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 18 - 23, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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Re: Pipe Welding
Dear Guru and Tony, Thank for the responses on pipe welding. By "whiskers" I assume you mean the wire that may get inside the pipe during the pass ? No, it's not accessable. But Tony had a good trick, to start out on the side of the groove, and cutting off the ball.

The customer just expects it not to leak, and of course good workmanship, fit ,etc.

I've tried one joint, I don't see any pin holes,
It looks alright ? I'll try to stay in mostly horizontal position, short beads about 1 1/2" long, skip welded, what do you think ? Going back to SMAW now is like welding under mud !

As far as codes go none are involved.

Old Chief
   Old Chief - Saturday, 05/18/02 00:54:23 GMT

Pipe Welding. . I prefer longer welds. I like to weld round stuff on a set of rolls and have an assistant turn the work. On small stuff I've rotated the work on my own by rolling it under my arm. . A tad tricky but can get about 1/3 to 1/2 diameter welded per pass. Got to be VERY sure the ground doesn't go through the roll bearings. . With good manipulation you should be able to run about 1/4 to 1/3 diameter horizontaly supported (any method).
   - guru - Saturday, 05/18/02 02:29:41 GMT


I'm seriously considering buying the Whisper Momma...I've read the review, but what I would like to know is how does it last for the longterm and will it be hot enough for welding?


   Taylor - Saturday, 05/18/02 05:09:27 GMT

Is there a solder for copper that is copper colored so it can be used on jewelry, or is there some easy way to cover the silver solder so the joint doesn't show? Thanks.
   John Fetvedt - Saturday, 05/18/02 11:13:39 GMT


I'm still using the Whisper Momma. It's still in good shape, still works fine. I've never tried welding in it, but I know guys who have. You can check the date of the review, to calculate the age of the unit.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 05/18/02 12:09:00 GMT

I use the wisper momma toforge weld all the time it takes some fuel though.
   Chris Makin - Saturday, 05/18/02 12:32:15 GMT

Johnn, Silver solder: When soldering with either gold or silver the joint must be very accurate. These solders do not fill a gap between two connecting pieces like lead solder does. The closer the joints are the better the solder flows. This process is called "capillary attraction" When it is done properly the seam is so thin that you cannot see it or at least it is not noticable. Hope this helps. There may be a colored solder but I am not aware of it. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 05/18/02 12:57:00 GMT


1. How can one tell the difference between stainless and carbon steel? Can it be done at a glance (aside from seeing there is no rust on it)? I know about the spark test and the file test for hardness but a guy in my workplace just LOOKED at a flat bar and said it was stainless. Maybe he already knew that and maybe there is a way to tell.

2. I am starting to diversify in my metals and I want to try making blades from other metals. Something that will be hard enough to hold an edge, but still be tough enough to have some spring in it. Just to give you an idea I want to make blades that will stand up to tough general purpose use like camping in harsh elements. I want it to be the one knife a guy would carry into the woods if he could pick one.

3. I have heard you and others say that "spring steel" is good for blades. Whats in spring steel that makes it good for blades? Is it steel alloyed with another metal that gives it the resiliency?

Thanx again for all the help. I have finally made the decision, after the bills are paid I'm joining CSI!
   Tim - Saturday, 05/18/02 13:19:10 GMT

John: my wife is a jeweler and likes to use copper. From her supplier she is able to buy phos-copper wire. Phos- copper takes more heat but is a much better color match and is very, very strong. Any welding or HVAC supply will have phos-copper too but in larger size rods. The other thing is that you don't have to clean the copper first. That means you won't have a shiny spot to deal with.
   - Pete-Raven - Saturday, 05/18/02 14:06:37 GMT

Jock, what do you mean by the statement: "Enough silica to make a nice clinker". You got me to wondering if I was missing one of the many joys of coal burning by failing to appreciate these nasty parasitic conglomerates. Back when I was using Long John Ferguson, I made a clinker that was about 20 inches long. Maybe I missed a wonderful awe filled moment.

Chris, What's the secret to forge welding in a Whisper Mamma. I watched my bars for about 20 minutes one day and they never reached welding heat. I'm a farily decent forge welder but only with coal. My suspicion is that you use some kind of magic dust that causes adhension between surfaces rather than fusion. But, I've also heard that the better you are at welding, the cooler the temperature you can weld at is. What, in your experience have you found to be the key to welding in a gas forge?

   L.Sundstrom - Saturday, 05/18/02 15:13:27 GMT

thanks Paw Paw and Chris, I'll be buying the Whisper here shortly. Thanks again,

   Taylor - Saturday, 05/18/02 16:11:53 GMT

Re: Pipe Welding

Dear Guru, Can't put a quarter ton "U" shaped piece of 5" pipe under my arm ! Shouda taken those Charles Atlas courses in my youth, I guess -grin.

Using three chain hoists to rotate into "position" as best I can, trying to keep welding, near horizontal. Thats part of the reason for 1 1/2 to 2" beads. Now if I can keep from getting cold laps, it should be OK ?. What really started the concern was a dicussion here on penetration. MIG "vs" SMAW. But don't you think that with the "V" grooves, and proper technique, penetration isn't an issue ?

Old Chief
   Old Chief - Saturday, 05/18/02 18:21:21 GMT


Here's my take on your situation. Use a E7018, v-groove the pipe like you stated, and run stringer beads...no weaving. Be sure you have the two pieces of pipe fit good and clean before welding. Are you going to use and backing rings? after every pass chip and brush as good as you can to avoid any slag inclusion. Use multiple passes, not a couple of big wide one's. Basically like taking the E 7018 Horizontal SMAW Certification test....HTH

   Taylor - Saturday, 05/18/02 19:45:34 GMT

Taylor...I have been using a NC Whisper Low Boy for about 7 years. I have no trouble forge welding stacks of 15 to 23 layers for pattern welded knife blades. It takes about 45 minutes to get to welding heat at 10-12psi. Dr Hrisoulas recommends using cheap kitty litter (I use about 1/4" on the bottom and a castable or refractory brick over the kity litter. This will extend the life of the forge floor. The flux eats the "sacrificial" bottom instead of your forge floor. I replace the "sacrificial" and kitty litter about 4 to 6 months. I also line the top and sides with ITC-100.
   R Guess - Saturday, 05/18/02 21:06:05 GMT

You can get "silver" solders in a range of colors to match..no problem. The "silflos" (sp?) brand of solder that they use on refrigeration systems is sort of brass colored and is not too expensive; but a big jewelry supply will sell a range of both colors and temperatures to suit your needs. Remember that differing alloys will weather differently than your base metal.
Old Chief; If you have the choice, perhaps a root weld with a good penetrating stick welder followed by careful cleaning and a mig finish is the way to go. The reason one might go for short welds like you propose is to minimize distortion...otherwise it is a disadvantage.
That's a big piece of pipe..sure would make a big enough forge
   - Pete F - Sunday, 05/19/02 05:46:04 GMT

Stainless: Tim, Telling one alloy from another by looking is an art that has many facets. Color, texture, bar size and shape as well as having an idea of what stock is lying about the shop. I have stainless bar in the shop that has been lying about for 20 years or so and I still know which pieces are 304, 410, Monel.

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to tell 304SS from highly finished or fresh machined alloy steel. But a magnet tells quickly. However, 410 is magnetic and closer in color to alloy steel. Most carbon steel is a blue compared to SS. But I wouldn't bet my reputation on it. Except in MY shop.

"Spring steel", "tool steel", "aircraft steel", are all generic terms for steels that often overlap. "Music wire" is most often made of a high grade SAE 1095 steel. Springs, blades and many tools are also made of 1095. The high carbon puts it in the "tool steel" classification. 5160 is a deep hardening medium carbon alloy steel that is used for some springs, pry bars, hammers, wrenches.. . . Is it a "spring steel" or a "tool steel"? It just depends on what you make out of it.

"Spring steel" is simply any grade of steel with enough carbon to make a spring and often ranges from as low as 65 point carbon to 95 point carbon (a "tool" steel). Most modern spring steels are alloy steels because they are tougher and have longer working lives. The range of carbon, properties and characteristics of springs just happen to be the same for knives in most cases. Hardness, flexibility. . .

Although alloy steels are tougher and more corrosion resistant they are also more difficult to sharpen due to abrasion resistance. For the best sharpenability plain high carbon steel if often the best, making superior "working" blades.

Choices, choices, choices. . . decisions, decisions. . .

However, no matter which steel you select the most important thing is how you harden and temper it. The best steel poorly treated can be out performed by a lesser steel carefully handled and heat treated.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/19/02 07:26:32 GMT

Silica in coal: How clinkers consolidate is a property of coal. Ash that doesn't consolidate into clinker is generaly considered bad because it ends up distributed into the fresh coal and in smithing onto the steel. So you want "just enough" silica so that the clinker consolidates but not so much that it contributes to excess clinker. It is listed under coal properties.

The things that make coal "good" are not always as obvious as you would think.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/19/02 07:33:53 GMT

Pipe Weld: Chief, the only pipe welding I've done was structural. But here is a note from Cracked.
7018 shouldn't be used in open root weld situations, the textbooks say. The open root causes porosity in the welds.
The rod that God gave us for pipe is 6011, because no matter what you do to it, the slags gets floated out and you don't get slag inclusions. You cannot get a pretty bead as with 7018, no matter what, but you will get a good solid weld. 6010 is the same rod.
Old Chief ought to dust off his stick machine, Vee the joints, tack them so they stay in line, then, run the biggest 6011 rod he can on the first pass, then, if he wants pretty, cover it with 7018, although I can't see why that ought to be necessary when 6011 will be plenty okay.

Welding Principles and Applications, by Larry Jeffus and Harold V. Johnson, 2nd edition, Delmar Publishers, Inc., Albany, N.Y., 1988.
The book's section on welding pipe, page 190, says it is done with 6010 or 6011, or with 7018-- BUT in a note re 7018, on page 134, the authors say, "The weld metal is protected from the atmosphere primarily by the slag layer and not by rapidly expanding gases. For this reason,
these electrodes should not be used for open root welds. The atmosphere may attack the root causing a porosity problem."

Note that for many applications they make root cover rings with spacer pins for welding pipe. In this case 7018 could be used because the root is not open. The same goes for MIG.

I did not hold the pipe under my arm, it was supported on rolls and I rotated it by rolling my arm across the pipe. . . The more stop and starts the more likely there will be porosity or inclusions. With properly prepared joints you still need penetration to make a complete weld. Weld preps are not a sharp "V". Many welding references give specific dimensions and prep-shapes.

In the end the best decision is to do what you are best at. I just spent the day at Paw-Paw's welding a new anvil onto the NC-JYH. I was using an unfamiliar gasoline powered welder that I wasn't sure about adjusting and 6010 rods. The rods gave great penetration but I got awful looking welds. We also had a bad stinger with a broken cable that we ended up replacing before we were done. I could have done a much prettier job with my trusty old Miller buzz box and 6013 or 7014 rods. Yep, they are far the optimum combination but it is what I weld best with.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/19/02 08:11:48 GMT

Ode to Clinkers

Jock the Doc of steelly things,
Highly speaks of clinkers.
Though I thought the things a pest,
They're prized by deeper thinkers.

Never too old to learn,
   L.Sundstrom - Sunday, 05/19/02 12:29:06 GMT

R Guess,
Please do not think that I'm being impertinent or a smart alex or questioning your knowlege or abilities. I am sure that you do exquist work and have the patience of Job. It's just that I find it astounding that anyone would recommend a forge that takes 45 min. to reach welding heat.
The other day I built a fire and did a simple weld for a visitor in less than 10 min. I can sympathize with folks who live in neighborhoods not zoned for coal forges but am flabergasted by the thought that you have to wait so long to weld. The other thing I can't understand is what is taking place in that amount of time.
The metal can't get hotter than the fire so I'm am wondering how the temperature continues to climb and not level off.
This comment will probably be very imflamatory to the gas forge caucus but I DO enjoy my Whisper Mamma for certain applications and once tried bleeding O2 into it to make it hotter. I've even got it surrounded with fire brick
but have yet to burn up a peice of stock. Coal is King, gas is a decent courtier.
   L.Sundstrom - Sunday, 05/19/02 12:58:53 GMT

Guru and friends, what should the handle of a strikers uphand sledge be made of? A good hickory or a metal tube? Or any other suggestions? And how about a heavier swing sledge? What of the handle on that?
   Tim - Sunday, 05/19/02 15:02:44 GMT

I was reciently given an old forge on a tripod mount. It appears to be cast iron and the only thing that appears on it are the numbers 501 and off to the side U. these two things are raised on the surface where the coal is placed. It has a small crack about 6 inches long. Does anybody know anything about this model?
   rick - Sunday, 05/19/02 15:15:08 GMT

R Guess:

A you talking 45 minutes for the furnace to get to welding heat or are the pieces IN the fire for 45 minutes before they get to welding heat?
   - grant - Sunday, 05/19/02 15:58:11 GMT

All of the oil companies require 6010 or 7010 for the root bead on pipe. Most pipeliners prefer the old Lincoln 5-P "red rod". If you're able to turn the work you should try to work on the uphill slope, not quite vertical, not flat. Keeps the slag from getting ahead of the weld, not as difficult as vertical.
   - grant - Sunday, 05/19/02 16:06:19 GMT

Hammer Handles: Tim, hammer handles should never, ever, for any reason be made of steel pipe or tube, sledges especialy. The wood should be clear ash or hickory (never oak) split with the grain, not sawed unless done by a custom sawyer (handle folks specialize in fancy saw setups in small mills).

Handles can also be made of select white oak and rock maple. There are other woods in other countries that are prefered handle woods but in North America it is ash and hickory (same thing premium wood base ball bats are made of).
   - guru - Sunday, 05/19/02 17:48:37 GMT

Welding with Gas Forges: My little Whisper Baby takes a half hour to 45 minutes to get to forging heat and I don't think it will ever reach welding heat. But once hot it will heat short pieces of 1/2" square as fast as you can work them. Most of the NC-TOOl forges with two or more burners will reach welding heat but the forge needs to preheat 45 minutes or longer, must be correctly adjusted and may not reach welding heat IF the ambient temperature is too low (winter weather). But one must remember that these are VERY frugal forges designed to use as little gas a possible.

My big home built gas forge takes about 10-15 minutes to get real hot and then can melt a stack of billets. . . a little TOO hot. I have controls on it that will cycle it on and off for work that doesn't need to be flambe'd. The problem with this forge is it will drain down a 60# propane cylinder to freezing in about 3 hours. . . partialy full cylinders in less time.

The vast majority of laminated steel is made in small gas forges, many of them NC-TOOL forges. But the NC forges are designed to effiecient and light weight. I can pickup the Whisper baby in one hand and most of the two to four burner models are carriable. But my big home-built weighs in around 800 pounds. . . and when it starts that deep balanced roar it shakes the entire shop. Johnson builds very nice forges but they are also big, heavy and very expensive (compared to an NC). But they are also durable.

IT all depends on what you need and or want OR can afford.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/19/02 18:09:58 GMT

Does anybody know where I can find a pattern for a grape leaf? Instructions on how to make a pattern would be just as helpfull.
   Chris - Sunday, 05/19/02 18:51:00 GMT


Check your email. Grape leaves on the way.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 05/19/02 19:48:51 GMT

Another word on clinkers~ one of the Pub members sez he sells clinkers to curious onlookers calling them "dragon droppings"! Another Pubber suggested "dragon buggers"
OOOOOkay :~)
   Jerry - Sunday, 05/19/02 20:39:12 GMT

PIpe Weld-
That's true that the 6011 is the pipe rod of choice.. but he's worried about penetration and Low-Hi will go deeper than the 6011, and he said no codes were involved. Agreed, with him veeing it out, penetration is a moot point. So a 6011 would be the better rod... I stand corrected. The other guy mentioned the O'l 5-p...yuck!

Whisper Momma-
45 minutes does seem to take awhile, would a 3 burner be any better than the 2 of the whisper momma?
   Taylor - Sunday, 05/19/02 21:16:24 GMT

Ai, Chihuahua! You guys are a bunch of sissies! We use nothing but old coat hangers, sometimes baling wire if we don't have any coat hangers, bare, to weld everything here in the mountains, pipe, truck frames, dozer blades, log truck chains, and we never have any trouble. Well, hardly ever.
   Chicharrone Burrito - Sunday, 05/19/02 22:02:48 GMT

L. Lundstrom,
The reason a forge takes that long to get to weld temp is that the heavy thick dense refractory acts as a heat sink UNTIL it is at the same temp as the flame in the fire box. So if you place iron in the fire too soon the temp in the forge goes down. Yes you can do other forging at the lower temps but if you wish to weld yopu need to wait. Yes a coal forge can get to weld temp much sooner, but most coal forges will have a hard time keeping up with a power hammer operation.

As what to do as the forge is warming... well you can cut stock if needed, you can plan the days work, you can do finish work... do the book keeping... list is kinda long

At least that is my two cents worth
   Ralph - Monday, 05/20/02 01:22:47 GMT

Waiting: I fire the forge, then check my email. The forge is usualy hot before I clear out all the virus mail and spam. . . .

If you drink coffee or eat breakfast, fire up the forge first. . .

Or as Ralph pointed out. . cut some stock, sweep the floor, sharpen some tools. . . Finding something to do is NEVER a problem.
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 02:04:19 GMT

How hot is hot? At the Asheville ABANA conference a 4 burner NC-TOOL forge was in use in the sales area. The weather was HOT, the forge ran all day. At the end of the day it was shut off just after putting in some stock. . . 10 or 20 minutes later the pieces of stock were welded together from the heat stored in the refractory. . . And this was in a forge built with light weight refractory.

When I've run my big forge all day, it was still too hot to touch 8 hours later. It makes the warm up a lot shorter the second day.
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 02:25:18 GMT

Hi All, This question is regarding removing rust and freeing rusted components, so I am unsure if this is a topic that you cover. I have looked in the FAQs and not found any clues. As background, I have a sailing boat (Hunter Sonata if that helps) with a swing keel mechanism. Basically, the swing keel is a large block of cast iron (1200mm horizontal/front to back x 400mm horizontal/side to side x 250mm vertical), with a slot (900mm x 300mm x 40mm). Imagine this (pictures are much easier!) being bolted to the underside of the boat, with the long (900mm) slot on the bottom, and open (300mm vertical x 40mm horizontal) to the rear. A 1200mm x 300mm x 38mm cast iron blade pivots on a 25mm dia bolt (at the closed end or front of the keel), and swings from horizontal (up or housed) to vertical (down or vertical) under its' own weight for sailing. The chap I have just bought the boat from said that the keel has been in it's UP position for about 3 years, afloat in a marina.
I now have the challenge of freeing off and removing the blade. So far I have cleared loose flakes of rust and debris from the slot with a pressure washer, removed the pivot bolt, attatched a winch to the rear of the blade to give a constant tension, used various hacksaw blades, improvised chisels and thin strips of steel to chip away at the rust build up between the blade and the slot. The blade has moved about 40mm with approx 9 hours work so far. I am just wondering if there are any tips or techniques you have, for ways to dissolve or remove the rust? I know that a number of products are available as 'Rust Remover', but I am not sure if they would penetrate the depth of rust in the slot or if the 'coating' some of them form on top of rust would jam the blade in further? Any Ideas? With the size of the keel block and the fact that the boat is fibreglass, I have not tried using heat...
Thankyou for taking the time to read this, if you got this far!, and I apologise for taking up so much of your page.
Thankyou again,
Austin Holden
   Austin Holden - Monday, 05/20/02 10:40:31 GMT

I am an education specialist at Stone Mountain Park right outside Atlanta GA...We have an exhibit here about the granite quarrying industry at the mountain, which was a huge part of the history here. We have been given an old blacksmith forge which was used in a quarry blacksmith shop- that is all we know about it though. We want to display it in the exhibit but dont even know how old it really is, its pretty rusted so we cant read anything but a number on it- no manufacturer....if anyone is familiar with blacksmith artifacts and is interested in helping please return my email....I'll send a digital picture of the forge. Thanks!
Kerrie Anne
   Kerrie Anne Mulvey - Monday, 05/20/02 13:41:00 GMT

Austin - I have had fairly good luck in the past with using muriatic acid to dissolve the rust on frozen items. It is cheap, readily available and easily neutralized with baking soda or dilute sodium hydroxide. If you dilute the muriatic acid with three parts water to one part muriatic and pour it into the slot, it should dissolve most of the rust fairly quickly, say in a couple of hours. You may need to do this a few times to get all the rust loosened up. When diluting the acid, ALWAYS pour the acid into the water, mixing as you go. NEVER pour water into acid, or you may get a sudden steam explosion from the liberated heat. Wear appropriate protective clothing and face/eye protection and rubber gloves. When soaking the rusted parts in the acid, DON'T breathe the fumes, as they are definitely not salubrious to your lung tissue.

If you neutralize the acid with a dilute solution of sodium hydroxide (lye), the resulting product is basically sea water, incidentally. HCl + NaOH=NaCl(sodium chloride or table salt), + H2O (water). Neat solution to the disposal problem; if the acid is neutralized to pH=7, you can just dump it in the ocean. The now-reduced iron oxide (rust) dissolved in it should be of no real environmental concern, although I'm not sure if you can convince anyone of that these days.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/20/02 13:41:11 GMT

Rust: Austin, I never had to free up such a heavy piece nor in a boat. Being in the boat is going to be a problem and there is a high likely hood that it will have to be removed.

Tension with a winch is unlikely to help. Enough tension to do the job will most likely damage the boat.

Impact with a large hammer often helps but cast iron parts are brittle and can be broken. If the part were steel it would be different. On cast iron a large wooden mallet may help shake loose some of the rust. . Please wear safety glasses as falling rust can imbed itself in you eye causing a "rust spot" that has to be drilled out. . . (no fun).

IF as you say the part has moved then try to move it BACK to the starting position (or near there). Do not force it farther than were it moves freely. I would keep the pivot bolt in place as this part several hundred pounds and you do not want it falling out. Lubricate it first with Never-Sieze. You also want the part moving in its usual track. Then keep moving it in this range as you apply penetrating oil. "B-laster" is recommended, as is WD-40.

If the part can be moved any distance clean the exposed parts and keep working it back and forth while applying copious amounts of penetrating oil. This is tedious and takes time. But if the part can be moved at all you WILL be sucessful. There just isn't any easy way.

The problem with rust is that it is crystals of hydrous iron oxide that is larger than the original iron. IF you can heat the part to a red heat the rust is reduced to an anhydrous form that is smaller AND the parts often expand some further loosening them. You probably also have paint flakes jambed in the mix, as well as barnacles or what ever else was growing on the bottom of the boat. . . Burning them out helps but you want to avoid the fumes.

Many of the rust "removers" do not actualy remove rust but convert it to another form. Normally you do not want to try to do this in a closed space on stuck parts. Apply ONLY after dissasembly and cleaning. However, I would not use these on this part as you will want to sandblast the parts before painting them.

Then ask advice about the best marine painting system. I suspect it starts with a zinc powder paint and ends with epoxy. You will also want to replace the sacrificial zinc annodes on the boat. I suspect that is where the problem started. These need to be replaced anualy and NOT painted. Folks that don't know what they are often paint over them. .
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 14:05:40 GMT

Old Forge Kerrie Anne, E-mail me the photo. I have several catalogs I can check. The casting number may not mean anything. . .

In quaries, depending on the operation, the smith sharpened drills and chisles, dressed hammers and made stone splitting wedge sets. These consisted of partialy round peices that fit in a drill hole. One was about 3/4 round at the bottom and half round at the top and sometimes had a bent tab to keep it from falling in the hole. The splitting wedge was the opposite shape and full round at the top having a shank to extend above the hole. Pairs of these were put in a row of drill holes and gently driven in. The stone would usualy break in nice straight line between the holes. This method has probably been in use since the bronze age.
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 14:27:04 GMT

Austin-- patience, lad, patience and patience alone will win the day! Get yourself down to your local NAPA auto parts dealer and buy a bunch of cans of B'laster, the best rust penetrant I have ever found. You can try KnockerLoose, Liquid Wrench, WD 40, and my own secret forumula (don't tell the EPA!), a bracing cocktail of muriatic acid, Naval Jelly, kerosene, and a dash of hydrochloric. Yup, that's shaken, not stirred, straight up, with a twist. Just slosh some of this stuff down into the slot several times a day. Keep it well soused with the rust-eater. Try-- gently-- to prise the keel free every so often. Eventually-- and this may take a month or longer-- you'll be out there tacking and jibing like the 12 meter boys, promise. The above potions have worked for me again and again, salvaging rusted-up stuff so far oxidized-- from lying out in the weather for not years but decades-- that seeing them when I got them you'd never have believed they would ever live and work again, but they do! I am talking Crescent wrenches, big $50 C-clamps, even an entire drill press abandoned to the weather until it was totally frozen with corrosion. Just takes time to undo what time hath wrought.
   miles undercut - Monday, 05/20/02 15:14:16 GMT

What is a Blaster considered in Blacksmith career
   Candy - Monday, 05/20/02 16:22:57 GMT

Paw Paw,

   Chris Bernard - Monday, 05/20/02 16:34:29 GMT

Hi again,
A big thanks to the Guru, miles undercut, vicopper, and anyone else that posts re my rusted keel problem. One thing that I neglected to mention in my post was that I am in the UK. I have not yet checked to see if muriatic / hydrochloric acid is readily available over here, but I will give your suggestions a try and let you know how it goes...
Austin Holden
   Austin Holden - Monday, 05/20/02 18:21:20 GMT

Muratic Acid is dilute Hydrochloric acid used in the construction industry to clean mortar off of brick.

   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 18:26:14 GMT

Larry...no offense taken by your comments. We each have our own preferances and techniques for doing things. I have both gas and coal forges, but, due to my location, I use the LP primarily. You said you did a "simple" weld for a coustomer in 10 minutes and I have no doubt you did. The steel I prepare for a pattern welded blade is usually 1 1/4 X 1 1/4" X 9". A fair sized mass of 15 to 23 or more layers. While waiting on my forge to come to welding heat and a reducing atmosphere I do other work anealing, heat treating or forging plain carbon blades. Point is, I use that work time to make sure the color of the inside is right. It takes a few minutes to soak a large stack so that I have welding heat throught the stack. Someone with more skill and experience could probably forge weld sooner and at a lower temp. than I. So that is why I said that my forge takes about 45 minutes to come to welding heat. No, I dont heat the metal for 45 minutes. I didnt mean to cause so much contorversy. My intention was to give Taylor and idea of what he might expect from a NC forge based on my experience with using one.
Support anvilfire, Join CSI
   R Guess - Monday, 05/20/02 18:53:06 GMT

Dear Guru,
Is there a way to tell whether a bronze object was forged or cast? I'm writing a paper on a Byzantine steelyard (a kind of scale) in my university's museum, but the few articles I've found on metalworking and the archaeology of bronze are pretty vague on this point.
   Ariella - Monday, 05/20/02 20:16:04 GMT

Super Quench!
Do you have a simple recipe for a good super quench?
How hard can I expect mild steel to get after being super quenched?
Would I be able to use this with mild steel to make bottom fullers and swages?
   Louis - Monday, 05/20/02 21:52:13 GMT

Guru and all,

COuple of questions: I have a NC daddy, and was looking for a smaller forge as the daddy is often overkill. Is the NC mommy enough smaller to make a difference in fuel use? It seems like it would use 2/3 as much, but I'm not sure. FWIW, I love the NC daddy. The only problem I have had so far was mice deciding the forge made a good nest when I was gone for 2 weeks. Didn't look inside before I fired it up.... Not a good smell. Dug a big hole in the kaowool in the door as well. Looks like I may need to invest in a new liner kit.

Second question: what do you recommend as a coating for triangels and chimes? the seem to get beat up quite a bit, which makes laquer a mess, but wax seems like the wrong choice if they live outside.

Last, where can I buy firebricks for the forge?

BTW, built one of the treble clef chimes from iforge at a show in VA this weekend, and it's one of the neatest things I have ever made. I think I need to build a set of windchimes with 6 or so different sized clefs at different levels. 'course now my girlfriend wants a bass clef chime and I can't get the dots to hang out in space like that.....

Thanks again for great site!


   - JIM - Monday, 05/20/02 22:13:33 GMT


Check the frequently asked questions (FAQ). The answer to your question is posted there.

Mild Steel dies quenched in Super Quench will last longer than those quenched in plain water. They will not be as hard as tool steel, but they will last for thousands of impressions.

   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Monday, 05/20/02 22:53:36 GMT

Cast Objects: Ariella, It is difficult to tell on modern objects because a parting line from casting may be the same as a flash line on a closed die forging. However, on early pieces made before drop hammers (any time prior to 1840) if there is a parting line the object was cast.

Not all cast items will have a parting line. But most pieces cast using a process other than lost-wax will have a parting line. Normally the fin a line produced by the parting is filed or scraped off. However, at inside corners they often show. There is often porosity on either side of the parting. Close examination can often detect parting lines but if an object is finely finished they may be invisible.

Cast object must also have "draft", so that the pattern can be removed from the mold. Some shapes, such as round objects have natural draft, but rectangular objects have tapered sides unless the parting is at corners.

The vast majority of bronze objects were cast. Even forged bronze objects such as swords were cast then forged a little to work harden them and thin the edge. The only bronze objects that would have been forged a great deal would have been relatively thin objects such as armor plate or thin vessles.
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 23:15:10 GMT

Dots in Space: Jim, Use wires like a mobile.

Mice in Forge: Yep, seen that before in an NC-FORGE, makes an expensive mess. Good idea to make a block to fill the door notch if you have mice. I had a bat in my chain hoist last week. . . talk about a surprise as he came down clinging to the hand chain I was pulling on. .

Refractory Bricks can be found at construction suppliers that sell materials for chimineys. Foundry suppliers carry the high temperature ones but rarely sell individual bricks unless they already have a broken pallet. Expect to pay several dollars each for good refractory bricks.

NC-TOOL Whisper Daddy's come in 3 and 4 burner models. All the NC forges use the same burner so fuel consumption is directly proportional to the number of burners.

I always paint triangles and let them take their lumps. Thin paint flat paint doesn't chip. But they all need repainting every so often. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/20/02 23:29:03 GMT

I've seen a couple of questions regarding copper, and creating the aged blue-green patina that it gets when it's been left to it's own devices for a long long time.

Not too very long ago I had a freind who asked me how to do this. I didn't know. But I do have another friend who has a masters in something chemistry related, and does some amazing stuff with etches/colors/etc.

It was suggested that the peices soak in amonia (the cleaning stuff that smells awful). The only precautions that we were given at that time, was to not use too much amonia, as it would do bad things to the copper, and that it would also need exposure to air for the reactions to take place.

My freind saturated some paper towels with amonia, and wrapped his peice in that. It worked pretty well, except that it was uneven, and the blue-green coloration appeared on the high spots, rather than in the creavaces, as it would naturaly.

I suggested at that time, using diluted amonia, and giving the copper intermediate baths (dunk, let air-dry, dunk again, etc...) The project was for a class that my aquaintance was not very interested in, and it got him a passing grade, so we never experimented further.

That's my 2 cents, for what they're worth....
   Matt Reuhl - Tuesday, 05/21/02 00:03:05 GMT

Guru, I recently purchased my first anvil at an estate auction at just over $1CDN per lb. However, the face is mildly eroded and has some shallow holes and bumps on the surface. I was thinking of grinding it smooth, but I wondered if there was a preferred method of smoothing the face of an anvil? Would grinding it affect the hardness of face? I don't want to ruin my purchase.
   Mike - Tuesday, 05/21/02 02:04:40 GMT

I just won an old drill press at a silent auction. It's a huge old pulley type bench model. The best I can make out on what little logo is left is "Royal". It's EXTREMELY heavy for a bench model. It was all 2 of us could do to load it in the truck, and I ate my weaties. Have any info? I sure would like to find an exploded parts view. I want to take it apart and clean it up (it's covered in grease and coal dust but runs great) but I'm afraid I'll have extra parts when I'm done. I didn't have any luck with a "Royal drill press" web search.
   robcostello - Tuesday, 05/21/02 02:36:06 GMT

Heavy Cast Iron Machinery: In the early 20th century when industrial growth was huge AND the world was preparing to fight two world wars there were thousands of manufacturers of drill presses and lathes. Drill presses were so easy to manufacture that more companies made them than any other machine I can think of. At the time almost every factory had its own foundry and patternmaking shop. Many made their own gears. All the parts on one of these heavy drill presses including the floor model types can be made on relatively small machine tools.

Companies like Pratt & Whitney the aircraft engine manufacturer made their own drill presses and milling machines. So did Brown & Sharpe for manufacturing their precision tools. Joseph T. Ryerson and Sons, who were primarily steel sellers, made one of the many clone model 21" floor drill presses. Canedy Otto, Buffalo and Champion made them as well as Royersford Excelsior. In my shop I have one each, Ryerson, Champion, Royserford and an Arora. Most of the parts of the first three are interchangable.
Many companies have used the name Royal, but in the machine tool industry they are best known for their lathe attachments and live center sets. But I don't have a clue what else they made or if they are still in business.

If two people could load it then it wasn't THAT heavy. . ;)

Oil it, use it, take care of it but don't expect a museum to come looking for it. Most of these machines were VERY economical when it came to parts and if you leave any out you have done a very bad thing. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 05:12:52 GMT

Anvil face: Mike a lot depends on the type of anvil. Many of the forge welded steel faces were none too thick and you can't afford to take much off. I dress mine with a belt sander to keep from doing more damage. You can usualy clean up the rust pitting (after several hours) but deep pits generally are something to live with or work around. A circular sanding disk does OK too but the resinoid angle grinder wheels are too agressive and unless you are VERY good you can do more damage than you repair. Normally you clean up 75 to 80% of the face with a sander. To take off more requires a heavy grinder or machine tool. Cutting the hard face is very difficult to do on a mill and can be very expensive.

I would dress the anvil with a sander (coarse grit ~60-80) and then use the anvil to see if you can live with it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 05:22:43 GMT


There is no relation between Pratt & Whitney the aircraft engine manufacturer, and Pratt & Whitney the machine tool company. I asked some friends of mine at the aircraft engine company about this a few years ago. BTW, the machine tool company came first.
   Phil - Tuesday, 05/21/02 11:22:41 GMT

Good morning Guru-

I've come across a beautiful old Buffalo Forge drill press
that seems to be in working order but is missing the chuck.
I'm not sure how old it is but it does have a leather drive belt for the speed change (2 speeds). It's a table top model and it has a tapered female reciever for the chuck with a small vertical slot a couple inches up from the bottom. Sadly, I can't find a model or serial number on the thing anywhere and without those it seems no one can help me so far. Does anyone have any ideas what I can do to track down a chuck for this thing? I'd sure love to put it to work.


   Ed Opie - Tuesday, 05/21/02 13:08:00 GMT

what was the role of the black smith during th industrial revolution ?
   Andrew Cornish - Tuesday, 05/21/02 13:38:14 GMT


Almost all of the machines developed during the Industrial Revolution were built by blacksmiths. Many of the leaders of the IR were blacksmiths including (but not limited to)

Silas McCormick (reaper used by farmers to harves crops)
the Wright Brothers (first successful flying machine)
Henry Ford had some training as a blacksmith
Klien (Klien tools)
John Deere (Tractor)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 05/21/02 13:51:34 GMT

Keep coming across the term polychrome finish. How does one create it?
   Butch - Tuesday, 05/21/02 14:17:39 GMT

Guru, I was thinking of having two pieces of 2" think stock welded together to make the anvil 4" thick. Then have the top of the "T" welded to the upright base fo the "T". I am trying to create a heavy t-stake anvil like the ones on Eric Things article. Is this over-kill?

Also, I made a nice find at the local 2nd hand store. I'm not sure what to call it though. It is basically a bench grinder with no motor. It is set up for a vee belt and bolting to the bench. My question here is:
The grinder has threaded arbor's. I want to use it to make a wire brush/buffing station. IIRC, cotton buffing wheels are supposed to use a tapered arbor. Can I use a cotton buffing wheel on a regular threaded arbor? If not are the tapered mandrils easily adapted to the threaded arbor.

Also: there are no tool rests present but the cast slots are there to attach them. Can this be forged fairly simply or would I be beter to have them machined? I also will deflectors installed on these (right Paw-Paw?) any suggestions on how to set those up? Sorry for the run-on questions. Pretty new at this stuff still.
   Tony C. - Tuesday, 05/21/02 15:10:45 GMT

Buffalo Drill Press: Ed, as far as I know all those machines that had a tapered spindle used a standard Morse taper. The drill can either use drill bits with MT shanks OR a chuck with an MT arbor. The slot is for a wedge to remove the bits or arbors.

Morse taper drills, arbors, bushings, wedges and Jacobs chucks taking MT/JT arbors are available new. You can determine the size by carefull measurement and checking MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

Note there ARE other tapers, Brown & Sharpe and Jarno. However they are rare. But the best method to figure out the taper is to test it with a drill or arbor that fits. Find a friend that has a wood OR metal lathe or drill press that uses a Morse taper and borrow some pieces to trial fit.

As a bench drill press it probably takes a #2 MT, BUT it could take a #1 or #3. So you will need several pieces to test fit.

Most folks that have several machines using Morse tapers have bushings and adaptors for flexibility of use. My Craftsman lathe has a #2 MT in the spindle and a #1 in the tailstock. My Southbend has a #3 in the tailstock and a #4 in the spindle. All my floor model drill presses take a #4 MT. So. . I have a bushing set that goes from #1 to #4 and several sizes of wedges. I also have adaptors that came with one drill press that go from #3 to #5. . . which is kind of like using a 1/4" drive ratchet on a 1" drive socket. . NOT recomended. I also have a growing collection of MT drill bits that do not require the use of a chuck.

All this takes time (and money) to collect. But starting with a new Jacobs chuck for your new find is a great place to start. YES, it will cost more than you paid for the drill press. . . but it will fit other tools and machines, that is probably why there was none with the drill press.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 15:40:23 GMT

Polychrome: Derived from Poly Chromatic, meaning multi colored. Paint, glaze or lacquer an object more than one color and it has a polychrome finish. Colors can be distinct, complementary or fade from one to another.

A fancy word that is applied to items that we normally think of as mono-chromatic such a sculptures when they are painted multiple colors. Currently the term appears to be overused in the computer graphics and photography industry.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 15:49:56 GMT

Grinder Arbor: Tony, The device you have used to be very common but has been replaced by cheap grinder motors. I have one setup for buffing.

Only certain types of buffs are used on tapered arbors. Most are used with bushings on standard threaded arbors.

If you are going to use it for buffing or wire brushing you need no tool rests. But a steel plate guard at about 2:00 (as viewed from the RH side) will prevent the work if it snags from going all the way around and being ejected in your face. The guard should be about 6" by 12" (152 x 305mm) for common sized wheels and securely mounted. I think we also show a front bar guard somewhere else on these pages. Even with the guards you should wear a face shield.

Back when I was doing brass work and doing a lot of buffing I setup two double spindle machines. One turning 2400RPM that took 8" hard cotton buffs and another turning 5400RPM that had a 6" soft buff and a 4" hard buff. Each was used with different compounds for different purposes. The small wheel was for getting into the space between a candle drip pan and the cup. The different speeds were to get the correct surface speed with the different diameter buffs.

When buffing brass and copper one should also wear a respirator OR have excellent forced ventilation. Copper dust is toxic and should not be ingested. If you can taste it after buffing then you need to do something different. I tried those hospital surgical masks. . worthless!

Armourer's Stake Lamiating steel by welding the edges works but does not produce the same results as a solid piece. The depth of the weld limits the strength of the piece. If you insist on going that route use the pieces on edge. To make that square hardy hole you wanted, have rectangular slots milled (or you could saw and chisle them) in oposite pieces. When welded together you have a nice square hole.

I think Eric's heavy stake is 3" x 3". The sizing is determined by what shape you want to get the stake into and still have manuvering room. Eric's stake is also thinned at the end and has the corners chamfered so that he can rotate the helm as much as possible. Going to 4x4 will limit the size of the work tremondously and definitely prohibit making helmet sized objects. Tool design is an art but is also learned from trial and error. You should take advantage of other's experiance and their probable mistakes.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 16:59:33 GMT

Excellent. Thank-you guru.

I wasn't sure about the size of Eric's T stake. I should be able to locate some 3 x 3 stock somewhere around here. A machine shop should be able to mill a square hole into that stock, yes?
   Tony C. - Tuesday, 05/21/02 17:39:14 GMT

One of the pieces that I build quite often is stainless steel medieval style cutlery. Since I am ususally using square stock and twisting it I usually have a difficult time finishing it to any kind of shine. Is there a material out there for bead blasters that would help with this?
   Tony C. - Tuesday, 05/21/02 19:22:40 GMT


Do you have access to a tumbler? The guru knows of a "secret" polishing media developed by his dad that should do a great job on that flatwear.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 05/21/02 19:34:08 GMT

More thoughts on polychrome:

Most blacksmiths are of the: "Any color as long as it's black." school. (The original quote was from Henry Ford, and it was because black was the only color of automotive lacquer that dried fast enough to keep up with mass production assembly lines.) I've been known to break down and actually paint some garden ironwork in greens and browns. The effect can be quite pleasing. (Or it can be quite jarring if you go for garish!) There is nothing limiting us to black or any other single color.

According to several sources, Colonial and Early American ironwork was frequently painted the same color as the woodwork it was attached to; i.e. if you were painting the shutters blue and the house white, you would probably paint the shutter hinges blue and the shutterdogs white. Many uncleaned old pieces of ironwork show multiple layers of paint matching the background colors of the house. Medieval ornamental ironwork, on the other claw, seems to have been kept in the black on chests and doors.

Tastes and techniques change, so we have a lot of latitude, since we're going to paint the exterior ironwork anyway.

Bright and chilly on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks (with sites of much early ironwork): www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/21/02 19:42:43 GMT

I had a started tumbler...well I had assembled the parts for a tumbler and then moved. So no tumbler. I can build one fairly easily tho. Gonna let us in on the "secret" guru?
   Tony C. - Tuesday, 05/21/02 20:17:10 GMT

Tumbling Media: After testing a bunch of commercial tumbling media on aluminium parts my Dad tried torn up pieces of wet-or-dry sandpaper. It is soft and doesn't ding flat surfaces but is aggreesive enough to round corners as well as the edges of holes. Its a lot cheaper than buying 50-100 pounds of tumbler media just to test. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/21/02 21:04:26 GMT

old drill presses used old straight-shank drill bits, held in by an old set screw in the side, or by a screw-lock setup on some. the old bits are hard to find especially in full sets (just like old fullers and swages) and when you bust one therefore an occasion for tears. fit the thing with a Jacobs.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 05/21/02 21:14:03 GMT

a lot of stake anvils are, as many a smith has learned to her horror, cast iron. I.e., not really heavy-duty anvils, just for raising sheet metal. Tappety-tappety-tappety. So why not just take your oxy-acetylene torch and cut yourself a stake or two or three out of that 2-inch plate? Be plenty strong. If not, cut one heavier out of RR track and weld it to a stake.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 05/21/02 21:21:14 GMT

This is a little project that seems to be taking an awful lot of research to complete. I've got three screws for a muzzleloading rifle that need to be browned. I know how to blue small pieces with a torch and some motor oil but I can't figure out a simple way of putting a brown finish on these screws. I really don't want to spend the money for some commercial goop since I won't use it much beyond this project. Is there a home-brew formula, not composed of fiendish, hard to get chemicals I can use?
   - Khym - Tuesday, 05/21/02 23:34:20 GMT

Olde Browning is controlled rust. A clean polished part is put in a "damp box" and allowed to rust, then the loose rust is carded off with a piece of wood, the part is cleaned and rusted again and again. It was common to finish all the parts by "browning" in this matter. The rust will hold a fine coat of oil and prevent future rusting (as long as oiled). It it the same finish that many of our steel tools develope naturaly.

Screws for guns are generaly case hardened. Burnt oil is not blueing OR a chemical black like Parkerizing. It is the equivalent of black paint.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 00:08:11 GMT

What do you call a blacksmiths hammer
   Maggi - Wednesday, 05/22/02 00:55:35 GMT


Which one? Most of us have several. The most common are a cross pien, a straight pien, or sledge hammers of various sizes from 4 pound to 16 pound.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 05/22/02 01:08:46 GMT

Blacksmiths Hammer Maggi, In North America and in many other parts of the world the "standard" is a cross-pien hammer. This has a squarish body, rounded or square face and a wedge shaped pien with a round edge. This type in a longer slender style was in use 1,000 years ago or longer by smiths and is still made by many. There are variations in style such as the Swedish and French patterns.

However, in some parts of the world there are other styles that are considered the "standard" and today with the world wide exchange of knowledge and trade many smiths use hammers of all styles.

Some smiths use hammers similar in style to repousse' or raising hammers, a style that has also been unchanged for thousands of years. These hammers have long bodies and faces that are larger than the other parts.

Many smiths make their own that may be a personal style or modified pattern. Several smiths such as Bill Epps make diagonal pien hammers, a style that has never been commercialy produced but is a very logical and handy hammer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 03:46:19 GMT

I call my hammer Nonni, although her real name is Naomi.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 05/22/02 03:59:56 GMT

I want to construct a medieval forge ok? Now...would brick, and mortar be a good base for it? What other tools and necessities should I get? Please explain everything!
   Jesse Warrick - Wednesday, 05/22/02 05:04:29 GMT

Tony is that cutlery "medieval styled" or medievaloid styled? Don't remember many examples that used a twist in the stuff that's been dug up or shown in the illuminations; if you have a source of info I havn't seen I'd be most happy for the cite!

Jessie; what do you plan to use the forge for? Most medieval forges *were* masonry, often stone, and used single action bellows in pairs (the large double action "blacksmith's bellows was "borrowered from the gold smiths in the renaissance). These are generally side blown forges with a nozzle coming in from the side a short ways off the forge table.

From the early middle ages till the high middle ages most smiths used real wood charcoal. In the high middle ages some smiths started using coal (note: in medieval documents coal=charcoal, bituminous was always refered to as "earth coal" "sea coal" or "rock coal") while others stuck with charcoal---depends on local availibility and price.

So give us some details---do you want to build a viking forge or a late medieval italian village forge? And we will make some suggestions.

BTW "Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel" by Geis&Geis has a nice picture of a typical "medieval" forge in it

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 05/22/02 13:53:33 GMT


This is "medievaloid" cutlery. Basically the pieces in question have more of a "Dark Ages" feel about them. I am also planning more correct styles for later periods. The finishing of these would also be helped by a tumbler.
   Tony C. - Wednesday, 05/22/02 15:07:32 GMT

Dear Guru- I am aware of a method of metal finishing by purposefully letting the object rust, ie antique gun barrels etc. However, what I cannot seam to determine is what the process consists of after the initial rusting? any help on this information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and consideration regarding this question.
   E. Sumpter - Wednesday, 05/22/02 15:37:05 GMT

Thank you for an outstanding site!

A quick question: What are the considerations w.r.t. insurance when building a blacksmith shop equipped with a coal and/or oil-fired forge?

Thanks and Cheers!
   dennyvee - Wednesday, 05/22/02 16:34:12 GMT

Insurance: Dennyvee, This is a tricky and complicated subject. If told, most homeowners insurance companies will frown on any home built equipment, open flames and or flues not built to code. Generally they are inclined to cancel your insurance if they can. There are a couple commercial insurance companies that will cover blacksmith shops for fire and libility but this usually means the shop must be on a seperate piece of property (from your residence) or a seperate building covered by one policy and excluded from the other.

Zoning and building codes gets tricky. When I went to get a permit for my blacksmith shop the inspector told me that the design of the masonry flue was up to me and that the only concerns he had were a proper foundation and that it was anchored to the building. Otherwise it was beyond his expertise and the code as far as he was concerned. This kind of thing means it comes down to a case by case and individual basis. . .

Most public schools require forges to be UL approved and have automatic shut offs. When confronted with an unapproved coal forge (there is no such thing as an approved one) they just fold. Which is sad because a coal forge is infinitely safer than gas or oil. . .

As soon as you start asking some of these questions you are also alerting sleeping tigers such as the EPA, zoning, licensing. . . Most of us are either in loosly zoned rural areas, commercial industrial zones, or have enough sense not to poke at sleeping dragons.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 17:02:12 GMT

I just got a mail from pawpaw and it had Nimda and an unknown script atached, most likely not actually from him but...
Sadly I have not spent much time here on anvilfire last 3-4 weeks :-( and no time to catch up for a few weeks yet :-(.
   OErjan - Wednesday, 05/22/02 17:28:05 GMT

This probably is one of those very naive, "stupid", questions and I have never done anthing like this before on the net...but you are very encouraging, so here goes.
Just back from a couple of years travels around the world to find that back at my parent's house, on the south coast of England, all my steel metal work has been put away in the garage.
I had not treated any any of steel pieces before I left and so subsequently there is now a nice layer of rust. These are mainly large pieces of furniture that are incomplete that I made at a blacsmiths (Craig Knowles-thankyou) during my 3 dimesional design course.
I have only that small amount of experience and little knowledge of metal finishes. How do you recommend that I clean up the metal and treat it to give a longlasting, durable finish (it may remain in my parents garage for a while yet!). I prefer a natural metal finish and colour.
I heard that wax or beeswax was very good. Would this be a good cheap idea for me to do and what is the technique for apply it.
Thanks for the ideas on "Getting started in blacksmithing". I shall start looking for a nearby welding course immeadiately. Can't wait to get my hands on some metal again!!
Cheers in advance.
   Kat - Wednesday, 05/22/02 17:41:48 GMT


It's one of the forgeries. I've got McAfee Virus Shield, Virus Scan, and Zone Alarm running at all times. I update the McAfee data and scan almost daily.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:10:58 GMT

Medieval Forge: Jesse, Thomas pretty much covered it. The primary problem is that you probably don't know exactly what you want. Besides forges and bellows being different, anvils of the period didn't look anything like a modern anvil. There was no horn, heel, hardy hole. . . However, there were auxilliary "stake" anvils that were all horn as well as specialty armourers anvils. It is not unusual to see a modern anvil 1,000 years out of its time in many of the sword and sorcery movies. Most other tools were not much different than today's but there were many tools that just plain didn't exist.

A prosperous medieval city blacksmith shop, or the King's Armoury would have had a large masonry forge and a pair of large bellows but the less prosperous rural or farm shop would have likely had an outdoor mud and wattle forge OR ground level fire pit and smaller bellows as well as a much smaller anvil. The big masonry forge would have been part of the construction of the building itself which would have been at least partialy built of stone.

If you are looking to build something historicaly accurate you are getting into an expensive project (proportional to what the original type may have cost). Those old style anvils are no longer made and you will need to talk serious money to someone about making one or a custom set. Bellows are also all hand made. Let me know if you want a quote on either.

If you are creating a "fantasy" Disneyesc shop with a medieval feel then that is another thing. But there is still the matter of what you really want and how much you are willing to spend. To create the "look" you want may start with artist's concept drawings and then having these are converted to working plans. You will either need to know exactly what you want or pay others to develop the plan.

The basics of blacksmithing have not changed in over 2,000 years. Fire is fire, a hammer is a hammer and hot iron is hot iron. . . Does it matter if the metal is heated by a modern gas forge or in a clay lined pit burning charcoal? NO, what matters is the skill of the smith. Smiths with modern shops can produce work that is absolutely traditional in form and methods. Substituting machinery for many jobs is necessary due to the high cost of labor. A small power hammer replaces a team of three or four men weilding sledge hammers and a little 1/3HP buffer replaces a family of women and children using rags and grit. An electric blower replaces a full time apprentice/laborer for much less than the cost of feeding the child. . .

You asked to "Please explain everything". I'll gladly do that one on one but for THAT we will have to discuss compensation. Otherwise, "everything" starts with reading many books available on blacksmithing and the few on early technology. "Everything" also includes the thousands of pages of Q&A in our archives and our many standing articles. After studying all of that you may have an idea of what you really want.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:13:45 GMT

Sorry Guru but I'm going to have to dispute your claim about bluing and screws. A lot of the screws used in gunsmithing, specifically those used to hold butt plates, swivels and other furniture to the stock, are wood screws.
That they aren't heat treated in any special way is easy to see if you've ever had to clean up one that's been boogered up by someone using a screw driver that didn't fit the slot properly.
Oil bluing small parts with a torch is NOT like painting them. I dip the part in motor oil, heat it until the oil burns and then clean the soot off with an oily rag. The blue finish is durable enough for screw heads and other small parts and won't come off without the application of steel wool and elbow grease.
   - Khym - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:16:34 GMT

Gas Forge Guys,
Thanks for not just blowing me off as a smart mouth for my comments on how long it takes to get to welding heat in a gas (whisper mamma) forge. In new edge of the anvil, Jack Andrews says to turn off the fuel or blast as soon as you leave the fire. That has stuck in my mind like a Ben Franklin saying and I always tried to do it like a good son. But it never ocurred that the temp was getting hotter in the forge as time went on. That makes sense but not cents. What does fuel for a two burner cost per hour. I think it's pretty cheap. I get it at the house rate anyway,
just didn't realize the value of continuous burning. Just a blighted coal burner's blunder.
   L.Sundstrom - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:19:57 GMT

Natural Finishes: Kat, there are two natural finishes for ironwork, scale and rust. Both are iron oxide. One is the anyhdrous form (scale) and the other has water bound in the crystals (rust). Any coating over that is "artificial" and most wax-oil mixtures are amature paint/varnish concoctions.

Over clean tight scale you can apply clear lacquer (a professionaly formulated clear finish). This will hold up fairly well but is not an outdoor or long term finish.

Rust is best waxed. Once started it will continue even under a finish. This causes hard finishes to crack and flake. So, you wax and then is a little more rust shows up you wax again. Eventualy you get a nice even brown color like old gracefully rusted tools.

The only proper long term stable finish for ironwork is a good paint job starting with a clean sandblasted or etched surface, a zinc cold galvanizing finish, neutral primer and a water proof colorfast topcoat of your choice. If you want to have that fresh from the fire look then paint it to LOOK that way with layers of black and blue grey metalic.

The movie people make wood and plaster look like anything from foliage to masonry, chrome to wrought iron. Smiths should be able to make their iron look like iron. . . and not have it rust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:33:34 GMT


Looking through the latest Centaur catalog I noticed a statement that many of their tongs are made of "lightweight 8650 grade steel." This is not a steel type I am familar with, and I was wondering if you knew anything about it.

Also, are Centaur's prices for letter set hand stamps reasonable/normal? $300 for 1/4" stamps seems quite high, but I haven't seen them elsewhere. I guess if they last a lifetime...

   Jim - Wednesday, 05/22/02 18:37:58 GMT

If I'm understanding what you're looking for exatly...

Harbor Freight tools has 1/4th" and I think 1/8th" letter stamps for $5. They probably dont last a lifetime. Under heavy use they might not last a year. I've never used them on anything but 24 gauge brass, and 14 gauge cold rolled steel. I don't know how they'd act on something that was hot enough to forge.

At the difference in price I'd try em before I spent $300 on something else..... but then again I waste money on the powerball too. :)
   Matt Reuhl - Wednesday, 05/22/02 19:08:59 GMT

Letter Stamps I was just quoted $43.00 (wholesale) for 1/4" letters from my local supplier. Numerals are about $10-$12 for a total of $55. That is for Young Brothers brand in common sans-serif. That price is only about $10 more than I paid 25 years ago.

8650 has .5% C, .75-1.0% Mn, .15-.30% Si, .35-.60% Cr, .40-.70% Ni, .15-.25 Mo.

It is very similar to 5160 except it has Nickel and Molybdenum which 5160 does not.

Without digging out the Centaur catalog I'd guess those are probably Grant Sarver's Off Center tongs the same as Kayne and Son sells. The "lightweight steel" is really BAD phrasing as you almost cannot tell one steel from another by density. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 19:15:03 GMT

NOTE: The price I quoted was for a set of twenty six characters and a period (center punch). I could supply the letter and figure sets together for about $85 plus shipping.

I've used mine in mild steel for hundreds of impressions with no discernable wear. They WILL mark tool steel but I do not recommend it. Use an engraver with carbide tip if you want to mark tools.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 19:23:24 GMT


Sold, email on the way.

The tongs are the Centaur brand and "Tomtongs", something new they are carrying.

Thanks for the info!

   JIM - Wednesday, 05/22/02 19:49:36 GMT

I painted my forge deck a beautiful sunset yellow. It turned out very nice and I would like to find paint that can stand more heat. Unfortunately, the auto parts store doesn't carry yellow engine block paint. Any suggestions?
   L.Sundstrom - Wednesday, 05/22/02 21:06:06 GMT

I'm trying to find a shop in ontario, california that builds
steel spiral staircases. can you help?
thanks, pat
   Pat Oliver - Wednesday, 05/22/02 21:41:02 GMT

Hmmm guess I'll have to look closer at the new Catalog. Tomtongs are Amy Pieh's design.

HT colors. . . hmm m m m ITC-100 is a light tan. ITC-215 (recommended for metal) is rust red. . . Kind of expensive for paint. Engine block paint won't take it. . exhust pipe paint is needed. Used to be available in Black, white and red. . don't know about yellow. Ochre pigment will take the heat but needs the HT binder. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 23:16:40 GMT

Spiral Stairs: Pat, you may have to search nationaly for a shop to do spiral stairs depending on what you are looking for. Try:

Tim Cisneros at http://www.theforgeworks.com/

and the California Blacksmiths Association (see our ABANA-Chapter page).

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/22/02 23:20:01 GMT

Could you send me any info on whether there were blacksmiths in England in the 1790's? I want to create a character for my novel part of which is set in England, just outside London in the 1790's. Thanks
   Lillian Davis - Thursday, 05/23/02 00:33:09 GMT

To give the quick short answer... yes there where blacksmiths in London in 1790... it was the start of the industrial revolution and every forward looking smith was flocking to London and all the other major citys to find out about the new machinery that was making them redundant... for more information I would recomend you read any english school text book relavant to the era.
   Mark P. - Thursday, 05/23/02 01:24:59 GMT

Always a little hard when I obviously am not a disinterested party. I manufacture tongs under the Off Center Products name. That said, I will go on record as saying that I don't consider it safe or in anyway to make sense to use oil hardening steel for small tongs. In small cross sections the 1045 I use will get as hard as you ever want a tong to be. Even when not heated to red hot, oil and air hardening steels are much more prone to cracking when cooled in water. Most alloy steels can be had from my sources for about 5 cents more per pound. If I thought there was ANY advantage I would readily spend that on a tong that sells for $30.00 or so.

There have been some people with heavy forging experience who have recommended things like 4140 and such, but there is a BIG difference in that kind of work. Their tongs are much heavier, they rarely get them real hot and if they do they don’t quench them in water.

Can anyone give me ONE good reason for using an oil or air hardening steel for small tongs? I would honestly be interested in hearing any argument in favor of that.
   - grant - Thursday, 05/23/02 01:36:27 GMT


Did you get my email about Camp Fenby?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 05/23/02 01:58:41 GMT

Guru, two questions...

1. I have a sledge hammer head that a friend unearthed from his dirt floor basement while digging it out to pour a concrete one. I think it is an very old make. It says No. 750 on the top and on the bottom it says 735 on one end and Made in the USA on the other end. it appears to be cast from one solid piece and is mushroomed by about 1/4 inch on one face. I can send pictures of it on friday.

2. Speaking of hammers I made one today from a section of steel that I think is an old truck axle. It is round, about 2 inches in diameter. It seemed kinda soft when pricked with a center punch and drilled. Also it made long clean strands when drilled. I sand blasted it clean, drilled a pilot hole and then drifted the hole out with a cutting torch. Next I shaped it with a die grinder. All I have left to do is dress the face and harden. Do you have any suggestions for hardening the face if it is axle steel? And what if it is a lower quality like A-36? Can it still be hardened? Thanx
   Tim - Thursday, 05/23/02 02:20:40 GMT

PAINTING HARDWARE: In response to Bruce Blackistone's comments. I just wanted to continue what he said about historical hardware painting. I'm talking early 1700's to mid 1800's historical homes(and sooner perhaps). It was thought to be unfinished if it was'nt painted. They even painted the floor, sometimes with checkerboard and other patterns even if the boards were nice. As goes the hardware that adorned the doors, cabinets and as Bruce mentioned shutters, were painted the same color. It is important, I think,to know these types of things perhaps to educate clients that there is more options than to just paint it black. Its a matter of taste, but can be a matter of authenticity if dealing with a restoration project. Just an added thought. Respectfully-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 05/23/02 02:21:14 GMT

Well, got a job to put up some gates from some premade fence that the guy had. Poked it, prodded it and asked the guy where he got it. Some sanitarium built in 1840's. Well I grabbed a chunk and lit my fire and sure enough it appears to be wrought iron. Well this is the first time I've run across the stuff up here in Illinois, so a few questions.
1) I'd like to make the hinges and latch mechanism as period as possible, its for a Wild West Town, 1870s or so.. any ideas on where I can find pics or examples?
2) I need to attach said hinges and latches. I remember reading something about using certain welding rods for wrought iron, though I'd like to play with forge welding it, but they're 8'x8' sections...
Thanks for the help! I really want to do this up right, if for no other reason than -I'd- know it....
   SteelGeek - Thursday, 05/23/02 02:44:20 GMT

Tong Steel Grant, sorry I mistakenly put the alloy steel on you. I knew your tongs were higher carbon than mild steel but I didn't know how much.

Common forge shop technique is to heat and reshape tongs as needed to be sure of a good fit. Smiths often leave tongs attached to work (supposedly bad practice but I think we all do it time to time). The result is VERY hot tongs that often get quenched in water to cool them. I had a little pair of tongs made from RR-spikes that snapped in two after such treatment. . . This would be a disaster using 5160 or 8650.

Almost all my tools end up in the slack tub at one time or another. But I know which tools are air or oil hardening steel and rarely quench them unless I know they are plenty cool. But tongs end up in the quench over and over during the day.

When you consider that tongs were made of wrought iron for millinium, even mild steel is a big step up!
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 03:46:59 GMT

Wrought's no big deal. It forges like a dream, by the way. I've arc welded wrought iron with whatever-- 6011, 7018, etc., no problem. Oxy-acetylene works easily, with ordinary mild steel rod, too. Only problem I've run into is the welds rust a different color from the old wrought iron. Maybe they weather in eventually, dunno. You could always avoid that by getting some skinny wrought round stock and use it for filler.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 05/23/02 03:55:24 GMT

Old Gates: SteelGeek, Those old gates should not have an arc weld on them anywhere. If there is they are low quality repairs. If you must attach new hinges to them then use large riveted joints.

Generaly this style gate hung on simple pintles set in masonary pillars. Nothing stylish about that since 99% is embeded. Most gates of this type didn't have latches or had simple lift bar latches. A lift pin that engaged a tubular hole or anchor in the ground held the gates in place. There would have been one on each gate.

Wrought can be arc welded but it is very tricky. The wrought is soft and full of layers of slag that melts and does funny things when arc welded (worse when you try to torch cut it). I'd try E6011.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 04:01:21 GMT

Truck Axel Tim, Unless the steel was annealed by someone it should have been tough to drill. Most axels are something similar to 4140 and hardened. Should have flattend a center punch. Torched surfaces would have self quenched and been VERY hard. If you used a rotary file in the die grinder the torched surface would have done much dammage to the cutter.

As with all junk yard steels you need to test a piece to see if it is hardenable and by what method. If the steel is mild steel (1018-1020) or A-36 then it cannot be hardened sufficiently to be a hammer.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 04:07:59 GMT

Thanks! The main prob is that they're not gates, they're fence sections that were apparently torch cut into 8' sections. Pintles should take care of the hinges, I'll just rivet them around one of the bars. Latching sounds easy too, wasn't sure if there was anything more to it than that. Hopefully I can snag a few stray pieces of that wrought for my scrapbin :)
   - SteelGeek - Thursday, 05/23/02 06:13:18 GMT

Fence: SteelGeek, the real problem is that the fence is not designed to be supported from one edge AND most likely had center supports and back braces to boot. Wrought is REAL soft and sags a lot worse than mild steel. You are probably going to need to add a frame, and either a diagonal or bottom panel with solid plate to act as a stiffener. Unless it is awful fancy stuff it might be cheaper to start from scratch.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 12:57:37 GMT

Fence: Hmmm, that puts a crimp in things. I'm going to have to take a long hard look at this before I quote it. He was pretty adamant about using this fence, since he has it in place in another area of the property. Well I'm off to take another look at this. I'm sure I'll have more questions before this is over :) thanks a lot for the help, I just went into business doing this 2 weeks ago after being a hobbyist (didn't have much choice, damn layoffs) and I was a little surprised to get a job like this so quickly. I was expecting to be making shepherds crooks and geegaws for a few months at least before my name got out there for custom work.
   - SteelGeek - Thursday, 05/23/02 13:46:30 GMT

Does anybody know of a supplier of 1050 bar stock like 3/4"x1/4" flat.Ive been using 1095 to make tantos but i'm having trouble getting a good contrast between the hardened edge and the body of the blade.I get a good temperline but it only pops out when you veiw the blade at an angle.It's visable flat on but only in flat light.Any help would be great.
thanks Chris
   CHRIS MAKIN - Thursday, 05/23/02 15:12:19 GMT

Chris, McMaster-Carr carries 1045 in square bar. Admiral Steel carries 1084, and they have 1050 in HR and CR stock but don't list it in their on-line catalog.

Someone was looking for 52100 last night, and Admiral carries that.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 16:26:01 GMT

Tong Material

One argument I have heard for using alloy steels for tongs is that the reins can be made thinner and springier, giving light tongs. My person favorite material for tongs would be titanium. However, it has some draw backs. It must be forged at cool temps or it is subject to degradation from oxygen. In small cross sections it is not very strong. I had made 2 pair of titanium tongs, which were much lighter that steel, but I abused them and broke the jaws just infront of the pivot. I may make more later, but steel tongs will take more abuse. I supposed if the titanium had been of a different alloy, like Ti 6-4 and was properly heat treated I would have had better results.
   Patrick - Thursday, 05/23/02 17:00:08 GMT

Light tongs: Why?
   - Olle Andersson - Thursday, 05/23/02 17:46:25 GMT

what is a drift punch???
   tom rybandt - Thursday, 05/23/02 19:52:07 GMT

Tom, a "drift" is a double ended punch used to size holes. The middle has a straight on-size section and the two ends taper to about 1/2 size.

Drifts are used to shape hammer and tool eyes and hold various holes in shape while forging.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 20:16:39 GMT

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to remove grease/filings from files without hurting the file I have considered burning it out but I'm not sure if that would hurt it also all of the chemicals I can think of that remove grease tend to make things rust badly.
Thanks in advance.
   Daniel - Thursday, 05/23/02 22:12:00 GMT

Jim, You and everyone else should stop buying from Centaur.
You will find cheaper $ tools of good quality from other places. Centaurs christmas sale catalog was a slap in the face I thought. The Vaughn line was on sale, about half price on everything. If they are making enough money to sell at half price their to high to begin with.
Stop buying from Centaur and drive their prices down!!!
   - Robert - Thursday, 05/23/02 22:43:15 GMT


No alloy that I know of will be more "springy" than 1045. The only real difference is that in large sections some of the alloys we're talking about will harden deeper. ALL steels have essentially the same spring RATE. Until you exceed the yield strength of the steel they all “spring” the same. Two different steels of the same hardness have basically the same yield strength.
   - grant - Thursday, 05/23/02 22:52:46 GMT

Cleaning Files: Daniel, there are two methods of cleaning files, a file "card" which actually has cotton carding belt with little stainless wires to pick out the chips on one side and a stiff brush on the other, OR a soft wire wheel (6" x 0.104" SS wire at 1800RPM). I use both.

If there is a lot of grease I would use an automotive degreaser such as carburettor or brake parts cleaner THEN use the file card or wire wheel. Afterwards oil the file with a little WD-40.

When I use the power wire wheel I run it parrallel to the top cut and away from the teeth. Any cutting by the wheel will sharpen the file. But if you are getting sparks you are running the wheel too fast. 3600 RPM is too fast unless you have a small 3" wheel.

The worst thing to get out of rasps and files is automotive body putty (bondo) or epoxy resin. You work both ASAP and it is sometimes still a little sticky and glogs then hardens in the teeth. The power wire brush will get it out IF you don't wait too long. Starting with an oiled file or rasp helps prevent stuff from sticking.

A set of good files and rasps can be a big investment and they should be taken care of. My file drawer probably has $300-$400 worth of files in it. . My pattern makers rasps cost about $50 each. . . Yes, they DO wear out but you need take care of them as best as possible while they last.

Care of files includes proper use (not dragging on return stroke, not striking the work), proper cleaning and oiling and proper storage (not touching each other and kept dry). These are things you learn in a proper metal working course.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/23/02 23:14:07 GMT

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