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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 May 1 - 7, 2001 on the Guru's Den
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Has anyone been able to forge weld with a small single burner forge using the t-rex burner. I've heard these are superior to other commercial burners. Thank you in advance.
Keith  <kdbarker at clarityconnect.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 01:12:36 GMT

Guru, et al. - I bought today (amongst other things) a 14 lb straight pein sledge hammer. It is obviously too soft, because the face is *really* mushroomed without chipping. I was wondering what would be the best thing to do with it.

My ideas were: 1.) Grind the mushroomed edge off and use as is. The face is now much rounder than it would normally be, so this idea might be wrong. 2.) Cut the face off entirely behind the mushrooming, grind and/or forge a new face, re-temper.

What do you think? Any other ideas are welcome, of course.
Stormcrow  <jbhelm at worldnet.att.netSPAMSTINKS> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 02:10:47 GMT

Dressing Hammer: Stormcrow, IF it is mushroomed severely I would cut the entire face off. However, if there are no deep cracks I would grind to dress the face back to shape. While grinding cracks will show as rainbow temper colors along the edge of the crack. Grind until these are gone.

To harden you might try taking a rosebud and heating the face to a low red and letting cool. If you heat quickly the mass of the hammer should quench the face. Polish then gently reheat to temper.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 04:51:32 GMT

Adam: I ran my Whisper Mama forge on ng for about 5 yrs before I moved my shop. It was great, I never ran out of gas! The gas co. sent an engineer to look over my needs first because I needed 10 lbs of pressure instead of 6" of water column. I did all the piping myself. Ask you never know.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 11:26:39 GMT

We are looking for the manufacturer or distributor in Europe for Sahinler Workshop presses. any ideas?

Best regards

frank Holl
Akkermans Techniek
Bergen op Zoom
The Netherlands
Frank Holl  <boz at techniek.nl> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 12:25:27 GMT

Sahinler: Frank, Presses or air forging hammers? The following are air-hammer sources, they may also build other equipment.

The Sahinler air hammer is manufactured in Turkey by Sahinler Holding - www.sahinlerholding.com or www.sahinler.com.tr. I'm afraid their web sites are a mess. You may have better luck sorting through them.

They are sold in Britian by Vaughans (Hope Works)-UK
website: www.anvils.co.uk

Sayha Hydraulic Machinery www.sayha.com.tr/makina/sahmerdan.htm makes a clone of the clone. . .

Our experiance has been that if you can afford it, purchase the original, the Kuhn. It is a much better product.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 15:39:44 GMT

Is there such a tool as a hand held punch that would cut a small star pattern out of metal? I want to make luminarias out of tomato paste cans, and want a star hole so I can just do a random pattern around the top 1/2 of the can. I have to do 75 of these, so time spent is critical. If there is such a tool, where do I get one? Thank you so much.
Susan  <K5of9 at aol.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 19:54:28 GMT

I always assumed that when I tempered something, it had to be quenched as soon as the right color reached the part of the tool that was being tempered. That was how I was taught to temper pritchels where the heat was stored in the handle and moved towards the point. Here's the question: If I harden a chisel, for instance, and then put it in my wife's Accu-bake oven at five hundred degrees F. for a couple of hours, when I take it out, should I let it cool slowly or quench it?
L. Sundstrom - Tuesday, 05/01/01 20:02:53 GMT

Star punch: Susan, yes there is, BUT. . The punches are small (about 1/4") and designed for punching tickets. The star is a common symbol. The other problem is reach. You could only reach about 1" from the edge of the tube/can.

I think McMaster-Carr carries them. If you need deeper reach or a bigger star you will need a custom punch and die set as well as a machine to use when with. This would be a relatively heavy bench mount machine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 20:45:30 GMT

Quenching: Larry, you are talking two different methods. In the first the heat is being trasfered by conduction from a hot area to a cool (quenched) area. To stop the further conduction of heat and more tempering you must quench. In the second the entire part is being tempered uniformly. In this case and any time the heat is from an external source there is no point in quenching.

Oven or furnace tempering is also where the term "double tempered" comes from. You can let the part cool then re-temper to be sure all the part achieved an even temperature and temper. This is recomended for many tool steels.

You can also oven temper a part uniformly then spot temper to reduce the hardness further. This is often done to striking surfaces and blades.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 20:54:42 GMT

In on of the Iforge demonstrations, Bill-Epps said he had a recipe fo his Super Quinch "--if anyone wanted it--".

How can I get this recipe?

Thanks Vince Carl
xcowboy at execnet.net
Vince Carl  <xcowboy at execnet.net> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 21:00:28 GMT

Super Quench: Vince, its posted here at least once a month. . . check the archives.

Yeah, I know guys. . I NEED to put it on the 21st Century page. . after I finish taxes and this months bills. . :-(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/01/01 21:22:44 GMT


4 1/2 gallons water
5 lb. salt
32 oz. Dawn dish soap (blue)
8 oz. Shaklee Basic I

Stir before each use

Now, what is it? Basically it's a heavy brine solution, with a surficant and an anti-bubbler in it.

It will not turn mild steel into tool steel. But for those applications where we need mild steel to be just a little bit harder, it does a good job.

One test took a piece of 1" steel bar, (1018 if I remember correctly) heated one end to non-magnetic and quenched it in cold water. The other end was also heated to non-magnetic and quenched in Super Quench.

The cold water end tested at about 18 on the Rockwell C scale, and the Super Quench end tested at about 42 on the Rockwell C scale. That's an appreciable difference.

I use it on RR spike knives. The regular spikes won't really take or hold an edge. (although I've been told that the ones marked HC will, I've never had any of them) but when quenched in SQ, they do take an edge and hold it fairly well.

OH! BTW, Shaklee is a line of bio-degradable detergents. Basic I is the basic industrial strength formula. Shaklee distributors are listed in the yellow pages of the phone book.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 00:16:14 GMT

I'm working on a plates that will be used as a template to drill other plates later. Question, how can I temper or harden the template plate, this way I don't wear out the template after drilling alot of holes. The template plate will have 1 each 5/8" hole and 2 each 1/2" holes. Thanks
Robert  <spurstex at aol.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 01:33:22 GMT

Robert, Paw Paw just answered your question. If I remember right you do not want to use it on steel with over 50 pts of carbon. What I like about it is that it just sits there in a 5 gal bucket in the corner till I need it. I use it and then put it back. EAAASY. It might warp the plates but you can bang them back flat.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 01:51:07 GMT

I run a #60 jet (.04" dia) at 5-25psi for propane. Any idea how to calculate the jet size for the same BTU running NG at 0.5 psi max?

I dont need an exact figure, just an estimate to decide whether it's feasible at all.

Thanks, Adam
Adam  <adam at whiteson.org> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 01:52:52 GMT

Drill template: Robert, How many holes are you drilling?? If its hundreds and you are using a drill press your drill jigs will hold up fine (depending on the precision needed and how well you keep the jig and work lubricated. Otherwise drill jig bushings are cheap and well worth the effort.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 04:45:32 GMT

Larry Tempering/Hardening, I was taught in Horseshoeing school to "temper" like you Larry. The terms are often misused. Hardening happens when you quench, however the part is many times too brittle so "tempering" is done in an over or kiln by bringing to a moderate heat (usually 400-700degrees depending on the type of steel) for an hour or two. This reduces the brittleness. Nippers for horsesheing are done this way when they are "re-worked" TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 04:48:52 GMT

MEMBERS: We have just launched the new members login system. You will see no difference unless your membership has expired over 30 days ago. If your membership has just expired there will be a pop-up to notify you. If nothing changes then log into the members forum and you can check your membership expiration date.

NOTE: If you get a 404 not found error from a bookmark, delete the bookmark and use the members link from the home page. Please let us know if you have any problems.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 06:11:55 GMT

i cant seem to find a picture of a mechanical hammwer with the bow type spring as opposed to the little giant type with a coil spring , i am in the process of re-converting my shock absorber system as it is unsatisfactory . does anybody know of any on-line sites with pictures . thanks!
bruce pringle  <bpringle at wildmail.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 10:04:15 GMT

I saw a website some time ago that had a written description of forging using a stick welder (I think), a bucket of water lined with some conducter and the iron you want forged. The idea being that welder negative was connected to the bucket and the pos was hooked up to the iron. When it was lowered into the water the iron conducted and whatever was below the water level would start to heat up. In any case, I just want to find the page again, any help would be appreciated.


tm barnett
tom  <tbarn(nospam)ett_at_is(spumanti no)d.net(extra characters here)> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 12:54:46 GMT

Check out the French & South African JYH's at http://www.anvilfire.com/power/index.htm

adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 13:52:47 GMT

I got lead on an industrial type gas forge in very good condition(probably natural gas). The price sounds reasonable but It may be a bit large for me with a 30 inch chamber. Any ideas on what the value and general desireablity of a unit like this might be. Thanks.....Bob.
Bob  <bbeck at losch.net> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 14:16:33 GMT

Where can I get easy instructions on horseshoe nails making ?
Thank you
alex rocha  <alexrocha at ieg.com.br> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 14:18:57 GMT

Tom, I might be wrong, but that sounds like an excellent way to electrocute yourself!! Even if it isn't, it would be an extremely inefficient way to heat metal to forging temps, the water will cool the metal as it is being heated, plus you will get a ton of steam as it heats. You might want to look into induction heating, it's pretty cool.
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 14:35:32 GMT

I'm a college student (equals very poor) who is just starting to work in medieval plate armour. I've looked in books and all over the web. Everyone seems to recommend Cast Specialties Corp. in Cedarburg, WI for VERY inexpensive but high quality cast iron forming stakes and hammers. I've found two numbers listed for them
(414-377-4361 and 414-375-2430, though the phone company says that the area code is now 262), but I can't seem to get through on either of them.

Have you done business with them or know someone who has? Do you know how to get through to them? Do they have a web site or a catalog from which I can browse/order? Any
help would be extremely appreciated, even an email address.

My thanks,

The Armourer

Marek  <armourer at dartmouth.edu> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 15:23:58 GMT

Sping Hammer: Bruce, Look at the South African hammer in the JYH hammer catalog (Power hammer Page).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 15:46:17 GMT

Do you happen to know of a source for black screws? I would like to find some black screws to go with iron work. Any info. would be appreciated. Also, are lag screws mild steel? Thank you
Kevin - Wednesday, 05/02/01 15:48:24 GMT

Water Pail Forge Tom, We have the article on our 21st Century Page. The process is called Lagrange-Hoho.

I need to update the article. It takes 220 volts DC or so at welder amperage. This means a very high KVA. At the time that this process was developed and demonstrated DC generation and power distribution had not yet become defunct. That means the high KVA necessary in DC was already available. The water is also not just plain water, is is an electrolyte. In one reference it was a sodium compound (an alkali) and in another "acidulated" which may on may not be correct. . .

The process IS very dangerous but has some possibilities for certian production processes if properly engineered.

Mike, since the material heats from the inside out the cooling only occurs toward the end of the heat cycle. The electrolyte protects from oxidation and there is no need for flux. Compared to the waste heat in a forge for welding this has to be a very efficient process.

Another process I saw that was of interest was resistance heating a bar. Like "sticking" a welding rod. Two clamps are attached to the ends of the bar, you step on the switch and in a few moments the entire bar is at a forging heat. They were using this process while refitting armature bars to the Statue of Liberty. Again the problem with this process is the enormous KVA required. However in this case the power was low voltage, high amperage. No, a common welder will not do the job here either.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 16:16:07 GMT

Black Screws: Kevin, Kayne and Son carry a variety of sizes and styles.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 16:18:46 GMT

Forging with water-
sounds like the infamous "LaGrange hoho" on the 21:century page. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing..."
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 16:22:42 GMT

Thanks Guru, that's pretty interesting! Still sounds dangerous though. That resistance heating sounds cool(no pun intended!) too!

Kevin, Kayne & Son sells black screws & lags, links from this site.
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 16:23:55 GMT

Armourer'S Stakes: Marek, I've heard of these folks but busineses come and go these days. Did you try the telco information?

The stakes were cast ductile iron. There is a huge difference between cast iron and ductile iron. The ductile is a much more resiliant product and can take quite a beating. Cast is brittle and would break almost imediately. It might make suitable stakes for artists but I suspect they would have a very SHORT life under armor making duty.

Neither material is suitable for hammers. Not even the ones put in children's tool kits. . .

Several suppliers that advertise here sell the type hammers you need. None are cheap. Kayne and Son have a wide variety of hammers. Centaur Forge has hammers and stakes. There are also smiths such as Bill Fiorini www.kokametalsmiths.com that make a wide variety of special hammers.

You also MIGHT find them at a flea market. DON'T LAUGH! Auto body people use the same hammers and they are more common than you would think. Go to your local ABANA chapter meets. There are always guys there with a truck load of old tools. Among these there is often stakes, bickerns (stake anvils) and other tools that are much less expensive than new low quality stuff. . .

THEN, There is what most modern armourers do, make it your self. See the articles on our 21st Century Armoury page and look at the tools used by Eric and Bruce. Eric's stakes are heavier than anything commercialy available and it appears they need to be. Then look at the tool making articles on our iForge page.

Don't have the necessary tools to make tools??? Sign up for a welding course. Learn how AND make good use of the equipment made available to you. You will probably meet folks there that can help you (same goes for your local ABANA chapter).

But consider this. MOST of this type of metalworking, like blacksmithing, requires that you know how to make your own tools. Not because tools are not available or making them yourself is cheaper (it often is not), but because every job presents some NEW challange that requires a SPECIAL tool. AND because the job itself always requires those general metalworking tools besides the special ones.

This means that the stakes you seek are actualy an inconsequential part of the puzzle.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 16:50:56 GMT

Water Pail Forge -- thanks for the info! I really wasn't planning on doing it, just sounded interesting when I glanced at it originally . . . but I did see this plan for turning an old lawnmower into a welder . . . hmmmm.

tm barnett
tom  <tbarn(nospam)ett_at_is(spumanti no)d.net(extra characters here)> - Wednesday, 05/02/01 17:31:14 GMT

guru; found any answers (prints-plans) for bellows???
HIPPIE  <wean40 at msn.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 02:21:57 GMT

Bellows: Hippie, Sorry I missed your previous question. I've promised plans for my bellows several times but have never goten them together. Centaur Forge has a booklet/plans on making a bellows. If they do not have it try Norm Larson.

Mine were a non-traditional variation of the standard great bellows as described in Bealers Art of Blacksmithing. I used metal hinges where most use leather at the hinge. The valves are on seperate removable boards for maintenance access. The bottom valve had four 3" holes due to the low pressure diferential of the intake. The middle valve had two 3" holes and would fit through the bottom intake valve opening. Both were attached by brass screws. The valves themselves were some ruberized fabric that I had on hand. Its the kind of design you come up with when you have never seen the real thing.

Except for cleaning the wood and oiling the leather there has been no maintenance needed in 25 years. The air pipe made from auto exhaust pipe has been replaced several times and recently Paw-Paw managed to break the operating lever. However the lever was made of a rather brittle piece of oak. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 03:51:07 GMT

To All,
I will be exhibiting/demonstrating at a fair in June and have been asked to have on hand or make on site some "garden items". Other than boot scrapers, shepards hooks, and different plant hangers I seem to be at a loss for ideas. Any sugestions anyone ?
Thanks to All.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 08:06:13 GMT


Small hooks, both beam hooks and eye hooks go well, so do "S" hooks in various sizes. Email me if you want, and I'll send you some pictures of stuff.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 11:54:13 GMT


How about some tools? Trowels, forks, pruning knives etc.

adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Thursday, 05/03/01 13:44:16 GMT

. . . and maybe some hoes, cultivators, spades, etc.
Denis Verreault  <denis.verreault at pwgsc.gc.ca> - Thursday, 05/03/01 14:15:22 GMT

Mark, An easy thing to get creative with for the out doors, is lawn ornaments, just some steel rod, a little heat, alot of fun bends, and youve got a nice addition to someone's flower garden. Also, garden tools used to have a very different feel and design, a hoe used to have alot of curvature to the blade and curvature to the handle, now your average garden store hoe is a 90 degree stick and blade with little leverage gained, made to scrape instead of using short downward swings(perhaps I just play favorites) this is the case with many tools. Work to your likings.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 14:56:32 GMT

Garden Items: Mark, There are some classics for the formal garden.
  • Sculptural Pieces such as sun dials or armillary spheres
  • Short pieces of hand railing for that step or two from one level to another.
  • Garden gates with floral or herbal motifs.
  • "Rose" or grape arbors with iron foliage so they look nice in the winter.
  • Wrought iron stands for common bird bats.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 15:13:53 GMT

Ah. . bird BATHS. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 15:15:19 GMT

Demonstration Items: All the above can have leaf elements of one sort or another. Leaves were always one of my better demo items because they go fast.

After years of doing leaf demos I went to the Ripley ABANA conference where I THINK it was Alfred Habberman doing a demo. His first item was a simple little leaf. When he was finished he says,
"Ah, now for the best part. To trade it for a KISS from a pretty girl!",
And he did. . . From a cute little blond. All I could think of was the hundreds of leaves I'd given away to little kids (and the problems associated with giving things away that you can't make fast enough). . . Of course at the time I was doing demos traveling with my wife. . .

I used to cut the "stems" of my demo leaves off short with just a little of the square bar showing. I would invariably come home with a stack of so-so leaves with short stems. I always thought I would make something with them but most were two short. . Think about those demo elements so you may profit from them later. However, remember that the public has about a five minute attention span so you had better make something that goes quickly. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 15:34:10 GMT

Mark how about some horseshoe rasp rattle snakes or some made from rebar? I got a stack of what look like sidewalk edger disks---circular with a lot of "spikes" radial. I dish out the solid center and then go around the edge with some scrolling tongs and curl the spikes---daesn't take a moment and looks good on the garden wall.

What about a hand forged hose hanger? Or what we did for a friend---made some hose guides to go around a flowerbed near the faucet: take a couple feet of 3/8-1/2" round stock. Point one end then bend the other end 90 deg and give it a couple of loops---form a helix that the hose can be put inside the helix just by looping it through the openings rather than threading it from the end.

Do some copper work. Copper is big in gardens and is easy to work with---a couple of copper cala lilies would go over big time if you are in the right market....we also make an "herb/garden" knife from an old set of "sheep shears": cut the bow off and fit a wooden handle to what's left. Use grounding wire for copper rivits---go for the "primative" look. Also hand forged miniture sickles for harvesting herbs---go upscale on them. The profit margin is usually lower on tools cause you are competing with Wal-Mart so go for the odd stuff and let folks know that you do comissions!

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 15:57:20 GMT

How about gazing ball stands out of bar or copper pipe? Just a helix with a spike to go into the ground. Or hooks to go over the top of a fence or porch rail with a ring to hold up a clay pot? Go to any upscale botique/garden store in your area, look around and strike up a conversation with the manager.
John McPherson  <trollworks at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 16:37:07 GMT

Somebody collect all of the ideas into a single file and let the guru post it. I've been doing demo's for over 10 years, and I've found at LEAST five new ideas! This should become a permanent file.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 19:22:38 GMT

How about holders for citronela torches or a sundial or one of the small outdoor fireplaces(with tools)that seem to be popular now. Don't forget wrought iron funiture.
I agree that copper is a good outdoor metal, I love working with it.
Jim E
Jim-E  <N/A> - Thursday, 05/03/01 20:06:00 GMT

Thanks for the info on the ticket punch in a star pattern!
Susan  <K5of9 at aol.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 22:24:12 GMT

Guru, The time has come, I am getting a gas forge, You told me about the whisper moma once, and I was wondering what forge you would reccomend for use on work as small as metal dining utensils, to work as big as a longsword(perhaps something with an openable back?
Whew, such excitement.

Oh, I also had a neat(but perhaps unlikely) Idea today, I was recalling last nights Robot Wars show, when I got the Idea, What if some high level blacksmiths(I'd love to be in on it too) got together and built the mother of all fighting robots, Guru, you yourself are an accomplished machinist and your bio screams of applicable knowledge to such a creation. Just think, the most formidable robot, built not by computer programmers, not by electricians, not carpenters(specifically) but real true genuine blacksmiths.
Well, I just thought It would be neat. I hope you know of the show I'm talking about(otherwise you probably think i've lost it completely) people build RC robots to fight other RC robots, all kinds of cool weapons and designs, really cool show.
well, Thankyou.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 22:30:24 GMT

To All,
Thanks, I am overwhelmed!! Lots of great ideas. Should do well at the show. Did not expect this kind of response though, WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 22:52:53 GMT

Ideas: Mark, Yeah, now you have to make them ALL! ;)

ForgeAdam, For long work I believe the specialized knife maker forges are best for what you want. However, the BIG drawback to gas forges is that you need several sizes if you do a wide variety of work. The Whisper Moma with extra end ports is a flexible small forge. Ask Paw-Paw how he likes his. You may also want to get a quote from Kayne and Son on a Forgemaster.

Robots Like I need a NEW project! However, Kiwi is a king-pin in the New Zealand version and has won local competitions in the past. So anvilfire smiths are well represented! I'd prefer to be in Junk Yard wars. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 23:16:45 GMT


I love the Whisper Momma. Mine has the ports on both ends, as well as the large door on the front. The biggest limitation to the unit is the size, it would not work well for swords.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/03/01 23:35:35 GMT

Thankyou for the forge input, I will look into the wisper momma,and forgemaster, BTW, when we say a small forge, what is small?

Junkyard wars, I love that show, I might be of use on that show, seeing as little or no advanced electronics/computer experience is needed, hehe, I'd like to be on the team when they decide to make big mechanized lifting/loading suits(hehe, gonna be awhile methinks). It would be incredible to get to work with you guys though, whatever the project may be. Perhaps someday.

Thanks again.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 00:39:34 GMT

Small is relative. Any piece of equipment that your current job won't fit is too small. But on the other hand any machine twice as big as you need for the job is inefficient. . .

This is where coal forges have a huge advantage. You can build a small fire in a big coal forge but you can't build a "small" fire in a large gas forge.

Junk Yard teams need youthful imaginative scroungers (that follow directions) and can also weld any two pieces of junk together quickly and efficiently. Especialy things like the 18ga wall of an oil drum to a piece of 1/2" plate without burning a hole in the drum. . . ;) That only takes about a thousand hours of arc welding experiance. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 04:30:35 GMT

if you count hours reading(but you probably dont) I probably have about one hundred hours already. I would take orders well! and finally next year is my welding class.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 10:53:11 GMT

There are gas forges that allow the operator to use one or more burners. When using only one burner of a multiple burner forge a wall, such as a fire brick, is used to make the interior smaller. By making the interior smaller you're not having to heat the rest of the chamber. Move the wall and ignite more burners for larger (longer) materials. Unfortunately, *I* do not know of a brand name that allows this. So I cannot pass any names on. The only forges that *I* know that do allow this are home built. I have seen six burners in one forge and each burner could be shut down. The wall could close the chamber down to approximately Whisper Baby size. The only limit seems to be money and ingenuity. My forge has three burners and I use only one for most of the forge work that I'm doing at this time. However, I have used all three to heat long bars.
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Friday, 05/04/01 18:11:45 GMT


Excellent post!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 18:29:07 GMT

Well, I could probably make due with any open-backed forge, I mean I've accomplished alot with 2 Mapp torches. Right now Im working on patterning steel without having to weld. I've had some truly interesting results using steel wool, iron filings, carbon powder, and various other powders.

I'm also experimenting with different acids(of my own concoction) to create different textures.

Any of you historians out there may be able to answer a question for me. In the middle ages or before, were there ever war hammers with metal heads weighing uppwards of 12 lbs? thankyou.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 18:55:55 GMT

Warhammers - no. Maces and clubs - not likely, maybe possible. Remember, the head of a twohanded viking battleaxe, reputedly able to decapitate a horse, weighs about a pound, most "greatswords" is less than 6 pounds.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Friday, 05/04/01 19:14:32 GMT

Dear Guru,

I am very new at this, but am definitely, incurably hooked!
I was lucky enough to have a friend find a small forge. I was very excited since I've been using an old aluminum cast bbq lined with sand and firebrick. My friend cleaned and oiled up the small forge ( I think it is a riveters forge)and asked me to clay it first before using it. It says on the pan to clay before using. Well I called around to find some fire clay and mixed it up and put it in the pan and smoothed it down and waited for it to dry and lo and behold I now have clay chips and fragments. The clay shrunk and did not stick to the pan. I used a bentonite based clay. I made that application about 3/4" thick. Can you help me?

Chris White
aka Rosa Lund
Chris White  <Rosalun at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 19:15:09 GMT

Claying: Chris, I generaly do not recommend claying forges. In the case of a sheet metal riveting forge it just traps moisture and corrosives from the coal and rapidly accelerates the forges demise.

To prevent cracking requires the clay to be just barely moistened when applied. Its quite a trick getting the stifness required. When working up potters clay you work the clay on a plaster "bat" or "vat" (a slab of plaster) that absorbs moisture. The stiffness needed is what is known as "ramable" in the foundry business.

There are other ways to reduce cracking (but still require low water content). The addition of sand to the refractory mix reduces the portion that can shrink. Addition of vermiculite (about 10%) adds to the refractoryness and lightens the mix. Addition of reinforcements (fibre glass chop, or stainless strands). A small percentage of portland cement can be added so that the mix actually "hardens" chemicaly, not just drying. Do all the above and you are making a "refractory" mix. Look in last week's archive. Search for "refractory".

The "stainless strand" is a reinforcement material Paw-Paw showed me. Looks like fine SS machining chips. Thin enough to be soft rather than wirey. He has used it with flue cement (I think) to line forges with success.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 20:18:01 GMT

I had hoped to figure this out through my own experimentation, but I think I will play it safe, Other than carbon, what elements can you 'soak' into the skin of hot steel as in case hardening(great fun)?
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 20:18:12 GMT

Chris, and guru.

Yes, I've used the stainless steel ribbons, and they do work. I used a refractory cement that's rated at 3000 degrees. Same stuff I've been using for years. Before I tried it with the ribbon, the lining would last about 5 - 6 months. The first time I mixed the SS ribbons in with the cement, the lining lasted almost 18 months.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 05/04/01 21:15:59 GMT

first stupid mistake to cause injury: I Accidentally used my patented "hand Quench" 3 fingers burned, now properly dressed, weekend status: ruined. shameful, stupid mistake. may be awhile before next post, hand hurt. I believe you said it best, live and learn. goodbye.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 00:14:04 GMT


Not shameful, we all make mistakes. As long as we survive, and learn from them, we will do ok. It's the folks that DON'T learn from their mistakes that I worry about.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 01:25:57 GMT

Adam: Just wait till you spill molten pewter over the back of your hand! I've still got odd-looking pits and it's been five months...
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 01:27:46 GMT

that is why I call it the brotherhood of the burned .. I allways feal so dumb after I do it . I think to my self ."self you know that was hot YOU just took it from the forge!!" but then once it heals I allways show off my scars .. it is a male thing I think the little women never seems as inpressed as I thought she would be..
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 02:19:54 GMT

Getting Burned: My worst was way before I got into smithing. . . When I was about 7 I grabbed an aluminium bar that had been stuck into a burn barrel. . . Yep, the end hanging out was as hot as the part in the coals. .

I've managed no sever burns while smithing but welding sputter balls get EVERYWHERE. Keep your mouth shut behind your hood or you'll get a burned tongue!

The most deadly item in the shop is just plain mass. Anvils, hammers, heavy machines. Silent and unpowered except by gravity. Mashed fingers and toes, broken limbs and even death can result in an instant. What makes this the most dangerous is that WE forget that quiet danger that surrounds us all the time. . . Fire, motors, moving machines give some warning in the form of light and sound. But gravity just sits waiting for us to do something stupid.

Stay alert in the shop. Concentrate on the job but keep an eye on those hidden dangers. Be safe and healthy.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 03:32:18 GMT

I have found that 2nd degree burns are a lot less painful than 1st degree ones. After all, its the live, damaged nerve endings that cause the pain. Once you cauterize these life is easier.

Just another case of "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing it well"

Adam  <adam at whiteson.org> - Saturday, 05/05/01 04:15:09 GMT

Wrong clay. While bentonite has great high temperature properties, it also expands wildly when moist and shrinks like crazy as it dries...it is used as waterproofing because it expands to fill the cracks.
If you must use it, mix it with lots of high fire grout and just enough water to make it cake up a little. Then take that damp mix and tamp and pack it into place till that tiny bit of water is driven to the surface.
Pete F - Saturday, 05/05/01 07:10:46 GMT

Does anybody remember what kind of clay Fuller's Earth is? Otherwise known as cat litter?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 11:59:19 GMT

Weight and Weaponry:

As a general rule "fast" beats "massive". Once combat starts there is not a lot of time for windups. A massive weapon, like an 11 pound war hammer, had better work on the first blow, because the opponent won't wait while you recover for a second. Too much mass also effects accuracy. Your muscles are expending energy in both the speed and the control of the weapon, so where is the most effort going to go? Fighting was/is dirty, dangerous, nasty and exhausting work. Mistakes and miscalculations in arms, armor or tactics had immediate, and fatal, consequences. This is why the study of the actual historical weapons (as opposed to some fantasy reproduction hyped in a catalog) is so important. These weapons evolved under the most stringent and exacting conditions. Even the largest swords Olle refers to (a mere six pounds!) were used by specialists who trained on them constantly. Even at that, the larger weapons were sized to the people who were to use them. Very few folks can handle oversize weapons effectively for any amount of time.

Innovation was, and is, good, but when the stakes were life and death it had to prove itself both controllable and effective.

Burns: Cheer up. At least you didn't do it in front of students or at a public demonstration. Now THAT's embarrassing.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come have a row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 12:04:38 GMT


One of the worst burns I ever got was in the middle of a demonstration. Embarrassing is only part of it, trying not to say what I was thinking was the most difficult part of the problem! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 13:27:49 GMT

You all,
If you weren't so patient, I wouldn't ask this because I think you have answered it in the past. Does scale protect the metal under it from rust? Can you paint or lacquer over scale? Can it be left in crevices and depressions for contrast. I read about the glories of hand rubbed finishes
but don't see how every bit of scale can be remove without sandblasting or soaking in muriatic acid and wire brushing.
P.S. By the way, thanks for yor answers on oven treating.
The same day I ovened the tools I "cured" some borax. I had been wanting to use it for welding but it works so nice in the wash that I would always run out before I was ready to weld with it. The little orange can I use costs a fortune but works good. So when my wife asked if I needed any thing at the store, I said Borax. She bought the store out. Brought me 8 boxes. So I poured a box into a casorole dish and put it in the oven at 500 degress F. A couple of hours later I pulled what looks like a pure white Ayers Rock out of the oven. About 6 inches tall and hollow sounding. It's so pretty I left it in the dish. Well, at least it didn't smell as bad as the time I vaporized popcorn in the microwave. Next time I think I'll just sprinkle some on a cookie sheet.
L. Sundstrom - Saturday, 05/05/01 13:35:03 GMT

Mornin Jock,
I am still in the "paper" stage of planning a gas forge. I intend to make a firebox aprox. 16"dia.(or 6 or 8 sided depending on whats available at my scrap source) X 18" deep. This I plan to line 2.5"-3" with a refractory material that the salesman says mixes up like cement and has an advertised value of 3000 Degrees. This will give me a working forge chamber of about 10" x 15" My propane burner will be a version of the one on Ron Riell's page made with the 3/4 black pipe and 3/4X1-1/2" bell reducer.
I wanted to use 11ga(.11"-.12") steel for the box. Do you think this will be thick enough or should I look for 7ga(.18'-.19") or thicker? I wanted to keep the weight down in case I need to move it often. I have a rather small shop (one car garage) so I'll probably put the forge stand on wheels so I can move it outside when in use.-Scott"Dodge"
Dodge  <scheersc at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 13:41:09 GMT

I have just inherited an anvil that appears to have the markings on the side "C mouse hole " and 2.0.2 The 2.0.2 is the weight- 226#. Any info on the "mouse hole"part?
Herb  <HFDZL40 at att.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 14:18:20 GMT

can you tell me the fastest way to oxidize iron? As smith specialized in restoration i a always looking for ways to improve the old outlook of iron.
Seerp Visser  <seerp at vt4.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 14:49:43 GMT

Can someone talk to me about the Bradley power hammers? Are they a decent machine? Any idiosyncracies? The one I am looking at is a 50 lb machine, appears to have been build in the early 1900's. It is set up for flat belt drive. I plan to use a 2hp, 3ph, 3750 rpm motor to drive it. The driven pulley is 45". Any suggestions on what size the motor pulley should be? TIA.
karma-kanic  <cimport at swbell.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:07:57 GMT

Getting Burned. A female blacksmith was demonstrating for the public, and one of the audience wags asked if she had ever been burned. Her reply, "Yeah, but I got rid of 'em!"
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:09:59 GMT


This is just my 2c until the Guru answers.

If I understand your description, you will end up with a burn chamber 10" dia x 18" long. Thats a BIG chamber. The rule of thumb that I know is one 3/4" R. Reil burner per 200 cu in. You have nearly seven times that volume.

As for the steel shell, it just has to be thick enough to hold its shape without denting or sagging. It will only get upto a few hundred deg F , except maybe around the mouth. People make gas forges out of thin steel drums. There is nothing wrong with overbuilding - until you have to lift it :)
Adam  <adam at whiteson.org> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:10:49 GMT


Mouse Hole was the name of a forge in Sheffield, England, UK. Rub the side of the anvil down with a Scotch Pad, and do a rubbing. You should pick up a little more information. With the added information, I can do a little better job of telling you what you have.


Clorox Bleach. Use it straight or you can mix it 50 - 50 with water to slow the process down a little bit. Use a spray bottle to apply an even coat. Allow to dry. Spray it again. Intant antique.


Bradley is one of the beeter hammers. Not the best, but good. The flat belt drive is in most folks opinion the best of all worlds for driving a blacksmithing hammer. I'll let the guru do the pulley calculations for you.


Her initials wouldn't happen to be DS, would they? (grin) A darn good smith!
And a Foxy Lady, too!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:21:08 GMT

Thanks Paw Paw, you guys are great.
karma-kanic  <cimport at swbell.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:36:17 GMT

Just trying to help.
Paw Paw  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:46:36 GMT

karma-kanic, What model Bradley hammer? It makes a difference for pulley size. One thing I can tell you the rated horsepower is to low and the RPM's are to fast for any 50# Bradley hammer.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:50:46 GMT

Paw Paw, I'll politely disagree with you. Bradley hammers are the BEST.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 15:54:17 GMT

Bruce,,,the seller describes it as a "Spring Hammer" serial
number 622, but I don't have a model number. I was wondering about the rpm, I hoped to use a motor I had laying around, but it looks like I need to hunt up a 1800 rpm motor. Would 3hp be enuf?
karma-kanic  <cimport at swbell.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 16:00:45 GMT

Forge: Dodge, Adam pretty much covered it. Most forge shells are simply there to keep the refractory from falling over and protect it from mechanical damage. I prefer square shells with a flat floor OR half round with a flat floor. I build mine on a table made of bar grating with refractory brick set on edge. Over that you can place a half shell and the floor is easy to replace. OR you can build a stacked furnace on that table, but the burner size to chamber volume is critical as Adam mentioned. There is flexability in this design but not as much as one would think.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 16:47:51 GMT

Bradley: Karma-kanic, The Bradleys were the heaviest and generaly best built of ALL the mechanical hammers. The Bradleys and Fairbanks hammers make Little Giant look like the bottom of the line inexpensive hammer they were and both outperform the LG's in every way. Today there are hundreds of industrial production shops still using ancient Bradley helve type hammers.

Your "Spring Hammer" you purchased on ebay was improperly described. There are no springs in a Bradley. "Spring Hammers" are spring helve type hammers popular in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Little Giants, Bradley and Fairbanks are toggle link hammers. What you have is an early Bradley "Compact" designed to run on a line shaft.

The 50# hammers were early hammers and are not covered in my late Bradley manual. However the machine should run at 375 to 450 max (exprapolating the Bradley figures). Since the average modern smith is not doing high production forging and wants control I would recommend setting it up for 375 to 400 RPM max. These hammers will strike as slow as you want (30-50 bpm) by slipping the belt/clutch.

Power for this machine would probably be 3HP. Bradley recommends 3HP for their 30# hammer and 5HP for for their 100#. The belt needs to be a leather or non-rubberized heavy cotton belt.

The motor RPM and pullies will need to be determined from the hammer pulley but I recommend a back shaft as low RPM motors are expensive and difficult to find. Bradley used a 900RPM motor with the smallest practical size pulley. OBTW the driven Pulley is closer to 12" (305mm) not 45 inches . . . it might be 45" off the floor. . .

Idiosyncracies? The Bradleys ALL used rubber compression elements instead of springs in their toggle linkage. The rubber ages and rots at varying rates depending on how the hammer was stored and treated. The rubbers are still available by special order. Besides guide adjustments these hammers have adjustments for stroke, work height and (relative) force. Bradley's and Fairbanks' have a stoke adjustment that Little Giants do not have. It is critical to understand how these adjustments work together.

See our Power hammer Page for the parts supplier for Bradley. NOTE that have recently turned the rubbers part of the business over to Bruce Wallace.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 17:30:47 GMT


That's perfectly acceptable, you have more experience with power hammers than I do. But are they better than a Kuhn, or a Chambersburg? I'm not argueing, I'm discussing in the hopes of learning something.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 17:37:48 GMT

looking for ablacksmith named gyorgy seregi in budapest
israel - Saturday, 05/05/01 19:53:44 GMT

Guru et al.,

Two questions, how much it to much for 4.5"-5" leg vise that appears on good condition.

Should I be concerned that the ceramic bottom of my whisper Daddy Lp forge has cracked?


Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 20:37:19 GMT

Sorry about the spelling/grammer.
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 20:38:53 GMT

Vise Price: Chris, Leg vises in good condition are selling for $100 - $175 US (if they have all the parts). Weight is more of a discriptor than jaw size and is more relevant to price.

The average 4 to 4-1/2" (100 - 115mm) vise weighs about 35 to 45 pounds (15 - 20kg).

The average 5 to 6" (125 to 150mm) vise weighs about 75 to 100 pounds (35 - 45kg).

However, 7 to 8" (175 to 200mm) vises may weight 200 to 300 pounds (90 - 135kg)! That is a SERIOUS vise! I had one of these monsters for a while. It needed some repairs so I traded it off. . . But if I had repaired it and had it installed I would have NEVER parted with it!

Within these size ranges there is a lot of variation, some vises being relatively light while others are proportionately heavier.

A good HD 8" machinists vise may cost $2000 NEW. NEW small leg vises start at $1200. So, any good used vise is generaly a REAL bargain.

Refractories crack and eventually need replacement. There are all kinds of reasons for them to crack. Flaws in the original material, cracking during moving that shows up due to expansion and contraction, heating a damp forge too fast, the forge twisted or under stess on an uneven surface. . .
LOTS of reasons.

Most of the time a crack is not a problem. As long as the pieces stay in place and don't fall out, don't worry about it. You need to remember that the lining of most forges and furnaces are a consumable item. They crack, flux damages them, repeated expansion and contraction wears it out as well as normal material handling. They don't stay new very long.

Hey, if you could spell we would suspect that you were NOT really a SMITH! :o)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/05/01 21:06:39 GMT

Need a printable thumbnail history of the nail in the pioneer/settlement/western days. Got any ideas?
Chuck Stone  <bak2basx at swbell.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 21:16:52 GMT

Chuck Stone: What specific years are you talking about here? West of where? Where I am pioneers were ca. 1770s-80s, and it was then the west.

I may be able to help you a little with that info.
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Saturday, 05/05/01 21:37:12 GMT

IIRC, the only mention of heavy hammers being used in warfare was footmen and archers surrounding a dismounted knight and someone whacking him with a large sledge-hammer used to drive those pointed logs used to discourage cavalry charges, hence the term "getting mauled". A peasant weapon, like pitchforks, flails, scythes...
Actually killing a nobleman, even an enemy, could get you in trouble in the wrong circumstances. A live one was worth ransom.
John McPherson  <trollworks at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 03:51:12 GMT

I am looking for an outstanding [cowboy] Spur Making School or Master who is will to teach. I'm wondering if you can point me in the right direction. I'm not sure if this is the right place to be looking, but you all seem quite knowledgeable and I thought I'd give you a try. Thanks, Tim.
Tim Caster  <tao.jones at att.net> - Sunday, 05/06/01 03:58:35 GMT

Hi I am what you would call a newbie to blacksmithing but not to steel. I grew up with a family of steel workers and have played and learned how to use them fairly well. I also work for Canam steel, a joist fabricating company and have and still use, Cutting torches(gas),Plasma torches,air arc cutting torches, stick and Mig wielders. I also know how to fit as well. my question pertains to tempering.what tools besides the obvious do i need and where do I learn how to. I have made a variaty of things(including most of my tools) , but know relatively nothing about tempering. help!!
Gary Blackwell  <WarriorsMoon at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 05:11:25 GMT

Heat Treating: Gary, "tempering" is just one step in the heat treating process that includes annealing, normalizing, hardening and tempering. Every type of steel requires slightly different handling and some alloys a LOT different.

There are numerous books on the process. Start with NEW Edge of the Anvil for a blacksmith view of the process and MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK for more details on industrial processes. To do heat treating requires references that list the various steels and the process temperatures required. MACHINERY'S has quite a few materials but if you need a fairly complete reference you want the ASM Metals Reference Book.

We answer a LOT of heat treating questions here so a trip through the archives might be useful.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 05:26:35 GMT

Paw Paw:
I think cat litter clay is diatomite or diatomatacious earth
Larry Paysen  <l.paysen at sk.sympatico.ca> - Sunday, 05/06/01 05:50:28 GMT


I need a tool to remove the aluminum input shaft guide sleeve that has a 47mm bi-hexagon on it from a Ford Transit MT75 gearbox, only problem is the 8 inch input shaft will not allow a standard socket to be used! The only option was to buy the special tool recomended by Ford, however Ford don't sell them and I can't find out who does!

I don't need it for every day use so I thought of using a smaller (say 42mm) steel tube and welding 16 (?) lengths of rod ground to the shape of the individual bi-hexagons all the way round the tube with the ground rod ends protruding. Then I thought of welding a length of thin flat round the outside of the protruding rod ends for extra strength. At the other end of the tube, I was going to weld some square rod to take a half inch drive wrench.

This is where you come in...I hope. I want to temper my construction. I have done it before at school using a special oil and heating the steel to "cherry red" but all that is a bit vague now (I'm now 33!). Could you give me an idea of what I need to do to acheive a workable hardness. Bearing in mind the sleeve is aluminum I don't think I need to go too far.

Thanks for your time!

Malcolm (Middlesbrough,England)
Malcolm  <malcolm.maclure at ntlworld.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 10:25:06 GMT

TIM CASTER. Miller Bit & Spur, Nampa, Idaho, (208)466-2870. My 3-week intensives can show you the ironworking methodology (not silver); brochure available. If Miller is no longer offering classes, get back to me. There are other routes to go. Buena Suerte, Frank Turley of Turley Forge.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 05/06/01 12:08:44 GMT

I posted a questiion on 05/05/01 13:35 GMT and can't find the answer.
L. Sundstrom - Sunday, 05/06/01 12:37:11 GMT

Guru et al.,

What is the "leg" on a leg/post vice for? I am looking to pick one up off of ebay and some have the leg missing. Please advise. thanks
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 12:57:08 GMT

ALEX ROCHA. HORSESHOE NAILS AND OLD VISES. I don't see anyone jumping on "an easy way to make horseshoe nails", so I'm going to insert foot and chew. I'll start by saying that I've seen one handmade U.S. nail and one handmade Mexican nail. I found the U.S. nail by accident in an old leg vise. A few of you may know that the colonial vises had a tenon projecting from the bifurcated mounting "plate", and the tenon went through the fixed leg of the vise and top of the spring where it was wedged. On my vise, the wedge had a tiny hole in it, and through it went a curved hand forged horseshoe nail, about a size 4 1/2 (Capewell sizing). It looks like a modern day "City Head" nail except the head is just a little rougher, and of course, does not have the trademark pattern on the head like manufactured nails. I would guess that a heading tool was used that had a countersink on the top to help shape the rectangular head. I suppose the shank was carefully drawn out in a rectangular section, partially cropped and put in the heading tool, not too unlike making a woodworking nail. The tip bevel I think, would have been put in last, cold. This is pure conjecture, but another idea is to draw out the shank and drive it onto/into a nail swage (botton die). The swage would be not too unlike a horseshoe heel swage, which some hot shoers know about. A reference and picture of the early leg vise may be found in Charles Hummel's WITH HAMMER IN HAND, The University Press of Virginia, Charlottsville, 1st published in 1968. This is a beautiful photo book showing the Winterthur Museum collection of tools from the Dominy Craftsmen of East Hampton, NY......mostly woodworking. They made clocks, so had a blacksmith shop for making the springs, etc.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 05/06/01 13:38:15 GMT


The leg on a leg (or post) vise transmits the shock of hammering to the ground. So the jaws, which are holding the work, will last longer. A machinist's vise will NOT take the kind of hammering that is possible on a post vise. Partially because most machinist's vises are made of cast iron, rather than forge. But the biggest reason machinist's vises break is because they don't have a leg.

Now a "wagon vise" is a different story. It's just like a leg vise, but has a threaded screw for clamping it to a wagon seat or work bench. Consequently, it doesn't have a leg. It's the grandfather of today's machinist vise
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 14:01:50 GMT

Scale vs Rust: Larry, sorry I missed it. Scale DOES protect steel from rusting but only marginaly. It depends on how 'tight' it is and how thick. Many smiths apply oil and wax finishes over a fine wirebrushed oxide finish. I've done it too. But it is not a good permanent finish for most items and NEVER suitable for outdoor items.

There are several problems with scale. The first is it is brittle. It cracks when the steel is flexed and then rust can start in the cracks or the scale can start flaking off. The second is that it is hard to get a uniform coating of scale. Your forged ends may LOOK like the rolled mill scale but the mill scale has often been stretched and is very thin. It often flakes off. Also, when you wire brush an item the high points are often rubbed bare. This provides a starting point for rust.

Maintenence is the key to waxed finishes. If you are going to rewax the work occasionaly then the rust that occurs becomes part of a natural "browned" finish. However, the item IS still rusting AND requires constant maintenence.

A friend of mine has a rail in the Washington National Cathedral. When we went to photograph it the rail was rusting! Not severely, but it WAS rusting. Now, this is a building that is expected to be around for a thousand years. . . . How many 1,000 year old iron items do we have? Almost none! Even pieces from the driest climates have evaporated to dust. . . Its something to think about.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 15:52:51 GMT

FORD Special Tool: Malcolm, In the U.S. I would recommend you go to Snap-On Tools.

First, look closely at that shape. There are several 12 point fastener designs. The one used by the Germans on many Ford products and then by Ford in the U.S. is a Tri-Square. The corners are 90&176; with 120&176; between the points. A double hex is 150&176; between 120&176; points. .

Second, the kind of steel you make the parts out of determine the hardenability. Some steel is hardenable some is not. The normal method is to heat to red hot and quench in water or oil. After quenching you need to "temper" or reheat to 450-500&176;F. However, different steels require different methods. Most that can be hardened are also bad canidates for welding.

Properly made, a soft steel tool that FITS will do the job. There are two ways I would make this tool. IF it is a double hex, I would find a 12 point socket to fit and cut off the wrench end and weld the socket part to the tube you mentioned. OR cut the end off a 12 point box end wrench and weld IT onto the tube. Welding the chromed wrench steel with stainless rod works best. IF it is a tri-square I would obtain a spare nut, and use it as a template to cut out a "wrench" to fit. From a piece of steel about 1/8 to 3/16" thick I would drill, saw and file a "socket". Then weld this to the end of your tube.

I've made dozens of "special" tools by cobbling up existing tools. It is by far the fastest, most economical and generaly the most sucessful method.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 16:29:17 GMT

Horeshoe Nail: Frank, Thanks! I looked at that question and could only think of the fancy factory nails made by high production machines.

Do you think they went to all that effort to make those type nails by hand? I've picked up relatively old shoes with nails still in them here in Olde Virginia and the OLD nails looked to be a lot heavier than the modern counterpart. . However, these had grown from rust deposits and I wasn't realy studying them at the time.. . . Any farriery historians out there?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 16:36:43 GMT

Spurs: Tim, Listen to Frank, he knows much more on this one than I do.

Leg ViseChris, Paw-Paw covered the question fairly well but he is focused on his Revolutionary Blacsksmith Story. . .

The short vises without legs are relatively rare but were the equivalent style for small work that wasn't heavily hammered on. These are simply early "bench vises" and came in every imaginable size.

The problem IS that these have more parts than a standard leg vise and I have seen very few that were complete. On eBay I have seen a LOT of vises with missing parts that were described to be "in good condition". I suspect this is mostly the ignorance of the seller. However, if YOU don't know better then don't buy it.

You are much better off to stay away from ebay (or any auction) and go to some local blacksmith meets. There are always guys there selling tools and they will be straight with you if you ask questions. . You will also very likely see many working OLD tools in good condition. Once you are well educated about what you are buying THEN look to see what is on ebay. For your local ABANA Chapter check www.ABANA-Chapter.com
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 16:53:34 GMT

I think I have read about Frank Turley in regards to the great success he has teaching people to forge weld. I read an article one time in Anvil's Ring by a guy who had been to a Bob Patrick demonstration. He wrote that Patrick said it was not necessary to wire brush (all) the scale off before applying flux and in fact that the scale played a part in a sucessful weld but he did explain that very well. Anyway, I wouldn't want to misqoute Bob Patrick or the author of the article, but I would like to better understand the relationship between heat at the time of the application of flux, scale, and a good weld.
I think the thing that made the most difference to me was getting to weld temperature quicker rather than slower.
I have a Whisper Mama and two coal forges. I don't think the gas forge gets hot enough to weld with. Am I wrong there, does a gas forge require special flux?
L. Sundstrom - Sunday, 05/06/01 17:09:07 GMT

Adam & Guru,

On the smell of burning flesh, I have to agree with the guru. Brings back too many memories that I've worked very hard to bury.

Far as the vises go, listen to guru. I will admit that my focus is pretty narrow at this time.

Guru, how about a sketch of a wagon vise for me. (grin) Might solve the problem I'm having trying to make a minature for the wagon!

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 17:50:46 GMT

Forge Welding: In general coal seems better for forge welding but I would guess that 98% of all the laminated steel is made in gas forges and almost ALL the production stuff is. The other forge that we rarely see is the oil forge. They have an atmosphere more like a coal forge and the convienence of a gas forge. The rich atmosphere makes them a much better forge than gas for welding.

The Whisper Mama will get to welding heat if carefully adjusted and the doors kept closed. Warm ambient temperatures help too. Borax works fine as long as you are not welding high alloy steel. The problem with the smaller gas forges is BTU vs. heat loss.

The welding temperature range varies quite a bit depending on carbon content and cleanliness. Grandpa (Daryl Meier) does low temperature welding demonstrations where steel laminates are welded well down in the orange temperature ranges. The parts are protected from air in a tube that has a little kerosene put in it to displace the air.

There are numerous approaches to forge welding.

The laminated steel makers grind their steel clean and apply flux early to prevent scaling of the mating surfaces. Under the flux is a bright surface waiting to be welded.

Those that weld without flux (and there are a considerable number) carefully control the atmosphere in the forge fire to reduce scaling and when welding bring two pieces together that have molten or semi molten surfaces. The "scale" is part of this melted surface and is squeezed out of the joint if there is a proper scarf. Scale trapped in the joint makes a weak weld. However, it is the melted liquid scale that "protects" the steel during a fluxless weld.

Welding with flux is generaly done with as-forged parts that have had loose scale knocked off. Most smiths do not wire brush the surface. This is a step that has been introduced for those that can't get the knack of not overheating their steel. As soon as the surfaces are scarfed flux is applied and may be reapplied as needed during the heat. Welding with flux can occur well below the temperature where the surface melts. Most of what looks like molten metal is actually glowing flux full of iron oxide.

The history of the scarf is rather interesting. You would think that in 3000 years of iron working this would have been learned early as most of the basics were. However, it wasn't until the 1800's when James Nasmyth was asked by the British Navy to determine why some chain broke well below its rated strength that forge welding was criticaly analyzed. Nasmyth determined that when the chain makers prepared the weld joint (the "scarf") that one of three types of mating surfaces randonly occured.
  • Flat to Flat
  • Concave to flat or concave
  • Convex to to flat or less concave
In the first a small amount of scale is trapped in the weld. In the second a large amount of scale is trapped in the weld. In the last no scale is trapped in the weld.

On testing chain the links that broke failed at the weld and almost always showed some inclusions. This was the first scientific study of forge welding. Since that time smiths have been instructed to scarf their welds with a slight convex curvature to insure that melted scale and flux are squeezed out of the weld.

Frank does indeed do a great job of teaching folks to forge weld. Probably one of the most important things he tells his students is practice at least one forge weld a day.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 19:32:54 GMT

I have a question on Bliss Drop Forging hammers. I saw one the other day and came back to look it up. But found nothing on it does anyone know of another name that I may need to look under?
Thanks Bobby
BobbyN  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Sunday, 05/06/01 19:59:48 GMT

So Mr. Guru:
I am building a shield and I was wondering if you recomend bolts or some other form of connecting the metal part to the wood part. Thank you for your time.

John Wiltes
John Wiltes  <john_wiltes_32> - Sunday, 05/06/01 20:05:53 GMT

Paw Paw: We have had our share of all types and brands of hammers come and go but we're still running Bradley’s. Right now we have 5 Bradley’s and I'd sooner sell my right arm before I'd sell any of them. If any hammers had to go we'd sooner sell our Nazels before one of our Bradley’s. Most think you have to have an air hammer to get good control. One visit to my shop and I can prove that theory wrong. Bradley hammers are well suited for the type of work we do. They’re fast harder hitting with better then excellent control if set up and maintained correctly. I’m fortunate enough to have run most hammers available and I can say with confidence that Bradley hammers are among the best. Some might argue that Fairbanks or Beaudry are better mechanical hammers. That might be true but it’s by choice we run Bradley’s. I bought my first Nazel 1B from a very accomplished blacksmith who replaced the 1B with a Fairbanks hammer. There's nothing wrong with owning a mechanical hammer. Buying an air hammer won't make you a better blacksmith if your not a good blacksmith the begin with. Perhaps, I should boast that Fairbanks, Beaudry and Nazel hammers were the best. I’ve just become comfortable with Bradley’s and it’s our brand of choice not that their better.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Sunday, 05/06/01 23:01:23 GMT

HORSESHOE NAILS and WELDING. Yes, I think the hand made nails were very carefully forged. There is a small reference to hand made ones in A *Handbook of Horse-shoeing* by Dollar and Wheatley, 1897. The authors state that a special part of the process was "pointing". This is the bevel leading into the nail point, which I mentioned in the previous post. The authors do not say positively that it was done cold, but the context of their sentences suggest to me that it was. When driving the nail, the bevel is facing the sole, and the flat side is facing the outer hoof wall. The bevel causes the nail to emerge about 1/3 of the way up the hoof wall, where it is nipped short and clinched.
As to size, the modern nail is probably not too unlike the old ones. Nowadays, the usual nails number 5-6-7-8-9-10-12-16. A #5 is 1 7/16" long and a #16 is 3 5/8" long. The size used depends on the size of the horse, on how much iron is used, and whether or not there are pads (leather or composition) between hoof and shoe.

I get teased by former students about their first day at the forge making a "horseshoe sandwich". They never forget it. We straighten two old, used shoes, bend one into a flat hairpin, insert the other so we have three layers. We fagot weld the three layers, forging the bundle again into horseshoe stock. Then we turn a shoe out of the result. Sometimes they wind up with something that looks like fried bacon, but they get through it somehow. I've been accused of using Marquis deSade teaching methods. Frank Churchill, who founded the Ft.Riley, KS, horseshoeing school in the early 1900s, used the same exercise.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 01:55:00 GMT

I have been a welder and bitmaker for many years and have now developed an interest in blacksmithing. I built a small gas forge and am slowly trying to accumulate a few tools. I
just purchased an old 8 lb cross pein sledge today that I was going to convert into a bottom fuller. I cleaned it up a little and found a makers mark that I don't recognize and thought you might help. The mark is a little faint, but looks like "?? Tool Co" and underneath this is an A surrounded by a horseshoe. Under this is stamped "cast steel". Do you recognize this mark? I hate to cut it up if it is a good hammer. It's in pretty good shape.
Mike Gillespie  <gillespiemike at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 02:10:36 GMT

Guru & Bruce,,,thanks for the excellent info concerning the Bradley hammers. I'm looking forward to getting this baby home and running. It's heartening to hear they have a good reputation with those who make a living from metal. Btw, kudos to everyone who helps make this site, it's one of the best special interest sites I've encountered.
karma-kanic  <cimport at swbell.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 02:17:50 GMT

Shield: John, It depends on what you are making the shield for. If it is a reproduction then you need to research what was used in that period.

Split rivets (box or trunk rivets) work well. When you set these the "legs" curl out and grip the wood. Plain or low head (truss head) rivets work if you use washers or a support strip on the back. The advantage of rivets in both cases is they do not protrude a great deal and can be smoothed over.

If the shield is for hanging on the wall (most are) Then you might want to look into button head socket screws. These have a low round head like a rivet and are installed with a hex key (Allen erench). The socket hole is easy to fill and when painted looks like a rivet. If you are not looking for a period look these look nice as-is and are available in both carbon steel and stainless.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 02:26:33 GMT

Horseshoe Nails: Frank, Thanks for the history. I know almost nothing of farriery much less its history.

From a general smithing point of view I do agree that the point was probably made cold as this would work harden it a bit and assure the needed sharpness.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 02:31:52 GMT

Horseshoe A: Mike the maker was Atha Tools one of the most famous makers of blacksmith tools. Tools with the Atha mark are generaly considered collectable. Atha was purchased and became part of Stanley Tools. Stanley used the Atha mark until they quit making blacksmith tools. Thus the collectability.

Atha made hammers, punches, chisles, anvil tools, tongs . . Most of the tools were forged.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 02:47:30 GMT

Bliss: Bobby, Bliss made mostly big industrial drop hammers. In small shops they are known mostly for their punch presses. It seems to me I've seen a variety of machines made by Biss but today the only thing they are listed under in Thomas Register is box making machinery.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 03:00:15 GMT

I recently purchased a JET VBS350 bandsaw and plan to disassemble, clean and Lubricate it. Do you know where I can get a manual showing parts breakdown, adjustments, etc.?
AZDoug  <dendrud at earthlink.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 04:07:12 GMT

Jet Tools: Doug, There are hundreds of dealers for Jet Tools including Lowes. However, I could not find a primary importer or factory service center and they are not listed in Thomas Register. You might try Lowes or these folks.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 05:18:19 GMT

Doug, This one might be a lot better:

Jet Tools
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 05:24:48 GMT

Not to bring back a painful subject (sorry about the bad pun) but .. a frind of mine had someone ask him at a demo "have you ever gottin burned" he replyed "now that isn't the right question, it should be have you gotin burned yet today and if so how bad?"
I kind of liked that so now I use it when ever I get asked that at a demo.. with his permition of course.
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 05:30:02 GMT

Shields: The hardware on european iron-age-shields that I´ve seen where simply nailed on with the nails clinched on the inside, probably so that the nails could be straightened and withdrawn and the rather expensive steel boss could be remounted on fresh wood when the old got smashed. More elaborate bosses where riveted, since their rich owners where supposed to lead the battle, not actually be part of it.

Burns: Have you observed how the properties of old pants full of coaldust and oil closely resembles those of gun-cotton? Ouch!
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 05/07/01 10:19:46 GMT

Bruce, I'll accept that. As far as the control issue is concerned, with enough practice, you can learn to control almost any machine. I want an air hammer simply because it'll be easier to maintain and the air supply will be available for other things as well.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 13:38:50 GMT

I need info on blacksmithing, and I can't buy any books on it. I am doing an independent study project (basically a term paper to which I have to add some products) and I need 3 good sources for it.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 14:20:43 GMT

I have a few questions about plasma cutters. Im looking at a 3in1 machine ("liquid-arc" Viking STP) that does 35 amp plasma cutting and DC only tig and arc, I never do aluminuim so AC tig doesnt worry me. The machine has high frequency start, I know I cant run a CNC type setup with this but for the same reasons will the EMR effect the computer I have in the workshop???
- How many amps do I need to gouge? the machine doesnt have any gouging tips available but can I gouge with a normal tip anyway or just ream out a normal tip as someone once suggested to me as this is all a gouging tip is anyway?

Its rated at 10mm but who knows if this is a clean cut, none of the salespeople really knew more than what is in the brouchure, only duty cycle I could find is for the arc welder which is 125 amps at 25% which seems pretty low to me. Best part is the price $2900 Australian bout $1500 US dollars, any comments on a machine like this wether its a good idea to have the 3 processes in one?
I wont use it everyday and most cutting would be 3-6mm but I would really like to be able to gouge with it, if 35 amps is enough for that.
shannell  <sjs at ihug.com.au> - Monday, 05/07/01 14:46:02 GMT

shannell  <sjs at ihug.com.au> - Monday, 05/07/01 14:50:48 GMT

Here's a very brief synopsis of nail history in the U.S. for general construction nails rather than horseshoe nails. If anyone wants academic citations for this stuff, let me know.

Nails. Prior to the invention of the nail cutting machine in about 1790, all nails were hand wrought in sizes and head shapes suited to their intended purpose. After the invention of machine cut nails, nail sizes were standardized according to the pennyweight system, which was later carried over to wire nails. Cut nails were not perfected until around 1830, although their use was quickly overtaking that of wrought nails for all but the most specialized functions by the 1820s. After the introduction of fully machine-cut nails, wrought nails quickly disappear from the archaeological record. Cut nails are still produced for certain purposes, such as rough flooring and masonry work. Drawn wire nails were in use for furniture manufacture in England by the second quarter of the 19th century but the machinery for their manufacture was not imported to this country until the last half of the century, circa 1876. In most places, the replacement of cut nails with wire nails for general construction purposes was a gradual process, occurring in the 1880s and 1890s; thus it is common to find both kinds of nails on sites of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
Technical reasons for the persistence of wrought nails into the mid 19th century have to do mainly with iron and steel technology. Nail rod for wrought nails was rolled with the grain of the iron running the full length of the rod. Sheet iron for cut nails was produced the same way, which caused the cutting process to produce nails in which the grain ran across the width of the nail rather than along the length. This meant that the earlier cut nails could not be clinched, because they would break across the grain. There is even a neat quote referring to this characteristic in Moby Dick. Captain Ahab says something like "Some men are as cut nails, and will break when strained; but others are as wrought nails, they will clinch tight and hold."
By the 1850s plate iron for cut nails was being produced on wider rolls which allowed the grain of the iron to run the length of the nails, eliminating that problem and ensuring the extinction of wrought nails. The widespread introduction of the Bessemer-Kelly process in the 1870s resulted in the replacement of wrought iron by mild steel in nails. This, combined with the introduction of steel wire nails at about the same time, resulted in the modern nail.

Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 15:01:11 GMT

NAILS: Alan, Great, I'll have to post that on the 21st Century Page. Great quoute too! Ahab must have had a fixation on nails, his harpoon head head having been forged from used racehorse shoe nails in the belief that all that pounding had strenethened them. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 15:39:09 GMT

Plasma Machine: Shannell, I can't tell you much about this machine. Plasma cutting is one of the things I have little experiance in.

The EMR will not hurt the your computer. Monitors are the most sensitive and shouldn't be set on top or immediately next to transformer type devices. Even a television will effect a computer monitor distoring the image and doing weird things. Note that computers need to be on GOOD surge protectors when on shop circuits. Capacitor start motors are the worst culprit but other devices sometimes put spikes into your service wiring. You also need to be sure electronic equipment is not run on extension cords that lay next to or get tangled with welding leads. This is especialy important with HF.

I would also ask the manufacturer how commited they are to combination products. Some market these things to small shops experimentaly then stop manufacturing them after lack of sales. I have a relatively expensive combination MIG AC-DC machine with added TIG unit that the manufacturer orphaned after I had it about a year. Now I have to purchase substitute parts from Radio-Shack and other parts suppliers making guesses as to what will work. . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 16:05:38 GMT

one thing more on leg vices vs machinest vices....
If you look at how the movable jaw on a leg vice is attached you will see that the movable jaw is suppoerted by the leg where as the machinistr vice the screw supports(or at least help support) the jaw.....
To me in my often misguided opinion is why the machinist vices often break down when I smith 'uses' them.....
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 16:13:39 GMT


Makes sense to me.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 16:31:33 GMT

Term Paper: Jonathan, I would say you are in a tight spot.

There are a few blacksmithing references found in public libraries but not all carry them. They ARE available via interlibrary loan but this often takes weeks or months. If you have that kind of time then you have no problem. Since the school year is near closing I suspect you do not have the time.

On the other hand, even though there are few books in the libraries there are hundreds of books on the subject today where 30 years ago there were only a handful.

Your best bet would be to find a local blacksmith and ask to use his library. OR locate your local ABANA Chapter. The chapters maintain libraries (some quite extensive) but I suspect you would have to join the chapter (pay dues) to borrow books. Look for the closest ABANA chapter on www.ABANA-Chapter.com

IF you can use Internet sources then you are in luck as there are hundreds. anvilfire has the most on-line articles but we are far from being a complete reference (that is what BOOKS are for). Most sites are specialized in one manner or the other. You will have to determine which to use since "blacksmithing" is a very broad subject and you have given no clues to your area of study.

Have I danced around an answer? Maybe. We answer many SPECIFIC questions. However, when its your job or assignment to find answers and you do not ask specific questions, or want us to write your paper, then I will leave it up to you to find your answers. The answers you want are probably here and within a few easy clicks of a button.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 16:53:19 GMT

Research: Was I too hard on the kid? Seems there are always a couple in May. . .

Vises: Ralph, the problem with Machinist's vises is that they are NOT Blacksmith's vises! Now "chipping" vises are another thing. They LOOK like machinist's vises but start out at over 100 pounds. And they do not have swivel bases that can slip. They were designed for chiseling castings and steel parts in shops that didn't have milling machines or shapers. In the early machine age this was a common task. Start with a rough casting and chisel, file and scrape finsihed surfaces onto the parts. Although these vises will not take the vertical pounding of a blacksmiths vise, they WILL take a huge amount of pounding.

Then there is a matter of quality. Cheap vises are made of cast iron while high quality ones are made of ductile iron. Of course neither is as durable as the forged wrought iron and steel blacksmiths vise. You get what you pay for. . .

Then again ANYTHING can be abused to death. Shoot! Look at what people do to ANVILS! Something that is nearly the most indestructable tool made. . And people break them!

My first heavy vise was a "Prentiss Bulldog" chipping vise. It weighs a little something over 100# I think. It was given to me becasue it was locked up! The back part of the slide had been mushroomed out by guys in a machine shop using it for an anvil! Then someone tried to open the jaws and wedged it into the body. After that it was left outside to rust. It only took me about two hours with a can of rust buster and a file to have it back in perfect working order! Yep, I was lucky, but the other guy didn't appreciate what he had. New, a similar (not quite as well made) vise costs over $500 US today.

The biggest 8" jaw bench vises are around $1200 for a no-name and $1800 for a brand name vise. These 200# monsters will take most of the pounding of a blacksmiths leg vise but the leg vise will do it with half the material (at about the same price). However, I HAVE seen (had) a blacksmiths leg vise that was this massive (over 200#) and IT had been broken. . .

Some people can break anything. . . . and do.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 17:34:17 GMT

With Frank, Alan and Olle chipping in, I'm learning almost more than is good for me.

I'm in Denver today and was able to set up an appointment to photograph the iron tools and artifacts from the Vikings exhibit from the Smithsonian. BLEW the exposures in Washington, but I think I nailed them this time. Very dim light, but I used 800 speed film and a rifleman's aiming... If I can get the permission, I may be able to post some. This is not the glamerous stuff or the neat weapons (plenty of good pictures of those) but the plain stuff used to make the pretty stuff, and to feed, clothe and shelter the artists.

Back to the conference...
Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <on the road> - Monday, 05/07/01 18:40:06 GMT

I posted on May 5, 15:09, a third-hand quote about "Getting burned". Then I contacted the source, Lorelei, who demonstrated at Flagstaff last year. She said, the most frequently asked question she got was, "Do you ever get burned?" Her answer was, "Yeah, but I'm over him." Lorelei is a talented smith with a fun site: www.blacksmithchic.com.
Take a gander.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Monday, 05/07/01 18:48:23 GMT


Thanks for the advice, but I comes to late. I am now the prowd owner of the 4.5" leg vise shown at the followign URL. If you could please take a look and give me your opinion of the product. Will it work? I paid $122.25 including shipping. Hope I didn't get ripped off...
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 18:56:35 GMT

Vise: Chris. You did good and the price was less than what you generaly see. It looks like it is all there. Matter of fact I had looked at this item a week or so ago and saved the photos. The guy did more than $100 worth of polishing on it before he painted it! Some folks just don't get it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 19:40:47 GMT

25% duty cycle is very low for a plasma torch. There are few brand name machines, here in the US, that do multi task. I've never seen( doesn't mean there's not)a multi task machine that also had a plasma cutter. The large manufacturers will tell you buy a welder or buy a plasma cutter. A multi task welder is a different story.

As far as the computer, I have a programmable shape cutter (plasma cutter) with attached computer. The only precautions that the manufacturer recommends is that the cables NOT be run in parallel and must stay a minimum of 8" (20cm?)apart. If the lines are close and parallel they could set up electro magnetic currents that will screw up the computer. Keep the cutting torch cables approximately 12" (300MM)away from any and all other cables.

My personal opinion, don't buy the price, by quality name brands that you'll be able to buy replacement parts for when that time arrives.

Hope this helps.
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Monday, 05/07/01 21:02:50 GMT


Another Fine Lady Blacksmith.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 21:12:29 GMT

He polished it and then painted it? What the he** for?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 21:16:31 GMT

Maybe it wouldn't sell the first time arround so he painted it in hopes that it would.
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 22:26:46 GMT

Paw Paw: Yes, with enough practice, skill and mechanical ability you can obtain good control from almost any hammer. The Dave Manzer videotape sold here on “anvilfire” has proven that. Of course some hammers are better to begin with then others. The new air hammers are good but they lack the robust features found in the industrial rated hammers of the past. The mass and weight of these older hammers is one reason why they were better. Our 30# Bradley Compact weighs in a 2,200 pounds. That’s a lot of weight for a 30-pound ram hammer. Maintenance on of these older hammers is an issue. And, it’s sad to say most don’t have the ability or know how to take care or set them up properly. I have seen some hammer in such a state of de-funk that I can’t understand how anyone could ever run them and feel safe. Some I wouldn’t even want to be with in 100 feet of them while running. That’s why the newer air hammers are so attractive to most. But, durability and longevity is something else. You couldn’t afford to have a Bradley, Beaudry, Fairbanks or Nazel hammer built today. I guess you could afford it but who would buy them. Industry today isn’t using theses hammers because the skilled labor required to operate such a hammer has dried up. I would much rather buy a nice used well-built hammer then anything offered new today. Why not just get yourself a good air compressor anyhow? You can use it for other thinks then to run a hammer on.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Monday, 05/07/01 23:09:26 GMT


Still seems silly to me.


Cause I've got momma talked into a bigger compressor and an "experimental" air hammer when the advance for the book comes in. (grin) And that's under two grand.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 00:16:55 GMT

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