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 22 - 31, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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Gordie, In one of the "evidence" photos there are standing poles on the other side of the Interstate below the hill side with the same curvature. This is the way they were made PERIOD, THE END. I've driven that road (In front of the Pentagon on the way downtown) and most of the 495 beltway a great number of times and it has been in constant change with a wide variety of pole types from various decades. There are many curved light poles, straight light poles, braced and unbraced light poles with the newest being the very high cluster lights that make great alien spacecraft when seen in the fog. There is no need for some strange phenomenon to bend them as they were manufactured that way.

As to modeling stress on one of these hollow poles or even guessing what would happen it is impossible as there are millions of variables.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/22/09 00:10:50 EDT

I have recently come into some tools for blacksmithing and it has always been a skill I wanted to get into. I have not looked at what all I have received. I was wondering about some beginning tips and advice and a list of some basic tools I will want to have and acquire if I do not.
   Austin - Wednesday, 04/22/09 01:50:41 EDT


I was chasing/repoussing the "eyebrow" shapes on a Roman helmet with a blunt, rounded chisel from the INSIDE...

I experienced a lot of difficulties with the lack of space for wielding the hammer.

I've seen (on telly) some middle-east craftsmen working a pot using a kind of seesaw tool, hitting the outside bar, which causes the hammer end inside to hit upwards.

How is this tool called, and can it be used for chasing inside a vase, helmet etc.

Otherwise, how is inside chasing/repoussing done?

Thanks, I love this website.

Duco de Klonia
AnyTime historical reproductions
The Netherlands.
   Duco de Klonia - Wednesday, 04/22/09 06:51:21 EDT

I have been trying to study the venturi effect, but am not a smart person. As propane goes down a one inch pipe, you reduce it to 1/2 inch pipe, this reduces pressure, but increases velocity, you then reduce it to 1/4 inch, still lowers pressure, but increases velocity. You may think I'm nuts, but if the lengths of pipe are increased, will this give the gas enough time to accelerate faster ? Also, at what point are the reductions ineffective, or a hinderance ? I was thinking perhaps the speed of the propane could be increased before entering the venturi in the forge burner. Does this sound logical ?
Mike T.
   - Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 04/22/09 06:55:25 EDT

Mike Thompson, several issues come to mind. Usually one has only the pressure of the propane in the tank to work with. At every pipe diameter redution indeed the pressure reduces, and the velocity increases. But, and here are several important "Buts":
With the sharp edged, pipe screwed into a reducer, and all the associated threads, burrs etc there will be very turbulant flow, that will reduce flow rate.
At every "Pressure decrease, velocity increase" one sees less mass of propane moving across that point.
In factory made venturis used for these type purposes all of the diameter changes are smooth tapers, think carburator.
At every pressure drop/velocity incease one also gets a cooling effect, and in the right conditions of humidity temp, one sees icing at the throat of the venturi, Hence Carb heat on aircraft and the carb mounted on a water heated manifold on most engines.
If one tried to gain much velocity increase, at the loss of pressure, at some point there is no more pressure to work with assuming no pumps.

I recently did some R&D for Larry Zoeller on his new Zee burner. He had done an excellent job of constructing his burner choosing fittings that yeilded an excellent flow to the incoming AIR. The flow of air that can be induced is the limiting factor in most burners constructed from fittings and pipe. He chose to try and improve that flow. He was sucessful. I looked over his burner, and made a simple suggestion to gain a little less turbulant flow in the air path. He handed me a burner and said go to it. I did some baseline flow testing of total flow through the burner system. I then made some mods in steps and watched the flow grow another 10to 15%. This burner is on the market, and will run at lower gas pressure with a stable flame then his previous very nice burners, and has a much wider "turn down range"
And as a thankyou, he gave me the burner:) He is a truely nice guy and makes very nice burners.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/22/09 07:54:52 EDT

Duco, I sent you an email.
   philip in china - Wednesday, 04/22/09 08:21:47 EDT

I would value anybody's opinion on the following site:
They are in Shanghai which, of course, is quite convenient for some of us!
   philip in china - Wednesday, 04/22/09 08:23:09 EDT


Thank you very much for your response, it is very informative.

   - Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 04/22/09 08:40:56 EDT

Repousse' From Inside, Setting Down and Snarling irons: Duco, Some raised areas in repousse' are produced by "setting down" the area around them. Using gently sloping tool faces the raised areas starts as the original surface and the area around it is worked down. If this is done with a very gentle slope the area looks raised OR can actually become raised by pushing the general area that was set down outwards again. This was often done with lead backing cast into place.

Snarling Irons (English) are tools for working from the inside of a tight vessel. There is no pivot. The tool has a long shank or stem which is struck with a hammer. One end is supported in a bench plate or vise and the other extends into the work. The stem is springy and bounces up and down the far end striking the work as it bounces. I suspect the name has to do with the noise made by the bouncing tool against the work.

Snarling irons are used to repair dents in musical instruments and to do repousse' in hollow vessels. Often they are made by the user and are a simple blacksmithing job. Snarling irons can have heavy stems that vibrate or "hum" or slender stems that bounce more vigorously striking the work at a lower frequency but much harder. The working end can be any shape the worker wants including spherical down to a slender lining tool. Some ends clamp on to the bar and other are forged as part of the bar. The end can be a small shaped section of the bar or be upset to make a heavier hammer like end.

To determine where the tool is an outside pointer is often clamped to the tool. Thus the place to be struck from the inside will be under the pointer which is adjusted to be close but not contact the work.

Snarling iron shanks usually start with a right angle. The long part (as much as 4 feet) can be straight or curved. The curve is made to fit the item being worked as necessary.

Snarling irons can be made in great variety and characters. They can have small "pecking" ends or broadly curved smoothing ends and light or heavy shanks. A little experimentation will tell you which you need.

The entire iron can be made of a spring steel OR mild steel with a hard end. Mild steel has the same springyness for this purpose as the higher carbon steel, thus costing less. The hard end can be welded or clamped to the tool. For working soft non-ferrous metals I would make the entire tool out of mild steel and harden the end as much as the mild can take. For working steel the tool should have as hard an end as your other repousse' tools.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/22/09 08:45:43 EDT

We have Huta Zygmunt forging hammers of capacities;1TON,2.5TONS,3TONS and 5TONS.We have now problem that they consume more pnumetic energy,almost double.I have observed that its cylinder sleeve has wornout and needs replacement.Besides that air leakages from its cutoff valve,controlvalve,covers,pipelines etc.. needs to be rectified.What surprises me is that it has piston rings of Fiber material instead of metal piston rings.I beleave that previous maintenance person might have done so to escape from periodic cylinder sleeve replacement.Since fiber does not have elastic property as metal,it will give a way to some air to exhaust without doing any usefull work.This I believe is a wrong maintenance practice,howevers. please guide me whether I am right or wrong ? Also,please guide me through your expert openion about proper maintenance and usage of pnumetic forging hammer.Energy saving is very important,especially in present sinerio of global meltdown.Please reply as I do not have service manual and I nor did I find web site for Huta Zygmunt.
   H.V.Nimbark - Wednesday, 04/22/09 09:14:20 EDT

Huta Zygmunt was the machinery division of the Steel Mill in Bytom, Poland.
Since 2004, they have been part of Zamet.
is the website of the current owner.
I do not know if they will support older forging hammers or not, but you can email them and ask.
They do still manufacture large hammers, so my guess is they would be helpful with questions about yours.

It is not uncommon for self contained air hammers to have fiber sealing rings, so your rings could be factory installed.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 04/22/09 12:28:17 EDT


I will probably get a Zoeller Z burner later on, right now I am working on a shoestring ( I jumped the gun I guess, and went over my budget on equipment ). I got a long MIG tip about 2 inches long. I am going to place it in the flare and seal around it. Should there be air holes drilled
in the upper part of the MIG tip which extends above the flare, to draw air through, and a convenient way of starting ignition ?

   - Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 04/22/09 17:48:09 EDT

Mike thompson, I am not sure what you mean by sealing the mig tip in the flare. Normally in norrmally aspirated burners the mig tip is extended into a tee ,latteral or large flare and the flow of propane induces flow into the pipe that extendes into the forge.
Have you looked at the plans on this page on propane burners?
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/22/09 18:09:57 EDT

H.V. Nimbark, Ries has it right about fiber rings. In Cylinders using air, I have never seen factory installed piston rings made of metal. The lubrication issues would be terrible. Steel rings are used in hdraulics.

We had a 1927 steam driven recip air compressor, that was built with fiber rings on the steam cylinders, and we usually got about 18 months service on the rings. We switched to a teflon based ring set and the life went to at least 7 years. We shut that machine down at 7 years with the first set of teflon rings.
The steam cylinders, two each, were 24" bore and 48" stroke. The piston speed was much less than your hammer, but I would ask the factory what they reccomend.
   ptree - Wednesday, 04/22/09 18:15:23 EDT

Burner and MIG tips: Mike I don't know WHAT the heck you are doing but you definitely need to study how these things work.

The MIG tip is the gas orifice in a atmospheric burner (no blower). Nothing but propane flows through it (NO AIR). It injects gas at high velocity into the intake bell or funnel. The high velocity gas creates a turbulent mix of moving air and gas. This sucks in more air behind it.

The fuel/air mix should become nearly fully mixed when it leaves the burner. Burning must be BEYOND the burner in a forge. Burning in the tube is flashback and will overheat or melt the tube. The gases in the mixing tube and nozzle must be moving faster than the "flame front velocity" to prevent burning in the mixing tube. If you adjust the gas flow too low OR there is insufficient exhaust opening you get flashback.

FINER DETAILS: Forge burners do not work well outside a forge. To work outside a forge the burner needs an expansion nozzle with a step. Lots of folks make a big deal about how well their burners work outside a forge. The forge is part of the system.

The step creates turbulence that holds a bit flame that keeps the burner burning. In a forge the step occurs where the burner tube ends. The refractory beyond the burner tube can be the nozzle. In big industrial furnaces a refractory "burner block" serves this purpose and is a replaceable part.

Forge burners must be a balanced system for a given volume. Everything must be in balance. The orifice, mixing tube and forge volume are a proportional balance. Change one and all must be adjusted accordingly. Parts for a 1/2" pipe, 3/4" pipe or 1" pipe burner are not interchangeable. If you are following someone's plans, follow them exactly.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/22/09 19:54:11 EDT

Gordie: To bend that pole like that You don't just push sideways on the top, or the base will break away like You suggested, probably before the pole bends at all.

For that bend You would basickly push down on the pole from the top ecentricly. By this imagine You have an archery bow with a slight curve. You push really hard on the top end while the bottom end is on the ground and the curve gets greater. The lamp post even if it was "straight" will not be perfectly in collum, and even if it was at first probably wouldn't stay in collum as load increases.

How do I know that a tube can be bent in a curve from end loading? At a punch press shop I worked in We used a heavy steel tube, about 2 1/2 OD x .312 wall about 30" long as a ram block. Yes I know that that is not a proper ram block. This tube inadverdantly got left in place as the press was cycled, and did get bowed from the force.

I don't know what exactly bent that pole if it was straight to begin with, I don't have time for BS conspiracy theories. Could that pole be bent from impact? Sure, if You hit it right.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 04/22/09 20:21:56 EDT

I know I should keep my mouth shut, but here goes:

I guess they bribed my buddy to tell me he saw the plane before it hit the Pentagon. And what about the well-known structural engineer who called out of a meeting I was attending to consult on the emergency shoring work? Wouldn't he have noticed something strange was going on? Was he in on it too?

That's just two people I happened to have contact with. Hundreds must have witnessed some significant part of what happened. You'll never convince me they *all* could have been bought and stayed bought.

If you still think there was a conspiracy, drop a glass on your kitchen floor. Then try to explain why every shard ended up where it did. You'll end up opening the cabinets looking for little green men. Our minds simplify things to try to understand them, but the real world isn't simple. The laws of physics can explain *anything* that happens, but even the most sophisticated computer models can't explain *everything* that happens. There are just too many variables to keep track of.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 04/22/09 21:27:56 EDT

Piston Rings: The best rings I've ever seen were graphite filled compression rings made for old GM 235 straight six engines. They may have made them for other engines. These were a light steel carrier with graphite fill.

The old steam hammers had steel rings but when retrofitted for air, non-metallic rings were used. Nylon has been used as well as other materials. Graphite impregnated phenolic laminate would probably make good rings and I am sure there are other newer high tech products that may work better. None are cheap in big pieces.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/22/09 21:36:51 EDT


Yes, I see what you are talking about on the tee. I am still in the building stage, 8 X 10 mini forge ( finished with it ). Still need some fire bricks etc. I have a ways to go to hook it up, I may ask more questions. This is all
new and trying to learn + I'm dumb as a wedge too ( that doesn't help ).

Thank you ptree,
   - Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 04/22/09 22:38:33 EDT

I could use some help here. I have been looking for a large anvil in the 300# range well a friend called today and gave me a number of a guy selling a Vulcan marked 30 under the horn. I went and looked at it and it is in great shape just some chipping on the off side corner of the face from mid face towards the heal. i can live with that. The face is flat and has some chisel and hammer marks but not bad. He had an old handle hot cut with no handle so I dropped it on the face from about 2-3" off the face of course striking surface down and it bounced right back to my hand quickly and had a pretty good ring to it.

Can you tell me anything about this anvil, like weight and when it was possibly made? And do you feel it is worth $700 which it also comes with about 15 pair of tongs, a stake anvil and a monster of a base?

Thanks for any help,

   Mike Anderson - Thursday, 04/23/09 01:52:33 EDT

Conspiracy theories are like anuses. Everyone has one and it usually stinks.

When I was a civilian employee for the AF, I was in the Pentagon maybe 40-50 times. Please was build like a fortress. Five rings. All with thick granite walls.

After 9/11 I spoke with some AF pilots of tankers and such. They said the highjacker either was incredibly lucky or was well skilled at what he did to hit it where he did. Too low and you bounce off the parking lot. Too high and you hit one of the inner rings.

There is a security camera tape of the plane a split second away from impact. It was tracked on radar. Pieces of the plane were found, as was DNA from the passengers. How anyone could say it was a missile is beyond me.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 04/23/09 07:14:34 EDT

Merl, about electropolish SS. The kit comes complete WITH the phosphoric acid. No need to try to subsitute it, as it's one of those things that doens't need to be re-engineered. Now the heat source I would like to ramp up with an immersion heater like a coffee stinger. The kit comes with 4 aquarium heaters, and in my opinion they don't get up to the right temps for good polishing. The phosphoric acid stays in the system for as long as you own it, so you don't have to worry about HAZMAT removal any time soon. According to the paperwork that comes with the kit, the acid absorbs stainless steel. The more steel in solution the better the system works. The acid should be usable for 10 to 20 years!
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 04/23/09 07:48:33 EDT

Hi, I am new to forgework and have limited experience in forging steel, that is ok, but recently I have moved onto using recovered Iron from old rotted sailing vessel wrecks, but working on it with the forge, get to bright yellow heat to shape the stuff, hit it, the metal appears to crumble, bits break off, is this a fault with the metal or me ? (the metal am using is scarf welded anchor chain that has been in estuary mud for about 150 years.)
   Andy W - Thursday, 04/23/09 08:07:57 EDT

Mike BR, actualy your glass analogy is not a good one.
The pattern of shatter and dispersal could be explained or even predicted by higher mathimatics and someone who knew how to apply it. Why the heck would anyone need to? Just get out the broom and sweep it up right?
Gordie, I work with a guy who is the nicest, well adjusted person and an exelant machinist but, he lives for conspiracy theroies and, when he gets on one he is a burrden to be around.
I personaly like to analyze everything to death but, even I know the limits. I can't even see were you are trying to steer this, except maybe to get some corroborating statements from the learned folks here for some half baked theory.
   - merl - Thursday, 04/23/09 08:49:15 EDT

Interesting hammer se ebay item 130301332097
   - Bob G - Thursday, 04/23/09 09:05:49 EDT

THANKS Nipp! I fully understand your point. Some of the reading I've done so far SUGGESTS that different acids do different metals but, it sounds more like a sales pitch so I wanted to get mor info. I'll take your experience as fact and go with it.
As to the heater problem. Would it help to pre-heat the items to be polished befor puting them in the acid bath?
One more question. Do you have an idea what the capacity of your system is in "X" number of lbs. in "X"number of hours?
I'm going to see if they will send me an instruction manual that I can study... Thanks again Nipp
   - merl - Thursday, 04/23/09 09:12:30 EDT

Old Ship Iron: Andy, This is very likely old wrought iron. Wrought has layers of silicon slag in it from it manufacture. When old wrought rusts heavily the rust follows these layers creating voids all through the iron. In some cases you can flux the iron heavily, bring it to a white heat and weld the iron back together. In others it is impossible. The difference is the amount of rust and the other impurities that followed the voids.

Rewelding wrought is a bit of an art as you need to use a flux that helps replace the original slag. You also need to work from the center out pushing the flux and excess rust and dross out of the iron as it is welded. It is somewhat like the original consolidating of a bloom but in a repair mode.

Old wrought anchor chain is prized by those reclaiming old wrought, forging it into larger billets that are then worked down and rolled into bar.

Even good wrought must be worked quite hot OR dead cold. It is generally more ductile than steel but has that slag that gives it grain which must be worked with and taken into consideration when forging. Wrought welds easier than mild steel because it can be worked hotter AND the internal slag acts as flux.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 10:05:38 EDT

Old Vulcan Anvil: I would say the price is a little high alone but the accessories may clinch the deal. I am personally not a fan of this brand anvil but many are.

The 30 is 300 pounds approximate as this is a cast body anvil and the marking allows for variations and imperfect size to be exactly 300. It is a steel faced cast iron body anvil - one of those "quiet" anvils. Like all old anvils the maker is long gone. If you want a detailed history we sell Anvils in America. . .

Tongs vary greatly in quality. Good useful tongs are slightly springy and have well shaped bits. Almost all factory tongs are OK but MANY hand made tongs are what I call "farmer" tongs. Most farmer tongs are actually tongs made in trade schools by students and are MUCH too heavy and cludgy making them impractical to use. Most were left behind (possibly because they were useless) resulting in numerous troves of these bad tongs. All these are good for is examples of how NOT to make tongs OR for the dollar's worth of material.

NOTE: Non-smiths and decorators will pay $15 - $20 for these useless tongs as fireplace decorations.

Good used tongs are worth $25 to $50 pair. Try making a pair and you will appreciate those good deals at $20.

If the stand is the right height for you great. If the stand is a cast factory stand they are worth a lot. If the stand is a good custom made metal stand then OK there is some value there.

Sounds like a decent deal if you have the cash. Note that folks still occasionally get those $50 or $100 Peter Wright deals but they are rarer and rarer. Old anvils are also being seen as good investments. They appreciate at LEAST at the inflation rate if not better and there are a finite number so the prices are bound to increase ESPECIALLY on known brands (any with a trade mark). In other words, expect used anvil prices to continue UP.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 10:57:34 EDT

Air Hammer Inefficiency: Something that was mentioned here maybe once is dirt in the lines. Air lines tend to rust at a high rate and all that rust can end up in valves and cylinders. It is a common problem for someone to install a NEW hammer on old lines and immediately have problems. Filters are necessary and reduce machinery wear and failure. If the filter is clogging then a larger filter is needed OR air lines replaced. Either is cheaper than machine repairs and down time.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:02:48 EDT

Merl, the kit aims for polishing results with surface area rather than weight. The only limits are the dimensions of the tank. For best results they recommend 0.7 amps per square inch. My power supply is a cheap car battery charger. It has 3 settings; 2 amp 12v, 6 amp 12v, and 2 amp 6v. I used to run the current after the charger with a MOSFET pot until it blew a capacitor. Then the charger died. So, a new charger with a dimmer switch to input power gives me the best control over voltage/amperage. The more steel in the solution, the lower your amps get. At first I would do all these calculations to find out if I was getting that magical 0.7 amps per square inch, but now I just eye it up (real scientific, huh?). Good luck with getting the literature for the kit, I don't think he'll part with that much info for free.

Preheating the steel MAY help, I haven't tried it yet. I know that with etching and blueing pre-heated parts are recommended. The solutions work best between 120 to 170 degrees F. Seeing as how my setup is in my basement and the ambient temps lately have been pretty cold, I've been lucky to get things up to 100.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:23:25 EDT

Oops, forgot... when I run the charger I keep it at 6 amp 12 v.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:24:10 EDT

Huta Zigmunt hammers,.

Im pretty sure all the Huta's ive worked on have had rolled steel piston rings fitted.

All of the Massey 'double acting' die forging hammers had / have rolled steel rings. We made some pretty meaty hammers, and the service life with steel rings is excellent.

Sounds like these hammers need a rebore, ram head welding & re-machining , valve's metal spraying and bores re-machining and honeing. Gets spendy real quick, but the effieiency will increase massivly (quick payback) and you will get alot of extra power from the machines :)

One thing to keep an eye on with the Zygmund hammers is the rams, they are quite prone to cracking. Catch it early enough and sometimes the dont break in half!

A 5 ton model is quite a beast of a thing to see running, not so many left in service in the UK now.
   - John N - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:35:44 EDT

Thanks Guru,

I have tried to haggle with the guy but he was told get $2-$4 a pound by a collector. So he is staying firm at $2 a pound. So the option I have at this moment are to buy the package of stuff at $700 or just the anvil at $600 or just walk away.

Thanks again for your help.
   Mike Anderson - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:40:48 EDT

I have been patronizing a commercial electropolishing business for over ten years.
He uses phosphoric acid. He could buy anything he wants, as he is charging for the work, and he uses phosphoric because its the best combination of efficiency, cost, and low toxicity.
Dont try to reinvent the wheel- Phosphoric is the best stuff to use.
Profit making businesses have figured this out over the last 50 years or so.

Some people (I am one of them) are using a citric acid, from Stellar Solutions (google em) for SITE Electropolishing. This is a related process, but has different needs and wants. On site, I use a small power supply, which is 40 volts, and about 20 amps, to clean welds on stainless. I use citric acid- Citrisurf, to be exact, with that, instead of phosphoric. The site cleaning is not strong enough to clean heavy forgings or get the black off- its only designed to clean the blue weld discoloration off, and I have found that Citric is plenty aggressive enough for that. And, frankly, its a lot easier to transport on airplanes, as its a powder, easy to mix just enough, and its a lot easier and safer to work with on site. When I am working on somebody's hundred million dollar construction project, I dont really want to leave phosphoric acid drips all over their new concrete, or stone, or metalwork. Makes me unpopular. The citric is safer, easier to clean up, and much better for that.

In the shop, though, you need phosphoric. And, as Nip says, more heat and more amps. My commercial guys keep their 4 foot by 4 foot by 8 foot tank at 120 degrees. They have found this temp to be optimum. They use a 2000 amp, 100 volt power supply, about as big as a commercial fridge. There is no substitute for amps, I have found. Even with this thing running at 1000 amps, a heavily forged piece might take a half hour to get shiny. So I would look for something with more heft than a garage sale battery charger. 40 volts, minimum, seems like the ticket. Doesnt have to be as big as my commercial guys use, but 10 or 20 amps of 40 volts would be a lot faster.
Remember, Nip is doing tiny stuff, while I frequently make sculptures so big that I build to the 4'x4'x 8' max, for each small module, then weld together after polishing.
My last project is a 20 foot tall column, polished in 3 parts, then welded and bolted together.
   - Ries - Thursday, 04/23/09 11:48:30 EDT

I think some people tend to conspiracy theories because they find reality scares the scale out of them.
   JimG - Thursday, 04/23/09 12:18:48 EDT

Electropolishing Ries, That sounds like a small buzz box. Many are not DC but some are. It would be possible to add diodes to an AC box as well. Old welders are often cheap, the voltage is about right and amperage runs from 10 to 200 more or less. I've seen many scrap welders that the basics (transformer) were good but the more complicated electronics were trash. Buzz boxes and other welding power supplies may be just the thing.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 12:59:24 EDT

I would add that you should be careful mixing liquids and electricity, in making your own electropolisher.
My little portable unit, while more powerful than a battery charger, is capable of a bite.
A buzz box is even more so.
So I guess I would say, start with a battery charger, and work up, rather than rush right in and put a lot of amps and volts into a bathtub.

this is one reason I send mine out.
   - Ries - Thursday, 04/23/09 15:54:54 EDT

O.K. just for fun, try this for discussion: Which is more dense, carbon steel that has been hardened or not hardened? There is some graphic evidence in blacksmithing that demonstrates the answer. This is not a trick question.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/23/09 16:19:08 EDT

i recently purchased nine older starrett and brown and sharpe micrometers. one of them has a little bit of a squeak and some of them are older than others. what would be the best way to oil these ??
   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/23/09 16:24:49 EDT

I agree Ries, I"m not trying to re-invent the wheel but, like I said I'm one of those poeple that needs to know all the hows and whys of a procedure especily befor I bring it home were my family may become exposed to a residue or fume(no matter how many sefeguards, it can happen)
I also happen to have a large photo chemical agitation/heating unit that I may be able to use.
I have a AC/DC tig welder that goes up to 250 amps would that work on larger stuff?
Right now I only need to do smaller stuff so when I need greater capacity I should have the learning curve figured out.
You have given me some good insights. Thank you.
   - merl - Thursday, 04/23/09 17:33:20 EDT

I have a lot of friends who are left wing wackos (and some right wing nuts as well) so I have heard a lot of those conspiracy theories. The thing that strikes me about most of the theories is the implied hubris, something along the lines of "no one in the world could hate us more than we/our government hates ourselves/us." Both camps seem in denial of the idea that America may be doing some things, whatever they may be, that really piss off the rest of the world.

Actual Smithing Content: I was contacted today by an interior designer who wants prices on some forged bronze furniture. No problem. However, his specified finish is "white bronze". It sort of looks like brushed nickel. As far as I can tell from a little googling this is an electroplated alloy finish with a high zinc content. My questions- Does anyone else have experience with this finish? Does anyone have an East coast electroplater that they have used for same? Thanks!
   Judson Yaggy - Thursday, 04/23/09 18:20:37 EDT

Grant, the transformation of austenite to martensite is accompanied by a volumetric expansion of between 1.5% and 4%. Assuming the piece is heated in a protective atmosphere and does not lose any weight to scale, I would have to vote on the non-hardened steel being theoretically denser. I doubt most of us could discern the difference, though.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 04/23/09 18:27:14 EDT

Tyler Murch, Starrett makes a special oil for instruments such as these, as well as a solvent cleaner to clean out any old gummy oil. They are a little pricey, but well worth it if you plan on keeping these and other measuring tools in first class condition for your career.
Small tip to all, L.S. Starrett makes "To die for quality" to quote a friend. If you intend to purchase a tool to use for a lifetime, buy Starrett.
   ptree - Thursday, 04/23/09 19:23:19 EDT

Micrometer Lube: Tyler, Starrett sells oil but sewing machine oil is very nearly the same.

If you do not have standards for checking the micrometers you should get a set to check or adjust them before use.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 19:54:36 EDT

Steel density:

Grant, Perhaps the graphic evidence of steel's change in density is referred to in the gray bar at the bottom of Quenchcrack's post? Just to the left of "Thursday," I mean.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:05:14 EDT

See, that's what happens when ya get a bunch of knowledgeable people. The usual layman would naturally think that hardened steel MUST be denser than soft steel. The graphic example I had in mind was the Japanese sword. They do a differential hardening by putting an inhibiter on the backside. The sword goes into the quench straight and comes out of the quench curved. So the hardened portion has expanded. Still being the same weight, it must be less dense if it takes up a larger volume.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:23:52 EDT

Steel Density: Oil quench steel is stated to be "low growth" when hardened. It does grow, I've measured small parts that had significant growth. Other steels grow more. . . SO, hardened is LESS dense, annealed more dense.

It may not be easy to discern, but you can easily measure it with micrometers even on parts as small as 1/2".

SO, using different logic, QC and I have the same answer.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:23:57 EDT

thanks all. i bought these off ebay. got some good deals. a little toying around and i figured out what the wrench is for lol. there is a set of gage blocks i can use to check them. i also got like-new 6" starrett digital and dial calipers
   - Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:25:11 EDT

^^^obtw still looking for most machining tools if anybody needs to sell^^^
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:31:23 EDT

Merl, where are You located? I know a guy who has/had an electropolishing setup that may be available.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/23/09 20:59:41 EDT

Tyler, I've got a hodge podge set of Starrett mics that run from 0 to 12". The most important thing I need now is a storage box to keep them clean and organized. A standard box will not work as the frame widths vary quite a bit. . . another one of those "retirement" projects.

Tyler, machinist's measuring tools? Machine tools? Tool holders, arbors. . . Be more specific. Also scale. I have a friend that has a collection of very large measuring tools. 14 FOOT calipers, 8 foot verniers, 4 x 6 surface plate. We have a 5 x 8 foot black granite surface plate (like new) and stand on casters that needs a good home.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 21:16:26 EDT

Dave Boyer, I'm in N.E. Wisconsin.
I'm not too sure about buying used acid but, am interested in the equipment.
   - merl - Thursday, 04/23/09 21:21:13 EDT

Steel Density & heat treatment: While it is true that tool steel usually expands from heat treatment, there are a few tool steels that will in fact shrink if You over heat them.
This is another of those lessons learned the hard way.

   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/23/09 21:37:54 EDT

Merl, this guy is in Conneticut, or at least the equipment was. The power suply would be expensive to ship. He is a friend that I havn't been in contact with for 5 years now, I don't know for sure if He still even has the setup, last I knew it was in storage. I want to get in touch with Him & His family, if I can find a current phone #. I will ask about it if I can find them.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/23/09 21:48:08 EDT

In my post I was careful to say "carbon steel". The expanding in volume has a really interesting effect in a shallow hardening steel like straight carbon. In sizes around 1 to 1-1/2 the outside can be fully hardened, but only for a depth of around 1/4 inch.

I've seen broken pieces of 1078 that looked for all the world like two pieces of steel, like someone had poured a different kind of steel into a pipe. Ther was no gradiant at all, just a sharp demarcation between hardened and unhardened steel. Many books mention this as a great characteristic of high carbon steel, a hard outer case and a tough unhardened core. I rarely see any mention of the differing stresses in the two. The outer case is not only hard, it has expanded, putting the core in tension and because the core resists the tension, the case is put in compression. This is much like pre-stressed concrete poles and pilings where a number of cables are pulled tight inside the concrete. Compound structures like this have some amazing properties. When a bending force or a tension force is applied, the outside will not come under any tension until all of the compression is relieved.

I assume this also applies to a layered steel welded up from low and high carbon steel.
   - grant - Thursday, 04/23/09 22:12:38 EDT

essentially anything that will fit in a toolbox. i'd like to have my own set of parallels. tool holders as well. most any dial indicators. v-blocks just to name a few.
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/23/09 22:28:33 EDT

Dense? Density? What it is? Horatio and Epicurus at different times have asked us to "define out terms." Could a change to a martensitic structure make more density, even though there may be a change in volume?
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/23/09 22:29:12 EDT

The standard calculation is: Density= Mass/Volume. Increase volume without changing mass and the density will be lower.

Why do you do thit to me, Frank? (grin) What did I ever do to you? I'm just a simple blacksmth trying to get by in the world. Maybe I'm dense! No, that can't be it, my volume HAS gone up, but so has my mass!
   - grant - Thursday, 04/23/09 22:56:31 EDT

Given the same weight (mass is always a constant as it cannot be created or destroyed), an increase in volume always indicates a reduction in density.

That is why accurate measurements must be taken at a known OR recorded temperature. Under normal conditions measurements are assumed to be made at 70°F or 20°C. If otherwise it should be stated as part of the measurement.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/23/09 23:02:00 EDT

^^such as gage blocks lol^^
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 04/23/09 23:08:57 EDT

Machinists Tools: Tyler, I've probably got all the tools an apprentice would dream of and more. My set also includes some rather odd bits such as 1" to 40" inside micrometers, magnetic V-blocks and parallels, depth mics, various range Starrett indicators and attachments such as a right angle fixture, 40" verniers, height gauge and granite block. Besides needing the custom fit box for the micrometer set I could use a wide Kennedy bottom cabinet to finish off the storage. . . Good multi-drawer boxes can cost as much as the contents. It took 20 years of collecting and opportunistic buying (when I had money).

I'm looking for a good J.T. Slocomb 0-1" digital micrometer to replace and old one I had go defunct. The company has gone defunct but they made the very best micrometers. I bought two pair on ebay, one with large diameter tips for thin or soft materials and one with rounded tips. . Neither exactly what I wanted. I'd make a good trade or pay cash for what I'm looking for.

I've had good luck at auctions but I knew the equipment before the sales. At one time a friend was going to Pennsylvania when there was numerous plant closings in the 1980's. He would come home with a heavy load of precision tools every month or two. I bought or traded for a few pieces.

Keep your eyes open and be in the right places as the right time and many of the tools you are looking for will come your way.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 01:05:08 EDT

Years ago, I had a chisel, on the side wsa the big word
" VANADIUM ". This chisel would cut through steel like butter. About a week or so ago, I bought a cold chisel and was trying it out on a piece of 1095 steel ( not annealed yet ) but I was expecting it to cut like the old chisel I used to have. When I hit it, it barely made a dent. This surprised me. Where can I purchase chisels, that will cut like the one I used to have ?
   - Mike Thompson - Friday, 04/24/09 06:35:00 EDT

are you familiar with a hand operated bone mill or grinder made by buffalo forge? if so, any idea of value and period that these were produced?
   john richardson - Friday, 04/24/09 10:15:13 EDT

Vanadium: Mike, While this is an alloy it is also a brand name. There was once an anvil that was "Vanadium" brand and they may have made other tools. Quality is often in the making, not the steel.

In the McMaster-Carr catalog they sell three lines of cold chisels with escalating prices. In one so called "top of the line" set I recently purchased at Lowes the heads of the larger chisels were upset but when I opened the package the top of the upset had a narrow raised lip guaranteed to either damage the striking tool or immediately mushroom over. These were unsuitable for use until the heads were reground. REALLY piss poor manufacturing.

SAE 1095 steel can be VERY hard if not annealed and would resist cutting with most cold chisels. You may be comparing apples and oranges trying to cut tool steel.

THEN there is the problem between modern tools and older tools made before the PC extreme era. Many tools are not made as hard as they once were to prevent any possibility of chipping and thus the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.

I would look at tools from one of our advertisers. I know the Kaynes carry some nice chisels including those super slim hot cuts that maintain their shape where others would crumble.

I see that Armstrong is still in business and makes cold chisels. As an "industrial only" tool maker I would trust theirs to be one of the best. They sell two grades, "cold chisels" and "Tool Steel Cold Chisels". The later is ground differently to prevent mushrooming and better control. Both are made of U.S. tool steels and forged in the U.S.

Try our advertisers or search for an Armstrong dealer.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 10:18:47 EDT

Bone Mill: John, not a clue. Since it is not a blacksmithing or metalworking tool it is out of our realm of expertise.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 10:20:30 EDT

And here I was thinking of how hardening makes carbon steel hard...since it's wedging carbon atoms in the lattice where they shouldn't be causing "speed bumps" for dislocation movement I would think that would mean the system would take up more space than a nice clean hunkered down Fe-C set up.

Patrick; how badly did I butcher that one?

   Thomas P - Friday, 04/24/09 10:56:15 EDT

Maybe this will help:


scroll down to the chart and find the numbers for carbon steel. Interesting enough, the charts numbers for "steel" says "depends on composition".
   - Nippulini - Friday, 04/24/09 11:27:32 EDT

"Steel" being a mixture of things by definition can vary and thus many things about it are not constant. In fast, it is surprising how many things are (constant).
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 13:39:05 EDT

Sometimes when drawing a rod to a point it splits. What am I doing wrong? not hot enough?
   Willy Cunningham - Friday, 04/24/09 14:16:32 EDT

Well Guru, that would certainly explain a lot! When I weigh myself I have failed to take into account ambient temperature and pressure. Gee, I might actually be at my ideal weight! Either that or I need to grow six inches!
   - grant - Friday, 04/24/09 14:42:38 EDT

Split Points: Willy, Working too cold will do it but so does shear. If you forge a point out of square and try to square it this often shears the middle internally which then splits as you forge it. So keeping the point square as you work it helps.

Working slightly behind the point preserves heat in the point and it can be worked last. This often prevents splitting and makes it easier to draw a long point in one heat.

The other thing that can happen by working right at the end of a bar is fish mouth, which then closes creating a cold shut. When at the end of a bar a cold shut is a split.

When drawing a taper you want to see the center of the end bulge out (the opposite of fish mouth). Striking the first blow parallel to the bar and back from the tip of the point to be drawn should squeeze the material out (a bulge) and from there on you can tilt the hammer to match the angle of the taper.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 16:55:41 EDT

Bone Grinder: The only blacksmithing connection that I can think of is that bone charcoal was sometimes used for the case hardening process. Other than that, bone meal is mostly associated with gardening and agriculture in my experience.

We'll be running some primitive case hardening experiments at Camp Fenby in June. The neighbors tend to wonder why I have all those rib roast bones hanging from the trees like grisly wind-chimes. Now, the moment is near... ;-)

Returned from Florida and back on the banks of the lower Potomac. Worked on three different units this week. 8-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 04/24/09 19:42:42 EDT

i disassembled the squeaky mike and it did need cleaning as well as lube. i cleaned all the threads with denatured alcohol and blasted it off with compressed air twice and lubed it with sewing machine oil. you could also feel the screw sort of catching on one side as it turned and that problem is gone too. all the threads looked really good when cleaned. now on this other mike, anybody got an idea as to how to cover up initials engraved on a satin chrome finish ??
   Tyler Murch - Friday, 04/24/09 19:58:06 EDT

   DAVID - Friday, 04/24/09 20:33:19 EDT


Quit shouting!!
   - Rustymetal - Friday, 04/24/09 22:22:10 EDT

I missed your info on ceramic tiles Rustymetal. I wasn't shouting, but y ou must be tired since rust never sleeps. i still never info on ceramic tile forges.
   DAVID - Friday, 04/24/09 23:03:27 EDT

Old Engraving on tools. . . Nothing short of grinding it off with a small grinder and then replating. Many of the old tools I have are marked with the company name (often US Steel) and have gauge control (calibration) ID tags epoxied on. The only ones easily repairable are the ones with black lacquered frames.

Ceramic Chip Forge: These are manufactured by FlameFast of England. The chips (at least a couple years ago) are synthetic Mullite a type of refractory normally used as the aggregate in refractory cements and some bricks. It is made in the United States. The chips DO wear and are slowly consumed by use and must have the small bits screened out regularly and the product replaced. After a certain time it is all scraped and all new is used.

The problem with these forges is the very large exposed white hot area. They are hot to work near, hard to look into. They partially emulate a solid fuel fire but not quite.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 23:16:57 EDT

More about the ceramic chips: Failure is from heat breakdown PLUS steel scale which reacts with the refractory and flux which also reacts with the refractory. Regular screening out the burned scaled chips and cleaning the forge daily will increase the life of the chips. Yes, it is a lot of maintenance.

I did a lot of research on these forges a few years ago. I was interested in building them and was asked to find the chip material because it was being purchased in the U.S. Chips purchased from Flamefast are shipped to England then back to the U.S. . . a LOT of shipping.

The Flamefast forges of the time were designed for small industrial applications and needed input from a blacksmith on design. A critical part was the refractory fire pot and burner area.
   - guru - Friday, 04/24/09 23:36:07 EDT

Tyler MUrch,

Once engraved, itis pretyt much there, unless yo wan tto really deface the tool badly to remove it. I'd suggest you just get an engraver and add to it, something like, "To TM with regards, from..." just above the other guy's initials. (grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 04/24/09 23:37:56 EDT

Thank you so much for answering my questions. Someone posted a forge article using ceramic chips. Speaking of ceramic chips,I have wondered how an old ceramic toilet would work as a coal forge ( blower hole already at the bottom )....:)
Maybe set it in the ground, hood over it. The ceramic tiles on the space shuttle take tremendous amounts of heat.
   - Mike Thompson - Saturday, 04/25/09 00:03:03 EDT

bog vic, i like that idea....
   Tyler Murch - Saturday, 04/25/09 00:06:40 EDT


The info above cocerning good sources of chisels, I have copied it and placed it in my documents. Thank you so much.
   - Mike Thompson - Saturday, 04/25/09 00:07:08 EDT

Dave Boyer, Thanks for checking into it but, you don't have to put too much effort into it as I'm not ready to buy just yet.
That's always the way around here. As soon as something I'm looking for comes up, some other project comes along that needs the money or my attention first.
Thanks again...
   - merl - Saturday, 04/25/09 00:20:28 EDT

Bone Mills: They were used to grind up bones to make bonemeal fertilizer (essentially calcium). Buffalo may have made a farm-sized model. Rendering plants making meat and bonemeal likely used large ones.

I've read after some huge battles left behind weapons, and perhaps clothing, would be removed from the battlefield. The bodies were left to rot down to skeletons. Later people would collect the bones and turn them into fertilizer.

There was even a theory the practice of turning human bones into fertilizer might have been responsible for Mad Cow Disease. In India sometimes bodies are not fully cremated and then deposited in the Gandes, which they may end up on sandbars. Some villages collect them for grinding. Since human CJD (roughly the equivalent of MCD) happens in about 1/1M human deaths, thinking was CJD tainted bonemeal might have been sold to the UK.

Per Google, bone mills are still made today for laboratory use.

Crematoriums grind up remaining larger bone pieces into fine chips likely using something like a bone mill.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 04/25/09 04:59:18 EDT

The oldest apprentice in the world(68) according to my blacksmith/farrier mentor Looking for info on the chemical composition of Lafitte Welding Plate mentioned in books but no longer available here in the UK or anywhere as far as I can ascertain.Can anyone help? Haven't got much time at my age! Told it came in sheets about 6"x4" about the thickness of thin cardboard and possibly a bronzy colour.
   Tony C - Saturday, 04/25/09 09:53:01 EDT

Ceramics: There are ceramics and there are ceramics. . . The base materials range from aluminium and calcium compounds to silicon and zirconia. Modern technical ceramics use purified forms of what was once rare specialty clays and also synthesized ceramic compounds. Their resistance to heat and chemical attack vary greatly.

The space shuttle "tiles" are a very special foamed and fired material that is mostly air and a very good insulator as well as very low conductor of heat. The ceramic in a toilet is a common clay and a glass based glaze. Both melt an will boil at forge temperatures.

The kind of clay used in a forge lining can be critical. I tried firing some clay slip tesserae (mosaic tiles) in my gas forge. They were done as soon as they reached a red heat. A minute longer and they became foam clay as they boiled. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 11:07:06 EDT

I've got a simple question about Bill Epps' (can be answered by anyone though) Treble Cleff Dinner Chime.

I'm just curious as to what type of mat'l makes the best hanger? i.e. steel (or other metal) wire, string, thin rope?

And some opinions on whether or not these would sell better with or without a bracket?

Thanks in advance!

Willy P
Woodstock, Ont, CAN
   Willy - Saturday, 04/25/09 11:35:59 EDT

Bells and Chimes: All ring better supported by a resilient substance, string, rope, leather. Chain and wire tend to deaden the sound and add buzzes.

I like leather but it tends to rot. Provide some extra pieces and tell the customer to use leather or heavy nylon string.

Customers like brackets but they double the price of the ringer.

Paint always gets chipped on these devices so it best kept thin.

Mild steel works fine but it helps to quench the corners. However, too hard can break.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 11:54:53 EDT

Bells and Chimes: Thanks GURU.

As for a 'coating' I had thought the same about paint, so I was considering using Blueing. I've used it on some other projects, and if a coated a couple times it turns nearly black.
   Willy - Saturday, 04/25/09 12:17:37 EDT

Most bluing really needs oil to be rust resistant and will still be marred by being struck. Gun parts are more resistant because they are also case hardened as well as blued.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 12:26:11 EDT

Tony C,

I'm embarassed. A few years ago, a friend sent me some Laffite welding plate from his trip to Spain. It came with written instructions. My retrieval system is pitiable, so I cannot locate it, but I know I still have it. From memory, it is a grayish color and has tiny wire filaments run throughout. The Lord only knows its composition.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/25/09 19:49:46 EDT

The Lafitte Welding Plate: << click for more
   - guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 22:21:05 EDT

I've been using Peddinghaus 1500 g Swedish Pattern Hammers. They are straight pein hammers but they taper very slowly. Now i wonder if this narrow taper is a problem when drawing out my steel. It seems that this no name hammer I borrowed works more effectively since it has a wedge effect with each blow. this other hammer has a stronger and shorter triangle pattern to the "pein" side of the hammer. Are these swedish hammers not meant to draw out in the same manner?

   - deloid - Saturday, 04/25/09 21:17:03 EDT


Most forging hammers are delivered in what I call "rough" condition - that is, they need to have the final profiling and dressing done by the user in order to be really effective forging instruments. Most nearly every pein I've seen has come from the factory too sharp. WHile they move the metal vbery rapidly, the do so by chopping it up into little notches that often leave cold shuts when forged flat again after drawing. A broader pein is actually much better than a narrower one.

I prefer to dress my pein with a slightly flattened radius that ends up being about 7/16" wide overall, with the "flat" area about 1/4" wide. This is what proves to be most effective for me, your mileage may vary.
   vicopper - Saturday, 04/25/09 21:45:49 EDT

Deloid, As Rich noted, these hammers come with both the face and pien rough dressed. The piens are often flat with square corners. All these hammers must be hand dressed by the user. That is one of the big differences between a $30 hammer and a $150 hammer. Years ago tools came with a much better factory dress. Today you pay for that service.
   - guru - Saturday, 04/25/09 22:36:53 EDT

How do you pronounce (Lafitte) in english?

Just curious - Thanks.
   - John L. - Saturday, 04/25/09 23:50:56 EDT

I THINK, like the pirate, Jean LaFitte (La Feat)
   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 00:20:13 EDT

I dress all my hammers before use. There is a dramatic geometric profile difference between the "German" style pein and the "Swedish" narrow pein. You can dress back the swedish hammer an inch and it will still have the same radius. the German style changes markedly with slight wear.

Sorry if there was a misunderstanding about the original question.
   - deloid - Sunday, 04/26/09 01:48:25 EDT

Would the Lafitte process have worked with cast iron and tool steel? Am wondering if it might have been used for anvils.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 04/26/09 09:38:02 EDT

Hammer Opinions.

Each smith has his own ideas on what might constitute the ideal forging hammer. I personally don't care for the slenderized peen on the Swedish pattern. I think it removes weight where there should be weight. I feel the same about removing too much eye material and leaving thin cheeks either side of the eye, as in the "Czech" hammer.

The Japanese use a rectangular eye which leaves lots of material in the "cheeks." The Japanese hammer is head- heavy and the poll end is not used. The eye is closer to the poll end but not extremely so. I have a Western made dog head hammer used by saw doctors with a small oval eye very close to the smallish poll, much closer than seen in a Japanese hand hammer.

I use a 2.5 pound Channelock lots of the time. It is made of 1.5" square stock (finished). It came with a half round peen which I dressed to a flatter profile not unlike what vicopper suggests. It is convex-crowned side to side, so I got a slight compound curve, and with no sharp edges. When used, there is "less clean-up," as Peter Ross shared at one of his workshops. The sharp or half round peens give more of a washboard effect, not always desirable. The Channelock face is round only because lots of the manufactured U.S. hammers had rounding faces. I have nothing against the squarish faces, as we often see on the Continent. The round face on the Chanellock is made by taper-chamfering the four corners of the square stock, not allowing the chamfer to extend into the area of the eye.

The Swedish hammer has a shape a little bit like the old cabinetmaker's Warrington hammer. The Warrington's slender peen is used between your thumb and finger when starting small brads and tacks. It's supposed to get in between without your hitting the hand. I can understand that purpose, but not on a forging hammer.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/26/09 09:52:15 EDT

Thanks to both for your responses.From what Frank say's it may still be possible to obtain Lafitte from Spain? I have searched the web but so far without sucess. The composition as per guru's response is much as I guessed it might be.Question now is can it still be purchased or would it be possible to replicate?Have a friend who is an industrial chemist-will put it to him.
Anyone out there in Europe who can help?
Tony C
   Tony C - Sunday, 04/26/09 12:05:01 EDT

I'm having some trouble tempering springs. Most of the time they're fine, occasionaly though the get too hard and snap. Usually those are of the cast type. What Im doing is, anneal, heat to cherry red, quench, reheat slowly to blue and quench. I've been told I can skip the cherry red step and still get the springs hard enough to work in muzzleloaders and cap and ball pistols.....yes or no? I'd experiment but have a limited supply of spring steel and am not sure where to get more good quality metal. Also, can a worn out spring be successfully re-tempered?
   Thumper - Sunday, 04/26/09 12:16:18 EDT

The Grind: There are many ways to grind tool work surfaces. A straight radius is the mid point between an oval section the long axis in one direction and another with the long axis in the other.

radius options

a. Flats can have radiused corners of various degree
b. Oval sections can be nearly flat or fully ovoid. This moves material better than flat and allows for wear.
c. Circular sections are the mid point of oval variations. The advantage to circular sections is they have a simple defined radius.
d. Oval or parabolic sections are the purest fullering sections but can be quite aggressive.

The easy way to make oval sections is dressing on a belt sander. However, the most controlled way is with a combination of grinder and a file.

On piens it is fairly easy to make a long straight oval section but for smooth forging the edges should drop off making the corners hemi-spherical. But some smiths like them sharp for texturing.

Faces are more difficult to shape to oval sections. Round, square and rocker faces can be ground to ovoidal sections. Even flat face hammers should have a very slight curve to them. Doing it properly takes practice and it is easy to over do. I try to work equal flat facets then grind flats between the flats. The last grind to blend it all in is done on a belt sander/grinder OR with a file then sandpaper.

Struck surfaces of chisels and fullers should also have a crowned oval section. This slows mushrooming and helps center the blow in the proper direction. Repousse', chasing and graving chisels have the struck ends ground small then crowned in an oval section. The work faces of the repousse' and chasing tools are also carefully blended and radiused no mater how sharp the edges look.

Smooth well dressed tools work better. Study your tools that work the best and those that do not. It takes a trained eye to know what works and what does not. Study. practice, test.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 12:49:46 EDT

Lafitte Plate: Tony, I suspect that the techniques to make it are not that difficult. The composition is much like the coating on welding rods with the exception of the cellulose that makes the smoke for shielding.

The trick will be the balance of the materials and how they are formed. I suspect a non-water solvent (alcohol, acetone) must be used to dampen the mix to form the plate. Anything used for "glue" would be an impurity that would defeat the purpose of making an improved weld.

I would guess the borax is both flux and binder and that as little as possible is used. Mix it like dough, roll it, impress the wire, roll again, let dry. OR it may need to be made in a press.

An analysis of a sample would save a lot of R&D. Otherwise I think you are going to need to experiment a lot.

I suspect the bronze/brown color is the result of rusting a bit.

Note that the Lafitte article above has been posted on the FAQs page and the above will be edited because the tables are two wide for this forum.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 13:59:20 EDT

Spring Temper and Problems: Thumper, You may be overheating the springs on the hardening stage. The heat should be at or just above non-magnetic which may be lower than cherry red which is very dependent on ambient lighting.

Springs can be used un-hardened IF they are flexed less than the amount that would bend them. Springyness is the same soft or hardened (its a physical fact). The yield point increases with hardness so a spring can travel farther.

Cast springs can have surface defects that could lead to cracking thus should be removed. Notches or sudden changes in cross section result in localized stress which can break a spring. So smooth transitions and a fine finish can contribute to a stronger spring.

Tempering can be improved by heating a large block to the temper temperature then placing the part on it to temper it. This can increase the time a temper temperature on small parts. Double tempering (repeating the temper NOT the hardening) can improve the condition of the steel. The second tempering can be done as soon as the part reaches room temperature.

   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 14:46:05 EDT

When forge welding two separate pieces together as in a lap weld, I will often put on borax and follow it with E-Z Weld compound on top of the glazed borax. The borax gets tacky and that helps keep the E-Z in place. This has helped me, and I bet it's not too different than using welding plate.

Finding the welding plate in Spain was a fluke, something the guy picked up. It was no longer available for sale in Spain.

Finally, as one of my students told me once, "Geeze, in the days before electric and gas welding, forge welding was EASY, because it was the only way to weld!"

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/26/09 14:54:42 EDT


I can't find an image of the "I use a 2.5 pound Channelock lots of the time" you described. Is it similar to the German hammer that Blacksmith depot sells?
   - deloid - Sunday, 04/26/09 14:59:07 EDT

Thumper, those cast springs for muzzle-loader locks are usually 4140. I don't much care for them. When I get a broken one I just make a new one from 1070.

If you have a dark room for your heating setup, as the heat is coming up SLOWLY watch the steel carefully. As it approaches its ideal hardening heat you'll start to see what looks like shadows swirling around inside the steel. This is the phase transformation from the unhardenable face-centered cubic crystal to the hardenable body-centered cubic crystalline structure. When all the shadows are gone, quench. I do this in my coal forge with a steel plate on top, with no air blast, and all shop lights off. If you're using a torch, you won't be able to observe this effect.

This technique works for all simple and low-alloy steels, and means you don't have to guess at colors or fool with a magnet.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 04/26/09 16:01:01 EDT

Channellock Hammers: I use one as well, a 3 pound (I think). They are a standard American pattern blacksmiths hammer. Virtually any tool catalog (other than current blacksmiths) have them. Channellock no longer makes hammers but these were the standard carried by many hardware stores in the U.S. for decades. The Armstrong Tool site mentioned the other day has a very similar though possibly more slender pattern.

The pien is shorter and blunter than the German hammers sold by the Kaynes and the eye is slightly back toward the pien. The face is round having been forged to a square with flats making it a near octagon, then machine dressed having a heavy chamfer and a crowned round face. It had a high quality hickory handle. I suspect Frank's is like mine in that it has worn flatter than it was originally.

While the face was nicely machine dressed the pien was square on the sides. The machine dress was well done as were most quality tools of the time. I've seen many later hammers with poorly speced bad machine dressing or low quality hand dressing by unskilled laborers.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 16:42:53 EDT

Guru....I forgot about the non-magnetic test...duh! I'm sure that is most of my problem. I don't fully understand one part about using a large block for tempering, are you allowing both to air cool?

Alan, thanks for the tip on 1070. Because I run coke in my forge I need constant air. When I temper, I hold the flame about 4-6in away and move it side to side like I'm brushing on paint. Maybe more distance will give me the swirling shadow effect you're talking about.
   Thumper - Sunday, 04/26/09 17:58:23 EDT

Thumper, to answer your questions as asked:

Don't leave the spring on the block to cool, just watch the colors and pull it off when it hits that purply-blue you want for a good spring.

As for the fire, try this: put the spring in the fire and turn off the blast. The coke will stay more than hot enough long enough to get the spring to your desired temperature, don't worry. Put a lid on it with a hole you can look through. You will most likely not see the shadows if it's not sitting on hot coals. You can even do this in a charcoal grill if it's dark enough. Thin sections like a flint mainspring don't need much fuel to get the heat you want. If you do get to where you can see the shadows, throw away your magnet. ALL steel turns non-magnetic at the same temperature, give or take 50 degrees F either way. When you can see the crystalline phase change you know for absolute certain it's done.

Example: 5160, the common leaf spring alloy, goes non-magnetic at 1450 F, but will not fully harden until it gets to 1600 or so. The shadows will tell you the truth. The phenomenon is called decalescence. It is actual science, not mythology, I just talk about the shadows because most folks can understand it better that way.

I temper like you do with the torch, except I use a propane torch with a flame spreader attachment. Do that two or three times, polishing off the color after each time to be sure you repeat it. If you do use 5160 for some reason, take it all the way to a gray temper. The chrome in it will keep it too hard for a spring if you just go to blue.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 04/26/09 19:34:25 EDT

I've always had a variety of cross peen hammers, all about 2.5 lbs. Each one has a differently shaped peen. The swedish peen I use when I need to strike in a narrow opening or make a relatively sharp bend.
My favorite hammer is a hand me down from the CCC (civilian concervation corp.) It is well worn and has a very broad peen. The old hammer started out as the standard american pattern hammer.
   Charlotte - Sunday, 04/26/09 19:34:53 EDT


The hammer is like the Armstrong Tool cross peen that Guru mentioned, catalog number 69.625.


You can sit the oil hardened spring on a hot plate as mentioned above. The plate can be hotter than the tempering color (try pale blue on the spring, not full blue), but watch carefully and remove it when properly tempered. Sometimes, the color rainbow continues to change even though the spring has been removed. If that happens, oil quench to hold the temper.

For hardening and tempering, handle the spring with hot tong jaws, so that the tongs don't abstract heat from the piece.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/26/09 19:49:31 EDT

The plate is a heat sink/source. Alan is heating it hot enough to harden (low red - 1450F) and I am heating it to the tempering point (around 500-600 F). For small parts this gives a uniform controllable heat. The part to be hardened is quenched, the tempered part is air or water cooled.

To anneal you would heat the block, then the part on the block, then cover with insulation (Kaowool) and let air cool together. With a plate of heavy mass you can anneal difficult to anneal air quench steels.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/26/09 20:38:09 EDT

For heating and tempering gun /flat springs , also try placeing them directly on the heating element of an electric hot plate or stove.

May I also say about hammers. When I find myself needing a straight or cross pien hammer of a certain radius for a particular part of something I make alot of, I go to my local farm supply store were they carry the Truper line of hammers. These are an inexpensive brand made in Mexico but, are a very servicable hammer and available in 1/2 pound incriments from 1.5#-3# and a couple of differant styles.
Anyway, I just get a 2.# engineers hammer and grind what ever size and shape of pein on it I need.
Then I can try it out with out a big expence or a weeks wait for mail order. I have at least a half dozen of these along with my good hammers from Centaur and I find them quite handy.
   - merl - Sunday, 04/26/09 22:14:22 EDT

Alan-L said " As it approaches its ideal hardening heat you'll start to see what looks like shadows swirling around inside the steel. This is the phase transformation from the unhardenable face-centered cubic crystal to the hardenable body-centered cubic crystalline structure." Another reason blacksmiths were (and still should be) considered magicians and wizards.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 04/27/09 08:08:05 EDT

Yes, that one needs to be filed under "blacksmiths secrets". It is sort of like the light flash of color change when brass is ready to forge. You have to be looking at just the right moment as is goes away with continued heating. Could be a related change in crystal structure.
   - guru - Monday, 04/27/09 09:48:49 EDT

I've a couple questions dealing with Campfire/Cook-out Equipment.

Someone has asked me about making a grill, but asked for it to be either 1) Plated or 2) Stainless Steel. "OK" says I, "I'll check into it and let you know."

Here's my questions.
1) If plating is the chosen option, "Is there a 'best' plating to use?" i.e. Nickel, Chrome, etc?

2) If Stainless is the chosen option, what type of stainless is it I am looking for. I know that there is different stainless alloys, but I'm not very knowledgeable in that area.


Woodstock, ONT, CANADA
   Willy - Monday, 04/27/09 10:01:36 EDT

Nip, who said I'm NOT a wizard???

Jock, I actually use the steel plate as a lid for the fire, not the heat source. I put a pair of soft firebrick on either side of the firepot (full to the brim with good hot coke or charcoal), then put the steel plate on top of that, then mound up some more coal behind it. It's just a cheater's cave fire. You can crank the air to it all you want to get it screaming hot BEFORE you put the piece to be hardened in there, but once the piece is in don't add more air, unless of course it can't get hot enough otherwise.

This also helps reduce or even prevent scale.

Franks' tip about hot tongs is crucial, I forgot to add that, sorry!
   Alan-L - Monday, 04/27/09 11:30:56 EDT

Plating and Stainless: To prevent rust plating needs to be copper flash, nickle then chrome. Unless you are doing a LOT of parts its cheaper and easier to use stainless steel.

304 Stainless is the most common and will do just fine for this project. You will need to purchase matching arc welding rods for welding unless you use TIG.
   - guru - Monday, 04/27/09 12:45:56 EDT

I would agree- 304 stainless is just fine for a barbecue.
My Bionic Barbecue, so named because as each part rusts out it is replaced with a new, stainless steel prothesis, works great.
I barbecue a lot of oysters, as the beds are less than 2 miles away, and the salt water destroys mild steel or cast iron grates, grills, shelves and trays.
So I have built all my new parts from 304.
I tig all mine- its cleaner, easier, and no spatter or slag.
My 3/8" round bar grille is now about ten years old, still wire brushes up to a shine if you take the time to do it.
Stainless sheet metal parts are probably worth jobbing out to a real sheet metal shop though, unless you are heavily tooled up.
Stainless sheet is very tough to bend, roll, or cut. You usually downgrade your equipment 2 to 4 gages for stainless- that is, a 16 gage brake is good for 18 gage stainless at best, and thats optimistic- 20 gage is more realistic.
   - Ries - Monday, 04/27/09 13:23:00 EDT

As Ries noted, stainless is tough to work and thus besides the cost of the material things made from it cost more due to higher labor. Cut edges have much worse burrs than mild steel and are much tougher to remove. So be SURE to price anything made from stainless significantly higher (a minimum of 3x PLUS the material cost).

Note that if you heat it or forge it there will be a black oxide finish just like steel. If the customer wants bright parts they will need to be mechanically, chemically OR electrochemically cleaned.
   - guru - Monday, 04/27/09 14:05:24 EDT

Here we go again!
   - Nippulini - Monday, 04/27/09 15:42:44 EDT

Reis et al, How is this for timelyness? A good customer who bought three large garden gate handles forged from 316L SS a couple of years ago would now like those same handles to have a green patina:)
Anyone know of a durable green patina that will work and have good durability outdoors for 316L SS?
   ptree - Monday, 04/27/09 17:45:24 EDT

ptree- A big fab shop around here just started doing what they call a "Sprayed Bronze" finish that can be sprayed on to most sandblasted metal surfaces and then given a patina treatment as done for normal bronze. I haven't gone to check it out yet but I'm going to in the next couple of weeks, I'll let you know more details if you wish once I have.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 04/27/09 18:03:20 EDT

I've seen green on forged stainless, not exactly what I'd call patina, more like scum! Maybe there is a chemical..........
   - grant - Monday, 04/27/09 18:53:49 EDT

Alan, TGN, Guru: Are you sure about that? As I remeber you have it backwards: as the piece heats up it goes from body centered cubic to face centered cubic. You then quench to harden when it's in FCC.

Think of it like this as you heat it up you go up from the body to the face.

   Thomas P - Monday, 04/27/09 19:30:40 EDT

Judson Yaggy, Let me know what you find out please. The handles are a heavy texture bark finish with leaves and buds at the top. I assume she will wish to keep as much of the txture as possible.
Had I but know, I could have just orged the handles from bronze in the first place, and not had the hammer so hard:)
   ptree - Monday, 04/27/09 19:33:36 EDT

Will do. Cheers.
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 04/27/09 19:59:07 EDT

I always get mixed up as well, is Thomas P correct on the lattice structures?
   - John L. - Monday, 04/27/09 20:01:20 EDT

Chromium oxide has long been used as a green pigment. Maybe that's the "scum" Grant mentioned. And I guess that's all it is, unless you can find a way to keep it on the surface.
   Mike BR - Monday, 04/27/09 20:01:55 EDT

Ptree: Jeff, do You have acess to a powder spray torch at work? You might be able to flame spray bronze on to them. The flame spray alloys are pretty expensive however. Did You get any of that Copper dust at Quad the other year? I think GavinH might have been the one who had it. That might be worth a try.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 04/27/09 21:25:22 EDT

Chrome Green: Is a popular pigment. Its not just chrome oxide. I had a battery bracket I made for my truck that got a nice green from the battery acid fumes. . . zinc chromate is a soft green.
   - guru - Monday, 04/27/09 23:25:41 EDT

I finally got notice today of a long awaited gift membership and at last feel free to participate rather than just read and learn. I just sent in a registration and password request a few moments ago, but I may have done one earlier and forgotten. If I was already registered, please let me know what screen name and password I chose and which one I should use. I love the hat.
Now for the question I was waiting to ask. I am negotating the purchase of a 25# Little Giant. It is an "old style" but I do not have the serial no. or manufacture date at the moment. It appears to be in very good mechanical condition. The ram guides do not show any visible wear and are straight and without much play. The shaft moves smoothly and easily by hand and there is a a fair amount of greasy gunk squeezed out of the ends of the bearing caps (I assume this is good?). Oil holes appeared open, not clogged or painted over and there is a fair amount of shim stock left where the bearing caps come together which I am told means that there should be life left in the bearings. The dies appear to be in good shape, not bowed or mushroomed. They might be replacement dies, but from the 1/4 or more of heavy, undisturbed sludge all over the sow block and wedges, they have not been off the machine in quite a while. No visable signs of cracks in the sow block or frame though I suppose there could be something hidden. I looked for signs of this in the sludge coat and did not see anything. Is there anything else I should be looking for. Also comes with a 1hp motor.
From what I can find on the web, a good price should be somewhere between $50 (little old blacksmith's widow who has no idea what she has) and $3,200 (plus the cost to get it from Montana to Texas) for a "Buy It Now" on EBAY. It can get this one for around $2000, it is close by, and it seems to me that this is a pretty good price, but what do I know. Any thoughts from you guys would be appreciated.
   Chuck Sullivan - Tuesday, 04/28/09 01:09:00 EDT

Chuck, I'm not sure where you sent mail but I did not receive it.

The price on the 25 pound LG sounds fair. I'd go gor the one close by. As you noted they sell for more or less. Shipping is always a concern. A 25 pound LG weighs about 800 pounds so they are not bad to move in a small truck.

The thing that wears out the worst on LG's and is not easy to fix is the clutch bearings and the linings. On all types of LG's the clutch bearing is babbitted off the hammer and machined to fit. Center clutches have riveted leather friction surfaces and rear clutches have maple wood blocks. Center clutches will work OK when completely worn out but rear clutches get very grabby and hard to control if the clutch bearing is worn.

Bearing play can be tested by grabbing the clutch with two hands and giving it a good shake. It should slide, but not wobble.

Setup and running is often more important than anything else. If its ready to run then you can bring it home and be using it right away.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 01:59:07 EDT


Thomas is right. I had it backwards. Guess I'm not actually a wizard after all. (grin!)
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 04/28/09 07:42:35 EDT

Ferrite is body center cubic and exists at room temperature to about 1330F. It begins to transform to face center cubic at about 1330F and, depending on the carbon content, is fully FCC at roughly 1550F (lower for High Carbon). Quenching the FCC iron fast enough to miss the transformation back to FCC will get you martensite, which is Body Centered Tetragonal.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 04/28/09 07:53:09 EDT

Alan, we're ALL wizards here. Of course my birth name is Sage, but that's another story.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 04/28/09 08:20:21 EDT

Hey I remember having problems with that too which is why I came up with the memory aid. I was double checking it over breakfast in my old Mat-Sci textbook. Who says those old textbooks you save from college never get used again? (almost exactly 30 years ago now).

Some times the wizard controls the demon and sometimes the demon controls the wizard---sort of like working hot iron...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/28/09 10:02:08 EDT

Yup nothing like eutectics, shear transformations and diffusionless transformations to wake a person up for work (and folks think blacksmithing "jargon" is bad...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 04/28/09 10:06:31 EDT

Chuck Sullivan – more little giant

A thick set of shims on the main shaft bearings is not necessarily an indication of good bearings. Often the Babbitt will be cracked or loose in the casting, requiring replacement. The only way to check this is to remove the bearing caps.
Another thing to check is the condition of the connecting pins and the holes in the front linkage and toggle arms. These are usually worn. If so, the pins will need to be replaced and the holes will either need to be reamed oversize, or welded and redrilled. The later style had replaceable bushing in the toggle links. The toggle arms also often broken and have been rewelded or brazed.
As Jock says, the clutch bearing is important. The later machines used a bronze bushing in the clutch pulley and are relatively easy to replace, but the older Babbitt bearings require a bit more work, as they must be poured oversize and machined to fit.
Little Giant used a variety of materials for the clutch on the center clutch models, wood, leather, belting material, and even a metal to metal arrangement.
A nice upgrade on the older style model is to replace the non-adjustable toggle link with an adjustable link so that you wind up with adjustable links on both sides of the ram, making tuning adjustments a little better.
   - Bernard Tappel - Tuesday, 04/28/09 10:48:11 EDT

OK, so do I show up in blue now?
Thanks for the input on the Little Giant. Bearing play seemed to be good, a very little slip but no wobble. and all the toggle links etc. appeared to be original with no signs or damage or repair although the pins do look like they have been replaced at some point. It would think that the treadle ring would be a place that takes a lot of normal wear and might be espicially prone to damage in moving, but it is still nice and circular and does not show much wear. I think I will go for it, but I can't pick it up until Friday and the wait is driving me crazy. The best part of all is that the "boss" is actually very encouraging. (I may pay dearly later).
Question on moving it - I have a 6-cyl 3.0 litre Ford Ranger and I know it is pushing the limits, but can I do it with that if I am very careful, or do I need to go with something heavier?
   cwsulli - Tuesday, 04/28/09 12:10:56 EDT

Laffitte Welding Plate: I believe that Laffitte welding plate was made in France rather than Spain. The company headquarters being based in Paris at 102,Avenue Parmentier.
They had a wide range of products such as “Cuivrogene” (Laffitte Brazing strip), “Unifonte” Brazing paste for cast iron, Zeca Laffitte solder for aluminium and alloys, “Fontogene” cast iron Brazing stick, welding powder, Laffitte brazing plates for repairing bandsaw blades and various other fluxes and brazing products.
   Chris E - Tuesday, 04/28/09 17:02:49 EDT

Moving a 25 pound hammer: Chuck, As long a the hammer is on its side it will travel OK. I've carried 50 and 100 pound hammers vertically when well chained down in a full 3/4 ton P.U. But I've seen an old Toyota Pickup tip over and drop a 50 pound Little Giant riding upright. .

More machinery is seriously damaged by moving than any other cause.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 18:17:42 EDT

Chris, Interesting information. Do you have a reference?
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 18:19:51 EDT


As noted, put the hammer on it's side to move it, unless you're equipped to block the base so it is immovable and then chain the top to all four corners of the bed. I havea Ford Ranger with the 6 cylinder engine and a Reading utility bed on it, and I still routinely haul more than a ton of gravel or sand in the bed. Never a whimper or shudder. I've also put more than a half a ton of steel on the stock rack plenty of times, too. At more than 3/4 ton on the rack it tends to sway a mite on turns, so I take it slowly and carefully.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/28/09 18:36:29 EDT

Guru - Thanks, I am planning to move it on its side on a sled made of 2x8 since I have to slide it down a hill to where it is going to live. My question was more about the truck since it is probably over the suggested weight limits and I don't how much over I can go without breaking the truck, but if I rent a trailer, the stated towing capacity is 2000# and I will be pushing that also. I can drive slow and take it easy on the breaks - no sudden stops, but I don't want to do serious damage to my truck.
   cwsulli - Tuesday, 04/28/09 18:40:08 EDT

cw: I moved an LG 25 from Connecticut (about 225 mi) last winter on an 800 lb landscape trailer with a 2000 lb capacity. Bolted down the base and ratcheted down 4 ways and I had bo problem. But I have a 150 3/4 ton.

I think someone earlier stated the weight of the LG 25 at 800 lbs, but the factory specs I got with mine say 1000. I would check very carefully the load capacity of your truck, keeping in mind the weight of the sled as well, but more especially your tires. The one-time trip will probably not hurt your springs if they don't bottom out, but you really do not want a blowout, which would of course occur in the middle of a hard turn.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 04/28/09 19:03:17 EDT

I have used borax with scrap silver and melted the combination in a ceramic crucible. The siver came out just fine but now a glassy substance (?slag) adheres to the bottom of my crucible. How do I remove this? Thanks
   elaine - Tuesday, 04/28/09 20:46:40 EDT

I've moved several hammers in pickups and on trailers. Get several old tires (off rims) to lay the hammer on. If you are putting the hammer in a truck bed, use enough tires so it can't slide into sheet metal. If you are using a trailer, use enough tires so when you clinch it down, the hammer is ONLY touching tires. I usually have two tires under the base. and one or two under the upper part of the hammer. That way you will not break the hammer by stressing it against an object that won't give when you bounce. Tie it to the corners of the bed. The more tires you have it on, the less likely it will slide.

As was mentioned before, as long as your springs are not bottomed out, you should be fine. Just take it easy so you don't bottom out on a bump or dip and keep your center of gravity as low as you can.
   - djhammerd - Tuesday, 04/28/09 20:55:38 EDT

Crucible maintenance: The glassy stuff in the crucible is borax flux. Once you get it in the crucible it is nearly impossible to get out. You can reduce contamination in the flux by melting more then pouring out the excess. IF the crucible is such that it can take the heat the borax can be boiled out.

Note that while crucibles are fairly expensive tools they need to be dedicated to one purpose. Silver melted in a crucible for silver, brass for brass, gold for gold.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/28/09 21:35:42 EDT


I neglected to mention that when I push the limits on my Ranger, (which that hammer really isn't doing that badly), I always over-inflate my tires somewhat. This reduces sidewall flexing which in turn reduces heating of the tire, a primary cause of overload blowouts. I don't get radical with the air, just about 40-42 psig on the rears and about 36 on the fronts. I also always try to have any heavy load as far forward in the bed as possible in order to distribute the load better. It's no fun to have your front end so light that the steering gets flukey on you.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/28/09 23:44:33 EDT


Ceramic, graphite and clay crucibles are all supposed to be pre-conditioned by firing a coating of flux onto them prior to actual use. The flux residue after melting the silver can be allowed to remain there until the next melt with no problems. Any detritus trapped in that flux layer will float to the top in a subsequent melt and be skimmed off with the dross.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 04/28/09 23:46:49 EDT

This question may sound elementary, but here goes. When
the requirements for a particular steel says to heat to,
lets say 1500 deg., then forge cool. I suppose some forges hold heat better than others and cool more slowly. Now, I have an 8 X 10 propane forge, lined properly ( 2 inch Durablanket ) satanite, ITC 100, firebrick in front, sealed with clay. How would you forge cool in this type of forge ? ie.- shut off gas, close off all openings...reduce gas flow gradually ?
   - Mike Thompson - Tuesday, 04/28/09 23:58:45 EDT

Cooling rates: Mike, What are you trying to achieve? Normalizing, Annealing, type of steel? I never saw a steel maker specify "forge cool". Perhaps "furnace cools"? That is a very different thing. Many steels require a very low cooling rate to anneal and this is usually done in a temperature controlled furnace with a ramp rate controller.

Annealing is relatively simple for some steels and devilishly difficult in others such as some alloy air hardening steels. Cooling rates as low as 10°F/hr. is often required. Note that this is only required until the steel is below its lower transformation point and after that the rate is not critical. But this can still take many hours.

Lightweight refractory forges have the advantage of being well insulated and heating up quickly. The disadvantage is the low mass often does not hold heat very long. High mass industrial forges and furnaces may take days to cool.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 08:22:57 EDT

Building a Salt Pot for Heat Treating

I am building a salt pot for heat treating and will be heat treating 4130 which needs to be austenized at 1550F. Common Sodium Chloride appears to have its melting point in the right range for this. Salt is corrosive to everything around it, so I was thinking of using Borax instead of salt for the media in the pot. What do you guys think?

   - Bob - Wednesday, 04/29/09 16:30:18 EDT

Building a Salt Pot for Heat Treating

I am building a salt pot for heat treating and will be heat treating 4130 which needs to be austenized at 1550F. Common Sodium Chloride appears to have its melting point in the right range for this. Salt is corrosive to everything around it, so I was thinking of using Borax instead of salt for the media in the pot. What do you guys think?

   Bob - Wednesday, 04/29/09 16:32:50 EDT

Dear Guru,
I am a blacksmith from Hereford, U.K. .I have a website;- www.jazasbury.co.uk . This will give you an idea of my general abilities. I've recently been asked to make a balustrade for a Victorian house in a contemporary style. The staircase already exists and goes up 4 straight flights,each about 8ft long with a 90 degree turn and a landing in between. My question is :- How do I go about building a balustrade like this ? I need to create a seamless pattern from top to bottom. It is perhaps a surprising question considering that I have already made quite a few staircases.All my other staircases, however, either come in kit form or welds show. I need to find out the general procedure for the order of construction and how much work is normally done on site and how much in the workshop. Maybe you know some one who has made and installed balustrading. Any advice or contacts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Jaz
   Jaz Asbury - Wednesday, 04/29/09 16:57:26 EDT

Bob I would suggest you check into the special salts that knifemakers use for their heat treating and not work with plain NaCl as it's corrosiveness increase with temp too!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 04/29/09 18:17:28 EDT

Salt Pot Bob, It sounds like it may work. However, some materials are good solvents and others are not. While salt may contribute to water based corrosion it in itself is not a solvent. Borax on the other hand is a pretty good solvent when melted.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 18:50:58 EDT

Long Stairways:

Jaz, The amount of field work depends on the design. However, in many installations the top rail is welded to make a continuous piece. The top rail CAN have lapped and riveted or bolted joints but they must be very clean and smooth.

Field welds on top rail are carefully made, ground to shape, textured as necessary and field finished. Of critical importance is protecting building components, especially glass, from weld and grinding swarf.

I approach all jobs like this by taking LOTS of measurements in every dimension. In 4 flights the distances may easily be off half a foot and squareness just as much.

For large jobs like this there is nothing wrong with bolted design. Newel posts often act as terminators and connecting points. A friend of mine likes to use machined lap joints that are carefully fitted and can be easily field assembled. Flush countersunk socket cap screws can be nearly invisible on flat surfaces. Installed in blind taped holes from underneath they are completely invisible.

Just some ideas.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/29/09 19:37:45 EDT


You are absolutely right, I should have said furnace cool instead of forge cool. 3/16" 1095 steel. I had talked to a metallurgist who has been kind enough to work with me. He
said to anneal by heating to 1500 deg. and furnace cool gradually, although a perfectionist, I forgot to ask how
gradually to slow cool. Just need your recommendation.
   - Mike Thompson - Wednesday, 04/29/09 22:49:35 EDT

Mike T.
W1 steel, not too unlike 1095, is cooled for annealing at a maximum rate of 40ºF per hour. Without special equipment, that is tough to control. Leaving in the hot gas forge after the forge is shut down would work, but you might need to close openings, maybe with a kaowool blanket. We seem to do OK by heating 1095 to 1450ºF and burying in dry lime or fine, dry wood ashes.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/29/09 23:48:08 EDT

Mike T,

For thin sections of 1095 like that, I try to heat up a piece of heavy (5# or so) scrap stock and then cuddle the 1095 up to it and wrap the whole works in a piece of Kaowool and let it cool to room temp. That works for me.
   vicopper - Thursday, 04/30/09 00:02:12 EDT

Heat Sinks such as Rich suggested are your best bet for small parts. As noted a dozen or so posts up they can be used for hardening, tempering and annealing.

Many people are using kaowool now for annealing media because it is easier to handle than ash, lime or vermiculite.

Even using a heat sink insulation helps and so does closing off air flow. I've found that a common U.S.P.S. mail box makes a handy annealing box. It can be filled with vermiculite or lined with Kaowool. The door closes and stays put. They come in several handy sizes and don't tie up your forge for annealing.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/30/09 01:31:50 EDT

Re Laffitte plate; I have one packet of these welding plates, containing 10 sheets, which I rescued from a Forge which was closing down. Unfortunately they had been stored in a damp place and there are some mildew patches and stains even though the paper packaging is still intact and legible. I also have the leaflet that came with them which is in good condition and gives details of the Company’s other products and instructions and examples of use of Laffitte welding plate itself. I have not yet tried it to see if it still usable but it looks good enough to have a go. I first heard about it when I was a boy and though I asked a couple of local blacksmiths, and they had both used it, they did not take my youthful inquiries seriously or direct me to where I could acquire some. Perhaps at that time, [late sixties], even though blacksmithing was in decline, supplies of old stock might have been available.
   Chris E - Thursday, 04/30/09 09:51:41 EDT

Chris, I would love to have a copy of the instructions to go with the article as an historical reference (digital scan, photo copy).

Since the plates' active ingredient is an anhydrous product it would be swollen and crumbling (similar to damp welding rod) if bad aged too much. However, also like damp or old welding rod it probably has absorbed just enough moisture at this point to perform poorly or not at all. Heating it to above the boiling point of water prior to use may repair it, also like some welding rod.

The original question mentioned that it was referenced in books but I have never seen such a reference or missed it.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/30/09 10:37:17 EDT


Here is a direct link to the new web pages with the COSIRA metal working books. Thanks to Keith Roberts at Herefordshire College of Technology the books now have their own permanent pages hosted by the college.

   Robert Cutting - Thursday, 04/30/09 11:27:10 EDT

Re Laffitte plate; I too have seen references to Laffitte in at least one book. I am fairly sure that it was recommended in the original version of the Cosira book "The blacksmith's craft." Though it is over 35 years since I first read that and I've been to sleep quite a few times since then. Unfortunately I do not still have that copy, and I think that when I read the downloaded copy the references had been deleted.I have scanned the sales leaflet and I will try to e-mail it to you as an attachment. I will also try to take a detail photograph of the material itself and send that also. Looking at the Laffitte I don't think it has deteriorated by any means to the point of being unusable. And when the hectic pressure of work allows me an opportunity to experiment and play I shall give it a try.
   Chris E - Thursday, 04/30/09 15:19:22 EDT

Has anyone ever put together a quick and dirty reference list/guide to used anvils and their relative merits and identifying characteristics? I am thinking along the line of something to carry in your wallet in case you bumped into one unexpectedly. I have looked around a bit on this website but have not found one yet and I could use one tomorrow. (I know, should have thought of it sooner, but I didn't expect "THE BOSS" to be so reasonable.)
   cwsulli - Thursday, 04/30/09 17:10:10 EDT

cwsulli: Some people will pay more for certain name brand anvils than others, but merrit in My opinion is a matter of size, shape and condition rather than actual brand identification. Look for a hard top plate that is well attached, tap with a small hammer to verify rebound and no loose spots. Condition is what You are willing to work on, You can work around minor defects. Size & style/shape is up to You. The ball bearing rebound test and "sounding" with a light hammer tell You most of what You need to know.

With regard to actual brands, most people rate a Vulcan at the bottom of the hard plated anvils, and the later Hay Budden designs with the waist seam and entire top of high carbon steel pretty near the top.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 04/30/09 20:20:36 EDT

With hundreds of brands of anvils in circulation and many poorly marked it would be a long cumbersome list and not very useful. There are also a significant number of old castings made from other anvils that muddles identification. To judge anvils you need to be able to recognize manufacturing method and go from there. There is also varying opinions of what makes the best anvil.

Anvil quality in general, Best to Worst.

1) Forged and heat treated steel (1 or 2 parts)
2) Forged and plated wrought iron.
3) Cast, machined and heat treated steel.
4) Cast, machined and heat treatd ductile iron.
5) Plated cast iron (heavy plate).
6) Cast low grade "steel"
7) Plated cast iron (light plate).
8) Cast Iron (any type).

Then there is pattern and weight. Some farrier patterns are generally too springy for general forge work. Some folks prefer double horned types. Weight is often luck of the draw. But sometimes you want or need a specific weight range.

Then condition. Between pristine and worn out there are a LOT of levels. . . Most anvils that folks think need to be "repaired" just need a little clean up and are useful as-is. Many repaired anvils should be avoided. Those that really NEED repairs should be avoided unless VERY cheap.

Thousand and thousands of variables. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 04/30/09 20:35:31 EDT

Sounds like a neat idea tho... kind of like a Kelly Blue book for anvils.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/01/09 08:15:25 EDT

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