrier...like toe weights for the "long footed" show horses. If I'm not mistaken, they will also take orders for custom shoes.

Most sadlebred, moregan and national show horse shoers I know, start with anvil brand blanks rather than drawing out stock to make a weighted shoe. I draw and turn most of mine but I don't need the quanities that some guys do. If I had just about one more "long footed" account it would push me over the top and I wouldn't be able to keep up making them myself...and I make a LOT more money for time under a horse than I do for time in front of the forge.

I haven't looked at Anvilbrands production area but it's my understanding that it's a combination of machine forming and hand forging...I buy lots of supplies from them so you'd think that I would have asked about that.

I can think of at least one other small scale shop that sells blanks and finished shoes to order and they're in Il also.

Keep in mind that these "show shoes" are items that most of us are selling for $40 or $50 per pair so there is a little room to make some money as apposed to the $3/pair plain-jane shoes that lots of us just include in the cost of the shoeing.
   Mike Ferrara - Monday, 04/07/08 09:01:16 EDT

Gosh...sorry about the spelling in that last post. I'm not the best speller but little better than that if I have my my coffee first.
   Mike Ferrara - Monday, 04/07/08 09:37:12 EDT

Fire Steels - Online article

   Don - Monday, 04/07/08 10:22:04 EDT

Forge Heat: Merl, Forges run considerably hotter than most glass furnaces but I think once you are above the incandescent point it does not matter much to the users personal comfort. The amount of surface area, time and distance are what makes the difference. The larger the exposed surface area the more heat you are exposed to.

Refractory bricks vary a bit in their ratings but most are good for gas fired forge temperatures less than 3,000°F and many are made for coal furnace temperatures of 3,200°F. Generally a coal forge does not need a refractory brick bottom. To get radiant heat you would need walls and a top on your forge. Very large coal forges, or furnaces were made this way but not general purpose blacksmith forges. A few coke forges had an arched roof but due to work restrictions I do not think they were very popular.

Fines in coal are generally part of what you get to some extent even in screened to size coal. In good coking coal they usually just melt into the surrounding coal and become part of the coke. Some smiths use nothing but fines and use water to hold them together until they coke into larger lumps. If the coal is not a good coking variety then the fines may be a nuisance.

In the past I used a high grade of stoker coal for all my forging. Today I use a gas forge for most of my work. My next solid fuel forge will be a charcoal forge due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining coal. I know there will be a learning curve but charcoal was and still IS the only fuel used by smiths over a great time and in many places. AND, if you want to feel good about the fuel you burn, charcoal is a renewable fuel with negligible carbon footprint.
   - guru - Monday, 04/07/08 12:27:32 EDT

Steeling: even as late as the American Civil war steel could cost as much as 5 times more than the cost of iron so it was used frugally. Also if you lived in remote areas as many did on the American frontier your supply of high dollar steel might be pretty limited and so you would try to "stretch it". So most cutting tools had the body of wrought iron and only the edge of steel.

Recently looking over a number of medieval knives they used several methods to steel them: lap, butt, insert and fold (where the steel was folded over a WI core). All used simultaneously over a number of centuries and areas.

I don't recall seeing any fire steels with a distinctive steeled edge to them in the museums and I would wonder if they were carburized in a charcoal forge instead. I would think that grain growth would be a plus for a fire steel.

As mild steel was really a product of the late 19th century; (bessemer/kelly process was invented in the 1850's followed by open hearth, etc and it took a while to "catch on") Matches were already being factory produced.

What time period is this place shooting for?

You can make your own blister steel but it takes time and fuel---I'd be tempted to pre forge the shape out flat and straight then blister it and forge the bends in.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/07/08 12:47:05 EDT

Fire Steels: I did a bit of research on various sites and none of them indicated that historical fire steels were welded. The absence of proof is not the proof of absence, of course. However, fabrication method would certainly be of interest to archeologists since it might be tied to a certain local. I would have great respect for someone who could forge weld steels with two significantly different carbon levels in such thin sections.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/07/08 13:46:33 EDT

Guru, I re-sent the review information as you requested. My first email was sent to .com instead of .net. My bad.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/07/08 13:48:14 EDT

QC one trick is that they don't have to be thin when you start! Weld up at a comfortable size and draw out as wanted!

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/07/08 17:37:14 EDT

Fire steels,
When do you mean by historical?
I've seen quite a few pictures of viking age ones that are cast bronze that would have had a steel striking surface. Now were these done like this for cultural, economic, or aesthetic reasons?
   JimG - Monday, 04/07/08 19:22:18 EDT

In this case "historical" means 1627 New England.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 04/07/08 19:33:03 EDT

I have a question about the Guru's statement regarding the difficulting obtaining coal. We run boilers and use a high quality low sulfer content coal combined with wood chips and/or natural gas to fire them and the coal comes on a truck. They just dump into our hopper. There is even a large elevated dump spur at the fuel oil company in North Winston Salem NC that I'm pretty sure is still useable in the event some body wanted to buy a whole rail car load and haul it off themselves. Is it just a question of smaller quantities being available or is it mainly a quality issue? I can get the phone number for the coal supplier and pass it along to anyone in the area that would want a whole truck load delivered. Maybe everyone that needs some could chip in and have a whole truck load delivered to the Hammer-in and people could just haul it home with them if they drove to get there. Just a thought.
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 04/07/08 20:27:43 EDT

Thomas, yep, I thought of that after I posted it. I don't make any "authentic" fire steels that way so it did not readily occur to me. The problem then is decarburization of the high carbon steel from multiple re-heats. Personally, I think the folks at the living history museum are a bit off the mark. I would suggest they buy some good replicas using modern high-carbon steel and put a sign in the display stating that the blacksmith that made the strikers used authentic skills and equipment. If you want authentic materials, contact the smith and he will make you one for $XXX.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/07/08 20:35:00 EDT

Another question this time regarding charcoal. Are there still charcoal makers that cut down the hardwood trees and then let the stumps sprout back suckers that grow until they are larger enough to cut off and burn again thereby producing more charcoal in a quicker and more environmentaly friendly manner that just clearcutting forests and waiting for new ones to grow back?
   Robert Cutting - Monday, 04/07/08 20:37:07 EDT

Caballeros' Fire Steels.

I got out my picture books* and found some beautiful, decorative fire steels of Spanish and Mexican manufacture, most from the 18th century. These steels have carved, filed, chased, engraved figures and/or scrollwork attached, acting as small grips. Some of the figures are dogs and some are grotesques, griffin-like. Out of 10 pictured from Mexico, 5 have elongated steel rollers, 2 of them serrated. There are definite color differences between the figures and the steels. Three of the Mexican steels have the upper, decorative portion riveted to the steel, 2 rivets each.

D'allemagne, in his book, claims that the Spanish ones had "lively motifs" [the figures] made of "gilded bronze."

I sense that these decorative steels were treasured in their time of use, not unlike how we treasured a well made pocket watch at a later period. They would probably be considered gentlemen's family heirlooms, something to be passed down. From what I could tell, most of these were of dissimilar metals, bronze, brass, or iron attached to the steel by riveting, brazing, or fire welding.

The woodsman, the explorer, the laborer, those who were "rough around the edges" would probably carry the simpler shaped fire steels, ones that were often made of worn out files. I doubt if many of them were bimetallic. This is conjecture, but to me, it makes sense.

* "The Art of Ironworks in Mexico"; Grupo Financiero Bancomer. pp. 122-123.

* "Decorative Antique Ironwork"; Henry Rene D'allemagne. Plate 282.

   Frank Turley - Monday, 04/07/08 21:01:13 EDT

CHARCOAL: The vast majority of charcoal made today is produced from saw mill and lumber industry waste. It is coaled, crushed and screened. The lumps are sold as lump charcoal and the fines sold to briquette makers.

This is true anywhere there is a lumber industry. In Costa Rica I visited an old fashioned charcoal burning pit. The wood was scraps from local saw mills. The problem here was that much of the charcoal is made from VERY dense woods like rosewood. This results in a hard tary charcoal that pops and showers the smith with flaming charcoal fleas.

Several years ago I had a fellow contact me that was trying to establish a business selling charcoal made from dead fall collected in the Mexican highlands by natives. He sent me a sample and I never heard back from him. Charcoal making has been a long time business in Mexico. One popular brand is Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal. In this case they have Mesquite wood lots where they do controlled cutting and use trim, dead wood and culls. Good wood lots have continuous production if properly managed.

Where charcoal burning is a problem is in areas where people depend on the fuel and over logging or slow growth arid conditions result in savaging every bit of wood.

There is no longer the need to cut vast tracts to make charcoal like in the days when it was used to fuel iron making operations.
   - guru - Monday, 04/07/08 21:24:20 EDT

From what I've read, deforestation for charcoal manufacture is a major problem in Haiti right now. Probably nothing compared to the rainforest that's being cut in Brazil to clear land for biofuel crops though . . .
   Mike BR - Monday, 04/07/08 21:41:25 EDT

Coal Availability Robert, Many blacksmithing groups do just what you suggest, buy a truck load and then divide it up. The trick is making sure you go to the right mine at the right time and talk to the right person and get good first class coal. THEN you need somewhere to store the 20 tons or so while you distribute it. . .

Much coal that is burned in commercial furnaces will not even stay lit in a blacksmith's forge. Low sulfur is great but for blacksmithing you need the highest BTU, good coaling characteristics, low ash, ash that coalesces and makes clinkers rather than blowing all over (into your flux).

In a recently past era you could go to a fuel supplier in almost any city North of Atlanta or so and buy decent coal by the bucket, truck or car load. However, more coal was sold to heat homes, schools and every type of commercial establishment than for fueling most local factories. As those users stopped using coal the small coal dealers closed up.

Where I first started buying coal in Lynchburg, VA they had dozens of piles each representing 100 tons or so in the fall and by spring were just down to a pile or two. But the stacks were replentished over the year. This was delivered in coal trucks with a screw feed and conveyor system to hundreds of coal bins (rooms) in home, schools, department stores. . . Over the past 40 years that business dwindled and dwindled until they closed down about 5 years ago.

This scenario has been repeated in thousands of cities. Many places in the North East still heat with coal but this is rapidly changing. The few holdouts usually get forced to change to another fuel when the local dealer closes its doors. These are the same dealers the majority of blacksmiths bought THEIR coal from.

Now, most that want coal must purchase it by the bag and pay UPS or freight charges as well as small quantity prices.

At our hammer-in we will probably burn up what is left of Paw-Paw's coal (a few small buckets full). ANd after that it will be gas of charcoal unless I get a wild hair and build an oil forge. But I suspect I will stick with the locally available fuels.
   - guru - Monday, 04/07/08 21:47:33 EDT

Charcoal in Haiti: This is a case of poverty, over population and lack of governmental oversight (AND past meddling and our past support of ANY non-communist dictator at the expense of the local people, in this case Poppa Doc Duvalier and his son "Baby Doc".). In many poor countries charcoal is used in every home to cook with. The people have no electricity, nor are there gas supplies. Wood is cut for fuel that would otherwise be turned into goods and sold at a much higher value. . .

This is not a typical scenario but is repeated anywhere there is great poverty. It was so in Europe at one time.

Brazil: on the other hand is doing what any country will do, make use of its natural resources. WE did the same with U.S. forests until coal became more economical and WE continue to clear cut forests for housing tracts (as well as use prime farmland for the same). The North American forests are just as important as South American Rain Forests.

Brazil also has the problem of the world meddling in their economy. Our current U.S. government has applauded their biofuel program which is one of economic slavery and worker abuse. We will gladly import their alcohol but put large import duties on their sugar. The world still buys Central and South American hardwoods as fast as they can be cut. We SAY don't clear the rain forests and then shake a fistful of money at them to do just that. . .

   - guru - Monday, 04/07/08 22:13:40 EDT

Mike BR: In Haiti they have cut the majority of the trees, and the topsoil has to a great extent been washed into the sea. Thet are truely screwed.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/07/08 22:24:48 EDT

Haiti had corupt government for 300 years BEFORE we started medeling in it. Exploitation of the masses has been the way in spite of 400 years of self rule.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/07/08 22:35:14 EDT

The local economy in Haiti once produced several times what it does now per capita. It had great resources. . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/07/08 22:43:12 EDT

Thanks Guru, you're the very kernel of wisdom as usual.
I have been using the fines as you describe it but, my only objection was the cloud of smoke I get befor I get the new shovel full burnig to the point were I sprinkle the water on. I've got good ventilation but I'm still blowing black snot the next morning.
I started with lump charcoal but was not happy with the amount I would go through for even the smallest jobs and, the sparks from some of it is more a safety issue than any thing else.
One of the guys from the club makes his own charcoal and keeps hounding me to make my own cooker and do the same.
He swares by his charcoal and I agree it is good stuff but, I don't have access to the hard wood dead fall and right now don't have the time to take on yet another progect.
It seems that all of the store baught charcoal I get sparks too much for my comfort if this is a problem with all charcoal then I'm stuck with the coal and gas.
Any secrets to spark free lump charcoal?
   - merl - Tuesday, 04/08/08 00:37:47 EDT

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