WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from May 9 - 17, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Books: Alex we have a number of reviews on our book review page. In blade smithing the beginning is general metalwork, blacksmithing and heat treating. There are many books on the subjects. Get out your credit card and give Norm Larson a call (see Getting Dtarted). He will have numberous suggestions. Centaur Forge also has a long list of books.

Aluminium Flux: Adam, I believe that is for gas welding. Due to the oxidation and high melting point of aluminium oxide I doubt if anyone has forge welded it.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 00:05:56 GMT


On the subject of blacksmith weddings see "The Village Blacksmith" by Ronald Webber Published by Great Albion Books ISBN 0-8453-1059-3 He explains in some detail the "Blacksmith Priests of Gretna Green"

the book can be hard to come by ... if you can not get a copy or borrow one I will send you a copy of the relavant chapter if you e-mail me
   Mark Parkinson - Thursday, 05/09/02 00:20:30 GMT

Guru, I just recieved an email from guru at anvilfire. com, the topic was "2 then sHex", there was no message, just attachments( file.html, sub.scr, file.txt, and INDEX.HTM ). My virus scanner popped up with it being W32/Klex.dam, a virus

I also recieved an email from adam at #######.org, topic was "RevealTrans(duration", also had no message and contained a version of W32/Klez.dam in the attachments.
   jan - Thursday, 05/09/02 00:47:04 GMT

Virus mail: Jan, the Klez virus forges return addresses using addresses it finds in a varity of files including cached HTML. So, I have been getting virus mail sent TO me and bounce mails in my name by tens of thousands of visitors to anvilfire that never mailed me but had my e-mail address cached in HTML on their computer. . . and gotten infected with Klez.

For the past year I have been warning people that visit this site that if you use Microsoft mail products OR browsers for mail that you WILL get a virus. It takes from weeks to months for the anti-virus people to develope code to identify a new virus. Meanwhile, if you depend on the anti-virus software you can get a virus.

The reason there are so many new viruses is because they WORK and almost nobody takes steps to not get them. That is why e-mail is flooded with Nigerian scam mail. Because it works. Every year thousands of people fall for the Nigerian mail scam.

If a virus author wrote a virus and months later it was not on the "top virus" lists then they would quit writing them. But as long as people continue to use Microsoft Mail products (MS OE, IE) then e-mail viruses will continue to spread rapidly.

Due to the new cache reading viruses I am preparing to remove all e-mail addresses from anvilfire and replace them either with form-mail or our encryption system like on this page. Our unique encryption system prevents SPAMers from getting your e-mail address from our forums. It also reduces the number of viruses sent to our forum users.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 01:25:50 GMT

im a young person very intrested in going the way of the blacksmith.can anybody give me some advice on how to start out?
   Brent - Thursday, 05/09/02 01:34:40 GMT

I figured out that thermos thing years ago ... now if I could just understand how they get a fariy in there ....
realy the quest is the fun part i think I will find that when I do get it figured out then I will find I want to know something else.
   MP - Thursday, 05/09/02 02:54:31 GMT

Brent, click on the link titled "Getting Started in Blaxksmithing".
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 03:43:27 GMT

The thermos doesn't know, but has an extremely rebellious nature and a nasty streak of possessiveness. It instinctively defies the ambient temperature ( when it is hot, it wants to be cold and visa versa). If cold tea is put in a thermos on a hot day, it clings defiantly to this thermal anomaly.
Was extremely pleased to get word of cracked and crew. Perhaps, as they are not so very far back in time, Cracked's machinations wont make major changes in the time lines.
An addendum to the guru's Treadle hammer note...when he says "hand held tools" he does not mean that you should stick your hand under there with the chisel in your fist..though the temptation is real strong. So strong in fact that I know 3 smiths who have broken bones that way and still do it.
Gotta be hard headed to be a smith, this is not always to our advantage...Grim grin
   - Pete F - Thursday, 05/09/02 05:38:52 GMT

Guru Thanks so much for the registration.. i have been looking forward to talking to anyone who can help me in my quests and this is said to be the best site on the web for that purpose.. again.. much thanks to you and to those who are willing to endure the process of helping me teach myself how to be not quite as masterfull at smithing such as yourselfs but in good prospects and maybe a few high hopes too..
   Zac - Thursday, 05/09/02 07:46:02 GMT

Thank you for such a helpfull site, im living in South Africa in quite an isolated community , I am new to blacksmithing but see it as a way of uplifting local community in teaching what I know to disadvantaged people , being that minimum tools are required and we can survive by recycling what is in the dump into beautifull things putting bread on the table for us ,my question , I have many but one for now is -metal in its raw form after been beaten about and shaped is beautifull , that is the surface it is such a shame to then go along and paint it to prevent rust and give it a longer life ,is there anyway one can keep the surface quality of the metal without painting ie treating it to prevent rust for both outdoor and indoor use .Thank you for now look forward to hearing from you.
   Derek Saul - Thursday, 05/09/02 11:16:15 GMT

thomas,guru,grant thanks for feedback on whale oil

checked out the faq's too

while on the subject of oils ,i once worked in a cement factory , the ball mills running in white metal bearings of around 3-4foot dia. 2feet wide, had an oil fed lubrication system, the oil in one of these mills was whale oil ,been in that mill for about 40-50 years , the mills on either side ran mobil oil designed for white metal , all oil was tested and analyzed every 6-12 months by the company chemist's.the mineral oil was changed regualy,the whale oil never needed to,
until an apprentice left a valve open one saturday afternoon,and 250 gal. of oil dribbled out on the floor,

we saved a couple of 44 gal drums , when the trunyin bearings , (same sort of sytem as the ball mills), on the tunnel kiln (approx.3-400metres ,5m dia ,rotating)got over heated , the regular oil would smoke and flame ,and the bearings would squeel something shocking ,the only oil to fix it up was the whale oil ,instintly.
not sure about the quenching qualities of whale oil but
oils an't oils
   - wayne - Thursday, 05/09/02 12:06:38 GMT

Hey Pete, you didn't mention about being very careful with the T-hammer when using it as a meat tenderizer! How's the thumb doing, by the way?
   Alan-L - Thursday, 05/09/02 13:52:24 GMT

Can I use bricks to make my own forge?
   Michal from Poland - Thursday, 05/09/02 14:01:39 GMT

Jan: I have received a few Klez infected files but my virus checker caught them all AKIK. I did not deliberately send you any mail and I dont use Microsoft mail tools. If I was the source, I apologize. (adam at xxxxxxx.org)

Nigerian bank account: You mean I am not going to see any of that $80 million? Wish you had told me this BEFORE I was rude to my boss!
   adam - Thursday, 05/09/02 16:20:06 GMT

Hi Guru. I have searched the archives for creating a green patina on exposed copper. Given your responses I have decided to let it turn green the old fashion way. Now my wife wants to know how long it will take for nature to take its course. Any ideas?
   - Paul - Thursday, 05/09/02 18:50:06 GMT

but, but, I am just trying to help the Rebels of the Congo!!!
   Escher - Thursday, 05/09/02 18:50:37 GMT

Beauty of raw forged surface Derek, Clear lacquer helps for a while, otherwise its going to rust. There are many wax and oil mixtures used by blacksmiths but these require constant maintenance . . . and eventualy rust.

Rust is a better finish to wax or oil. Then a little new rust doesn't show to much and can be easily waxed a little more to blend in.

Forged stainless looks the same as forged mild steel and does not rust. But this is an expensive option and not really in your scheme.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 21:06:56 GMT

Brick Forge: Michal, Yes you can. Most old brick forges were made from common clay brick. If you can get a few refractory (fire) brick use them in the immediate fire area (about a 1 foot circle around the air inlet).

Do not use cement or concrete bricks around the heated areas. However, they can be used as fill or to raise the forge if you do not have enough clay bricks.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 21:13:03 GMT

With regards to creating green patina on copper, I found that by brushing a mild sulfuric acid solution (patio cleaner) onto the surface and leaving out in the rain it will turn green within days.
   Mick - Thursday, 05/09/02 21:35:59 GMT

Nigerian SPAM Scam: You may think it is funny but an article I recently read indicated that they have stolen millions in the US alone. They are making enough that some of them now have their own SPAM servers so reporting them to abuse at #####.net does not work any more.

This scam has been around since the 1980's. Then they used snail mail and got addresses out of magazines. At the time I was advertising Mass2 in Byte magazine and the scammers sent me one of their phoney letters. It was a new scam then but we had enough sense to know it was "too good to be true". We also asked some other knowlegable folks about it and they confirmed our suspicions.

The whole thing is based on greed and obvious thievery so I don't have much sympathy for the fools that get stung. Back when we got the hard copy letter it was on fancy letterhead and the percentage offered to help with the transaction sounded reasonable. Now the numbers are astronomical which should be a dead giveaway.

I just hate the SPAM and think that we should impose sanctions on countries that harbor SPAM servers. That means Korea, China and most of the old communist block countries. Threat of sanctions would shut down spammers in a hurry.

I get a constant flood of financial related e-mail sourced from Russia. Can you imagine anyone desperate or foolish enough to do business with people that hide behind SPAM servers? Or that would mortgage their house to a Russian financial institution? People must do it because the flood of mail just keeps on come on. . .

My policy is to NEVER do business with spammers or business that are advertised through SPAM. If everyone took that position then SPAM would go away. I have the same policy with telephone solicitors.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/09/02 21:45:43 GMT

can you go to collage to be a blacksmith?
   - weirdfrog - Friday, 05/10/02 01:32:01 GMT

wayne // Metallurgy // Steel
A "more modern" Metallurgy book ,that is still in print, is Metallurgy Fundamentals by Daniel A. Brandt.
Centaur Forge has it as item #: bk448 $39.96. I know that Amazon and Barnes & Nobel have it for sale for less, and they are much nicer people. The copyright date for the book is 1985, which is better than the many books on the subject found at www.abebooks.com and E-Bay, that have 1940's copyright dates. There are a few from the 1950's also.
Check auction # 1530410048 for a very good description of the table of contents, of that book). The final price at that auction was expensive because 2 newbies got into a bidding war. I subsequently got a copy for a 1/4 the price. Patience pays off). Most of that book covers iron & steel mettalurgy (ferrous metals).
Regards to all,
   slag - Friday, 05/10/02 03:48:35 GMT

hello again. sorry to be buggin you all so much so soon but i am having a problem getting into the slack tub.. i get to the sign in page, i sign in and it gives me another sign in page and continues to do so no matter how many times i try.. i have tried netscape 4.7, 6.0 and explorer 6.0 and all do the same thing.. any advice ? thanks Zac
   zac - Friday, 05/10/02 04:26:31 GMT

Metallurgy Update///
The brandt book has been updated in a new edition copyright 1999. Amazon lists it for $42.00
   slag - Friday, 05/10/02 04:46:54 GMT

Flat thumb is round again and has much more character than the other one now Alan, thanks. My policy is to always hit the same thumb.
   - Pete F - Friday, 05/10/02 05:25:20 GMT

Zac, Check your login/password from your sign-up mail. They are case sensitive. If you are having a problem e-mail me the exact URL path that you are using. You should be logging into the pub from links on anvilfire, not bookmarks.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 06:00:54 GMT

Guru Email is sent.. it has everything on thier.. thanks for takin the time to help me out..
   Zac - Friday, 05/10/02 06:20:23 GMT

Bachelors of Blacksmithing Science AKA, BS BS :


There are a FEW schools that have blacksmithing programs. Some are associated with art programs others with technical/welding programs. I THINK there is a college in Canada that confers a Blacksmithing Degree but I have not been able to track them down since I first heard about it. In general the answer is no. However, ABANA has a long list of schools that have blacksmithing programs.

Most modern smiths are hobbiests OR run independent one person businesses. Most are "sole proprietorships" but a few are run as partnerships. That makes most blacksmiths, self employed entrepreneurs. Many also come under the category "starving artist". There are few jobs in blacksmithing in the conventional sense. There are no 9 to 5's and regular paychecks except in a the ever diminishing commercial forge shops and fabricators (welding) shops.

Being an independent business person requires more skills NOT applicable the product than those required to MAKE the product. Self promotion (another type of "BS"), advertising, bookkeeping or accounting and understanding tax regulations. Purchasing raw materials can be an art in itself. Sales. . . and today that may include being web-savy as well as understand local, national and international markets.

Those that do architectural work need to understand the ever changing building codes AND how to deal with other contractors, architects and the end customer. Many archetectural smiths have degrees in art or design.

Those that do bladesmithing need skills in metallurgy and heat treating as well as other manufacturing skills. The top people in the business have advanced degrees in metallurgy (masters, doctorates).

Those that make reproductions or historical style pieces need to understand the history of technology as well as design and study of historical work.

And all modern blacksmith shops are closer to machine shops than you would think. Mills and lathes as well as high tech flame cutting equipment are found in many blacksmith shops.

So, if a college or University doesn't have a blacksmithing program you could certainly design one for yourself by taking a major in art or engineering and then filling in electives with things that apply to your future plans. The actual blacksmithing can best be learned at the specialized schools such as Frank Turleys, John C. Campbell Folk School or Penland. Welding and machine shop courses should be taken at a trade school or community college.

So. . even though your degree may not be a BSBS, you can make it one if you try.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 16:17:51 GMT

Good morning! Can you tell me how to determine the proper height for a blacksmithing anvil? My husband and I (in our 50's)are fixing up a turn of the century blacksmith shop on our farm in CA. At present, the anvil is mounted on a large,long post which formerly was sunk into the ground. We have had to concrete the floor. It was not possible to get an accurate reading on its former height due to gopher/squirrel damage in the dirt floor. We want to use this original post...so want to cut it at the right place for the correct height. He's 6', I'm 5'3". I suppose setting it up for someone of his height would be best. We know NOTHING about blacksmithing but would like to learn.
Thank you so much for any help you can give us!
   Bonnie Vincent - Friday, 05/10/02 16:33:17 GMT

I wish to take up sword making but I can count it as a school credit... trouble is I cant find a black smith or anything of the sort around Orlando Florida... any Idea's?
   Megan - Friday, 05/10/02 16:39:40 GMT

JHM Anvils:
Guru, JK Tools will ship me a JHM 260# for $685.00 out the door. All the info I can find says it's a one piece cast steel at 50 RC. Seems like a decent deal to me. Any opinions? Anybody worked on one and have comments?
   Rob Costello - Friday, 05/10/02 17:24:03 GMT

Anvil Height: Bonnie, Every smith's anvil should be set at the proper height for the individual. Normaly, this is at knuckle height when you make a fist, hands at your sides, standing straight but relaxed (not at attention).

THEN there are modifiers. As we get older it is sometimes difficult to see the work and a slightly higher anvil (1 to 2") works better (even though your focal distance is generaly farther). For doing light work the anvil may want to be at an even higher height BUT if you do any serious forging (hitting hot and hard), then the "normal" height is best.

I just made three new anvil stands to do a Boy Scout metal working merit badge workshop. I wasn't sure of the needed heights so I set the anvils a little low (-3") for me AND carried one normal height stand PLUS a riser block that fits snuggly into the base of both. Turns out I didn't need the riser block. But it may come in handy if I have someone tall working in my shop.

Do not permanently set your equipment until you have used it and get a fell for where it should be located around the forge.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 18:14:53 GMT

Megan, you have not tried the Florida Blacksmiths Association. See our ABANA-Chapter page. Tons of smiths in FL.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 18:15:46 GMT

Rob, I have no experiance with these anvils. However, I believe JMH makes mostly farriers anvils. Nothing wrong with that except they tend to have proportionately narrow waists which makes a farriers anvil a little springy. However, I THINK the big JMH is similar to a Hay-Budden in shape.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 18:18:44 GMT

Megan, Bladesmiths need a LOT of metallurgical know-how. If your school has an engineering department they will have metallurgy classes. Tell your advisor why you want to take those courses. If you are not an engineering major they may not transfer BUT they will count to you.
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 18:21:44 GMT

I'm OFF! Going to Paw-Paw's for the weekend and a Celtic Fest.

Y'all be safe now. .
   - guru - Friday, 05/10/02 18:24:51 GMT

I would like to make some cable damascus but I can't seem to find any pieces of large cable.Any ideas?
   Chris Makin - Saturday, 05/11/02 13:35:14 GMT

Mr. Makin /// & Cable
Look up the phone number and address of the local electricity utility. (we call them hydro Co. up here), and get friendly with some people in the repair and installation department. Then get to a site that they are working at. There will be plenty of wire off-cuts lying around on the ground. Another source is at major industrial construction and also demolition sites.
Scrap yards probably have cable off-cuts also, which they would sell by the pound, for not too much money.
A few beers should get one of the repair or construction crew to give you some scrap wire and cut it up for you.
Trying to hacksaw industrial multi strand wire will take ages. (probably long enough that yor social security will kick in during the duration of the cutting project.An angle grinder with a ceramic cut off wheel is a better weapon for the job.
Good luck,
Regards, "à tout la gang",
   slag - Saturday, 05/11/02 20:57:30 GMT

Thanks for the help on my threadle hammer. In following your suggestion. I found my mistake. Dumb me. In the layout because it seemed so critical I use the 1" mark on the tape measure. So the spacing on the head spring holes were to be 10" apart. On the angle up rites I used 1" to 11"s to make 10". On the Head I used 1" to 10" to make 9"s. Must of had a hooper dooper in the middle of this project. Corrected it works fine. I agree die to die could be a problem. I'll work on that. I very much appreciate your quick response and help.
   Gerry W. Jones - Saturday, 05/11/02 21:58:40 GMT

A friend of mine has a boat anchor made of stainless. He wants to cut the shaft shorter and drill a 1/2" hole for the shackle. The shaft is 1/2" x 1.25". I have no experience working with SS. Can he do this with a sawzall and a regular twist drill? He is far away from me so hot work is not an option. I don't know what SS alloy it is but I guess its likely to be 300 series.
   adam - Saturday, 05/11/02 23:00:37 GMT

Adam - The sawzall and twist drill should work, with the following caveats. SS work hardens something fierce, so you only get one try at drilling it. Use about a 3/16" bit first for a pilot drill, the finish with the 1/2" bit. With both bist, use plenty of pressure and a cutting fluid. WD-40 will work for a cutting fluid, so will light oil. The main thing is the feed pressure. If you ever, for just a second, let up on the feed pressure, the SS will work harden and you'll be stopped cold. I'd suggest a drill press, if you have access to one. With the sawzall, use a new bimetal blade and it should cruise right through it. Wear goggles, of course.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/12/02 00:32:27 GMT

Ok, I made a side draft hood out of sheet and 6 in round HVAC conduit and it works great. Works better with a small fan that I installed about halfway up but the fans grill warped from the heat and the blades hit it. So I axed the fan idea and went with the preheat the hood and flue idea and that works well too. I would rather have a fan in it also if anyone knows of one that will withstand the heat I would appreciate it. The fan was about halfway up a 6' tall stack made of HVAC conduit and sheet. Gets real hot real fast so that fan would have to be a durable make.
   Tim - Sunday, 05/12/02 01:54:44 GMT

draft hood: I dont think the fan has to be inside. All you need is to get the column of air moving. A small blower outside attached to a pipe leading into the flue at a shallow upward angle should get things going. I was going to try this on my sidedraft but it draws so well I dont feel the need.
   adam - Sunday, 05/12/02 07:39:24 GMT

Adam, Vicopper is exactly right. You might also mention to your friend that drilling metal requires slower speeds than most common tools and that stainless steel requires even slower speeds than carbon steel (about 80%). On the feed pressure, if your not making lots of nice crisp chips, you aren't pushing hard emough. It only takes a millisecond without feed to make a place that you can only cut with carbide.
   -guru - Sunday, 05/12/02 12:38:26 GMT

Cable 'eh Cable:

Slag I think he's needing steel cable but most of the places suggested are about right. Many loggers and constuction companies often have cutoffs. Other blacksmiths are often a good source.

You want cable that is not rusted internaly. A little external does hurt as the flux and fire should handle it. You also have to look out for fibre or plastic cores. Many types of cable are wrapped around a small non-metalic compression core. These burn out leaving a hollow place and a mess that usualy won't forge weld.
   -guru - Sunday, 05/12/02 12:47:11 GMT

Tim - tube-axial fans designed for exhaust hoods used in the food service industry (read, restaurants), might be able to take the heat, but I seriously doubt if even they would take it. No electric motor you can afford is going to like flue temperatures. Just stick with starting the thermosiphon with a nice healthy flare-up of newspaper, and you'll be way better off financially. You won't burn up your wiring in the inevitable melt-down, either.

If you have any sort of breeze at the stack top, try putting one of those turbine tops on it. They're cheap, and they actually work. A side benefit is that they disperse the smoke a bit more diffusely so the neighbors don't notice a large column of fresh coal smoke rising above your yard. :-)
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/12/02 13:52:27 GMT

Funny you should say that, I did exactly that and it failed miserably. I had a 45 degree "y" connector with the fan in the "Y" instead of inline. I was hoping that by having it offset it would stay out of the heat and soot would not build up on it. Well when I ran it the flow of air went both ways, up and down. I would need a much more acute angled "y" and I didnt think they came that way so I built it inline instead. Well it warped the fan, I don't know what I was thinking. In retrospect I realize there was no way in hell the fan would withstand that type of heat.
   Tim - Sunday, 05/12/02 14:11:44 GMT

I have 25# L-giant. I am going to make new main shaft . The babit berings are gone. What I plan to do is turn new bronze mains. Then clean casting & caps as if to rebabitt but instead use devcon as mounting medium.
   Ron - Sunday, 05/12/02 18:27:32 GMT

Guru & Cable
Much of the cable the electrical HydroQuebec and Hydro Ontario work with Is for supporting high tension power transmission towers. (transmission wire is not worth collecting for the reasons you suggest). That was the cable I was referring to. Perhaps some U.S. utilities deal more with transmission cables.
Several other sourses have come to mind since my last post. Like elevator cable, microwave and telephone repeater tower guy line cable, and any structure that is supported by steel wire cable. (often uncoated, multi-stranded wires, and with no cores of any kind. etc.)
Many of these places have cut-offs that were not picked up after the job was completed. (industrial electricians are often forbidden, by management, to pick up dropped nuts, bolts and wire or any other cut-offs.) Their hourly work rates are too high and the formen and company bean counters figure it's cheaper to trash the environment around their property. That scenario was told to me by a buddy who has his industrial electrician trade papers. (and also a B.Sc. (=B.S. in the U.S.) which did not get him a good job so he got the trade.(read you can find good scrap steel available, at many major work sites, for the arduous effort of picking the stuff up.)
Regards to all,
   slag - Sunday, 05/12/02 19:06:11 GMT

thanks vicopper & guru for the tips on working SS.

Tim: Glad to find out my idea doesnt work before I went to all that trouble :)

I was shopping around for iron filings to use for welding. Seemed like the choice was either little 1 oz bags for science experiments at $5 ea or a 50 gallon drum from an industrial supply co. Then Ntech suggested I go by a garage where they turn brake drums and ask for their turnings. It took me a while to get the owner to understand that I wanted to pick up some of the "crap that we throw away" :) I left with a bucket full of very fine, clean shavings. I guess they are cast iron not iron but they do the trick anyway. I find they are a big help in sticking "drop the tongs" welds. I sprinkle a generious pinch onto the melted borax on one surface while its in the fire. This has made a big improvement in my success rate.
   adam - Sunday, 05/12/02 19:55:14 GMT

25# Little Giant: Ron, So what is your question? If it is "will it work?" the answer is probably yes. But my question is "why do it?" The only problem with babbit bearings on Little Giant hammers is the idiots that never oiled them and then ran them to death. The fact IS that unless you are a power transmission engineer you MAY be putting in a bearing that is not as good as the original.

What do you think the main and cam bearings in almost every automobile and truck on the planet are lined with? A thin film of babbit deposited on a copper substrate in a steel shell.

What kind of electric motors use oilite bronze bearings? The cheapest bottom of the line low duty models. . .

The fact is that bronze bearings need better lubrication than babbit or they will cut the shaft rapidly. Shafts cut with babbit bearings were usualy contaminated with grit or rust and not lubricated enough to flush out the grit. THEN run dry. . .

Babbit may seem like a "quick and dirty" way to install bearings in a machine. It is. But it is also a very good bearing.

I would spend my money on the other parts are a surely worn out as badly as the main shaft.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/12/02 21:16:33 GMT

I have been appointed as secretary of the newly formed ABASA. (South African version of ABANA). At this stage membership is free. Overseas members will receive the emailable version of our newsletter. This is where I need all the help I can get, as I also have to dubious priviledge of compiling the newsletter.

Firtsly, I need any and all old copies you may have of your local newsletters so I can see how it is done. I also need permission to publish sections out of those newsletters, or, if that is not possible, permission to use my own version of what has been written or illustrated.

We have been kept in the dark for so long, this is dark Africa after all, that most smiths I know have been overseas at some point just to get some training and information. Those that can afford it!

One of our aims is to reach as many people as possible and to train a new generation of smiths. There is a rich Afriacn tradionion in smithing which has died out with the coming of Western technology, which should be rekindled.

Your ideas and feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Tiaan Burger, ABASA
   Tiaan Burger - Sunday, 05/12/02 22:23:50 GMT

Im trying to make something out of Brass. It is a simple design the number's "372nd" with a square base beneth it. I intend to melt the brass with an Oxygen Acetlyene torch. I have a mold made of Plaster of Paris. Im afraid it will crack. What do you think? Any suggestions on the mold?
   Robert Pitts - Sunday, 05/12/02 23:00:55 GMT

I have an old iron helmet that I need some help to identify, could someone in your org. possibly help me out. thank you.
   jim scroggins - Sunday, 05/12/02 23:28:43 GMT

iron worker - Dose anybody know if there is such a thing as a manul "iron worker" something that will shear angles flats square and round stock. nothing heavy say 3/16 for flats and 5/8 for round and square
   ralph - Sunday, 05/12/02 23:39:57 GMT

Guru: Thanks for the prompt answer. I should have stated that, with no shims the caps will require milling .060 just to get close to a fit on the shaft. This hammer has fully 30% of it"s journals pitted from rust. I purchased it at farm sale holding up a tree.
   Ron - Monday, 05/13/02 01:20:27 GMT

Tiaan, letter coming.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 01:25:02 GMT

I would love to see pictures of African iron work. Even better would be some accompanying text. I have seen just a little bit here in the US and it is enough to whet my appetite. Perhaps when you guys get a web site going?
   adam - Monday, 05/13/02 01:39:57 GMT

Guru, Hi, first of all I want to say thanks for your guidance so far. I located some Zinc-it. It was kind of a run around, I pulled up CRC Industries on-line, got their number, called it(overseas toll free) called their distribution place here in New York which gave me the name of a near by store which just happened to only be about 20 minutes away. They did have to order it but the gave me a bit of a discount since I ordered a 1/2 dozen cans. Anyway, The reason I am writing is there's about 6 more weeks until the craft fair, and even though I invision at least several late nights I think I'l make it and I know it will be worth it. I just have a pricing question for you. I think I am o.k. with prices on most of my things, but I am unsure what to ask for my plant/ lantern stands. I make one that is plain with a scrolled hook that I do free hand, for the main arch I use a jig that I made. I also weld a support piece on the bottom for stability. I am not really concerned at this point with the time I put into it- I just want to charge a fair price for myself and my customers-(probably about 2 hrs not including cleaning and treating) because I know I am very slow at this point which I know will improve. I am also very particular with how things look, which I hope will not change. I also make a plant/lantern stand that is basically the same as the one I just described, but I wrap 4 leaves around the arch. In case it makes a difference with pricing, the craft fair is in Rhinebeck,NY and I live not too far from there myself. Thanks for the input! Wendy
   - Wendy - Monday, 05/13/02 02:01:22 GMT

Ron, New babbit gets poured in the cleaned out rough castings (both frame and cap). Yes, the shaft needs to be replaced or built up and machined. Due to the fit in the crank wheel it is usualy best not to try to replace the shaft but to repair it (weld build-up, then machine). Clutch bearings are much more critical than mains.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 02:01:28 GMT

Brass: Robert, Plaster molds must be "calcined", that is cooking ALL the water out including much that is chemicaly bound in the plaster. This requires a temperature of about 1,300°F. Start with bone dry plaster molds before heating. Then pour the metal into the molds while they are still hot.

Before doing any foundry work you should look into the safety concerns of melting and pouring metal. Full face shields should be worn, gloves, boots. . . ALWAYS, check the fit of your crucible tongs and shank. PRACTICE the moves you will be making. Finding out that you don't have set down space for a 2,000° crucible in the middle of a pour can be a disaster. You also need a place to pour extra metal.

Foundry work is one of those things that IF something can go wrong it WILL go wrong. Spilling hot liquid metal into your shoe can be a disaster. . . Being uprotected when a wet mold explodes in your face can ruin your life.

Read a few books on foundry work before diving in. The book "Casting Brass" by C.W. Ammen covers what you need. He also has books on pattern making and general foundry work for small operations.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 02:45:10 GMT

At the structural steel shop I work at we have a machine that does just that. It is a shear for angle, flat bar, round bar and square. It also has a punch on the other side. It is very old and is made by Peddinghaus, as most of our machines are. So my point is that such a monster does exist.
   Tim - Monday, 05/13/02 03:00:11 GMT

Wendy: The old pricing question huh? Tha simplest way would be to decide what you want to make an hour. I charge $45/hr. Make 10-20 of the plant/lantern stands at a time. This brings the time per piece way down. Now determine how long each one took you to make. Double your time x/hourly rate. Lets say you can drop the time to 45 min each, 20 pcs = 15 hrs x $45.00= $675.00. wholesale. $1350.00 retail. If you don't keystone(double) you really start working backwards. Don't forget ordering materials, the cost of the jig, fuel, elec, show fees, gas, cards, reciept book, tables, tent, all the hours working the show,etc. Also when you do a show on the wkend, mondays are kinda shot. So now you just missed a production day. I know folks who do over 30 shows a yr. Too much work. My wife and I opened a retail space. Its better for us. 15,000 people are not walking by like at some shows. But less stress. Easier on the kids etc. $67.50 is cheap for a nice handmade stand, really. Ignore the people who make those nasty little comments you'll easily overhear. Don't be afraid to charge what you think you're worth.
   - Pete-Raven - Monday, 05/13/02 03:24:35 GMT

Wendy, pricing is always a problem. Technicaly you should always charge for your time. Perhaps at a lower rate than someone else, but a some fair rate. Most folks work a balance between cost and a competitive retail market price. However, we end up giving our work away much to cheap most of the time.

Plant stands and "shepard's crooks" are very popular AND very competitive. I know someone that makes them in volume for another smith that works shows selling them. They have a hot forged end with a little leaf making the hook and twists in shank. Labor was $2.50 each (when ordered by the hundreds). That did not include painting. It seems like a give away price but it was quite profitable AND they were infinitely better quality than the cheap imported ones that sell for about the same retail price at department stores.

We CAN compete against cheap imports in many cases while outperforming them at the same time. However, it takes the right tools and equipment as well as working smart. But the problem usualy is the selling in the volumes you have to produce to be competitive.

Start high, you can always lower your price but you can never increase it.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 03:28:49 GMT

brass emits toxic fumes when melted. hold your breath. Or leave the door open. Or the window. Or both.
   miles undercut - Monday, 05/13/02 03:39:08 GMT

Manual Shears: Ralph, As Tim pointed out they HAVE been made. I don't know who makes them now. Roper-Whitney made then at one time. Many other manufacturers at the beginning of the 20th century.

To determine the capacity needed in tons, take the cross section area and multiply by 30 tons for mild steel and round UP. 5/8" x 5/8" = .390 x 30 = 11.7 tons, so you need a 12 ton shear. Most of these need the weight of a grown man at the end of a long handle at full capacity. That means that they need to be bolted down securely to the floor OR to a steel bench which in turn is bolted to the floor.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 03:44:32 GMT

Hi Guru
Do electric forges exist?
   Tony - Monday, 05/13/02 03:56:42 GMT

More on pricing: Individual crafts people are at the best 50% efficient. If you NEED to make $20/hour you have to charge $40. Many folks forget and leave out rent, utilities, fuel and taxes (easily $6.50 to $12/hr for 160 hour month). So you need to charge $50 to make that $20/hr. If you have welders, tools and machinery you need to include depreciation (whether you take any on taxes or not) and "small tools" That easily adds up to $2 to $10/working hour so now you are up to $55/hr to make $20. Then there is insurance, travel and various costs. . .

So, $75/hour SOUNDS like a lot but in the end you are actually making MUCH less. And don't forget that uncle sam takes double for self employment taxes. They start at 25 cents and you don't get any back. . .

Shops that have lots of machinery need to charge even higher rates. $100 to $200 hour is not unusual in a small shop.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 04:03:43 GMT

Electric Forge: Tony, YES, but probably not the way you invisioned one. Back in the teens they made electric rivet heaters for large structural rivets. The operator held the rivet on a copper plate using tongs then pressed a foot peddle that clamped a copper electrode onto the end of the rivet. High amperage low voltage current heated the rivet to a nice bright red in a few seconds.

A similar device was used in the recent restoration of the Statue of Liberty. Electrodes were clamped to the heavy armature bars, current turned on, and in a few seconds five feet of bar was a nice bright orange.

Both these resistance devices take a huge amount of current Usualy industrial voltages). I don't think the first is manufactured any more and the second may have been a huge industrial welder (the kind that are bigger than a small truck).

Induction heaters are used for all kinds of heavy work but they are VERY expensive.

So, for practical purposes there are no electric blacksmith forges.

   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 04:21:20 GMT

Robert; You inquired at a blacksmithing site and so should get a blacksmithing answer.
An oxyacet torch isn't the best way to melt brass for casting and you don't sound to be set up for casting anyway.
But, if you heat the brass to just below a very dull red, you will find that many brasses can be easily shaped with a hammer and chisels and punches and the like.
An alternative is to take the torch and some brazing rod and build up the letters on a thick metal plate by melting the end of the rod and depositing it bit by bit in letter shapes. Some borax or other flux helps. A thick plate will stay cool enough not to stick. File to finish.
With enough practice, you can build up the letters in the air to any desired cross section with a torch.
A third approach is to use a hammer and chisel to cut out the letters from brass plate.
A jeweler's saw works too.
   - Pete F - Monday, 05/13/02 05:36:39 GMT

Pricing: and another thing. Its 10:30 am. I've been on the phone with 2 different insurance agents for around an hour. I've been shuffling papers around, scratching my head, trying to figure out why I'm being told two different things. This time has to be figured in somewhere. Some wks the business thing is more, some wks less. Learn to figure it in now!
   - Pete-Raven - Monday, 05/13/02 14:45:22 GMT

Rates and Pricing: I forgot to double each item as I added it above. The 50% rule is based on my experiance and watching others. It is an average. You know you have entire days where you are setting up machinery, repairing tools, working on sales doing bookkeeping. All that "non-producing" time must be paid for out of the hours you DO work. It it tough to make a living from your own labors. That is why most businesses hire others to produce the product and then attempt to provide as efficient a work setting as possible. Even then, the BEST an employee is going to be is be 75% efficient AND normaly they will not produce at your rate. Then there are the added costs of bookkeeping and workers comp. . and you may be back to an equivalent of your 50%. BUT, the difference being, there is only ONE of you (limiting your income) and you can have multiple employees.

Being a lone independent worker is a tough way to go. But then you are always your own boss. . as well as everything else.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 15:05:05 GMT

Pricing Again: See, Pete has shown a typical example. He may lose an entire day or more out of this week dealing with an insurance question. . . and there is ALWAYS something.

On big jobs you need to look at details as well as the big picture. If a job requires picking up materials and delivering the product you need to add 1/2 to a full day on both ends of the job. You don't tell the customer this, but you must add it to your hours. If you deliver and pickup the same job to a sandblaster or painter you need to add your time to that. We have just added 1 to 2 DAYS to the job. This is real working time that often overlooked.

On small jobs you need to remember that the piece of 5/8" bar you are using didn't just cost XX per pound but cost you something to get it into your shop, rack and cut it. It may be "left overs" but it still cost you something.

However, in blacksmithing as well as most hand crafts, your materials should be a minscule part of the end cost or selling price. It doesn't seem that way when you write that $500 check to the steel supplier. . . but your labor is the big item.

I've had good luck determining production time by looking at every little item in a job and questimating minutes and seconds. Example, per piece:

5s - Pull stock off rack and place on saw (for 6 to 10 pieces).
30s - measure and cut bar.
30s - adjust stock stands as stock shortens.
8s - wipe off cuting oil.
30s - debur saw cuts (I always do to prevent ME from getting cut).
5s - move quantity of pieces to forge station.
120s - heating time per piece per heat.
30s - forge point
90s - second heat
30s - forge neck and flatten
90s - third heat
30s - flatten more and dress neck, curl tip
40s - short heat on thin material
30s - chisle veins (we are making a leaf)
40s - another short heat
30s - curve and shape leaf.
30s - wire brush.

TOTAL a little over 8 minutes to make a leaf from 1/2" stock. Bigger stock will take more time and smaller a LITTLE less. A power hammer can cut the time to 1/2 or less due to the reduced heats and forging time.

This may seem an extreme example but it has worked on items that I have never made before and needed to give a bid. Of course the above is the production time only, not stock pickup, (clean and paint) delivery. . The TIME it takes to bid on jobs is a significant cost. How many jobs do you bid that either don't come to fruition or go somewhere else? 3 or 4 to 1? Then bid cost is 3 to 4x the actual time. Yes, lost jobs cost you money. How many times have you called to get prices on materials that you did not buy because the job fell through? That time also cost your supplier.

In NEW Edge of the Anvil, Jack Andrews has a good article on figuring costs and what you should charge. He is looking at it from a business point of view that makes sense.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 15:51:40 GMT

I saw a Kohlswa anvil today, but wasn't able to determine its weight with any degree of certainty. I was wondering if you have any idea of the approximate weight based on the following dimensions: Face is 3.5" wide by 11.25" long.
Base to face height is 8.5" and total length (tail to tip of the horn) is 18.25". I'm a pretty horrible judge of weight (some days I'm stronger than others), so I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess. Any help would be appreciated.
   - Bob - Monday, 05/13/02 17:22:15 GMT

You shouldn´t be quoting prices like that, the $$$- signs make even the lowest prices seem mouth-watering to us poor euro-smiths. Before you know it you´ll have us peddling pattern-welded swords in your back-streets....
   - Olle Andersson - Monday, 05/13/02 17:32:33 GMT

Bob, go to www.kohlswagjuteri.se/eindexny.htm. It´s nice "anvilporn" and might at least help you guess at the weight.
   - Olle Andersson - Monday, 05/13/02 17:47:36 GMT

Olle - Been there. Too bad they don't have the dimensions listed with the weights.
   - Bob - Monday, 05/13/02 18:14:32 GMT

Ah Olle. . . currently one of the big compliants is that a lot of the pattern welded swords ARE from (a least made from) Swedish steel. . that powdered metal "faux" laminated stuff. :)

The rules still apply and the dollar amounts probably sound high here TOO. Many folks here think $8 - $10/hour is good but don't consider all the added costs AND are selling their labor much too cheap.

Anvil Weights by dimension: The Kohlswa page might help but they don't have my big anvil listed (by dimension). If its an older anvil the pattern may have changed from the current ones. Often you just have to weigh the things. But the current dimensions will get you within 25 pounds or 10kg.

Hmmmmm Kohlswa no longer include dimensions on their anvil page. . . I guess I should have saved them.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 18:29:43 GMT

Guru, do you find time to forge? Between emails and answering all these questions?
My thanks to those who emailed me with offers of help to get abasa of the ground and running free.
Guru, our website will be up and running as soon as I get my HTML editing software reloaded, got wiped a week back, I will post the web adress here within the next month if all goes well.

Thanks for all your help. For those who are still willing, my adress is: Tiaan Burger, PO Box 118, Kinross, 2270, South Africa.
In exchange for old blacksmithing journals, newsletters and books I'll send you a copy of "Blacksmith's tools" by myself, 40 pages of usefull stuff on making tools.

Thanks again
   Tiaan Burger - Monday, 05/13/02 19:33:06 GMT

How do you heat color metal? I've seen some that is gold or copper colored and it's supposedly done with a torch but not sure how?
   Chaunté - Monday, 05/13/02 19:46:03 GMT

Chaunté, Only a few metals show "temper colors". Iron and steel are the most common. Titanium has the most brilliant.

Simply clean the steel to a bright finish and heat it slowly. We have a temper color chart on our FAQ's page that will tell you the approximate temperatures for steel.

To get an even color, I heat a large block of steel (6" x 6" x 1" or 150mm x 150mm x 25mm)on the kitchen stove. When a shiney spot on it turns the desired color I turn down the heat and place the part to color on the block. Then watch the part. . when it has turned the desired color remove the part and quench it in water to stop the color change.

The part needs to be VERY clean. Finger prints or any kind of wax or oil will ruin an even coloring. It is recommended to handle with clean cotton gloves after cleaning.

The color is a very fine layer of oxide and must be protected by oil or lacquer or it will rust.
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 20:09:10 GMT

When you read this you will think I have lost my mind.
I need to know if you know of anyone who can make a Suit of Armour (I know I found it amusing when I first heard it to, I actually laughed) for my fiance'. He wants one so he can ride up on a white horse and carry me away on our wedding day the whole Knight in shinning armour thing. It sounds sweet, but amusing all in the same.
If you could please let me know.

   S.L. - Monday, 05/13/02 20:13:04 GMT

I live in Las Vegas and I'm looking for someone who can make branding irons, rather small with some detail? Anywhere in Nevada, California, Arizona or Oregon.
   Pete Tunison - Monday, 05/13/02 20:30:28 GMT

Bob, found my catalog. Those dimensions, if it´s the one-horned model (A1 or A4) would be a 32 kg. (70.5#) anvil.
   - Olle Andersson - Monday, 05/13/02 20:43:58 GMT

Suit of Armor: SL, Armor, even theatrical, is expensive and time consuming to make. Rather than try to get a custom made suit made, which might take a several years, look into costume rentals. There is bound to be a Hollywood costume house that will rent various sized suits of armor. Most are aluminium so they are not so heavy. It is also cheaper to make them from aluminium.

You could easily double the cost of a modest wedding by adding a suit of armor to the bills. There is also the question of how long YOU are willing to wait for your Knight in shining armor. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/13/02 21:33:00 GMT

on gas forges... would rolled 14g or a laminate of 2 pieces be good for the outer shell? ... would there be any advantadges or disadvantadges to puting an inner linning of 14g inside the insulation?
   Mark P. - Tuesday, 05/14/02 00:11:05 GMT

just a quick stupid question...What is coke?? Thanks
   Kevin - Tuesday, 05/14/02 00:48:33 GMT


Basically it's coal with all the volatiles burned out of it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 05/14/02 01:11:16 GMT

Hey everyone! Thanks for all the pricing info! I'm not sure if I'm more confused or less confused now but it certainly has given me something to think about! I was feeling kind of badly because someone told me they had paid $12 for what I thought was a fairly nice double hook plant stand and I was thinking "no way!" I'm not selling my plain plant stands for anything less than $25 or $30 because I've put too much time and effort into them, including my time bugging you about treatment, but then of course i do want to SELL them! Quick question, are propane forges lined with asbestos?
Thanks Wendy
   - Wendy - Tuesday, 05/14/02 01:41:38 GMT

Coke is to coal as charcoal is to wood. Mostly carbon, with minor mineral content which becomes ash.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/14/02 02:54:07 GMT

Jock: Was just wondering if you have anybody registered in the Pub knows as Blacksmith at ###.###? I have gotten 2 e-mails from this individual, have both had the Klenz virus attached, and have written e-mails to the address requesting information on just exactly who they are and how they got my e-mail address. No response to date. Bill has receive some as well. Was wondering is some smart alec might have registed for the pub in order to get e-mail addresses, and then send out e-mails to everybody with the purposeful intent of contaminating everyone's e-mail? Let me know. Thanks, and by the way, how are you doing? Long time no hear? Best regards, Shardegay
   Sharon Epps - Tuesday, 05/14/02 02:59:59 GMT

Sharon - The virus you've gotten could be coming from almost anyone who has ever written to, or posted on, any of a number of websites. The Klez virus, as I understand it, gets into an infected user's email folders and copies addresses and sends itself to them, using one or more of those stolen addresses as its supposed origin. Impossible to track down, probably. I know that Jock has this forum encrypted so that spammers and virus programs can't get the email addresses, so it undoubtedly didn't come from this forum. I don't know if Jock has gotten around to encrypting the email addresses for the Slack Tub Pub yet, though. I've gotten about a dozen or so emails with viruses in the last week, some of them with "senders" such as "blacksmith" or "smithingirl" or "jontheblacksmith", etc. Since I don't know any of those people I don't open them. Ever. I use AVG virus checker which will kill them, but why risk it? By the way, the AVG thing is free, and lots better than any of the others out there. They had a handle on the klez virus before anyone else had even heard of it.

My thanks to you and Bill for all the fine demos you've done, too! Very impressive and informative.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/14/02 11:54:50 GMT

Thanks, Olle. I appreciate the info.
   - Bob - Tuesday, 05/14/02 12:36:20 GMT

SL your local SCA group may be able to loan a suit of armour---but you may have tolook carefully for one that's more like the original ones and not just for the SCA's form of combat; there are tournament companies in the SCA which require "period" styled armour so there is some hope. See www.sca.org for a location near you.

www.arador.com is an armour maker's forum as is www.armourarchive.org (note english spelling of armour---an affectation a lot of armourers support...)

I attended an armour-in last weekend where one lady built an amazing amount of armour with the access to the tools, patterns and expert advice.

(BTW make sure the horse is comfortable with you wearing armour---once rode one who had been an old rodeo horse and thought my chainmail jingling was spurs---which he didn't like...)

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 05/14/02 13:11:56 GMT


Thanks for advice you and others gave me a few months ago on building my powerhammer. As you pointed out, the spring is the key, so I paid close attention to that and after months of work I have a hammer that performs way beyond
my expactations. Now I just need to learn how to use it!
Thanks again.

   Ed Opie - Tuesday, 05/14/02 14:08:08 GMT

   PETER MARTIN - Tuesday, 05/14/02 14:51:43 GMT

Peter, both are listed on our Power hammer Page list of manufacturers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/14/02 15:34:37 GMT

Asbestoes: Wendy, Sorry I missed your earlier question about forge linings. NO, modern forges are not lined with asbestoes. They are often lined with the synthetic replacement Kaowool. Kaowool is the Babcock and Wilcox brand name for the original kaolin fibre insulation. It comes in blanket and rigidized boards.

Old refractory lined forges MAY have asbestoes insulation between the refractory brick and the steel shell. No modern makers of anything use asbestoes unless absolutely necessary. Even in critical nuclear applications they don't use asbestoes gaskets (which is dumb because I'd take the asbestoes before the coolant leaks any day).
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/14/02 20:13:20 GMT

Forge Construction: Mark, no, you do not want a steel lining inside a forge. It will burn up, crumple into the forge and make a real mess.

The steel shell of a forge is there just to support the insulation and hold it all together. Most that are lined with lightweight Kaowool are 14 or 16 ga depending on the forge. Those lined with castable refractory or brick are heavier OR have heavy frames like electric kilns with sheet metal between the frame parts.

Idealy the interior of a forge is hard refractory to resist mechanical damage. This would be covered with lightweight high-efficiency Kaowool to keep the heat in and then a steel shell to protect the whole. I prefer a replaceable brick floor made of firebricks set on edge. Set flat, the bricks don't have nearly the amount of insulation needed. Even then the exterior bottom can get VERY hot.

Forges built from heavy large diameter pipe are way over built. Those made of light freon and propane bottles are about right. Most folks miss the bit of complexity in the Ron Reil design that calls for insulating bushings used as standoffs for the flat refractory brick floor to set upon.

Now, an exterior forge shell spaced about an inch away from the shell covering the refractory will do a LOT of good as the exterior of forges get very hot. This air space should be vented so that the heated air circulates out of the shell pulling in new fresh air. This can keep the exterior shell cool enough to touch even after long usage. I build my gas forges with exterior "heat sheilds" of sheet metal set about an inch away from hot surfaces. Parts like electronic control boxes are set another inch away from the shield. This produces two air spaces to stop the radiated heat and disipate it by convection.

"Heat shields" on just the sides of a forge that are open at the top and bottom will help a great deal in keeping the smith cool (IF radiated heat is a problem). My first gas forge was lined with refractory brick the thin direction and covered with a steel shell. The exterior got so hot that you could not stand to be within four feet of it. Heat sheilds would have been an absolute necessity if I had kept it.

My stacked brick forge uses bricks the normal way but those are then covered with a layer of insulatiing brick.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/14/02 20:40:43 GMT

hey folks, we should put the english hundredweight system in the FAQ section. i just bought a nice peter wright today with 1-1-6 on it, can't remember the translation. also it has a big 77 stamped on front left foot. what does that mean? thanks, mike
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 05/14/02 21:23:13 GMT

Hundred weight system,
It's realy a very easy system and I don't know why we didn't take it on in North America or how it was ever suplanted by the metric system but the first number is how many hundredwt abv. cwt (I think) which is 8 stone (112 pounds), the next number is 1/4s of cwt's or 2 stone (28 pounds)and the last number is pounds, a stone is 14 pounds btw. so your anvil weighed 146 pounds when it was made.
   - Jim - Tuesday, 05/14/02 21:58:18 GMT

Mike, It is covered in our anvils series.

America rid itself of the hundred weight system along with pounds, shillings and pence. Our monetary system was "metric" from the beginning getting rid of the odd British units. However, pounds feet and inches were too ingrained (as they still are today) and were easy enough to understand.

Those of us that have not embraced the metric system are right. It was just another arbitrary system trying to replace another. There are no "universal" constants in either system that would be understood by a visitor from another planet.

Worse, the metric system still contains fractional elements and also bows to archaic ingrained units. Time is still measured in the ancient Summarian sexagesamal system (base 60) and its fractional sub-sets 12 and 4. Angles are also measured in the same system and based on the early Summarian calendar where there were 360 days in the year. . . WHOOPs. . .

The metric system tried to use 100 units for a right angle and 400 for a circle, then adopted the radian where 2PI = 360 degrees. There are some very good mathematical reasons for this but the only industry that has wholly abopted the radian is the computer industry. This means that every computer program that does trigonometry must convert to and from radians with every calculation. . . Actually the radian system is EASY to use if you use the dreaded FRACTION which the metric system was philosophically against.

180° = 1 Rad (or 1 PI)
90° = 1/2 Rad
60° = 1/3 Rad
45° = 1/4 Rad
36° = 1/5 Rad
30° = 1/6 Rad
15° = 1/12 Rad
10° = 1/18 Rad

These whole fractions represent 99% of all angles used by individuals and craftspeople as well as in most engineering. It is actually a simplier system IF you embrace fractions. In the end the metric system kept the ancient sexagesimal systems.

The complaint about our inch system was that it was "fractional". But this is only if you want it to be and many places standardized on decimals of inches very early and that is all that is used in industry. The only place it gets messy is conversion of fractions to decimals but it is no messier than converting from mm to inches or degrees to radians. Many industries had designers use tenths of inches in most design. If you measure parts on an old South Bend lathe you need to think tenths or round to them because that is what they were designed to.

Engineers don't particularly care what units they work in because they are all decimals often to 4 or 5 places when bearings and precision fits are involved. And none of them work out even due to press fits, slip fits, clearances or tolerances. However, the American pattern making industry is still using inches and fractions and will return a metric drawing to be redrawn in inches. . . And I would too if I had a drawer full of English shrink rules (well, I DO).

Yes, I believe the world needs a common system of measurement. But I don't think the metric system is it. We need a universal system that is not based on the ever changing sea-level on our little planet.

So much for today's anti-metric rant.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/14/02 22:43:42 GMT

After many unsuccessful attempts I finally made a decent knife out of RR spike. I have a whole bucketful of the HC type so I have my work cut out for me, everyone seems to want them. Problem is, I have a cold shut in one side of the blade about halfway down. Is there a way to forge it out? Chisel it out? I'd rather not grind it if I dont have to. I am also trying other metals to get a feel for what's strong enough to make blades. I have some leaf springs that I will try but I heard that its better to start with round bar than flat. Why is round better for blades? Can anyone suggest a piece of scrap that comes round thats good enough metal for blades (IE large round bolts or threaded rod)? Thanx
   Tim - Tuesday, 05/14/02 23:05:50 GMT


Pieces of large truck coil springs work well. Talk to your local spring repair place. Frequently you can pick up drops from when they make new springs for next to nothing. And new stock is infinitely better than old used springs. Old ones frequently have a multitude of micro-cracks from being cycled so much.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 00:00:28 GMT

Hey this is a great site. I want to build a brick forge in my new shop. I'm 26 and have been a farrier for 3 1/2 years I'ld like to start using coal like I did in school. I'm hoping you could recomend a design. I use a whisper mama now and its great for the truck but expensive for alot of shop use. thanks for any info Dan
   - Dan - Wednesday, 05/15/02 03:06:56 GMT

Blade Steel: Tim, RR-spike blades are actually a little low in carbon to be a good blade, but what makes them collector's items is being made from spikes. Personaly I wouldn't give a dime for one but that's me. . . But there is enough steel in a spike to make a flat "full" tang for attaching slab grips as well as keeping the head as pommel and a nice guard all from one piece.

Most leaf springs are more stock than you need for making reasonable sized blades. They are big enough to make a huge oversized "Rambo" style blades unless you want to split the bar or do a LOT of drawing out. A small diameter coil spring (3/8" to 1/2" diameter) is enough material to make a nice sized hunting knife or even a sword.

High strength bolts are way below blade steel in carbon levels. Threaded rod is all soft low carbon stuff.

That cold shut is probably from trying to straighten the curve out of the blade by bending it. You can't do that. You have to bend the blade before thinning the edge. OR you can taper or thin the body of the blade to take out some curve. The cold shut probably can't be fixed unless there is enough to grind out.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/15/02 03:24:07 GMT

Does anybody have a URL for King Archetectural Metals?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 03:38:00 GMT

Unsee an URL for King in the catalog (2000) handiest at the mo. How about an 800? 542-2379.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 05/15/02 03:46:31 GMT

Paw Paw
King Architectural Metals - Dallas Texas
   - Conner - Wednesday, 05/15/02 11:46:55 GMT

Got it, guys. Thanks!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 12:27:28 GMT

RR Spikes and Cold Shuts in Blade:

Medium and low medium carbon blades (down to about 40 pts.) make good tough knives that have to be sharpened ALL THE TIME. Perhaps this explains why small belt whetstones are a common find in early medieval graves and house sites. Most RR Spike knives I've seen are not carry knives, but end up on desks as letter openers, a task for which they are ideally suited. A friend of mine from Boston has one that I made from an MTA spike for that "homey" feeling. Given the minimal carbon, tempering to a yellow or at most a brown should provide stress relief and keep some sort of edge.

Depending on the size, location, and shape of the cold shut, you could just drill it out. I have a North African knife with a wootze steel blade where three drill holes are infilled with bronze or brass as a decorative motif. Even if you leave it empty, you could call it a design feature. The latest American and Russian bayonettes have holes through the blade to take a stud on the sheath for a wire-cutting feature, so folks are now used to seeing holes in blades. [Just thinking outside the box. ;-) ]

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 05/15/02 13:27:24 GMT

Hi guys, If this post is on twice, sorry. 1st time I didn't think it worked.

Does anyone know anything about a Star power hammer? I have a chance to buy one and the price is right. I had never heard of the star hammer. I have a small shop that I do hobby type blacksmith work in. This hammer was being use in a shop down in Kan. till the shop closed, now is setting out side but don't look to bad. Can any of you tell me anything about the star hammer?
   Jim R. Glines - Wednesday, 05/15/02 15:14:39 GMT

Hi there smiths. What are your opinions on the book "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" by Wegyers (sp?). I was trying to read a bit of it last night and it seems quite dated. There doesn't seem to be a lot of technical data there either.
   - Tony C. - Wednesday, 05/15/02 15:52:50 GMT

Star Hammers Jim, like all of the mechanical hammer makers STAR has long been out of business. There are no detailed drawings or parts. You are on your own when it comes to repairs.

The few Star hammers I've seen were worn beyond repair. But they are a good hammer and worth investing some time and money into one if there is nothing major broken (frame, dovetails). Almost everything else can be fixed and if kept well oiled will last a very long time.

Remember, these are a MACHINE and deserve and require common sense and precision fitting of parts. Starting with a good used hammer beats building one from the ground up. Even the cheapest bottom of the line OLD hammer would cost over $10,000 US today. So any frame in good condition is worth saving. On Little Giants they are now commonly remachining dovetails and fitting new saw blocks (anvil caps) to save old frames.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/15/02 16:39:30 GMT


Good review on the Book Shelf page.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 16:40:15 GMT

HiDoes anyone know of a site or page that gives step by step on making cable damascus?
Thanks chris
   CHRIS MAKIN - Wednesday, 05/15/02 17:01:52 GMT

Weygers Books: Tony, I haven't seen this book. But I was not impressed with his other books. They were OK but were geared to primitive and hobby smithing. Complete and Modern are not terms I'd use in the title of any reference. . .

Technical data is a different problem. Authors of books should never try to give more than a little sample data and then tell you where to find the rest. Knifemaking is largely about heat treating and there are many thick expensive books covering the subject that knifemakers SHOULD have.

For general materials data the ASM Metals Reference Book is one of those references that all metal workers should own. Currently in its 3rd Edition, ISBN: 0-87170-478-1, $155.

For specific ferrous heat treating data, Heat Treater's Guide: Practices and Procedures for Irons and Steels, 2nd Edition, ASM 1995, ISBN: 0-87170-520-6, $239.

Without the above two references I couldn't answer many of the questions I answer here.

For equipment, how-to and general processes, ASM Handbook Volume 04: Heat Treating, $206.


MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK also contains a good bit of heat treating and metal data and unlike the ASM books is readily available in used book stores. Average $25 for old editions, and $85 new. 26th Edition now available in large print and as a CD-ROM version.

Although MACHINERY'S does not have the depth or detail of the ASM references it has more than any bladesmithing book and is a reference every metalworker, designer and engineer should have, no matter what their field. It also contains information on buffing and grinding which is applicable to knife making.

If you are serious about bladesmithing and doing your own heat treating these are the basics. It is also why books on knifemaking rarely have "in-depth" data and should not try.

The Book "Knives and Knifemakers" by Sid Latham is very good and so are the series of books by Jim Hrisoulas. I'd buy them all if I could afford them.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/15/02 17:43:13 GMT

Cable: Chris, Our iForge demo #71 is on making an S hook from cable or wire rope and has some pointers on welding. If you bring it to a welding heat and give it a twist to tighten up, that should "stick" the weld. Flux early and often.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/15/02 17:56:30 GMT

Thanks Guru! I kinda felt the same way. New edge of the anvil is much better.

Paw Paw, I can't find a review on this one on the Bookshelf. (I actually did read the other ones first )
   - Tony C. - Wednesday, 05/15/02 18:34:41 GMT

Tony, my fault. I mis-read your message. Sorry.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 19:59:09 GMT

On the subject of cable damascus again.Is the cable usually galvanised if so is this a problem?Also there is the matter of rust.How does one deal with tese issues?
Thanks Chris
   CHRIS MAKIN - Wednesday, 05/15/02 20:39:58 GMT

"The Complete Modern Blacksmith" is Weygers' three previous books: The Modern Blacksmith, The making of Tools, The Recycling, Use and Repair of tools" collected in one volume.

I'd say that Weyger's approaches smithing from an artistic point of view and quite a few of his projects are making artist tools, stone and wood carving chisels, etc.

I like the fact that he covers using home built and improvised equipment---many people start smithing "late" cause they can't find the "real" equipment never realizing that most smiths around the world don't use commerically built forges and anvils.

Most of all I like his chapter on making custom dies for triphammers something I have not seen anywhere else.

I preferred it when they were 3 seperate books though...They are a bit dated, being dead, he didn't revise them for re-publication.

I agree that Machinerys Handbook and the ASM shelf saggers are a beter source of detailed info; but books can warn that data based on 1" sections may not be correct for things as thin as a knife blade; so take care and don't be surprised if small section work throws a ringer in every once in a while.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 05/15/02 20:46:09 GMT

Greetings all and happy Wednesday!

I'll probably backlog some server somehwere with what I'm about to ask, but I've stumbled across the forum and finaly have a place and the time to ask some questions. So I'm going hog wild while I have the chance.

I'll start with a breif "about me" so everyone can see how ignorant I am. I love metal. I never played cowboys and indians, but rather Knights and dragons. I've always liked swords and armor, and my thing for steel probably stems from that. I've been building armor for use in SCA combat for 10 years (if you want to see my work, I love to show off, just e-mail me and I'll send you a link to my site) All cold worked steel, with mig welded seams etc. I've also done some cold decorative stuff, scrolls/twists etc. I've done some hot work, I've got a brake drum and electric blower on a dimmer switch. I've managed to bang out 2 knives from railroad spikes. My dad loves his, but he's my dad, and anyone else would find it painfuly obvious I don't have a clue. Anyway....

My overlong list of questions is thus:

1> If anyone is, or knows a reasonably skilled smith in the colorado springs colorado area that would be willing to trade help for knowledge (will work for brains?) on a sporadic schedule, PLEASE hand them my e-mail.

2> I'm sure it's been asked allready, but if someone could point me to a recipie for clay or cement to line a forge with, I'd sure be appreciative.

3> Does anyone know an easy inexpensive way to thouroughly strip galvanized steel of the zinc (which is toxic when heated as in forged or welded).

4a> Does anyone have any plans to turn round bar stock into cutlery (fork, spoon, butter knife)?
4b> I have some what I beleive to be mystery grade chrome steel that was originaly supposed to be part of a volkswagon engine (push rod or something). It doesn't rust, it's magnetic, and cracks when I try to work it cold (I'm assuming it's pretty tough). What is the likelyhood that this will be appropriate (safe enough to eat with, hard enough to keep it from twisting it into a pretzle when I toss my armor on top of it)to make usuable cutlery out of?

5> If I have a fire that's about 5-6 (maybe more) inches across, is it possible to uniformly heat a peice of steel longer than that (e.g. is it possible to harden a 12 inch blade in a 6 inch fire)?

6> If I heat one end of a peice of metal, leaving one end cold and then quench it, will the hot part be tempered (for example if I have a chisel that I want to harden the point on, but would just as soon have the struck end mushroom rather than shatter)?

Wow... I should probably give it a rest now. :)

Thanks in advance for any help, and have a beautiful day!
   Matt Reuhl - Wednesday, 05/15/02 21:03:06 GMT

I have a hand cranked forge and an anvil.
I've been reading this book called the moderen blacksmith, I would like too do tradtional blacksmithing. The book mentions something called blacksmiths' coal, I'm in Wyoming , and as far as i know we have basic coal. what's the difference? Can I use basic coal? If not, what are some suppliers, I want too eventually be able too make armor.
   Phil - Wednesday, 05/15/02 22:17:10 GMT

What type of schooling do I need for blacksmithig?
   Gary Taney - Wednesday, 05/15/02 22:29:02 GMT

Phil and Gary,

Go to the top of this page, and click on the "Getting Started" article. That will get you started.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/15/02 23:14:04 GMT

Brick Forge Dan, The book "Practical Blacksmithing" by M.T. Richardson, has numerous forge designs.

The classic brick forge has a depression about 1 brick deep for coal and two deep for charcoal. Air comes in from the back. The vent is a hole sloping back and up at about 45°. Its a brick wide and about the same height. Its located about 16 to 20" above the bottom of the fire box. The vent opens into the bottom of an expansion chamber the shape of the sloped part leading into the stack. The stack should be 14 x 14" to 16 x 16" and as tall as you can afford. This is the style of brick forge used in Colonial Williamsburg and they draw quite well.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/15/02 23:56:06 GMT

Matt's list. . .

Matt, step one is to get a few books on metalworking (see our Getting Started article and Book Review page) and study a little.

1) See Apprenticeships article on FAQs page

2) Any clay will do in a coal forge it doesn't matter.

3) Vinegar will disolve thin zinc plate but then you have to dispose of the acidic waste containing metal salts.

4a) See our iForge page, there are several step by step utensil demos.

4b) It will rust and if its forgeable its safe to use.

5) Maybe, if you keep it moving.

6) See the Heat Treating article on the FAQs page. "metal" is not specificaly hardenable.

   - guru - Thursday, 05/16/02 00:07:25 GMT

Phil there is no such thing as "basic" coal and techicaly no such thing a "blacksmith's" coal. Blacksmiths use the best avaiable bituminous coal. High BTU, low ash with enough silica to form nice clinkers, low sulfur, just the right volitiles to coke.

The best way to tell is to purchase some high grade coal from Kayne and Son or Bruce Wallace and use it. THEN try some of your local coal. NEVER, purchase more than a bucket full or 50 pounds until you have tested it. Testing will do you no good unless you have a standard to go by.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/16/02 00:23:33 GMT

Hello all, I'm new to the forum. I have some questions on a review I read about the NC Whisper Momma gas forge....

Is the Momma a reliable forge and will I be able to forge-weld with it? Does anyone here own one? Is so, do you have any complaints? Thanks,

   Taylor - Thursday, 05/16/02 02:48:04 GMT

More on Brick Forges:

Some good information on brick forges, and home-built forges in general, is contained in: The Blacksmith; Ironworker and Farrier, written and illustrated by Aldren A. Watson ((c) 1968,'77,'90; W.W. Norton and Co., NY, NY; ISBN 0-393-30683-6).

This, and a lot of the other books mentioned above can be obtained from Centaur Forge, or Norm Larson, and may also be available either at your library or through an Inter-Library Loan. I pull a lot of stuff through ILL, and if it's good enough I'll buy a copy for my standing library. (So I can answer these questions, right?) It always helps to look first and decide how close you need to keep the reference.

Another lovely night on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 05/16/02 03:02:23 GMT

Hi,I need some help on a particular joint that I cant find much info on. We have recived a drawing labeled "shiplap joint"- do you have any idea what this is and how to do it? Thanks.
   Eric Carroll - Thursday, 05/16/02 03:59:49 GMT

Tony;...umm..gotta say, blacksmithing is dated, y'know.
The Weyger book is dated but is singular in that it clearly illustrates that it can be done on little money and gives enough info that one can pull it off...
   - Pete F - Thursday, 05/16/02 06:15:11 GMT

In my experience "shiplap" refers to lapstrake, where the edges of the planks forming the hull of the vessel overlap, rather than abut, the next plank. On wooden houses this is known as clapboard. I do not recall it in a metalworking context.

I hope that this is at least some help. If it's any help, lapstrake hulls tend to be light, flexible and strong for their weight, but difficult to repair. This might apply to whatever the metalworking application is.

Puzzled but trying to be helpful on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 05/16/02 13:45:12 GMT

I agree on the Weyger book. Especially if one has little machining or tool-making experience. I think I have most of the books that have been mentioned so far. For Bladesmithing, Hrisoulas is definitely the Tomes to have. For general blacksmithing, I would say I have gotten more from New Edge of the Anvil than any other book source. I have gotten more from this site than from any other source period! If you like the information you find, become a CSI member!
   Escher - Thursday, 05/16/02 13:53:16 GMT

Shiplap Metalworking Eric, the joint is probably mislabled. A friend of mine commonly used a lap joint in top rail. He machined the parts on a shaper (a milling machine could be used). The middle of the joint was drilled for a countersunk rivet but most often aligned over a picket and the tennon. These were used in very long rails where "traditional" joinery was specified and on-site welding was not allowed. Done correctly and with care the joint was almost invisible and completely disapeared under a coat of paint.

Many smiths do not think of machined joints or the use of screws but I have seen some very nice work from the 1850's that was assembled with drilled and taped pickets and large counter sunk screws that were absolutely flush. For an example see the fence around the mine managers house (Bourn Cottage) at the Empire Mine in California.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/16/02 15:32:11 GMT

I'm in a unique situation and was hoping that someone here might have some input on it. I am an American that recently relocated to the UK (Suffolk near Cambridge to be a bit more specific) and have recently begun blacksmith classes and the process of putting together a shop. I have most of the basics of what I need down. I'm taking classes from some local shops as well as from Peat Oberon next week. So I've got a good handle on that side of things. My question is, what particular assets are present to me here that I should make special efforts towards taking advantage of, one of those "if only I was in X, I'd jump all over such-n-such class/museum/shop ect.

I have a desire to do this professionally and will eventually be returning to the states. I'd like to make sure that my time here is used to the best of my abilities. I'd hate to get back to the states and suddenly find out about some wonder I missed completely.

Just so you have some background information, I'm 34 and this will be a second career for me. I was an exec in the "dot com" industry. The failure of the industry gave me a chance to reevaluate and realize that I really didn't like what I was doing... much to the chagrin of my bank account. I have the full blessing of my wife to pursue this new avenue and my job for the next 2 years will be learning it.

Well, I have no idea if you can help or not... but there it is.
   Joe Skeesick - Thursday, 05/16/02 16:29:09 GMT

Hey Guys - Doing a little research on a lathe my son and I recently purchased. We have a Prentice Bros. Lathe circa 1890's in excellent condition. Looking for any documentation, history or someone who might have one, as well. Much Appreciated! Phil - Jordan Forge, Jordan, NY
   Phil - Thursday, 05/16/02 16:45:30 GMT


I'm not sure what they might have there that we don't have that would be of any benefit. The British tend to like side blown forges with water cooled twyers. These were briefly in fashion here but no longer. They work well with powdered coal and coke breeze. These are items also not popular here.

Most of the old English anvils that are popular here were exported to North America by the millions but not sold in quantity in England where they were made. I've had correspondance with folks in Britian looking for Mousehole forge anvils. . .

On the other hand I'm sure there are many very ancient and unusual anvils, bickerns and swages on the used market there that you would rarely see here. However, becoming a collector of ancient tools does not further your goal of becoming a smith. It just absorbs capital.

What you DO have there is easy access to some great old ironwork, museums and a short hop to France where some of the finest historical ironwork resides. Close study of really good work is something folks travel from the US to Europe to do. ABANA used to have a European Ironwork tour but dropped it when the lone organizers got tired of doing it. However, you might be able to pick their brains about places to visit.

For a long time Europe, particularly Germany has had a different attitude about fine ironwork. In the US you see modern fabricated rails and really poor pipe rails in places Europeans would never dream of using such crap. This is especialy true on old buildings, many that predate European settlement of North America. And you will find it is often a peculiar mix. Ancient buildings with artisticaly modern ironwork. In the U.S. we are very conservative in our public art compared to Europeans and tend to use old gothic styles in ironwork.

We have much fine ironwork in the US but it is spread out over great distances. Rarely can you visit a city that has more than a couple great pieces. Currently most of the best stuff in the US is hidden in private homes.

So, take advantage of the studying you can do there. Look close, take time to sit and make sketches. This will improve your drawing skills as well as set details into your mind.

   - guru - Thursday, 05/16/02 17:15:50 GMT


I was hoping you would be able to explain the process of "bluing" metal to me. I am relatively new to metal working and would like to try a different finish other than paint to my ornamental work. I have tried several types of paint finish, but I find it all chips and scratches too easily. I have seen work which has been "Blued", but I am unsure how to do it myself. If there is such a product that you could recommend to me, could you also tell me the likes of how long the effect will last, will rust become a problem, and would I need to apply a lacquer type coating on top? Hope you can help. Best wishes, Helen
   helen - Thursday, 05/16/02 20:56:01 GMT

Blueing: Helen, Most blueing is chemical process using a mixture of nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and salts like potassium nitrate. Often the "bath" is heated. Generaly it is a very nasty business that you are best off finding a gun shop or gunsmith to do it for you.

The work must also be specialy prepared, there can be no scale, rust or blemishes of any kind, fingerprints oil or waxes. The surface needs a high degree of finish either flat or polished but the same all over as the color is effected by texture.

Blueing is a form of oxide finish and as such slows rust but does not stop it. The blueing acts as a surface to retain oil and must be constantly maintained.

See my post above to Chaunté, about temper colors.

Your other options are to work other metals. Stainless steel is a little more difficult to work than carbon steel but it takes on the same dark blue grey scale when forged but does not rust. Titamium holds up well and takes brilliant temper colors. Brasses and bronzes are left to tarnish and form a patina OR can be chemicaly treated and then lacquered to prevent further change.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/16/02 21:27:21 GMT

Joe, go immediately with a notebook/sketchpad to the Victoria & Albert in London, mezzanine above the gift shop, and take a slowwww walk through the iron exhibit there. When you're done, do it again. Note especially joinery at the corners of gates. Then go to the British Museum and savor the stuff there, noting especially Sutton Hoo, the oldoldold firedogs now behind glass, the fantastic armor, and an inconspicuous exhibit in a show case on how smelting was done early on.
   miles undercut - Friday, 05/17/02 01:37:02 GMT

Ah, THEN scan your sketches and mail them to us. . . . ;)
   - guru - Friday, 05/17/02 03:27:26 GMT

Hello Mr. Guru, Sir -- I've got a job in the shop right now replacing some sections of 5" schedule 40 pipe in the middle of a run. So I've cut out the bad (rusted areas) and was about to weld in some new weld els. and pipe useing Mig when someone said I should use stick rods only. I was planing on useing the standard "v" grooves like come on the weld els , making one root pass, then making another cover pass over it. What do you think ? It's a suction line.

Since getting Mig about 15 years ago my stick machine sits in the corner and hasn't been used in years.

As long as where I'm welding is rust free, etc, can't I use Mig ?

Thanks, Old Chief
   Old Chief - Friday, 05/17/02 04:02:45 GMT

The thing about Weygers is that he was in love with the alchemy of blacksmithing, that magical power of the craft to make something out of almost nothing. Don't have a forge or much money to get one? Never mind, just punch some holes in the bottom of a lard can, fill it full of coal, light it, and poof! The wind will give you a draft. Want an anvil but again, you're tapped out at the mo'? Fret not: there's a chunk of bulldozer blade frame, that'll do just fine. Want to make a punch? A chisel? There's some old truck spring over there.... Need a grinder to sharpen it with? Take an old washing machine motor and.... Weygers was trained as a Dutch engineer, went through a system that started one out spending a year or so learning how to use a file correctly. But he surmounted all that, transcended it, to the point where what he made was what mattered, not what alloy he made it out of, or how he made it, or whether he made it in a shop full of the sort of tools that the blacksmithing textbooks say you have to use. Are his books outdated? Yup, just as old-fashioned as the notion that you can do it all on your lonesome, just you and the iron. With what he made, Weygers crafted art of lasting power and beauty. Magic!
   miles undercut - Friday, 05/17/02 04:06:16 GMT

Where can I get classes on Black Smithing I want to learn how to do it? Can some one help me please? Thank you.
   - Ryne W - Friday, 05/17/02 04:13:35 GMT

Miles - Amen! Weygers may not have been the technical smith that Paley was, or the sculptor that Rodin was, or the draftsman that Picasso was but, by damn, he was a real artist at making something out of nothing and had the fire in him to learn and grow. He approached blacksmithing as a means to an end more than an end in itself, no question about that. And he undertook to learn what was needed for each job or function and taught himself how to make what he needed to get there. His creativeness and his ability to discover simple solutions to problems should make him a model for current smiths. His willingness to share what he had learned marks him as a true gentleman, too.

A few months ago I had the privelege of meeting Tom Wilson, a Minneapolis smith who studied under and worked for Alexander Weygers. A look through sjome portfolio pictures of Tom's was a real treat. Awesome work!

Yes, Weyger's work is dated. So is Richardson's, Bealer's and a host of others. Just as Dr. Jim Hrisoulas' work will be "dated" when looked at a half-century from now. That's called progress, I think...

There is more information available now than ever before, and everday new things are being discovered which impact the way we do things. It is up to all of us to learn as much as we can from every source that we can lay our hands on, and then try to discover a new thing or two on our own. I wonder what Weygers and Richardson and Bealer and others hwo have gone before us would have done with the Internet? And wouldn't all those rusted tools in the Viking find at Mastermyr been much better preserved if those poor benighted Vikings had only known to add a little chromiun, vanadium and manganese to their steel? :-)
   vicopper - Friday, 05/17/02 12:15:21 GMT

Ryne - classes on Blacksmithing
Start with Anvilfire's getting started in Blacksmithing at http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/getstart_index.htm Then the iForge demo page at http://www.anvilfire.com/iForge/

Under the links (Anvilfire's opening page) you can link into ABANA (national group) or your local blacksmithing group, or Cyber Smiths International at http://www.anvilfire.com/sales/members.htm.

Guide to Blacksmith Schools can be located at http://www.anvilmag.com/sb.htm

Many have learned blacksmithing from a desire to get started and the information on Anvilfire. If you have specific questions, just ask.

   - Conner - Friday, 05/17/02 12:42:44 GMT

Pipe Welding Chief, I've not had much luck with pin-hole free welds with MIG, however, most large critical pipe welding is done by machine today using MIG. But, again, these are most likely running flux core wire. There is MIG and then there is MIG. . . There is a big difference between MIG designed for auto-body and odd job work, and those used for structurals and pipe. AND as in all things the skill of the operator is often as important as the method.

Is the inside of the old pipe rust free? Do you have access to remove "whiskers" that get through the gap? . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/17/02 13:42:19 GMT

Any info our there on billding belt grinders?
Thanx, Ron C
   Ron C - Friday, 05/17/02 13:42:46 GMT

I am trying to patina some copper tubing and sheet for outdoor structures. I have bought a small (only size available) bottle of stuff from a hobby store, but it only works so-so and washes of very easily. Any suggestions for a more perminent process and in a quanity bigger than a few ounces. Thankyou
   Jim Swindler - Friday, 05/17/02 16:26:38 GMT

Two (ok maybe three) questions:

1) I am thinking about having a "T" stake anvil made. I want a couple of holes in one end of it and was planning on having a local laser cut place cut my holes. They can only go up to 1" stock tho. Would it work to laminate 3 layers of 1" together, with the last layer being higher carbon?

2) I am planning a shop for my backyard. It needs to be small 10x10 max. My brother in law and I were chatting about this and he suggested building a copy of guru's "shop on wheels". Our future in the current location is a bit unstable and this would allow me to just hook on to the shop and move it to the next place. What do you think? Jock, could some drop down "walls" be added to the design? Suggestions? (ok four questions)
   - Tony C. - Friday, 05/17/02 17:20:19 GMT


Where are you located? Any chance we could get together for you to take a close look at the portable shop? It's a truly ingeneous design. The more I work with it, the better I like it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 05/17/02 18:28:38 GMT

Sorry Paw Paw. I'm up in Saskatchewan Canada. Thats a bit of a hike for me.

Anyone heard of a steel called QT100? It is supposedly a high carbon steel. (probably a brand name though). The local laser cut shop handles it in 2" plate. I might use two pieces laminated for my "T" stake. Kinda expensive though. $55/ sq foot.
   - Tony C. - Friday, 05/17/02 19:14:38 GMT

Old Chief, I weld high pressure hydraulic stuff all the time with gas shielded MIG and so do lots of people. Pipelines included. If you can make good welds, there is no problem on a suction line. Add a little extra at the end of the weld to avoid a shrinkage crater. Whiskers can be avoided by starting the weld on one of the slopes instead of in the root gap. Cut the little ball off the end of the wire after each weld and before starting the next.

But it all depends on the customers requirements. What do THEY expect from you? Are there codes you are to follow?
   Tony - Friday, 05/17/02 19:15:17 GMT

Thank you for the info on power hammers. What would be the best place to advertise my little jiant 50 for sale?
   Peter Martin - Friday, 05/17/02 20:00:29 GMT

Stakes and Holes Tony C. Laminate how? Options:

1) Look at stakes on our Armoury page. Ends are thinner than arm. That could be cut.

2) Predrill a counterbore on under side of stake. 1-1/4" diameter for 1" square hole. A little bigger might not hurt.

3) Drill and shape the hole. Start with four 1/4" corner holes then a full size center hole (takes a stiff machine). Then chisle, scrape and file square. It helps to have the counterbore as above for this.

Tool holding stakes work fine made of mild steel. Never heard of QT steel. Ask for a standard SAE or UNS designation.

Portable shop: The roof on my design only protects the equipment, mainly the bellows. Even then it needs a 20 x 20 foot space or 25 x 25 if you are demonstrating. Corner to corner it is 14 feet when open. Work space is around the 7 x 8 foot deck and the vise section adds about 3 feet to the length. Same scheme might work on a larger skid mounted building.
   - guru - Friday, 05/17/02 20:12:37 GMT

Peter, put it on our "V.Hammer-In" page.
   - guru - Friday, 05/17/02 20:14:12 GMT

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