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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. Please read the Guidelines before posting a question.
This is an archive of posts from May 8 - 14, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I'm 16 and wanted to start blacksmithing, I mainly want to forge mideval armour and weaponry. I was hoping you could define the basic terms, sugest equipment, and metal type.
omega_d  <j14oey at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 00:41:40 GMT

First- Are Beaudry hammers good hammers? I know Bruce Wallace likes them, does anyone else have one? A friend is selling off his shop and in it is a 75# Beaudry, he's been using and maintaining since '84. This is probably too heavy for me, having never used one before, but hey what the heck, can always buy it for future use, right? Also picked up a HUGE drill press and I do mean huge- 8'tall, 25" capacity, and a nice old lathe, now how'm I gonna get the stuff outta the shop? Good thing I have access to a crane truck anytime.

Guru- finally picked up a copy of "Machinery's Handbook" (11th Ed.), you were right, that book is amazing! I've already spent hours pouring over it, I always seem to find something new, and the best thing was, I only paid $12 for it! I would recommend this book to everyone.
Chad  <NHBlacksmith at aol.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 00:46:42 GMT

Where could I find blacksmithing supplies, and how much would they cost? I'm interested mainly in forging swords, axe, spear, and arrow heads, and other such midevil weapons.
rsvp, please.
Matt Horstman  <www.lhorstman at alltel.net> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 01:48:26 GMT

Chad, you don't want that cheep ol Beaudry, Let me come by and haul that junk out to my back 40 and let it rust in peace! Where was that hammer located now? I forgot :D
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 03:50:46 GMT

Beaudry: Chad, Beaudrys are one of the better built hammers. They are not as common as some of the other machines but were often found in industrial shops. The biggest problem with Beaudry is that there were many design changes over the years.

75# is a SMALL general shop hammer. Yeah everyone likes 25# Little Giants because they can carry them home in the trunk of their car. . . But do you want an anvil you can carry in your pocket? Bradley made 15# hammer too but they were not for blacksmiths. They were for Jewlers and Cutlers doing small work. An XX# power hammer is NOT equivalent to hitting with a sledge of equal size. They hit with about a 5th to a 10th the force of a hand held hammer. The hand held hammer is usualy going much faster than the little short stroke power hammer. The advantage is the power hammer hits that hard many times for one hand hammer blow AND can keep hitting that way all day. . . As they say, bigger is better (more POWER!) up to a point. But 75# is well below the max for a one man hammer.

Those old flat belt drive geared head drill presses are GREAT! I have. . . 4 I think. . one needs a lot of derusting and a new feed lever. Wonderful machines. Typicaly sell for $150 to $350 dollars and are worth 10 times that if you had to replace them with a NEW equivalent machine. Back gear on most of them usualy has broken teeth but that is not a problem unless you plan on boring holes over 1-1/2" (38mm). . They will make blue chips all day with a 7/8" bit and have enough sensitivity to bury a 1/8" bit.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 04:09:45 GMT

Matt & Omega: Read, our Getting Started article, study the articles on our 21st Century page and visit our advertisers.

Kayne and Son have a new on-line catalog with photos of the majority of common blacksmithing tools. Bruce Wallace has new AND used equipment as well as a complete NC-TOOL forge catalog. Centaur forge has almost every book published on blacksmithing and bladsmithing as well as the most complete line of tools on the planet. Nimba Anvils has beautiful classic anvils that are a very affordable option to the forged German anvils. . . .

Between our archives, the iForge page and our NEWS going back 4 years you could spend the next couple months studying right here. . . and have just started in blacksmithing. Start with general blacksmithing and work UP to armoury and bladsmithing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 04:20:41 GMT

Is a 25# little giant a good size for moderate forging and a
little bit of heavy. And about what is one worth? thanks
Clay Gilbert  <cgilbert at iland.net> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 04:44:22 GMT

25# LG: Clay, You can do a lot of work with one of these but I would only recommend one if you are a hobbiest and don't plan on doing any heavy work. See the Little Giant specs chart on our Power hammer Page. Look at the commercial rating, not the capacity published by Little Giant.

In perfect condition these sell for as much as $2,800 US. Check with Sid Sudemier for current rebuilt prices. In poor condition (ANY parts missing or broken, worn out bearings. . .) they sell for less than $1000. If the frame is cracked or broken around the die or major parts are missing as little as $100. Then there is the rare "transition" model with a heavy guide system and sow block (anvil cap). These should sell for more than the others everything else being equal.

If you don't know anything about power hammers or Little Giants in particular our Dave Manzer Video can help get you up to speed and let you know what to look for. It cost will be repaid the first time you look at a hammer and pass on it or negotiate the price down because you knew what to look for.

Little Giants were one of the most common power hammers and their commoness has made them popular today. However, they were common because A) They were cheap. B) They were sold on credit. Like an early Ford, anyone with an income could afford a Little Giant. In the midwest small Little Giants were sold by the millions to farmers and small shops for "plow sharpening". They were used to draw out disks to their original size. The 25# LG was the most common. It was undersized for the job and they were mistreated and beat to death. Lack of lubrication and cold working the thin plow metal rapidly wore out these machines. This area is still a common source for small Little Giants and the majority are (were) worn out. These hammers commonly need complete rebuilding and many new parts. So much so that there is a pretty good business rebuilding them.

In the East and Northern rust belt where industry used mechanical hammers Bradley was king followed by Beaudry and Fairbanks. Little Giants were rare in commercial forges.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 05:24:23 GMT

all it needed was one of the upper bearing halves every thing was almost like new. so my 250 was an ok deal:)
Clay Gilbert  <cgilbert at iland.net> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 05:40:03 GMT

So, I found this book for sale, the Machinery's Handbook, 12th edition. Looks good except it also says Student edition underneath the title. Any ideas on what the difference may be?
tom  <tbarn(nospam)ett_at_is(spumanti no)d.net(extra characters here)> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 12:55:37 GMT

Student Edition: Tom I THINK the only difference was the quality of the binding/cover.

Bearings: Clay, sound good. Just OIL the heck out of it (every time you use it). 99% of all power hammer problems are lack of oil. On the LG's you even oil the clutch facing! The clutch should engage fully BUT you should also be able to feather the speed of the machine. There is also a lube fitting on the back of the shaft for grease.

I was a little hard on LG's last night. I had 4 of them. They were all good machines. But using the same amount of metal Fairbanks made a better machine. And there is no comparison to Bradleys. . they used almost twice as much metal for a given size machine! Just don't pass them up because everyone you know has a Little Giant. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 13:40:43 GMT


What alloy of Titanium is the most commonly forged? I'm seeing numbers like: 10-2-3 as well as grades like:
Commercially Pure Grade 1 through Grade 12.

Which would be the best for "playing with"?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 16:07:18 GMT

Stupid question time:

What's the deal with files? What do all the different names mean, and what are the correct uses? I must own about 15 different types of files, and I am neve sure if I am using the right one for the job, or if it even matters.

None of my reference books seem to comment on this.... I guess I just missed the day when everyone else got their secret file decoder ring.


Jim  <freely at zephion.net> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 18:33:56 GMT

Paw Paw,

Not positive on this but if you plan on doing any stock removal with Titanium be carefull. I have heard that the fileings are explosive/combustable.
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 18:34:09 GMT

Paw Paw, Comercially pure grade 1 is most machineable and tons of fun.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 18:44:37 GMT

Oh, one more thing, Unless you have vacuum in operation, it should be worked cold(I believe) but if you buy it annealed this is still no big chalenge if you've done some cold steel work.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 18:45:53 GMT


That's not a stupid question. And I don't know the answer, either. (Maybe that's qhy I don't condsider it stupid! grin) The guru may know, there's a book around somewhere that explains all the different types. I think he has a copy.


About the only stock removal I do is on final shaping of RR Spike knives. But I appreciate the cautionary note. And since I do cut with a band saw, it's something for me to remember.


Does it work harden?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 05/08/01 19:36:52 GMT

One of the demonstrations that I give at school is to burn magnesium lathe shavings. Once lit you can't stop it from burning. Throw water on it and it burns brighter and hotter.

By no means am I the authority, but I've never heard of titanium being explosive. Hopefully, someone with experience will let us know. I do know that breathing the fumes are hazardous, like most everything else.
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 00:02:58 GMT


You do remember what one of the primary ingredients is in Thermite, don't you? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 00:29:41 GMT

Sorry paw paw, no work hardening, there may be some way to harden, but ive not found one. STILL incredibly fun to hammer on and re-hammer and re-hammer and....
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 00:43:02 GMT

JIM - FREELY, About FILES, I think they are among the most misunderstood and mistreated of hand tools. There are different cuts and different depths of cuts. SIMONDS INDUSTRIES, INC., used to have a nice freeby booklet on files, titled "FACTS ON FILES"; P.O. Box 500, Fitchburg, MA 01420. Tel 508-343-3731. The book, "METALWORK TECHNOLOGY AND PRACTICE", has a good section on files. My copy from 1989, devotes 9 large pages to file usage, very good. The authors are Repp & McCarthy. www.bibliofind is a good "pre-owned" book finding site.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 00:54:34 GMT

Jim Freely: Get a copy of "Metalwork: Materials and Process" by Paul N. Hasluck. Written at the turn of last century, between 1895 and 1905. Got a whole chapter on nothing but files and how to use which one for what. $30 from Lindsay books. Got lots of chapters on much other neat stuff too. Wanna build a steam engine with just a file and a scraper (grin)?
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 00:57:55 GMT

I keep reading about cold shunts and gather that it is bad, so I assume I am covered with them since I'm new at this. can someone explain what these are? Sure am enjoying iforge. It is great that you guys who know what you're doing take time to show the rest of us.
mike  <lmorgan906 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 01:18:25 GMT


You see it written as "cold shunts" AND as "cold shuts". I think the latter is correct. The phrase refers to an inferior or incomplete forge weld. That's my understanding, but I'm willing to accept correction from some of the other folks.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 01:37:50 GMT

FILES: Jim, Most files are made for general work however there ARE specialty files for specific materials such as aluminium.

Yes, you could write a book about files and I'm afraid I don't have one. Almost all machine shop handbooks and metalworking text books have one or more chapters on files including MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. The one in my 1950 copy of Metalworking Technology and Practice was one of the best. The new copy has an article but it is not nearly as good.

Files come in different cuts (spacing) that are proportional to the file. A bastard cut 6" file is much finer than the same cut in larger files. Files are single cut, double cut and rasp cut. Plus specialty cuts as mentioned. Each cut comes in various lengths from little 4" (100mm) to big 14" (350mm) long files.

There are many different cross sections; warding, flat, hand, pillar, square, round (or rat tail), half round, three-square (triangular), knife. Then there are rasps and specialty rasps like a fariers 4-in-hand, pattern makers and riflers (curved double end). Riflers come in standard file cuts and rasp cut. Needle files are similar but straight and much finer. There are also special 120&176; locksmiths files. "Warding" files are also named for their locksmithing functions (cutting "wards" the notches in bit type keys). Chainsaw files are straight (non-tapered) round files that are made in many specific diameters to fit the gullet? on chain saw teeth. Every pitch tooth takes a different size file. .

Take the various sections above (9), in the 6 degrees of coarsness (9*6) and cuts (9*6*2) in the 6 common lengths (9*2*6*6) and you have 648 different files. Add rasps, riflers and needle files and there are easily a over 1,000 files. . .

THEN. . . there are the special designs made by many manufacturers. The Nicholson pattern makers rasp is one of the finest files made. Rather than the teeth being cut in rank and "file" the teeth are cut in a shell pattern that prevents the teeth from cutting in the same path making coarse grooves. The result is a very fast cutting rasp that leaves a surface that requires minimal sanding.

Sadly, as small manufacturers go out of business or are bought by big comglomerates the choices of file are gradualy being reduced. Many files that were common 25 years ago are no longer available.

Files in the common types have been made for over 1,000 years. Up until just a over a century ago they were all hand cut.

And I see I took too long on this. . . :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:00:33 GMT

Steve- good thing to remind people that deal with magnesium of. Nasty stuff, burns with such ferosity, that any water applied will be seperated by the fire into Hydrogen, which is highly flammable, and Oxygen, which ISN'T flammable but aides combustion. It takes a special (class D) Fire extinguisher to put it out. And did you ever see a piece of pure sodium put into water? Neat explosion.
Not sure about titanium, though. The ol' memory is failing me, and I can't find the right book to answer your question. I've never worked with it, the only flammable metal discussed in depth when I was in college (for Fire Science) was magnesium. I'll keep looking for that book though, sorry.

Guru- thanks for the advice on powerhammers. Now the only thing holding me back is my wallet. I know its a good deal but the timing is awful, the wife and I are looking at a nice place on 10 wooded acres, probably going to buy it, if nothing else than as a place for me to put all my stuff, aka junk. 10 acres....hmmm....it MIGHT all fit. moving sure is going to be a project, though.
Chad  <NHBlacksmith at aol.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:02:49 GMT

It is also a place where the metal is folded in on it's self. For example, you could be drawing out a bar of stock with a sharp pien and leave lots of tiney ridges. If one of those ridges gets folded over, there you go a cold shut. The only way I know to get rid of them (and you do need to do so as they are a good place for a crack to start) is to file or grind them out.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:05:13 GMT

Cold Shut: These are places in steel that occur in mill rolling, forging and forge welding. It is any enclosed place in a specimen of metal that includes surface oxides. These are most often formed by folding or incomplete welding.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:06:28 GMT

Paw Paw,
8Al+3Fe3O4=9Fe+4Al2O3+ heat. An exotheric reaction between iron oxide and aluminum. (grin)

I do know what you're saying and it isn't that formula. You're talking about milk of magnesium, right?

Sorry. I apologize and bow to your brilliance. ;o)

thanks for completing the class for me.How silly of me to leave out the safety part. Have you ever been a teachers aide?
I hope you find that titainium article. Thanks
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:17:37 GMT


Well..... If you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bull sh**! (grin)

Nope, wasn't talking about milk of magnesia. (nother grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 02:24:29 GMT

A friend has a large boiler that he wants to scrap. I asked him to wait so that I might inquire if there is anything special to look for in them that might be a real prize for a blacksmith. Any guidance on this?

Love them cookies
Mills  <mills_fam2 at netzero.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 14:46:31 GMT


Most of the boilers I've had contact with (several, over the years) were made with more cast iron than anything else. Some of the boiler on locomotives were made of riveted steel.
Not much too them, really.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 15:51:23 GMT

Boilers: Mills, Not much that I can think of. Tube type boilers are a mess of rust and those with cast heat exchangers are not much good. . The end (tube) plates from old tube type boilers looks kind of like a big weld platten and MIGHT be usefull for that if heavy enough.

Otherwise old boilers have a ton of asbestoes in them. It doesn't bother me but the EPA and local authorities get REAL excited about it. The nasty gradue from old boiler treatment chemicals would worry me more. .

If it was a coal burner the feed mechanism(s) are full of nifty goodies. Motors, pullies, gear boxes. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 15:52:57 GMT

I really have no experience with metalworking save welding a truck bed together.
I bought a paintball gun body which is made of milled aluminum. there is a filler tube which was i think was soldered to the body.
it has snapped off. Is there any way it can be re-welded? or soldered back on? the tubd slides into the body.
thank you for any help.
Karl Athanasiou  <ka3 at lucent.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 16:07:06 GMT

Paw Paw, Titanium. As Adam said, commercially pure (not alloyed) grade 1(purest) is the easiest to forge, form and weld. It has the lowest yield strength also. Lower than mild steel as annealed. Commercially pure is not hardenable, or heat treatable, but most other grades are. As the impurities rise, generally the strength also rises. Some unalloyed grades are about twice as strong as mild steel. Stress relief of unalloyed grades 1 thru 4 is done at 900 to 1100 degrees F for 15 minutes to 4 hours. Cool in air. Try to stay below the beta transformation temperature of 1675 F.

This info from the 3rd edition of the ASM metals reference book.

To put out a burning metal fire, you smother it with DRY sand. Must remove the oxygen from that fire triangle.

Mills, I need a 150 hp or so, wood fired, fire tube boiler. Working? Oil or gas fired now? Fire tube or water tube? Where? How big? Donít make me drool, now!
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmilwpc.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 16:17:03 GMT

Good Morning Jock:

Just wanted to know if Bill & I were doing the demonstration tonight or if you were. Please let us know. Hope you are having a great day:)
Best regards,
Sharon Epps  <S-Epps at besmithy.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 16:27:33 GMT

Oh, I forgot to say, you can e-mail either of us. LOL:)
Sharon Epps  <S-Epps at besmithy.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 16:29:32 GMT

What kind of steel are files made of? I'm wondering if its air-hardened because I'm working on a billet of A203e and old files and it is barely scatchable by file after it has been left alone to cool. My main concern is that it will turn out too brittle to make a good knife blade. I realize that different file makers could use different kinds of steel but there must be a "best" which I would think would be generally used. "Tough, reliabe Mustad rasps are made from cold rolled, hardened and tempered steel....." centaur forge, ltd. Seems to me that a hoof rasp is different than a file. I think they need to flex more when they are applied to a horses rear end.
Where has "Turquoise Cracked been lately". Miss him.
Thanks, Larry

L. Sundstrom - Wednesday, 05/09/01 17:00:05 GMT

Paintball: Karl, This kind of thing it real tricky. If it was originaly soldered then there will be traces of solder and this will prevent welding and possibly resoldering unless the same solder is used. I doubt it was welded as welding different thicknesses aluminium is much more difficult than in steel. There is also the possibility that the body is zinc alloy. Is it 100% machined from solid or cast and machined? If cast there is a high possibility it is zinc alloy.

There are solders and fluxes for aluminium, check with your welding supplier. Even though aluminium does not "rust" it rapidly forms surface oxides that make welding and soldering difficult. The same is true of zinc. If one part is zinc and the other aluminium then soldering is the only way it would have originaly been joined.

If it was mine to repair I would glue it together with epoxy. If there was room I'd wrap the joint with a bit of fiberglass (or other cloth) soaked with epoxy to reinforece the joint. . Not quite as strong as a 100% metal joint but less likely to destroy the part in the process.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 17:15:21 GMT

Files: Larry, according to MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK files are made of 1.25% carbon steel. My experiance is that most rasps are made of the same steel. This carbon range makes the steel air hardenable in most situations even though it is equivalent to W112 (a water hardening steel). The steel may not fully harden but air cooling is far from annealing. A little chrome or nickel migration may create an air hardening steel at the interface. Carbon migration from the W112 to the A203 definitely will. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 17:40:14 GMT

Guru- thank you for the advice. I am not totally sure of the composition of the body.
I did not see any casting marks on the body.
I'll try to find a welding shop in the Southern New Hampshire area.

Thank you
Karl Athanasiou  <ka3 at lucent.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 18:17:46 GMT

Hi Guru,
Any suggestions on the best type and weight of leather to use for my bellows? I have been told that horsehide is better than cowhide.
BTW, thanks for the anvil logo you sent me awhile back, it works well on my Bcards.
Allen Schaeffer  <STUDIO_518 at prodigy.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 19:22:17 GMT


Any close grained leather will work. The bellows that the guru made was leathered with cow hide and it is still in good shape over twenty years later. Needs to be oiled at the moment, will try to get one of the kids to do that this weekend.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 19:34:29 GMT

Thank you much.
Allen Schaeffer  <STUDIO_518 at prodigy.net> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 19:35:52 GMT

paw paw, you and guru work together?
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 20:41:29 GMT

What size anvil would you suggest
omega_d  <j14oey at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 23:08:02 GMT

Leather: My bellows had split cowhide sold as "buckskin" with a pretty red orange taning and swede texture. This was probably not the best leather but it has held up. What is important is that the leather is tanned and worked to a soft consistancy. I've seen a lot of bellows that the leather was too stiff.

Tanneries produce beautifuly tanned and finished whole hides in a bewildering array of colors. Currently these sell for around $100 if you can find a good upholstery supplier.

I had to piece mine together and sewed it with nylon upholstery thread. It wrecked the sewing machine we used. . . :( It would be worth it to get a shoe or leather shop to sew it. Seams were 3/4" overlapped with two courses of sewing about 1/8" from the edge.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 23:33:06 GMT

Anvil Size: Omega, As big as you can afford. IF you are doing general smithing nothing less than about 100-125 pounds (45-50kg). Smiths doing small light work often use lighter but anyone forging stock 3/4" (19mm) regularly wants a 200 pound (90kg) anvil or better.

Portability is sometimes a consideration. If you are going to be moving your anvil a lot (to do demonstrations or to the job as farriers do) 125 pounds is a good maximum size. That is why this is the most common size used anvil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 23:41:52 GMT

Further Adventures in Denver:

Made it over to Atlas Metal Sales today, off of Umitilla Street. I managed to weigh down my luggage and lighten my wallet with several ďdropsĒ (cut-offs from other orders) of 1/8Ē brass and silicon bronze. The staff was extraordinarily helpful and friendly, and even sent me to a good nearby eatery for lunch. Itís nice of them to take the time to work on small orders, but bring a healthy wallet with you because this is the good new stuff and not plain olí scrap. I canít wait to start working with the 1/8Ē silicon bronze.

Another Venue for Blacksmiths:

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts has an extraordinary support facility in the old Tramway Building. They have consolidated shops for design, costuming, props, furnishings and such and an incredible sets shop, complete with a forge and blacksmithing area. Sets, furnishings and props for stage productions require several unusual attributes. They have to be portable, sturdy enough to survive constant use over many performances and/or seasons, safe for the actors to use and accurate to the visions and research of the director and staff.

Whatever they cannot find, buy, repair or modify they must create themselves; hence the series of wood, paint and metalworking shops. They keep a seasonal (9 months) blacksmith on staff, and other staff fill-in as necessary.

So, if youíre looking for a new challenge, you might think of offering your services to your local or civic theatre group. They can probably use your talents and youíll get to hang out with a crew of creative and interesting people.

To get an idea of the scope of this operation check out their web page at www.denvercenter.org .

Another lovely day on the banks of the Lower Platte River.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <Onthe road...> - Wednesday, 05/09/01 23:42:31 GMT

Well Steve, I finally found the book, and here's the scoop- Yes, titanium IS flammable, more so as chips and shaving than as large pieces. This is a quote from the Fire Protection Handbook, 13th Ed.(the BIBLE when it comes to fire science)- "Castings and other massive pieces of titanium are not combustible under ordinary conditions. Small chips, fine turnings, and dust ignite readily and once ignited release large quantities of heat. Tests have shown that very thin chips and fine turnings could be ignited by a match and heavier chips and turnings by a Bunsen burner."
Extinquishment- the FPH says that tests have proved that "water in a course spray was a safe and effictive means of extinguishing fires in relatively small quantities of chips." In larger quantities, as I have stated, you would need a Class D extinguisher or a commercially available compound specifically designed to put out metal fires, G-1 Powder and Pyrene being a couple of brands.
I would advise using water unless it was really a TINY amount of chips, and you were absolutely positive it was soley composed of titanium. In such a case, it would probably be easier and less messy to simply isolate the burning chips and allow them to burn out, which the FPH also recommends.
Well, I hope that about covers it, if you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Chad  <NHBlacksmith at aol.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 01:06:59 GMT

WHOA! Correction- I the above post, it should say I would advise AGAINST using water on titanium fires...the brain is much faster than the hands, I got ahead of myself and missed a word. Gotta proofread better next time. Sorry.
Chad  <NHBlacksmith at aol.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 01:10:48 GMT


Not directly. But I consider the guru to be a close friend, and we are collaborating on a couple of projects. I try and help here on the anvilfire, within the limits of my ability.


For years I've kept a 5lb, Class B, CO2 extinguisher next to the kitchen door. (and yes, it is inspected annually and is within date) Since CO2 both lowers the temperature of the fire, and replaces the oxygen in the immediate vicinity of the fire, would it not be effective for a titanium fire?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 01:25:54 GMT

That makes sense, Paw-Paw, but the book does say that CO2, foam, dry chem, and vaporizing liquid type fire ext. are not effective. I an unsure of why a CO2 wouldn't work, good question...looks like I have some more researching to do.
Chad  <NHBlacksmith at aol.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 01:40:53 GMT

Paw Paw,

Knives from RR spikes? Got any pictures?

Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 01:51:04 GMT


Sorry about the lapse. CRS is getting me, I guess. (grin)

Chris, not sure. I'll do a little looking. If I don't have a picture, I think there is one in the display stuff and I've got a digital camera.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 02:55:41 GMT

Metal Fires: CO2 is not heavy enough to cover the extreamly HOT fire of a metal fire. Most metal fire can also strip the Oxygen from other compounds. I suspect most reduce CO2 to CO.

The recomendation to use sand is probably one of the best. That's something I need to get. . a nice RED metal bucket marked FIRE and fill it with sand. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 03:22:08 GMT

Titanium Fires, about 7 or 8 yrs. ago in providence RI a demolition contractor was removing the old boilers and turbines from the retired South St. station, they were air arcing out the condenser tubes and they caught fire , when the fire dept. came they hit it with fire hoses not knowing they had a titanium fire, it caused an explosion and no one was hurt luckily, but it did buckle the metal windowframes out in that big old brick building
Tom-L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 10:26:48 GMT

I have started blacksmithing as a hobby. I am using coal oven I built from used break drum (of a car). I drive hair with an old hair drier. As coal , I am using some kind of "stone" coal.
I manage to get strong enough fire to work half inch bars, and even bigger.
But I noticed that after a while the coal doesn't turn into dust but rather into, something that looks like small grey pieces of coal , but doesn;t burn so well. trying to get rid of it usuallly kills the fire , and I have to lit it up again.
Is it a problem with the oven or the coal ?
Is this what u call "clinkers" and If so how do I minimize them or get rid of them?
amit  <aadies at isd.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 11:01:02 GMT


What you seem to be describing does sound like clinkers. Clinkers are formed from the dirt left in the coal and scale, flux, ash and trash in the fire. What happens is that all the junk in the fire goes to the bottom of the fire and starts to melt into a glass like structure. To clean out the fire, let the fire cool down for a few minutes so that you give the clinkers a chance to harden up a little bit. Then with a poker, feel around until you hear/feel a clink, there you are, carefully lift the clinker out of the fire and put it in a place where it can cool without harming anything, like under the forge. There are 2 basic types of coal, hard and soft. For blacksmithing you want to use soft coal, it forms less clinkers and cokes well. If you are using hard coal, you need to keep air blowing in it most all the time or it will go out, also, hard coal has more ash than soft coal. Soft coal will turn to coke then burn up; hard coal will have a Grey ash in the fire and up in the smoke.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 05/10/01 13:29:59 GMT

Hi again, I hate to post twice, but last time I received no answer. I ask that you PLEASE answer my question this time.
Are there any reliable, factual, online places that I could get info on blacksmithing? I need to have more than one. I don't think I'll be able to get any books. I need this info
for a school project.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 15:05:07 GMT


Use your eyes, son! There is all the factual information you could possibly need for a school project right here on anvilfire! Look around!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 15:31:38 GMT

Jim, the problem with a CO2 extinquisher is that it tends to blow the fire all over. But from a chemical point of view it will work just fine.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 05/10/01 15:32:33 GMT

Yes, I know there IS plenty of info here, but I need to get even more. Also, I am not going to be talking to blacksmithing literates, so I wanna find some low-level info.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 15:34:45 GMT


You might also try reading the answer to your first question. It's only a few answers down the page. It may have been archived by now.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 16:25:12 GMT

More Info: Jonathan, I wrote a LONG answer to your question within an hour of its posting. However, things move VERY fast here and you will find it in last weeks archive under "Term Paper". This is my second and last answer.

"Low level info. ." I'm afraid that our purpose here has been to supplement the books that cover the basics and do it very well. How low do you need to go? Look up the words Blacksmith, Forge, Anvil, Iron, Steel in the dictionary. Even though we currently don't start that basic the recommendation to "Get it HOT and HIT it, has been repeated here more than once.

On the other hand. We HAVE answered some very basic questions for elementary school children and their teachers that have asked good specific questions. I'll admit they are buried in the archives but you would be surprised how fast you can find what you need using the "Find - Keyword" feature of your browser.

As to other sources on the web. . . We have two link lists and a page full of web-rings that will link you almost to EVERY resource on the web.

Your assignment is RESEARCH. DO IT. I could list all the top sites and books with enough information to make a nice bibliography. . But then, that is your job. We don't do home work or write term papers for people. We answer reasonable questions.

We also occasionaly give interviews on-line or via email to people that ask politely and who have also done their share of research. But interviews are not granted to those that belligerently demand "MORE information!" You are researching a subject that VERY few people know anything about and have just blown any chance of help from the very few people that actualy DO IT and answer questions about it.

See my previous answer in the May 1-7, 2001 archive.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 16:45:26 GMT

Coal Problems: Amit, Wayne covered the subject quite well. However there are a couple other things that it could be.

Coal is often contaminated with slate or other non-fuel minerals that are closely associated with the coal. This sometimes has enough carbon to smoke a little but it won't burn enough to produce heat. Occasionaly even gravel from the lot where the coal was stored gets mixed in. It gets covered with coal dust and looks black like coal. .

A larger forge helps with this problem. Not that you have a larger fire. But you have more room for "reserve" coal. Instead of breaking up your fire you just mound it up higher. You can add metal or brick space around your fire pot to get the same benefit.

However, you still need to clean out the forge on a regular basis to get rid of the ash and clinkers that form. Even if you remove most of the clinkers there will still be a lot of ash in the partialy burnt coal that contributes to making clinkers. Sift out the larger lumps of coal and discard the dusty stuff that contains ash from the fire. This prevents waste and lets you start with a "fresh" fire.

After a while you get so you know when the fire needs to be cleaned out. Of course this is always in the middle of doing something critical. . . But you will know its time.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 17:01:48 GMT

Leather for Bellows: well I used a heavy treated canvas used in the oilpatch for wind shields on drilling rigs. Scrap big enough for a large double chambered bellows was *free* and its going strong on mine since 1983 and that includes spending a winter or two outside with minimal shelter.

Interesting enough I was reading Biringuccio's Pirotechnica and believe it has a reference to the use of cloth sided bellows in 16th century Italy.

I think that leather was relatively cheaper in pre machine woven cloth days and it would be more air tight unless you treated the cloth like my canvas has been.

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 18:26:13 GMT

Jonathan, I dont know what grade youre in, im a junior in high school, If youre just doing a common research project you will probably not need to ask questions, I learned most everything I learned about blacksmithing by READING books. If it's an advanced matter I cannot answer with my literature (non-forum internet included) then I can usualy find the answer here. If youre looking for low-level info YOU DON'T NEED EVEN MORE. If youre in school, you should be learning how to prioritize your work, if you have to have someone else to gather your info, you need to learn otherwise by the time you're in highschool(I hope you are'nt already, for your sake).
and lastly, LEARN SOME MANNERS! Youre talking to a union of Masters(myself not included) as well as others in the field.

AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 19:33:14 GMT

You e-mailed a reply to a question I asked on TEMPERING TO MAKE TOOL STEEL, (Sun 05/06/01 at 10.25 GMT) I've lost the e-mail (too many users on my system!) Please could you send it again. Thanks.
Malcolm  <malcolm.maclure at ntlworld.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 19:37:13 GMT

Jonathan, I looked up your first question, term paper, The average rubric for term papers is 3 TYPES of sources, meaning 3 different media as sources, don't you live near a library? encyclopoedia's and dictionaries shall all sufice if you can not find a book specific to blacksmithing. but you'll need 2 more types of sources, do you know any welders, mechanics, or plumbers? interviews go over really well(IF you're cordial) and each of these jobs requires some skills covered by a blacksmith. oh and by the way, contrary to my previous post, if you have a good vocabulary(do you have a superlative ability to articulate in conveying an Idea?) Your teacher will expect you to do better than low level, and anyway, this is a term paper is'nt it? Explain it to them.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 19:54:44 GMT

Guru, do you think I should worry about burning(as I have experienced in normal brass)muntz metal, If I'm correct the melting point should be lower than in normal brass(zinc having a lower melting point than copper) but I dont know how this will effect it's likelyhood to disintegrate. BTW I'm torch heating it.
Thankyou guru.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:01:00 GMT

Tool Steel: Malcolm, The response is in the archives under "Special Ford Tool" I'll mail it to you. Please note that tempering does not MAKE tool steel. It is one part of the heat treatment process.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:03:05 GMT

Thanks for your answer on 05/09/01 on files. I'm tempted to jump to a conclusion from your answer that as the carbon level is increased the quenching time gets longer. Ice water for mild, then water, then oil, and finally air. Is this a valid general sort of way to look at it or a gross oversimplification on my part? I've only ever worked with scrap before, mostly coil springs, and always water quenched. Recently, from advice from yous guys I bought some peanut oil and am pleased with the results (smell), but what you said about files made me wonder if the quenching medium was related to the carbon level. I doubt if its that simple and probably has more to do with specific alloys. I know that you didn't say that or even imply it, but it got me to wondering if there was a connection.
By the way, you always say follow the manufacture's instructions on heat treating. I got some O1 from the bar stock suppliers that are associated with you and there was no info sheet in the package. I think they need some of your gentle diplomatic imput. On the positive side it is a most beatiful peice of material to fall into the hands of a junk yard dog.
Best regards,
L. Sundstrom - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:07:51 GMT

I just got an Idea that might help the forum guru, perhaps next time you update the guru's den you should first add a page between the link and the forum where you FORCE reading of guidelines(including a link to the getting started page) by hiding the link to the forum for fifty seconds.(perhaps this would be active to non-members) Just thought that might help to reduce the number of BROAD questions.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:17:07 GMT

Brass, Muntz: Adam, most of these alloys show a slight blush just as they reach forging temperature. A little hotter then they melt. Generaly these alloys don't fall apart too bad unless they have some lead in them. Many have lead to make them easier to machine.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:22:41 GMT

Steel Specs: Larry, Some steels come with specs some don't. I'm working on heattreat specs for the materials in the store but they keep ADDING new ones!

Your generalization about carbon is more or less right. But when you add alloying ingrediants it gets REAL complicated. However, quenchants also vary by the mass of the part. What you are really looking for is a specific rate of cooling. Little slivers that normaly need brine to quench in "normal" pieces can air harden. Big parts that are made of normally "oil hardening" steel may need ice filled brine to quench if the mass is too much. . Nothing is as simple as it seems.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 20:32:33 GMT

Thanks for your quick response to my question, Jock.
How would you heat treat 7/8", O1 that tapers to an edge or a point intended for cold and hot work. I realize they should be tempered differently but I probably lack the discipline to make, use and keep separate two different sets of chisels and chasers.
L. Sundstrom - Thursday, 05/10/01 21:15:02 GMT

guru, I know I've asked this question about steel before(i've been looking in last archive for response but i cant find it)but as far as brass goes, are there any non metals that can be introduced while the metal is heated(like carbon into the surface of hot mild steel)?

I hope to have my own "Signature metal" someday, a higher level of personalization methinks.

AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/10/01 21:31:09 GMT

JHM Anvils and anvil hardness

Hi everybody - Has anyone out there used a JHM anvil? I keep seeing ad's for their 260lb competitor anvil - and at $560 it's the cheapest new london/american style anvil I have found. The thing that concerns me is that the ad's for it refer to it being "50-52 Rockwell, and plenty hard for forging. It will get even harder as it is used" which seems to indicate work hardening as a desirable thing. Nimba rescribes their anvils in the 49-51 range, and they're supposed to be good. How hard should a good new cast anvil be? How does this compare with a Peter Wright or Hay Budden?

Another beautiful day in Indiana
Chris  <chavilandatiquest.net> - Friday, 05/11/01 00:57:40 GMT

Titanium Fires

I'm glad you found that info about Titanium fires. So far, every "welding" source book that I have tells just that, welding. I've not found anything about it burning. I've even got a book on nothing other than titanium welding.

I've got a library that almost every book says something about magnesium fires.

Your info is cut and paste stuff. I'll use that in a future class. Of course, tomorrow I'll find another book that tells all about the problems of titanium fires.

You know, it's funny that some of these books give reference to "spark testing" titanium.
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Friday, 05/11/01 02:37:46 GMT

Signature Metal: Adam, You will have better luck with laminates than alloys in a small shop. Alloying, casting and processing metals is tricky business. It requires knowledge of chemistry and alloying (you often don't add pure metal but a compound that seperates in the process), the foundry processes including tricky things like degassing and then final processing which often includes furnace soaking, rolling or forging. All under controlled and measured conditions. THEN. . . laboratory testing. Machining and testing samples for tensile shear. . . there are bunches of tests. And its ALL trial and error!

Would you believe many of the metalurgical laboratories had Nazel 3B's for forging samples? Yep. They were the standard in dozens of government and university research laboratories. .

Now days the big research is powdered metals. You can make mixtures not possible by crucible alloying. . . More big equipment.

Under the right conditions metals are absorbed by each other but there is nothing else quite like steel's carbon absorption.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 06:32:55 GMT

Here' a question that's got nothing to do with blacksmithing at all! (I think) but blacksmiths are probably the guys who can answer it.

I am a costume designer researching someone's memoirs. As a child , her Grandfather cleaned her shoes - and I quote:

"We would take off our shoes and he would polish them. Not boot polish but the old blackening & vinegar. They would shine like glass and the backs of the shoes were as important as the front."

This occurred in Liverpool, NSW Australia c. 1910-15. They lived on a farm and were very self sufficient. They were very poor.

I first thought they might have used vinegar for cleaning and 'pot belly black' for colour. The shoes of course would be leather. I tried this method myself but found I could not get a decent shine.

Would anyone have any idea what they may have used for 'blackening'? I would be extremely grateful for any assistance.

Andrew  <xanman_2001 at yahoo.com.au> - Friday, 05/11/01 12:57:50 GMT

Hi Jock,

Just wondering how your Niles-Bement hammer is comming along? Looks like a neat hammer from the pictures & diagrams over on the power hammer page.
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Friday, 05/11/01 14:38:03 GMT


Probably a mixture of stove soot and lard.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 15:14:59 GMT

Hi I'm an 19 year old young man from belgium, a couple of generation's ago my familly where blacksmiths but my grandfather was the last to have the know how (however he hadn't woked sinds he was a young lad, an his father sold the workshop)but he only had a dauther (my mother) and he died before I was old enough to be tought. I'm verry fascinated white real blacksmithing (whitout anny modern tools) and I would like to bild an oldfasioned big wood/coal oven and and renew the craft in my family on a nonprofessional way.
Can you help me???
Johannes  <johannes at mine.be> - Friday, 05/11/01 15:33:20 GMT

Blackening: Andrew, Modern stove black has mostly graphite and carbon black in it. OLD blackening, also called "stove polish", contained some lead compounds and other things the modern product does not for safety reasons. However, I'm afraid I couldn't find an early formula to compare to.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 15:36:08 GMT

Johannes, see our Getting Started article and the books referenced. They will be a lot of help. The book Practical Blacksmithing by M.T.Richardson has some old brick forge designs.

Forge type and style varies depending on the availability of fuel and local tradition. Your best bet would be to find a local "schmiede" and ask about their forge. If they are close to you, ask about fuel. Coal and charcoal are being used less and are dificult to find in some places today. Some places regulate burning them, even as a hobby. The details of chimneys and flues may also regulated.

I recommend that you start small. Build a cheap portable forge like the "brake drum" forge on our plans page. Experiment with it and test the available fuel. THEN decide on your permanent forge.

You can always make charcoal from wood but this is a seperate process from the forge.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 15:55:06 GMT

Anvil Hardness: Chris, Sorry, I had a very nice response last night and then a computer crash. . . Lets try again.

I am not personaly familiar with the JHM anvils. I couldn't find a current print ad and their web page "specifications" were only dimensions. There were no material or hardness specs.

JHM specializes in farrier's anvils. The patterns are long with very thin heals, narrow waists and light bases. This is not a "London" or even an "American" pattern. It is the current farrier's specialty pattern de'jour. Until most farriers quit the shoeing business and move onto other forms of smithing, they do not know how bad these springy anvils are for forging (ask any EX-farrier). Their big anvil is not quite as bad as the others but it is still a farrier's pattern, (That said, any anvil is better then no anvil).

The difference between 50-52Rc and 49-51Rc is less than the testing error so you can discount that. Russel Jaqua (Nimba anvils) says the new hardness (49-51Rc) is greater than their old anvils. This change was based on experiance and carefull consideration. KOHLSWA claimed 55-57 HRC for their anvils. However, every KOHLSWA (a cast steel anvil) I've seen or owned had significant edge chipping. I love the hardness and rebound of my KOHLSWA's but chipping IS a problem. The only anvil to test harder was a forged steel Peddinghaus. As you know hardness and toughness are something that you must carefully balance in hard use tools. Too hard and the piece can fail (cracking, chiping, breaking) too tough and the part is soft (maring, denting, bending).

I would not buy an anvil that the maker says "you harden it", and that is what they are doing when they speak of work hardening. Work hardening requires a certain amount of bending (plastic deformation). This only occurs VERY close to the surface when an anvil is struck directly with a hammer and practicaly none at all when properly working hot steel. It also requires many cycles. So, you may or may not work harden a small portion of the surface of the anvil. . . . all the surrounding area will remain soft.

Work hardening DOES occur, but it is NOT a practical method of hardening an anvil.

Comparisons to old anvils are difficult. These were made long before there was any form of standard hardness testing. The only study of the hardness of anvils that I know of is our bounce test chart and that is a small sample using a non-standard test.

The hardness of old anvils varied quite a bit from anvil to anvil as well as with size. I've found many large old anvils to be much softer than smaller anvils (judging from edge rounding verses edge chipping in the same brands). This is probably due to the difficulty of quenching a large piece of steel and the tendency for residual heat to temper it. However, it may also be a makers decision since they knew the greater mass of the large anvil also meant it would see higher forces and be more likely to chip than a lighter anvil.

The fact is that ANY anvil's face can be marked by harder material and striking hard enough. Normaly the properly curved face of a forging hammer should not mark an anvil. However, hammers and other hard tools with sharp edges may mark an anvil face.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 17:10:23 GMT


I was working in the shop last night, and I ran itno a problem that has happened a few times. The steel I am using gets a sort of blistered look, sort of like scale but not. At first I thought this was bad/impure steel but it has happened with several different makers.

All of the steel is low carbon/a36 or similar. I am using a whisper daddy, running about 12psi. Doesn't seem to happen until I have been working for about 45 minutes, but the steel is usually just bright orange, so I doubt I am burning it.


Jim  <freely at zephion.net> - Friday, 05/11/01 17:32:51 GMT

Heat Treating O1: Larry, I had to look up some of this so I didn't post immediately.

O1 is a low distortion steel that "grows" very little when heat treated. Thus it is a good steel for machining finished or near-finished to size parts that are going to be hardened. The expense of this steel is balanced by the machinability and low distortion.

O1 is composed of (percent):

.85-1.00 carbon,
1.00-1.40 Manganese
0.50 max Silicon
0.40-0.60 Chrome
0.30 max Nickel
0.40-0.60 Tungsten
0.30 max Vanadium

To harden heat slowly (preheat to 1200°F) then heat to 1450-1500°F and quench in warm (70°F) oil.

Temper at 350-500°F. More later.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 17:34:37 GMT

hello, I've been making chisels out of old horse rasps. My quistion is what is the best way to quinch(sp?) this type of metal if I would like to use it for hot and cold work? Thanks for the help. Keith
keith  <chancemft1 at aol.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 17:41:04 GMT

For quite a while now I have been toying with the idea of building a portable blacksmith shop on a trailer to take to historic events. I felt sure that someone had built something of this nature but I have never seen one until I ran accros your page "the ultimate portable forge" This is very similer to what I had in mind. Do you have any better pictures or drawings of this rig? Is it self contained when on the road? In other words, do the bellows, hood, anvil, roof, etc. ride on the trailer?
Thanks, Jason
Jason Lonon  <jalonon at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 20:29:17 GMT

Blistering steel: Jim, the only thing I can think of is that you may have heavily scaled steel (new) or are reheating previously scaled steel. When you reheat heavy old scale it does this sometimes.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 20:37:00 GMT

Portable Forge: Jason, Everything rode in the trailer, roof props, stack, bellows handle, vise, coal, water, stock and inventory, oxy-actylene set, weather vane, tools, and even a crib for the twins. . .

Due to overloading and for convienience I often carried some of the stuff in the back of the pickup but often it was towed with vehicals where everything HAD to rid in the trailer.

The roof is hinged diagonaly across the top, it makes a box when closed. This is my invention and even though it has been displayed publicly for 25 years I have yet to see a copy. The roof protects the bellows and gives the smith a little shelter from the elements. More roof panels were planned but never added on. They would attach to the existing roof edges and hinge around the two open sides at the forge. The wood roof panels weighed too much and should have been thin aluminium sheet over the steel frame.

The original idea was to work from within the trailer with a surrounding bench/counter top. I quicky realized that this would not work for a smith. However it would work great for a potter, glass blower, jewler or many others.

The original drawings were just some pencil sketches. When building things for myself I make a lot of sketches but never need detail drawings. I could make drawings of the original OR of an improved design however there would need to be significant financial incentive to do so.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 21:30:37 GMT

Portable Forge: Currently Jim Paw-Paw Wilson has my portable forge, taking care of it for the Bethabra Museum in Winston Salem, NC.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 21:34:57 GMT

Could any of you e-mail me some simple to get started. I got my anvil today and I'm making my forge this weekend.
omega_d  <j14oey at hotmail.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 21:39:50 GMT

Files Again: Keith, Treat files like W1. However, no amount of hardening and tempering makes hot work steel out of common tool steel. Treat the steel the same for both tools.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 22:12:27 GMT

Simple: Omega, forge a chisle point, practice keeping it the same width as the bar. Forge a square point, alternating the stock back and forth 90 degrees between each blow or tw. Forge a square bar round and then square again. Start by making an octagon section out of the square bar, then knock the corners off the octagon, then smooth as needed.

These simple excersizes need to be practiced until the results are clean and smooth and you don't feel you are struggling to do the work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 22:20:21 GMT

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Swedish Anvils....I have one and on One side is two marks (looks like 11) and on the other side is one mark ..like a vertical teardrop?...small.....doesn't have the holes for the tongs to hold with....(the 3 square ones).....front-back-bottom...looks like forged..or cast...?......has seam on underside....thanks for any info...
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Friday, 05/11/01 22:41:19 GMT

Anvil: Mikey, Why do you think it is a Swedish anvil?

The KOHLSWA's mentioned in the post above a few is a Swedish anvil. I like them. Ring REAL loud and are REAL hard. . but I have seen a lot of chipped edges on them. If you don't abuse the edges they are great anvils.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 01:09:23 GMT

I recently purchased large leg vise.Is there any way to identify the maker of a blacksmiths vise? Most that I have seen have been very similar but there are some details in the styling that may be significant. Like the final of the screw or the length of the tabs on the outside of the jaws, they seem to be made extra long to protect the screw from missed blows I was wondering if you might recognize it if I sent a photo.
Chris Turley  <Qst42know at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 01:31:14 GMT

He dude that I bought the anvil off of said that it was a swedish anvil.....135lbs.....he sells a lot of anvils....this one was the only one that was any good....(in my opinion anyway)....It rings loud and and is hard...is in great shape...bolting it to a stump qiueted it down a lot...just curious about it.....
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 02:05:00 GMT

Guru, I have a forge that has a Buffalo Blower No. 625. The forge and blower looks as they are factory made. Can you point me in a direction to find out more about the blower? T
Joe Marshok  <jmarshok at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 02:07:16 GMT

My grandad had a few blacksmith shops,and when my dad was a kid he worked in the shops and he remembered that the only thing grandad would quinch in was horse urin. He thought it might of had to do with the amount of amonia in it. Is there anything to the amonia idea. or what would be the reason for this. Any ideas? thanks
Clay  <cgilbert at iland.net> - Saturday, 05/12/01 05:30:52 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am an experienced smith with ferrous metals; however, I am getting a lot of requests to do work on the coast.
I want to start working with monel and bronze.
Can you recommend which monel and bronze series are the easiest to forge and fabricate?
Can you give me any tips?
Can you recommend any books that deal with forging non-ferrous metals.
Many Thanks, John Phillips
john phillips  <phillipsmetal at att.net> - Saturday, 05/12/01 06:49:47 GMT

hi guru,i have a wisper daddy forge and it works great but the bottom of the forge is getting really ugly with all the flux runoff. can i just build it back up with refractory cement.how can i limit the flux damage?
chris makin  <cfm15 at home.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 12:59:58 GMT

I have a tapered metal socket, how do I secure a wooden handle in it without the need for set screws or pins, the two must be held fast and durable.
Thom  <pops03 at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 15:07:15 GMT

Guru, is w1 water quinch with 1% carbon? I'm kinda unfamilier with all the steel classings and treatments. I've been treating themlike the book says< but the book is a little vague. heat untile no reaction to a magnet, polish, and then I quinch at dark blue in gear oil. Does that sound right? Thanks for the help. Keith
keith  <chancemft1 at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 15:48:12 GMT

Vise Ident: Chris, No one has done the research on post vises like Richard Postman did on anvils. Unless there is a makers mark on the vise there is no way to tell that I know. I have ONE post vise that has the makers name on it (it was made by one of the many owners of Mousehole Forge). It is marked on the nut and is very faint due to the curved surface.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 16:10:57 GMT

Bufalo Forge: Joe, Bufalo Forge and Blower was one of the largest makers of forges in the U.S. They are still in business making industrial blowers and air handlers but the last time I asked they had no interest in their company's history and few their know that they made blacksmithing equipment.

There are some reprints of their old catalogs (I think) and they can be found in industrial catalogs up until the 1950's. Check with Centaur Forge or Norm Larson for a reprint catalog.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 16:15:12 GMT

Urine Quench: Clay, It probably had more to do with the salt content as brine is a common quenchant. It may also have had to do with much of the disinformation that floated around then as it does today.

There have been all sorts of witches brews used for quenchants. Most have nothing to do with results or fact. All that it is important to do is reduce the temperature of the item being quenched (cooled) at a specific rate.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 16:21:31 GMT

Forge Floor: Chris, Those that do a lot of forge welding in gas forges consider the floor of the forge as a consumable and replace it on a regular basis.

Before it is damaged there ARE some things you can do. The best is to cover the floor with a cheap throw away surface. The best idea to come forward for this was to use a red clay floor tile. These can be purchased from tile stores for pennies and come in many sizes. When they get cracked and burned you toss out the old and put in a new one. Since they are not refractory clay they don't hold up long but like I said, they are cheap. Just be sure there is not a lot of flux under the tile or it will get welded in. However, the solution is simple, just remove the tile when the floor is hot and the flux melted.

There ARE special liners or ceramic kiln shelves that can be used but these are expensive and don't save you much over replacing the forge lining.

Other have suggested a covering of Fullers earth (cat litter or oil absorbant clay). The problem with this is that it can be blown from the forge and is messy, and gets welded together with flux. But in some forges it works.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 16:32:45 GMT

Non-Ferrous: John, other than a few small articles in books like Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork there is little on non-ferrous forging other than industrial references.

There are MANY monels including some sold for archetectural work. Monel 400 is one of the most common and is the most forgeable. It is worked at 1700 to 2150 (max) F. and shouldn't be soaked for long periods of time.

The most forgeable of the copper alloys is Forging Brass followed by Naval Brass. These are worked at around 1300°F. In bronze the Mangananese-Aluminium bronze is the most forgeable being 75% as forgeable as Forging Brass. Remember that brass and bronze is denser thus heavier than steel but it is not as strong so sagging is a serious problem in gates.

The biggest problem with working both these materials is removal of the oxidized surface. This requires pickling or sandblasting. It is a LOT of work if you want bright metal. This has to be done before polishing (another expense) which is very labor intensive.

The second problem is temperature control. Brasses and bronzes melt just a few hundred degrees above the forging temperature. It can be done in a coal forge but is very tricky. I always used a torch. You should plan on a temperature control furnace.

Actual forging of these metals is like working hot butter. Much detail or final work is done cold (or warm) the heat having annealed the metal.

I also recommend 304 stainless. It is a little more difficult to forge than mild steel but the reuslting surface looks just like fresh forged steel. It also has the cleaning problems above. However, I have had good luck with out cleaning. You can use a combination of the black with polished highlights that works nicely for details.

Beware of bimetalic corrosion from attaching items made of these alloys to each other or to other metals. Be especialy careful not to use fasteners of dissimillar metals.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 17:08:14 GMT

Tapered Socket: Thom, A proper fit is all that is required (same taper on wood as inside of socket). Be sure there is some room for the handle to push in beyond the loose fit position. Once driven in and the wood compresses a little the handle just hold very tightly. However, this joint was designed for pushing or moderate pounding with a mallet, not for prying.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 17:14:17 GMT

W1: Keith, Yeah. . . I knew you weren't going to let me get away with that. .

The basic TOOL steel nomenclatures are

A# = Air hardening steel
H# = Hot work steel (generaly air hardening)
O# = Oil quench steel
S# = Shock resistant (popular among smiths)
W# = Water quench low alloy steel.
      Common "drill" rod. Not to be confused with High Speed Steel.

Your heat treating sequence is fowled up.
  • Preheat gently
  • Heat to nonmagnetic
  • Quench to harden
  • Clean or Polish if using color method
  • To temper, heat to temper color OR to known temperature.
  • Let cool (do not quench after tempering).
  • Tempering can be repeated (double tempering).
Note, after forging some steels it is recommended to "normalize" them. This is like annealing but not quite as controled. To normalize TOOL steel, heat to about 100°F above the nonmagnetic point, then let air cool or cool burried in ashes to slow the cooling.

If the steel is of unknown composition (junk yard steel) then you should always test a sample or two to determine the best heattreat for yourself.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 17:29:51 GMT

Thanks Guru.....I went out today and unmounted the old anvil and guess what.......Was stamped Made In China!....Don't that beat all?.......
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 23:20:02 GMT

Guru, thanks for the info. Building tools has never been one of my strong points. I could call my dad to ask him these quistions but I'm sure that he gets tired of me asking him quistions about things that if I had paid attention I would already know the answer. Thanks again, Keith
keith  <chancemft1 at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 23:36:19 GMT

One question, how did they collect the horse urine? Sounds like a job I wouldn't want to do. Hell, we have a hard enough time trying to get anyone to sweep the floor.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 05/12/01 23:58:20 GMT

I'm a confused woodworker, for a long time I've known that carbide or tungsten carbide makes the best bits (router, saw, drill, etc)as far as durability, and maintaining a sharp edge. But on occasion the tool I need is not available in carbide, I only have the choice of "High Speed Steel", "Triple Tempered Steel", "c45 High Carbon Steel rc54-65 whatever" . What is the real difference between these "types?" of steel as far as their abilities to maintain a sharp edge and handle heat (router & turning bits get very hot)??? High speed steel usually cost more, is it worth the money??
Wayne  <Wgats at gunnison.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 00:39:47 GMT

Keith, while good horse rasps are usually made from W1, some are made from mild steel and case hardened. At least I've run into quite a few. That is what happens when youhave half a dozen of those dang hay burners to feed, you get to ask the farrier for his old files.
So before you go to a lot of trouble making a tool from one you should heat one end up, and quench it to see if it will get hard enough for your use. You might snap off the end a little, the low carbon ones will just bend and not break.
A nthe venerable Guru said, usually old files are made from W1 it's just the horse rasps that could be different.
Moldy  <no thanks> - Sunday, 05/13/01 02:24:23 GMT

Cast anvil: Mikey and ALL, I have yet to see a quality cast steel anvil that you could see the parting line on any surface. At least not obviously and not even on the bottom. Generaly if you see casting lines it is a cheap cast iron anvil. And even some of the better made CI anvils are cleaned up.
Chinese Cast Iron anvil photo (c) Jock Dempsey

The anvils above were found in a popular farm supply store. The concrete floor they were sitting on had more rebound (was harder) then these anvils. The friend that helped me "pose" these gave me one of the smallest as a joke. Good shop paper weight.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 03:15:10 GMT

Wood working: Wayne, Tungsten Carbide is nearly as hard as diamond and not effected by heat. Cutters can be solid carbide (very expensive) or have braze in inserts. The carbide is a powder material that is "sintered" using cobalt. Carbide will take more heat and more abrasion than any steel. However, it is brittle and requires a diamond wheel to sharpen correctly. Due to the brittleness you don't see thin edges on carbide tools.

HSS is the next best stuff. Its what most top quality metal working drills, milling and lathe cutter bits are made of. It is the industry standard for most cutters. The advantage is that it is easy to grind and will retain its harness at a low red heat. However it is not as abrasion resistant as carbide and even though it is very heat resistant the high cutting speed of wood working machines WILL overheat it.

c45 is a non-standard designation except for all the Chinese machine manuals I have site it for all the hardened parts. . I don't know what it is but its not HSS. Many other designations are trade names and marketing hype. Stick to tungsten carbide and HSS.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 03:28:05 GMT

On the anvils above. . the "plate" top is mearly a machined part of the cast iron body. I had a salesman try to tell me it was a welded on tool steel plate. No they are not.

Files #32: There may very well be case hardened rasps but I always buy quality tools (or try to). . . But I suspect that farriers rasps are exposed to a lot of sand gravel and who knows what. Sometimes throw-away is better. But it makes lousy scrap for scroungers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 04:34:43 GMT

Thanks again Guru....I guess I just got jipped again...oh well I'm sort of use to it.....but thanks for the info..I appreciate it.....I'll get me a real anvil, one of these days!....
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 11:20:13 GMT

Hello Guru

I'm going to try my luck at forging a tomahawk out of an
old railroad spike, would you or any of your helpers know the type of steel they used in these old spikes? Any suggestions on heat treating, and any helpful hints on making the handle hole. Any info would be appreciated.
Bill  <camper at yhti.net> - Sunday, 05/13/01 14:27:42 GMT

Mikey: I just read your earlier note. If it rings and is real hard it MAY BE a decent anvil. Folks in S.E. Asia make good tools for themselves. However, there are many disreputable importers that ASK for the cheapest possible product because they know they can sell it in the U.S. and they will never be returned. This includes everything from anvils to machine tools.

In the 1980's there was a huge scandle involving counterfeit bolts. The Army bought a product that had high grade bolts. The bolts started failing. Engineering studies said they should not. The bolt material was carefully analyzed and found to be lower grade material than what the head markings on the bolts indicated. In a panic, the U.S. government setup a program where all bolts used in critical applications must be traceable and have head markings that indicated the manufacturer and the lot by serial number. In industries the govenrment regulated such as the nuclear industry TONS of bolts were scrapped because they had no head markings or were not "traceable". In the end it was found that an unscrupulous importer had specified the material AND the bolt markings. This one act cost the fastener industry billions of dollars (which of course came out of OUR economy and pockets in the end).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 14:40:41 GMT

Spikes: Bill, RR-Spikes are made from a variety of steels including (I've seen it) scrap RR axels. There are two varieties of RR spikes. High carbon and low carbon. "High Carbon" is a relative term in this case. The high carbon spikes are supposedly marked on the head "HC". These are actually close to a 40 or 45 point medium carbon steel acording to most reports. They WILL harden but are far short of cutlery steel. As with ALL scrap or unknown steel you should test a sample.

Bill Epps has a Tomahawk from Spike demo on our iForge page (#12). And there is an axe demo (#28) by Rich Hale.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 15:13:30 GMT

Moldy, thanks for the help. I have a quistion about forges if you are up for it. I have a mankel forge that was given to me by my dad, after he retired it. He bought a new one. The problem im having with it is, one of the burners wont light. Ive checked to see if it might have some thing plugging it up , but found nothing that should have kept it from lighting. Could the size of the linner opening have any thing to do with the problem? The opening is as large as the furnace opening itself. Thanks Keith
keith  <chancemft1 at aol.com> - Sunday, 05/13/01 22:24:28 GMT

I am planning on making a hydraulic press. I have a chance to buy an electric hydraulic pump and plan to go look at it early this week. Can you give me some basic information on what I need to look for, such as pressure, flow rate, etc., as related to the tonnage. I'm also going to look for a cylinder and need to know how to relate to ram speed, etc. If you know of a good reference, book or internet site, I would really appreciate it.
azdoug  <dendrud at earthlink.net> - Monday, 05/14/01 01:15:09 GMT

Forge: Keith, There are a bunch of Mankel manifold arrangements so it is hard to trouble shoot from here. However, ANY difference in porting can create situations where one burner does not appear to work. However, as long a the gas/air mixture is entering the forge enclousure it should be burning even though you don't see a flame at the burner outlet. If not there will be a strong oder of unburned propane in the area. In that case TURN IT OFF!

If the lining to the forge is such that there is a lot of difference around the two (three, four?) burner ports then the burners will be out of balance and won't burn equally.

Ary you SURE nothing is clogged? It is very common for a piece of teflon tape or other debris to get caught in the valves or orifices. Insects commonly build nests in pipes and orifices. The only way to be sure is to dissassemble the fuel distribution system and look. Sometimes you can use compressed air (with the blower off) and check the discharge at the fuel ports before dissassembly. Don't take it apart if you don't have to. Some forges have discharge orifices some don't. Most blower type forges do not. IF the forge does, then this is the most likely place for a clog.

If there are seperate gas valves on the burners they should be very carefully opened the same number of of turns and there should probably not be more than 90° difference in the total when adjusted. Carefully mark and close the valves recording the turns or parts of turns. Then average out the total and readjust. THEN try the forge. Due to pipe length, turbulance, differences in the forge there WILL be a slight difference between the burners but you need to start the same.

When making fuel adjustments on a gas forge you need to give the changes time to take effect. A pressure adjustment at the regulator will not be reflected at the burners until the pressure in the lines equalizes. Valve adjustments will change or create hot spots that take a few minutes to show up.

When making adjustments on any system, make ONE change at a time and test the results. IF a change does not create the expected result OR an observable result then UNDO it before making other changes. This applies to everything from computer programming, tuning engines or medicine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 01:34:47 GMT

I need to know about blacksmithing in the early 1900's for a report that I am doing in school. If anybody could tell me any information about blacksmithing and maybe even a little gunsmithing during that time period,it would be greatly appreciated. Thanx. -Lori
Lori  <marysanders1 at home.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 02:10:41 GMT

Guru, thanks for the advice. Since the problem started I've totolaly disasimbled the forge. No clogs. The one thing that I can think of is, I had to reline the forge and could not find a liner in time so I used fire brick morter, I had to have it the next day( after waiting 6 months to long to replace the liner to begine with). I do get a raw prop. smell acasionauly, but I need the forge for shoeing so its hard to lose for any lenth of time. would reling it again with kaowool solve the problem? thanks Keith
keith  <chancemft1 at aol.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 03:57:03 GMT

Hydraulics: Doug, The most important thing to remember is HORSEPOWER. Pressure means nothing without flow. Pressure and Flow means HP. Check Don Fogg's page and his article about his press. He also sells a booklet about the same.

Ram speed is directly related to flow (forget pressure). You have to calculate the volume per inch of cylinder and then divide the flow in GPM by that volume per inch to get Inches per Minute. I usualy convert everything to cubic inches including flow and use Cubic Inches Per Minute.

231 cubic inches in a gallon.

Remember to subtract the rod size on the retract area/volume. The only time pressure comes into play is ultimate force. All motion is flow.

Everything is balance and compromise. A small diameter cylinder will move fast but have little force. A large diameter cylinder will have a lot of force but move slowly.

The best pumps for hydraulic forging are dual output. A high pressure low flow output for the WORK and a low pressure high flow output for the advance and retact motions.

Try to find the highest HP pump you can find. 7.5 to 15 HP is a good range for small forging presses.

Remember the need for a reservoir, a filter and a pressure release valve. The pressure release valve will cycle every time you bottom out and is VERY important in this type hydraulic circuit. These are generaly positive displacemnt type pumps and you must NOT stall them. The reservoir absorbs the difference in volume between extend and retract (the volume of the rod) but it also gives the fluid a rest to cool. A reservoir will cooling fins and a fan is not a bad idea. Remember CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN. grit is death to hydraulics.

Again, the KEY is HP. Work doesn't just happen magicaly and hydraulics are notoriously inefficient. . Now you want efficient use of HP. Build a rolling mill!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 04:00:28 GMT

Mankel Forge: Keith, No, Kaowool is not a magic bullet. It is just light weight and efficient. For now I suspect you can tweek it with adjustment. Order a factory reline kit and fix it when you can. I suspect the problem is the shape of the opening where the burner enters the forge. Folks building home-builts have found that the proper shape (a bell shaped flare) makes a big difference in performance. Most commercial forges use clyindrical holes but they DO start out uniform.

Since you are probably using it outdoors the raw gas is not too much of a problem but if the forge sets in the back of a close camper shell or such I'd be carefull. . . Don't want to make a cannon out of your truck.

Gas smell is common when using forges outdoors due to breezes. However, that breeze CAN blow unburnt fuel into a closed space such as your truck, a barn or shed. Given a steady breeze and sufficient time you could have a problem.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 04:11:51 GMT

Guru, I'm getting back to you (finally) re: the availability and price of the 4"x10"x10" 4140 anvil. A previous call to Ryerson was fruitless and currently there has been no answer to my email. I may try to call again and will let you know if I get results. I have a question. I just bought a 150lb. haybudden with a superb rebound (95% with a ball bearing) However, I didn't pay any attn. to the ring until I got home. It doesn't ring. It looks like the waist has a slight hairline crack around a good portion of the circumference. Is it OK to use it as is ? And if it ever breaks, can it be welded ? I paid $1/lb. Thanks much for any input. Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson  <tjrn1957 at yahoo.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 04:44:25 GMT

Blacksmithing in the early 1900's: Lori, this was the most turbulent time ever for blacksmiths. Industrial smiths were rapidly being replaced by teams of press operators running huge forging presses and factory produced product. Rural smiths and their smithys of romantic poetry who relied on horseshoeing, farm and wagon repair were almost completely replaced by the farm tractor and automobile by the 1940's.

At the turn of the century most smiths were in a thriving economy. Steam engines and machine tools such as lathes and power hammers were common in smithys at the end of the 1800's and in the early 1900's were being replaced by electric motors and gasoline engines. It was an exciting time for smiths. Even early automobiles provided opertunity since most of the parts were hand made and within the skills of many smiths to repair or replace.

Soon big industry replaced the individual smith as well as the small factory with many skilled smiths. This was a process that had started in the late 1800's but was greatly accelerated by the forced industrialization during the World Wars.

The time between the World Wars marked the biggest change. We went into WWI in a horse drawn economy, we went into WWII in a gasoline engine driven economy and came out in a world with jet planes and nuclear weapons. Everything changed. Wagons made with smith forged metal work and iron tires were replaced by factory built jeeps, trucks and tanks. Wooden steam and sailing ships and ships with riveted metal hulls were replaced by welded steel contruction. Steam engines were replaced by diesel engines.

In a few areas smiths were spared. Architectural smiths continued to work. However in the U.S. we are not known for heavy use of architectural iron and there was work for a select few. Some small industries continued operating as they always had and do so today. Open die forging using small forging machines and skilled labor still produce a vast number of specialized tools and small forgings. However, this is a very small industry. Farriers continue to shoe horses and a few still make shoes from scratch.

By the 1950's Blacksmithing was considered a "dead art". However, there were enough practicing the art that in the 1960's Alex Bealer researched and wrote The Art of Blacksmithing and numerous craftpeople were picking up the hammer and seeking the remaining old time smiths to learn from them. Today blacksmithing is alive and well.

There were virtualy no changes in gunsmithing at this time other than improved machinery and designs. Virtualy all guns had been factory made from the Civil War era onward. By 1900 there were few or no hand forged parts in production firearms.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 05:15:17 GMT

Ryerson and Anvils: Tim, I'm sorry you are having trouble with Ryerson. They used to be VERY good for this type thing. You may want to look for a more local steel service center. Big companies go through cycles. Buisness is bad so they court the small customer but then when business is good the treat the small customer like dirt. . I've been through this cycle numerous times. Those that are the most abusive end up getting bought out by a bigger fish. . . I'll remove my recommendation to use them.

Your Hay-Budden is welded together at the waist. You can V out the crack and arc weld it back together. However, the top is tool steel and should be preheated while welding. Use E7018 rod or a high manganese rod if you want to get high tech (ie expensive).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 05:35:46 GMT

I jusr read the brilliant write-up on forge welding but am a bit worried about the addition of fluorspar to fluxes. I believe the outcome is nasty fluorides as in hydrofluoric acid and they can be fatal if inhaled. Is correct or is this type of flux quite safe.
Steelej  <bushmansedge at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 09:51:37 GMT

I am sorry, guru, but I looked and saw nothing. I did not think I was being belligerent, but I have been very annoyed by the answers that some people at some websites give me, if they give me any. I was in no wise trying to be disrespectful to anyone here. I just cannot stand not being answered at all, which appeared to be the case here. I thank you for your help.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 14:01:04 GMT

Does the spark test depend on whether the steel is in an annealed state or hardened. I "sparked" some O1 and didn't see much difference from mind steel. Since it came annealed I wondered if that was the reason. I was wondering if face centered cubic provided more carbon for the spark than body centered cubic. I'm only guessing.
The best sparks I've seen came from case hardened jail bars so I've lost some of my confidence in at least a quick (superficial) check.
L.Sundstrom - Monday, 05/14/01 14:08:51 GMT

I cannot find any blacksmithing books. There are none at the local library (a small one) and of course, not at the school library. There is one local blacksmith that I know of, and I am going to try to meet him as soon as I can, but that might be after I have to turn in my project. I am sorry if I have been ill-mannered, but I have been ill-treated on the web many times, and therefore was approaching asking you guys defensively. I am currently trying to find stuff on-line by searching, but do not know very much about blacksmithing, and cannot read every word of every link from every website I find. I have a good vocab, but I have to present it to my classmates, one of whom didn't even know what a blacksmith was. I am sure I would have to stoop very low, and I have to have a source for EVERYTHING. I have to have some sources that can be PROVEN. I can have all the websites I find count as one source. I must find some on-line magazine articles, and I have to try to come up with something from an encyclopedia. Most of this I have done or can do quickly, but I still have to have a source for every word I say. If I do an interview it doesn't count as a source but as a product (various activities or objects I must have totaling to six.)
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 14:27:26 GMT

Flourite or Flourspar: Steelej, You are right, flourine compounds are very aggressive and quite poisonous but only slightly more so than many boron compounds. Elemental flourine and hydrofluoric acid are the worst. However, the point of the flux is to combine with the metal oxides forming salts and silicates that flow off the metal. The flourite mineral compound contains silicon that helps form a fluid slag and is used in the steel industry as it has been since the 1500's or earlier.

I am looking for a MSDS for flourspar as a flux.

Consider that "sand" is often recommeded as a flux. There is a sand for every type of mineral. So, what kind of sand is your back yard? Flourite? Of course you probably don't know. Neither do I. But it is something to consider.

The fact that flourine is so active means it will probably join with something in your forge first. What escapes is probably a very small amount and mixed with the forge exhaust. If you breath your forge exhaust it will kill you very quickly (having nothing to do with fluxes or flourine). Good ventilation is always required in forges and foundries.

There is also a mater of quantity. Almost everything is a poison in too great a quantity including plain water.

The following is from the Los Alamos National Laboratory website and was credited to CRC and American Chemical Society.
(L. and F. fluere, flow or flux) In 1529, Georigius Agricola described the use of fluorspar as a flux, and as early as 1670 Schwandhard found that glass was etched when exposed to fluorspar treated with acid. Scheele and many later investigators, including Davy, Gay-Lussac, Lavoisier, and Thenard, experimented with hydrofluoric acid, some experiments ending in tragedy.

Elemental fluorine and the fluoride ion are highly toxic. The free element has a characteristic pungent odor, detectable in concentrations as low as 20 ppb, which is below the safe working level. The recommended maximum allowable concentration for a daily 8-hour time-weighted exposure is 1 ppm.

The following is from Kickwheel Pottery Supply

Flourspar CaF2 Flourspar has a lower fluxing temperature than other calcia compounds. It can be used as a substitute for whiting to promote more fusible glazes. Can be destructive to kiln furniture after long-term use because of fuming.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 15:22:54 GMT

Spark Test: Larry, This is a peculiar test and relies somewhat on the type and coarsness of the grinding wheel. I get the good results from hard vitrified wheels on a bench grinder and no results from a "flexible" fiberglass reinforced wheel like used on an angle grinder. The best I get are from a little Dremel Moto Tool.

I just went out into the shop and tried the hard/soft test on some A2. No difference. However, on the coarse wheel grinding lightly it was difficult to tell the A2 from mild steel. On the fine wheel the difference was clear. I think you can get the same results on a coarse wheel with more pressure but I use a light touch on bench grinders.

To be accurate this test needs to be done in low light with some plain dark background on which to see the sparks. I always test some known steels. (a drill bit, then a piece of mild steel) just to be sure I can tell the difference. This may seem redundant but I've done this test more often in other people's shops than in my own, so testing the setup becomes part of the test.

For a while I have considered putting together a "sample" kit for metal identification. A dozen or so marked samples starting with Wrought iron, through HSS and some alloys such as 304, 440 SS and monel. The kit would sell for around $35 and include information about each sample. So far finding a box has been the biggest problem. Anyone intrested?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 15:56:53 GMT

Guru -
Thanks for your reply. I was kind of worried about how thin that tail was where the hardie hole is. I'll just have to keep looking for a replacement for my tired old colonial anvil.
Chris  <chavilandatiquest.net> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:00:10 GMT

There is an old model T Ford chassis on the metal scrapheap at the local landfill. Is there any interesting metal in this? Perhaps some wrought? I am thinking of going out with my torch and chopping it up.
adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:03:47 GMT


Orjan's book marks (see Links) has references to several publications which have been reproduced online. They include a couple of complete blacksmithing books.
adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:09:45 GMT


Spark test kit. Yes please! Where do I send the check? Don't worry about a box. Put it in an old paper bag.
adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:14:04 GMT

RESEARCH: Jonathan, This IS THE on-line blacksmiths magazine. Print magazines that have websites will have a sample article or two in order to sell their hardcopy product. They don't keep gigabytes of information on-line like we do. Yes, research on the web IS difficult. I do it daily. I get REAL tired of finding a dozen pop music sites for Poison and Blacksmith, and companies like Anvil Software and Anvil Cases. But THAT is the nature of the web. You will also find many sites with mystical, new age and pseudo science claiming to be fact. We do not do that here, but using on-line sources can be VERY dicey.

Try this: blacksmithing.homestead.com
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:17:20 GMT

Colonial Anvil: Chris, IF your anvil is THAT old (a stubby old fifth foot type or small 1/2" hardy hole and no pritchell) you may be able to sell it to a collector OR trade it for a better working anvil. Photograph it and let us see what it looks like. The biggest problem is shipping.
It becomes a significant portion of the cost of an anvil. Possibly trading it at a Blacksmith get together may be your best bet. But it IS something to consider.

Old FordAdam, I can't think of anything specific. I know Ford did a lot of research into finding steels processed to where they could be pressed into shape for the frame (resulting in some modern steels). I suspect that anything worth using has been stripped off. Items like axels are often medium carbon steel and big enough to make hammers and such. Springs are always a medium to high carbon steel. But if either of these remain on the chasis they should probably be saved for a restorer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 16:35:45 GMT

Painting on Ebay: Someone sent me a note that the "iForge" painting was on sale on eBay. Please note that this is a copy of the original by Jefferson Davis Chalfant which is currently in the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago Ill, USA. In some places it it quite good. In others it is sloppy and not as finished. I wouldn't mind having it (as a copy), but not at auction prices. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 17:19:08 GMT

Spark test kit: Good idea.
Question: I've seen little (3/4 to 1 1/2 inch) six pedal flowers, sometimes with a tube for a lamp coming out of their center, sometime by themselves or as a very large rivet head. I want to call them rosettes or buttons. Do you know what I'm talking about. I am wondering if they are usually made with one punch that stamps the whole flower or several stamps for the different components. I have looked through iforge many times and if it's there I've missed it. If it's not could you demo it some time please.

L.Sundstrom - Monday, 05/14/01 17:26:07 GMT

Looking for opinions. Who makes/made the best anvil's?
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 17:38:04 GMT

More on Fluorspar: It is a primary ingrediant in the grey lime flux coating on stainless steel welding rods. No specific warnings other than not to breath the smoke in general.

It is also listed in a Porceline welding flux. There are warnings about boron compounds but not the flourine.

A flux called CUPRIT 49 by FOSECO INC, contains Fluorspar, Borax and Soda Ash. The limit on air born flourine is:

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 19:00:46 GMT

Rosettes: Larry, Did you look at demo #84 "Bolt and Rivet Heading"?

These can be made several ways. You MAY make them with a single die using a sledge, power hammer or press. However, most are cut by hand using a series of punches and chisles. Sometimes simple tools are used and in some cases specialized "Petal" punches are used. Check that demo and let me know if that is what you are talking about.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 19:12:28 GMT

I looked at demo # 84 and as usual it was good and the illustrations outstanding. If you go the Traditional Metalsmith ad and roll down to the "bain of barefoot boys"
(Biscuits) there is a flower with three rings of pedals. I have seen the outside ring of pedals with just a center quite often but it is deceptively simple looking and hard to make "free-hand". It seems to be a pretty common element. Maybe a punch could made using a hard hex headed bolt. How would you go about it? I would really like to be able to make this consistently and efficiently.
Thanks again,
L.Sundstrom - Monday, 05/14/01 20:04:54 GMT


That question is almost impossible to answer. Every smith looks for many of the same qualities in his/her anvil, but each also looks for things that other smiths would not look for.

I'd list

Hay Budden,
M & H Armitage,
Peter Wright,

as being AMONG the best. I'm sure others can add to the list.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 20:38:55 GMT

Rosette: Larry, These layered rosettes are generaly made seperately and the center is a rivet holding the other pieces together. Go to the NEWS, Spring 2000 edition, page 6 for an example. These are made of 1/8" (3mm) plate and a solid center.

The pieces can also be slipped up a stem or shank and the shank upset to hold them in place. THEN you can do it the REAL hard way and hot cut the layers from a large upset and work them as one piece. . . Its done but I don't recommend it.

If you need to make lots of the same multi-layer rosettes blanking it the important step. Today the best thing to do is get someone to laser or plasma cut the blanks using a computer drawn template. However if you are talking THOUSANDS then a special die(s) in a punch press is more efficeint.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 20:45:44 GMT

Hydraulics: I have one thing to add to the Guruís most excellent explanation.... You may also need to reject some heat from a hydraulic press system. The inefficiency Jock talked about is energy that goes to heat. Flow across an orifice and leakage all amount to heat buildup in the oil. Mineral oil hydraulic fluid should not run hotter than 180 degrees F. Hydraulics are generally a good energy source when high force is needed in a small space or in a controlled manner.

For a good start on hydraulic formulae, you can order a copy of the Fluid Power Design Handbook from Price Engineering in Waukesha WI. They have it on sale for $11.25 plus shipping. 200 pages of formulae, tables and text. I just ordered another copy today and they said they didnít mind taking phone credit card orders from you guys and gals either. I spoke to Frank in inside sales. 262.547.2700. Fax 262.547.0416 or sales at priceeng.com

I do business with them occasionally, but will not receive anything for this endorsement, yada, yada....

Horsepower in the oil = pressure in pounds per square inch times gallons per minute flow required divided by 1714. For motor hp required, divide oil horsepower by .8 or so.

First figure how much force you want. Then decide on a pressure for the system. 1500 or 2500 or 4000 psi. Then pick a cylinder size to give you the force you want with the pressure you will have. Then decide how fast you want the cylinder to move and that will give you the flow rate. That will give you the pump specs. (Gpm at xxxx psi). Then you can decide how big the motor has to be to power the pump from the formula above.

As an example... say you want a 10 ton press, 20,000 pounds. And say you have a 2500 psi pump available... 20,000/2500=8 So you need a cylinder with a piston area of 8 square inches. Thatís a 3.25 inch cylinder bore. And say you want it to move at 10 inches per minute. 10 x 8 = 80 cubic inches per minute. Thatís .35 gallons per minute. Hp = 2500 x .35 / 1714 = .51 then .51 / .8 = .64 motor HP. So you need a 1 hp motor.

No more time now. Ask away....
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 21:43:39 GMT

Best Anvil: Chris, Now THAT is a loaded question! A lot depends on what you want it for. Every anvil has its advantages and pros and cons.

In the past the best was probably Hay-Budden. Followed by Mousehole Forge. The M&H Armitage Mousehole anvils were not the prettiest but by virture of having made more anvils than any other manufacturer over hundreds of years they had the hardening process down to a scince. I've found the durability of Mousehole Forge anvils to be supperior to almost all others.

Peter Wright was thought to be one of the best. Although one of the prettiest shapes, I've found many to be soft and a large number seem to end up in poor condition. This may be just my experiance.

There were some very good German and European makers that made some very classy two horned anvils. Many of these were unsigned. The drawing posted on the 21st Century page is one of these.

In modern anvils the last forged steel anvil is the Peddinghaus. Like the late Hay-Buddens they are welded at the waist. Unlike the German anvils of the past these are not the prettiest anvil and some have recently been poorly finished. I'm told they have improved. Of the anvils I've been able to put to the steel ball test the Peddinghaus were the hardest.

There are a variety of cast steel anvils made in the US and elsewhere. There are imports from England, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. In the US there is a slew of makers casting farriers anvils and a couple casting regular smithing anvils. Although the Nimba anvils are an unusual shape to most of us they are a good stout design and by far the better finished.

I have an article from Russel Jaqua of Nimba anvils to post about cast steel anvils. Modern cast steel anvils that are properly heat treated are as good as any.

In modern anvils there are MANY farriers pattern anvils. These are designed for light forging and portability. They are almost all horn and heal having little mass in the body. This makes them very springy. Good forging anvils have a heavier waist and more mass in the body. What makes a great farriers anvil is not the best smithing anvil.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 22:02:11 GMT

Hydraulics: Tony, Good example. But everyone take note. He said, "10 inches a minute" !! A forging press wants to move several inches per second (during extend and retract). and then maybe 5-10% of that while "working". Multiply that HP!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 22:05:55 GMT

Welcome Frank Turley!

Frank is the newest member of our color guard. He the founder and operator of Turley Forge Blacksmithing School and a frequent demonstrator at craft schools, regional workshops, and universities.

Frank's color is "Silver"
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/14/01 22:09:17 GMT

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