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This is an archive of posts from April 8 - 15, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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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

hey guru - do you have a ballpark figure for a fair price on a 5 1/2" columbian post vise in good solid shape with all original hardware and spring?
   - vorpal - Tuesday, 04/08/08 01:08:50 EDT

I have wondered why the Haitian government can't organize a kitchen stove industry based on refillable bottles of propane. Essentially little more than propane camping stoves. A propane truck would come into a village on a regular basis and refill the bottles at cost plus a bit for the politicans. Or exchangeable bottles.

A couple of years ago I saw a satellite photo of Haiti/DR. You could tell the national borders between the two. On the Haitian side it was bare earth. On the DR side, lush forests.

Have also read the export of mangos is one of the few remaining Haitian exports, yet families are cutting down their mango trees for charcoal.

Haiti has a number of problems going back hundreds of years which has turned it into essentially the basket case of the Carribbean. Part of those problems is it was ruled by the French before independence. They inherited their rules of estate, to where estates have to be equally divided between all children. You start out with ten acres and five children. Each receives two acres. They have five children and each receives .4 acres. They have five children and each receives .08 acres. Pretty soon you are measuring it by the square foot. Perhaps the wealthy one is the one with the four square feet on which a mango tree grows. When it is cut down, they are equally as improvished.

We have a number of sawmills in the area. I am more familiar with one of them. Very little is wasted, such as when the stump end of a log has to be trimmed off. As the cut section is brought to the plant it is first debarked. That goes to a place which makes landscaping mulch out of it. Then goes through the cutting process. Slabs, rejects and such are then ground up and shot into truck which will haul it to a pulp or plywood mill.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/08/08 08:38:45 EDT

Ken, a major percentage of third world Asian villages rely on propane for all their needs... makes sense that the Haitians should follow suit.

On another note, my fractured pelvis is healing well, I am taking calcium & vit. D supplements. I should be off the crutches soon and have already made a cane from a golf club and the decorative eyeball stick shift knob from the wrecked Pinto. The one thing killing me about my situation is that I cannot use my workshop, so all this spare time I have I can't even do the one thing that makes me happy - playing with metal.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/08/08 09:13:50 EDT

Sparking Charcoal: It depends on the type of wood used. Wood with sap pockets tends to pop and for some reason walnut does it (a wood stove experience with scraps). I've been trying to find which woods spark and which not without much luck. Ask your friend what type of wood he uses.

Since commercial lump charcoal is made from scrap then it may vary in content. Makers cannot generally tell you as blown forge use is different than cooking steaks. . .

Many local saw mills stop running if the trailers are all full. They shoot the wastes to truck bodies ready to haul. No big sawdust piles anymore as the "waste" is almost as valuable as the lumber.

While most saw mills have an outlet for all their waste some do not. It is a matter of transportation distance. As to who gets it, a charcoal plant is as good as a chipboard factory. However, most of what coaliers want is cut off and solid scraps. Many of these come from furniture factories and other wood users. All this is subject to upset by rising transportation costs.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/08/08 09:21:29 EDT

Leg Vise Prices: Small ones are selling for $50 to $75 US at fleamarkets, $125 to $175 at blacksmiths sales and double that on ebay. Large ones run from $180 to $250 which is still a bargain.

Note that these were all originally sold by the pound NOT inch and the weight went up about 5 to 10 pounds per 1/8" of jaw width. The jaw widths were rarely even dimensions as almost every size vise was scaled up to match the weight. While many manufactures used the identical dimensions per pound size others did not. Sometimes you find a very heavy vice with narrower than standard jaws and often the reverse. The vises the Kaynes sell are very nice but they have very wide jaws for their weight. Their weight determines what they are worth.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/08/08 09:38:04 EDT

I repair and build cloks out of brass. I would appreciate advice on what would be a good solder for brass. Iknow that silver solder would work but I need a good color match so that I dont see a silver line. I am a novice at this so please include what would be the best flux to use etc.

Thank you
   Joel - Tuesday, 04/08/08 09:50:00 EDT

Sparking Charcoal: I smith with charcoal and used Lazzari Mesquite for a while, I found it to be very sparky. Now I'm using Cowboy Brand hardwood charcoal, seems to be made mostly of hardwood lumber off cuts, lots of square and rectangular chunks. It doesn't spark nearly as much as the mesquite, at least not until you get down to a lot of ash. I'm planning on redrilling the holes in the bottom of the brake drum forge even larger to help dump this ash down out of the way. next forge (cast iron hibachi based if I can find one) will be just a bar or two across the tuyere to ease the ash problem.
   Michael - Tuesday, 04/08/08 10:12:02 EDT

Charcoal and sparking: "speciality" charcoals sold for cooking are sometimes not fully charred as they want the smoke flavour for the food---mesquite is a common one for this and so have more volitiles to pop and drive sparks out.

If the charcoal is damp even slightly it can spark more. Drying it on the back side of the forge firge before raking it into the center helps that some. Back in OH the humidity was always high enough that we saw that problem. Here in NM a week of single digit humidities and hot sun will dry the charcoal out big time.

Note that while hardwood charcoal is often preferred; softwood charcoal was used as well in northern europe for smithing and is the preferred material for japanese swordmaking and iron smelting. So recycle what ever you have to hand!

I sift the ashes from our wood stove all winter and have charcoal I'm saving for a bloomery run.

Coppicing was not as well known in America; in general the iron furnaces here owned their "coal yards" that made charcoal and owned an enormous ammount of land such that 40 years or so would pass between charcoaling runs leaving time for new trees to grow to usable size.

Many places now covered by massive forrests were actually clear cut every 40 years for nearly 200 years and it is only "lately" that they have been left alone---in Ohio several of these areas are now owned by the state and others are owned by paper companies who started taking up the slack as charcoal use for smelting started tapering off.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/08/08 11:43:57 EDT

Solder for brass: I used a grade of silver solder that matched pretty well. You would have to ask your welding supplier. However, as the brass oxidizes the silver alloy does so less and the match is not so good. If you want a perfect match you will need to braze-weld the parts. However, this is often not a suitable joint when soldering is being replaced.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/08/08 13:57:41 EDT

WARNING Kids posting obscenities from vance008.net.gov.bc.ca, British Columbia, Canada.

We will be sending copies of your posts to your school including time and date.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/08/08 14:21:37 EDT

Charcoal and so on: I met a fellow at a hammerin this weekend (Batson's Bladesmithing Symposium at Tannehill, Alabama) who is using his own homemade charcoal for forging and loves it. It's made from Jack Pine. He claims no sparks, cleaner, hotter fires, and lower welding temperatures to boot.

And some of the trees cleared for sugarcane production in Brazil are being coaled for use in their emerging iron industry. Yep, some Brazilian iron is charcoal-smelted.

   Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/08/08 16:54:40 EDT

I'll give my freind a call and get the info from him to repost it here.
I use the Cowboy brand when the home center has it but it's never the same from season to season what they carry.
I'm wondering if I go back to charcoal,how will it work out when I want a hollow fire?
Would I be able to make some of the charcaol into fines and then wet it as with coal?
I suppose I'll have to go get a couple of bags and try it.
   - merl - Tuesday, 04/08/08 18:14:41 EDT

Robert Cutting - the technique your talking about is called 'Coppicing.' Back in the late '70's (during the oil crisis) there was a news article about a school in Holland using an acreage of coppiced trees to produce the wood for the firing of its' (steam) heating boiler. My father-in-law has also mentioned the coppicing of willows along the canals near the farm he grew up on to be used for fence posts and roofing poles of thatched buildings.

   Don - Tuesday, 04/08/08 19:01:01 EDT

Nope no cave fires, you have to learn how to weld in an open fire. Needing the large ammount under the piece to scavanage O2 and the fast burn up of charocal works against a cave fire too.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/08/08 19:01:36 EDT

Thank you for giving me the correct term for the practice. I read about it in a book with a section regarding old world charcoal burners. Seems the different famalies earned their living managing their plot that was of course granted by the local lord since they were serfs. Seemed like a good way to insure a steady supply without the use of clearcutting techniques.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 04/08/08 20:31:45 EDT

When they wrote about it in Mother Earth News back in 70's it was just called "wood lot management".
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/08/08 21:00:09 EDT

Hey Guru, I read your reveiw of the Harbor Freight Russian pattern 110# anvil. This is the exact anvil I have and a couple of the guys in our club have them too. As I may have stated befor it is a very good starter anvil (although an ugly one at that) Having said that I must say that my anvil has the hardy hole turned at a 45 and, another one that's about a year older than mine is set the typical way. Mine is two years old now and when I got it it was coverd in cosmoline wrapped in very heavy plastic and bound in plywood and very thick cardbord. It had a sticker that said "made in russia" (in English) and the face had the typical facemill swirle on it that had to be ground off (not done reshapping the horn yet).
Least anybody cast aspersions on this handy little unit, let me say that I use a gillotine type swaging die set mounted in the hardy hole and opperate it with a 4# engineers hammer and great enthusiasm. It's realy not made for much more than this, certainly not heavy striker work over the tail.
Of corse the lack of sufficient hardening on the face is anoying and it is a butt ugly slug but, heck I'm no beauty queen my self. I don't think my particular anvil is made in China ( it has a good soul)but, I was going to pick up a couple more so my kids had somthing to start out on, now I'll look around for a couple of old ones I guess.
   - merl - Tuesday, 04/08/08 23:35:32 EDT

Thomas P, are you saying that I need to be welding in an open fire?and one with a thick bed of coals under it?
I have been having a lot of trouble trying to get a forge weld on a consistant basis. I get them accidentily once in a while but, never thought about the fire other than it needed to be hot. I use a hollow fire most of the time in an effort to conserve on coal during the winter when my suppliers pile is frozen solid. I notice during our club show that if any welding is being done it's with coal as well but, I don't recall the use of a hollow fire. Usualy they are making a wagon tyre or putting points on a plow and I always thought it was an open fire because of the work not the O2 scavanging.
Forgive me my many questions, I'm still pretty new at this.
   - merl - Tuesday, 04/08/08 23:55:29 EDT

merl: Some eBay resellers of these would declare "NOT MADE IN ASIA". Well, Russia is so large of a country part of it is considered to be Europe and part Asia, so they may not be technically lying. I have now heard from a couple of sources these 110-lb anvils are being discontinued from the HF retail outlets. They seldom appear on eBay these days and Frankie8... told me he was down to two of them maybe a month ago.

As Guru has noted in the past, with just a bit of reworking on the design they could have been a far better anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/09/08 08:25:21 EDT

I just bought a Champion 400 forge and blower. the firepot is 20 inches in diameter and about 6 inches deep. I want to form a bowl of sorts. I know about using clay but I'm not sure what clay to use or where to get it. Also is there a better way to create this thats under a hundred dollars or so, for example refractory cement.
   Jacob T. - Wednesday, 04/09/08 11:33:42 EDT

Mer; an "open fire" is one without the solid cave roof over it; it's just a pile of hot coke that you can stick you work into. You don't weld on top of it but with your piece inside it; but not so deep you are below the neutral-reducing level.

It's a bit more difficult as you can't peer in and see the state of your pieces to be welded; which is bad for your eyes anyway. You have to learn your forge and fuel and be able to make an educated guess on when it's ready to weld.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/09/08 11:36:02 EDT

Fire Irons - I can't commnet about a lot of them, but when Kim Thomas demoed at Quad State a couple years ago, he started his fire with a European Fire Steel he'd bought on ebay - supposedly 15th/16th century from Germany. He passed it around for the viewers to look at. It was definitely small, old, and worn. And just as definitely made of wrought iron with a piece of steel inlaid into the face for a striking surface -the weld was very visible. The steel in the face was almost gone from wear.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 04/09/08 13:36:13 EDT

Thomas P, what do you mean by "below the neutral-reducing level"? I've heard of the term "reducing fire" befor but can't recall what it was in reference to.
   - merl - Wednesday, 04/09/08 17:55:01 EDT

The solid fuel forge fire can be divided into a number of levels: starting from the bottom:

you first have a very oxidizing level as the O2 comes into the fuel from the tuyere---bad place to be as it's prone to burning up your piece!

Next is a level where the O2 is all consumed by the fire leaving none to make scale, decarburize or burn up your work---a very good place to be

Above that is a reducing level where there is excess carbon forming carbon monoxide which can actually carburize your work some---another very good place to be for people working high C steels. I usually lump the neutral and reducing layers together.

Then as you climb higher in the fire you start to get outside O2 finding it's way back in and so reversing the layers.

One major mistake a lot of new smiths make is to want to stick their piece in vertically so they get both the good and bad layers. In general you want to stick your piece in horizontally so it can all be in the "good spot".

You need to build a deep enough fire and not over blow it to get the good layers too.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/09/08 19:00:36 EDT

I say, "You'll be a dipstick if you insert your workpiece like a dipstick."
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/09/08 20:33:16 EDT

Claying Forges: Jacob, The heavy fire pots (5/8 to 3/4" thick) do not get clayed, just used as-is. The thin cast iron forge pans marked "Clay Before Using" get clayed with either common artists/potters' clay or a fire clay mix. So folks use clay and cement but this makes the forges quite heavy and a permanent fixture. All that is needed is a thin layer les than an inch to help insulate the cast iron.

I've seen ONE factory claying instruction. That showed a small ring of clay built around the grate as a combination gasket and "duck's nest". This helped control the fire and did not fill up too much of the forge. Remember that the majority of your forge is what I call "fuel reserve" space. You need this as the fire is constantly being fed from the sides.

To get that center depression of a fire pot you really need that sort of forge. The small flat bottomed forges were called "rivet" forges because they were used for heating rivets in steel construction. They had no fire pot like a heavy duty professional forge.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/10/08 09:34:22 EDT

Thanks guru. Just getting started here so I appreciate the advise
   Jacob T. - Thursday, 04/10/08 11:06:14 EDT

Jacob, when I clayed a forge I used whatever clay I could dig from a local creek mixed with wood ashes. As it dried I would hammer the still soft surface to fill up any drying cracks. When it started getting hard I would smear the cracks with mor of the mixture. Nothing fancy.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 04/10/08 11:13:56 EDT

Actual question; Can upsetting be done as a press operation or does it depend upon impact? I have trouble upsetting the middle of bars and want to build something just for this purpose. Pressed for time, trying to get a sample out, would apreciate feedback. Thankyou.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 04/10/08 13:32:44 EDT

A couple of days ago, Brian asked about welding the notch on his shear blade.
I dont know if he knows or not, but the original company is still in business, now as Rogers MFG, that made his machine, and I am sure they sell replacement blades.
They bought the company from Lehmann, which was the name of the old guy who invented them and used to show up at trade shows selling them- he was a hoot.
You can find them on the web at www.rogers-mfg-inc.com
A replacement blade is gonna be worth the money, IMHO.
   - Ries - Thursday, 04/10/08 14:29:36 EDT

Upsetting: John, the vast majority of upsetting is done in press type machines called "upsetters" or "forging machines". They have a pair of dies called grippers that grip the work and then the press (works like a huge punch press) closes the die against the grippers. You can do the same in a hydraulic press, power hammer or screw press.

A few power hammers had open side anvils where you could slip a die like a bolster plate under them and upset the end of the bar. There was usually also a back up or bucking shelf/stop to support the cold end of the work. See swageblocks.com, Swage block how-to.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/10/08 15:26:49 EDT

Thanks Guru, With this information in mind I am going to try to adapt a screw press.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 04/10/08 17:39:51 EDT

John Christiansen: The next best thing to having an upsetter is having an indution forge. Really! The ability to get a short, near welding heats makes hand upsetting much more practical than using a water can in a near vain attempt to isolate the heat. Can you describe exactly what you are trying to do please? Even most dedicated upsetters usually can only do upsetting on or near the end of a bar, not in the middle.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/10/08 17:51:44 EDT

Grant, May I gently disagree on the not upsetting in the middle? At the axle shop, we also made gear blanks. Several were a 6" round, upset to produce a 18" OD by about 7" thick gearblank in the middle. Had a stub shaft left on each side about 12" long. We made them by the truck load. Done in either a 9" or 10" upsetter.
The blanks were indeed induction heated as was most all the parts in that shop.
The trick is to have plenty of press tonnage, and plenty of frame rigidity. The grip slide indeed grips the part prior to the forging occuring as the GURU notes, but a critical thing often overlooked is the backstop. The bar to be upset MUST be backstopped, as the grip slides will not normally hold the bar.
We used counterbalanced porterbars, that had a cup on the end, and the hot billet slipped into the cup. The back side of the cup had a shoulder that went into the backstop.
When you are pushing a round bar, with between 1000 and 2400 tons, the grip slides will indent the bar, but would not hold the bar. If the cup was not located into the backstop, the bar was not located right and not back stopped, and the porterbar would violently move. I have first aided several men thrown as much as 10' in the air and as much as 15' sideways. Luckily, none fell on a tub of cooling forgings!

If building a homebuilt upsetter, I would use a impact tool like a pavement breaker, rather than a hydraulic push. Easier to hold, takes a less rigid frame.

The 9" upsetters had a frame more massive than one can usually imagine, about 450,000# of well designed, well cast American steel, sitting on a 50 cubic yard foundation with perhaps 6 tons of steel in the concrete.
   Ptree - Thursday, 04/10/08 18:59:17 EDT

do you know how to make a metal etcher using low voltage and electrolite, and what is electrolite , is it somthing I can buy over the counter?
   wayne - Thursday, 04/10/08 19:35:03 EDT

There is a drawing of a shop made upsetter in Jerry Hoffman's Shop Drawings For Blacksmiths. Uses a hand pumped hydraulic jack. Never used or seen one used, but it looks easy to build. Hope this helps.
   Jud Yaggy - Thursday, 04/10/08 19:36:07 EDT

For upsetting in the middle of a bar under about 1" in diameter, I use the O/A torch to get a tightly localized heat and then use a pneumatic impact hammer (muffler gun, chipping hammer, pavement breaker type thing) to do the hammering. One or two heats usually gets me what I need.

It really helps, when upsetting in the middle of a bar, to have the bar constrained from moving out of plane in any direction. I use scraps of pipe, angle iron, whatever is handy and can be tack welded to the big layout table. Tack on or clamp on a backstop and you're good to go.

The truly go-ahead way to do it in a small shop would be to have one of Grant Sarver's (Off-Center Products) spiffy induction forges. Tight heat in seconds flat!
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/10/08 19:53:18 EDT

John Christiansen, Do you need a smooth transition into an upset area of your bar or are you just trying to gather enough material for swaging a decorative element at that point? If you are just looking for a blob of material (technical term- grin) you might find it easier to forge weld a ring around the bar and then swage that to shape. Before going to the trouble of adapting a flypress don't forget that a simple guide like Vicopper suggests and a striker or two will get the job done pretty quickly too. Make it an adventure in smithing for a couple of your friends!
   - SGensh - Thursday, 04/10/08 20:32:57 EDT

Petri: I said "or near" the end. I know how to cover myself. 12 inch stubs? On 6" bar that's only two diameters, so like on 1" bar that would be 2 inches from the end. I have a picture of Nationals first 7 inch upsetter. It's posed with NINE men standing in the grip die pocket!

Fifty yards of concrete under a 10" machine? Kinda skimpy, ain't it?

SGensh: Yeah, that's why I'd like to know exactly what he's doing. Makes a big difference in how you attack it.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/10/08 21:06:58 EDT

Ptree: Actually that exact upsetter is at E.M. Jorgenson Forge in Seattle. I was talking to a person at National and she mentioned something about the weather. I asked her how she knew what our weather was today. She said she had just gotten off the phone with a guy at Jorgenson! Said It must be the oldest machine she'd ever delt with (1927). I gave her the serial # of my machine and after checking she found mine was built in 1924! Didn't know weather to laugh or cry!
   - grant - Thursday, 04/10/08 22:14:26 EDT

Upsetter: I fooled with a design for a horizontal air power hammer with a sliding anvil. Lean on the lever to engage the anvil into the ram and the mechanism would start cycling. Kind of like a turret lathe. Slides were primitive roller guides in V's (heavy angle). Reason for the long slide was space for upsetting in the middle of long bars like gate pickets. Welding the mass in might be a lot easier. . . .

Ingersol had an upsetter on their pointing hammers that used a high speed "jack hammer" as the power source. Worked horizontally.

I spent the night doing some bending with a 20T Manual Hydraulic press. Awful slow for upsetting. . but might work. Good place for a power press.

The SAD SAD, should be criminal thing is that most of those wonderful old huge machines made of the BEST cast irons and soundest castings ever made have left the country either as machinery OR scrap. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 04/10/08 23:32:42 EDT

Ouch - I have to agree about a lot of the old equipment. When I was with Armco, they took out a huge old shear that had been used to shear resquared sheet blanks. It could only shear up to 3/16" stainless, but could produce a 10 ft shear edge on that piece of stainless. It was from the 1910's and in decent condition. Armco couldn't get the money from customers to justify its use, but didn't want it out on the market being used by a possible competitor, so it got sold as scrap.

Of course some of those old machines produced a good product, but took a lot of babying - the line they had for disc harrow blades at Crucible Steel in the 1970's produced a good product, but they got blown out of the market by low priced foreign imports. The line had been installed in the 1980's.

Not all upgrades are bad though, in the 1980's Heller file was finally phasing out the lead pots they used to heat treat files after they'd been formed.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 04/11/08 00:23:57 EDT

Gavainh: How many of those old punch and sheering machines have fallen victim to simply new techniques, such as water/sand or flame cutting machines.

Place in Nashville (TN) where I occasionally buy steel also has a cutting shop. One day I watched them water cut out intricate shapes out of 1/2" x 8' x 10' stainless plate as I recall. Now I have never seen a punch machine in operation, but I suspect the flame cutting was a far more efficient process.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 04/11/08 02:28:50 EDT

Punching vs. Flame, Laser, etc.: Ken, in small quantities the new computer guided technologies are much more cost effective due to not needing tooling. But if you need tens of thousands of parts in a hurry a punch press will turn them out in days rather than months. I am not sure where the breaking point it but I suspect it is around a couple thousand parts.

Plasma, water jet and laser are slow and expensive per-part. But no tooling is required other than a good CAD drawing. If you can produce your own drawing then the cost is machine time and materials. I recently had some parts laser cut from 1/2" plate and they were clean and absolutely perfect. They were also about four feet long!

For a punch press operation you need dies and a die set. This can cost as little as $1,000 or so for a simple setup using stock shapes or tens times that. Unlike the laser cutting the die set can include bending operations as well as cutting. Once setup, parts only take a machine cycle to make (faster than you can say ker-plink) and dozens or more can be made in the time a laser could cut one part.

Back when I setup to make candle drip pan blanks it took a week to build the die set and a couple days to build the press. In a couple hours I had turned out hundreds of clean, perfectly round 16 ga. blanks on a manual (hand pumped) machine. At the time the new technologies were not available. The hand built dieset made using torch cut plates, babbitt guide bearings, old clutch springs and stock punches, paid for itself and has not been used since. If I were to go into business making these parts today I would still do it the same way OR use a punch press rather than the hand pumped hydraulic. The only way someone else could beat the cost using plasma or laser would be as a "government" job.

The new technologies have also decreased the cost of punch press tooling. EDM can be used to sink shaping dies and to cut punches and dies at a small fraction of the cost of machining the parts.

Most punch presses that have been scrapped out in recent years were due to safety concerns and wear. The old mechanical clutches are notorious for hanging and double striking, and many of these machines have made hundreds of millions of parts in their life. . . nothing lasts forever.

The problem with the big machines in the U.S. is we are rapidly losing our industrial base. Many of these machines are quite valuable and are rebuilt at the cost of millions of dollars to keep them going. But many of the rebuilt machines are being exported. In the local area every time they hold a job fair 2,000 to 3,000 people show up looking for jobs. Most of these people had jobs in manufacturing that have gone off-shore. When they do, the machinery is often shipped off with the jobs. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/11/08 09:50:20 EDT


I source a lot of sheet metal parts, custom cut to my drawings, in 10 to 20 gauge sheet steel. (I’m buying flat blanks to be formed and welded in-house – we have shearing, square notching, and single-hole punching capabilities only.) Sometimes, if I need a perfect edge, they must be laser-cut. But a few of my vendors have CNC punching machines. If I don’t need a perfect edge, and the machine has punches for the holes I need, I can buy punched cheaper than laser-cut, and the lead time is quicker. The biggest problem is, if the parts are cut out with a “knife punch”- a sort of chisel - this can create some burrs on the outside edges. If the parts are first sheared to the overall size, this isn’t an issue. I think if I request that the parts are deburred before delivery, the cost is still less than laser-cut.

BTW - As with laser, the CAD drawing is driving the CNC punch.
   Dave Leppo - Friday, 04/11/08 10:14:10 EDT

Wow, Wish I'd been here for this. Thanks for all the info. I am trying to pass .5 square thru .5 square diamond to diamond. No trouble slitting and drifting, but the resulting joint is a bit thin. So, trying to thicken .5 sq. a little. Need to do it 18 times so I thought it would be worth some tooling. Induction forge looks awesome, but, planning to use rosebud. Grabbed a small hand screw press out of inventory (not my little flypress) want to adapt it.Thinking of a setup in the large machinist vice, where the vice clamps the press bottom and work at the same time. Trying to figure how to grip the other end. Press platten slides on 2 1"rd. bars 4" apart mounted in chunkes of 2" plate at each end, with top plate threaded 1" acme. 10" work height. Might be rigid enough to prevent offsetting, not sure. Top grip will involve section of heavy wall tubing and some type of shop made collet. Open to suggestions, all else fails the big table will prevail.
   John Christiansen - Friday, 04/11/08 10:53:23 EDT

Sorry meant the large post vice.
   John Christiansen - Friday, 04/11/08 10:56:55 EDT


I really think a manual screw press is going to be too slow and not exert sufficient force quickly enough to get much work done before your heat diffuses out the bar from the desired area. I still think you want the speed you get from impact upsetting.

If you have an air hammer like I mentioned above, you can do those upsets in one heat. Take ten minutes to scab together a 1/2"(+) square socket on the end of a .401" standard chisel shank and you're good to go. I'd make the socket about 1" deep, just enough to keep it form jumping off the end of the bar when you trigger the gun, but you could just as well make it deeper with a side handle on it to assist you in keeping the bar in plane. A piece of thin-wall 3/4" tubing might fit over your 1/2" square bar just about right, and be quick to do.

If you don't have a compressor/muffler gun, you could still do the job pretty quick by hand using the tubing or some pipe to keep the stock aligned and just use a heavy hammer to do the upset. I think it might take two heats that way to get enough to fatten your joint.
   vicopper - Friday, 04/11/08 13:04:22 EDT

Hi i would just like to know if you can use BBQ coals in my forge? thanks
   Beginner - Friday, 04/11/08 14:55:19 EDT

Beginner, For practical purposes, NO. Some folks have done it. You get a terrible fire and lots of ash.

Charcoal briquettes (the molded charcoal) are mostly sawdust and starch glue. They have a little charcoal dust and mineral coal dust mixed in for color and to balance how they burn.

You CAN purchase "real lump charcoal" from various sources such as home and restaurant supply stores. It works quite well and is the exact same fuel as used for thousands of years.
   - guru - Friday, 04/11/08 16:14:05 EDT

Grant, that gear blank made from 6" od bar started as a 7 or 8' long bar to allow enough material for the gather in the middle. So I don't think it is like a 2" from the end of a 1/2" bar :) 5 hit progressive die. The operators hated that one as with that long a bar, gathering in the middle, the first dies were mostly very deep holes. Bars wanted to stick, and hard to align before one stepped on the "Here comes 1700 ton switch:)

And that 50 yards of concrete was the foundation under the 9". That does not include the pits at each side for the bullgear or clutch. Probably 100 yards all told.
I have no idea how much under the 10" as I did not have to move it:) Only a very few 10" upsetters made.
I have a sledging anvil just outside my shop at home. A 6" bar with a 22" by about 3" thick flange on the end. Long enough to set it about 10" in the ground. Made from 4140. Got another slightly smaller one in the woods for a powerhammer project if I build another one.
I could not guess how many men would fit in the tool slide and grip slide pocket of a 10" probably 25 or 30, more if they are chummy:)
   ptree - Friday, 04/11/08 20:51:43 EDT

Oooops, major typo, the disc harrow line was installed in the 1890's, not the 1980's. It was old when my grandfatehr retired from the mill in the 1960's.

Ken, if you want 1 or 2, a new flame cut line would probably give you a lower price than a 10 ft shear. Of course you'd have a flame cut edge which could affect things metallurgically, especially with stainless. If you needed 50 or 100 or more, that shear would have beat the pants off the flame line. Set-up, probably a couple hours, individual sheet shear time probably about 30 seconds, including manual positioning for shearing.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 04/11/08 23:50:38 EDT

Amature here with lots of tools { actually a cabinetmaker }.
Question about a vice I picked up. It's an Amercian Scale / Red Star #66, 6" jaws with about 14" travel. Has to be over 100lbs. Looking for info and can find nothing! Any help for a wood guy in Pittsburgh PA? Thanks, Jeff
   jeff - Saturday, 04/12/08 00:21:39 EDT

The rate at which we are loosing our ability to manufacture in this country, bothe through loss of market and lose of equipment makes my stomache turn!
Then on top of it we have to deal with US manufacturers that are helping to hury the demise.
I have a small machine shop at home with some good machines.One of them is a Harding, tool room horizontal mill. This machine has a 5c spindle tapper and Harding hasn't made solid end mill holders for it in over 40 years.
As an alternitive to making them myself, I buy somthing called a 5c fixture mount that is nothing more than a solid 5c arbor that is hardend and prescision ground with a "relitivly soft" head of varying size so you can use them for what ever. I simply mount them in the spindle of my mill and drill, ream, and finish lap them into what ever size end mill holder I need.
When I first started buying these I had to watch my $$ and make every purchase count. Now I feel sometimes I can only make my voise heard with the money I spend so I go out of my way to buy tooling made in the US even at three times the price as in this case.
The arbors I bought in the past were made in Tiwan but, thet were very well made, precisely ground, black oxidize finish, coverd in cosmoline and in a heat seald bag,and then in a padded box. All this for $35.+ shipping
Three weeks ago I orderd a pair of these arbors from the same tool company I always have but this time decided that because they were likely to be made in Mianland China and I didn't trust the quality for such an important tool as this I would splurge and get the Made in USA arbors at $103. and $67. each ( vs $63. and $35. MiC)
Three weeks later they rive at my door in beat up cardboard boxes with almost no preservitive on them, no oxide or any protective finish, rusty from storage, one of them had not been debured, they bothe had only a lathe turned finish on them, and they were bothe .001 undersize on the shank diameters that alowed them to just slop around in my irreplaceable precision spindle.
I had to send them back and orderd out the MiC arbors as I need them to make the tooling to make my swage block.
I have to say I was realy crushed and very disapointed by this and I will be contacting the manufacturer to let them know.
Why do some of us, like the people on web sites like this, try so hard to keep this all alive and growing for the future when others can destroy it without any effort and not even care or are too stupid to know the differance.
   - merl - Saturday, 04/12/08 01:32:59 EDT

Thanks for the tip about blades for my ironworker. As you say, they are still around, which is just awesome! I have the Bantam model which is really a great little tool.

   brian kennedy - Saturday, 04/12/08 03:28:48 EDT

I would like to form some chair seats out of thin sheet steel, maybe 20 gauge or even thinner. I think a cushion will go on top of them but I still would like to be able to contour the surface with two gentle curvatures (indented valleys) as well as a curve downward towards the ground in front for grace and comfort. I am at the prototype stage, I want to try to make one, then six. At such a scale, would one use armor-forming techniques by hand or what? Then the question becomes, if I want to use some kind of a mechanical stamping process, when this kind of a part is done industrially, what is involved? Is it practical to do on a funky cottage industry basis, or are hugely expensive dies involved that someone else has to make? And are hugely powerful presses required. Or could I get my dies made, or make them myself, and then take them to some one who has the big press and periodically mint a dozen parts or so? Etc.
   brian kennedy - Saturday, 04/12/08 04:04:07 EDT

Can you identify an anvil vise, and especially can you advise on where I might get replacements for the removable jaw inserts? It is the first one, top left in the group, under "the Vise" at http://www.blackiron.us/tools.html The jaw inserts are missing in this picture. Mine has one. They are interchangable and fit in the 3 slots at either end of the anvil face and on the moveable jaw. This is for a restoration project i am doing for the local historical society. Also, the shop's anvil is a Vulcan, with the arm and hammer logo raised but barely discernible low on the side, actually between the feet. Numeral "9" on the the front foot and "I.I & B. Co." ( exactly like that, no dot after the second "I") on the back foot. About 100 lbs. 1/4" face plate evident from chips along the edge. Any ideas on age for this baby? Sorry, I don't have "Anvils in America" handy, but any help appreciated.
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 04/12/08 07:57:10 EDT

Jeff: American Scale and Vise Co., Kansas City, MO was apparently a good sized foundry. They made scales, vises, screw jacks and cast anvils, among likely numerous other products. Apparently the anvils were of low quality as few seem to exist today.

Peter Hirst: Illinois Iron & Bolt Co., Carpentersville, IL. From your description your anvil probably dates to the very late 1800s or early 1900s. Cast iron with a steel plate. According to Richard Postman in Anvil in America they never advertised for the blacksmithing market, but rather for farmer or institutional usage, such as schools.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/12/08 08:59:08 EDT

Brian- For a one-off and to see if you can get the shape and texture you want, try hammering with rounded hammers or mallets with your sheet steel sitting on top of a sandbag. For more numerous production find a buddy with a planishing hammer or an english wheel. See the Guru's post above about press tooling for an idea of when dedicated tooling makes sense.
   Jud Yaggy - Saturday, 04/12/08 10:07:48 EDT

I wonder if you could get away with hardwood dies for a chair seat from 20 ga? If you could, you'd still need a pretty substantial framwork to support them evenly. And a big enough press (I don't know how to guess how big).

I doubt it would be even close to cost effective to make 6 with hardwood dies. But steel dies would be just plain nuts.

   Mike BR - Saturday, 04/12/08 11:01:48 EDT

Sheet metal chair seats- as it happens, I have made a thousand or more chairs with sheet metal seats.
I generally use 16 gage. Any thinner, and they dent too easily, and due to the fact that most of my designs had cutouts in them, the thin stuff is just too sharp on the edge. Plus, even with tig, its pretty time consuming for even a very good welder to weld 20 gage.
As for cold forming em- part of the problem would be the formability of commonly available steel. I used to use cold rolled for my chair seats, as it didnt need sandblasting afterwards (sandblasting can sometimes warp thin sheet metal- especially if it is being done by a minimum wage guy at the powdercoaters)
But cold rolled is pretty hard, and doesnt shape easily.
I have special ordered AK (aluminum killed) cold rolled sheet, and that can be hand hammered into shapes, but its not generally available in stock in most parts of the country, and it usually costs more.
The other thing to consider is springback- you would have to experiment with dies to make them the right amount too big, so the sheet sprung back to where you wanted it.
To do an entire chair seat with a press, all in one go, given that an average chair seat is gonna be about 16" x 18", I am guessing minimum 50 ton press, 100 would probably be better. This is a good mass production technique, but I can think of no easy way to get repeatability on small runs cheaply.

The best intro I know to shaping the thin sheet metal is Metal Fabricators Handbook, by Ron Fournier. HP Books, under 20 bucks new. He covers alloys, tools, techniques, and more.
And hand shaping em is quite possible, and the tools are pretty cheap- a hammer, a leather bag filled with shot, a leather covered "slapper", and, at most, an english wheel.
But, and its a big but- to do it efficiently, and get the same results every time, figure a few hundred hours of practice- its like blacksmithing- just cause Peter Ross can make something with just a hammer and an anvil, doesnt mean you can walk out tommorow and make ten of em in the afternoon.
I took a workshop with Ron Fournier, and yep, he could make your seats in about twenty minutes each.
But I couldnt, and I have all the tools and have been practicing, on and off, for ten years.

I would add, though, that, having made, and sold, 1500 or so metal chairs, I have found that the angle of the seat, the angle of the back, and the dimensions, including, perhaps, a small curvature on the front of the seat, all affect comfort MUCH MORE than those groovy "butt depressions" you are dreaming of.
Because they are do-able in wood, some chairmakers do em.
And the classic aluminum navy chair has them pressed in aluminum.
But there are hundreds of chair designs out there without them that are just as sittable.
   - Ries - Saturday, 04/12/08 12:58:27 EDT

Press Upseting, Just wanted to let you folks know, I set up my small upseting press this morning for a test run. No problem! .5 square became .75 sq. in about 3 minutes using a cutting tip for heat by myself. Thanks for your help, saved me a lot of time.
   John Christiansen - Saturday, 04/12/08 13:20:12 EDT

Ken: Thanks for the anvil info. Every bit helps, especially whcn explaining to the project sponsor why an anvil upgrade is in order. This one, like ao many others of its ilk I see described here and there, is badly chipped, and while the face shows a full quarter inch of thickness in some places, in otheres its obviously seriously worn down.

Any insight on the anvil vise?
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 04/12/08 16:09:22 EDT

I snuck in my basement yesterday and forged a mini horseshoe.. don't tell my wife
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 04/12/08 18:03:17 EDT

I need to join two pieces of same-diameter round tubing perpendicular to one another -- as if by a tee fitting, except without the fitting. This will require cutting a half-round section out of the end of the piece of tubing that will form the upright of the "tee." Is there a simple way to mark this sort of cut?
   Matt B - Saturday, 04/12/08 18:56:21 EDT

Matt B,
To join two tubes like a tee can be done several ways.
If the tubes are small, Harbor freight has a nifty little jig that you use a bi-metal hole saw of the diameter of the tube to cope the end. Also will do angled cuts. There are several "Blueprints" over across the street that show layout for coping by hand.
   Ptree - Saturday, 04/12/08 20:16:01 EDT

Peter Hirst: That is a multi-purpose vise by O. H. Hanson, South Milwaukee, WI. Dates to about 1880. It is missing a number of accessories which fit down into the upside down V slots in the vise. Only illustration of it I have seen in use was for drilling spoke holes in wagon tires via a crank handle drill held via the jaws. Without accessories it still makes a nice bench anvil. eMail me (click on name) and I'll send you back a photograph of the accessories. I also have a copy of the patent for it around here someplace.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/12/08 20:45:36 EDT

Peter Hirst: Correction to above. Patent holder was Ole H. Hanson of Litehfield, MN. It was manufactured by the Sewell Mfg Co. in South Milwaukee. Patent date is 1898, so would have been manufactured in the early 1900s. If you look at the base on both sides you should see that information.

I contacted a Sewell Co. in Milwaukee a couple of years ago on this. They thought the company may have had a foundry element many years ago, but are now mostly a service company.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/12/08 20:59:13 EDT

Hi all, been out of the loop for a while, but I'm back with a vengence!! Question, I just bought a 70# PW anvil with a resurfaced face. It has good rebound, but where would I look to estimate how much face was removed? Also, approximately how thick was the face plate originally? This is and old one as it doesn't have "England", stamped on it. Thanks.
   Thumper - Saturday, 04/12/08 22:31:43 EDT

Jeff - can't comment about the vice, but if you're interested in blacksmithing check out Pittsburgh Area Artist Blacksmith's Ass'n. at www.paaba.net Our nest meeting is next Saturday AM down at Rice's Landing in Greene County at Young's Machine Shop - a National Historic Site - combo machine shop/foundry that opened around 1900 and closed around 1970 - most of the machine tools, smithing equipment and foundry equipment are still on site.
   - Gavainh - Saturday, 04/12/08 22:53:17 EDT

Matt B,

There is a really slick little computer application that will draw patterns for cutting any angle juncture of tubing of any diameters. Just input the parameters and print the cutting pattern on paper and wrap it around the pipe and cut. Presto! Instant fit. Best part is, it's free. Check here for Giles Peter's great "TubeMiter" program:


   vicopper - Saturday, 04/12/08 22:54:09 EDT

TGN: What's forged in the basement stays in the basement. You can trust us, and about a million casual readers, to keep your secret. :-)

Outside of your propensity to push the envelope, how are you healing?
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/12/08 23:07:22 EDT

Ok Nipp, I'm gone for a couple of months and you're injured...what part of your body did you try to lift an anvil with this time (I won't state the obvious !!)
   Thumper - Saturday, 04/12/08 23:16:05 EDT

Brian Kennedy: You can make short run forming dies with steel filled epoxy. They can be cast from a mold made of plaster, wood, or a part You want to duplicate. Devcon and Hysol are brand names that come to mind. If Your ironworker is big and powerfull enough You might be able to use it for the press.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 04/12/08 23:28:56 EDT


That's fantastic. I hardly dared hope it'd be *that* easy. Thanks!

Jeff, I'll look over "across the street", too. I haven't noticed those particular blueprints before.
   Matt B - Saturday, 04/12/08 23:29:29 EDT

A little further digging (literally) has revealed some interesting features in the old shop I am restoring. The forge is wooden: essentially a box about 2 feet deep sitting on four legs up against the brick chimney. The box is filled with sand to the level of the hearth, which is just sheet metal on top of the sand. The cast iron tuyere is set into the sand, just in front of the side-draft chimney opening. No duck's nest or firepot. I have never seen a tuyere like this. Picture a small bowl about four inches sitting down in a larger bowl about six inches across. The larger bowl has a wide ring, like a flattened donut, sitting on its rim that also overlaps the rim of the smaller bowl, but does not touch it because it is sitting down in the larger bowl. A one inch pipe is set through the chimney (attached to a bellows behind the chimney) below the opening, and enters through the side wall of the larger bowl horizontally, so that the blast encircles the smaller bowl and is directed upward into the fire inside the wide rim. This creates a clear air blast about four inches across under the fire, and allows the smaller bowl to catch clinker without obstructing the blast. The rim and small bowl are easily removed for cleaning. Anyone recognize this setup? If so, can this tuyere be replaced? It is slightly burned here and there. Looks usable but slighly misshapen, in a way that I am sure affects the blast slightly.
   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/13/08 02:39:42 EDT

Thumper: On that weight my guess would be no less than 3/8", but more likely 1/2". On current thickness about all you can do is to try to trace the weld line. If resurfaced means 'milled off flat', likely it will be thinner at the from and back and perhaps almost full thickness in the area where a typical saddle dip would have been. It it means built-up, you may still have fairly full thickness front and back and perhaps even thicker than original in the saddle dip, but likely of a softer metal.

On the ENGLAND aspect, in AIA Richard Postman put the starting date at 1910. He now believes it was earlier. Didn't retain information, but sometime in the late 1800s U.S. passed a law saying all imports had to be marked with county of origin. Single the U.S. was PW's largest buyer, likely they would have complied. Perhaps someone has the year of this law handy.

I spoke with Mr. Postman about a week ago. He is now on the AIA update pretty well full time. He was then at the Trenton section.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/13/08 02:56:09 EDT

how should i go about makeing a forge?
   david - Sunday, 04/13/08 06:35:15 EDT

hi all
iv only just started doing black smithing and i have no clue on how to make a small forge so can some one plz tell me thanks heps.
   david - Sunday, 04/13/08 07:31:44 EDT

Matt B. The easy way to fit a tee in same size pipe or tube is to cut the tube in a saw at a 45 degree angle on one side then rotate the pipe 180 degrees, cut again, the cuts should not quite meet each other, forming an arrow point shape on end of tube. If the space between the cuts is correct, you have a perfect fishmouth. You may have to experiment to get the right distance between the end of the two cuts. About .3125 for 2" depending on wall thickness.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 04/13/08 09:15:44 EDT

David- Look at the top of the page at the link 'Getting Started in Blacksmithing'. Everything you need to know is there.
   MacFly - Sunday, 04/13/08 09:28:41 EDT

Thumper!! Good to see you back. Long story short I was in my Pinto and got T-boned by a drunk driver, I have a shattered pelvis and the Pinto is destroyed... this happened about a month ago. I don't need surgery, but the doc showed me some cool appliances when he found out I smith. As an expert in his field, he could use some learning about materials.. he showed me a hip replacement and stated "this is cobalt"... to which I replied "Oh, you mean cobalt steel". "No, plain cobalt". I chose not to argue the point that pure cobalt would be a bad thing to stick in your body. It'll be about 4 months til I can put full weight on my left leg, but I can get around pretty well with crutches. My TIG isn't set up yet and I'd love to weld some neat attachments to the aluminum crutches (custom beer bottle holder? hanging hook for carrying bags and such..). During the accident my right hand got wrenched from the steering wheel and I receieved a sprained wrist, so getting a hammer in my hand and using it to smoosh some hot metal would be a great form of rehabilitaion. My only problem is remembering to sweep away the little telltale circles the crutches leave in the shop floor dirt.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 04/13/08 11:59:40 EDT

That's a yoke son; the egg's on me...re smooshing metal.

In one of my long-ago classes, one student said, "It was real fat, so I squished it." I over-reacted and hollered for everyone to start talking like blacksmiths! You don't squish fat iron. If it's too thick or too wide, you reduce it by drawing, and on and on with my little rant. We had one lad in that class who was a veritable comedian. The following morning, while we were busy with our fires, the guy comes up to me with some hot steel, and says in an intentional loud voice, "Sir, what percentage of whackage should I give it?" That brought the house down. I loosend up a little after that.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/13/08 13:19:47 EDT

Sorry, Nip, but the doc is right. Cobalt and Titanium do not react adversely with body chemistry, or less so than most iron based alloys. A snip from a web page:

"Benefits of P/M Processed Cobalt-Based Alloy for Orthopaedic Medical Implants
By Michael J. Walter, Medical Alloy Specialist
Carpenter Technology Corp., Wyomissing, PA, USA
November 2006

For several decades, orthopaedic medical implants have been manufactured mainly from austenitic stainless steels, titanium and titanium alloys and cobalt-based alloys. Selection of which alloy system to use for a specific application has depended upon a variety of design criteria. These have included biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, tensile strength, fatigue strength, modulus, wear resistance, processing and cost.

The vast majority of cobalt-based orthopaedic implants worldwide have been manufactured using castings of ASTM F75 alloy. Castings in many instances have provided desirable processing flexibility and lower initial costs. However, distinct limitations have been associated with castings, such as coarse grain size, non-uniform microstructural segregation and lower tensile and fatigue strength. These drawbacks can be overcome by manufacturing cobalt-based implants from “cobalt-chromium-molybdenum” wrought barstock."
   John McPherson - Sunday, 04/13/08 14:49:55 EDT

Nip- weld on 4 small ball bearings to the end of each crutch and I bet they would leave tracks that looked like a house cat. Then all you have to explain is why the cat has a sudden interest in blacksmithing.
   Jud Yaggy - Sunday, 04/13/08 18:05:33 EDT


My dad has a big old anvil he wants to give me. It has "FISHER" and the number "30" cast into it. It looks like it had a eagle cast into the side but it is very faint. It measures 14-3/4" high, 5-1/4" wide on top and 32" long. It is big and very heavy. Anybody have any info on this piece?
   Billygoat - Sunday, 04/13/08 18:22:00 EDT

Piece is right. Piece a junk. Have your Dad set it aside an I'll be over in the morning to get it outta your sight. But seriously, that is one fine anvil. Made by Eagle Anvil Co. later Fisher & Norris of Trenton NJ. I have 3 of them and wouglnt trade em for anything. Cast iron with a nice stout steel face. Uninque character is the quiet, almost dead sound, but with very lively rebound. Easy on the ears AND on the hammer arm. Don't know about the "30" but it sounds about the same size as my main anvil, which goes 285. Receive it from your Dad with gratitude, and treasure it.
   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/13/08 21:28:42 EDT

has anyone tried to make a mokume gane billet with an induction forge? I thought maybe one could precisely set the amperage or current or whatever they use while applying clamping force to the stack...
I've never used one but it sounds cool.
   - Josh S - Sunday, 04/13/08 22:26:11 EDT


Since Mokume gane is primarily made from non-magnetic, non-ferrous metals, I'm not at all sure if it would be compatible with induction heating. The clamping device, however, might get tremendously hot and fry the mokume billet stock like a pannini press! But I'll be Grant Sarver could tell us.
   vicopper - Sunday, 04/13/08 23:09:10 EDT

Billygoat: that 30 is an indicator of size, nominally 300#. It might not weigh exactly 300 however.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 04/13/08 23:26:54 EDT

Whackage... love it. Okay, so I was wrong about cobalt... I'm a 316L steel kinda guy... And Jud.... ball bearings, cat... too much man, too much
   - Nippulini - Monday, 04/14/08 09:50:34 EDT

John Christiansen, If you can, send me a photo of your upsetting setup.
   - guru - Monday, 04/14/08 10:03:00 EDT

70# PW: Thumper, Faces were sort of proportional to size. I would guess 1/2" new on a 70# anvil. But remember, that these were primarily hand forged, then hand dressed on a big grinder. Faces could have waves and taper in the thickness. Thin spots can become REAL thin with further refinishing or machining.

Normally you can see a faint weld line on the sides of the anvil. However, if it has been freshly ground it may be difficult. You would need to etch it to tell.

The problem with PW's is that their "not from scrap" high grade wrought bodies were VERY soft compared to scrap bodied anvils of the time and they tend to get swayed in the center more than others. In this case machining results in the front and heal of the face being quite thin and the middle OK.

The normal step at the end of the face was the thickness of the face (about 1/2" to 5/8"). If the step is very low OR it have been ground back at an angle to create a step then this is an indication of how much was taken off.

We have an old English anvil of about 250 pounds in the shop that was machined flat. You can see where the leading edge of the step is ALMOST face high and the table has been ground at an angle to create some step. Almost all the face was removed and what is left (maybe 1/8") is about as hard a A36 plate. .

There is NOTHING wrong with a little sway in an old anvil and a LOT wrong with machining the face to where is wrecks the anvil. The above anvil was wrecked by ignorance.

Your old PW may be OK but it is difficult to tell.
   - guru - Monday, 04/14/08 10:21:46 EDT

Quality and Availability of Tools: Merl, I am constantly haranguing folks about the demise of U.S. Manufacturing. At one time we used to make the absolute best of almost everything except perhaps a few precision items made by the Germans and Swiss. Then the onslaught came from the Japanese, then Taiwan, now by China and 1.3 BILLION Chinese.

Folks, don't forget that we (in the US) are only a few hundred million and all of North America is still less than half a billion.

While China is actively protecting and promoting its businesses the U.S. government has been asleep at the switch for decades while we lost most of our machine tool building industry, most of our steel industry and are second to (a very small) Japan in Automobile manufacturing. All this while we are still the largest consumers of goods on the planet.

During this time the so called pro-business Republicans have been in office (just look at what our so-called OIL President has done for us. . .), and the Democrats have been in office and done nothing as well. Ross Perot warned of the giant rushing sound of jobs going to Mexico due to NAFTA and warned of exported jobs. Everyone just laughed at his big ears. . . I voted for him. Lindin Laroushe may be a wild card and his statements about the Queen of England a little out of place (while actually true if you follow the money) but he is a TRUE economist and KNOWS what we are doing wrong.

Today's batch of Presidential candidates are the whimpiest bunch we have had in decades. Only Barack Obama has said anything about losing jobs overseas but I think congress will only bury any initiatives he proposes.

We have lost on the primary metals industries, textile industries have gone, furniture industry is taking a huge hit and even high-tech (our supposed economic Ace) is leaving the country as fast as possible. . .

The ultimate Reganomic "service economy" is nearly here. Everyone prepare to bend over. . .

I don't know what the answer is but business as usual is not working.
   - guru - Monday, 04/14/08 10:25:16 EDT

Chair seats: I have a friend who bought a scraw press that was originally used to stamp the pattern in metal ceiling panels. About a 2' square platen and ram. That would probably work for stamping. Depending on thickness you might be able to get away with only the top die and use a giving material for the bottom---makes it easier to build and change.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/14/08 12:25:07 EDT

Hi I do not know if this would be considered a reasonable question since it is sort of basic. If I am using a hot slitting chisel or punch...what tool should I strike it with? mallet? not my blacksmith hammer, i would guess...thank you!
   jonathan Y. - Monday, 04/14/08 12:30:58 EDT

Jonathan Y,

Strike hot chisels and other top tools with a good hammer, but maybe not your best one. Forget a mallet, as it will have a soft face that will only absorb energy and put you to extra work. The striking faces of most top tools should be slightly softer than a decent hammer face, and should be dressed with a chamfer to minimize spalling under blows. If, by chance, you get a top tool that is harder than the hammer face, you'll be glad you used your second-best hammer.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/14/08 14:15:47 EDT

Chair Seats: A very nice hand made chair seat is one woven from 3/4" to 1" wide strips of about 16ga (1/16") steel. The basket weave can be dished slightly for a nice curve.

The comments on thicker materials are right. 16ga seems to take bends much better than thinner material. Heavier is rough to work by hand and needs to be done hot. 16ga can be worked on wood forms (stumps).

The comments on other shape considerations on chairs are also correct. A flat seat is not hard to sit on but one with to sharp and edge, to shallow or too deep can be painful in a short while. Seats need to be level or slightly sloped back (never forward). A forward sloping seat is used to make someone feel uncomfortable or nervous.
   - guru - Monday, 04/14/08 14:59:59 EDT

Have you any clue as to where a person might get an old anvil?
   Joleen - Monday, 04/14/08 16:45:18 EDT

I"m very pleased to see your stance on Raganomics. The metalworkers that I talk to always seem to want to tell me how great Republicans are. Republicans brought us "free Trade" as an ideology. Free trade is the Greatest lie ever told the American People. I don't honestly are WHO you vote for in Novemenber, just vote Against "Free Trade". 28 years of this economic policy in the US have only served to make the rich richer, the poor poor and the middle class nearly Non-existant. I'm 32 years old and in my lifetime i've never been worked above the so called poverty line. I seriously doubt I'll so as well as my parents.

My applogies for the off topic rant, It's tiring to see people vote aginist their own best intrests because one party is anti-gay marrige or for some other meaningless issue.
   Frostfly - Monday, 04/14/08 17:56:06 EDT

Josh: Yes non-ferrous heats just fine in induction, any conducting material. As Vicopper mentioned, the clamps could be a problem, but I think it could be done fine.

Interestingly even glass can be heated with induction! Once it's liquid anyway. While glass is a great insulator, it becomes condutive when liquid. Maybe has something to do with silicone being a semi-conductor, don't know.
   - grant - Monday, 04/14/08 18:00:26 EDT

Joleen, allow me to introduce you to Billygoat (see above).
   - grant - Monday, 04/14/08 18:04:53 EDT

Well actually glass isn't that great a insulator, it can resist ampherage but not voltage, when you get above the 1000 or so volts mark, electricity will go across the outside surface of glass even when in fractions of a miliamp. The liquid thing prolly has something to do with the electrons of sillicon atoms being able to freely move about due to the excess energy.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 04/14/08 18:07:24 EDT

Joleen: actually the best way is just to get the word out that you are looking for one. Tell all you relatives, friends, neighbors that you are looking for an anvil (and any blacksmith tools?). Put an ad in your local selling paper (Little Nickel, Big Nickel whatever. Put up "Anvil Wanted" on bulletin boards. You'd be amazed how many anvils are gathering dust in garages and basements.
   - grant - Monday, 04/14/08 18:12:55 EDT

Thanks. It doesn't sound like he is trying to get rid of it, but that is EXACTLY what we are looking for. We would come and get it, if we could find one.
   Joleen - Monday, 04/14/08 18:13:16 EDT

Joleen; I'd say look right over there; they sold 6 of them about a month ago.

Of course not mentioning what country/state/city they were at will probably not help a lot, Hint Hint

If you are in the USA shipping for an anvil from Australia South Africa would probably be rough---and vise versa

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/14/08 20:07:19 EDT

I'm sorry...look right over where? :) The ads on the left? Right? Who sold 6 of them about a month ago?

Yes, shipping would be enormous to the USA from Australia or South Africa. I am in the USA. I am hoping to find one somewhere near here...St. Joseph, Missouri(the Midwest).

Thank you Thomas for pointing that out.
   Joleen - Monday, 04/14/08 20:15:32 EDT


While it is a good bit of a drive, the Blacksmiths Association of Missouri (BAM) is holding a large conference in Sedalia, MO on May 1-3, 2008. Go to www.bamsite.org for details.

At that conference there wil be numerous anvils for sale, believe me. There will also be demonstrations, vendors of tools and supplies for blacksmithing, etc. Check it out.
   vicopper - Monday, 04/14/08 20:40:19 EDT

Thank you!!! I will check it out. That would be an awesome thing to go to.
   Joleen - Monday, 04/14/08 21:02:14 EDT

vicopper is right. There are always plenty of anvils for sale at the BAM conference, both new and old. Most of the tailgaters will be set up by Wednesday evening.
   Bernard Tappel - Monday, 04/14/08 22:42:29 EDT

Hi all.
Hey Guru, I hope you don't mind my bit of a rant back there about the crummy tooling. I relise this portion of the site is supposed to be for metal working questions and answers not gripes and complaints but, I kind of got caught up in it.
Anyway, I mentioned a while back that a friend of mind makes his own blacksmithing charcoal and that I would get his "recipe" and post it here for everyone to see. Well he was just about to make up a batch so he took pictures of his whole operation with detailed descriptions and is going to send it to me on a disc so I can pass it along.(No,he doesn't do e-mail, he snail mails every thing by disk... he really enjoys anvilfire .com though)
I was going to mention to Jonathan Y that I always use my "unfinished" 2# or 4# hammers for strikeing. All my good hammers are finish ground on the face and pane ends or might have a special shape on them that I don't want to have to re-do. I have these two off the shelf hammers that don't mind getting clobberd or used to drive the gillotien swage... Always a goog excuse for another hammer, " oh, I can't use my good hammer for that, I'd better go and get another one or two..."
   - merl - Monday, 04/14/08 23:12:02 EDT

Joleen, you don't say what you want it for. I hope it is for blacksmithing but if you just want it as an ornament then some of the ASO type would be available for next to nothing. I have a couple of these and am considering using one of them as part of a display outside the forge just to catch the eye.
   - philip in china - Monday, 04/14/08 23:21:05 EDT

Joleen, you don't say what you want it for. I hope it is for blacksmithing but if you just want it as an ornament then some of the ASO type would be available for next to nothing. I have a couple of these and am considering using one of them as part of a display outside the forge just to catch the eye.
   - philip in china - Monday, 04/14/08 23:21:30 EDT

Joleen, you don't say what you want it for. I hope it is for blacksmithing but if you just want it as an ornament then some of the ASO type would be available for next to nothing. I have a couple of these and am considering using one of them as part of a display outside the forge just to catch the eye.
   philip in china - Monday, 04/14/08 23:22:19 EDT

Quality And Availability Of Tools: Due to the demise of American industry there are more and better high quality tools available [used] at reasonable prices than ever before.

BUT... when these are gone there will be no more. It bothers Me to see America's manufacturing capacity go down the tube, but if You think Barak Obama is going to bring it back You are a dreamer. I doubt that protectionist politics would have stopped the move of industry to developing nations, but it might have slowed it down a bit. In the past protectionism has not worked out as well as planned.

It is easy to focus on the low quality crap coming from China, but the real problem is that China and others are making quality goods too. America wasn't in the business of producing bottom quality goods, they have been coming from overseas for decades. What is hurting us is developing nations making the mid to high quality products We used to make.

After WW2 We were the only country with a large manufacturing industry that hadn't been compromised by warfare, so the market was open for American goods worldwide. Now that We have to compete with people who are willing to work a long day for less than We want for an hour it is impossible to compete. Why will these people work for so little? Because it is a lot more than they can get by farming.

The part that gripes My ass so much about the "cheap" imports is that they are marked up by such extreme percentages by the middle men that We end up saving only a little, while they make a killing on the goods.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/14/08 23:22:21 EDT

Guru, I was going to try to put some pictures on forgemagic, but I am basicly computer illiterate. If I can't post them, I will snail mail a disk. The destruction of Our industrial capacity, is an outrage. Around here, the tool dealers' warehouses are full with few buyers, they don't even go to the auctions anymore. I can't even mention the working equipment, often with vast amounts of tooling, that dosn't even draw any bid at all. If I had a mill building it would be full of large, good, free but for the hauling, machine tools, even late model CNC. Also, the price of scrap is so high that many large metal things are worth more as junk than as usable. However, my capacity has increased greatly at very little cost.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 04/15/08 00:25:09 EDT

Just an interesting aside the discussion: Haas Machinery in high rent Californicate is now shipping 1000 machines per month. All casting, machining and assembly done right here in the USA! If they can do it anyone should be able to.

I'm torn on the issue. Folks weren't lining up at Chambersburgs door to buy 200lb air hammers for $100,000.00 each. Thank god for the chinese air hammers. I sell indution heating machines for around 10% of what domestic manufacturers get. After three years and forty some machines I HAVE NOT HAD ONE FAILURE OF ANY SORT!!! Dave Boyer got it right: the scary part is the HIGH quality stuff comming in from China. Who's fooling who? It can't cost THAT much more to manufacture them here.

Too often it's not a choice of import or domestic, it's import or do without. I needed micrometers from six to 12 inch. Import was $120.00 and you don't want to know what American was. They test out right on with the standards every time.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/15/08 01:45:21 EDT

Dave, I was trying to keep the politics to a minimum I didn't mention a canidate. Let me recommend you to history tho. after WW2, yes the US had an undamaged, but the US Industrial base was booming until the early 80's. The question is "why"? We were getting imports into the US during much of this period, but American industry contiuned to flourish. Tarrifs that we placed on imports protect american workers. The tarrifs were designed (if not always practiced) to increase the cost of a product so the labor cost on the an import product from a place with lower wages was the same as the price of labor on US goods. Historically The US has had teriffs up as high as almost 40%. currently our teriffs average about 3%. while every other country in the world still has 20% or higher teriffs on our goods. What effect does this have on the US. Easy, look at the US trade defficit. the US is EXPORTING money as fast as we can print it. Worse yet, as our industries are exported overseas where labor is cheeper and profits higher because of low terrrifs, we start exporting the raw materials. from an economic point of view the US is a colony of china. We export raw matierals to them, they send us finsihed goods (i seem to remember a rebellion occuring for this reason somewhere). The only major diffrence is the international corperation skimming the cream of american wealth off isn't a british company, it's an "American" company. Tho they are mostly International corperations that incorperate in countries that have very happy business regulations.

Please forgive the rotton spelling, but the theory is sound (and historicaly proven). The long and the short is this. I don't care about China, I don't care about Mexico, or India or anyother country, I care that my Neighbors have good paying jobs, can afford to send thier kids to college, feed them, and keep a roof over thier head. It's amazing what happends to a country that has decent jobs, Crime drops, Homlessness drops, all manner of good things.

I don't think barak obama will fix the American economy, but I know that john mcain will just continue the current administrations policy. Personally I was an Edwards supporter.

Vote as you will, but Please remember you are not an island and your neighbors matter too.
   Frostfly - Tuesday, 04/15/08 01:51:37 EDT

My understanding is that the BAM conference this year will be a 'mini' ABANA conference with ABANA sponsoring the demonstrators from outside the U.S. Apparently Tom Clark, and company, is planning to put on quite a show this year. Don't know if they still do it, but a HUGE bonfire was part of the activities.

On anvils, don't overlook eBay. Typically there are a dozen or more listed at any one time. Problem there is you have to look at both purchase price PLUS shipping, which can be more than the purhcase price. If you keep looking long enough you should, eventually, be able to find one within a reasonable pick up distance. My personal eBay bidding technique is to determine what is the most I'm willing to pay for an item sitting in my driveway. That is my one-time bid. I am outbid about 80% of the time, but I don't pay more than I feel comfortable with either. If you see an anvil you are very interested in on eBay provide the listing number (not link) on the forum and ask for advice on it.

You can also try www.craigslist.com for nearby large cities. Just do a search on anvil.

Hillary Clinton has been pointing out it should be "Fair" Trade, not "Free Trade". We gave most favored nation trade status to China and what have we gotten in return? My understanding is some of the jobs NAFTA shifted to Mexico have now shifted to China, and now the Chinese are starting to complain about being under bid by Vietnam, particularly in the clothing-related area.

On the propane forges I make up each requires two 1 1/2" to 3/4" black iron bell reducers. I can buy ones made in Jackson, TN (about 40 miles from here) for a bit over $6 each. They come 24 to the box. Or I can buy China import at a bit over $2 each. They come individually wrapped in plastic, five to a nice little display box. Essentially that is saying China can import scrap iron, turn it into a finished product, package it much better, ship it to the U.S., include middleman cost and still sell for about 1/3rd U.S. produced. Something is very wrong here. I'd love to buy U.S., but that is an extra $8 I would either have to eat or pass on to the buyer there alone.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/15/08 07:29:17 EDT

Frostfly, the US is loosing power just as the British did and just as all empires eventually do. Just smile and accept it graciously - it will be OK.
   andrew - Tuesday, 04/15/08 07:30:13 EDT

Hello, what kind of metal wasused for the tip of a Navy five inch thirtyeight cal projectile in 1972? I am pretty sure it was some of our own ammo that went through a couple of bulkheads to get where i found it. Dark grey metal, hollow and remains of threads onthe back side. I dont believe it was part of the bomb dropped by a MIG on the USS Higbee on April 19 1972. Thanks, Gator.
   - Gator - Tuesday, 04/15/08 10:57:19 EDT

andrew: Yep, and the 'baby boomers' probably had the best years American offered.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/15/08 14:26:23 EDT

Did some more forging today, also converted a large ball pein hammer into a nice little cross pein type tip. I've heard about it, but never needed to forge while sitting, but I don't have much of a choice... if I stand too long my right leg starts to become fatigued. Sit-forging is strange, I know what motions to go through, but range of motion is different, slightly impeded. Now lifting and welding heavy car parts into scuplture is something that will have to wait.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/15/08 14:37:15 EDT

Three years? For a power hammer? Is that supposed to mean something? My Buffaloe iron worker is close to a hundred. I fired a mechanic who didn't want to maintain it properly because it was so old. None of my starret tools were bad investments. Some were very expensive 30 years ago when I bought them. Who's fooling who? You are fooling yourself. When my grandchildren inherit my still working starret tools, all your import tools will already be recycled a few times. It can't cost that much more? Really? Pay-rate; here,20-40$/hr. There,1-4$/day. Here,E.P.A. there none. Here, OSHA, there none. Here,benifits and health ins. There, none. Here ,product liability, there none, Here no new coal, hydroelectric or nuclear power plants, there, new dirty burning coal plant every month and counting. Need I go on? I hope not.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 04/15/08 16:16:21 EDT

Often read but rarely post as I normally don't have much of value to add but Gator's comment on ammunition reminded me of a neat trick I use in my own shop. If you walk the deserts around any of the old WWII armor training grounds you will be able to pick up .50 AP bullets. Cut the copper jacket off with a cold chisel, inset them in a rod and you have a center punch that will mark anything. No idea what they are made out of but they do mark everything, even bearings and I haven't had one chip or split yet. I simply drill a slightly undersized hole and apply a lot of 'wackage' to drive it in. Use some 1/4 pipe obviously, don't hit it directly with the hammer, unless your after that poor-man's checkered look.
   Ken Nelson - Tuesday, 04/15/08 16:50:58 EDT

John Christiansen: the three years was for the induction machines. If I was selling $40,000.00 American machines I doubt I would have sold any. Did YOU buy a $100,000.00 Chambersburg so your grandchildren could inherit it.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/15/08 16:53:34 EDT

John Christiansen: I agree that your Starrett tools were a good investment, but I doubt that my import micrmeters will be any less accurate in thirty years or fifty.

You doubt "It can't cost that much more" Then why is Haas competitive in the world market? They are even at the low end price-wise for CNC machines.

$100,000.00 Chamberburg or $8,000.00 Chinese air hammer? Yes, sometimes it is import or do without.
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/15/08 17:09:15 EDT

Frostfly: It's interesting you compare tarrifs. While it may be true that Europe has higher tarrifs, whether that is good or not I don't know. Most Western European countries have unemployment around 10% and eastern European countries a whole lot more, IN GOOD TIMES. We, on the other hand, think anything over 5% is high and must be a recession!
   - grant - Tuesday, 04/15/08 17:37:23 EDT

Ken Nelson and anyone who wants to use old ordnance for something.
NEVER, EVER pick up, hit with a hammer, apply heat or in any way touch any ordnance laying about on an old range. The general failure rate for exploding ordnance in WWII was about 17%. That means it tried to fire and did not. That also means in many cases that the safety arming devices have spun down and they are HOT!. Every year in the ARMY we got the lecture, "Don't touch unexploded Ordnance" Every year about 20 to 40 personell were killed or maimed by doing just that.
.50 came in tracer, incindary, and the ones that may bite your Ken are AP/incindary. Designed to penetrate then ignite. 20mm have explosive heads most often. The 40mm rifle grenades are some of the worst. Many dud, many are found because they are nice shiney brass color and don't deeply peetrate the earth. I signed for a barracks for my guard unit in Camp Chaffee in about 1985, and it had a 6" hole in the floor of 2" popular, and many, many steel splinters in the ceiling and walls. Guy picked up 6, and was taking them home. set down his duffle bag and they went off. He lost both legs, his buddies , about 6 of them went to the hospital with splinters.
At Camp Shelby MS. I saw French 75mm shells that had dudded in WWI. They also often had the fuses knocked off when they landed. The EOD guys used a pellet rifle to pop the fuses. The shells were much worse if fused and were blown in place.
Again, DON"T touch unexploded ordnance" Don't walk old ranges.
Life is too short to spend any dead, injuried, or in jail. And any combo of the three really sucks.
Ptree, who once upon a different century was SP-5 ptree, in 2nd/138 FA, KyARng, a 8" Nuclear capable howitzer unit.
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/15/08 18:59:37 EDT

Grant and John Cristiansen. I share the desire for US made tools. Starret has a quality in the hand that has alway inspired me to a higher level of work. I use import tools, including dial calipers, mostly in environments that are dust and dirt laden. But, and this is a big but, the Starrets if well handled, well cared for are not a tool to hand down to a Son, they can be handed down to you Son's Son. I used Starret and Brown and Sharpe precision tools that were bought about 60+ years before I started, and they were still accurate, usable, calibrateable to standards tracable to NIST. The idiots that bought and shut us down intended to collect them and SCRAP them. Then the whopping rate of $0.08/#. Somehow, even though marked with the old companies logo,when I did the tool checks to see what belonged to the company when the guys left, I never saw a single logo. Odd, perhaps, when I told the guys that I did not want to see a single logo in the boxes I checked, meaning to turn them in, I never seemed to have time to flip all those old, to be scrapped jewels:)

I doubt that the really cheap import tools will make it to my son's son. They may not last to my son.
   ptree - Tuesday, 04/15/08 19:10:38 EDT

$1.00-$4.00 dollars an hour is awful high for Chinese labor. One of our guys set up a machinist's shop and electrical stamping operation in China for my former employer over there in the early 90"s and said they were only paying $12.00 per month!! They were quite happy to get it and had a line of workers waiting outside the back door to get jobs all the time.
   Robert Cutting - Tuesday, 04/15/08 19:25:33 EDT


I don't know if anyone else has experienced this problem, but frequently when trying to load this page, in a new browser window, it hangs up right at the end and crashes MS-IE. No other site does it, ever. The last line of code it crashes on is always:


Hope this helps,

   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/15/08 19:45:37 EDT

Guru: I've been looking into homemade welding fluxes for forge welding recently, and have just about settled on a anhydrous borax/boric acid/iron filings mix. I have heard however, from a couple guys who swear by either black or red iron oxide as the thing to use instead of iron filings. I would think adding any oxide is couterproductive. Could we get your take on home grown flux?
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 04/15/08 21:27:25 EDT

Guru, Ken, thanks for your input on tne little PW anvil. On closer examination, there is some fill on the edge(weld), strangely, only on the side I stand on (horn to the left)?! The sides of the anvil were dressed as well as the top. No seam line available. I'm gonna assume it was taken down pretty much on the face, as three sides of the hardie hole are like new. On the side that's still chipped, the chip goes down evenly for about 1/4in, so I think that's all that's left of the hard top plate. Hey, for an occasional demo for the boy scouts and light shop work, it should hold up longer than I'm gonna be able to swing a hammer.
Nipp, a Pinto? Didn't anyone ever tell you they go off like a napalm bomb if rear-ended? Hey buddy, I think God gave you a wakeup call on this one with merely,(Ha), a T-Bone. If you want an older cult car, get a Pacer, they don't explode and the front end grill and lights always reminded me of John Denver. Who know's, it could be a chick magnet (don't mention that to the wife if you're married)!!
   - Thumper - Tuesday, 04/15/08 22:16:23 EDT

No, I built an american made hammer with american made parts and american made steel and american made tools. If or when it breaks down, I or any other half decent machinist can repair it. With just a file if need be. When I first lost interest in chinese junk, was when I tried to repair chinese hydraulics. Hmmm, not SAE o rings, not metric, well what are they? Chinese. Sorry, no idea where to get those. You get what you pay for. And by the way, How many 200# hammers have you sold? Also, for the record, I completely disagree with your statement that your import mic.s will last for 30 or 50 years. That is the false economy of buying them. That you will need to replace them. At least once. If and its a big if, a starret tool does lose acuracy, Starret will refurbish it for barely more than the shipping cost.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 04/15/08 22:44:58 EDT

John Christiansen: there are plenty of 40 year old Mitutoyo [Japanese] precision tools thast are still in good working condition, but when they were new people said the same things You are saying about "imports". There are good Chinese tools, but You prtobably won't find them at Harbor Freight or at a flea market. I rerally like my 30+ year old Starrett tools, but when I wanted a set of large micrometers in '84 I got a set made in Poland [the Chinese ones came on the market a few years later]. I never wished I sprung for American made ones, but shortly after I got them MSC put the NSK brand [Japanese] sets on sale for not a whole lot more than I paid, I would have rather had those.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 04/15/08 23:54:35 EDT

"And by the way"???? I DON'T SELL HAMMERS! Where do you keep getting that? I was just comparing U.S. made with Chinese. Not everyone can build their own hammer. The micrometers have lasted fifteen years so far, the 6 - 12 inch just don't get much use, but when you need em, you need em!
   - grant - Wednesday, 04/16/08 00:21:25 EDT

The innards of my Armitron watch are Chinese, I suspect, and it is truly a wonderful watch. Dirt cheap and incredibly accurate and versatile. Moreover, my maritime lawyer friend in NYC who keeps close tabs on such things says our Asian brethren can make great tankers and freighters when they choose to. That said, I must report, sadly, that every Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese tool I have ever used has been pure caca. Junk. Garbage. Worthless. Exhibit A would be "Great Neck" pipe wrenches. Compare them with the century-old U.S. counterparts and there is simple no comparison. Examine Exhibit B, the seemingly massive machinist's vise that swivels and pivots. U.S. made it would probably run about $1,000. Chinese-made, it wholesales for $25-30, retails for $50 and worth every penny. The jaw falls off because of the bad weld if stressed-- that is, if the aft casting that should have been a forging that serves to tighten the pivot doesn't break first. The "anvil" is but a piece of 1/2-inch plate cotter-pinneded to a thin and extremely brittle cast iron cylinder, the joint Bondoed to appear solid. Finishing touch: the bolts that fix the swivel in position are brittle cast iron, too, so they break when tightened. How droll. Under the counter lights with sub-standard wiring, bathroom heaters that overheat, vise grips that fail, hammers with hafts that bend, kids' toys and pet foods that are poisoned, medicines that are fake, etc., etc. it's all a hoot. Our Asian brethren must be laughing their asses off. Hyuk hyuk.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 04/16/08 01:31:33 EDT

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