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 8 - 15, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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Hey there... any idea where a person could obtain smaller quantities of iron ore? Like Hematite, and Goethite? I have searched all over the 'net, and i can barely find places that sell it per ton, which is way too much, not sure that would even fit in my yard, lol.
I'm looking for some to make true wrought iron bars with (which from what i understand, is basically not made anymore)
with a homebuilt bloomery. Much obliged - Jimmy
   Jimmy Caylor - Wednesday, 04/08/09 03:06:56 EDT

hi listen i know your sick of people asking how to make swords when they have no skill or knowledge etc. i do not mean disrespect when i say "i want to create my own sword from my lifeblood as a sign of my dedication to my own way of life" i have no experience in metal work save for 3 years in secondary school which was basically not worth much i want to start at the bottom with a wooden sample to see how far my skills are at the moment and see how far i can procede i am asking you for guidance i live in ireland i do not know any master craftsmen but i am willing to study books and any guidance you have to offer me thoroughly and appropiately i do not want to make a sword just cause it would be neat but to relfect the kind of person i am a sharp trustworthy sword i can keep by me and maybe one day in the far future i can realize that with your help thank you christoph from ireland
   christoph brink - Wednesday, 04/08/09 05:08:50 EDT

Iron Ore: Jimmy, You mine it. My friends at the Rockbridge Bloomery started out by hiking in to an old iron mining operation in the mountains of Virginia, mining and backpacking out their ore. They also had to roast and crush it (by hand). They may have better sources today.

Commercial mining operations deal in the millions of tons, not pounds or even tons of ore. In fact, a small landscaping loader bucket will hold and easily dump a ton or more of ore into a truck. . These mines also deal directly with or are owned by smelters and do not do business with the public.

There are a surprising number of commercial products you will not find on the Internet and many industrial operations that have no presence what so ever on the Internet. They do not do business with the general public and their customers know who they are. For example, I recently needed to purchase asphalt roofing tar. It comes in 100 pound cylinders and I was willing to buy that much. I figured I could go to my favorite on-line industrial supplier that carries just about EVERYTHING and order it. Nope, no deal, nada. I then spent hours searching the net and even had a hard time finding ANY specific product information about roofing tar (manufacturer, material specs, application data). There are TONS of sites indexed under "roofing asphalt" but none in the top searches are the raw material manufactures OR distributors. I finally found a manufacturer, tracked down a distributor and had them order some from another warehouse. But it took several tries, and this is a COMMON commercial product.

There are small, occasionally high grade, abandoned old mine sites all over the country. Reasons for abandonment vary. Many were mined out or were too small for commercial purposes, some were in remote locations with bad transportation or not near other needed resources like fuel. Costly sites are commonly replaced by larger more convenient sites. To find these sites you obtain a commercial minerals map from your local state department of geology. You can also find both working AND abandoned mines on topographic maps but they are not defined by product type. Note that all rules applying to trespassing or theft on public or private properties apply.

One group I know has a connection at an iron mine where they obtain high grade processed ore that has been ground to a shot and sand sized grit and passed through some initial separation (probably by density). Its well over 90% iron. Other small smelters collect bog ore. . .

SO, you have a couple choices. Do the research and dig your own, OR contact other small research or hobby smelters and ask them. They may have a source OR even share material with you. A good start is the experimental iron smelting resource disk by Darrell Markewitz mentioned on page 19 of our 42nd edition of the anvilfire NEWS. There is YEARS of research in this one disk and anyone interested in the subject would be a fool not to purchase it at ten times the price.

Note on Wrought: If you put your efforts and money into finding old wrought (there is a surprising amount of it around) you will find it cheaper and easier than making it. There is everything from old truss bridges that were entirely wrought and old fencing to old unused bar that is waiting to be found or purchased. I suspect our old friend Daryl Meier still has some of the bridge he bought. . . Pieces are large and ugly but not NEARLY as ugly as DIY blooms.

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/08/09 09:44:14 EDT

Sloved C-142 Furnace (Ignition Problem)
Just wanted to express thanks for everyones support getting furnace up and running.
Once a sufficient gas supply problem was solved the furnace fired right up with temp controller cycling on and off as it should.
The problem ended up being the last leg of connection from the gas main to the input to furnace. It was a 1/2" flex hose with magnetic check valve.Installed a 5/8" flex line and everything worked fine, all we had on hand. Will ultimately make all gas line 1" the entire run. Boy don't I feel ignorant. It is always something relatively simple once you know what the real problem is.
Thanks again for your input, very helpful and appreciated. Time to go heat somthing up.
   Eric - Wednesday, 04/08/09 09:55:59 EDT

Christoph from Ireland,

We will be all the help we can if you have a specific question. Our article on sword making has an excellent metalworking resources list including books and on-line resources. Obtain as many as you can. While there IS some cost involved the entire collection would cost less than a single college or trade school course. However, this is just the start. Many of us have spent a great deal on our reference libraries and a lifetime building them.

Many unusual fields such as this require a great deal of self study and education by doing. The most important ability is to learn to teach yourself.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/08/09 10:21:04 EDT

Christoph, have you looked online for closer people? For instance, there is a forum for British (I know, you're Irish, not British) bladesmiths, a few of whom are in Ireland. An hour with someone who knows what they're doing is worth a year of devoted book-learning, provided you've got the basic theory down.

www.britishblades.com is the address, oddly enough.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 04/08/09 11:28:24 EDT

Jimmy; I have been associated with folks running a small bloomery for about 15 years now using a number of different ores from different places and I can tell you that you can get iron ore in small ammounts right over that away if you live around here; but if you live in this other place you can get it from there.

Rather a waste of time to post if we don't know what part of which country you live in so we can give directed information isn't it? Being the World Wide Web you could just as easily be in South Africa as in South Carolina and sources good for one place would have rediculous shipping at another.

So give me a general location, eg Midwest USA, and I can give you suggestions.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/08/09 12:03:14 EDT

About the ore, yeah you're right Thomas my mistake. I live in NW georgia, near Chattanooga, TN, Thanks
   Jimmy Caylor - Wednesday, 04/08/09 12:54:20 EDT

Hello everyone, lately I have been getting interested in the use of stainless steel in blacksmithing. The only problem is there seems to be very little free info on the internet. I hope there someone here who has had more experience with stainless steel in blacksmithing.
First, Is there anyway to electropolish stainless steel ironwork at home(keeping things as simple and home spun as possible) to get a bright smooth finsh on stainless. Could someone give me the process in dummy terms, so I can understand it and exicute it? Also, what needs to be done stainless steel after forging to restore its stainless properties?

Thanks in advance.
   - John L. - Wednesday, 04/08/09 16:33:02 EDT

Stainless: John, You work stainless just like mild steel except hotter. Some complain that it is harder to forge but it works well if you keep it hot. You quench 304 (the most common type) to anneal it and give it the best non-corrosive properties. It will be blue black just like carbon steel when done forging. The scale can be removed by mechanical or chemical methods.

Citric acid is commonly used for chemical removal of scale. You will need to ask others about electro polishing.

I prefer to leave stainless black and file or grind highlights or select bright areas.

Besides being expensive to start, stainless is tough to work cold, either by bending or machining. It is hard on drills, saws and other cold cutting methods. It greatly increases blade replacement costs. Chips are sharp and do not break making them flesh cutting hazards. It cannot be cut with a torch so plasma, LASER or waterjet must be used on plate. Even though it is abrasive resistant and hard to cut it scratches easily (thus the brushed finishes on many pieces). While it can be buffed to a beautiful shine it requires a special dry (hard to keep on the wheel) buffing compound and is slow to polish.

Due to the above the cost of working stainless is considerably higher than common steel. Labor is often 2 or 3 times higher than steel. Add this to the tool and material costs and you will find out why jeweler's charge more for stainless jewelery than for sterling silver.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/08/09 16:57:40 EDT

Thanks for the input Guru.
Does anyone know anything about passivation or how to set up a electropolishing unit out of commonly found house hold items.

   - John L. - Wednesday, 04/08/09 17:34:10 EDT

If I may, I have been forging 300 series stainless for jewelry and other items for some time now. At first, the only way I could get a nice mirror finish was through progressive sanding from coarse to fine, then arduous rouge applied and buffed. Very labor intensive, but the end result is mirror finish, literally. Now I have been messing around with a home hobby electrochemical polishing kit for a few weeks. Amazing convenience, slightly different results. The electropolishing process selectively removes microscopic high spots on the surface of the steel. It also pulls away iron and nickel, leaving chromium and its oxides. The results are just the same mirror finish, but because there is no real physical sanding done, the surface remains in whatever condition you leave it in. I've done some polishing with the kit on some forged nails and drive hooks, leaving the forging marks. The result is nice and shiny, but still pitted here and there. I gotta take some pics soon.

Anyway, I hope any of this was helpful. Good luck!

   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 04/08/09 17:36:07 EDT

Ok here in the states we were able to buy 100 mesh magnitite from a pollution control supplier. We did have to buy 400# but it was pretty cheap---the shipping cost more as I recall

This stuff smelted beautifully!

Alabama was known for it's iron industry you may want to look into it as to where they originally got their ore.

Check with the local geology department and the state geological survey---they may even have a map of possible ore sources as that was a big part of their job back when.

The worst ore we ever used was taconite pellets that had been processed for steel mill blast furnaces. First we had to crush them to get them smaller as a small bloomery needs fine ores and then they came with built in flux that made "iron soup" in our bloom way too much flux for our processes.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/08/09 19:33:57 EDT

BTW "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" Rehder has plans for a small "foolproof" bloomenry in appendix 1 using modern equipment.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/08/09 19:35:07 EDT

John L,

Passivation can be readily accomplished by solution annealing as the the Guru indicated. Heat the part to above 1500F for a few minutes and quench. This puts the carbides back into solution, largely restoring the stainless properties.

You can also passivate stainless by pickling in a bath of 20% citric acid in water at 140F for about an hour. The old method used nitric acid and phosphoric acid, but citric acid works well and is much more user friendly and less environmentally hazardous. The used pickle is not harmless, however. It may contain hexavalent chromium and must be treated as a haz mat for disposal purposes.

Electropolishing can be done at home, as Nippulini does. A kit for small items can be purchased. Nip will probably post the source if you ask nicely. :-)

I doubt seriously that you can whip up an electropolishing setup at home from household items. You need low voltage DC current at pretty ferocious amperages to do anything bigger than jewelry, the chemistry is proprietary and I have never found a formula published for it. It is probably an acidic salt solution, another haz-mat. Then you need a container for the bath and anodes. Plus a fume extraction system and safety drench shower in case of accidental contact with your person. Again, the process may likely produce hexavalent chrome, a known carcinogen and toxin.

In short, there's probably a list of good reasons that folks aren't doing this at home all over the place and that the pros who do it are farily few in number.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/08/09 22:31:30 EDT

As part of a sculpture I have made a desk diary out of 20mm plate. I now want to "write" 2008 on the front cover. The whole piece will be wire brushed to clean it up and the n varnished with clear varnish. I want the 2008 to be part of the steel- i.e. not just painted on. Any ideas anybody. I just can't weld well enough to write on it with a bead. Maybe I should just get somebody who is.....
   philip in china - Thursday, 04/09/09 00:23:37 EDT


What I do for that sort of thing is to engrave it in the steel. I use an inexpensive muffler gun and grind a lozenge-shaped graver point on one of the chisels and weld a side handle on it for control.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/09/09 02:22:22 EDT

What is a muffler gun please?
   philip in china - Thursday, 04/09/09 03:04:58 EDT

Phillip in China,
a "muffler gun is a pnuematic hammer, available in the US for about $15 to $30. These are usually pistol grip, have a heavy spring retainer for the tool. They look much like a small aircraft riveting hammer. In the US we use these to cut the joints open on mufflers and tailpipes to allow a fast repair.

Electropolish of Stainless.
As Vicopper notes electropolish is a pretty nasty process when doing anything very large. The industrial system we an at the valve shop indeed used HUGE amperage, and used a bath that was hydrofloric acid based. The sludge was indeed "characteristic Hazardous waste" as defined by RCRA.
The vapors from this process destroyed the concrete in the area around it, eating the cinderblock walls, eating the steelwork as well. And we had extremely high flow local exhaust. The process was so bad we scrapped the equipment. We then went to a shot blast process that used stainless shot, and was used only for ss. Worked well, gave a frosted silver appearance, where the electropolish gave a smooth polished finish. If we left the parts in too long, or too few parts for the current setting, we got strangely beutiful flow lines in the parts where the current density was too high. Neat to see, but scrap as far as for use.

For the home shop I would go with abrasion rather than electropolish. Hexavalent chrome is indeed a carcinogen, toxic, and contact with the skin causes some really bad rashes as well as the long term toxicity.
"Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injuried or in jail, and any combo of the three really sucks"
   Ptree - Thursday, 04/09/09 07:49:16 EDT

It is possible to set up a small hobby sized unit with household stuff. The big problem is the two chemical baths, one a strong alkaline (scrub), then the polish in phosphoric acid. Scrub anodes (or is it cathodes?) are 316L sheet and the polish 'nodes are lead-pewter. Other than tanks, rinse buckets, heaters, power source, etc., the chemicals are the biggie. I keep 5 pound boxes of baking soda around for the occasional spill. I got my set up from PLatingSales.com. The 2.3 gallon kit costs $360 (roughly) and does stainless only. For an extra $100 you can get to do aluminum as well. According to the manual, the solutions will keep for 10 to 20 years! So the hazmat disposal problem is something you won't have to worry about any time soon. I gotta take some pics.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 04/09/09 08:56:43 EDT

Letters in Steel: Phillip, There are a number of ways to do this. From your description I assume you want raised letters.

1) Use a relatively thin cover plate (1 to 2mm) with letters worked from the back via repousse' methods. A few custom punches would be needed. This is one of those projects that a lead work block is about the right resistance but wood could also be used and replaced if it broke up. You could also carve the lettering into hardwood then use that as the repousse' backup.

A similar method could be used in 3 to 4 mm plate but the work would done hot with heavy custom letter punches and steel lower dies made by cutting out the lettering in plate the thickness of the raised surface. This might also work using just the bottom die plate and a sledge.

The plate could be attached by welding, brazing or wrapping. More below. .

2) Applique lettering. Cut letters from 1 or 2 mm plate using a jewelers saw or other method and forge or oven braze them to the surface. Carefully remove excess brass/bronze. Many small blind rivets would also work.

3) Carving the steel plate. This is the tough hard core method. . Use cape chisels or heavy gravers to outline the lettering then cold chisels to reduce the surface. Die grinders and machine tools could also be used. One way to reduce the cost/material removed is to do the lettering on a small block OR cut the area carved in plate out and attach it to the base material. This would put the lettering on a raised boss (unless it was installed in a sunken area.

4) Heavy etching. Paint the letters in a good resist and use a warmed etchant. After the etch you could rework the surface to whatever texture you are happy with.


Steel Books and Lettering: Years ago I had a request for quote to make large "binders" for an insurance company in steel plate. These were going to hold company information and be a sculptural piece in their lobbies. They wanted them to look like hand bound books but in steel (or the hand bound was my idea. . ) with their logo and initials (INA and the year as well I think) on the covers. My plan was to do hot repousse' in 16 ga (2mm) stainless plate and fold the annealed plate around a wood or composite board core similar to doing book binding in leather. The core material was to keep it light enough that the public could open and close the book. Piano hinges were going to be used and welded or brazed to the plate. "End papers" of thin annealed plate were going to be pressed into shape using a press and some hand work. These were going to be attached with epoxy glue. The whole was to have a "black iron" look and a durable (indoor) finish.

The job fell through. Both myself and the person I was dealing with were slow to respond and either the job went away or someone else did it. I was hot on the job and sent an initial proposal but then they wanted more detailed drawings . . I was leery of giving too much detail because I had just been stung on a job where the customer simply took my drawings to someone else. . . AND the contact was slow to let me know what the logo was. . . Or maybe I had already given them too much information.

Anyway. . I had already thought through this job once.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/09/09 10:57:09 EDT

Guru said--"then they wanted more detailed drawings . . ."

Amen!! Time to run from those! I've been there and have the scars.
I tell people that my vision is of the finished piece.... and its not paper. If they want a picture they can wait and take one of the finished job.
   - JBelk - Thursday, 04/09/09 11:22:43 EDT

Jock, what about copyright? When I get these type of requests, ALL original artwork is kept by myself and I send or fax copies. At the bottom right corner of ALL my designs I place a copyright symbol, the date and my full name. I know this isn't 100%, but it makes me feel secure.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 04/09/09 11:23:29 EDT

Thanks for the information guys. I think I'll just passivate in a pickling bath and put off making an electropolisher, although I think it would be very handy.
one more(well two more)questions.
Vinager is basically diluted acid - Can I just use White vinager from the kitchen for passivation?
Also, does the stainless part need to be wire bushed to remove all scale, so bare metal is showing for the passivation - or will the pickling bath remove the scale and passivate?
   - John L. - Thursday, 04/09/09 11:31:22 EDT

Thomas, could you tell me specific names of where you obtain iron ore? That would help a ton (but hopefully not by the ton, lol) I've searched the internet, and it's so convoluted these days i can't find anything except classified adds, and by the ton only, with no shipping that i can see... i searched for "pollution control" magnetite etc, nothing turned up.
   Jimmy Caylor - Thursday, 04/09/09 12:13:15 EDT

Copyright was marked on the drawings. . . But both copyrights and patents are only as good as the lawyer YOU can afford. On the gate designs that a client stole and used for another quote they wanted me to come down on my price by 20% to match the other guy. . That 20% was my time to meet the client, discuss their needs and make the drawings. I finally decided not to requote because I did not want to do business with people that did not understand what they had done. To sue them I would have had to gone on their property far from the public highway and gotten evidence of their using my design . .

As a small business or family business was often asked to quote on jobs that we never got and KNEW we were the low and fair bidder. After a number of years we realized we were being used to knock down the other guys price. They had already been selected for the contract but the buyer wanted leverage to get more or pay less. . . It is a nasty but common business ploy.

On our copyrights here I have come to the conclusion that I am going to launch a "hall of shame" page and denounce publicly those that steal our work. Publicity often works where the law does not. . . It brought Frankie8acres begging to have his name removed form the "little anvil site" as he called anvilfire in his refusal to remove an anvil image from his ebay ads.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/09/09 13:08:40 EDT

Drawings and the customer. . .

A good friend was asked to quote on a large job an he knew that on several occasions his drawings had been taken to folks that could make the work (poorly) but could never design it. . However, on large jobs you often MUST show the client drawings.

There was a simple out. My friend was a good CAD artist and did much of his design in CAD. I told him to take his laptop to the client and show the designs. I also told him that if the client wants prints he could make an excuse (the printer port is broken) or tell the truth and agree to give the client the drawings when there was a signed contract and a deposit on the job (worth at LEAST the value of the design).

If you need to do something like this at a meeting there are large screens or projection monitors that can be used. No one would expect you to leave your laptop computer with them. . . You can also use this method with sketches by scanning them.

Another friend keeps all his drawings in a bound artist's sketchbook. It is also his notebook for business addresses and phone numbers. Nobody would expect you to leave your private sketch book with them either. However, with hard copy there is always the opportunity to make copies. . even take photos.

Industrial Espionage: We had a training review meeting once with a client's crew. They insisted on bringing along several people from the equipment to be serviced manufacturer. Several turned out to be six. Typically at these meetings we would distribute manuals to both our crew and the client crew whom we would be working with. These particular manuals were for a large job, quite thick and expensive to duplicate. After the meeting we had an informal "wind down" showing off our equipment and taking informal questions. It was not until after the meeting when we went to clean up that we discovered all of OUR guys copies of the manuals were gone. . . Six manuals that cost us over $100 each to duplicate.

Never under estimate the level of skulduggery that either clients OR their associates will go to steal from you.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/09/09 13:36:36 EDT

I don't think that acetic acid (vinegar) would work as well or be as stable in the application. My experience with trying citric and acetic acid on cable damascas suggests that citric will produce satisfactory results while vinegar will create a worse finish than you are trying to repair. Admittedly that was years ago and I don't recall exactly what the chemical reason was when I finally figured it out. Passivation's goal is produce a uniform film of stable oxide that is self repairing. For this to work the arrangement of the surface molecules has to be just right. Heat treating allows, or surface passivation, allows the steel's componets to assume their electrically correct locations for the film to develop and maintain itself.
Stainless is famous for pit corrosion. It happens because there is a electrochemicl exchange set up between the surface and the interior metal at a defect point. I have a mixing bowl of my mother's that developed a hole from the inside to the out side. One of the first things I did when I learned how to silver solder was to repair that bowl.
Citric acid is available in many places without going to the chemical supply houses. At the moment I have a bottle of the powder in my fridge that I got from King Arthur flour to add to sourdough bread recipies to enhance the sour and help preserve the freshness.
   - Citric Acid or. - Thursday, 04/09/09 14:16:29 EDT

Jimmy Caylor: Your easiest route would be to order a 50 lb bag of "spanish red" iron oxide from a ceramics supply store. It's hematite, Fe2O3. There is or was also a sandblasting media called "black diamond" that's crushed-up magnetite, Fe3O4. Both work well, but the Spanish Red is so fine it'll get all over you and everything else for a few hundred yards on a windy day...

If you really want to go homegrown, check with the GA division of geology. There are several LARGE open-pit goethite/hematite mines along the Cartersville Bypass northwest of Atlanta. Dunno who owns 'em, but if you ask politely for a couple buckets full of those red-brown rocks they may let you have some. Of course, then you'll have to roast it and crush it before you stick it in a furnace.

Do yourself another favor and go to Google Books. Look up stuff on iron smelting. They have a nice one by Frederick Overman from 1849 (I think they have the 1851 edition, actually) that goes into great detail about the process.

Better yet, join your local blacksmith guild and ask them about smelting. You should be in the Ocmulgee guild's territory, and I know a couple of guys in said organization who smelt from time to time. Of course they're after natural steels, not wrought iron, but it's the same process. Time and temperature are the what make the difference.

While you can teach yourself to run a bloomery, it's MUCH easier to do it with experienced help!
   Alan-L - Thursday, 04/09/09 16:08:02 EDT

Alan-L: Thanks a bunch for the info, that stuff was easy to find... all i had to do was search for "iron oxide" on ebay and i found both forms that you mentioned. Hmm... makes me wonder if roasting it in this format would be counter productive... and being this fine, one would definately have to do some thinking on how to avoid the blower blowing it all away once it's in the bloomery. Anyway thanks so much for the post Alan- any form of ore has been next to impossible for me to find.
   Jimmy Caylor - Thursday, 04/09/09 16:49:10 EDT

Copyright & Artistic Design Drawings Rights

A crude method of the use of images works much better under a copyright than the threat of lawyers. A stamp of a large gun with a watermellon exploding works wonders. Make the client think you are crazy.

Now I really suggested this just as comic relief. Please, don't anyone try this at home or go postal...BOG
   - Rustymetal - Thursday, 04/09/09 17:34:53 EDT

Maybe it's a "silencer gun" to phillip?
   Mike BR - Thursday, 04/09/09 19:46:03 EDT

Bloomery Business. . : Alan mentioned helpers, something that had not come up in this current discussion but that we have discussed in the past. Small bloomery operations often run 10 to 24 hours or more. During this time the furnace is fed on a tight schedule with the amounts of the charge measured and recorded. Between charges the tuyeres must be inspected and kept clear, the fire monitored and air adjusted. If all the fuel, ore and flux has not been prepared ahead there is that task to perform as well.

All this activity often takes more than one bloomery worker. If the smelt is a long one there needs to be shifts of workers. Often because of the need of an expert operator the "Ironmaster" may baby sit the furnace during the entire smelt even if it takes 24 hours or more. This is one reason that many folks that make iron do not do so very regularly. If you fall asleep and miss a charge letting the furnace cool you may not be able to recover and all will be lost, perhaps even your furnace.

The thing that this all adds up to is VERY expensive iron. When just the fuel and materials are accounted for the resulting small amount of iron is quite expensive but even at minimum wage the labor cost of the iron puts it in the category of the most precious of metals.

Currently most of the research into iron smelting has been the historical methods. To make wrought economically will take different methods. You may want to consider using low carbon steel in the charge, modern refractories, temperature controls. . . and a LOT of research. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/09/09 20:34:24 EDT


Nope, vinegar (5-6% acetic acid) won't work. Citric or phosphoric are the acids of choice, and both are pretty benign as acids go. Until you use them, of course. After use they become haz-mats due to the crud dissolved in them.

I recommend you go with the solution annealing first, followed by pickling in citric acid. If you use any abrasive cleaning/finishing methods, be very careful not to introduce contamination. Use only stainless steel wire brushes, new sandpaper, etc. Any iron that finds its way to the surface of the stainless will act as a vector to start later rusting and corrosion.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/09/09 22:06:40 EDT

I'm trying to glue a hilt onto a miniature blade (about 2 inches long) and the Epoxy I use keeps sliding off. It doesn't stick to the wood. I've tried roughing up the surface but it's a very tightgrained wood. It's a brazilian rosewood from a very very old tree and when I try roughing it up it either breaks because it's too thin or shines rather than dulls. I've tried using gorilla glue but the 4:1 expansion rate cracks the hardwood handle due to the thinness.

Any ideas?
   Geert - Friday, 04/10/09 04:34:43 EDT

Lots of knifemakers swear by Devcon expoies, I use Araldite. Lots of cheap expoxies are full of junk with not much actual epoxy!

Ive heard a few people say araldites not what is was a few years back.
   - John N - Friday, 04/10/09 06:14:23 EDT

Use an engraver to tooth up the wood, maybe that will help and eliminates the "shine" of sanding.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/10/09 09:03:04 EDT

To describe the pickeling process, imagine a bit of scale sitting on the surface of you part. The acid creeps under the scale, disolving some of the parent steel. The reaction of the acid to the steel liberates some hydrogen gass, and the expansion of the gas pops the scale off.
Pickeling is accelerated if the heaviest scale is shot blasted off first, as this also crackes the firmly adhered scale. Heating of the bath also accererates the process.
Spent pickel liquor is almost a certian "Charecteristic Hazardous Waste" per RCRA. There are four charecteristics that define a "Hazardous waste under the Federal Law known as RCRA. Crossiveness, toxicity, flammability, and reactivity. The spent pickel liquor may not be low enough on the Ph scale , but would not pass the toxicity test, if used on steels with chrome, bickel etc such as a stainless steel. The sludge would have to be dried to pass a paint filter test and still would not pass a TCLP test with out a drying with concrete added and passing thru a pug mill.
Now all the above applies to industry. Does it apply to a private person? If you get caught dumping Hazardous waste, in most cases YES. Dump it on the land, get caught and you will be facing a large fine, and a very expensive cleanup. Jail is usually reserved for repeat offenders or if the are already on the radar for other offenses.
It does happen.
   ptree - Friday, 04/10/09 09:38:44 EDT

Gluing Rosewood: Good rosewood has so much oil in it that it is very difficult to glue. Roughing it up and exposing new surface makes it worse. The combination of the density and oil makes rosewood one of the few woods that can be polished with no added finish. The claves or musical percussion "sticks" have no finish on them when made of rosewood and thus have no finish to chip.

To glue rosewood musical instrument makers remove the surface oil with lacquer thinner. They may clean the surface to be glued several times then let sit to see if more oil appears. Then they glue. On high load joints like guitar bridges they also use mechanical fasteners such as dowels or screws.

As John N noted, most epoxies today are full of filler. IF they are equal part then the hardener is 99% inert filler which weakens the epoxy and makes it gummy. Real epoxy uses a microscopic amount of the hardener which is a thin clear liquid. I do not know where you get the good stuff today but I suspect you have to go to industrial suppliers. .

That said, it looks like even the Devcon industrial line is mostly equal part. To determine the strongest material you have to look a a combination of the T-peel and Adhesive Tensil Lap Shear. Devcon's HP 250 is a 2:1 mix and considerably stronger than the "2-Ton". However, the HP 250 is packaged so that a special (additional cost) gun is required to apply it. Full cure time is 1 week.

An outfit called Mereco has a 50:1 high strength epoxy that will bond Teflon but there was little other data on their web site.

   - guru - Friday, 04/10/09 09:39:50 EDT

Geert, Rosewood is an oily wood and you may want to try swabbing the surface to be glued with alcohol first. I usually drilled multiple shallow holes in the scales and through the knife handle to make something like an internal rivet out of the epoxy. Seemed to work for me.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 04/10/09 10:12:08 EDT

On Epoxy Check out some of the boat builder sites or the Mags like "Wooden Boat".

There are several different suppliers that provide a wealth of information.

Note for many purposes it is desireable to some amout of filler in your epoxy. Most of the suppliers sell the straight stuff and the additives seperate.
   Charlotte - Friday, 04/10/09 11:23:35 EDT

Devcon, makes metal filled epoxies used in repairing castings. They do not fix breaks but they are commonly used to fix large holes or porosity pits. Iron, bronze and aluminium powder fills are common. This is a lot different than cheap patches made using auto body filler (bondo) which is a polyester base filled with powdered glass or gypsum.

The first auto body filler I used back in the 60's was called ZIT and it was a green color. The fill was powdered marble. We used up a couple gallons before it was taken off the market. It came with the clear liquid hardener which was a pain to mix 1 drops per golf ball sized lump. But it was harder and easier to shape and sand than the products that replaced it.

The old epoxy we used with fiberglass was very hard. Stray strands of glass cloth coated with it were like razors and hard to cut with a file. Even grinding it was tough.
   - guru - Friday, 04/10/09 13:06:17 EDT

WOW! I WISH I HAD LEARNED THAT SOONER. YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW HAW MANY PATTERN WELDED BLADES I'VE RUINED ETCHING THEM IN VINAGER FROM THE KITCHEN! After etching my blades they would appear gray and foggy with the pattern washed out and hardly visable.

Could somone give me some ideas on where I can get citric acid for passivation of stainless steel and for etching pattern welded steel? Thanks.
   - John L. - Friday, 04/10/09 13:16:03 EDT

Citric Acid:
From above "Citric acid is available in many places without going to the chemical supply houses. At the moment I have a bottle of the powder in my fridge that I got from King Arthur flour to add to sourdough bread recipes to enhance the sour and help preserve the freshness."
McMaster-Carr sells it in 5 pound boxes and 25 pound pails.
   - guru - Friday, 04/10/09 13:50:22 EDT

For color most bladesmiths use ferric chloride for the etch. It is sold as PC board (Printed Circuit) etchant. It produces a good black with carbon steels.
   - guru - Friday, 04/10/09 13:55:07 EDT

Citric acid can be found at any home brew store. eBay search for "anhydrous ferric chloride", there is a very reputable dealer of it and it's always available. It etches beautifully, throw a little citric in with the ferric chloride for extra bite.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/10/09 15:15:29 EDT

I like Citrisurf, from Stellar Solutions.


This is a citric acid product that has been specially formulated for passivating and polishing stainless.
And it works.

I use it with my small portable electropolisher to clean up site welds- I used to use a phosphoric acid, and it ate holes in clothes, stained concrete, and was nasty. The citric is water soluble, easy to clean, nowhere near as agressive where you dont want it to be, and, it smells nicer too.
   - Ries - Friday, 04/10/09 16:57:02 EDT

So you shouldn't add it to your sourdough bread recipe, then?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/10/09 18:12:48 EDT

There are primers made specificly for bonding to teak, I suspect that they would help with rosewood as well. The one I have used is made by BoatLife.

With regard to epoxy, about 80% filler/20% resin + hardener makes the best bond. Pure epoxy shinks enough on curing that fillers are benificial. Think of the fillers as being like aggregate in concrete. For bonding purposes, a high strength filler is the way to go. West System, System 3 and several others offer epoxy resin & the appropriate hardeners & fillers as well as the literature to guide Your choices. Many of these are formulated to work with a 5:1 or 3:1 ratio. As the ratio of the mix must be pretty accurately measured, extremely low mix ratios become hard to measure accurately enough for proper cure.

The autpbody filler Guru mentioned is not an epoxy, it is pollyester, and that hardener was MEK-P or methylethelkeytone peroxide [sp?]. This mixture does not rely on a complete & accurate mixture as epoxy does, the resin will harden over a wide mixture range but differing lengths of time. This is an entirely different chemical reaction, not even a close cousin of epoxy.
   - Glueing oily wood - Friday, 04/10/09 22:04:27 EDT


The recommended amount of Citric Acid in sourdough recipies, is 1/4 teaspoons to 5 lbs of flour.

   Charlotte - Saturday, 04/11/09 12:12:22 EDT

Does anyone know about this?

I found this on Smokstak which is an antique tractor and engine web site:

Machinist's Workshop magazine actually tested penetrants for break out torque on rusted nuts. Significant results! They are below, as forwarded by an ex-student and professional machinist, Bud Baker.

They arranged a subjective test of all the popular penetrants with the control being the torque required to remove the nut from a "scientifically rusted" environment.

*Penetrating oil ..... Average load*
None ..................... 516 pounds
WD-40 .................. 238 pounds
PB Blaster ............. 214 pounds
Liquid Wrench ..... 127 pounds
Kano Kroil ............ 106 pounds
ATF-Acetone mix....53 pounds

The ATF-Acetone mix was a "home brew" mix of 50 - 50 automatic transmission fluid and acetone. Note the "home brew" was better than any commercial product in this one particular test. Our local machinist group mixed up a batch
and we all now use it with equally good results. Note also that "Liquid Wrench" is about as good as "Kroil" for about 20% of the price.

   Carver Jake - Saturday, 04/11/09 15:57:12 EDT

Someone recently told me that cheap supermarket own brand cola was very effective for un-seizing things! not tried it yet though.
   - John N - Saturday, 04/11/09 17:40:02 EDT

(it will obviously a soak thing with the cola, not an instant result!)
   - John N - Saturday, 04/11/09 17:41:59 EDT

Penetrating Oils: First, I would like to see the report and how scientific the rusting, controls and sampling was.

Second, it MAY be true. The problem with the the acetone mix is that the acetone is fairly dangerous from a flammability standpoint AND it evaporates so rapidly that unless the containers you mix is in are VERY well sealed they many not last long on the shelf.

One of the best tapping fluids was recycled dry cleaning fluid with a little wax for lubricant. The way it worked was the very thin fluid would reach into places others did not and deposited the wax. It also evaporated at very low temperature and when you were taping the best you could hear it boiling at the cutting edge with a kind of crackle. It was GREAT stuff until they took it off the market due to toxicity problems. I suspect the acetone oil mix worked similarly.

There have been all kind of volatile products on the market for a short period of time that were removed due to problems with their use. One of the best cleaner penetrants and the original dry cleaning fluid was Carbon tetrachloride. It was also used in various household cleaning products. Its vapors are quite toxic and almost any level of exposure has health effects and there was also chromosome damage. .

Acetone seems to be some sort of miracle solvent according to the literature I have read. Being naturally produced in the body there is little effect from low levels of exposure. I have always worried about its use in nail polish and particularly nail-polish remover and now I see why they allow its use that way.

However, one problem with such organic solvents is they easily pick up or dissolve other toxins and can act to help absorb those into the body.

I use WD-40 for all kinds of things in the shop from light lubricating rust prevention and part cleaning to fastener removal. One reason I like it is that it does not contain any acids that accelerate rusting in some cases (such as Liquid Wrench) and it DOES leave behind a fine film of oil. However, it is NOT a great or permanent rust preventive and it is not the best penetrant. But it is a good all round product.

For serious removal of fasteners from very rusted old equipment I would start with an acidic rust removal bath followed by penetrating oil and an impact wrench. The repeat cyclic impacts do the least damage to fastener heads and vibrate loose the rust that packs threads. If that does not work then I use heat. Heating the fastener to a good red converts the hydrous red rust to a smaller molecule black iron oxide and the expansion and contraction help loosen the fastener. While still quite warm I apply the penetrant and then attack the fastener. I've never had heat fail even in situations where the fastener had broken and had to be drilled and removed with an easy out.

The goal is always to do the least damage to the parts and on antiques you often want to preserve the fasteners which were shop made and unique to the product in head design and shape. Your acetone mix sounds like a good tool in this battle. It would be interesting to see other oils tested such as mineral oil.

The "soft drink" bolt removal method is an acidic attack on the rust and it DOES work. If you use diet soda you avoid the sticky mess from the sugar.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/11/09 18:54:25 EDT

I could have used some good penetrating oil this weekend. Last weekend I bought an old Champion Rivet Forge. Lots of rust. I sprayed Blaster onto all the bolts but every one of them is still frozen. Except for the ones I twisted off. Fortunately, I only did that to exposed fasteners so I could replace them easily. Getting the blower apart is going to be a chore. I looked all over the blower and did not see anything that would indicate a model or serial number. How do you date them?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 04/11/09 20:50:42 EDT

Age on old forges is hard to determine. Many designs from the 1800's were made up into the 1900's and to the end. . . Old catalogs can help sometimes but not all catalogs were complete. Like many antiques the history, if available will tell you more than anything.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/11/09 21:27:57 EDT

who can i contact for a anvil shoot in Ohio
   blacksmith jim - Saturday, 04/11/09 22:23:07 EDT

To date and old blower, ask it up to your apartment to see your etchings.
   - anon - Saturday, 04/11/09 23:54:25 EDT

Hi folks, I have at last aquired an anvil, but it is an old, and abused anvil. its about 120 - 130 Kg. it has 3 numbers on the side and I'll remember how to read them eventually. however... This anvil in a previous life has obviously been used as a rest for some klutz to weld on(looks like arc to me). I'm reluctant to take the angle grinder to it so I've been carefully hacking away at the weld snots with a small cold chisel and hammer which seems to be doing not too bad but there is so much weld splatter. Any one any ideas the best way to clean this old baby up? It's also had its poor old base used for cleaning the disc on somebody'e stihl saw, plenty of hacks! I realise the only way to clean that up is to fill the cuts with weld. There's still a tone when it's struck and the table isn't dished. but these welds are a nightmare. the step at the base of the bick is particularly covered where some of the weld has built up creating almost a rough chamfer between bick base and table however the bick itself seems pretty good. Any ideas anyone please? Thanx.
   Duncan (aka.Maddragon) - Sunday, 04/12/09 07:50:09 EDT

Duncan, nice find. Take a grinder to it if you have one. Just don't over do or gouge it. Corners should be smooth and round in any case and most such old anvils have some chipping. To smooth out angle grinding texture use a hand held belt sander OR a flap wheel in a small angle grinder.

Are you sure about the base hacks? At one time it was a common practice to demonstrate the temper of a newly sharpened chisel by taking a cut in the corners of the base. It will not hut to clean these off but they are part of the history of the anvil. If the cuts are from an abrasive cut off then they are just ugly and do not hurt anything.

While the above do not need fixing here are come suggestions. Chisel hacks are sharp curls that if rolled can be pushed from underneath to straighten with a punch then flattened back into position closing the cut. If just open cuts as most are you can just hammer them flat. If they are grinding cuts you can weld them up. Weld the base of an old anvil is no different than welding any big piece of steel other than if its wrought the internal slag tends to make the weld flow and make holes that take more rod to fill. Weld them up and grind smooth.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 09:08:30 EDT

Duncan, I have found that a 24 grit, flap wheel(they are for an angle grinder, and are assembled from glued flaps of abrasive paper) is the best and quickest way to dress up an anvil top. Use a brand new whee and let it down easy and just float it around, never leting it stay in one place. The new wheel is still flat and floats around like a floor buffer. Takes off the high points, leaves a nice finish, and once the top is clean makes a very nice edge fixer as well.
   ptree - Sunday, 04/12/09 09:13:52 EDT

Thanks for the advice on the numbers. I eventually did it by cold forming the figures out of discarded bicycle spokes. I left a tab on each which I then epoxied ito 1/8" holes which I had drilled. I intend to varnish the whole piece so that will also help to haold them in place. They just look as if somebody has hand written them (with a broken hand and after several beers admittedly).

For freeing siezed parts I always start by getting them to red and just unfastening them. What do I do when this fails? Well if ever it does fail I shall let you know but it hasn't yet. I actually keep siezed parts around the place so that when I have finished forging for the day I can just put them in the dying fire and let them come to red in their own time. At risk of stating the obvious don't quench! That simply rehydrates the crystals to the hydrous state and does away with most of the good you have done although, as Jock says, the expansion and contraction helps as well.

Thanks again to all who contribute to this site. How often do any of us take time to consider just how fortunate we are to have such a valuable reference tool at our fingertips?
   philip in china - Sunday, 04/12/09 09:14:50 EDT

I am a bit hesitant to heat the bolts on my blower to red. One of the reasons I want to take it apart is to clean out about 100 years of grease, spooge and scale. I don't want to set it on fire. It turns freely now so I don't want to make it worse.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/12/09 09:41:30 EDT

If the rust has NOT been oiled then a little weak acid will work on it, then use the penetrant. If its been oiled then it requires some more oil. I often prefer to work on rust before applying oils if its clean rust. It scrapes and sands off easier to a point.

With an oxy-acetylene torch you can often heat just the head of the bolt and let the heat travel down the bolt.

Otherwise. . grind a flat on the head, center punch as accurately as possible then drill at close to the tap drill size as possible or a little under. Hollow bolts will shrink and come out OR the penetrant gets to the end of the threads and works up. If you drill right at the root of the threads you often end up with a loose spiral of metal that easily pulls out without damaging the hole.

As with all drilling it works better on a drill press than by hand by about 10x.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 10:15:49 EDT

Guru, Ptree,
Thanx for the advice, I've spent ages with the cold chisel and hammer, it has made a difference but your suggestions will speed up the process for me. Those hacks on the base could very well be as you suggest and I'm a little more inclined to leave them alone since they could be the history of the anvil. Just gotta go now and rake thru my odds and ends drawers for any flap wheels. sure I had one or two somewhere. Many thanx again folks.
   Duncan (aka.Maddragon) - Sunday, 04/12/09 10:41:38 EDT

Hi Quenchcrack

Loosening bolts on your blower is starting to sound like a science lab project on this board.

I have rebuilt more forges and blowers than I can count. Just squirt some tranny fluid on the bolts then heat it with a little propane torch. Don't stick your nose on the little smoke to breath. This method of bolt loosening has been used in the auotmotive realm for decades. Makes quick loosening.
   - Rustymetal - Sunday, 04/12/09 11:52:04 EDT


This method will not cause the grease to catch afire. The little flame is just concentrated on the nut. it will suck the tranny fluid right in and loosen the rust. Not real scientific, but works like a gem.
   - Rustymetal - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:06:43 EDT

In my shop tranny fluid is kept in an old hand squirt oil can. I use it on everything. Best darn penetrationg oil out there. Just add a touch of heat as before mentioned.
Don't snort the smoke. You don't get enough to spaz about. Just have a little ventilation if you are concerned.
   - Rustymetal - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:14:38 EDT

Hard to believe that LW out performed Blaster, and that Blaster barely beat WD-40. I wonder how good the science was here, how many data points, especially how consistent the control was.

On resins, I used to get a great product from Read Plastics in Rockville, Maryland. One clear and one amber part, as I recall. Both parts were pure epoxy resin, no filler, each of wich could be set with a separate hardener, but when mixed in equal parts, set each other off. Came in standard paint cans, could be mixed in any amount. Way cheaper than West. I even thinned it with acetone and sprayed it with a Wagner airless gun. Gave a molded ply mahogany boat about 3 coats with it, and even built up (cast in place) up to an inch in places along the keelson that needed fairing. Mixed with microbubbles, powdered glass, etc. Mild application of heat (hair dryer) promoted absolutely level, glassy finish. Needed NO gelcoat. Not UV resistant, though: had to be coated with spar varnish for that.
   Peter Hirst - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:16:32 EDT

I do apologize for not being scientic in my above methods. I am not a school teacher, plant manager, engineer or metalurgist. Just have a humble simple education in trial & error and common sense.
   - Rustymetal - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:19:13 EDT

Glue Rosewood Knife Handles

I worked as a cutler. Epoxies do not work well for attaching handles. There is a product that will attach oily wood, mother of pearl , german bone, stag and plastic to metal. It is a two part system. It is a glue and an activator. Again, it is not an epoxy base. The glue is white in color. The activator is a burnt orange copper color. It does not bond instantly. You need to allow to cure 24 hours before generating any heat from hafting the handle. Once the handle is applied you need to clamp it to squish the air out. I wish I new the product name. Maybe this info will spark someones memory or an avenue to find out. Epoxy is just no good for knife handles.
   - Rustymetal - Sunday, 04/12/09 12:45:18 EDT

OK, I can get ATF and I have a MAPP torch with small and large nozzles. I will give it a try.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/12/09 13:04:08 EDT

John L a saturated solution of salt in vinegar is my favorite etch for BSB & PS billets; clear *bright* lines; not much topo.

Every alloy may take different etching solutions.

Smelting ores: roasting is to convert sulfides to oxides and to open up microscopic cracks in the ore. If the ore is already an oxide and already finely divided then it doesn NOT need roating before smelting. The were speaking about getting "rock ore" that would need to be crushed which is easier after roasting.

If you are downhill of the mountains dragging a magnet through a creek may get you magnatite ore. The "famous" iron sand ore that the japanese use.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 04/12/09 15:26:38 EDT

Mines: One of the descriptions of old mine capacities was the size of the "ball". This was the huge iron ball that was dropped on ore to crush it. The higher the mines capacity the bigger the ball. Balls were raised on a gantry by a team of mules and then dropped on a pile of ore. Balls ranged from a ton up.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 15:34:15 EDT

Well, that explains why people say "Miners have big balls". :-)
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 04/12/09 16:07:37 EDT

Hi folks, its me again, Firstly about my anvil... maddragon is a happy dragon. The angle grinder etc. brought it up a treat, In fact I will go as far as to say that I got the better end of the deal when I bought it now that I have it spruced up.
Now second, Has anyone had any dealings with a mobile forge that rotates? if so how and why does this work. I have the chance of this forge with all the parts but aparently the fire box itself rotates. Seems strange to me but I supose there must be some reason. Any help there anyone?
   Duncan (aka, maddragon) - Sunday, 04/12/09 16:40:19 EDT

I'm going to view this thing tomorrow so if I've got any more info on it I'll add it then. So good night for the time being folks. its 2300 hrs here
   Duncan (aka, maddragon) - Sunday, 04/12/09 18:35:38 EDT

Howdy - My 10 year old son is convinced he wants to be a blacksmith. I'm wondering if there are any classes or opportunities for learning in the New England area for youth?


Forrest Seymour
   Forrest - Sunday, 04/12/09 19:11:55 EDT

Howdy - My 10 year old son is convinced he wants to be a blacksmith. I'm wondering if there are any classes or opportunities for learning in the New England area for youth?


Forrest Seymour
   Forrest - Sunday, 04/12/09 19:16:02 EDT

Forrest- Where in New England? The overall group is New England Blacksmiths, found at www.newenglandblacksmiths.org. There are also some smaller groups by state. Some pro smiths offer classes at their shops every now and then, best way to find them is at the NEB website. You should also check out the N. England School of Metalwork in Maine www.newenglandschoolofmetalwork.com and Haystack, also in Maine http://www.haystack-mtn.org for a whole variety of classes. Most of the more official classes are probably something you will want to do together given his age, but it's fun stuff. Hope this helps.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 04/12/09 19:35:36 EDT

Hi, I work pretty much alone and would like a really good arrangement for fullering "single handed". I do some things that are wider like axes and tomahawks. My smithing magician is not wide enough to do some of the work I need. I have looked at the piece on I forge and would just like to know if there is some design that is both rugged, adjustable and effective. Thanks, Jack
   Jack Harrill - Sunday, 04/12/09 21:12:46 EDT

Jack, if you work alone then a power hammer or a treadle hammer. For wide work it requires something with good guides to keep the dies (fullering surface) aligned. While a lever supported treadle is not guided the mass of the ram and an attached die would stay aligned relative to each other. Then there are also guided treadles.

Not that a treadle does NOT replace a power hammer but it does replace a helper with a sledge. You can hit hard heavy well aligned blows but no more than a man can do. A power hammer can strike and strike fast and repeatedly all day long.

The treadle is not a bench top or anvil top tool and is more expensive than those small tools. It needs a good anvil mass and the better ones are still shop built and have replaceable die holders and drop through anvils that allow punching and drifting on them.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 21:57:38 EDT

Classes for the Young: Kids under 18 normally will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian due to the inherent hazards of the craft. And depending on the child's size the school may not be properly equipped. While schools will have a selection of anvil heights they almost never are equipped for an average child of 10.

I have worked with youth from 8 years and up. It is a bit of a special case situation. You may have better luck with individual classes through someone in a local shop. Among young Boy Scouts I have found 14 year olds that had never used a hammer and had a difficult time hitting the work and 11 year olds that had done things with their hands that were as good as any adult student. It makes it difficult when working with such diversity.

Try the local groups. Most meetings are free and membership is inexpensive. There are almost always demonstrations and obsessionally what they call "green coal" classes.

IF you are ever going to be in the South near Winston-Salem drop me a line.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/12/09 22:10:48 EDT

Maddragon, sorry, that mobile forge is a microwave oven.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 04/13/09 09:04:55 EDT

I have done research, and have looked around online... I was wondering where I could get the materials to hand craft a forge locally..
Also I was wondering, Could this forge be used to create extensions and conversions to (airsoft / Paintball) devices, and how such an endeavor would take place and be accomplished.
   Sightless Reaper - Monday, 04/13/09 11:26:24 EDT

Locationless Reaper: since you are living in Antartica it is going to be difficult to locate forge building materials. Check with the folks at McMurdo Sound to get access to scrapped machinery.

Or to put it otherwise asking us where to get things locally without telling us where you are at is rather a waste of bits is it not?

Thomas---grumpy this morning
   Thomas P - Monday, 04/13/09 11:55:14 EDT

Blacksmith Jim: Go to the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right. Use the drop list to go down to ABANA affiliates. There are several groups in Ohio. I doubt you would find a group willing to do a 'for hire' anvil shoot, but you may be referred to individuals who have done them in the past. If it will be for any type of organized event, I suggest you check into liability insurance.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/13/09 13:20:07 EDT

On applying oils, keep a used styringe on hand. It can nice apply oil where needed, as needed.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 04/13/09 13:21:15 EDT

Building a forge - Well. . Locally is also HERE, The Internet: We sell Kaowool insulating blank and ITC products which are commonly used to build gas forges. We ship world wide. If you receive mail materials are just a click or two away. But you didn't say what kind of forge you wanted to build.

There are both permanent and portable versions of:

Coal, coke
Gas (Natural and Propane)
Electric Induction.

Most can vary from historical period types to modern and DIY fabricated and built from junk.

To build a simple charcoal forge doesn't take much if you are a fair scrounger or can be built for a little over $100 with some commercial parts.

What can you do with a forge? Well not much alone. You also need an anvil, hammer, punches and chisels plus some skill. Generally steel is forged but you can also forge brass and aluminum. While you can make some pretty snazzy machine parts and brackets by heating, forging and bending it does not replace machine tools such as a drill press, lathe or milling machine. Each augments the other.

Let us know a little more about exactly what you want to do an we will try to help you.
   - guru - Monday, 04/13/09 13:39:19 EDT

Location: Georgia
Forge Type: Coal
Thank you for answering my post so quickly. The specific Materials being Concrete, Brick, Metal (Iron), and Bronze. The crafts of which I shall create include, but are not limited to; Throwing Knives/Swords/Axes, Swords, Axes, Bladed Staves, Armor and Apparel,and Armor for animals (yes, including Llamas and Ferrets).

The help is very much appreciated...
~Sightless Reaper
   Sightless Reaper - Monday, 04/13/09 13:47:17 EDT

Forge materials and forge types.

Coal forges are made of steel or brick. Brick forges are usually large and expensive. Being permanent they may come under the local building codes and may need to be built by a brick mason. Detail designs are far and few between and most are old enough they do not meet current codes.

Steel forges are basically a table with a ledge to keep the coal from falling off. In the middle or centered near one end is the fire pot. Unless you have studied and built forges I'd recommend purchasing a commercial fire pot, tuyere, valve and blower. Toss some kindling and coal in the forge and off you go. Cast iron and steel forges, even though they may weigh hundreds of pounds are considered "portable" and are less of a problem or investment than a brick forge. Depending on your shop type you will also need a stack, chimney and or hood. The side draft hood is best.

Depending on where you are good coal may be difficult to obtain. Thus, I usually recommend building a cheap junk forge such as a brake drum forge and testing the available coal as well as purchasing some and having it shipped in. Never purchase more than a bucket full from an unproven source or your are apt to end up with piles of unusable coal in your yard.

After testing some coal you may want OR need to change fuel types.

If you are sure about a forge then our advertisers such as BlacksmithSupply, Blacksmithsdepot and Centaur forge sell coal forge components. You will not find these parts in your local hardware as they were 100 years ago.

Test the coal first. Note that almost everywhere coal suppliers are closing shop due to the lack of business and difficulty of supply. Often blacksmiths must organize and order coal delivered from the mine in bulk.
   - guru - Monday, 04/13/09 16:15:41 EDT

I have made several forges here in rural China almost exclusively out of scrap materials- with just new electric blowers because I couldn't be bothered to improvise. So I am pretty sure anybody could make one almost anywhere.
   philip in china - Monday, 04/13/09 21:05:59 EDT

Considering the amount of scrap we've shipped to China lately, I sure *hope* there's enough to build a forge. But is there still enough left in the U.S.? (Just kidding, of course.)
   Mike BR - Monday, 04/13/09 21:17:39 EDT

I don't get this. What you say is perfectly true. You have unemployment and a slump in USA. So you export scrap steel and materials for recycling such as plastic bottles. These are recycled into (for example) steel tools with plastic handles on which the Chinese make maybe a 50% profit.

So all you Americans tell me why you don't:
Recycle the plastic into tool handles, resmelt the steel into tools, save on the fuel and logistics shipping it across the world, keep the jobs in USA and also make the profit in USA?

Wouldn't that stimulate your economy more than "giving tax rebates" which is your money anyway?

It would also help China to reduce it's foreign currency reserves currently at 1.95 trillion $.

(Philip lights this particular fuse and then retires to his bunker to watch what happens).
   philip in china - Monday, 04/13/09 23:56:28 EDT

Philip, I'll add 5 gallons of gas to your post and hope it spreads across the US. Also hope this doesn't get you in trouble with your host country. Forge on, Jim
   Carver Jake - Tuesday, 04/14/09 00:07:54 EDT

Hi Philip
The little people like us don't have a say. It is all corporate greed and the CEO's
   - Rustymetal - Tuesday, 04/14/09 00:12:09 EDT

Philip doesn't get it, huh? But he knows he's lit a fuse? Really. Gee, you mean all we have to do is make it here and we save all that fuel and logistics? Now why didn't Milwaukee Tools think of that? Or HP? Oh, wait,I think I know!!! Tell you what, Philip. You move back to the UK, do the math on the exchange rate and live on what the average Chinese laborer makes riveting plastic handles onto steel tools. Its called labor arbitrage. Anybody can make a 50 percent profit on slave labor.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 04/14/09 00:17:34 EDT

Philip in China:

Something like 60% of the plastic soda/water/milk bottles recycled in the U.S. end up in carpeting made here.

With the U.S. recession the amount of scrap iron purchased by China has dropped substantially, resulted in a subsequent drop in the value thereof. For example, at one time you could make decent money hauling in junked vehicles. Now your fuel bill may exceed what you get for it.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 04/14/09 01:13:40 EDT

Good ole Philip was just teasing us. This China verse USA trade is a waste of time to discuss here. Most of us are over the edge and depressed enough over the economic situation. Lets focus on Blacksmithing and not mute topics that are exhausted everyday in the media. If this site turns into an economic trade board I will throw my computer off the F%#$ing roof.
   - Rustymetal - Tuesday, 04/14/09 02:00:44 EDT

BOG ;)
   - Rustymetal - Tuesday, 04/14/09 02:01:27 EDT

I second that emotion Rustymetal. Lets not sing sad songs it waters down the beer.
   Charlotte - Tuesday, 04/14/09 02:16:06 EDT

Thanks Thomas.
Ithought there was a clud that would shoot anvils for events. With all safty precautions like(X rayed anvils)and all that.I ask around at next SOFA get together.
Blacksmith Jim
   blacksmith jim - Tuesday, 04/14/09 05:48:59 EDT

I saw on one of your "How-to" lessons that you used a splitting punch to open up a railroad spike tomahawk head. How does one make a splitting punch?
   Jim Harper - Tuesday, 04/14/09 08:55:01 EDT

I saw on one of your lessons on making a tomahawk from a railroad spike, that you used a splitting punch to open up the head. How does one make a splitting punch?
   - Jim Harper - Tuesday, 04/14/09 08:59:44 EDT

Spitting Chisel: Jim, Splitting chisels are best bought as they need to be made of a top grade of hot work steel (an exotic tool steel). S7 works if you do not overheat the tool in use but the best are made of something like H27 or Atlantic 33. All these steels are relatively expensive and the minimum purchase would easily make a dozen tools. It also helps to use a punch or forging lubricant to cool the tools and reduce friction.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 09:51:30 EDT

Anvil Shooting Clubs: Blacksmith Jim, There are shooting clubs but they shoot for competition and I do not believe there is any way to safely shoot an anvil 200 feet. While it doesn't look dangerous when everything goes right and the anvil goes straight UP that is a lot of horizontal distance to clear in every direction and there is also a possibility of shrapnel from the back plate that might go twice that distance. The guys that shoot at our local meets only launch the anvil 10 or 20 feet. It makes a tremendous cannon like boom that can be heard for miles and a big cloud of white smoke. Many shoots 100 years ago often only jumped the anvil a few feet or less. It still made a heck of a noise and they would do it over and over. .

So, there are anvil shoots and anvil shoots. While I support the right of groups to do them I also recommend restraint.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 10:05:34 EDT

It takes two to Tango... You can't just blame the greed of the corperate heads with out admiting to willingness of the millions of U.S. citizens (and others around the world) to support the unsistainable practicses of these companies. If you buy at Wa*Mar*(just to name one) you support their practice of crush the competition by what ever means and, destroy American manufacturing by encouraging greed (Gee, if we could only get a contract with Wa*Mar*...)and insighting panic(If we don't move our product to China we'll never be able to compete!!!!...)
The market share any product or company has, should be determined by the ACTUAL WORTH of the item or over all contribution of the company.
Just because something is the cheapest or some company is the biggest or, the only game left in town, doesn't make it worth anything.
You're not saving anything in the long run if you have to replace the cheap item you baught long befor its life expectincy or it doesn't hold up to the task.
What is the benefit to anyone when you patron a company with such heavy handed and destructive business tactiks that would lead to not only driving out ALL competition but, change the face of American manufacturing.
Perhaps when enough people in the US have lost their jobs they will be able to take a stand against this tyranny and finely turn things around. We have a long way to go befor it's "too late" but, life happens fast these days.
Maybe we will eventualy acknowlage Wa*Mar*s place in this mess and thank it for showing the world what will happen when you throw your ethics and morels out the door, turn your brain off and blindly follow the 6 lane super highway of greed, and unchecked consumption...

Sorry RustyM, I had to get that off my chest.

I fully understand that the only way people might be willing to buy the iron work I produce is if they have some discretionary money left over after they pay for the "nessesities of life"(don't get me started...)but, you don't create that money by destroying your only sorce of income in the process.

Rant mode, "off"
   - merl - Tuesday, 04/14/09 10:53:15 EDT

Sightless; I do hope you are prepared to learn the craft before jumping into making blades; it's best to learn to drive before trying to win races.

Don't consider your first forge to be your last forge. Make one, use it, and make the next one incorporating the changes *you* want. Also you may end up with several, each customized to do different things---a billet welding forge will probably not be very good for working armour and an armour forge bad at heat treating long blades. I currently have 5 forges: large coal, portable coal/charcoal, blown propane, aspirated propane and a natural gas forge. I have still dug a trench forge in the ground for certain jobs and have been waiting to get my large forge back on-line for others, (shop extension and a side draft chimney for it!).

So my advice: start small and expand as you learn.

BTW "Dogs of the Conquest" has a suit of period dog armour shown in it.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/14/09 11:25:28 EDT

Its paying the pesky wages, tax's and insurance that makes the things I sell so darn expensive in the uk! :)

On the subject of scrapping out our industrial might I had a good email this morning from a steel mill in Pakistan (where I sell a few hammers every now and then), these guys were turfing a continer ship full of UK scrap into the remelt and they found a near perfect, complete 3 cwt Open Die Massey forging hammer ! sent me photos and everything, one mans loss is anothers gain !
   - John N - Tuesday, 04/14/09 12:56:30 EDT

Over a decade ago I started writing a book on blacksmithing that started with the fact that many modern blacksmith shops were relied on the leftover equipment from a more glorious industrial past. This included the many Little Giant power hammers and even the smaller industrial hammers as well as lathes, drill presses, weld plattens and such that were being scraped on a regular basis.

However, blacksmithing has come back and there are now many manufacturers of small hammers and tools of all types for our industry. Many of us, mostly hobbiests still rely on old machinery and it is VERY sad when worn but still usable machinery goes to scrap.

Small businessman are the backbone of the economy and often micro businesses (1 to 3 man shops) support the many small businesses (the IRS defines "small" up to 200 employees). Many of these micro businesses and other small entrepreneurs cannot afford new equipment and rely on the used market. When this goes to scrap the opportunity for someone to launch a small business may disappear and we are all poorer.

In the 1980's I did some jobs that earned as much in a month as many folks make in a year. It was all done with fixtures made on ancient machinery and a little machining prior to bending and welding. The WWI era and earlier equipment worked just fine. If the jobs had held up they would have paid for newer (but not new) machinery in a few months. Old machinery is often the life blood of the inventor or small entrepreneur. Its money in the bank even to SOMEONE, even if it has to be given away. Scraping it makes us poorer as a society.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 15:20:45 EDT

Yeah, but it puts money into the pockets of the guys scrapping out there... not a good thing, just sayin'. A scrapper can only get $14 for my anvil that is worth $500.00 to the right buyer.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/14/09 15:50:48 EDT

Quenchcrack, Ha Ha! thanx for that didn't do my burgers any good... actually, information crosswire there, the rotation on the forge is merely convenience for the farrier, it doesn't turn by the motor, it turns by hand only to access the bar or whatever rather than walk round the forge. Its an alldays and onions mobile by the way. Motors goosed on this thing tho, but easily replaced I reckon.
   Duncan (aka, maddragon) - Tuesday, 04/14/09 17:34:22 EDT

I would like to build a garden tool called a broadfork. The broadfork is heavy duty pitchfork-like tool used to turnover the soil. I am thinking of forging the fork tines out of 5/8" round 1040, and I am wondering if this medium carbon steel could be tempered to resist the bending force that will be placed on the forks of the tool. Mild steel of 5/8" round bends too easy. Thanks
   TS - Tuesday, 04/14/09 17:38:30 EDT

Ahh TGN, can you put me in touch with some of the scrappers in your area...

TS sort of depends on how you forge them too as you can forge 1040 thinner than paper... However I would suggest you look into crossections that resist bending. Also why 1040 instead of 5160? 5/8" is about the size you can find on heavy coil springs pretty much for free if you are willing to straighten them.

Scrapping: I was living high off the hog on the scrounging I could do in OH and then I moved down here to NM in a poor rural area and even the sides of the road are gleaned for all save glass bottles.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/14/09 17:58:45 EDT

TS, 1040 will work but will have to be a pretty hard temper to have appreciable strength. An alloy spring steel like 5160 at a normalized condition will be tougher. I would also suggest using square bar. Square bar will give you more strength in the same size. These tools are often made from square turned on the diagonal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/14/09 18:03:23 EDT

Ahh! A rare disagreement with the Guru! He's right on the metallurgy, as usual, but this is an unusual tool. I think the 1040 is perfect. Plain carbon, very old school tool making. These things turned a lot of dirt before 5160 was ever conceived of. Use 5160 if you want to do a lot of work unwinding coil springs. Heat it to dull red, quench it in the creek, temper it to whatever. Or not. ZZZZZZZZZ. Yeah, it'll do ok normalized. And that's OK. If you like the auto companies to do your work for you.
Use the 1045 if you want to get into the art of drawing the temper.
I have been doing a lot with garden tools using 1040/1044-50 for the business end. Amazingly versatile stuff. Forges like 1018 if you keep it HOT. In my experience, the key is in hardening it to the max or just below max on a rising heat ( I think its 1600 or 1650 f) JUST barely non-magnetic and then paying a LOT of attention to the temper. Needs to be really hard (light straw) only at the working tips. The lower third of the tines can show a little purple, then no softer than deep bronze all the way back to the haft. The closer to the haft, the more you need to avoid anything softer than bronze, dark straw is better, then lighter straw however, but don't let any part remain full hard: it will be brittle unless at least light straw. Like most digging tools, this is a lever, and needs its strength at the fulcrum, which is sometimes up the haft, where your off hand is, and sometimes at the base of the tines, whre your foot is. Guru is correct of course that square on the diamond is the strongest section, but thats not what this tool is about, is it? Its called a broad fork because the tines are flat and move a LOT of material: the diamond defeats that purpose.

My rec? Take the road less traveled and draw the right temp through the whole tool.

UNless you can sell ten of em, in which case use the 5160
But who asked me?
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 04/15/09 00:58:45 EDT

Peter Hirst, I would agree about the material and section. I would offer that gardeners, especially those 80+ year old little old ladies USE and abuse those tools. I make trowels, and have seen them in use. They pry, chop roots whatever. Pay especial attention to temper and hardness where prying can overstress, since you can count on that little 100# old lady jumping up and down on it, or getting her 250# grandson to do it for her:)
   Ptree - Wednesday, 04/15/09 07:45:26 EDT

TS: Unless you are doing this as a practical exercise, why reinvent the wheel? Such digging forks have been around for a long time. (A wider one might be called a broadfork.)

What do you intend to use as a handle? I suspect a pitchfork replacement one would break on you after much use.

I fully agree on the economic impact of small businesses. In mine I buy enough off-the-shelf items to be popular with two plumbing supply outlets. About every two months I make a steel resupply run to a combination new and scrap yard about 50 miles away. A local machine shop operator makes pocket money by doing some lathe work for me on the side. The local Post Office tells me I'm their largest, non-commercial, out-shipper. I do enough business with UPS to qualify for a discounted shipping rate. I hire occasional local labor on a cash per hour basis. I recycle a good bit of money into the local economy.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 04/15/09 09:14:02 EDT

Ken: The broadfork handles will be made from posthole digger handles. The reason I am building one is that they retail for about $200, which is a lot of money for such a simple tool.
   - TS - Wednesday, 04/15/09 10:48:08 EDT

Ken: The broadfork handles will be made from posthole digger handles. The reason I am building one is that they retail for about $200, which is a lot of money for such a simple tool.
   TS - Wednesday, 04/15/09 10:48:48 EDT

Peter, for me to get 1040 in a goodly length I would have to special order it through a steel supplier and then drive 100 miles (each way) to pick it up. Makes straightening local coil spring locally look like much more fun.

I think the Guru was talking about flattening the tines from the sq stock on the diagonal which will make them wider with less effort.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/15/09 11:27:10 EDT

The digging forks I have had were roughly the same size as a shovel with four tines made of 1/2" or 5/8" square. Only the tips were modified. I cannot remember details but it was not an expensive tool otherwise we would not have had it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/15/09 11:34:50 EDT

Talking of forks, I have a pattren for a dinner fork that involves brazing pieces together and the polishing to give the effect of an inlay.
Is there a food safe braze that I can use?
I'm hopeing to get a color combination of brushed black and the brass/bronze of the brazeing.
   - merl - Wednesday, 04/15/09 13:00:09 EDT

Merl, generally no. Any copper alloy is not food-safe even though many smiths have made brass ladles and such.

The closest thing would be a yellow silver solder. This comes close to matching a brass color. However, it is still a copper alloy.

If you want black and gold use iron and gold. It is very striking. Note that you must warn of soaking or washing is a dishwasher ANY bimetal products. They will corrode heavily.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/15/09 14:06:35 EDT

Thanks Guru, that's what I thought.
Yes that is the contrast I'm looking for (gold and black)so I wouldn't be afraid to use real gold wire or strip if someone actualy wanted a set but, the desighn actualy uses a brazed construction and I was hopeing to acheive bothe with one method.
I guess I can look into a gold wash or spot plating product as well.
This is another one of those designs that came to me just as I was heading to bed so I've got a little work to do yet.
I guess the other option is to re-vamp the design so that no braze can come into contact with the food or mouth.
   - merl - Wednesday, 04/15/09 16:40:56 EDT

I must need a new keybord. Even I can't believe how many mistakes were in that one....
   - merl - Wednesday, 04/15/09 16:44:56 EDT

Ive been looking at the German Eauroanvils and was wondering what kind of quality they are..
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 04/15/09 21:03:32 EDT

Peter H: Well, I agree with you 99%! I too love plain carbon steel for many things. Properly heat treated (and it's eaiser to "properly" heat treat than most) it's the equal of almost any alloy unless you need special qualities.

The 1% is in regard to square bar on the diamond. One of the engineers here can explain, but I was shown that square bar is harder to bend on the square than on the diamond. Don't seem right, but it's true.
   - grant - Wednesday, 04/15/09 21:21:33 EDT

Jacob, I believe the Euroanvils and the Old World anvils come from the Czech Republic. They may come from the same factory but Guru may have better information on that. I own a 167# German Pattern and like it very much. Some claim the surface is too soft but I have had mine for about 5 years and there is very little marking on the face. For a professional, you might want to look at the really high dollar German or Swedish anvils. For the hobbyist, I think they are just fine. Of course, when I bought mine they were about $360. They are about $900 now.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 04/15/09 21:26:13 EDT

Yep, Grant is right and I was going to jump right on that but he beat me to it. Has to do with section modulus or something, but it does definitely bend easier on the diamond. Moot point on a broad fork, though.

If making the tines from a square section, flattening on the diamond yields a nice section profile with a stout center and relatively thin edges - just right for a dirt fork that will want cleaning from time to time, I'd think.

1045 is much nicer to forge than 5160 and wil ldo just fine for the intended use - if you can find the stuff these days. I can usually only find it available in larger sizes of round bar like 1-1/2" and up. Finie for making hammer heads, but a bit stout for forging fork tines, eh?
   vicopper - Wednesday, 04/15/09 23:29:18 EDT

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