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This is an archive of posts from May 15 - 21, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

Correction: I spoke to Thomas in inside sales at Price. Not Frank. In way too much of a hurry this afternoon.... To go see a lawyer no less. Yuck!

But I stopped at the scrap purveyor after the lawyer and all is now better in the world. I now have a virtually unlimited supply of 1" and 1/2" diameter music wire drawing stock. I should be able to smith some stuff out of that, huh?

And yes, I was too lazy to add the step of inches per second to inches per minute. Jock is right that most forging presses will be at least 15 hp. It was an example. Plug in your numbers to make it real. Or ask. I love this stuff.

One more thing on the hydraulics.... valving is very important. For a press, you want a three position, 4 way OPEN center valve. That way, when you are not extending and retracting, the flow from the pump does not have to go across the relief valve. Or better yet, get a pressure compensated, variable volume pump that only puts out as much flow as required to maintain the pressure. More dollars though.
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmilwpc.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 00:13:53 GMT

At the Spring Fling I finally had enough money scraped together to purchase a Green-Mengel 66 lb. swage block. This block measures 10" X 10" X 3 ĺ " and has a fair number of round and square swages along the edge, and some shallow bowls, spoon depressions, a "betty lamp" depression and a shovel cavity on the faces. Working, as I usually do, at the low end of the iron-age I have a number of questions about this newfangled piece of high-tech equipment.

Do I assume that the swages in the edges will substitute for a large number of bottom swages, and work well in combination with a top swage? (I know that this is an obvious question, but better to ask before knocking the corner off the swage block!)

The square swages seem to be a little more obtuse than 90 degrees. Is this a problem of the casting, or is it done on purpose to provide relief while working slightly larger stock down? If this is not so, should I file them out to 90 degrees? Should I file and smooth all of the business parts of the casting? Would a small angle grinder be useful, or is that too aggressive?

I was contemplating a hardwood stand, which would secure the swage block atop my main anvil when needed. This would provide a secure mount with plenty of weight below it and a good working height, but keep the block off the anvil's face. This still would require a different mounting for the swage block's faces. Any neat ideas on a swage block mount?

I've already found a number of operations that the swage block is useful for (and handier than some of my jerry-built solutions) but do any of you have any cool swage block tricks that you especially advocate?

Look out 19th Century! Here I come!

Cool and pleasant on the banks of the lower Potomac. I think I brought all of that Denver springtime weather back with me!

I am also honored to rub electronic elbows with such as Frank Turley, an excellent author, craftsman and artist. His Southwestern Colonial Ironwork gets a workout at the Departmental library, especially from me.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 02:00:05 GMT

I've been interested in forging my own knife blades for a while, so I recently got the materials together and made a forge. My first attempt at a knife (or anything else) wasn't all that succesful. The edge side of bar I was using thinned out fine with hammering but it forced the bar to bow, of course, since the opposite side was now shorter than the edge, creating something that looked more like a sickle than a knife. Is there a reference somewhere on the net with help for knife forging? Can you give me a few tips that might get me started? Thanks.
Jeremy  <jsoule at ameritech.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 02:22:30 GMT

I'd like to echo Bruce's welcome to Frank Turley. It's both a pleasure and an honor to work beside Frank. The book that Bruce mentioned, I'm fortunate enough to have found a copy. It's already showing signs have been read more than once. Not too long after Anvilfire came on line, I did a review of Frank's book. I haven't revised my opinion, it's still an interesting read.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 02:28:49 GMT

Chris Turley (not related) wrote in a while back about the identification of leg vises. I, for one, wish that someone had enough information to write "Leg Vises in America" in order to echo Postman's "Anvils in America". I have gathered a little material over the years and would like to share it. In the Southwest, I venture to say that Columbian vises outnumber other brands by about l5 to 1. More often than not they have *tiny* "tabs", the lugs which extend from the jaw bases, and many have stubby open boxes. The box is the screw portion and, by 'open', I mean that the area extending beyond the back of the fixed jaw has a hole in it (like an elongated nut). A very few Columbians had a solid box, closed on the end. Columbians quite often had rectangular-section legs. Some had a short length of the legs chamfered into an octagonal section, but not too many. I have one dated 1917 on the movable jaw; it has rectangular legs. The mounting plates are a rough triangluar shape with the sides incurved, and the "points" radiused. It is close to a lozenge shape, except one end is thickened where it contains a key and wedge, which gives it kind of a triangular look. I have a WW II vintage Columbian which has a "C" on the plate and a "U" shaped return spring.

A good looking vise which has a broader, longer tab is the Iron City brand. I can only guess that they were made in either Pittsburgh or Gary. If you're facing the screw head, the side of the movable jaw to your right will contain a Star of David impression, and within the star will be stamped in caps, IRON CITY. I have owned two Iron City vises, and I liked them both. They have the octagonal section on the legs, and the mounting plate is bifurcated and splayed.

Another vise which I find aesthetically pleasing is one that is very carefully finished. I have two of them, and the workmanship in incredible. I don't know the maker, but I have been told they are Peter Wright vises. This vise also has a mounting plate much like the Columbian, but I don't think they copied the Columbian, more like vice versa. The box is solid, and the closed protruding portion of the box looks like an old fashioned mortar with lathe turnings and a small ball on the end. One of mine has stamped in small letters on top of the box, PATENT SOLID BOX. There is a lathe turned line on the screw head. The legs have their octagonal section. One of the vises has a "W" stamped on the box which can be seen if the box is removed. The tabs are broad, thick, and elongated compared with the Columbian.

I have two quite old vises, and I mentioned their distinguishing feature in a previous post. The mounting plate has a tenon which extends through the fixed leg and through the top of the spring. The tenon has a rectangular hole through it, so it may be wedged in place. The Plate is hot split, the resulting legs splayed in a curve away from each other. Each leg has a flattened circular finial. The box extensions are good looking, again echoing the "mortar" shape. I suspect this style of vise dates from 1775 to 1825
I think they were made in England. The one that I have looks shop made, and the other possibly came from a manufactory. The legs are partially octagonalized (no such word). I do not use these vises. I suppose they should go to a worthy museum.

Now, just what is that tab extension, anyway? Chris Turley suggests that if you miss with the hammer, you'll hit that thing instead of the washers, screw head, or box. One time, a few years back, Peter Ross of Wmsburg, was visiting my shop, and I was filing away. The subject of vises came up, and I asked him what those tabs were for. He said with a questioning rise to his voice, "To keep filings out of the works?"

I'm open to receiving feedback about leg vises. I thank one and all for allowing me to be colored silver. Frank T.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 04:55:51 GMT

Knife Forging: Jeremy, Forging a knife blade has many general forging steps that take time and practice to learn. Play with a bunch of mild steel until you get the practice and those muscles built up.

The curving problem is simple (when you know) bend the blank the other direction. How much? How far did your other blank curve? About that much. Its an art.

When forging the tang you want to make it as large as possible at the blade end and have as big of corner radi as you can make.

There are a few good knife sites but most don't have the details you are looking for. Books are still the way to go. Try a good general reference like Jack Andrews, The NEW Edge of the Anvil and one good knife reference like David Boye's Step-by-step Knifemaking.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 05:21:11 GMT

I was wanting to write a short story that involves a brief scene around a forge. A large forge and an old one, since the story is set in a medival fantasy setting. I was wondering if you could give me a detailed desription of what one of these forges looked like. And if you could possibly tell me the procedure for starting one of these up and stoking it and bringing the heat up to a acceptable level. Also could you tell me exactly how the bellows work. I heard or read somewhere that they force air under the coals and it helps super heat them. Also does this cause heat to build evenly or unenvenly so is used sparingly? One more thing I was going to have the scene be about the brocurement of arrow heads. Would a person forge these staright out of metal and beat them into shape, or would he melt metal down and pour it into a mold. I was wanting to be real to life, so could you tell me the procedure whichever one of those it really is. Not the cheesy flat head arrows you see in robin hood movies and things like that, but I am talking real bore type arrows made to fly far and penetrate armor and flesh. At least the designs of ones available in the dark ages. I only need the descrip for the arrow heads themselves not the arrow shaft and fletching. I know typically a blacksmith would not make arrows, it would fall to a bowyer/fletcher, but in my story this blacksmith is the best so the arrowheads come from him.
Thanks in advance for any insight or help you could give me.
Greg  <pxgb02 at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 05:43:06 GMT

Forge: Greg, You are one of the first authors (we have had many come here) that asked questions and seemed to have a clue to the process. THANK YOU for thinking!

Yes, the smith would have made the arrow points. The "fletcher" primarily assembles the arrows installing the points, knocks, and feathers (fletchings). Some industries specialized very early and this one was established in the stone age.

I recommend you order a copy of Alex Bealer's "The Art of Blacksmithing". Its about traditional smithing and well illustrated. It focuses on 18th and 19th century smithing, however for the most part the smith's art has not changed in 3500 years.

During your time period bellows would be a pair of single action bellows side by side. There would be a wooden lever arrangement so that when one expanded taking in fresh air the other compressed expelling air into the fire. The action is much like breathing and the "blast" approximates your blowing gently. There is a simple flap valve made of wood and leather over a hole in the bottom board of each single action bellows. There is no "exhaust" valve. They work like common fireplace or molders bellows if you have ever seen them.

Modern bellows are double chambered (like two on top of each other) and connected to the fire via a pipe. Ancient bellows had slender funnel shaped nozzels and blew the air toward a hole in a "shield stone". The fire was either on the other side of the shield stone OR their was a clay pipe called a tuyere to extend the center of the fire some distance from the shield stone.

The forced draft creates an intense heat in the charcoal fuel. It is hot enough at the center of the fire to melt steel AND set it on fire. So yes, you are right, the fire must be carefully controlled. The bellows was (is still) an excellent way to do this. After energetic pumping to get the fire up to heat, slow gentle pulls maintain the heat and produce a carburizing (non-oxidizing) fire.

Wrought iron and steel are forged (heated and hammered) not cast. The casting scene in Conan the Barbarian is hollywood hype that is out of place. Bronze swords were cast. All iron/steel swords, knives, arrow points are forged.

Steel arrow heads WERE those flat things like in the Robin Hood movies (they occasionaly get things right). They were flat with a socket for the arrow shaft. Most were made from two thin pieces forge welded together. See the discussions above and on the iForge page about forge welding. Welding this thin material without burning it up was a real art.

After welding the arrowheads the smith would harden and temper them. Hardening consists of heating to a low red heat and quenching in water. This makes the steel VERY hard and brittle. Tempering is the gentle reheating to reduce the hardness a little and increase the toughness a lot. When the blacksmith tempers steel he polishes off some of the black scale with a file or stone and judges the temperature by the colors the steel turns. You've seen them, those rainbow colors that appear on heated steel.

From the Earth comes Iron to make steel. The bellows makes the wind to excite the Fire. Water is used to cool and harden the Steel. Earth, Air, Fire and Water, blacksmiths were the first and truest alchemists.

Let us know if you need more help or a technical proof reader. We also have a series of stories, myths and legends on our story page.

Better yet, check our plans page (off the home page) for a brake drum forge and the 21st Century page for a cheap anvil and try it yourself! But be careful, its addictive.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 07:47:07 GMT

Frank Turley!!! WOW...pleased and honored to say the least.
Speaking of post vises; Tony came up with an idea that seems splendid. If I understand it correctly, he replaces the pin that the moving leg pivots on with a cam operated by a foot pedal.
Tony made his from scratch but I've been eyeing my post vises wondering how to make a conversion without trashing a fine old piece of equiptment....any Ideas? All my solutions do violence to the vise.

Next question. I have an old Common Sense hammer with part of the hammer guide frame cracked off. When I got it it had an unsuccessful braising repair. I cut it off clean and fabricated/machined a replacement section all chamfered and ready to weld....preheated to 400 and using old nickle arc ,rod tried to weld it up...but the nickle rod foamed when run against the cast iron no matter how I set the arc welder. Finally got some stainless rod to run on the cast...stringer beads followed by immediate peening with an air hammer.Used 7018 between the stainless and the steel add on...10 hours of it.
When i ground it to shape today, one section has cracking where the cast meets the rest. Any rod in my collection either runs very porus or cracks at the junction when I grind it out and try to fix it.
The cast is as hard as the face of an anvil! It has pockets that boil and foam when I try to lay a bead on it...Tried most of my arc tricks to no avail...driving me nuts...help!
I know, this aint welding chat, but it is repairing a hammer so I have an excuse...right?
Pete Fels - Tuesday, 05/15/01 08:11:04 GMT

Swage block stand: Bruce, welcome to the 19th century! Grin! When I want to use one of the swage block edges, I just set my swage blocks on my anvil "stump" next to the anvil. The height seems to work well that way. I've seen other stands made from angle iron. One leg of the angle is up and the other "in" so that the swage block is captured and can't slide out. I've also seen swage blocks with "trunnions" so that they can rotate in a frame. I know there are links to these from here, but I can't remember them.

Pete, Thanks. I can't think of how to add the locking/clamping feature to a typical leg or post vise. To get maximum additional clamping, you need both legs to go all the way down to the floor and the over center clamp (vise grip) arrangement is near the floor and pushes the legs out to get more clamping after the screw is snugged up. Typical leg vises do not have both legs going to the floor and the legs are not strong enough to handle the additional loads put on them by the clamping arrangement. The Blacksmiths Journal had a design that used a hand lever.

I have my vise bolted to a chunk of concrete so it is free standing. I have to say it is a great tool. And having it free standing and not bolted to a table is a real plus. You can work all around it instead of having to unclamp and reposition the work to get at the "back" side.

I suppose the tabs on a leg vise serve their best purpose to keep scale and filings and dirt out of the screw. On my new vise, I'm leaving it exposed to the weather and dirt to see what happens. All the moving parts are easily replacable and after I see what fails, if anything, I will make the appropriate design modifications.

Oooooo.... now that you have me thinking about it, I just had another idea. Just what I needed... another project.... Ahh well, keeps me out of the tavern. Mostly...
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 12:31:37 GMT

I have a large number of long tapered sections to make for the branches of a tree Ive been commisioned to do. I'm thinking of using heavy wall pipe and making dies for the power hammer. My question is what shape should I make the dies, I,d probably use mainly 1" pipe (mabey some 1 1/2" also) not sure how thick on the wall though, and Id taper it to a point over about 2-3 feet. I was thinking of a die with three different size top and bottom shallow "V's" cut into it so I can move from the large v to the smallest as I draw the pipe out. I have fullering dies already and my normal flat dies but I dont think these will work so well for drawing out pipe, comments would be really appreciated.
shannell - Tuesday, 05/15/01 12:53:50 GMT

One more clarification... When I said you want an Open center valve for a press, I really should have said "tandem" center. An open center has all ports connected, so the cylinder will "float" in the open center position and pump flow will be directed to the tank. A tandem center has the cylinder ports blocked so it won't move and the pump flow is directed back to the tank.

I appologize profusely for the massive consternation this probably caused. Grin.
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 13:06:07 GMT

Swage Blocks: Bruce, The angle on the side of your block is the "draft" so that the pattern will pull out of the sand. On the typical block this should only be 1/16" to a max of 1/8" if the draft is all one direction. The taper will be half if the pattern is parted (mold seam) at the center. However, amature patternmakers often use a lot more draft than is necessary. It is also possible to make molds with "loose pieces" and have a finished part with no draft but this is relatively expensive and requires a professional pattern maker. The reason you see few new swage blocks with holes in them is that this requires making core boxes, another thing that most amature pattern makers do not understand or have the patience to create.

Many of the very early blocks (18th century) that I have seen appear to be "personal" patterns. Each smith had his own. Access to the foundry was better than it is today and it was easier to get one-off castings made. Most of these blocks were simple shapes including a bowl or spoon mold and no holes (requiring core boxes).

I classify the common blocks with all holes and standard side shapes as "industrial" blocks. These are the most common in the 19th and early 20th century. Some of these are relatively standard but every foundry that made blocks had their own pattern. Modern industrial blocks are all quite similar but early ones were often very thick and quite heavy for their size.

Late 20th century blocks include industrial blocks and "art smith" blocks. These are the blocks of Wally Yeater, Josh Greenwood and others that are amature pattern makers that have had their personal blocks reproduced in quantity.

Many of these pattern designs have been copied or stolen. Centaur Forge currently produces a copy of Wally Yeater's two piece block set and The Ornamental Iron Museum loans a pattern that was originaly made by Josh Greenwood. Original Yeater blocks are hand ground on every surface and should be collector's items. Josh's pattern is that long rectangular block with deep bowls and about 3/8" of draft (TOO much). He first started selling these at the first ABANA conference in Purchase NY and the last were terrible castings sold in Riply WV in 1984.

Many of the old blocks that appear to be broken or worn are often bad castings that were "good enough" and sold. Some foundries poured the last dregs of iron to make blocks and they often have tremondous porosity and can be a very hard poor grade of iron that is useless for anything else.

Like many smiths I have patterns that have only been cast once or twice. Currently I am working on productionizing them.

That trunnion mounted block is made in Canada and sold by Kayne & Son. There was an old version of this style block in the tool collection at the 1998 ABANA conference.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 13:20:23 GMT


All of us who have read "Southwestern Colonial Ironwork", know you can write. Why don't YOU write "Leg Vises in America"? No one in this country is more qualified than you are and you've got access to a bunch of folks right here who would be proud to help with the leg work.

And I'll put in my order for a signed copy right now.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 13:27:11 GMT

Pipe Forging: Shannell, I've seen it done on nearly flat (worn out) dies but special dies make it easier. A bottom die with a low "V" or gentle dip in the center works. Much of the process is skill in manipulation. You must forge gently and rapidly while rotating the work. With the low taper or dish in the dies you could work 2" (50mm) pipe down to 1/2" (13mm) solid with one set of dies.

The top die can be flat The edges on both should be heavily radiused to prevent marking the work. Standard practice is for the "radius" to actualy be an oval section that slopes gently before becoming the radius. The "V" die can also have a gentle taper from front to back. This makes the sides of the V compound angles. There should be ample flat remaining on the sides of the bottom die so that when struck the upper die is not hitting corners or unequal heights.

Note that the walls of the pipe upset as you make the pipe smaller and quickly become solid. You may want to flux the end of the inside of the pipe and take a welding heat just as the pipe closes. This will give you good solid material that you should be able to forge into a leaf or frond or whatever. . .

Always be careful when forging pipe that one end is open and that you avoid quenching the pipe in water. Steam from the hot end will come out of the cold end and can cause severe burns.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 13:43:31 GMT

Bruce, one good design I've seen for a swage block is a stump that has a slot cut out of the top to fit the block in on edge. That way it can fit in the slot for working on the sides or flat.

Shannell, I just saw Clifton Ralph demo power hammer forging & he had a die similar to what you describe for drawing down pipe. Instead of V's his had wide U's. His worked great.

Frank, I'll second Paw Paw on the book!
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 13:48:24 GMT


I have recently acquired an old Champion #1 hand crank blower. I have hooked it up to my forge and it works well, but I have a few questions about it. There are two bolt/fittings on the crank side that appear to be places for adding lubricant. The top bolt looks like a place for adding gear oil (which I did), but the bottom bolt houses a fitting which I do not recognize. Is it some kind of grease fitting? If it is how do I get the grease in? It is not a standard grease nipple.

thanks for any help you can give me.

Robert Thomson
Robert Thomson  <thomson at biomed.med.yale.edu> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 14:03:40 GMT

Bruce, congrats on the swage block. I have one of the same blocks that you bought. I got it at ABANA last year. I have been very pleased with it. I finished mine with a die grinder and smoothed out all of the sand dimples in the casting. This took only about an hour and when done I had all the forms nice and clean. These blocks (mine at least) seem to be a high quality casting. I didn't worry about making the corners 90 deg. These are nice and portable blocks, for small stuff so that it won't cool before I get to work it, mine is used next to the fire, on the table of the forge. I also use the stand my small anvil is on (107#). The anvil sits loose on the stand held in only with guides shaped to the bottom of the anvil. The swage block fits nicely in the same place when I remove the anvil. I have also used the swage block ON the small anvil for small work. I suppose if you were to need to really WHALE on the block it would need to be mounted more securely. You have a quality tool that should last you and your kids and their kids their lifetimes!
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 14:26:05 GMT

I'm a novice hobbyist, recently moved to Baltimore. After several years of monthly guild meetings of the Clinch River Blacksmith Guild in East Tennessee and a couple of trips down to the SE Regional in Madison Ga, I have finally put together enough equipment to have a garage shop. I have an NC Tool Whisper Momma propane gas forge--I can't impose coal smoke on my Baltimore City rowhouse neighbors! Anyway, I've seen a lot of demos and made a few things, but I'm mostly lacking skill and need lots of practice.

My question is about stock: A local steel supplier I've found sells 20-foot lengths of A36 with minimum $150 order. If I'm going to spend $150 on steel, how much of what should I get to have a good collection of stock? My interests and needs for projects include tongs (lots of tongs!) and projects like hooks, candlesticks, and other decorative household objects. I'd eventually like to be doing furniture and gates, but I need to hone my skills with smaller projects first, I think. I tend to enjoy working with square stock over round.

Anyway, I'd really hate to order $150 of steel just to find myself wishing I'd just gotten less 1/2 inch round and more 5/8 square, or sorry that I missed some other shape or size I found I really wanted, or something like that. So how much of what stock makes a well-stocked smithy?

(And if anyone happens to have recommendations for good Baltimore-area suppliers I'd love to know. Durrett & Shepherd is the supplier I've found).
Nathan  <nate at jhu.edu> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 14:33:22 GMT

Robert: The bottom bolt should be a kind of locknut arrangement. It is for taking up slack in the fan shaft, i.e., you tighten that bolt and the fan is forced outwards into its bearings. If you overtighten it, the fan will lock up. Take out the bolt and fill that hole with a good general purpose heavy grease. Then tighten the bolt until the fan stops wobbling but not so tight that movement is restricted.

If you take off the cover of the gearbox, you will see what the adjustment does. And you should take off the cover and clean it out with some kind of crudcutter before you refill it with oil.

Oh, and only put in enough oil to cover the bottom of the big gear by about an inch. Oil will be spread to the other gears. If you put in more, it will run out of the central shaft hole in great quantities. It will slowly run out that hole anyway (it's a design element, keeps dirt out) so don't worry about a little drip.

On my champion #1, I have trouble with the screws that hold the fan housing to the gearbox backing out and locking the fan.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 14:39:51 GMT

Stock & Suppliers: Nathan, THAT is a difficult problem. Keep poking around until you find a supplier that will not impose a minimum on you. OR contact members of your local ABANA chapter, ask them where they buy OR if they need to get together withsome to makeup minimum orders occasionaly.

The quantities of 1/2 vs 5/8 and round vs square are difficult and depend on the style of work you are doing. Style also determines how much round and square stock you use. Generaly, working alone without a power hammer you are going to want small stock for the first year (if you work regularly as a hobby). I'd get one each of the following and then finish the order with 1/2" square.

1/4" square (CF if necessary)
3/8" square (CF if necessary)
1/2" square
5/8" square
3/4" square

3/16" x 1" flat (CF if necessary)
1/4" x 1" rectangular
3/8" x 1" rectangular
1/8" x 1-1/2" flat bar

3/8" round (CF if necessary)
1/2" round

Most of these sizes should be available in Hot Roll but some will have to be purchased in cold drawn (cold finish CF bar). The HR bar will be in 20 foot lengths the CF in 12 foot. IF they have a cutting charge take a GOOD hacksaw and spare blade with you so you cut the bar to haul it. I've done this in the parking lot or drive way more than once. Normaly you can carry a 12 foot bar without cutting it in an 8 foot bed pickup. I cut 20's into 12's and 8's. You never know when you are going to need a piece over ten foot. . .

For small quantites of square and round stock in other sizes some hardware stores or places like Lowes carry 3 foot lengths. High prices but no minimum! The stock will have a thin zinc plating on it. You can burn this off if your forge is outdoors or in a very well (forced) ventilated area.

Some small fabricators (not railing guys) and welding or machine shops will sell bar stock if you are not a pest. Their stock may be a little rusty and not perfectly straight and more than the wharehouse price (they hauled it and paid the minimum). But if you can buy one stick at a time it is worth it. Ask if they have any jobs using small bar with leftover drops. Tell them what you are doing, it helps sometimes. Most of these guys dream of getting back to their metalworking "roots" and may feel good helping you.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 16:12:29 GMT

Looking for plans to make a propane gas forge
jim  <jbuchanan6 at home.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 16:17:46 GMT

Whats up with forging pipe? Seems to be a topic that is getting a lot of interest.
JohnC  <careatti at croxx.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 16:20:13 GMT

Gas Forge: Jim, Look on our plans page (off the home page). The burner page has links to Ron Reil's page and some other articles.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 16:41:56 GMT

I have a question about aluminum. I am NOT a blacksmith or anything even close. I am an artist, I work mainly in clay. However, a friend and I have started a project using aluminum sheet. We have been using the stuff you buy as 'roof flashing'. Anyways, it is very 'springy'. It doesn't want to hold the shape that we put it in. We are sculpting cones from cut out circles with a piece of the pie removed.

My question is, is there a way of getting it to hold it's cone shape? We would like to weld the seam, but it would be nice if it held it's shape on it's own to make the seam welding easier. The point of our cone is never as smoothly bent as we would like, due to the sping action. I don't have a forge, but I do have an oxygen torch for light welding. Will heating the aluminum up and quenching it make it more pliable? ANy suggestions are welcome!
Mike  <mmorisey at cjnetworks.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 16:54:49 GMT

Aluminium flashing: Mike, You CAN anneal (soften) aluminium by heating it but in thin sheet it is very difficult to do it without warping the sheet or burning holes in it. At best the surface would be oxidized and quite a mess.

Welding a seam in this thin material would be very difficult. It also takes special equipment to weld aluminium.

Normally flashing is pretty soft and easy to work.

To make a seam in this I recommend a bent lock seam. To do this you will need some extra material. On the inside of the cone bend the extra to a 90 degree angle, then fold the two vertical edges over themselves and crimp with pliers. Bending straight lines in this thin material can be done with a steel straight edge or two.

Once the seam is locked together the cone will hold a relatively round symetrical shape.

To roll a cone that holds it shape you need a set of sheet metal rolls that alows the rolls to be set at angles. In complete cones (with points) the rolls need to be as small as posible for the material thickness. The problem with cones is that theoretical point. I would try pulling the sheet over a corner like making a scrolled up piece of paper. Hold the point stationary as you rotate the sheet stationary over an edge.

Instead of welding or crimping you could also just glue an overlaping joint with epoxy glue.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 17:29:18 GMT

I'm trying to locate a foundry that will prepare and pour steel investment castings, in one hundred or less each quanities.

The parts are fairly simple,fit in the hand size items.I will supply the wax cast parts.

Also does anyone have any info on B&H Presion in Tennesse?

Many Thanks!
Joe  <sjowen at duke.edu> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 17:45:42 GMT

Is there any way that I can make something, such as nails or bullets, in the way somone would do blacksmithing, but using tin or something that would not be as hot?
post 697  <hotporsche115 at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 18:16:02 GMT


Need your help. Put together a small wine rack, with my mig welder, prior to welding I sand blasted all parts so the are nice and clean, (a nice gun metal gray in color)
my question is this, I know I cant spray it well enough with a spray can to get into all the nooks and cranies, and to have it powder coated will run about $75.00 more then I can afford to pay. Is there a way to coat the item with some kind of oil finish that I can put on quite liberaly and then wipe off the excess, and if this is a poss. do I do it hot or cold. Any and all help you can give me would be great.

Mike M  <mcruder at aol.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 18:37:10 GMT

Low temp metal: Post 697, Nails are forged, cut or swaged. Bullets are cast in molds (metal melted and poured).

Blacksmithing means forging the black metal (iron).
Other metals can be forged such as gold, silver, bronze and aluminium.

Gold can be forged and shaped cold. It doesn't work harden or oxidize. Those are some of the traits that make it so valuable. Silver can be cold worked but it workhardens and must be heated occasionaly to anneal it. It also oxidizes an must be cleaned.

Bronze is forged at over 1000°F. Aluminum is about the same. However both are difficult to handle as they conduct heat VERY fast and the melting point is not too much higher than the forging temperature. Both oxidize heavily and require chemical cleaning.

Low carbon steel is by far the cheapest, easiest and most convienient metal to work. It is also strong and relatively easy to weld.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 18:43:57 GMT

I visited the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site just east of Iowa City, Iowa. They have a really nice blacksmith shop but no access to blacksmiths who want to do demonstrations for their visitors. If anyone is interested please give Ranger Dan or the Superintendent Mary a call at 319-643-2541.
kimberly mann  <kimberly_mann at nps.gov> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 18:58:08 GMT

Oil Finish: Mike, oil finishes rely on the forge scale for color and adhesion. Sandblasted finishes need to be painted. Zinc cold galvanizing first, then red oxide or black neutral primer surfacer (to seal the zinc) and then a top coat of your choice. All the above are available in spray cans OR commercial quantities. However they may not all be available from the same place. Auto paint suppliers generaly carry all three.

To get the zinc into nooks and crannies I spray some in a can then use a brush to run it down into these small places turning the work over so it runs down hill. Then spray a smooth even coating. Its a bit tricky as the color and texture is indentical to sand blasted steel. The primer and top coats will get far enough in to do the job.

Even using spray cans the supplies may be half the cost of the plastic coat. However, the three component system is a much better job. You also have an infinite choice of colors and can apply hand rubbed "gilding" to specific parts.

Leaving out the cost of finishing is a common problem among smiths. This is a VERY significant cost in materials and labor. It is also what the customer SEES. . . The paint will cost as much or more than the steel. The labor may amount to 20% and as much as 30% of the job if you have to pay a sandblaster.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 19:04:22 GMT

Hi,My sons class is having a mideival festival on may 24th and he picked the blacksmith booth,so he has to have information for what blacksmiths did back then and he has to make,swords,anvils,whatever a blacksmith made back then.I am ignorant to all of this,We live in a small town in Indiana,and the teacher is expecting about 1000 people to come to this festival,She also said if we could find a blacksmith that would like to sit in the booth with him,that would be great but i have no blacksmith to do that.I need information about mideival blacksmithing,and possibly pictures,pictures would be great that way we will get a great idea on how to make the things they did back then...Please respond asap.Thanks Debbie
Debbie  <lordsservant at earthlink.net> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 21:16:27 GMT

guru, I got a mailer awhile back about an overstock site for one of the big supply houses, Graingers, McMaster-Carr etc. I can't remember the address. Would you or a helper be able to point me in the right direction? I'm looking for a 15 hp 3/ph motor for a converter. thanks
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 23:15:21 GMT

Festival: Debbie, You still have time to contact Indiana Blacksmiths Association. This is an ABANA chapter. Members are not necessarily professionals so one may be one of your neighbors and you don't know it.

Otherwise, Get out the cardboard and be ready to make props.

Without knowing your son's age it is hard to determine how much detail you need. But the tools needed for a blacksmith would be, bellows and forge, anvil, hammers and vise. Small tools would be tongs, punches and chisels.

An armourer was a specialist and needed more tools including Shears, Stakes (little anvil like things that are anchored in a bench or stump). Knife and Sword makers had grinding wheels that were hand, foot or water powered.

Check the pictures on our armour page and the step-by-step how-to on making helmets. Also see the image link at the bottom of the page to "16th Century Armoury"

There is very little difference between these tools today and millenia ago. The tools in the 16th Century armoury will be VERY close.

Anvils were the most different. The modern anvil has a long horn that wasn't developed until the 18th Century. Old anvils were boxy simpler affairs. Paint it black or dark rust red. The top would have been clean and shiney.

The general blacksmith made everything metal that was used. Tools for himself and other crafts people being the most important. Then hardware liks hinges, nails and spikes. Plow points for farmers, and pieces for the machinery of the era including bands for mill shafts and mill stones. Of course there was horseshoeing and wagon work. Horses were shod then and wagon wheels had iron tires as wooden wheels still do.

Little boys (many big ones too) think immediately of weapons of war. However, the vast majority of Blacksmithing was common everyday items. Axes for wood cutters, hammers and chisels for stone cutters, draw knives, saws, plane irons and chisels for woodworkers, plows and hoes for farmers. Common spoons, spatulas and cooking knives. Hardware and wagon parts mentioned above.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 23:23:36 GMT

Sale mailer: Pete, I get dozens of these every week and they immediately go to the circular file. Sorry.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 23:27:42 GMT

Festival: Debbie, There is still time to get a copy of Alex Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing. This reference is primarily about 18th and 19th century blacksmithing, but like I said the tools haven't changed but very little in millenia and the techniques haven't changed at all. The book has lots of illustrations and only costs about $11 US. It may also be available in your public library. If your son has a genuine interest in blacksmithing this is a great book. It has a lot of text but it is not hard to read. An excellent gift.

THEN there are the Americana books by Eric Sloane. His illustrated Museum of Early American Tools has many blacksmith made items and is commonly found in public libraries.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 23:53:42 GMT

Have any of y'all heard about Iron Fest, I'm think'n about goin.
omega_d  <j14oey at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 05/15/01 23:55:52 GMT

Ironfest: Omega, It's been listed on the Hammer-In twice. Frank Turley is one of the demonstrators. Should be great fun and very educational. If you are looking for tools you better take a truck!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 00:32:41 GMT

Powder coating, Mike asked about coating a winerack and said powder coating was too expensive. I get a lot of stuff powder coated here in Adelaide Australia and I laugh to myself every time the owner quotes me on a job, he could double or triple his prices and I still get them done there its so cheap. eg: if you look on the "theforge" photopoint site under "work" http://albums.photopoint.com/j/AlbumList?u=1169182 (you are all members of the "theforge" mail list arent you???? :) ) I have a bookcase that I make a lot of and he coats these in a single coat of textured black for $11 Australian thats about $5.50 US dollars , I dropped off a large sign surround the other day and to sandblast, primer undercoat and spangled copper topcoat was $50. I hate painting, I dont mind clear coating things for indoor work but any thing that would need paint or high volume like my bookcases I use powder coating, look around you must be able to find somewhere that could do it cheaply.
shannell - Wednesday, 05/16/01 00:46:00 GMT

Debbie: There's a nice picture of the workings of a Viking style forge in the News, Volume 10, page 11 ("International Edition"). If you do an internet search for "Mastermyr" it will probably pop up half a dozen sites on a Viking Age tool chest, too. This will give you a good baseline, since the tools evolved very slowly (if at all) over the next 600 or so years. The tools were simple, the skills were complex.

Kimberly: Thanks for the nice note on Herbert Hoover NHS. Maybe some good smiths will help our folks out.

Swage block- Thanks for the hints; some useful ideas there. It's the V-shaped swages, not the block, that seem a little obtuse. Then again, I seem a little less than acute this week too.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come viking with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 01:30:44 GMT


One stand that I've seen was built out of angle iron. Looked like a truncated pyramid. But in the center, the angle was cut to provide a slot to set the swage block on edge. Looked very handy, and is what I intend to do with the two that have custody of.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 02:36:46 GMT

I'm a new antique forge owner. It is a C & O mfg. brand, from Chicago Hts. , Ill, It resembles a BBQ with a wooden handle on the side. The handle pulls a weighted bellcrank which in turn pulls a leather strap attached to a freewheel clutch in the flywheel/pully. Can someone give me an approximate date for these ? The blades on the cast iron blower fan appear to be rusted off, Does anyone make a replacement part for these ?? Also I have a Peter Wright Anvil approximatly 120-150 lb dated 1922 is this a quality brand ?? thanks for your help......Dale
Dale Powell  <Dalepowell at webtv.net> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 03:45:52 GMT

Obtuse "V's": Bruce, they should be exactly 90° or 60° or 120° +/-1° as the case may be.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 03:50:54 GMT

Forge: Dale, That is a Canedy Otto forge. Probably dates from around 1900 +/- 20 years. I'm not sure when C-O started business. Been out of business a LONG time. No parts are available. Forges like these generaly sell for $100 to $200 US in good condition. Someone may be able to make and rivet new blades on the blower but as-is its not worth much. Peter Wright's were a good anvil but condition is everything. In mint condition it would sell for $400 but in rough condition less than $100. The weight is marked on it in English hundred weights (see our 21st Century page). Since most anvils sell by weight that 30 pound difference is a lot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 03:59:08 GMT

I have a solid bronze railroad padlock from Mcmaster Carr and need to antique (age)- thought just heating in forge might do it- not so- any ideas? Vinegar or something else. Thank you.
tom poulin  <poulintom at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 04:21:19 GMT

Aging Lock: Tom, don't heat it. There are springs inside that won't be springs anymore if you heat the lock.

First strip off any lacquer with fingernail polish remover, "strip-it" or lacquer thinner. Then roughen the surface a little with sandpaper. Next there are several things that may work; Apply hydrogen peroxide and let sit. Then reapply and sprinkel on iron filings. OR pack in "Miracal Grow" and dampen. Give it a couple days.

It is recommended that you test any chemical finish on something before using it on a valuable part.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 05:34:41 GMT

GURU, Re your May 9 Forge Welding bit, I don't remember telling my students to try a forge weld every day before heading for the house. However, many of us have been known to arc weld a length of scrap to a workpiece to avoid using tongs. I will often lap weld them instead. Good practice.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 10:19:44 GMT

Quote: Frank, Maybe you were quoting someone else and I got confused. I'll fix the article. I'm working on part two. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 12:25:58 GMT

Frank, I have heard (read actually) several other people quote, you as saying "Do at least one forge weld every day". So whether you actually said it or not, it's now a matter of historical record that you did and denying it won't do you any good! :)

A bit like Marie Antoinette and "Let them eat cake!"
adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 14:02:25 GMT


When you posted iForge #91 on Hinge Benders, I ordered Streeter's book. This is a very nice book IMO but after peering at the photos of the work in progress and trying to figure out what the heck was going on, I realized how much effective is a good drawing. It would have taken me a lot of trying to figure out how his hinge bender worked from the photos but just a quick glance at your sketch and it's obvious.

You do draw great sketches, by the way.
adam whiteson  <adam at whiteson.org> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 14:14:25 GMT

Streeter Benders: Adam, I saw a guy at a demo struggle with a Streeter bender he had made and not tested. . . Realy blew his demo. You have to closely read the fine print to understand what he is doing. I would prefer to have both drawings and photos but generaly don't have time to do both.

Streeter cheated a bit. He is demonstrating semi-modern methods explaining how to do them with common smithing tools. Meanwhile he had a lathe and milling machine (among other machines) in the "back". Presswork dies CAN be cobbled out of tool steel by hand but it is very painstaking work. I immediately go to the mill, lathe and surface grinder myself. Which is what most production smiths must do to be competitive. You can use modern tools and still produce a perfectly traditional product if you choose to.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 14:50:07 GMT

Since I see that I must be specific, I would like to ask if anybody knows anything about the ancient history of blacksmithing. Ancient as in Tublacaine from the Bible something like that.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 17:08:35 GMT

Biblical References: Although the Bible is not specific on blacksmithing references the battle between David and Goliath is the story of an Iron age culture meeting a bronze age culture. The Philistines are mentioned to have a "war like" reputation. In fact they were in the Iron Age and their Bronze Age enemies didn't fare too well. A big man with iron armor and a sword that cut through both your weapons and armor would have definitely SEEMED like a giant. Ironicaly the battle was won with stone age technology. Or maybe that is the point of the story.

See posts in the archives:

Tuesday, 01/19/99 01:21:36 GMT
Saturday, 10/21/00 17:05:06 GMT
Monday, 03/12/01 16:58:16 GMT

Search for Goliath

Same story in three different contexts all about the history of blacksmithing from different points of view. One would even make a nice paper. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 18:42:35 GMT

CHRIS MAKIN  <CFM15 at HOME.COM> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 19:01:50 GMT

Is there a maximum diameter for a flue pipe? I have access to some 14" pipe and was wondering if this would draw better than a 12" pipe.
Breezeway Forge. - Wednesday, 05/16/01 19:03:34 GMT

Is there a maximum diameter for a flue pipe? I have access to some 14" pipe and was wondering if this would draw better than a 12" pipe.
Breezeway Forge. - Wednesday, 05/16/01 19:04:03 GMT

14" (356mm) pipe: Breezeway, Great! Actualy perfect. Most folks use smaller because of availability and expense.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 21:43:48 GMT

Tempering Clay: Chris, What kind of clay are you using? You have to start with a fine grade of porceline (high alumina) clay. When making glaze many ceramic mixes have a little gum in them to help bind the clay together.

Anyone out there have a sure-fire mix? I've never been into the Japanese sword thing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 21:49:36 GMT

ADAM, I know this. At my age, at the end of the day, and when I'm draggin' ash, I *don't want* to do a forge weld.

CHRIS, I speak about the Japanese use of clay on the blade NOT from experience. The information is from "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" by Kapp & Yoshihara, Kodansha International, 1987. The mixture is about equal proportions of clay, charcoal powder, and pulverized sandstone (omura). Clay is the insulator, omura helps prevent cracking/shrinking. Charcoal helps adjust the rate of heating and cooling. Water is added to obtain the correct viscosity, and a thin "slip" is applied with a spatula from the cutting edge to about the medial length line of the blade. The thick portion of the blade is given a 1/8" to 1/4" thick coating of the clay along the sides to the medial line where it meets the thin coating. The thick back will also be coated. The book also shows an *ashi* being created by laying thin strips of clay perpendicular to or angled toward the cutting edge. These give pearlite to mix intermittently with the hardened edge. The clay dries for one hour or more. Yoshindo runs the sword in a charcoal fire, back of blade down for about l5 passes. When it's about 700C, he turns it over cutting edge down. When quenched, the cutting edge side is bright cherry to orange, and the back is medium cherry. Laminated woodworking tools are quenched in tepid water, so I assume the blades are, as well. Stir the water with a heated chunk of iron to warm it.
Quench cutting edge down. You may or may not get a "hamon", a heat treatment line running lengthwise. Its appearance depends on how good you are, and whether you did everything just right. It is pretty involved (an understatement). Get the book. Buena suerte.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 05/16/01 23:48:24 GMT

Have you guys seen the 500 lb. Peter Wright anvil and stand
that's up for sale on ebay? (item #1144975431) Has anyone seen one of those stands before? Bidding is at $1525.00 now and it's probably gonna take around $2000.00 to buy. Is it worth that?
Dave  <cimport at swbell.net> - Thursday, 05/17/01 00:04:56 GMT

Peter Wright: Dave, The cast iron stands were available in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Peter Wrights were one of the best and BIG ones are fairly rare and 500# is very rare. Generaly they don't bring $4/pound unless they are in VERY good condition. This one is in good but not perfect condition. It shows a lot of use. But the large size and the stand add a lot to it. I doubt the statement about being the "only Peter Wright stand in existance" is true. I've seen a lot of cast iron anvil stands and at least ONE to fit a PW. Of course it went to scrap increasing the rarity of others. . . Since the reserve hasn't been met you never know. . .

OBTW- Its not unusual for big anvils to still go for $1/pound.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 00:42:28 GMT

Yo! Last time I wrote, got excellent advice about getting rid of rust in the joint of a 6 inch post-vise: heat.
worked just fine.
This time, I am looking for help about a small hammer. It is
not a trip hammer . It is a post stand, with a motor at the rear, an anvil built into the frame up front, and a pedal that activates a WOODEN arm that makes a shaft go up and down like a regular hammer, only this shaft is no more than 1 inch diam. and a foot long. So this thing must be used for finishing or something. I am trying to figure out if there are dies or something to attach to the end of this little shaft that goes up and down above the anvil .The anvil itself is flat but machined flat,with screw holes to accept something. It has not been beaten upon.
None of the used equipment dealers in Montreal or elsewhere in Quťbec seemed to know what it was used for. I got it for $50. It was lying around Canadair Ltd, an airplane maker at the time, noe purchased by Bombardier.
So there. Any ideas? I will use it, but anyone knowing more
than I do about it would sure save me a LOT of experimenting.....
Merci. And God Bless.
gary from quebec  <forjon at sympatico.ca> - Thursday, 05/17/01 02:12:39 GMT

Saw the Peter Wright on ebay. Wish I had 2K to drop on it. Considering I have a cast iron anvil with a steel plate welded in the top, it looks REAL good to me.
chris bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 03:09:25 GMT

Pete Fels

There are four types of cast (generally speaking), Gray cast, white cast, malleable, nodular/ductile cast. If the broken surface of the cast looks white,and you stated it was very hard,you may have white cast iron. White cast has virtually no ductility. It is (sorry to say) considered unweldable. White cast iron was rapidly cooled to give it strength, but it also makes it very brittle. No amount of peining or preheat/post heat will help *IF* indeed this is what you have. A mechanical replacement part is the best you can hope for. If you continue to try to weld on white cast it will continue to run cracks after it cools. Drilling holes in the end of these cracks will not stop them. Usually there are microstructure cracks that will widen as the welded metal tries to contract/expand with the application of heat or the loss of the heat (cooling).

If you want to try again, preheat to approximately 900 degrees F. The whole part(s). Keep the metal between 600 degrees F and 1200 degrees F. Make your weld. Allow the welded part to cool *VERY* slowly. Something like 50 degrees per hour. V.E.R.Y slow.

Keep the amperage as low as possible to limit dilution and depth of penetration. Keep the arc in the puddle, don't weave side to side. Don't make the litle circles that most welders think are necessary. Weaving the puddle just adds dilution to the weld properties and gives a thin edge to the puddle. Circles also aid dilution.

Hope you find a repair for your blacksmithing equipment.
Steve Rutterbush  <Hammerdown Forge> - Thursday, 05/17/01 03:34:08 GMT

Odd Hammer: Gary, This sounds like a sheet metal (planishing) hammer. Look on our Power hammer Page under Pettingell Hammers. Yours sounds like an earlier type but may be just that. Early aircraft and automobile bodies were shaped with a combination of English Wheel, small power hammer and lots of hand work. Just think of all those cowlings and wing fillets and tips. . . Most of this was done in soft aluminium so the equipment was not very heavy.

Aircraft restorers, custom aircraft and custom autobody shops still use all this "odd" equipment.

They also did a LOT of riveting with small hammers AND it was not uncommon to find entirely custom machines of this type.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 03:36:23 GMT


Thanks for the info on forging a tomahawk out of a rail road spike, gave it a try today with real good success, I need a lot more practice but it turned out fair for the first one.The instructions are great.
I have a 150 lb vulcan I'm thinking about selling, it has a real good and smooth face, what would be a good asking price?
Thanks for all the good info.
Bill  <camper at yhti.net> - Thursday, 05/17/01 03:48:59 GMT

Thanks Steve R...your advice at least sheds some light on my frustration and gives some more technique to apply..
Pete F - Thursday, 05/17/01 07:15:20 GMT

Guru, can you tell me how carbide insert cutting tools are made? Are they compressed and what exactly is the composite? thanks Scott
Scott  <vickrey at easilink.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 11:52:46 GMT

I noticed the discussion about leg vises above. There is a book in the works on these vises. I am not going to reveal the authors name because I haven't asked permission to do so. However, I can tell you that it will be in a format similar to Postman's book. I'll try to get the author to annouce a release date.
Paul  <wroughtman at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 12:04:20 GMT

Vulcan Anvil: Bill, Being a steel faced cast iron anvil there are those that love them, and those that hate them. Originaly they were not as expensive as wrought or cast steel anvils. Todays anvil market is quite volatile so prices vary a lot. However most anvils never sell for less than $1/pound except the all cast iron door stops or those in really bad condition. Among blacksmiths $2/pound is average selling price when starting at $2.50 or so. If you get in a hurry to sell or don't advertise you will almost always get less. I live near a small to medium size city (50K/100K area) and sold half a dozen anvils in one weekend with a small classified ad and got my asking price (within 10%) for all of them.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 14:10:38 GMT

Want to build a propane forge for odd and large pieces in which the fire box can be stacked to fit the job. Maybe 2 cubic feet max. Any advice on the burners? Have the Hans Peot pipe forge plans. Have built atmospheric pipe forge that works quite well.
Rik Mettes  <Heartmtnforge at excite.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 14:11:08 GMT

Carbide: Scott, This is what is known as a cemented or "sintered" material. The material is classified as refractory metal carbide. Powdered carbide and a small amount of cobalt are mixed together then pressed tightly together. Afterwards the pieces are cooked in a furnace with a protective gas (hydrogen) to weld the material together. There are a variety of high tech methods involved as this is a very competitive business. Hundreds of tons of carbide inserts are used every year in the machine tool industry. Without their long wearing and precision size and shape, numericaly controlled machine tools would be impossible.

Carbides base metals include, Niobium, Tungsten, Titanium, Tantalum, Chromium and Aluminium. These can be in the form of Nitrides, Carbides or oxides. The binder may be Nickle, Iron, cobalt.

These are used in simple or complex mixtures so the range of material and properties are bewildering. Adjusting the proportions of the binder changes the strength and hardness. Like tempering steel there is a best balance that must be achieved between strength and hardness for every application.

Carbides are generaly considered the next hardest thing to diamond and it takes a diamond wheel to grind most carbides. In manufacturing the inserts are pressed to finished shape to avoid the high cost of grinding this hard material.

Carbide is used as clamp-in inserts, brazed on tips and solid material that is ground to shape such as drills and milling cutters. These solid carbide tools are the most expensive of their class.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 14:41:58 GMT

Stacked forge: Rik, My big forge is a stacked unit using a blower burner. No matter what type burner you use it must be sized to the enclosure. With atmospheric burners there is a very careful balance that must be maintained and a narrow enclosure volume range. If you look at the NC-TOOL units on Bruce Wallace's page you will see forges using from 1 to 12 burners. Each burner has some adjustment range so as the number increases so does the range of the assembled burners.

Blower type units have a wider range but you must still maintain that balance or flash back will occur in the burner. I used a small blower with a rheostatic control. This is easy to adjust but at low speed is rather tweeky and tends to creep. I also used a small solenoid valve that is somewhat of a bottleneck. It requires higher than normal pressure to let in sufficient gas. The forge works well with about a 1 cuft enclosure. However, two 40# propane cylinders will not keep up with it. After several hours the cylinders will freeze up. This is starting with full cylinders. Starting with less than full cylinders they freeze up in much shorter time. Yep, I need a big bulk tank. . .

I point these things out to show that a lot can go wrong. However, I like my stacked forge. I can arrange it to heat long stock one day and then for melting brass in a crucible the next.

This flexability has a cost. You need a lot of refractory brick and it really helps to have some of the long oversized ones. They also have a short life due to moving them and using them loose. I was lucky enough to buy a pickup load of a mixed lot of bricks including some insulating bricks. Otherwise this would have been be a pricey venture.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 15:11:36 GMT

Stacked forge: To get less fuel consumption, you could wrap the stacked brick with kaowool or board insulation. It won't make the forge get up to temperature much faster, but once it is up to temp, the heat loss would be less, so it would run hotter or use less fuel or you could run a bigger forge from the same tank size. Watch the loose fibers from moving the kaowool or board around though. Don't want to breathe those fibers. Even a heat shield bent up from thin shiny aluminum or stainless steel and placed next to, but not touching the brick will dramatically lower fuel consumption. And it will make it cooler to work next to. Just a thought....
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 15:46:29 GMT

Insulation: Tony, Good comments. I stack insulating brick on most of my brick stack. I use heat shields to protect the blower parts and controls. One layer of sheet metal with a 1" air gap on both sides and vented or open at the top converts that infrared to hot air and keeps a box full of relays at room temperature.

The "base" of my forge is bar grating that has bricks set on edge resting on it. A couple inches below this there is a sheet metal heat shield. This is NOT an insulating arrangement but a heat disapation setup. The bar grating acts like cooling fins. Keeping the bottom cool enough not to sag. The sheet metal is another shield protecting what ever is below the forge. If I had some Kaowool when I built the forge I would have added riser bars to the bar grating and put a layer under the bricks. Rigid insulation board might be better.

An option to a stacked forge is a platform "floor" as above and lift off shells. The shells could be built using a variety of methods, blanket, bricks or molded. A steel frame and lifting lug would be necessary for the heavier refractories. Just an idea. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 16:34:47 GMT

Does anyone have information on the care and adjustment of an approx. 25lb.power hammer with the following name cast into the pulley housing "THE KERRIHARD CO, Red Oak Iowa. Thank-you
David H. Byers  <david.byers at omnova.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 19:58:39 GMT

I need any and all information on the care and adjustment on a 25lb. approx. KERRIHARD CO, RED OAK IOWA. Thank-you
David H. Byers  <david.byers at omnova.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 20:01:13 GMT

Kerrihard: David, One word, OIL. The enemy of all these small machines is they get run without oil. They haven't been made in many years so there are no parts. The book Pounding out the Profits has a Kerrihard poster on the cover and some history of the company. There are no operating instructions.

Clutches on mechanical hammers are designed to slip to control the speed. Some require the lining to be oiled to prevent sticking. Linkage adjustments include stroke and height. When run on long hard hitting strokes the machine should be run slow. When run using short light strokes you can run full speed. Some hammers do not have stroke adjustments but height adjustments are critical. The relaxed height should be just about the height of the unforged work. Most hammers also have a spring or cushion adjustment. These are adjusted to keep the hammer in synchronization. Tighter is usualy better than loose. On some hammers you can adjust the way the hammer hits with the cushion adjustment but most only run right when the tension is in one position.

Guides should be snug but never stick. Some machines have screw adjustments and other use shims. If using shims DO NOT skimp on having a proper range of shims.

Die height is critical in all types of hammers. Dies that are too short often let parts of linkage hit things that they should not. Dies that are too tall rarely hurt but they limit the range of work that can be done. Factory dies are always optimum and nothing shorter should be used.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 05/17/01 21:26:23 GMT

I've become aware of something about my "cast iron" doorstop. The catalogue said it was cast Iron, Yet it throws a long spark(as white or grey cast Iron does) This is normal, but, well It is soft. For example, I made the mistake of pounding a piece of rebar on it, now It has the exact zig zag pattern DEEPLY embedded in its face.

Could you tell me what this is guru? Thankyou
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 00:09:10 GMT

When will the said benefits from joining the webring take effect, or must you yourself enable them?
Thank you.
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 00:36:04 GMT

Membership: Thankyou Adam! Its takes a little while. I do all the data entry manualy and I was napping. . . Gotta sleep once in a while. Have you fixed up in a few minutes.

Cast iron generaly doesn't produce much of a spark or very short fuzzy sparks. Your cast anvil might be ductile iron. That is considerably better than cast iron. On the other hand cast iron is BRITTLE but not that hard. Rebar can be very hard in comparison to both cast and ductile iron.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 01:27:09 GMT

Rebar: The high strength grades are hard and almost impossible to bend as supplied from the mill. They are hard enough that they may leave an impression in even a good anivl face. Even the best anvils can be abused and I've seen many with "hoof" marks or little half moons from hammer edges (round those corners!) and all sorts of other marks from hammering on hard steel parts such as bearings (maybe taking something apart). On the other hand I've occasionaly slipped and hit the anvil face with a cold chisel. . . the result is usualy a very flattened cold chisel.

Pounding on hot iron and being careful not to hit the anvil with the hammer (or chisels) you can do a ton of work on an unhardened steel or cast iron anvil.

On the other hand, working on Mousehole, Kolhswa and Hay-Budden anvils I've had numerous hard mis-strikes and never left a mark on an anvil face. Hard is better.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 02:04:52 GMT

I was able to salvage a blower out of an old oven hood vent. I want to build a brake pan coal forge and use a radiostat to control the speed of the blower. Are there any inherent problems to using an "automatic" blower over one with a hand crank.
chris bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 02:32:10 GMT

Blowers: Chris, Except for needing a little electricity there is generaly nothing but advantages. Before building a fire in your forge be sure you can adjust it down to a very gentle breeze. Sometimes you need to add a sliding gate valve. Many motors don't like running too slow and can stall so some other control is needed. A lot of coal forges have both controls.

Hand cranks and bellows give tremondous control but when working alone you often return to a dying fire after working a heat. Then you spend a lot of time getting the fire back up to heat. . . Its a nice relaxing way to work but is very slow and soetimes frustrating.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 03:45:16 GMT

Jock, have you ever heard of pop, or pot metal(not sure which) My uncle told me about it, like metal foam. He said it would melt like styrofoam if someone tried to weld it, How would this metal be made?

AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 10:58:53 GMT

ah blue. :)
AdamSmith  <ColdForge1 at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 10:59:23 GMT

Chris, Another thing about electric vs. hand crank blowers for a coal forge is you use much less coal in a hand crank forge because you are not force burning the coal all the time. Also, if you have another piece in the forge you won't burn it up when you go to work on another one. I've never seen much problem with the fire going out unless you are using coke instead of coal.
I don't mean to contradict the good Guru, this is just my opinion. I got a nice Cannedy Otto Western Chief blower last year that I'm planning on using whenever I can set up a coal forge, have to use gas now because of neighbors.
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 12:56:46 GMT

Can you help me,please with information on foundations for steam Hammers. All the information I can find is very old and uses wood blocks between the concrete foundation and the anvil. I imagine that rubber is the go these days but what sort and how much? Any clues on where I can get information?
The hammer in question is being set up by a steam preservation club. We know plenty about steam but little about black smithing. We probably will not use it much but sure as anything someone is going to have a go sooner or later if we set it up so it needs to be safe and workable.
Jo Lloyd  <lloyd at wizard.teksupport.net.au> - Friday, 05/18/01 13:11:41 GMT

I have a question about stainless steel. My fiance is a machinist and made me a ring made of a very pure stainless steel. Because it means so much to me that he made it for me, I would like it to be my wedding ring.... I have heard that you can dip yellow gold and make it into white gold or spray something on it.... can you do the same with stainless steel (make it look like white gold?).
Thank You!
Wonamini  <mckernan at gwm.sc.edu> - Friday, 05/18/01 13:20:41 GMT

Blower: Mike and Chris, Its two sides of the coin and depends on how fast work. My experiance is with the bellows and its not a matter of the fire going out but dropping in temperature a great deal. I'd be willing to bet that a proper steady fire with a gentle blast uses no more coal for the amount of work done than using hand power where you have to build up the heat over and over. Just my feeling.

Various junk and NEW electric blowers are easier to come by than hand crank ones. On the other hand its not TOO hard to build a little wood and sheet metal hand crank blower. Hmmmm just had thoughts of using a bicycle crank and wheel for a pulley. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 13:26:51 GMT

SS Ring: Wonamini, Stainless can be plated with gold. Contact a Jewler or silver smith. However, the gold is very soft and will rapidly wear through on the harder SS surface.

You've heard the phrase "diamonds are forever" well, stainless is the next best thing. Did you know that stainless jewelery is more expensive than silver? Its because it is much harder to work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 13:46:55 GMT

I use an electric blower in my forge at home. It was made from the factory as a forge blower with a sliding gate to control the blast. It is setup so that I step on a peddle to turn it on and when I step away from the forge it shuts off, there is also a bypass switch so that I can run it and be away from the forge. I can forge as long with a given amount of coal as I can with a hand blower. At the museum that I demonstrate at, we have all hand crank blowers. They work well but because I am LEFT handed and nearly ALL hand crank blowers are designed to be used with the left hand, my arm never gets to rest! It is hammer, turn the crank, hammer, crank, hammer, crank, hammer etc. I tell you, it is GREAT to just step on the peddle and get a blast of air!
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 13:49:25 GMT

Steam Hammer: Jo, Even new hammers still specify wood cushions on certain hammers. If you look in a new book on hammers it will show a copy of a Niles-Bement foundation plan from 1900 or a Nasmyth foundation from ~1850.

Some hammer foundations are rubber cushioned. However, the cushions are relatively small things (like auto engine mounts) and they go UNDER a huge concrete inertia block that the anvil and hammer set on. A rubber pad may go between the cast iron machine parts and the concrete. The hammer and inertia block in turn set in a concrete foundation. This is a special anti-vibration design that requires special engineering.

Modern foundations are primarily concrete with a wood cushion between the anvil and foundation. The cushion does three things, it is shaped to level and align the anvil, it absorbs shock distributing the load between the uneven cast iron and concrete surfaces, and as a cushion it produces more penetrating blows into the steel by causing the force of the blow to work longer.

Rubber is a peculiar substance. Like water it is incompresable and acts like a liquid. Rubber enclosed in a container will not compress. Rubber in a thin space (like a pad under a power hammer anvil) can only compress by the amount it is displaced out to the sides.

Some old foundation plans showed pilings driven into the ground. These and the deep staked pyramids of timbers were for setting up huge hammers on soft ground. Today massive concrete foundations are poured except where pilings may be needed.

I would recommend at least one layer of timbers over a concrete foundation. I suspect that the hammer is going to be run very little or just for demonstrations and more cushioning is not necessary..
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 15:05:17 GMT

Steam Hammers:

At the Spring Fling Josh Greenwood had some interesting anecdotes (horror stories) regarding large steam hammers and industrial accidents. Not having any idea of the size of you unit or the experience of your crew, you may still want to research the safety of the operation. I came away with the impression that the larger (tons and/or fractions thereof) hammers and an inexperienced or inattentive operator could be a deadly combination. Or, to put it another way, decapitation can really detract from the demonstration.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 15:46:05 GMT

BIG HAMMER Bruce is right, shoulder dislocations are common from low anvils and not having work flat on the anvil. The reverse, being tossed across the shop also happens. On tapered dies it is common for work to "squirt" out of the dies under certain conditions making a spear out of the bar. Running big hammers takes practice and close attention to EVERYTHING.

OSHA requires all large fasteners and anything that can become a loose falling piece to be tied on with a safety cable. This is not because they commonly come apart but because operators are paying such close attention to the work area that parts can work loose without your noticing. Being hit in the head by a 5 pound bolt can be serious.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 16:03:16 GMT

Wayne, That's a good idea, nice compromise. Thanks.
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 16:13:47 GMT

POT METAL: Adam, This is zinc casting alloy. In the past it got a bad reputation because it was often poorly alloyed or full of scrap and highly crystalized. There should be no air entraped in it. It is called "pot metal" because it can be easily melted in an iron pot. However, a crucible should be used because the zinc rapidly disolves the iron or steel and the pot eventualy spring a leak. Being peed on with 1,000°F metal is no fun. . the disolved iron also reduces the strength of the alloy.

Modern zinc aluminium alloys are as strong as low strength bronze and as good a bearing material. It melts at 800-8501,000°F and is cast at 1,000°F. Most commonly it is injection molded in permanent cast iron or steel molds. But it can be gravity cast in permanant molds, sand or plaster molds.

Welding is tricky. I know it can be done but I've had no luck with it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 16:19:24 GMT

Hi, All. I live in Indiana, am extremely new to smithing and am trying to figure it all out. I've made a brake drum forge and have a hair dryer and dimmer switch for the blower, a small anvil (60-70#?) and have been mostly playing with a charcoal fire and soft machine-rolled steel.

I've made a couple of letter openers for hammer/finishing practice ;-) and my first "real" project was a little carving knife for my five year old son.

I'm as proud as a new papa that I've gotten this far and have bored family, friends and co-workers with all the gory details. Thank you for listening, as well!

Now my first question, rust has started to appear on my poor attempts. Is that just the way it is unless I paint/gun blue/ or some other technique? Or can this be prevented during the working? I hardened/tempered the knife (I think? First real attempt...) but not the letter openers and they seem to be having the same issue.

Sorry for such a basic question. I've tried searching the net and have found out that it's the rolled vs. wrought material but am at a loss past that.

Second question, should I be able to weld with just charcoal? I can get the steel yellow but not quite white hot. Am I not getting enough air? or should I use coal instead?

Thanks and appreciation for any and all feedback.

Ron Rupert  <ron_rupert at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 18:28:33 GMT

I talked to a guy who has located what he thinks is a power hammer made in Germany with a brand name...Elmeg. Ring any bells?
L.Sundstrom - Friday, 05/18/01 18:40:25 GMT

Ron, Sounds like your well on your way! The only steel that won't rust is stainless, makes no real difference how it was rolled or wrought, although wrought iron rusts slower than most modern steels because of the slag in it. You have to coat everything you make with some kind of finish. Boiled Linseed oil is my choice for indoor pieces. Some use beeswax or Johnson's paste wax. For outdoors you have to paint it, look above for some posts from the Guru on the best way to do that.

Are you using lump hardwood charcoal or birquetts(sp?)? Birquetts will work, but not nearly as good as real charcoal or coal. You should probably be able to weld with either though, so you are probably not getting enough air.

Happy Hammering!
Mike Roth  <mcroth at adelphia.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 18:59:34 GMT

Elmeg: Larry, Never heard of it. Be sure its not a punch press. Many people confuse the two.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:10:57 GMT

Welding on a Charcoal Forge- Ron:
First be sure your fire is DEEP. This stuff burns fast, so you need to work and think as fast before it burns hollow. One "old blacksmith's trick" that I've used is to cover the top with a piece of sheet metal, heavy guage up to 1/8th inch (something you don't need and NOT galvanized) to help hold the heat in. Charcoal consumption goes up even more, but you're after a weld, not economy. This is using ricked hardwood charcoal, not briquets.

Rusty Knives: Use, maintain, oil. That's how it was done for over three thousand years.

"Give your children sharp things to play with and they'll grow up careful... or maimed... or both!"
from: Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:22:54 GMT

The above quote: Not meant personally, but you would have to talk to my children to get the full impact. They've led um... adventurous lives. (BIG grin)

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:28:31 GMT

I am building a side draft for my forge. what size pipe do I use 8",10", 12" what would be the best? Then what should I put on top of the pipe, to keep out rain and birds. How about these round thing that spin in the rain? Any help you can give me will be great.
JIM R. Glines  <jglines at kdsi.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:36:27 GMT


Thanks for the advice and encouragement! I'm using Kingsford BBQ charcoal. LOL! I live in a very rural area and have tons of red oak (more than I can burn in a fireplace) so I've reasearched doing the homemade charcoal thing. Seems like more of an art than I'm ready for at this point. Soooo much else to learn first.


Thank you also for the reply. I'm getting better on the working/thinking fast but it's all I can to get the iron to the anvil before it cools! haha It sounds like I need more air and either "real" charcoal or coal if I'm going to keep at this for any length of time.

I laughed at the quote! It was taken as it was meant. My five year old is very careful and only gets to use it when Daddy monitors! ;-) I've developed a healthy respect for sharp objects (scouting and such) and am hopefully teaching the same. He will cut himself at some point. Don't we all? A favorite saying "If you've never been lost in the woods then you haven't spent enough time in them." or some such wording...

Thanks and have a great weekend!
Ron Rupert  <ron_rupert at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:43:20 GMT

Ron. try to get a somewhat bigger fan. sounds like you have just a bit to little air. on the rust. if you polish to a bright mirror finish it will keep better but only properly painted material or stainless wil keep from rusting over time (ok painted WILL rust but properly made not in 50 years yet).
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:48:17 GMT

Quote: Atli, I've got the scars to prove that axiom!

Side Draft: Jim, 10" Minimum, 12" Nominal, 14" best. The thing on the top is called a "wind turbine" they are said to improve the draft and they keep out the rain.

Steel: Ron, As mike said the only thing that won't rust is SS (or non-ferrous metals).

Welding with charcoal in brake drum forge is tricky. It takes a deep fire. It also takes good charcoal. If you are using briquets they are largely sawdust and glue. True charcoal is 100% coaled wood. Remember, charcoal was THE fuel for thousands of years.

Mild steel like you get at the hardware store will harden a little but is not a good steel for knives and chisels and such. Pieces of almost any kind of old spring work better. Some places may sell "drill rod" this is most commonly W1 tool steel.

Mild steel has approximately 0.2% carbon. Tool steels have closer to 1%. Springs vary from 0.6% to 0.95%. Alloying also makes a big difference in steels. Additions of nickel, chrome, molybdenum, tungsten, vanadium, make big differences in steels.

Stainless has nickel and chrome in the steel. Most common varieties are not hardenable. Stainless turns the same blue-black as mild steel when heated and forged. If you want a "natural" finish this is a good way to go. You have to be careful forging stainless that steel from scale and tools does not get embedded in the stainless. If you want the SS to be "bright" you have to clean it mechanicaly or chemicaly. Most SS is "pickled" in harsh acid to remove surface iron that would rust. This is called "pasivating"

Most non-paint finishes on carbon steel such a bluing, browing, blacking are "oxide" finishes. These chemicaly induced oxide finishes are not much different than the scale produced by heating and forging. Oxide finishes act as a surface to hold oil or wax. All will rust unless kept dry and oiled. Even indoors if there is condenstation this finishes will rust if not cleaned and oiled.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:51:32 GMT

LOST in the WOODS: Daniel Boone was once asked if he had ever been lost, his response,
"No, but I was a mite bewildered for a few days."
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 19:59:16 GMT


Thanks for the response! I'll leave the briquets for the steaks and move on to some real fuel.

Unfortunately (fortunately?), the previous owner of the house/land that I'm at used a ravine as his private dump. It's mostly covered with brush, dirt, etc and can't be seen unless you're looking for it but I've viewed it as a "blight on the land" (can't help but see the old Iron Eyes commercial from my youth and it goes against the way I was raised) but truth be told I've found some good stuff in it! ;-) The springs from an old truck rank high on my list of treasures and will soon be put to good use!

Thanks to all for the much needed direction adjustment and I'm sure I'll be pleading for more advice in the years (days?) to come.

Ron Rupert  <ron_rupert at yahoo.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 20:38:22 GMT

Hi there. I've rescently developed an interest in Blacksmithing. I have a few beginer(sp) questions. First, If I want to build a forge. I'm not interested in modern equipment, just old fashion hammer anvil and fire stuff :)Where can I find information on how to build indoor or outdoor forges? Also, I have developed an interest in forging(Not casting) aluminum. Is this a hard metal to work with? I like it because it's light, and cheap to come by. Also, what is the best metal to start with?
Feel free to email me with suggestions also!

Thank in advance for any advice!
Michael  <fizbon at mediaone.net> - Friday, 05/18/01 20:42:14 GMT

Stack cap: Alan L, will you tell Jim about the low loss cap?

Knife scars, yup, my boy was taught always to cut away from you, and sure enough, one day he does a nice painful slice along his index finger, middle joint, to the bone. He cut toward himself. He's not going to forget that one.

Charcoal: Ron, I use lump hardwood charcoal and I can melt and ruin good iron just fine with it.

Lost in the woods: Lost, never. I just sometimes end up seeing a new place that I hadn't planned to.

Bicycle Blower: Guru, weíve bantered this around a bit elsewhere. Instead of using the bicycle wheel as a pulley, why not leave the tire on and friction drive the fan shaft directly with the tire????

Orrr... use a large pulley like the ones Iíll be looking at by my favorite scrap guy tonight. Which brings me to my question....

I have a problem....

A disease.....


I canít stop.

My scrap guy knows I canít help myself. Heís preying on my mental condition.

He calls me with a good deal on useful stuff and I canít turn it down! I have to have it. My financial situation is in peril.

I need a support group to help me. Iím too weak to help myself. I admit it.

Iím hoping there is help among like minded smiths. Know of anybody who can help me with my affliction? Pleeeeeeez heeellllpppp mmeeeeeeeee......

Hereís an example: I was there last week to pick up some stainless tubing and he takes me for a walk. We look at the aluminum pile and I take a little snippet of aluminum diamond plate. We walk in the stainless shed and I snap up about 30 square feet of stainless sheet. We walk past the big plate pile and he has a 20,000 pound counterweight for my future big treb. At this point, Iím drooling. Then he shows me a trailer load of 40 foot long boom steel and reminds me that I need it for the arm. Then we walk past rolls and rolls of half inch and inch diameter round drawing stock. High carbon. And he shows me the two halves of a drawing die holder. Iím feverish. I see two anvils. High carbon, machined flat. Nice spot for a hardy hole...... Better than 500 pounds each.

You see my problem.

I managed to get out of there just paying .25 per pound for the near virgin stainless tubing....

But he just called.

He has those drawing die halves pulled out.

And he has beer.

He says I need to stop by tonight.

And I will. Even though I donít need another anvil.

Iím so weak.

Help meeeee....................gasp!
Tony  <tca_b at mmmmmilwpc.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 21:18:57 GMT


Welcome to the brotherhood! My wife says I have an ADVANCED case of accumulitis, and it may be terminal! In other words, if I don't clear some space, she's going to kill me! (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 21:33:41 GMT

Usefulstuffaccumulitis Tony, I'm afraid you have been mis-diagnosed. The proper term, coined by Josh Greenwood, one of the first to recognize and ADMIT the symptoms in himself is acquisititus.
acquisititus Is the need to acquire everything associated with a field of interest no matter how many of the same thing you already have. It is particularly accute in the heavy fields, tool collectors and blacksmiths being particularly aflicted. usefulstuffaccumulitis is mearly the obvious symtom of the deeper seated acquisititus.
AAUA (Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis Annonymous) is invited to meet at my place on the second Saturday night of each month. Members are encouraged to bring their latest acquisition and leave it in my care. Being deprived of your acquisitions being an important part of the cure. During meetings we provide the beer and chastize each other for our weakeness.

Ah Tony, just WHERE is that scrap yard ;)

Getting Started: Michael, See the article by the same title linked at the top and bottom of this page and the sources linked to it. Then see our plans page.

Yes, aluminium is forgeable. It is relatively expensive and hard to judge its temperature properly. If you are going to forge a lot of it you will need a temperature controlled furnace. It must ALWAYS be handled with tongs due to the fact that it is an excellent conductor of heat. There is never a great tenperature differential betwwen one end of a bar and the other like steel which lets you work long pieces without tongs.

For practical welding of aluminium you need TIG (Heli-Arc) equipment. Its probably possible to forge weld aluminium but I have never heard of anyone doning it. You would have to do your own R&D on this subject.

The best metal to start with is common mild steel (SAE-1018 or 1020, A-36). It is cheap (1/10th Al), it is hard to hurt, it is relatively easy to weld.

That said, THE BEST metal to work with is GOLD. It is soft and can be forged cold to paper thinness. It is easy to weld and doesn't oxidize. It stays bright and shiney FOREVER! If it wasn't the most recyled metal in history every piece of work made from gold would still exist. Sadly most of the fantastic work done in gold has been "recycled" and sits in bank vaults as ingots.

So if you have an unlimited budget. . Gold, then silver, Stainless (which works mostly like steel), bronze & brass (which is heavier than steel but works like aluminium), copper, aluminium, wrought iron, pure iron, steel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 22:04:10 GMT

AAUA: (Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis Annonymous) Next meeting will be June 9 at 8:00 pm. EST A crane is available to unload your truck. Please call ahead if single items are over 10 tons. 434.283.5671

Note: There is an added benefit being an AAUA member. Leaving your stuff with ME, your wife will never know you acquired it in the first place. This reduces stess and you will live longer and not be burdened with divorce and the associated costs. Attendees that fail to relieve themselves of their most recent acquisition are required to pay the beer bill and do penance by pulling on the manual chain hoist to unload others.

Hmmm. . Direct bicycle wheel drive. . I can bet I know who came up that.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 05/18/01 22:28:33 GMT

Usefulstuffaccumulitis support group notice...

We support you Tony, go get it! You need it ALL. Never mind the food,clothing and shelter that your family needs..oh, yeah, and medical assistance. They'll survive till another day. These great metal finds may NOT be there tomorrow!

Big evil grin and waiting to hear how your wife reacts to this "Support Group".
Steve Rutterbush  <hammerdown Forge> - Saturday, 05/19/01 00:27:46 GMT

Direct Drive: among others, I did come up with that. Mostly because I was too lazy to take the tire off and put a sheave and belt on.

Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis: I'll bet Josh is good at that based on what I have seen.

But I have it bad tonight. I really need immediate help. The drawing die holder was 1 ton, not 1000 pounds. One piece is about 1300 pounds and the other about 700. I had to hit it REAL hard with a ball pein to make a dent. Some other usefulstuff also jumped on the back of my truck and followed me home. An FMC triplex high pressure piston pump. I estimate about 50 hp to drive it. Appears new. (note that I have no use for a 50 hp high pressure piston pump. I do not have enough electric supply to even come close to driving it. Any body need one? It was destined to be broke up on Monday. I just couldn't let that happen.) A 50 to 1 worm gear box with a brake motor attached. A few square feet of 1/4" stainless steel plate. (there is an entire dumpster of the stainless plate. 2 by 3 foot pieces or so. I could only rescue a small portion). And four 30 inch diameter sheaves for 1" wire rope. New. Again, there were more sheaves. Maybe 20 or so. I could only fit 4. Nope, I have no use for the sheaves either. But they look really cool!

See, I have it bad. My weakness might have something to do with the beer he supplies.

I can share. This scrap dealer is located in East Central Wisconsin and he is more than willing to supply other good people that have Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis. About half of the time, he actually makes a little money off of me. Mostly, I just provide entertainment and engineering to him.

For the betterment of AAUA, I will donate the smaller die half cum anvil for a raffle to raise funds for treatment of AAUA menbers (or beer money).

What does my wife really think? She just laughs at me too. Mostly because in the end, I am really saving her money. Really!

Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 00:50:07 GMT

Yeah, RIGHT, Thats what YOU tell her. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 01:21:39 GMT

Thanks, Guru. And I don't mean to seem rude, but according to most historical accounts Goliath was bigger than the other Philistines (he was nine feet tall or so.)
Jonathan  <romkid39455> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:14:04 GMT

All this talk about blacksmiths and bicycles bothers me a little bit. You DO know what happened the LAST time a couple of starving smiths opened a bicycle shop, don't you? (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:20:13 GMT

They flew, Paw Paw, they FLEW!

Trebuchet anyone?
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:26:11 GMT


Good for you! Trebuchet? Let's shoot for interstellar! (grin) If we use the bicycle for a driver, can we reach warp 9?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:35:17 GMT

Hey Guru, whats up. I'm a freshman in high school and after the longest time of wanting to start blacksmithing, I found a local forge and I am going there to help and learn now. But my question would be; I would love to put together my own forge--all things considered--sooner than the local standard breeds, and I could definately use help! I realize that this will be pretty costly, and I truly hope to be able to build much of the stuff myself, so thats the type of information I'm leaning and hoping for, but any info will be great.
If you could help me, please, tell me! I completely appreciate your response alot! Thanx for your time.
Dan H  <druidlife9 at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:42:46 GMT

BTW, I am wondering if anybody can tell me what it means for a hammer to be drop forged. I bought a three-pounder at the local hardware store and saw that it said drop forged on the side.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 02:44:50 GMT

Drop Forged: Go to our Book Shelf page (from home) and look at the autobiography of the most important blacksmith that lived, James Nasmyth. Besides inventing the steam (drop hammer) he invented the steam pile driver, the shaper, the lathe reversing mechanism and many other important inventions including the convex scarf, something very basic that had not been discovered in 3,000 years. Without him, the industrial revolution would have probably taken another generation or two to kick into high gear and we would probably be 50 years behind where we are today. Railroads may not have been built and the U.S. might be many states less than it is today. Of course the U.S. Civil may not have favored the North and the World wars may have only been regional squables. That is, if you believe the pebble theory of time lines. The diminishing effect theory says that everything would have be the same with very minor differences, eventualy. Of couse we prabably would not have reached that point for another 50 to 100 years. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 03:32:12 GMT

Building one's own Smithy: Try the various links and references in Getting Started and then keep going. Cost is relative. A blacksmith shop can be put together on zero budget in our junk and scrap filled post industrial economy. Or you could spend $10,000. I could do one in about an hour (I REALLY know how to spend money), the other a few weeks with luck. Both methods took me 40 years to learn the hard way. Your most important tool is knowledge. I've pointed the way to the river. All you have to do is drink.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 03:43:10 GMT

what is a bean can forge and how do i make it
michael  <Phantom8l at hotmail.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 07:56:41 GMT

Ah Tony:
Abandon all hope and just joyfully wallow in it... Some time in the near future, some PHD will find the neuro-chemical that causes the syndrome and the county board of supes will force us all to be "cured" for the sake of real estate values. I expect to fight them over every clanking rusted scrap.Bless our wives for putting up with it!
It is easy to imagine some sociobiological origin that so thoroughly imbedded the impulse in our genes. Our forefathers must have survived when everyone who didnt have a handy pile of junk perished.
I was a declared nuisance for a dozen years over my little junkyard by the sea...now i am 1 mile over the county line.
T. Coreghessian Boyle wrote a great short story on the subject that was published in the New Yorker ( cant remember title)
Pete F - Saturday, 05/19/01 08:26:19 GMT

Bean Can Forge: Michael, I THINK this was a Donnie Fullwood design but his old page no longer exists.

This was a little forge built with an 8oz(I think) bean-can, lined with Kaowool (synthetic asbestoes replacement) blanket and a common propane torch stuck into the side.

For a similar design see the Micro Forge on our 21st Century page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 13:00:39 GMT

Help! I have a bad case of Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis! I had to buy a piece of property with 3+acers so that there would be room for the stuff!! But WORST of all, once I have the "stuff" I don't want to use it!! To use it would mean that I couldn't make anything ELSE out of it! I have recently acquired about 1000# of NEW leaf springs from when my father closed his R.V. repair shop. Every time I want to use the steel, I have a REAL HARD TIME deciding on which spring to use! I can always make a trailer out of any pair of springs and THEY ARE ALL IN PAIRS! You know how hard it is to break up a set (big big grin)

I would be willing to head the chapter of AAUA: (Acquisititus and Usefulstuffaccumulitis Anonymous) here on the west coast, the meeting will be the last Sat of each month at 6:30 PM. (so I can brag about my new "prizes" to the other blacksmiths at the museum the next week!) Beer and crunchy things to eat will be provided.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Saturday, 05/19/01 14:13:04 GMT

If i would boud a stone forge what material schould be best to use for the air tubes inside the fordge?
johannes  <johannes at mine.be> - Saturday, 05/19/01 15:31:54 GMT

Leaf: Wayne, What size are your smallest springs. I have a modification I need to make to the EC-JYH. It only needs one. Then the pair is broken. . . unless I need a spare!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 15:38:19 GMT

Stone Forge: Johannes, Air. When building a masonry forge you just build air space for the "tubes". The fire box and flue (where the smoke goes) should be lined with fired clay brick. Many natural stones slit, spall or explode when heated. If you don't know, it is best to use brick.

By law the "stack" of the flue is normally lined with terracotta flue liners in the U.S. These are short sections of clay tube (like a chimney pot). The reason for them is they provide a smooth surface and have less joints than stone or brick thus provide a safer chimney. Check your local building code requirements.

You may want to use a few refractory (fire) bricks in the immediate area where the fire will be but the rest of the bricks can be common red clay building bricks. This should take no more than 4-6 fir bricks. In the U.S. building bricks normally have holes in them to make them lighter for structural reasons. But you can still get plain (solid) bricks. That is what you want.

Most old masonry forges were side blown. The bellows behind the forge blew air straight through a small tunnel in the back of the forge just above the fire platform or into a trough extending out into the fire. Later forges had commercial (bottom blast) cast iron fire pots built in. In this case the base of the forge needs a large arch to alow access to the ash dump and for a steel air pipe to blow air into the fire pot. This style construction requires careful construction by a skilled mason.

If I were building a stone forge I would use concrete block to fill large voids, red brick for much of the interior exposed to heat with a few fire brick as noted. Stone would be used on the exterior only (a vernier). The flue would have a terracotta liner and be capped with a chimney pot.

The interior and exterior are built simultaneously with fill between the two as needed. Some places may be solid stone depending on the size and shape of available stone.

I've built stone and brick walls and fireplaces. It is difficult high skill work fitting odd stone shapes together and having the results look nice. I wouldn't want my first experiance to have been building a forge. Like everything else, it takes practice.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 16:26:13 GMT

Building Codes and Forges: Most localites won't know how to categorize a masonry forge, forge flue or stack. They will expect you to know what you are doing. When you apply for the building permit they may not have much to say about the construction. BUT when they inspect it they may have a lot to say when it is nearly impossible to fix.

Check you local codes for fireplace and domestic chimneys then apply those rules.

1) Use a flue liner.
2) Use fire brick where required.
3) Use firestop insulation between masonry and wood frame members.
4) Anchor the top of the chimney to the building frame.
5) Form a water tight sloped drip mold around the top flue liner or chimney cap.
8) Install a spark arrester as necessary.

The above is just a general guide There may be other rules including the depth and size of the footing and material specs. Even if your work is not going to be inspected, follow the code and remeber building codes are MINIMUM requirements.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 16:42:35 GMT

Guru on drop forging, I just moved to North Carolina a couple of months ago. I live in a small town about 35 miles
from Wilmington. On looking in the area that I want to live I found a small town 20 miles from the plant that I transfered to. And what do you think is here, but a small family owned and operated drop forging company. Council Tool is the name. I had to go by a couple of times but I managed to get a tour of the place. They make hammers for proto,standley and some others. All equipment is quite old but gets the job done. I ask did any other hobby/blacksmiths had show interest and was told that I was the first. I hope to go but and get some history on the early days. It is over 100 years old and they are always looking for new markets. Any way some of the hammers used are made by Bliss. They are listed on the net by the name of Council Tool maybe you have heard of them.
BobbyN  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Saturday, 05/19/01 18:10:50 GMT

Excuse me for being an evil old archeologist, but exactly what kind of "historical accounts" do you mean?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 05/19/01 19:28:00 GMT

Olle :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 19:33:34 GMT

Bobby: You would be amazed at how many small forges still make "name" tools as well as using 100 year old machinery. There are many long gone names in the drop hammer industry still in daily use including Bliss and Niles Bement among others. A surprising number of old Bradly guided helve hammers are still in use where mechanical hammers are used. Bruce Wallace makes pieces of several lines on his Bradley compact. Many are also found overseas forging specialty tools like rifler and file blanks, wood working chisels and such.

Olle, I didn't touch that one due to the religious aspect. But even if true, if you look at modern "giants" most are ill equiped for anything athletic much less being a warrior. At best such a person would most likely be used as a symbol to scare the enemy. Anyone actualy standing up to him would have had an easy target. The point was that having iron when others did not gave the Philistines a reputation for being "war like" and that in the end a stone age weapon triumphed over their "superior" new technology in an heroic act. With or without a giant its a good story. The giant just makes it easier to explain to people that don't know the difference in technology and since the difference isn't mentioned in the Bible the giant may simply be a symbol of the technology. Some people don't get the point.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 20:12:48 GMT

Hi Guys
Is there a formulae for hardening mild steel or at least case hardening? I've heard of some that sound like witches brew using blueing and lots of other ingredients. I'm opening at Ft. Edmonton tomorrow (May 20) in the 1885 shop. I've been instilling wisdom into our future leaders all winter... glad to be back at the forge. ;-)
Doug Hall  <dhall at compusmart.ab.ca> - Saturday, 05/19/01 20:44:39 GMT


I don't know that there is a formulae, but Super Quench does seem to make mild steel considerably harder than just a cold water quench.


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

Stir before each use

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

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

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

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

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

OH! BTW, Shaklee is a line of bio-degradable detergents. Basic I is the basic industrial strength formula. Shaklee distributors are listed in the yellow pages of the phone book.

As for Case Hardening, Kasenit, (sold by McMaster & Carr) does a good job.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 21:33:46 GMT

Super Quench: Doug, Paw-Paw is a great believer in super quench. I am not. You can get the same results using ice water and quenching hotter than normal. The hardness achieved is untempered hardness. The result is brittle steel that when tempered is considerably softer. If you need hard, use real steel. Old tools and springs to recycle are too easy to come by. Be VERY careful not to use superquench on high carbon or alloy steels.

In 1885 steels were brine and water quenched. I don't think I EVERY got into a hardening tempering discussion doing a public demontration. The only time it came up was when very missinformed character tried to tell me how to do it. In these cases in public all you can do is keep working and hope the idiot goes away. Otherwise you make him look like an idiot in front of family and friends. Its not good to argue with the the public. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 05/19/01 23:29:01 GMT

Hello Guru,
I've been out working on railroad spike tomahawks most of the day,and have had a lot of trouble upsetting the spikes. I just wondered if there is a tool that helps the process along.I would bring to white heat and then tried hammering with different weight hammers, from a small ballpeen to a 8 lb sledge, you know the luck I had with the sledge but it sure helped relieve a lot of stress.It seems like it took a lot of heats to shorten it to the size I wanted, and I was wondering if that is normal.Any info on upsetting steel would be appreciated. Any one wanting to make a drift or a splitting punch try a axle out of an old model A, I made both from an old axle a friend had laying aroumd and they work great with a little hard greese on them. Thanks for any help
Bill  <camper at yhti.net> - Saturday, 05/19/01 23:50:23 GMT

Upsetting: A good friend of mine calls upsetting an "upsetting" experiance. It is something that takes practice and takes more effort for the amount of stock moved than any other forging operation.

Many light fast blows are better then slow heavy blows. If you work the bar to a low conical point then upset on the point it helps direct the energy to the center of the upset. After flattening out the cone you make another and do the same again.

As soon as the bar is swollen some it can be dropped into the hardy hole (if it fits) or a hole in a swage block and then upset with heavy blows. Huge upsets can be made this way as soon as you have enough material to keep the piece from falling through. You can use the vise on small pieces and I have tools for doing the same in the demo on heading on the iForge page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 00:49:08 GMT

MY FIRST ANVIL!!!! I just found one. #169 Hay budden, real nice shape. I paid just under $2.00 per lbs. Is that about right? or did I pay to much? Thanks.
keith  <kbarker1 at stny.rr.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 01:08:23 GMT


Good anvil, at a good price. Nicely done!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 01:36:59 GMT

Well, Mr. Evil Old Archaeologist, I mean everything that I've ever heard. That's not much me being only 13, but all the people who I've ever heard touch on the subject of Goliath have supported the fact that he was a giant. Of course, there's the biblical account, but since many people don't believe the Bible or only believe certain parts of it, I must state that I saw a few documentaries on giants and there were human skeletons measuring about 9 feet tall found in the region of biblical Israel.
Jonathan  <romkid39455 at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 01:42:40 GMT

is there any good website where i can by fire brick and Kaowool and stuff fore cheap
michael  <Phantom8l at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 07:45:12 GMT

Anvil: Keith, Nice size too. Heavy enough for some serious use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 08:04:08 GMT

Refractories: Michael, These are industrial materials and there is no such thing a cheap. Matter of fact there are box and pallet minimums. Relatively cheap (low temperature) fire brick is available from most construction suppliers. Various types of Kaowool may be available as scrap from heating and ventilating contrators or boiler maintenance companies.

We have been considering providing small quantities of Kaowool in the anvilfire store. This avoids standard 100' box prices, but would by necessity be a higher per-unit price.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 08:38:24 GMT

To All,
Machinery's Handbook 26th edition is available on CD ROM for $69.95 from Grizzly Industrial catalog on page 257. I got my catalog by e-mailing to www.grizzly.com.
Mark  <dilligaf at net1plus.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 10:57:52 GMT

Thanx guru for your replie,
I have a lotof fire solid briks from an old trondown bakery oven I also have fire solid stones comparebel to a pavement stone from that same oven, olso I have the original foundry iron dors from that oven and special bricks designed to make a bow ceiling. I have some experiance in stone ovens seeing I have alreddy made a couple non pernament field ovens for clay, but they are to slow in heating to forge steel, thus I experianced.
the only thing still bugging me is ; couldn't I lead the aire tubes 'steel pipes ) in true the flue(chimney) , so that a part of the lost heat is reused true the aire?

* also : Does annyone have a plan for making a large wood and leather bellow???
Johannes  <johannes at mine.be> - Sunday, 05/20/01 14:03:15 GMT

Hi to all. I am a homeowner who recently paid quite a bit of money for an ornamental iron fence. I live in Corpus Christi, Tx. We get little rain, but have plenty of humidity (we're on the water)and unbelievable wind. The fence has a black painted finish. After only four months. I'm starting to see some spots of rust beginning. What should I do to treat these spots as they appear? Is there anything else to do for prevention. I do believe the iron guy did quality work. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Amber  <Liparifam at aol.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 14:17:30 GMT

RUST: Amber, EVERY time finishes come up I tell these guys its an appreciable part of the job. Sometimes as much as one third to half of the material and labor costs. Most discount it and do not have room in their budget for this kind of paint job. I often quote the paint job seperately.

If you bought your fence from a fabricator (a guy who mostly arc welds other people's components or plain bar stock together) you probably paid a fair price for his labor. These guys are very competitive. But if you bought it from a blacksmith who forged and fabricated every component you probably paid slave wages to a very hard working artist. The problem being that these guys are forced to compete with the fabricators because most people don't know the difference between hand work and fabricated. In either case both would probably have to contract out the following type paint job or at least the sandblasting.

I recommend only ONE method of painting outdoor work. It is going to be very difficult to do perfectly on installed ironwork. The reason being that those surfaces that are set in concrete or bolted to other surfaces also need to be finished the same way. There is also the problem of rust while the job is in progress.
  1. Sandblast or chemical clean to bare metal. If a chemical process is used it must be harsh enough to remove flux, scale and etch the surface. The chemicals must also be neutralized and rinsed clean.
  2. Apply one thin even coat of zinc powder paint or cold galvanizing to the bare metal (Not so called "zinc rich" or zinc chromate primers, these are a joke.) Parts to be set in concrete should have several coats applied.
  3. Apply one coat of neutral primer sealer (I use Dupont red-oxide automotive lacquer primer).
  4. Finish with a color-fast weather resistant top coat of your choosing. Two part industrial epoxies are best but very expensive and there are few contractors that know how to properly handle them. At this point a brush on enamel works. I like automotive finishes if color is to be used.
Breaks in the finish need to be repaired using the sames process. Cleaning may be mechanical as necessary and removal of weld flux is critical. If final painting is to be done in place the primer should have at least a thin top coat of exterior finish prior to installation. This is because primer may absorb oil from handling and the final finish not stick.

Options to the above are, hot dip galvanize or sprayed on zinc metal coating. These are highly recomended where the location may be near a body of salt water or where there is acid rain. Your problem is probably condensation, which is worse than living in a wet climate.

Patching rust just aggevates the problem. For rust to appear that fast there are either breaks in the original paint (a bad paint job), loose scale (the grey iron oxide on the surface on hot worked iron), weld flux or a dirty surface (possibly oil). Where rust has appeared it is also under the surrounding paint which is now loose. Painting over this creates pockets that will collect more moisture and rust and produce boils in the paint under which pitting will occur at a rapid rate.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 18:09:42 GMT

You can also get Machinery's Handbook 26th edition from Enco for $59.95. Which you can get from their 'Hot Deals'. Their website is http://www.use-enco.com
Torin  <torin at panix.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 19:56:55 GMT

Forge preheat tubes: Johannes, Coal ash is very corrosive. The pipes in the flue would not last long. Those embedded in the masonry would likely corrode, expand and ruin the surrounding masonry.

Preheaters, scavangers or recuperative systems DO make forges and furnaces of all types work better. In large foundry furnaces they run the flue gas through a maze. Then every so often they reverse the flow and run intake air through the maze and the smoke through another a maze on the opposite side of the furnace. When the second maze is hot, they reverse the flow again.

One shot heat exchangers for coal smoke need to be made of light stainless pipe. The stainless resists corrosion and being light weight it quickly transfers the little heat available. In a masonry forge this could be hidden inside. However, if part of the smoke is exposed to the masonry there will be high percentage of loss since the forge smoke/exhaust is not very hot. If you want a high-tech recuperative coal forge then build one but stone is the wrong material. If you want a tradition stone forge, then build one and don't try to engineer things into it that won't work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 21:13:04 GMT

I have a kind of stupid question, however I live in IL. and we have lots of mosquitoes. I am wondering what I could put into the slack tub that would keep the qater from going stagnant thus inviting mosquitoes to lay eggs in my water. Thanks
Steve  <smithecrab at aol.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 22:07:05 GMT

Mosquitoes: Steve, these guys actually like clean fresh water (like we all). I haven't tried it but I think salt will do it. Brine is a common quenchant and I don't think fresh water mosquitoes can live in salt water. It is also pet safe and helps keep the water from freezing.

A simple test would be to put some salt in water that has mosquitoe larva in it. If they die. . then it worked. I'm SURE I have a container with some standing water in it I can test. . Will check this afternoon. The trick would be to determine the minimum salinity needed so the water is not a brine quench except when you want it to.

The biggest draw back it that metal slack-tubs won't like salt either. Wood will work fine.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 05/20/01 22:41:37 GMT

Which do you think has the best control, a machanical or an air hammer? What, in your opinion is the best buy on a larger hammer today in the 100# to 150# range? Any thoughts about the Chinese air hammer? I saw Uri Hofi demo the Turkish air at Madison, Ga. the other day, and it seemed like a nice machine, not cheap at $8,000. I believe it was 50 kilos or 110# hammer. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter, thanks.
Armand Bussell  <armandanvil at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 00:23:23 GMT


A couple of drops of any kind of oil into the slack tub will spread to cover the surface. With the oil in place, the mosquito larvae (the waterborne stage) will die.

VOILA! Problem solved. If the larvae die, they don't hatch. If they don't hatch, they don't bite. The oil won't really change the severity of the quench, and will not corrode a metal slack tub.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 01:19:34 GMT

Oil in slack tub: Paw-Paw, I've done this. Huge mess. It also adds oil to metal that you may be cleaning and painting the same day. I'm not crazy about it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 01:39:08 GMT

Best Control: Armand, It depends on the kind of work you do and how much flexibility you need. Self contained hammers hit at the same frequency all the time. Nazel, followed by Kuhn have the best control. However, they are very hard to produce single hard blows. "Steamers", plain air hammers, are better if you want single hard blows. They also hit at varying frequencies. The variation in frequency is an advantage to some and a disadvantage to others. The BIG BLUE is one of the few plain air hammers in the small shop price range other than old used machines. There are many advantages to the hammers like the BIG BLUE. They are designed to fit in a small shop, parts and service are available and the steel frame is easy to repair if there are long term problems. You can also skid one of these into your shop and be productive the same day.

Mechanical hammers are no longer manufactured so only used machines are available. Bradleys were the heaviest built and Bradley and Faibanks share having the best control. These machines have a tremondous speed range. The stroke and hardness of the blow can also be adjusted. This gives these machines great flexibility when doing fine work under the hammer. Commoness has made Little Giants popular and over priced compared to Bradleys and Fairbanks. But that also means LG's have good resale value for a used machine

The Turkish hammers are a cheap copy of the Kuhn. They have been reported to have over heating problems. Many people use them and like them but the honest ones will tell your they ARE NOT a Kuhn. In this case you get what you pay for.

The Chinese hammers are yet to proove themselves. They are built much lighter than the original machines they are based on. The small ones are designed for the user to sit on the floor in front of the machine in the Eastern tradition. They require aftermarket modifications to use standing up. I also know there are many problems with translating manuals and comunication in general with the Chinese. A lot is being left up to the importers. I would buy a Chinese hammer rather than a Turkish hammer from what I have seen.

Then there is the KA, A completely different machine that is very useful, and the new McDonald rolling mills. Each has its advantages.

There are many things that determines if a hammer is right for you. Is it for production work or running more than one shift a day? Do you have a way to move an 8,000 pound machine into your shop and set it up? Is idle operating noise a problem? Do you expect to use a lot of hand held under die tooling? Can you make dovetailed dies (or afford to buy them) or prefer to make your own bolt on dies? Can you make your own repair parts? Do you need a hammer with a deep throat? Do you need factory parts and service support or expect a warantee?

I like old HEAVY machines, preferably made in the U.S. Some people prefer NEW over used no matter what. Others prefer to buy a domestic product. Some even prefer portability over mass. You have to decide what is best for you. But, like anvils, any power hammer is better than no power hammer at all. The smallest machine will increase your productivity. A bigger machine will open up new job possibilities. And once you have ONE you will want two. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 03:05:17 GMT

Steve: For mosquitoes in the quench tank and fire buckets I use a scrap piece of copper sheet. A few square inches will do, use a wire brush or sandpaper to get down to bright metal and toss it in.
I once tried to establish a business of maintaining local salt water aquariums in waiting rooms etc, in Santa Barbra.
I'd collect anemones and hermit crabs and octopuses etc diving and put them on display. Then some stinker would make a wish and throw a penny in the tank.Pennies were copper back then and everything in the tank would die in not too long.
Pete F  <ironyworks at hotmail.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 06:00:17 GMT

Pennies. . : Pete, Just tell folks to be sure to use pre 1983 pennies! This is another method that might be hard on your steel quench tank but is a great idea if it works on mosquitoes.

Years ago I made a fellow a brass melting pot for his candle making business. A few weeks later he came back and said that some beeswax left in the pot had turned green and he wanted to know if I could make him a bulk melting pot OR speed up the process. I had seen wax do the same setting in brass and copper drip pans. I knew it was the copper because so many copper compounds are green or turquois. So I put together a set of copper plates with brass spacers holding them together and a hook to hang off the side of his melting pot. Made the prettiest green beeswax you ever saw.

The point? Copper is very chemicaly active. That is why its poison. Its particularly chemicaly active with organic compounds, like the bees wax. It is also a major player in bimetalic corrosion.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 06:40:35 GMT

Hello! A friend just traded me a Johnson Gas crucible forge Model 900 SS (max 16 lbs aluminium)

AND a Johnson Gas forge furnace Model 133B (27" X 4.5" X 7" firebox)

I actually traded him a Craftsman woodlathe & a few other parts for this. He purchased the forges at a local school board auction for next to nothing. (I always attend this auction, but missed it that day) Both forges are fairly new and appear to be in excellent shape. The local school board here is closing many of their shops, and this forge shop was on the list.

I enjoy metal sculpture as a hobby and like working with sheet metal copper, making fountains, etc. I have a lot of fabrication tools but NO experience with forging or melting.

My question - Is there something easy a beginner can do with this equipment to make it worth the space it will take up in my garage, or do you think I may be over my head and better off to sell it & use $ elsewhere?

I do not have an anvil, a crucible pot, or any of the hand tools associated with this equipment. I live in central Fla and do not know any blacksmith artists other than those I see at a craft fair once in a while.

Are these forges in demand or or do most folks just build their own forges for a lot less?

Thanks for any comments.
JohnH  <4jh at siliconinvestor.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 09:07:16 GMT

Johnson Equip: John, Johnson forges are currently some of the most expensive to be found. They are the best professional equipment one can purchase today. Used they do not bring such high prices but they do start out quite expensive.

Casting requires quite a bit more than a crucible. You need tools to handle the crucible and the patterns and equipment to make molds. If you are not interested in learning about pattern making and mold making the melting furnace will do you little good. However, lost wax can be done on a small scale with very few tools. Aluminium, Brass, bronze and zinc can all be used.

The forge also needs the rest to go with it. Anvil, tongs, hammers. . .

There is a very active blacksmiths association in Florida. They have monthly meetings and an annual event. Meeting are open to visitors and someone with equipment is always welcome. Select ABANA-Chapter.com from the pull down menu and find the Florida Artist Blacksmiths Association.

One warning, if you go to a meeting you may find blacksmithing too interesting to let go of the equipment ;) You COULD trade the melting pot for a small anvil.

We have nearly 100 forge projects and lessons on our iForge page if you are looking for something to make.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 10:33:44 GMT

Wow, gone one weekend and look what all I missed... For Tony 's low-loss stack cap to the guy who wanted a good draft... If you're using round duct for a chimney, say, 8 inch (in my case) take off your old cap and get a section of the next larger size duct, 10 inch for 8 inch chimney, etc. This bigger duct goes atop the chimney with some overlap. How much? The bottom must extend at least one diameter below the top of the smaller pipe, and the top must extend at least 3 diameters above the top of the smaller pipe. It's held in place by brackets, blocks, or whatever. The point is to have an equal space between the sides of the smaller pipe and the bigger one. Picture a telescope tube to get the idea. It works in at least three good ways: It eliminates any stack pressure loss since the rising column of smoke doesn't have to turn, I suspect it actually increases draft when it gets warmed up due to convection bringning air up between the two ducts, and it keeps out rain better than a pointed cap, believe it or don't. This is because rain doesn't fall straight down. It will go in the top, but it will hit the sides of the bigger duct and run down to drip out the bottom on the OUTSIDE of the smaller duct. I tried it and my shop was immediately smoke free, and the neighbors thought I was stoking a boiler, there was so much more smoke coming out at such a higher velocity!
Tony explained it to me better, but that's the gist of it.
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Monday, 05/21/01 13:55:54 GMT

That's a verry good point guru.
Johannes  <johannes at mine.be> - Monday, 05/21/01 16:39:27 GMT

NEWS! ABANA Revokes Charters:

Due to the anvil shoot at the recent Southeastern Regional Blacksmithing Conference held in Madison, GA this past weekend the seven chapters involved have had their charters revoked. ABANA Press Release

The ABANA board stated that this "does not affect the individual ABANA membership status of ABANA members within these chapters". However, for most members our local chapters are what our memberships are about.

Recently there has been talk of chapters going independant because of the ABANA board policies. This is part of an on going battle between the ABANA board and the chapters. In Board member Jim Cooper, Raleigh, North Carolina, resigned from the ABANA Board of Directors over this issue even though the board supported his position. Jim felt that as a board member he was put in a position of libility in the event that someone was hurt during an anvil shoot even though ABANA has banned them and announced they would take action against chapters that held shoots.

The conflict continues . . .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 18:21:20 GMT

ABANA Chapters: The seven chapters involved in the Southeastern Conference have already been removed from the ABANA list of chapters on their website.

Please note that our ABANA-Chapter.com website and listing of chapters is NOT affiliated with ABANA. We will continue to list both ABANA chapters and independent organizations as well as host their web-sites.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 19:35:24 GMT

Low loss stack cap: Alan, I think you explain it better.

The over lap between the cap section and main stack only needs to be 6 inches. And the cap length should be 4 times the diameter of the main stack. So if the main stack is 12 inch diameter, you should use a 54 inch section of 14 inch diameter for the cap. 4 times 12 = 48, plus the 6 inch overlap = 54. See, I said you explained it better. I must have told you three times the diameter by mistake! Grin.

Maybe a funny story.... Some industries in some states are regulated by the ďopacityĒ of the stack discharge. Opacity is how much it blocks the view of a blue sky. You have to get your eyeball calibrated by the government in order to decide how opaque a stack discharge is. And you have to check stack opacity on a calibrated blue sky day. So one thing you can do to reduce the opacity of the discharge is to add dilution air to the stack. That concentric gap at the overlap of the main stack and the low loss stack cap DOES let in some clean dilution air as Alan suggested. Not that anyone would do something so low down as add dilution air to get below the opacity limit.........

Yes, it worked. And yes, I had my eyeball calibrated. I think itís out of calibration now though...

Jeez, see what lawyers will do for a good group? Reference the ABANA news. How sad. When lawyers run the world, we will all stop producing out of fear of the lawyers?
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Monday, 05/21/01 20:20:44 GMT

Hey daddy, i am in Germany and having a grand time and taking lots of pictures of iron work here!!! i have taking tons of pictures!!!
molly  <modempse at vt.edu> - Monday, 05/21/01 20:58:29 GMT

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