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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 May 15 - 31, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Guru, We spoke about a month or two ago about my building a 250#
    Kinyon style air hammer. We spoke of the guys that are rebuilding the Niles-Bement-Pond 350 Pound Air Hammer. You told me that they had found some 18" shafting to use as the anvil. I asked if you knew if they had another piece that they might sell. You were going to talk to them in a few days. Did you? Do they? Or maybe you could just put me in touch with them.
    thanks Dave Mudge

    dave m. -- magichammer at Sunday, 05/16/99 06:58:03 GMT

    Matt, The "old" way is very much the same as the "new". The biggest difference is that today we know what is going on rather than guessing. The only real difference is the fuel. Charcoal was used for milinia, today we use foundry coke. However, your question does not specify the metal. It makes a BIG difference. Many metals are extracted chemically today that had to be found in their native state before modern techniques were developed. Study modern methods so that you understand what is going on, then adapt primitive tools to doing the job.

    Casting bronze is very much the same as casting iron. I am on the way home from the Southeastern conference where we saw the Alabama Art Foundry group casting iron. They use a "portable" cupula that they set up to demonstrate iron casting. We will have a comprehensive report with lots of photos in the next anvilfire NEWS!. Meanwhile, order the books by C.W. Amen (all of them if you can afford them). They are available from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/16/99 12:10:38 GMT

    Dave, Sorry I forgot. Will ask ASAP.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/16/99 12:13:52 GMT


    Saturday at the conference the weather cooperated AGAIN! It rained during the night and was actually COOL on Saturday. Something almost unheard of in the South this time of year! We spent much of the morning video taping the Alabama Art Forge group.

    Frank Turley demonstrated forge welding some difficult joints. Paige Davis completed the piece she had started the previous day. Ward Grossman continued chiseling. . . Ward is an intresting person and his work fantastic! But watching someone chisel a leaf into a 75 pound block of steel is almost as exciting as watching grass grow. Ward is new to demonstrating and I'm sure this will improve. He is still worth having do a demonstration and has a lot to teach.

    Norm Larson was there too. It was nice to meet him after having spoken so many time on the phone. Well, I've still got a few hundred miles to go before I'm home. Look for the rest of the story in the next anvilfire NEWS!

    -- guru Sunday, 05/16/99 12:29:19 GMT

    Norm will be at the Indiana conference June 5-6 with his books come see him and bring lots of cash. he's got books that will make you want to hock your anvil.

    kid -- n/a Monday, 05/17/99 02:37:38 GMT

    Hello everyone,
    I have been trying to make nails and I have been using everything I can find in my scrap box (3/8" round stock, horse shoes and rail road spikes). This is a lot of work drawing these out without a power hammer and using charcoal as fuel, so I have been reading Alex Bealer's "Art of Blacksmithing" book at night, and he mention that smiths would start with nail rod stock which was 1/4" square stock. If I could purchase some stock this size from a steel supply house, what material should I ask for. He did mention in his book that the apprentices would draw out the nail rods from horse shoes but I am trying to cut a step out. Please help. Thank you.

    Bob Conner -- bob.conner at Monday, 05/17/99 13:23:58 GMT

    With regard to making nails, 1/4" square cold rolled is the easiest to find anymore. It comes in 12' lengths. They sometimes call it keystock.


    Phil -- rosche at Monday, 05/17/99 14:46:06 GMT

    Bob Conner(re: nails)

    I uses 1018 to make nails from. I do not think there is any need for one of the 'tool' steels.
    Of course if you made a bigger nailheader, you could use the 3/8 stock and then say the nails were for Paul Bunyon(VBG).


    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Monday, 05/17/99 14:51:13 GMT

    Bob, Conner,

    What Phil told you is correct HOWEVER, you can also get 1/4" square cold rolled in 12' lenghts a lot cheaper. Ask your supplier.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/17/99 19:24:23 GMT

    Jim Wilson:
    Do you mean you can get 1/4" square hot rolled? Your HOWEVER was the same as my statement.
    This stuff is still made, but hard to get. My steel supplier said, sure, we can get that. You gotta buy the lot (which was 1000 20" lengths).

    Phil -- rosche at Monday, 05/17/99 20:20:28 GMT

    NAILS: At the early American (Colonial) Ironworks at Saugus (Linn, Mass) they had a rolling and slitting machine to make small bar stock. This means that in Europe they would have had them much earlier and probably did as wire drawing mills were in existance as early as 1400 AD. Forging nails from larger stock would have been practice for the apprentice but would not have been profitable in any era.

    Hot rolled stock is much cheaper than cold drawn and it was formerly available in 1/4" (6mm) size. Today you have to order a LARGE quantity (probably 10,000 - 20,000 feet as Phil noted) to get any at all (a special rolling). Ocassionaly a group gets together and places an order. What this means is that most of us use cold drawn (which is the same as key stock guys). There are some advantages. Cold drawn is generaly SAE 1018 or 1020 while most hot roll is A-36. The SAE steel is more consistant and generally easier to work.

    The only time I ordered a rolling of steel I ended up with 4,000 feet of 7/16" (11mm) square stock. The quantity wasn't so bad as the delivery - two years AFTER I ordered it!

    -- guru Monday, 05/17/99 21:05:08 GMT


    Huh uh! You inadvertently mis-read what I wrote, I think. I said that I can get 1/4" sauare COLD rolled in 12' lenghts. Not hot rolled.

    It is the same steel as key stock, as the guru noted, but it comes in 12' lenghts. I usually buy 96 feet at a time.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/18/99 00:31:52 GMT

    Located a set of English gates wrought iron. After sandbalsting off 3 coats of crud, small stamp revealed. (B/F) b is backward and then a small crown. can you tell me who what when where, about them.
    No real purpose just for me to chase history.
    Thank you

    Michael Haun -- MGHAUN Tuesday, 05/18/99 03:52:05 GMT

    i am trying to locate someone who is able to or knows someone who can make a custom double-bladed battleaxe.please help if you can

    guy derrick -- gj_derrick at Tuesday, 05/18/99 10:11:42 GMT

    I could make one, so could very many of the guys you see on this site. Just find one close to your location and start counting up the cash ;-)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 05/18/99 16:07:53 GMT


    I like the way you think! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/18/99 17:12:10 GMT


    I am interested in attending either Frank Turley's or Rob Gunter's blacksmithing course in the comming year. Do any of you have information on these course, reviews, recomendations, etc... Any information/input would be appreciated.


    J.B. -- jballinson at Tuesday, 05/18/99 20:08:06 GMT

    i have an old anvel forge,grinder,vice, and drill all in one. some one called it a shopsmith ???the thing comes apart to do diffrent metal work its on four legs and has a gear reuction unit that powers all. i need help to identify it tks tim

    tim pyzer -- onegrizman Tuesday, 05/18/99 21:03:55 GMT

    i have an old anvel forge,grinder,vice, and drill all in one. some one called it a shopsmith ???the thing comes apart to do diffrent metal work its on four legs and has a gear reuction unit that powers all. i need help to identify it tks tim

    tim pyzer -- onegrizman Tuesday, 05/18/99 21:07:48 GMT

    Tim, Shopsmith is the trade name of an outfit that makes a multi-purpose wood working machine (the best on the market). The thing you have is sometines called an "all-in-one". They were popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's and haven't been made in a long time. The mail order catalog folks sold them under a variety of trade names. They are pretty much useless to any serious metal worker but are something of a collectors item.

    -- guru Tuesday, 05/18/99 21:23:56 GMT

    thank you guru, your responce was of great help tks tim

    tim pyzer -- onegrizman Tuesday, 05/18/99 22:04:32 GMT

    J. B.,

    I won't reccomend one over the other, but I did manage to catch a little bit of Frank Turley's demonstration at Madison, Ga, and enjoyed what I saw a great deal.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 05/18/99 22:37:15 GMT


    I guess I'm going blind, or just silly. I've re-read your post three times now and just saw what I was mis-reading. You didn't mis-read, I did. Some how I read your statement as 12 INCH lengths, and it clearly says 12'. Scuse me, please! :)

    You are correct, my However statement said the same thing you did. I'm going to go get some coffee! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/19/99 01:58:38 GMT

    That's all right. Hey, I was in Madison too last weekend. Were you the guy with the beard and overalls? That narrows it down to at least 150 people. Where are you located?

    Phil -- rosche at Wednesday, 05/19/99 11:05:47 GMT


    No, the guy with the beard and the overalls is the guru, Jock empsey. I'm the little (well, littler! grin) guy that's usually with him. The one with the big video camera either on my shoulder, or hanging from one end, or on a tripod. I was the videographer inside the perimiter rope when the Alabama Art Casting group was pouring the cast iron.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/19/99 11:40:11 GMT


    Where's the Spell checker when I need it? (grin)


    That first line should have said Jock Dempsey, not empsey.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/19/99 11:41:52 GMT




    The video camera hangs from my HAND, not my END. Gawd that'd hurt!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 05/19/99 11:44:01 GMT

    Good morning, all:
    Here's to Saint Dunstan, monk, metalworker and Archbishop of Canterbury, whose feast day is today. The patron saint of goldsmiths and blacksmiths, especially in England, he was a man who could work with his head, his heart and his hands. So tonight, some thousand years later, please feel free to invoke his name and share a toast with your fellow smiths, wherever they may be.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Wednesday, 05/19/99 12:37:19 GMT

    We must pardon Jim's temporary insanity. He wrecked his truck (not his fault) Wednesday afternoon just before we left for South Carolina. He came very close to rolling it while taking out a light pole on one side of the road then driving in and out of the ditch on the other. Since about 90% of his tools were on shelves and cabinettes in the truck Jim was pretty rattled. I'm afraid his brain may have been rattled the same way :) It was one of those little set backs in life that you don't want to think about. The weekend at Madison was just the thing to take his mind off the mess sitting in his drivway. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/19/99 12:42:43 GMT

    well I do have a question.I play a role playing game called Dragon Realms. and they have just implelemted the making of weapon for the barbarian class of warriors. they have set up forges but what i am looking for is different mixture to make a good weapon I>E the ore type avable and what ores go with what ores to make a weapon strong and durable a list of ors would be great or even a list of what types to combine to make a metal would be great also

    JohnTali -- BSBCBC at Wednesday, 05/19/99 15:03:32 GMT

    Hi everyone. As mentioned in a previous post, I am in the process of building a metal bender. The arms are 2" flatbar 1/2' thick, and I am using 1/2" stainless round bar for the forming pins. While I was teating the pins for the fit, I thought about using stainless for a sculpture that is going to be the next project. So here is the silly question of the day: how does stainless bend cold compared to hot rolled mild steel? Is is possible, practical, or should I forget it? After the price I paid for the stainless forming pins, I would much rather ask the question than pay for more to experiment with. The missing piece of the question is that I would like to bend 3/8" or 1/2" round stainless. Thanks for your time and expertise, Mark.

    Mark Hachmer -- marlin at Wednesday, 05/19/99 17:02:31 GMT

    The last post should have said TESTING the pins for the fit...

    Mark -- Marlin at Wednesday, 05/19/99 17:11:43 GMT


    My favorite (based on actual history) is bog iron (limonite). If you have an active bog, it's a renewable resource, since it is precipitated out of the water by bacterial action. Every 10 or 20 years, you can go back and harvest some more small, rusty nodules. Cook the oar in a smelter for various periods of time and heat, and you get iron and steel. The key alloy (although this was not made clear 'till the late 18th or early 19th century) is manganese, which adds to both hardness and toughness. I have a hole in my knowledge base on the acquisition of manganese ore (although sometimes it was mixed in with non-bog iron ore), but I'm sure Jock can further enlighten you. You may want to check out the archives in this and other websites. I'll have some more information tonight.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Wednesday, 05/19/99 17:21:28 GMT

    My question is probably a silly one but I guess its ok, I am new to the art and am wondering where I might be able to start looking for reasonably priced supplies (such as an anvil and a helmet stake) in the Nashville area, can anyone help me out here?


    Raven Peterson -- VVhytRvn Wednesday, 05/19/99 20:17:25 GMT

    My question is probably a silly one but I guess its ok, I am new to the art and am wondering where I might be able to start looking for reasonably priced supplies (such as an anvil and a helmet stake) in the Nashville area, can anyone help me out here?


    Raven Peterson -- VVhytRvn Wednesday, 05/19/99 20:17:53 GMT

    ths is the real e-mal ....darn typo faeries...

    Raven -- VVhytRvn at Wednesday, 05/19/99 20:19:52 GMT

    If I remember correctly it was the manganese-content that made the iron-ore from Noricum so popular with the roman sword-smiths. (If Im not mixing it up Noricum is the same region in Austria in which the first ironworkers in central Europe - the Hallstadt-culture - emerged. Coincidence?)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 05/19/99 20:33:30 GMT

    Raven, See the Getting Started article for organizations to join and references to read. Then, check out the anvilfire NEWS to see what chapter and regional conferences are all about. You could completely equip a shop from the "tailgaters" at any of the ABANA chapter gatherings I've gone to. You may want to read the anvil series on the 21st Century before you purchase a used anvil (most are good but some are not).

    Stakes are generaly expensive and mushroom stakes (the kind for making helmets) go pretty fast. You may want to consider making your own or finding an alternative. For armor work, good pieces of oak log make great forming blocks. Dress the ends with a chainsaw and cut some shallow depressions in the ends (use both) and you have a more indespensible tool than that stake. Bruce Blackistone and others use short sections of large diameter pipe with the edges rounded to support work while dishing it. In this era you must be imaginative to equip a shop for specialty work such as making armor.

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/19/99 21:27:55 GMT

    STAINLESS (Mark): Stainless work hardens more rapidly than steel and can be formed hot OR cold. The peculiar thing about stainless is that for structural or load bearing applications it is greatly de-rated compared to steel (to about 60% if I rember correctly) BUT it is much tougher and harder to work. It takes considerable more effort to bend, forge, machine, punch or cut. If the pins you are using are hardened stainless dowel pins they will most likely break after a small amount of deflection. Plain 304 SS can be bent and formed much easier but is still more difficult to wrok than steel.

    When pricing stainless work start with the cost of materials, then quadruple your normal (or estimated) labor in mild steel. If the work is to be polished then double it again. Unlike most precious metals that make up for their cost by the ease of working them, stainless is both expensive AND difficult to work.

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/19/99 21:41:09 GMT

    Fantasy Games (John T.): The search for the perfect steel for the perfect blade is the holy grail of bladesmithing. Many have spent their entire life in the search. This search is taken very seriously and requires the study of engineering, physics, metalurgy, chemistry and the history of technology. It is not a game for the maladroit or superficial. If you want the REAL thing you had better go to school and learn the difference between "ore" and "alloy", then start on those engineering courses.

    Throughout history the "barbarians" were usualy those that had the better (read, more advanced) weapon making skills. First it was bronze against stone, then iron and steel against bronze then laminated or "living" steels against less sophisticated steels. Its always been a "mine is bigger than yours" world.

    So, my question is, "Do you want the real thing, or a great toy?"

    A vast number of movie "prop" swords and armor are made from aluminium. It is easy to cut, saw, file and chisle to shape and takes a GREAT polish looking very much like silver. It can be forged cold OR hot but hot requires precise temperature control. It is light weight thus easy to weild but it will not take much of OR hold an edge (adds a safety factor). The high strentgh grades such as 7075-T6 are stronger than mild steel and a little harder. The original tip of the Washington Monument was aluminium because at the time it was more expensive and rarer than platinium! It requires lots of electricity (magic?) to make. The best thing is is doesn't rust! Its the best material for a great toy.

    The next best "toy" material is 304 stainless steel. See cavets above on the difficulties of working it. It takes a brilliant polish but requires great effort. It is more closely the weight of steel and also doesn't rust.

    Want a "head chopper" that is bloody dangerous and likely to chop the above two swords into pieces? Use an old truck spring and learn the magical art of hardening and tempering.

    If you STILL insist on making your own alloy the only practical method is that of the the Japaanese sword smith or producing a laminated steel that is folded and welded so many time that the material becomes nearly uniform in structure. The skills require much practice and study, however, you are in luck! Centaur Forge carries dozens of books on the subject that can take you from neophyte smith through master knife maker. See our bookshelf page for a few examples. There are no secrets left to the art except those few new inventions that haven't yet made it to the outside world.

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/19/99 22:36:44 GMT


    Any idea how to get an oil rubbed dark bronze finish on a piece of bronze hand rail cap. The material comes with a mill finish on it.


    T. J.

    T. J. Marrone -- tjmarrone at Wednesday, 05/19/99 23:19:12 GMT


    I remember reading the same thing, but I thought Noricum was in Spain. Whether in Spain or Austria, the manganese works its magic, and would certainly make the ore a superior source for bladework. Looks like another trip to the library is in order. (To quote B'rer Rabbit: "Please don't throw me in that briar patch!")

    Hoping for rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 05/20/99 02:52:37 GMT

    John; More on Ores and Weapons:

    Kevin Hall has been kind enough to post some of my previous work on "Blacksmithing in the Viking Age" at: . This provides an overview of the techniques used in the period, some of it specific to weaponry. Like any historical pontification, please read with pleasure and use or quote with caution.

    Be careful out there amoung them English.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 05/20/99 03:03:53 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I know your have answered the question I am about to ask before but I can not find it in the archives. I would like to know which chemicals are needed to artificially produce a patina finish on copper.
    Thanks for your help.

    Bob -- advanceelectric at Thursday, 05/20/99 04:21:22 GMT

    Thank you, Jock. I will keep your suggestions in mind.

    Mark Hachmer -- marlin at Thursday, 05/20/99 12:40:35 GMT

    COLORING COPPER ALLOYS: For yellow to orange use by weight, 5 parts caustic soada, 50 parts water and 10 parts copper carbonate.

    For green, use 3 ounces iron chloride crystals, 1 pound ammonium chloride, 8 ounces verdigris, 10 ounces common salt, 4 ounces potassium bitartate and 1 gallon water.

    For black a variety of arsinical compounds are used.

    The above are from MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

    -- guru Friday, 05/21/99 03:08:03 GMT

    To the Gamer,
    Two other sources of "Good" steel:
    Meteoric Iron, has lots of nickel and some silicon, making it shock resistant, wear resistant and just good blade material.
    Icelandic steel. Thanks to lime deposits that inhibit rust, iron could be found in it's pure form laying on the ground in Iceland. If there had been a culture there in prehistory, they could have conceivably ruled the world with their "magic" metal.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Friday, 05/21/99 18:43:51 GMT

    There is an error in the Bill Epps Link for the Wed. demo

    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Friday, 05/21/99 19:48:17 GMT

    Sorry about the error, it should be
    Thanks for spotting that one.


    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Friday, 05/21/99 21:05:19 GMT

    help on coloring steel with heat, black, brown blue and bronze

    frank -- laroque at Saturday, 05/22/99 01:43:44 GMT


    Frank LaRoque -- laroque at Saturday, 05/22/99 02:13:52 GMT

    Frank, For any temper color from gold and brown to blue and purple, clean and finsh the part to a bright finish, heat the part uniformly until the necessary color is reached (350 to 750 F)then quench in clean water. Laquer to preserve finish. I've done this on the kitchen stove by heating a large block to the correct temperature (judjed by a small clean spot) and then placing the part to be colored on the block and watching closely. For large pieces you will need a large temperature controled oven. NOTE: Alloy steels (the majority today) do not color at the same temperatures as plain carbon steel so listing specific color temperatures is not productive. Just experiment.

    A good black requires strong chemicals with or without heat. Look up "Parkerizing" in a MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. Stainless scales the same blue/black color as steel but doesn't rust. You can oil or the wax the scale on stainless and have a reasonably durable finish.

    The best brown is a rust brown. This can be done with or without chemicals (often iron disolved in an acid). Clean the part to a bright finish, rust in a "damp box", then clean with fine steel wool. Repeat over and over again until the rusted surface is a uniform tight finish. Oil or laquer. A variety of Gunsmith's "plum browns" are used the same way and best gotten from a book on gunsmithing.

    OBTW- An old kitchen stove (gas OR electric) is a handy device to have in the shop. You can melt babbit, dry molds, heat bluing salts, temper parts and even warm lunch! In nasty "shop condition" you can often be paid to haul one away.

    -- guru Saturday, 05/22/99 03:05:21 GMT

    Hello there. I am new to metal work with only less than 6 months experience. I can weld with stick and mig and am looking to fabricate small household items such as cd-racks etc. I have looked all over the net for a place that can supply me with a scroll bender with a range in sizes for the scrolls (dies?). I have started to make my own benders out of some schedule 40 pipe that I have purchased from a local steel yard, but they do not give me consistant bends. Can you PLEASE help me find someone who can supply me with a product of this type, in Canada if possible. Thank you for your time.


    Randy Watson -- rcwatson at Saturday, 05/22/99 16:31:36 GMT


    Try Princess Auto. They sell a Taiwan knockoff of a Hossfield bender that I've heard good reports on. They'll send you a catalog for a phone call if there isn't a store near you. The phone number for the Canadian branch is;


    Nice people to work with.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 05/22/99 16:49:41 GMT

    I am not actually a blacksmith i am more into the welding side of metal.My problem is that i have been welding stainless steel using a MIG welder and have suffered from burnthrough staining to a DP1 finish. If you cannot help me please if possible tell me of someone that could

    Nigel -- nigel at Saturday, 05/22/99 18:33:58 GMT

    Randy, see my article on benders on the 21st Century page. Simple benders produce consistant results with consistant materials. However, when cold bending, the temper of the material determines how much spring back you get. Every batch of material will behave slightly differently. For scrolls you really need to make your own benders.

    Nigel, If the "burnthrough staining" is simple heat coloring you must either reduce the heat (probably not an option), keep air away from the surface being stained OR refinish the part. If you are welding small parts you might be able to place the part in a shallow box and flood the area with argon. The heat staining requires oxygen to discolor the metal. A heat sink may also help (or be used in combination with the argon).

    -- guru Saturday, 05/22/99 19:23:22 GMT

    Hi, I am a trained machinist, aged 59. I'm an american citizen living in Israel for the past thirty years.

    I thought that I was a rare breed in wanting to do blacksmithing. I had no idea that there are still so many around until just on a whim, I typed in "blacksmithing" and told the computer to search.

    I have started doing some blacksmithing at home in my work shop. Until now I have been using my propane/oxygen or acetylin/oxygen torch for heating and bending/forming, but it is not very practical. Can you please tell me how to build a small forge that fires coal or coke. The reason I would like to use these materials instead of gas is that I could also use the forge for carburizing iron. I do not have too much money available, so I'd like some ideas that don't cost too much. If you believe that I am making a mistake in not using gas, please tell me so and advise me how to build the gas forge.

    My home workshop includes a Boxford 4" swing lathe, a 1/2" capacity drill press, a good solid wooden workbench that I built myself, micrometers, calipers, dial indicators, wrenches of all kinds, pipe cutting and threading tools, many other assorted tools, and last but not least - and one of the tools that I use most, an old but serviceable anvil that weighs about 100 lbs. (the tip is broken but I still manage to do what I need to). The anvil was given to me as a gift about 25 years ago by a farmer turned blacksmith that used to shoe horses before he retired and moved away. The anvil was already old when he obtained it.

    Please excuse my being so "wordy," it is so wonderful to know that the art of blacksmithing is still alive and kicking.

    Best Regards,
    Joe Simon

    Joe Simon -- joesimon at Sunday, 05/23/99 10:58:31 GMT


    I hope you can help, I am looking for new anvils for sale. I have not been able to find any current suppliers. Thanks in advance for your help.

    Jerry Hail

    Jerry Hail -- jerryhail at Sunday, 05/23/99 12:09:34 GMT

    Jerry Hail, You haven't look HERE very hard! Two of our banner advertisers sell anvils and there will be more soon!

    Bruce Wallace sells new and used anvils. He discounts Peddinghaus anvils.

    Centaur Forge carries Peddinghaus, Mankle and others.

    Join ABANA, their journal The Anvil's Ring carries advertisments from these folks as well as other that sell new anvils direct.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/23/99 13:34:49 GMT

    Joe Simon, During your 30 years in Isreal there has been a huge renaissance in blacksmithing. The started with the publication of Alex Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing and the formation of ABANA.

    Both gas and coal forges work well. To some its just a matter of preference, to others the decision is made by the availability of fuel or air emmissions standards (some localities don't like coal smoke). Many smiths have BOTH as there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I know, I'm not being very helpful.

    First, don't spend a lot building a coal forge. Build something like the Brake Drum forge on our Plans page. Then purchase some local (or the available coal) and test it. Some coal is all smoke and little heat. Coke, if its available must be in small lumps. Normal foundry coke is in too big of lumps and must be broken up (with much difficulty). Coke is hard to keep burning and doesn't have many of the advantages of coal.

    If your coal seems pretty good and you can make a forge weld with it (don't give up THAT right away), the check the Blacksmith's Journal web page (see our links), I think they have a plan for a fabricated forge posted.

    Gas forges are clean and efficient. Small ones are quite portable. They tend to be noisy and are better for production work. Some folks never seem to able to forge weld in them while many knife makers do it all day long. There are plans for gas forges all over the Internet (including here). One of the best places to look is the Ron Reil page (see our links again). ABANA also sells plans for a little recuperative forge designed at the Sandia National Labratories (USA).

    Your machinist background will serve you well. Most new smiths can't drill a hole (right) much less sharpen a drill! One of the references I am continualy sending these folks to is MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. Its a great general reference for metals and heat treating (as I'm sure you know).

    -- guru Sunday, 05/23/99 14:21:45 GMT

    When I was in High School, I made some scroll iron work out of 1/16th inch by 3/4 inch flat iron. I use a piece of metal with steel pegs in it. What is the name of this simple tool and where can I get one?
    Thank you for your help.

    Lacy Cook -- TRVLDOC100 at AOL.COM Sunday, 05/23/99 15:45:43 GMT

    Lacy, The tool you speak of is sometimes called a "bench plate" but craft stores sell a little "wire bender" that may be the tool you speak of. Its a little cast aluminium plate 1" (24mm) wide by 4.8" (71mm) long with five holes for pins in the center and places to bend 90 degree corners on the ends. I'm looking at a picture of one in the McMaster-Carr catalog (listed under benders,wire), price $6.70 US. One the same page there are several more sophisticated benders (at more sophisticated prices). See our link to McM-C.

    Actual bench plates for heavy bending are no longer manufactured as far as I can tell. For heavy blacksmithing, welder's weld plattens or "Acorn" plates are used. These weigh in the tons. . .

    -- guru Sunday, 05/23/99 16:43:42 GMT

    Would like basic "how to" information on knife forging.

    Curt -- lynhei at Sunday, 05/23/99 17:58:18 GMT

    Would like basic "how to" information on knife forging.

    Curt -- lynhei at Sunday, 05/23/99 17:59:03 GMT

    What type of anvil is 12 in. by 16 in. by 6 in. thk. and wieghs about 50 pounds ? what is its porpose and used for ?

    Greg Hubbard -- Parforgglf at Sunday, 05/23/99 18:42:52 GMT

    FLAT RECTANGULAR ANVIL: Greg, that's probably a sawmakers anvil. They are pretty rare.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/23/99 20:07:38 GMT

    How much is it worth? Because Ican buy one cheap.

    Greg Hubbard -- Parforgglf at Sunday, 05/23/99 20:28:29 GMT

    All "good" anvils are valuable tools. Currently used anvils are selling for between 1$ and $3/pound US. New anvils sell for $3 to $7/pound US depending on maker and quality. Once in a while you can find a bargain for $0.25/pound. . . I don't have a clue as to collector's value.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/23/99 20:44:12 GMT

    I am looking for any info on a touchmark on a plate that appears to
    be pewter.It is a small plate, about 6 inches, with a shield design with
    a capital M inside.The numbers 029 are on it also.I can't seem to
    find anything about it.

    C.Bohannon -- machiavelli at Monday, 05/24/99 12:36:13 GMT

    I sent you an E-mail question about working with small flat iron making schrolls. I did this type of thing in highschool using a tool made of 1/4" steel with pegs sticking up in it. What is the name of this tool and where could I find one? Or if you have plans for such a tool showing placement of the pegs, I could make such a tool.

    Thank you for your help.

    Lacy Cook

    Lacy Cook -- Trvldoc100 at Tuesday, 05/25/99 03:19:53 GMT

    How does one form a 3/16" to 1/4 " dia. ball on the end of a tapered round shaft.

    Bob Bartelme -- harleyhog at Tuesday, 05/25/99 03:22:40 GMT

    Hi I am a artist blacksmith in New Zealand , and a member of ABANA, due to
    injuries to my hands I am trying to build a power hammer based on the 25pound Little
    Giant .
    I have been unable to locate one in NZ that I can have a look at so I started to search
    the net and found your article . The information that I would like to get is as follows
    the total stroke of the crank
    the centre distances of the link arms
    dimensions of the spring
    when the hammer is at bottom dead centre the distance from the anvil to the hammer
    Any dimensions relating to the hammer mechanism.

    I am fitter turner by trade so building the hammer should not be a problem, but the
    critical dimensions would help immensely so that I make the minium of mistakes
    hope that someone can help me, anything would greatly appreciated.

    My email is prbates at nz
    mail address is P Bates
    40Cruickshank road
    Upper Hutt
    New Zealand.

    peter bates -- prbates at Hi I am a artist blacksmith in New Zealand , and a member of ABANA, due to Tuesday, 05/25/99 07:06:09 GMT

    Peter, The Little Giant is a popular hammer only because so many were made. They are NOT the best of the mechanicals. In fact they are probably the worst. Many aspects of their linkage was designed to get around other's patents. The geometry of the linkage is such that they often get out of phase with the ram going up when the crank is going down, the hammer not hitting the work while doing a pretty good self destruct job. This is commonly called, "The Little Giant Hula".

    The hammer to copy would be the Fairbanks but it is an expensive design to manufacture and requires careful linkage/spring design. The next best is the Champion hammer (See the PABA issue of the anvilfire NEWS). The hammer built by the South African team of Bertie Rietveld and Tom Nelson is a good example of that type hammer. See the Power hammer Page Catalog of User Built Hammers.

    The Champion design uses a horizontal leaf spring and toggles. The advantage of this design is that springs are relatively easy to make and to modify (add leaves). These hammers use a flat belt with tensioner for a clutch. This "primitive" system turns out to be much superior to the more sophisticated (and troublesome) cone clutches used on the Little Giant. Bradley, Fairbanks and Champion among others used slip belt clutching and have much supperior control.

    The hard part to make is the clutch pulley with raised edge guides. A friend of mine came up with simple solution. Find or buy a multi-"v" belt pulley and machine off several of the middle V's. Be sure to square off the remaining outside edges and give the flat a little crown.

    On stroke, check the Little Giant Specs on the Power hammer Page. The actual crank stroke is about 1/3 of the ram's stroke due to the over travel produces by the spring and toggle linkage. Note that the overtravel occurs in both directions.

    -- guru Tuesday, 05/25/99 15:06:52 GMT

    Lacy, You posted your question here :) And your answer followed. The pegs were 1/4" round steel bar stock and there are five holes are on a square pattern with the fifth in the center. The pins are in a square area in the center of the bar that is set off by by two grooves designed to bend small rod or wire. The two areas beyond these grooves are triangular allowing 45 and 90 degree bends to be made. See my comments about universal benders in my 21st Century page article about benders.

    -- guru Tuesday, 05/25/99 21:19:21 GMT

    Bob Bartalme, Sounds like you are trying to make a shifter lever. Something that small is generaly machined from solid (a piece of round bar stock) using a lathe. If you are forging it then it is pretty easy. Forge a point on the bar leaving the block for the ball. Then work the ball of the corner of your anvil.

    -- guru Tuesday, 05/25/99 21:24:47 GMT

    I have forged two brass rings and want to close them, I have tried
    fusing them in the forge with no luck. I also have tried to brase them together and still no luck. I think I'am cleaning and fluxing them well, but cannot get them to stick. I would like to make each of them into a solid ring. Can you tell me the best way to close the ring.
    Thanks a bunch,

    Randy Crabtree -- rcrabtree1 at Tuesday, 05/25/99 23:09:59 GMT

    I own a large amount of land, and while walking on it one day I found a piece of cast iron laying on the surface of the ground, that I just can't identify. I looks like it is from the early 1900's. It says "Burlington S' F' Co." on it. I think it is either a leg to an old school desk, or a leg to an old stove. Do you have any idea what this would be, or who could help me? I could get a picture for you, if that would help.

    Stephen Paige -- spaige at Wednesday, 05/26/99 15:45:05 GMT

    Hey Guru, I beg to differ with you. Bradley Compacts are the BEST HAMMERS, to own or copy :-). You don't have to worry about any silly springs. If you going to do the "Hula" it's best to do it in a grass skirt, butt be carefully of hot sparks.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 05/26/99 15:56:55 GMT

    Since there has been a lot about powerhammers lately:
    All swedish powerhammers look like gigantic sewing-machines with bundles of straight flat steel-springs moving the ram. They look much like more modern air-hammers. None of the mechanical powerhammers Ive seen here looks like them. How come?

    Clear skies and apple-blossoms falling in central Sweden.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Wednesday, 05/26/99 20:10:53 GMT

    Olle, I don't know, but I would like some pictures of the hammers you speak of.. . . There WAS a guided helve machine that had a spring helve. Its in Pounding Out The Profits. I'll post a picture so you can tell if its the same mechanism.

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/26/99 21:09:06 GMT

    BRASS/BRONZE (Randy): The trouble with welding and brazing brass and bronze is knowing which you have and what kind. They are much alike and can be nearly the same color depending on the alloy. Brass is a Copper Zinc alloy and Bronze is Copper Tin. If you try to weld one with the other you end up with a mess.

    Common brazing rod (BRCuZn-A) is 59% Cu, 41% Zn and is for joining ferrous and non ferrous materials. It is one of 40 or more type of "brazing" materials. Phosphor bronze and Phosphor bronze silver rods are recommend for brazing bronze.

    THEN there is the problem of leaded materials. Almost all brass and bronze bar stock has lead in it to make it more machinable. This makes it hard to forge and to weld. When the lead comes out of solution (sort of bleeds out of the bar) it leaves a crumbly mess behind. This stuff CAN be welded but it requires patience and deft use of the torch.

    The best thing to do is weld using filler rod made of the same material. Mechanicaly clean and then flux heavily. Remember that these alloys conduct heat very fast and when part of the bar is melted the rest is getting there very fast. This is where the deft use of the torch comes in. Heat, pull back, look, heat pull back and heat. You have to be able to do that as fast as you can read it. Use a neutral to slightly carburizing flame (a little fuzzy). It should also be fairly soft (low pressure). Just hard enough to make a fairly straight flame but not a pencil straight one.

    Like the sentence above, it would be easier (and faster) to do it than explain it. . It just takes lots of patience AND practice. . . And its probably imposible to do in the forge. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/26/99 23:16:05 GMT

    BRUCE! I want to see one of the straight spring hammers Olle talks about. Yes, I'll admit the Bradley is the BEST but it would also be darn hard to copy. It was also the most expensive. The Rolls Royce of hammers!

    Bill Epps at the Slack-Tub Pub!

    Tonight at 9:30pm Eastern, 8:30 Texas.

    -- guru Wednesday, 05/26/99 23:22:09 GMT

    Just a simple question is the Indiana conference still around
    kokamo in the fair grounds ? if so can you still camp there? please
    advise thank you ...........Carl.....

    CARL -- hiforge at Wednesday, 05/26/99 23:48:40 GMT

    Guru, It would be nice if we could go back to the time when these hammers were somewhat affordable to make. Nowadays it would cost a small fortune to build some of the old classic. Don't get me wrong Fairbank hammer's where among the best but you know how I love the Compact's.

    How do you make a small fortune blacksmithing? Start with a big one.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 05/27/99 04:39:42 GMT

    thanks for your reply on power hammers,I willhave a look at your sugestions and possably ask afew more questions.

    Peter Bates -- prbates at Thursday, 05/27/99 05:56:30 GMT

    How do you make a sword? What steps are involved? Do you heeat metal then cast it in a mold, and then put in on the anvil to shape it, and then put it in water? Is this right? What else do you do?

    Justin Mitchell -- geiszler at Thursday, 05/27/99 16:02:30 GMT

    I have made several birdhouses with roofs made of copper sheeting. How can I treat the copper to make it turn greenish color (verdi gris)? Thanks for any help.

    Chas. Brooks -- charmona at Thursday, 05/27/99 16:39:40 GMT

    I have very little knowledge of metalworking and I may be asking this question of the wrong person. I hope, however, that you will lead me in the right direction if at all possible.

    I would like to know the meaning of "passivating." And, what would be the reason for passibating something?

    Thank you for your time.

    Kay Guy

    Kay Guy -- kay_guy at Thursday, 05/27/99 19:35:50 GMT

    I have very little knowledge of metalworking and I may be asking this question of the wrong person. I hope, however, that you will lead me in the right direction if at all possible.

    I would like to know the meaning of "passivating." And, what would be the reason for passivating something?

    Thank you for your time.

    Kay Guy

    Kay Guy -- kay_guy at Thursday, 05/27/99 19:39:16 GMT

    Justin, You've been watching Conan the Barbarian too closely! I love the movie but the sword making sequence was Hollywood hype! (Fiction, hoopla, bunk, BS).

    Swords are forged from steel. Steel which begins life as a cast billet but is carefully massaged into a "wrought" product under huge steam or hydraulic hammers or via rolling (or both). Shaping is done by forging, then grinding and filing and often chisling or engraving. The blade is then heattreated. This consists of normalizing, hardening and tempering at carefully controlled temperatures.

    It takes years of study and practice to make a satifactory steel blade. The study includes engineering (strength of materials), metalurgy and heattreating. Then you must learn the art of forging and by far the most important, Craftsmanship!.

    Start at the begining. Read Getting Started, purchase the references recommended, STUDY. If you really want the answer to your question you will find it. If you have more specific questions along the way, feel free to ask.

    -- guru Thursday, 05/27/99 22:11:37 GMT

    Passivating (Kay) is exactly what it sounds like. Rendering the surface of a material "passive" or chemicaly neutral. On iron it may be accomplished in a number of ways including the use of nitric or sulphuric acid. It is often used prior to painting.

    "The condition of passivity is temporary snd, thus passivating has been of doutful value, except for stainless steel for which it is regular practice", Marks' Mechanical Engineers Handbook, 6th Ed.

    Various metals require different treatment. Look in an engineering reference for specifics.

    -- guru Thursday, 05/27/99 22:23:15 GMT

    Kay Guy: "Passivating" and" Activating" are terms used to describe the surface condition of stainless steels (might be other uses of the terms). A passivated surface has been treated with an acid to cause the formation of a thin layer of chromium oxide on the surface. This chromium oxide is very adherent , and protects the surface from further corrosion. The activated surface has been treated with an acid that strips off any oxide that was on the steel. One reason to "activate " a stainless surface is in preparation for electroplating or other coatings that adhere better to the base metal than to an oxide layer.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 05/27/99 22:30:19 GMT

    Dear Sire, Concerning forge welds (by hand)... I need the particulars. I have been told to use sand, lime, and your site says borax... I understand Borax removes the impurities, but, will lime work as well...?
    And what is he proper way the make a forg weld...

    Thank you in advance!!! Ed

    Ed McCarty Jr -- Carib1660 at Thursday, 05/27/99 23:43:29 GMT

    I haven't had a chance to try out the Dinner bell ideas that you posted for me back in April.I'm Planning to get out in the shop tomorrow evening. soms of the suggestions I was already using but the ones sound very interesting.Thanks, I appreciate the time spent helping. Steve Rand

    stephen rand -- snlrand at Friday, 05/28/99 00:23:53 GMT

    carl yes the Indiana conference is close to kokomo, it,s at the tipton county fair grounds. You can camp there 10$ a night. No alcohol :) on the grounds. Come join us.

    kid -- n/a Friday, 05/28/99 00:55:09 GMT

    I've just finished a 2yr apprenticeship &would like to do journeyman work. Hope to finance it in part with scholarships. Do you know of any (ABANA,maybe?) and how to apply? Don't know if this is within the scope of the questions you answer...

    steve dulfer -- maris at Friday, 05/28/99 01:51:17 GMT

    Thank you for your reply, that helps me alot. I camped there
    once a few years back and had a good time. I sure do get alot out of this site its a great thing that you are doing with this site.
    Keep up the good work guys.---------Carl

    Carl -- hiforge at Friday, 05/28/99 02:06:23 GMT

    FORGE WELDS (Ed): There are a variety of things that work as flux but borax is by far the most common flux. Certain types of sand work but if you don't know the mineral content you are wasting your time. Same goes for clays.

    Joint preparation is key to successful forge welding. The surfaces should be close to the joint shape (tapering where they blend in) and slightly convex so that the flux and swarf can squeeze out of the joint. The easiest weld to practice is a simple faggot weld. A round bar bent back on it self. The joint shape is right and you don't have to handle two loose pieces. . .

    Heat the steel until it is a dull red and then apply flux to the joint. This can be done by sprinkling, dipping in the container, using a flux spoon, or by dipping a hot pointed bar into the flux and then transfering to the work while still in the forge.

    Heat the piece until the surface feels sticky when touched with a pointed probe (the same tool used to apply the flux). You may want to flux again in the forge (several times).

    Remove the heated piece(s), put them together and give them a gentle whack. You want to stick them together but you don't want to splatter the semi liquid surface out of the joint. The tendancy is to strike TOO hard because you are in a hurry. The flux and swarf DO want to squeeze and posibly splatter out of the joint but you do not want to slatter the metal surface.

    To judge the heat and to make forge welds relyably takes practice. And even then some of the best miss a weld now and then.

    Any of the general blacksmithing books we recommend have details about forge weld joint design. The best way to learn is by carefully watching someone else. Then practice, practice, practice.

    -- guru Friday, 05/28/99 03:34:52 GMT

    I'm new to the art of blacksmithing and recently purchased a small castiron toolmakers forge manufactured by the Champion Forge Company, Lancaster PA. In the bottom of the pan in the cast instructions: clay forge before use. I'm assuming (dangerous as that word is) that some type of lining would insulate and protect the cast pan from the prolonged intense heat generated during metal forging. My question is: what type of clay, or can I use refractory cement, and if so what would be a safe temperature rating on the refractory cement? Also can you direct me to any good sources of information on these forges and or the Champion Forge Co. (are they still in business)? My intended application in blacksmithing will be more or less on the level of a hobby making or repairing tools at home. To date I've been machining or welding most most things but I would now like to try my hand at the art form of blacksmithing.

    Chuck Ajduk -- sirmimi at Friday, 05/28/99 04:26:39 GMT

    Chuck: With regard to claying your forge pan, most of the people I know that have these types of forges use river clay with some straw mixed in. I think the main reason for this is the cost and availability. After you have clayed the pan, let it dry for a couple of days and fire it up. With regard to info on the Champion Forge company, you might find a reproduction of a Champion catalog in Centaur Forge.

    Phil -- rosche at Friday, 05/28/99 10:59:05 GMT

    Dear Guru

    I'm new to this game and I am about to start building a forge from a truck drum brake and a Buffalo? hand crank blower I've aquired.
    I've looked over the net and the construction seem simple, is there any REALLY important things I need to know in it's construction?
    Also what is the best fuel (I'm going to try my hand at wrought iron)
    I, a welder so making isn't a problem.

    Thanks for a great source of info.
    Regards from Australia

    Stuart.B -- chatterfxd at Friday, 05/28/99 12:42:27 GMT

    Chuck, My personal recommendation is to NOT clay your forge. The class of work you will be doing is too small to worry about burning up the forge. In fact, clay, furnace putty, ANY lining material tends to harbour the corrosives from coal ash and greatly accelerate rusting the bottom out of the forge.

    Water percolated through coal ash and cinders produces some really nasty stuff that just plain evaporates iron and steel. If you will be storing your forge outdoors or on a porch the only safe thing to do is throughly clean the forge before storage.

    If the forge is a permanent fixture indoors next to a flue then claying the forge may be acceptable. However, if you count on any degree of portability then adding weight is not in your best intrest.

    -- guru Friday, 05/28/99 13:02:47 GMT

    BRAKE DRUM FORGE: Yep! It really IS that simple. All that is really required for a forge is a hole in the ground, a pipe or trench leading from the side and a source of air. Forges HAVE been operated by a bunch of guys sitting around that pit with hollow wood tubes blowing the fire! I suspect in the distant past it was very common. Later bellows developed out of using a hide over a side pit or "wine skins". The twyer developed out of fire resistant clay (ceramic) tubes used to get air to the fire. Today we use squirl cage blowers but compressed air has been used quite a bit in commercial forges.

    Western man prefers his devices such as work surfaces at a good standing height. So we raise the fire pit by building a brick forge or putting a fire "pot" on legs. Otherwise, if you have Eastern work habits and sit on the floor or ground while you work, the forge would rest directly on or in the ground.

    Please note the little cross bar in my second drawing. It helps keep large quantities of coal from droping into the ash dump.

    A soft bituminous coal with low volitiles ans ash is the best fuel but home made charcoal works well too. Charcoal just requires a deeper fire pot.

    -- guru Friday, 05/28/99 13:19:31 GMT

    Guru, PawPaw, and all,

    In reference to claying forges or not. Besides claying a riviters forge how do you prevent one from cracking?
    And not using the forge is NOT an option at this time!(grin)


    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Friday, 05/28/99 15:18:58 GMT

    Do you know of any websites which tell you the construction methods to make copper wire or can you furnish us with the construction information?

    ??????? -- ikemay at Saturday, 05/29/99 01:45:08 GMT

    Do you know of any websites which can tell you the best methods of metalcasting techniques - specifically, making the moulds to fit your needs to specs?

    ?????????????? -- ikemay at Saturday, 05/29/99 01:52:11 GMT


    Guru's advice about not claying a forge makes a good point.

    But I clay mine with boiler cement. (and I use a riveter's forge for most work here at the house.)

    The most likely cause of cracking would be cold water on hot iron. Since my forge is outside, that is a possiblity in the event of a sudden shower. The boiler cement keeps any water from getting to my forge before I can get it covered up. I've been doing it this way, with this forge, for about four years now, with no problems with rust. I do have to replace the cement about twice a year.

    I think it's largely a matter of different strokes for different folks.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 05/29/99 02:55:42 GMT

    Theres a company in Sweden by the name of Damasteel whos making stainless damascus from povdered metal. Powder metallurgy is really high-tech and they claim (of course) that their product is superior to any blade steel in the world. Ive been helping them somewhat in their research on old-time damascus and have also questioned if their steel is "true" damascus, witch they didnt like. Do any of you, Guru or others, know if powdered metal really can become as strong as steel thats been reborn under the hammer? (Ive seen the graphs they provide, but Im talking about real life field testing.)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Saturday, 05/29/99 19:51:20 GMT

    WIRE MANUFACTURE - CASTING (ikemay at Your question is a little broad and it would help to know the reason you want this information. There are historical and small scale do-it-yourself techniques and then there are modern industrial methods. The reason I ask is that we get questions from a wide range of people including the do-it-yourself to folks intrested in setting up industrial plants. There are links to a number of sites on our links page that cover many aspects of metal casting. On wire drawing:

    Jerry Carroll writes:

    I worked several years as a wire drawer in and around Chicago. My younger brother is currently Plant manager of a wire factory in
    Lake Zurich(sp) Illinois.

    Copper wire is "drawn" beginning with rods from a rod mill or wound on large spools. The wire is pulled thru dies of graduated sizes(usually diamond) using a "wire mill", a set of rollers which the wire is wrapped around and between them in sequence, set in holders is the dies. A drawing compound in the form of a wash keeps the dies lubricated and clean. The wire can be drawn down to wire as
    fine as hair. Size 40 is the smallest I worked with. We also coated the wire with enamel which is not an easy job either. The rollers in the mill turn at a speed determined by the size of the wire produced. There is a lot more involved but this is as simple as I could explain it.

    Try "Belden Wire Co." in your search engine. They are probably one of the biggest wire producers around.

    On casting you will find that to answer your question requires a small library. If you can be more specific I may be able to answer your question.

    -- guru Saturday, 05/29/99 23:26:21 GMT

    DAMASCUS: Olle, Powdered metalurgy is the most advanced form of producing metals today. The processes allow the production of metal "alloys" that can not be alloyed by traditional methods (via melting). It also allows for the addition of non-metals such as graphite and glass fibres. In the more advanced forms the part is brought up to near forging temperatures via external heat combined with the heat produced by the press. There ARE manufacturers that produce material that is better than traditional forgings. This material is generaly destined for the military or outer space. You want to subscribe to the NASA Tech Brief's and ASM's material's publication to keep up on the current developments.

    Is is Damascus? NO, Never, Nada, No way.

    True Damascus was produced in India and was known there as Wootz. It is produced in a sealed crucible via a decarburation process of cast iron. The resulting ingot is then carefully massaged into a semi usable material through careful forging. Wallace Yeater researched wrote the definitive article on Damascus. This included historical research and photo micrographs of museum samples. It was published as a three part series in the Anvil's Ring some time in the early 1980's. I could be more specific but my collection of AR is divided between home and work (125 miles). :(

    Modern "Damascus" IS NOT DAMASCUS either. It is laminated steel. Laminated steel was developed by the Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries while looking for the "secret of Damascus". At the time all they had to do was go to India where it was still being manufactured.

    Laminated steel is probably a far superior product to Damascus. Its fame largely a product of the mythical stories of the Crusaders who lived during a low point scientificaly speaking. Today there are still people selling the myth of "living steel". . . .

    Now then. . . the question of the "science" of metalurgy. There is none! There IS the engineering science of testing materials but there is no "science" in metalurgy. It is ALL trial and error. There is no predictive science that will tell you if alloy x,y,z will be stronger than alloy w,x,y. No math. No chemistry. No physics. Its all "bubble, bubble, boil and trouble," then "heat it and beat it" as one NASA metalurgist put it.

    -- guru Sunday, 05/30/99 00:06:38 GMT

    Steve Dulfer, Sorry I didn't respond sooner. ABANA and its Chapters do have a scholarship program. You'll need to contact them about it. ABANA also has a Journeyman program. Check their site for info:


    -- guru Sunday, 05/30/99 02:25:11 GMT

    I've been in the metal fabrication busniess for only three years now. I can weld with the best of 'em, but am having problems with a newly built coal forge. I bought some anthricite coal, thinking it was the best, but I can't seem to get it lit. I've built fire after fire, trying to get the coal to coke, but nothing seems to work. I now realize that a gas forge is probably a better item for my shop, but I feel bad that I counldn't get this one to work. Please send me ANY advice you have on the matter.

    Robert Young -- rob75 at Sunday, 05/30/99 22:30:49 GMT


    You made a mistake that is very easy to make. You bought anthracite coal. The best grades of mettalurgical coal are bituminous.

    You can get the anthracite to work, but it requires a continuous high volume blast of air. Is much easier with bituminous.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Sunday, 05/30/99 23:37:05 GMT

    Guru and all,

    Do you know of anywhere near Richmond, VA where I could get lessons on basic blacksmithing? Thanks in advance.

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Monday, 05/31/99 04:17:17 GMT

    I know that this will sound like a stupid question, but is there any chance of a quick rundown on lighting a coal forge. I'm using the drum brake forge(that I asked you about) and a champion No.27 blower and the bituminous coal that you suggested.

    Thanks again

    Stuart B. -- chatterfxd at Monday, 05/31/99 10:19:33 GMT


    The only stupid question is the one that isn't asked!

    Here's how I light my forge. Be advised that the purists will say that I cheat.

    I crumple up one piece of newspaper. Surround it with a handfull of 1/2 " X 1/2" X 4" scraps of wood. Surround that with coke from yesterdays fire. Surround that with green coal. Pour a couple of ounces of two cycle gas mix on the scraps of wood. Light with a cigarette lighter.

    Let it burn naturally for a few seconds till the wood starts to catch. Turn the air on gently. Rake some of the coke over the top of th3e pile. Once the wood is going well, cover it completely with coke and some green coal on top. Turn the air up.

    5 minutes later, I can start heating steel.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/31/99 11:02:53 GMT

    Thanks for the speedy reply, one question what happens if I don't have coke? use more wood?
    I've been dreaming of wrought iron for a while now, my just shakes her head and lets me go.
    Don't know how the forge will go(first trial this week end) first forge for that matter!!!!
    Question- I might be calling champion blower by wrong name, it's a hand crank, is this a squrill chage?
    Anyway thanks for the advise.


    Stuart B. -- chatterfxd at Monday, 05/31/99 13:25:53 GMT


    Build your fire with all green coal. As the volitails cook out fo the coal, it will become coke. You'll be able to easilly tell the difference, the coke will look spongy and will be a grey color as opposed to the shiny black appearance of the coal.

    Your champion blower is not a squirrel cage, but you are calling it by
    by the correct name. Where I said turn the air on gently, just crank slowly. Where I said turn the air up, you will want to crank a little harder. But you won't have to crank real fast, a steady cranking speed is more important that the number of RPM.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/31/99 15:50:33 GMT

    Today is a special day for many of us. So today I'd like to say:

    To the VietVets: "Welcome Home, Bro!"

    and to the WWII and Korean War Vets: "Thanks!"

    From one of the brotherhood.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 05/31/99 18:41:39 GMT

    i am interested in learning the blacksmithing trade..however,,i cannot seem to locate any trade schools near s. Indiana. i would be happy just to be an apprentice to someone,,but some kind of votech school would be fantastic,,,if u could send me some info on any,,and i do mean, ANY, schools,,it would be greatly appreciated..

    Jeff -- bragentjjl at Monday, 05/31/99 19:52:50 GMT

    How to start a coal fire real fast: Charcoal in the bottom, pour on any liquid that will burn, ignite, and you can add air and coal after a minute or so. Cost you some charcoal, but not too much.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Monday, 05/31/99 20:36:29 GMT

    Hi guru
    Im a young blacksmith on the coast of Maine
    Ive worked for companies in seattle here in Maine for my Dad and for myself
    In the fall Im taking the blacksmithing course at hereford Technical college in England
    I humbly request some advice about setting up my 75 pound Beaudry.
    Once I helped pour babbit on a little giant thats pretty much the extent of my practical hammer building experience.
    I think the critical parts are all here flywheel clutch one miscellaneous wheel afoot pedal.
    Best if there were a beaudry up and running in my area.
    Wats the best configuration for the electric motor etc.
    Any ideas or contacts would be a huge help thanx
    whats this CANIRON event that keeps popping up

    zackaraya leck -- zacky66 at Monday, 05/31/99 21:59:08 GMT

    Zackaraya, I might be able to help. It's your Beaudry a Champion, Peerless, Utility or Upright Cushioned Hammer?

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Monday, 05/31/99 22:19:14 GMT

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