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 24 - 31, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Has any one know any thing about a smelt i have a fire cone 500 at one time it was used to melt pop cans and i would like to reline it any info would be helpful
   Clint Radabaugh - Friday, 05/24/02 03:32:35 GMT

Clint, Please rephrase your question(s).
   - guru - Friday, 05/24/02 03:59:52 GMT

Any ideas on how to build a small trip hammer?
   Pappa - Friday, 05/24/02 04:34:07 GMT

Pappa, Dozens, see our Power hammer Page catalog of Junk Yard Hammers. These are machines built from junk for very little cash. There are also plans available for small air hammers from ABANA. See our reviews page for Rolling mill plans and a video on air hammer controls.
   - guru - Friday, 05/24/02 14:40:35 GMT

Patrick sounds right to me, at least in theory. With stronger steel tongs can be made thinner without yielding, and thinner tongs have more spring. What about a high alloy non-hardening steel, maybe a stainless. I know -- it better be good and fast because it sure wouldn't be cheap.
   Mike B - Friday, 05/24/02 15:57:06 GMT

Stainless is "tough" to cut and finish but is not as strong as mild steel. Tools and rigging made of stainless are derated 20% from those made of plain carbon steel.

Carbon is necessary for increased strength in steel and THAT means hardenability. If there is too much carbon the steel can be made brittle AND cannot withstand thermal shock THUS making is a bad candidate for tongs.

Aloys most often increase the hardenability of a carbon steel. A plain carbon steel that is water hardening with X amount of carbon may be oil or air hardening at the same carbon level when alloyed. . . These steels often keep their strength at higher temperatures BUT you don't want to quench them in water. . . as cracking will result.

I may go for months without reshaping a pair of tongs and then reshape several in the same day to a beter fit. Tongs used on small or short work often get left attached to the work and often get overheated numerous times during the day. They get quenched over and over at whatever temperature they may be. . . This is common small shop practice but it would be disasterous with spring steel tongs.

As Grant mentioned, its a different story in big forge shops where the tongs may weigh 25 to 100 pounds or more and the work is handled on a jib crane. Tongs NEED to be stronger in that situation. They also need jaws that can withstand gripping large hot billets without losing their strength. But these folks also know better than to make tongs of spring steel or hot work tool steel. They pick a medium carbon alloy steel such as 4140. And in this working situation the best Titanium alloy, heated to near melting point, would become weak and slippery, failing miserably.

Steel selection is a constant trade off between ultimate strength and toughness. You also have to consider the complete use (such as repeatedly quenching from near the hardening point).

There are thousands of steels to select from. Every one has many properties that are all slightly different. Selecting the "best" for any given application takes much research. In the blacksmith shop we tend to use a few steels that we are familiar with. Generaly these are steels with a wide range of uses that we can depend on. Most are not the optimum. Only in the highest production manufacturing can we afford to select the optimum steel for every application AND test it to prove it is the best selection. And even then, the "best" may be selected based on economics and availability, not the absolute best from a performance standpoint.
   - guru - Friday, 05/24/02 16:33:53 GMT

In reading some of the information previously posted in archives and in FAQ's, it has come to light that it is possible to wear out an anvil (although still something that's tough to do). A likely cause of this being an anvil sized too small for the work being done. I'm contemplating blowing a wad on a brand new Peddinghaus, and would hate to break something that pricey. How do I know what size anvil is appropriate for my level of work?
   Mattmaus - Friday, 05/24/02 23:19:27 GMT

guru or any advisors; where can i go to find perscription protective eyewear for forging?? i have seen round frames with flip up UV lenses that would be perfect for what i do. also, what is your feeling on coal forging and inhalation hazards (black lung, pulmonary disease, ect..) much appreciation for your replys....
   rugg - Friday, 05/24/02 23:19:39 GMT


See your opthamologist. Would you go to a mechanic to have your appendix removed?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 05/25/02 00:10:00 GMT

Anvil Life Generaly the problem is too heavy of work (and hammer) for the given anvil. But the type and style of anvil are also a factor.

Most heavy forging is done in the center of the face over the body of the anvil. A long slender anvil with narrow waist cannot take as much use (or abuse) as the same weight anvil with most of the mass in the body. In this reguard the Peddinghaus and Nimba anvils are much stouter than the common London or American pattern anvils. Farrier's anvils are the worse shape in this reguard, being mostly horn and heel.

I know smiths that do mostly reproduction colonial hardware which is relatively light work. The narrow face of a 75# Hay-Budden is greatly prized for this work. If a power hammer suplements the anvil for forging then this size can go a long way.

If you are doing a lot of hand forging of either decorative work that is architectural scale (1/2 thru 3/4" bar) or heavy blade smithing, Bowies, hunters and swords, an anvil over a minimum of 100 pounds is best. However, you will find that you can easily tell the difference in working at a 100 pound anvil and a 200 pound anvil. The heavier the anvil the more of your effort that goes into the work and the easier the work. I have a friend that has a 350# Hay-Budden and a #450 pound German anvil. He claims that he can feel the difference in using the heavier anvil at the end of the day. He says that he almost feels refreshed after working at the heavier anvil all day. I find that I am uncomfortable doing anyhing but the lightest work on a anvil less than 100 pounds.

What this usualy resolves to that you find work of a certain scale is best done on a minimum size anvil. Light work, 1/2" square and below on anvils less than 125 pounds and larger work on larger anvils.

This is not an absolute rule, just an observation. However, centuries ago it was determined that anvils in the 200 pounds (minimum) and up range were best for a "general" shop and the biggest you can afford is the rule. But for portability a 125 is a very good sized anvil and most farriers and others that have to move their anvil around prefer this size.

Its a difficult decision. But you won't be unhappy getting the most anvil you can.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/25/02 00:52:49 GMT

Coal smoke and eyewear: As paw-paw said, try your local opthamologist. Generally they know who makes prescription safety glasses. All industry that requires safety glasses has several local contacts that can provide them.

Coal smoke is NOT good for you as is ANY kind of smoke. Neither are welding fumes, buffing and sandblasting dust or spray paint fumes. Even the "clean" fumes from a gas forge can have detrimental effect. All require proper venting and shop ventilation. The closer your working space the better the ventilation needs to be.

I don't think I've been in a blacksmith shop where coal was burned that was smoke free all the time. The combination of a good flue and general shop ventilation can produce a nearly smoke free shop.

Most folks don't think much about the smoke from burning welding rods but they should. You typicaly have your face right over the source and breath a LOT of it unless you have the required local exhaust system.

If you smoke cigarettes then all the above is a waste of time and a deep breath of coal smoke might be good for you.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/25/02 01:19:39 GMT

Having a mess of trouble with these new propane tanks with the new check valve and overfill device (float). I want to stay with the atmospheric style of burner; I currently use the basic Riel burner. I'm looking for some other proven designs for my small forge to build and try. I've tweeked my Riel burner about as much as I can and it still is a little erratic and doesn't run below about 4 psi. Before the new tank I could bury the needle below 1 psi and still have a very stable, neutral flame.
   Colonial - Saturday, 05/25/02 03:39:09 GMT

Files /// and /// Hardened Epoxy
Hardened epoxy is a royal pain to get out of files, but it can be done. If you are not in a hurry, methylene chloride will work. It is not a solvent strictly speaking, but it will degrade the epoxy surface given time. Periodic agitation (shaking) will help. Please note that methylene chloride is a very nasty chemical that should not be inhaled nor spilled on your skin, eyes or other body parts. So try using it outside or inside with verrrry good ventilation and a respirator for yourself and any happy, helpers. The chemical is very volatile, evaporating in a hurry. Therefor, use of a sealable metal container or better yet a glass container is advisable. (Do NOT use a plastic container for any of the chemicals discussed in this note.) Incidentally, when the chemical evaporates it leaves behind a nasty acid residue, so don't let it evaporate.
Another chemical that can work is Butanone better known as methyl ethyl ketone or MEK. All the above-mentioned precautions also apply to the use of MEK. It is one of the most obnoxious solvents that I have worked with. (& I've encountered many over the years).
There are many commercial chemical preparations that will break down cured epoxy resins. They are more expensive than the above two chemicals, but work faster. Perhaps some of us will chance upon a trove of servicable epoxy clogged files or an item that is covered with an epoxy coating that HAS to go.(the coating that is).One such specialty chemical is N-Methyl Pyrrolidone. It is placed in a sealed container of metal or glass together with the file (or boat or condominium) to be de-epoxied. (just joking about the last two).
The container and contents are heated to about 200 degrees F., and lightly agitated. The chemical progressively destroys the epoxy "film", (it is not a solvent), and a clean file results.
The first two "solvents can be bought at a local chemical supply house. The third might also be available. (but less likely).
Dynaloy Ltd. of Indianapolis, Ind. sells N-Methyl Pyrrolidone. They can be contacted at 1 800 669 5709.
(No, there is no truth to the rumour that I have relatives, or hold shares in the company.)
Good luck and lots of patience degunking the files and rasps.
Regards to all,
from a little North of Y'all,(Canada).
All the snow melted weeks ago and summer happened last Thursday,(some of us hardly noticed)and I think were in for a long Autumn before Winter arrives.
   slag - Saturday, 05/25/02 04:34:32 GMT

New Tanks Ed, I haven't had any experiance with the new tanks. Some possibilities:

1) Are you using the same regulator and fittings? If you changed a fitting it is common for a bit of teflon tape to get into the works and the smallest piece will clog an orifice.

2) Less than 1 PSI is an inaccurate gauge. Gauges can also be clogged by debris. These devices will not operate at that pressure. 4 to 7 psi is typical and many run higher. ALL pressure gauges are notoriously inacurate. The standard error on a good quality gauge is 3% of the maximum reading. On a 50 PSI (340k/Pa) range gauge that is 1.5 PSI (10k/Pa). On a 100 PSI gauge that is 3 PSI, almost the full operating pressure of a single small forge burner.

3) If the gauge is holding steady then you should be getting steady gas flow. Was the unit (hoses) left disconected for any length of time. Here in rural Virginia we have trouble with various insects building nests in hoses and fittings. Mud daubers, wasps, spiders. . . all can clog lines.

I'd like to hear from anyone else using the new cylinders and if they are having problems. I DO know a few folks using them that have had NO trouble.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/25/02 14:13:16 GMT

I need information on blacksmithing!
   - Ben Rabata - Saturday, 05/25/02 19:08:10 GMT

Ben, just open your eyes and LOOK!
   - guru - Saturday, 05/25/02 19:33:41 GMT

Can anyone recommend a book for a beginner? I'm in the process of setting up my forge, I've used gas in the past,
but I need to learn the basics. Thanks, Kevin
   Kevin - Saturday, 05/25/02 22:21:17 GMT

Kevin, there are a lot of good book recomendations and other info in the "Getting Started" area of this web page. Read that and also look around here in the guru page as well as the archive. Also for a chance to talk real time with other smiths check out the 'Slack-Tub Pub'
   Ralph - Saturday, 05/25/02 23:48:48 GMT

Check out the iForge section of Anvilfire. iForge is a "book" of how to make some 135+ projects, archived from the Wednesday night live demos. Start with #66 on safety and then #132 on making your own tongs. When you have questions and can not find the answer, ask. Someone on Anvilfire has been there before and can assist with the answer.
   - Conner - Sunday, 05/26/02 02:36:42 GMT

I finished my treadhammer. I little concerned about head weight. Recommended is 60 to 65 pounds. I made the adjustable head which adds about 5 pounds. Whats the bad side of above the recommended weight. I'am strongly considering to harden the temporary anvil plates and fullers. Is this a waste of time.
   Gerry W. Jones - Sunday, 05/26/02 12:37:16 GMT


Did you get my email about Camp Fenby?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 05/26/02 12:51:48 GMT

Head Weight Gerry, Increasing the head weight X amount means increasing the spring tension X amount and the force required to operate the hammer goes up by. . . well its complicated and not one to one. The operating force goes up by the increase in the spring rate per unit of length change minus the increase in head weight. This depends on the length and type of spring as well as leverage ratio of the foot treadle. . .

Many folks build heavier hammers without a problem.

Heat treating tools is almost never a waste of time unless the steel is too low of carbon to heat treat them.

Note I didn't say "harden". See the Heat Treating FAQ.

The lower support plate on a treadle hammer is not a die or "anvil" surface in the regular sense. It supports hot and cold work that is often being chased and chisled with sharp edged tools. For a great deal of what most people use a treadle hammer soft is better than hard. The thing about mild steel work surfaces is that they are cheap and easy to replace as well as easy to dress with a grinder as needed.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/26/02 14:55:48 GMT

Dear Guru:

I'm a homeowner and had a contractor do some metalwork around a steel gate on an outside patio. He did some metal grinding, torch cutting, and welding.

I've since noticed that nearby window glass has black pit marks around the areas of work.

I was wondering if this was an unrelated coincidence, or if he did not protect any nearby glass what type of work may have caused this?


   Dave Vornberger - Monday, 05/27/02 00:25:03 GMT

Grinding & Welding Near Glass: Dave, sometimes this is a hard lesson to learn. Grinding sparks embed themselves in the glass as they are hot enough to melt the surface when they hit. They will feel rough to the touch like sand paper. Cuting torch sparks will do something similar but usualy leave larger blackened pits. Arc welding sputter balls leave smaller black pits and tracks. Ocassionaly the sputter balls stick to the glass.

Yes, the glass should have been protected. So should most other surfaces but glass especialy.

So, you need to speak to the contractor.

Our architectual smiths need to pay attention to this. It would be easy to lose any profit from a job paying damages to replace glass, siding, decking or have stone work repaired. . .

I ruined a windshield in a car grinding on a dash I was customizing. . . luckily it was my own and not a cutomer's. But I still learned the hard way. I've also seen glass ruined in trucks while welding on body parts or using the truck as a welding platform.
   - guru - Monday, 05/27/02 00:52:03 GMT

   Dave Vornberger - Monday, 05/27/02 01:45:29 GMT

I have three iron spheres that are candleholders. They are badly rusted. How or where do I get them dipped to remove the rust and return them to their original beauty? Any info you can offer will be helpful. Thank you.

p.s. I am in the Boston area...in case you can suggest any specific businesses in that area.
   Darian - Monday, 05/27/02 02:01:37 GMT

My treadle hammer head weighs in at over 90#. It is slower and has a longer stroke than most you see and I have the pedal fairly stiff so I get a faster recovery for multiple blows. It is simply a matter of style.
My top hammer face is softer than my bottom ( er, hammer face)..I use a fair amount of tooling so the softer top is stickier and tends less to kick angled tooling out. The harder anvil keeps a better surface which imprints on the work. I use sacrifice plates when there is danger of bottoming out or slipping.
   - Pete F - Monday, 05/27/02 07:09:06 GMT

Darian-- Muriatic acid, obtained at the hardware store (which sells it for cleaning brickwork)and then contained in an open plastic dishpan, will take off the rust from your spheres in a jiffy. Well, maybe overnight if it's really heavy. Rinse spheres in water to remove acid and dry thoroughly and quickly. Lightly wax. N.B.: process produces toxic fumes, requires rubber gloves, face mask, care not to spill or splash and good ventilation. Naval Jelly, a bottled product also available at the hardware store, works too. But the Naval Jelly will leave a textured surface whilst (love them Brit words, love 'em!) the acid won't.
   miles undercut - Monday, 05/27/02 13:59:18 GMT

Rust Darian, you didn't say how the spheres were originaly finished.

IF they were polished steel AND there is any pitting from the rust they will have to be mechanicaly refinished. Either turned on a lathe and polished with abrasive if they had a "brushed" finish or actually polished if they had a true bright finish.

IF the pitting was serious then it would be cheaper to replace the item.

IF the steel had a clear finish and the rust is not too bad then that will need to be striped first. The rust then cleaned with steel wool taking care to scrub the same direction of any surface texture (turning or brushed finish). However, there is a chance that any textured finish will need refinishing all over to prevent spottyness from the rust removal.

ANY chemical rust removal method will also change the surface color. More so than steel wool or sandpaper. Unless the original finish was a flat grey.

IF the spheres were painted then they will need to be completly refinished. The best method to remove rust and paint combined is to have the parts sandblasted unless they are fairly small then they can be dipped in paint stripper rinsed and then treated with naval jelly OR phosphoric acid solution (Os-pho). If the parts are to be used outdoors the first coat of paint should be zinc cold galvanizing. Then primer and a top coat of any color.

If the spheres were not painted then the only way to prevent rust is constant cleaning and oiling. However, sufficient oil (like WD-40) to prevent rust, also causes dust and dirt to stick to the item.

Bright metal parts made from steel must be plated in a 3 step process to prevent rust (copper flash, nickle then chrome or more nickle depending on the color wanted). Usually such items are best made of stainless steel.

IF the spheres were plated (chrome plating alone is porus and will alow rust), then the rust could be cleaned off with some steel wool. However, the parts will show fine black specs and continue to rust unless properly replated. The copper/nickle routine above is to prevent this kind of rust.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when you want to restore a metal item.
   - guru - Monday, 05/27/02 14:00:21 GMT

Yes, yes, I know, I know: the rust molecules will have left their distinctive signature if they've been chewing away for a lonnnng time, but the Naval Jelly leaves tracks all its own as well. The acid does not. And by mask I mean full-face protection shield.
   miles undercut - Monday, 05/27/02 14:06:18 GMT

Metal docs,
Does filing on scale dull a file?
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 05/27/02 14:45:32 GMT

Forging scale is harder than steel but not much.

Heavy torch cutting scale is different than forging scale. It often contains unburnt steel and the steel under it may be very hard from "self quenching". Generaly torch cut surfaces are VERY hard and bad for files. Grind before filing.
   - guru - Monday, 05/27/02 14:57:15 GMT

Posted a new long awaited for edition of the NEWS
   - guru - Monday, 05/27/02 22:25:36 GMT

What would you recommend for protecting nearby surfaces from sparks? I guess plywood... but is there a fabric that comes in large sheets or tarps that would be more economical for this? Like canvas or something?
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 05/28/02 00:50:27 GMT


A welding blanket works well.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 05/28/02 01:46:09 GMT

I own a hosfeld bender and would love to know how to work it. I have several dies But dond know which to use to bend one inch hot roll. con you help me. Would like to find books on how to use it. thank you Tom
   Tom Bortz - Tuesday, 05/28/02 02:47:48 GMT

Hossfeld: Tom, Hossfeld's catalog is the closest thing. It shows all the die setups. Some are obvious and others are definitely a puzzle to figure out.

One inch by what? 1 x 1/4", 1 x 1/2"? I don't think a Hossfeld will bend 1" square.

A couple things to consider about these benders. They must be anchored down so that you can lean or pull as hard as possible. That means being bolted to a very heavy bench such as a weld platten that is in turn bolted down OR on a pedestal with heavy anchors in the floor. You also need clear space for the arm to swing and for you to move. IF you are bending long bar you need swing space for that too.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 03:25:37 GMT

Spark Sheilding: Rodriguez, Some light plywood will work best to protect glass, walls or any vertical surface. Welding blankets are good for things that need something draped over them or to surround a place on the floor.

The important thing about protecting things from sparks is to remember to do it.

Things that don't work are any kind of plastic sheeting or items like "space blankets". The metalized surface does NOT make them flame proof. Fiberglass cloth does not work unless it is part of a multi-layered blanket. The glass melts when hit by sparks and they often pass through. There is a quilted insulation material with fiberglass surfaces and Kaowool fill but it is expensive.

If you want to get high-tech you can coat a sheet of plywood with ITC-100 to make the surface fire proof. But this is an expensive emergency short term use type thing. EXAMPLE:
ITC Examples 2 Please note that the attached "cart" pages do not yet work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 03:44:54 GMT

i wonder if anyone knows of a good source of steel for hot cutters, punches and suchlike -- specifically s-1, m-2 round or square stock. until recently, i used to live in japan where such steels in relatively small quantaties are readily available; however, i found that most tool steel sources here either do not cater for a one-man dance, or do not carry such steel. any suggestions will be much appreciated.
thanks a lot.
   arnon - Tuesday, 05/28/02 05:50:44 GMT

Hello everyone!
First time on these forums!;-)
Can someone tell me if it's safe to make a small forge in my backyard with ordinary bricks? It doesn't need to be very big, just big enough to fit 1000x60x25mm steel into (any type of steel), and needs to be hot enough to anneal, temper and harden.
Anyway, thank you for your time.
P.S.: It's not gonna blow up or anything is it?:-) And wot sort of fuel do you recommend for my needs?
   Nicholas - Tuesday, 05/28/02 07:54:01 GMT

Rodriguez .. leather works well,the same sort as your apron .it's flexable ,semi fire proof,and you don't have to worry about fiberglass or any other "man made" fiber's/dust floating around your shop
   - wayne - Tuesday, 05/28/02 09:47:54 GMT

greetings from a res. contractor with artistic yearnings,

I would like to make a hammered brass sheet exterior accent
trim accessory to incorporate into a cedar shake job -
a triangular 36" x 20" sunburst.

questions: 1. material source and type (soft brass?)
2. methods resources, sites & books etc.
   gary m - Tuesday, 05/28/02 12:44:28 GMT

Steel Sources Arnon, There are a bunch of places you can purchase small quantities of tool and alloy steels.

1) Our on-line metals store carries A-2, O-1, D-2, S-7 and W-1. A small part of sales from the on-line metals store goes to support anvilfire.

2) McMaster-Carr carries a wide range of material as well as things like steel balls and other odd hardware that is difficult to find. They sell in small or large quantities via credit card or open account.

3) Admiral Steel sells a variety of steels on-line and supports knife makers with many of the popular odd steels they use.

4) As soon as I can work out my shipping tables we will be selling Atlantic-33 non-tempering hot-work steel in the anvilfire store.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 14:16:32 GMT

Forge Safety: Nicholas, a forge is no more dangerous than a barbeque grill. You can burn coal, charcoal, gas or oil. Gas and oil forges DO have higher danger factors but are used indoors as well as out.

The most efficient solid fuel for forges is high grade bituminous coal. You can order it by the bag from sources such as Kayne and Sons or Wallace Metal Work. You can also purchase coal localy in a diminishing number of places.
However, coal come in an infinite range of qualitities and you should never purchase more than a bucket full to test before purchasing in bulk. If you don't know good coal from bad then order coal form a reliable blacksmithing supplier, use it, then compare your local coal to that.

Charcoal, the REAL stuff, not briquetts, was used for thousands of years and is still used. It burns cleaner than coal but because of its lower density requires a deeper fire. Because charcoal is clean and has a familiar smell you can get by with it in suburban neighborhoods where coal smoke may upset folks. Resturant suppliers often sell charcoal in bulk.

Join your local blacksmithing orgaization (see ABANA-Chapter.com) and ask the folks there about local fuel sources. It is common for them to order GOOD coal by the truck as a group.

The size block of steel you describe is rather large and would be difficult to heat evenly in a small (typical blacksmithing size) coal or charcoal forge. You will need a deep fire bed and multiple tuyeers (air inlets) for that. A large gas or oil forge would be better suited for heat treating that large a piece. I would recommend going to a commercial heat treater for that size work.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 14:37:11 GMT

i like to use damp burlap as a spark shield. it also works great to beat down those pesky grinding induced grass fires.
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 05/28/02 15:02:05 GMT

Sunburst: Gary, the type of work you are describing is called "repousse'". This is sculpture similar to bas-relief in sheet metal.

Our Online Metals store sells the brass you need. I would recommend 16 to 18 ga. for the size work you describe.

Step one is to anneal the sheet by heating it to a low red (just barely visible) in VERY low light and quenching it. Quenching is not always necessary (but recommended) and you may anneal the portions to be worked as needed.

The plate is then backed up by "pitch". This can be made by melting roofing tar and mixing in about an equal part of fine sand or a filler like plaster of Paris. The heavier the metal the coarser the fill. Commercial pitch is also available from art supply houses and is often a wax/tar and filler mixture that comes in varying densities.

To backup the plate you melt the pitch and pour a layer about 1" (25mm) to 1-1/2" (38mm) thick. You can make a simple wood frame mold to hold the melted until it has cooled.

Draw your design on the surface of the metal with pencil or marker.

Then using repousse' hammers, punches and (dull or rounded) chisles, you work the shape in reverse. Repousse' hammers have special shaped heads and piens. Some types are sold as auto-body hammers, others are available from specialty shops . Kayne and Son carry several.

You can also use ball pien hammers for a limited amount of work and many smiths modify ball piens by reforging them to specialized shapes.

Many of the other small tools you need are simply made from common punches and chisles. The ends should be radiused and ground or polished smooth. You want no sharp corners that will cut or tear the metal or rough surfaces that leave marks. This also applies to your hammers.

For deep relief the metal may need to be annealed several times as it work hardens from the hammering and stretching. To do this you strip off the pitch, anneal the metal as above, then repour the pitch.

Pitch is also removed and repoured if the back gets to out of shape to support the work. Occasionaly artists simply level it with heat from a propane torch.

I suspect that for what you want to do you will not need to anneal a second time. However, it is often useful to repour the pitch on the reverse (back) side once the shape is well defined in order to use chisles and such to sharpen the definition of inside corners. You must be very careful doing this to prevent tearing the metal or punching a hole in it.

See our archives or search on pitch, repose', repouse or repousse, March 2000 week 3 lists a book and alternative methods.

Pete F. Please let me know your recipe for pitch (I think it was yours). I've searched the archives. . but "pitch" is a bad keyword to search on. I THINK I have it right (above).

Time for a FAQ on repousse'. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 16:03:15 GMT

Mike and Wayne, I forgot about leather. . never used wet burlap but its a good idea as long as it stays wet. . .

I use a spare leather apron often to protect things other than my body. I have also used a custom cut "apron" on my lathe to protect the bed from sparks and grinding grit when tool post grinding.

So, we now have for Spark Protection.
  • Plywood
  • Welding blanket
  • Leather
  • Wet burlap
Lots of ways to do it, so no excuse to mess up the client's home.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 16:11:07 GMT

Nicholas; I presume you have read "the complete bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas for it's suggestions on sword forges---what your dimensions indicate to me. Also when forging a long piece you only (should) heat as much as you can hammer on before it cools off. Only during heat treat or large scale bending ops do you need the whole piece up to temp and that can be done in a smaller forge by moving the piece back and forth through the hot spot.

Make sure you keep your bricks dry to avoid steam explosions. If you are just starting out I would suggest looking into a propane forge. You can build one with not much trouble and are less likely to burn up your metal.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 05/28/02 16:16:26 GMT

about blacksmiths
   andre - Tuesday, 05/28/02 21:04:36 GMT

Try wetting the welding/fire blanket down also, they last alot longer if you do so.
   - Robert - Tuesday, 05/28/02 21:51:26 GMT

For what it's worth, I end up demoing forging on grass once in awhile and I keep a gunnysack in the pail I use for a slacktub for those just incases. A few moments of thinking ahead saves a lot of trying to catch up. Of course I don't know if this would be a nessessary precaution in places where it actualy rains........
   - Jim - Tuesday, 05/28/02 23:12:45 GMT

Not that sort of grass!
   - Jim - Tuesday, 05/28/02 23:13:55 GMT

Dry grass: In the summer, even when it rains grass dries out quickly and mowed grass has a mat of dry cuttings under it that burns like gasoline. . . When doing 3 day or longer demos the grass where you work dies from the constant trampling and is often flamable only where you stand! I've had weekends where we were in a sea of mud but the grass where I worked was still dry and flamable.

So, always keep a spare bucket of water on hand. A slack tub that you can't lift when full may not help unless you have a "fire pail" to dip water with. Just some summer demo precautions to think about. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/28/02 23:54:23 GMT

More on Sparks: There is a big difference between grinding or welding sparks and cutting swarf.

Recently while helping a friend by doing the torching (I can still cut a straight line in 2" plate), we ruined a beautiful, rare, asbestoes welding blanket. The friend had setup the cut, protecting his bench and the grass with the previously unused blanket. I thought nothing of it. The slag piled up on the blanket and burned a huge hole in it. Yes, asbestoes can be damaged by heat.

When cutting with oxy-acetylene, slag piles up and it often contains lots of unburnt melted steel in it. The stream of oxygen from a heavy cut keeps the steel in the slag pile burning. This creates enough heat that it can damage brick, stone, concrete and even burn through asbestoes. Even if the blanket were wet it would have still been burned through.

In situations where the slag does not burn it is still hot enough to cause sever spalling of concrete. Its bad enough to ruin YOUR floor, imagine paying to replace a customers porch, patio or a section of driveway. Yep, I've damaged some concrete. Luckily I didn't have to pay for it.

Cutting slag is even hard on refractory bricks, penetrating the surface and bonding. Even after removal it causes degradation when heat is applied. Heavy steel plate (3/8" and up) is actually one of the best surfaces to cut over. It conducts heat fast enough that the slag just freezes on the surface without damaging the plate.

Add steel plate to our list for special cases.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 00:17:29 GMT

I am looking for an electric blower motor for my forge. I have not been able to find any information on them. I must be looking in the wrong place! Help Please!
   James - Wednesday, 05/29/02 02:11:48 GMT

I have a 50# Little Giant and need to remove a damaged sow block. The taper key is very rusted in place! Best ideas for removing the key?
   Keith Heffelfinger - Wednesday, 05/29/02 02:20:55 GMT

Blowers James, Kayne and Son carry a nice line of blowers. Appliance parts suppliers also carry small blowers. 140-150 CFM is about the minimum and is suitable for a small forge. Around 500 CFM is suitable the very large forges.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 03:11:39 GMT

Sow Block or Anvil Cap Wedges: Keith, First, be absolutely sure you are moving the wedge the right direction. We had a report of a damaged dovetail because only one end of the wedge was looked at closely and the wedge driven the wrong direction.

Next, if there is sufficient wedge exposed you can weld a ring or stud to the wedge to pull it out. Hammering on the small end mushrooms it making it tighter. It also expands the entire length of the wedge making it tighter when struck. Pulling stretches the wedge making it smaller. We are talking VERY small amounts but those are the same amounts that make wedges stick.

Clean all exposed surfaces of rust. Use muratic acid to get into the tight places then rinse well. Then oil with penetrating oil such as WD-40. Tapping on the Sow block and anvil may jar things and help the oil penetrate. Don't get in a rush. It doesn't hurt to give yourself a week and oil and tap daily.

After soaking with penetrating oil try pulling the wedge. A heavy slide hammer is a good method to use impact pulling on the wedge.

Still stuck. . Apply heat to the anvil around the dovetail. Not too much. 250 - 350°F will not hurt the cast iron but it might expand the parts just enough. Heat quickly with a large torch. If you heat slowly the heat will conduct into the sow block and there will not be enough temperature differential to help. Sometimes this is just enough to get the penetrating oil to work. If the wedge doesn't come out while the anvil is hot let it cool and apply more WD-40 and try again the next day.

Another puller method we have used is to weld a large threaded rod to the wedge and rig up a puller using two hydraulic jacks. However, the curved and tapered surfaces make it difficult to get good footing for the jacks.

On a 750 pound hammer a friend of mine used the bucket of his track-hoe to pull the wedge. We welded a heavy cross bar to the wedge and a tooth on the bucket was hooked under it. The anvil weighed over 10,000 pounds and moved some while pulling the wedge. .

The method of last resort is to torch the wedge out. You need someone that is good at piercing heavy plate to operate the torch. Once there is a through hole the wedge can be reduced to slag. Since cast iron does not flame cut easily the surfaces are rarely damaged.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 03:42:19 GMT


1. 6 parts chaser's pitch, 8 parts plaster of Paris or brick dust, 1 part linseed oil or tallow. Source: Metalworking Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht.

2. 4 parts roofing tar (the kind roofers melt in tar kettles), 3 parts pumice powder, 1 part turpentine, 1 part linseed oil. Melt tar in pan, stir in turps, add pumice. Let a small amount cool and adjust amount of linseed oil to get desired consistency. Source: My own recipe.

3. Equal parts of beeswax and plaster of Paris. This is good for very thin, fully annealed non-ferrous metal worked shallowly. Again, my recipe.

When mixing any of the recipes for pitch, remember that some or all of the materials may be flammable and take appropriate precautions with regard to open flame, etc. It's a good idea to keep in mind that hot pitch sticks to you and keeps on burning much longer than is bearable, too.

For steel or relatively thick (greater than 16 ga.) non-ferrous metal, you want the pitch to be stiffer than you would for softer or thinner metals. The stiffer the pitch is, the sharper the detail you can get, because it doesn't distribute the force of the punch as much as softer pitch does. For preliminary bumping of the gross forms, I use a softer pitch, and then switch to a stiffer consistency for detail work or chasing from the front. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the project, the initial bumping can be done over a sand or shotbag, or over a depression in a wood block or stump. If it is important that the perimeter of the piece be very exact, it's sometimes easiest to leave it large and cut it to the final contour after all the repousse'/chasing is done.

Remember that whatever surface is present on the end of the punch or hammer is going to be impressed into your work. If you want a smooth surface, polish your tools to a shine. Conversely, you can texture areas by using tools with pitted, grooved or checkered faces. Sharp tools run the risk of cutting the metal, so it's a good idea to radius the corners of tools. Oppi Untracht's book mentioned above has some good and useful information on the techniques involved, as do many other jewelry making books.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/29/02 05:48:32 GMT

Happy to "pitch" in Jock, but twasn't me what had the repusse' recipe, sorry.
Mostly folks add hard waxes and asphaltums with a filler like plaster or whiting to make it stiffer and oils to soften "pitch"...messy stuff.
Re spark control; I've an assortment of sheets of metal that I use for sacrifice surfaces..steel in various weights of course and also old aluminum highway signs are light and spread heat quickly.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 05/29/02 06:44:27 GMT

Thanks guru, and sorry for the late response...and i might have made a mistake amount the size of the metal that i needed to heat up. I'm actually using the volume formula that we use in high school that is: LxWxH meaning: Length = 1000mm, Width = 60mm and Height = 25mm, all in all, this piece of steel shouldn't be too big...about the length of a blade. We use the metric system over here in Australia, inches aren't too common. Also, what sort of bricks do you recommend for this type of small forge? Firebricks? Household Bricks? etc...
The extensive information on coal has proven helpful, my dad was close to convincing me to use fire beads.
Also, how can i identify the hardness of a blade after hardening? Many people recommend a hardness of rockwell c 60?? Other people tell me it's 'too hard' and the blade is prone to chip or even shatter.

Thanks again
   Nicholas - Wednesday, 05/29/02 08:52:48 GMT

Spark shields. My chopsaw sets in front of the stand that holds the mig and plasma. Bad design, but choice was made years ago. Scrap bathroom dividers will work to devirt sparks. The steel is roughly 16-18 ga. Care should be taken, in that the divders have a cardboard filler (honeycomb) that can ignite. I just skinned one, and built a frame from some 1" scrap square tubing, tacking the light sheet to the frame. The frame affair sets between the saw and the welder stand. Works fine.
   - Steve O'Grady - Wednesday, 05/29/02 13:23:44 GMT

Oh, and hammer handles around here (in my shop) are sometimes hickory saplings, bark, knots and all. Seasoned stuff thats been settin around a while. Good handles are nice, but I use what I got when I need it. They seem to hold up fine.
   - Steve O'Grady - Wednesday, 05/29/02 13:27:16 GMT

Dear Guru,
I'm just setting up and have discovered a wrong number for coal suppliers in the COAL SCUTTLE. Correct number for
Williams Coal & Oil
39 Adams St.
Braintree Ma.02184
IS: 1-800-464-0415
Maybe you can pass this info to the right person.

   BILL PETERSON - Wednesday, 05/29/02 13:46:57 GMT

Bar Size Nicholas, I understand the metric system perfectly well and even though I prefer feet and inches I can generaly convert mm or cm to inches in my head close enough to get a feeling for the size if it doesn't seem obvious off the top of my head. In writing posts where I give dimensions I often convert even dimensions in my head. As a machine designer I've had to convert many drawings from metric to English and I also write computer programs for other people that are not so adept at both systems.

Without a calculator or scratch paper your bar is 1 inch by 2+ by 39 inches (a meter). THAT is a big bar of steel to heat. (Actual inch dimensions .9843" x 3.362 x 39.37"). Many Aussies I've spoken to that are of my generation are often as comfortable using the English system as I am.

Your bar size weighs 25.95 pounds or 11.77 kilos. Its much too big for a sword as Thomas surmised (Sorry Thomas) and its often the mass to be heated that determines the size of the forge. It takes a lot more fuel to heat 12 kilos than the 1.5 to 3 kilos a heavy long sword might weigh. And in forge design that can amount to a deeper fire bed as well as multiple tuyeres. Space to put the work into is different than the mass of the work.

Fuel: I'm not sure of the quality of the coal you have available in your part of Austrialia (or the availability). You didn't say where you were and your hotmail address didn't help. I know several smiths in your part of the world that use pit burned wood charcoal because good mineral coal is not available. I'm not sure what "fire beads" are, but if they are processed charcoal (molded blocks) for using in the "barbee" then that is probably not suitable fuel. You CAN get a forging heat with them but they are largely sawdust, glue and a little charcoal and somtimes even a little mineral coal. They are relatively expensive. Ask around about charcoal burners. See our FAQ about coal and charcoal.

My recomendation is that you build an inexpensive test forge like our "brake drum forge" and try out a sample of what ever fuel you plan to use before building an expensive permanent forge. If you cannot obtain your fuel of choice affordably in say 100 to 200 kilo loads then you will need to select another fuel.

Bricks: There are bricks, and then there are bricks. First, any brick made using concrete or cement is not suitable for surfaces exposed to heat. These are often tan colored. You need a fired clay brick. The harder the better. Most brick of this sort are red in the U.S. but clay colors and types are regional. The red bricks made in my area of the U.S. (central Virginia) are exported all over the world. For durability you may want to use a dozen or so refractory (fire) bricks around the hotest part of the forge (around the tuyere). You can also coat the surface of the bricks with clay. This creates more of a sacrificial surface than heat resistant one unless you use a refractory clay (not necessary).

Forge design: Brick forges can be massive expensive things. One of the best I have seen was in a film about a Philippine blade smith. His forge was a trough type raised several feet (~7dm) off the ground or more to about table top height. On top of this base were two parallel "walls" with a space of about 8" (~200mm) apart and about 16" (~400mm) tall. The length was about 30" (~760mm). He was burning charcoal and air came in through a hole (tuyere) in the side of one wall at the middle just above the floor of the forge. A small fire could be built in the center or by piling up fuel a large long fire could be maintained. The open ends between the walls allowed long work (like a sword) to be heated. However, he was making the much shorter traditional Kris.

I'm not even sure of what his forge was built of. It was covered with a clay surface that could have been hiding brick, stone, compacted earth. . . Its not really important what it was made of as long as it can take the heat.

If I built a forge like this I would space the walls a little more than a brick length apart (+20mm clearance) so that I could use loose bricks to adjust the fire pit as needed. Any cheap fill could be used to raise the forge such as lightweigh concrete block.

Any brick forge needs a roof or little shed to cover it. Rain water soaking into the brick can cause the brick to spall or explode when heated to forge temperatures. If your bricks DO get wet, then build a small fire in it and give it time to dry the bricks before applying a blast of air.

All the above is moot if you cannot use coal or charcoal and then gas forges are another discussion.

Blade Hardness: The hardness and durability of a steel depend on the the type of steel and how it is heat treated. A differential heat treatment is best to keep the sword from breaking while having a harder edge. You need to study the subject well before making a descision. Most folks guess at the hardness. They go by the recommended tempering instructions for a given hardness and hope they have done it. Otherwise hardness testers are an expensive professional tool.

However, swords use in reenactments, sword play, mock battle and theater or film are DEAD SOFT! (Except rapiers which must be a spring temper.) They also have dull rounded edges. These swords are ALL specificaly heat treated to be soft. You only harden a sword to its best if you plan to cut through non-metalic armor and commit murder. OR if it is to be a collectors item (a wallhanger). Even then murders have been commited with collector's pieces and its something to consider before making any weapon for yourself or anyone else. Seriously consider the responsibility of being a weapon maker.

DO NOT believe the hard ring and sparks made by swords in the movies or TV. The actual sounds are thunk, clack, OUCH! All the ring, shimer and sparks are added special effects. Any time there is a close up of a sharp edge it is a special prop NOT USED for any sword play.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 15:24:34 GMT

Dear Mr. Guru,
I would like to thank you for your excellent web-site!
Thanks for providing so much useful information and instant resource guides.
Spring Grove, IL

   Shelly - Wednesday, 05/29/02 15:27:14 GMT

I know that you probably get a lot of rediculous questions so I hope that mine is interesting...though not a metal I am interested in being able to heat and form plexiglass ever so slightly for a project I am working on...though my resources are limited (in reference to available equiptment) I was wondering if you may have any suggestions...please help...your the Guru...thank you for your time...
   Matthew Lingle - Wednesday, 05/29/02 16:57:14 GMT

Has anyone ever heard of a farriers anvil made by the Smith Steel Casting Co. of Marshall, TX? It is about 50-60Lbs, one Hardie and two Pritchell holes. I think the company is out of business now. I am curious as to what kind of steel was used and whether it has been hardened. It still has its original red paint and has never been touched by hot iron.
   Bob Nichols - Wednesday, 05/29/02 16:59:03 GMT

Guru,I have access to some very large forging tongs.We're talking 6",8",and 10" square.Most are 4 to 5 feet long and weigh about 60 to 100 lbs.each.Is there a market for these,or are they pretty much decoration now?We used them for years in an industrial shop,but they have closed the shop and will be scrapped if I don't rescue them.There is also some very large tooling available i.e.4"ball swages and the like,is it worth anything to anybody? Is there still industrial shops operating with steam hammers else where in this world?Any feedback would be appreciated.Thanx in advance. Cookie
   Cookie - Wednesday, 05/29/02 17:15:43 GMT

Cookie; they would make great "fence pieces" for a blacksmith shop!

Do you have a contact number I can send to my friend who associates with a large forging facility? (Patrick you on?)

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 05/29/02 21:09:16 GMT

Can anyone give me some detailed instructions on how to make tongs or other forge tools? A website would be good too. thanks
   Third_Prophet - Wednesday, 05/29/02 21:09:28 GMT

Sorry Folks. We were off-line for about an hour. Some kind of power outage at the server location.

Modern times!

Making Tongs Third_Prophet, All you have to do is look around THIS web site. We have my "twist" method on the 21st Century page and several tongs demos on our iForge page. We also have how-to make and use various punches swages and other forge tools on iForge.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 21:16:55 GMT

There are some open die forging shops that still do large work. The one that I deal with is called Solmet Technologies and it is located in Canton OH. I will post their URL in a minute so that you can contact them regarding your tongs and tooling-they may be interested.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 05/29/02 21:29:36 GMT

URL for Solmet Technologies


   Patrick - Wednesday, 05/29/02 21:34:21 GMT


I was building one of the souviner horseshoes from the iforge demo #18 and was wondering if I was doing it right. When I bend the heels up and upset as described I end up with a "fold" of steel on the shoe side of the heel, almost like a hot shut. I'm not sure If I am describing this well.

Is this to be expected? I assume it is, as the upset steel is going to bulge over the base of the shoe and we aren't getting it anywhere near welding heat.

Second question, would you normally use letter stamps on the steel hot or cold?


   JIM - Wednesday, 05/29/02 22:42:06 GMT

Nother question:

Do you usually stand square to the anvil, or at an angle? I usually end up with the steel perpendicular to the anvil, putting me around 45 degrees to it.

Just curious.

   JIM - Wednesday, 05/29/02 22:47:06 GMT

Horseshoe demo. Yeah. . I got a fold. Not good technique but it makes what the public expects. .

Where you stand it not critical. Smiths work from every angle, sometimes in front of the horn or behind the heal. You need to be wherever it is comfortable to stand. More important is to NOT hunch over. Practice standing straight. Not at "attention" but comfortably straight. Many folks also stand too far back from the anvil at first like they are scared of it.

Letters stamps can be used hot or cold but I always did it COLD. When using a series of stamps to do a name or to fit on straight on a narrow bar you need to squat down and look close at where the punch is positioned. I couldn't do it hot. Do note that it takes a pretty hard blow to make a clean impression (you get ONE chance). Its like anything else, it gets easier with practice.

If you use stamps hot they can lose their temper and only be good for hot work. The hot work stamps are the very expensive ones. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/29/02 23:26:14 GMT

Guru,thank you for such a quick response. Thomas and Patrick,a very well deserved Canadian pat on the back. I'll let you know I make out.
   Cookie - Thursday, 05/30/02 00:28:11 GMT

Guru and friends,

Received my first real job offer. A gentleman I work with who is an avid hunter and sportsman has asked me to make him a decent hunting knife. We have discussed blade design and accessories in depth. He wants a drop point blade about 4-6 inches long. A full tang that ends with the tang curving into a little l-shaped pommel with the leg of the "l" on the knuckle side of the hilt. The pommel will have a lanyard hole drilled in it. Then the whole thing will be polished and a brass handguard attached by soldering. The handguard will be of the half-guard variety so that it is only guarding the knuckles when the knife is held in the hammer grip position, so the guard will not cover the web of the hand in that position. Lastly, scales of a dark, hard wood will be attached by brass rivets that I hope to make out of cleaned brass brazing rod.

So now that you know what I'm up to my question is:

1. How do I hammer brass rivets tight enough while the scales are on the tang without damaging the scales?

   Tim - Thursday, 05/30/02 00:58:43 GMT

Guru, I was looking at the hinges procedure in the IForge and remembered what someone showed me once. In this case it was a standard butterfly hinge, where when he cut the barrels on each peice to fit each other, he angled his chisel and cut them guestimating at about 25 degrees or so, maybe more. ( This cut being made with the chisel parrallel to the barrel and on the front face of the hinge tucking the chisel under the barrel and cutting towards the under and outer edge of the barrel.) When the hinge is closed it looks really nice due to this angled edge tucking under the barrel on each peice. Its like it seals. Usually you see hinges that have a 1/16" or even 1/8" gap between the barrel and the recieving body. Not knocking it, just thought I would share this info incase you or someone can find it usefull. Respectfully-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 05/30/02 02:04:20 GMT

Does a whisper momma recquire relining very often? What do they cost? Does anyone have any advice on what to quench a file in, for a blade? Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Thursday, 05/30/02 02:12:33 GMT

NC-TOOL Forge Kevin, Wallace Metal Work has a full on-line catalog with prices. Add about $30 for UPS.

Relining depends on the type of work you do and how you treat the forge. If you don't do a lot of forge welding (fluz eats refractories) then 10 years is not unusual. Melting brass and coper is hard on the refractory. The walls and door are lined with Kaowool and if you poke it you can tear it up. I've also had two reports of mice building nests in forges and chewing up the Kaowool. A coating like ITC-100 will help the mouse problem and increase efficiency. We will be selling ITC-100 heare soon.

You can quench file steel in warm water if the steel is not overheated but oil is safer and will work as well for a thin blade.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 03:04:28 GMT

Scales and Rivets You really need to consult some of the books on knifemakeing. There are two methods that I know. One is using hollow rivets that press fit into each other. They already have heads and the best way to install it a gentle press using a vise or small arbor press.

The other is to spin the head. A rivet set for a pan head is made to fit your drill press. Then the head is formed with gentle pressure as the spindle turns. Thats how all the rivets on production pocket knives are done.

Modern methods using epoxy to bond the scales, guard, pomel and rivet reduce the need for a heavy riveted joint. You can also use short well fitted ferrules and forget the rivets. If the ferrules are countersunk in the guard then you would have an outstandingly strong nice looking joint. How to countersink an oval? Patience. . . OR you could silver solder then to the guard before assembly.

The tricky method would be to make little blind rivets. It would require precision and you would have only one chance at assembly. But that is typical of these things.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 03:19:32 GMT

Typos. . too late at night. .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 03:24:46 GMT

where can i find out about becoming a black smith in eugene oregon. i would like some email adresses of some of them if that would be at all possible
   morgan wiswall - Thursday, 05/30/02 04:51:06 GMT

where can i find out about becoming a black smith in eugene oregon. i would like some email adresses of some of them if that would be at all possible
   morgan wiswall - Thursday, 05/30/02 04:51:27 GMT

We own and manage a wire rope rigging company here in Thailand. For some time now we have been trying to find the easiest way to fabricate wire rope thimbles. These are used in the "eye terminations" and are tear drop shape. We would like to make them in large quanities. Any advice would appreciated.
   Buddy Atwood - Thursday, 05/30/02 05:08:36 GMT

Handle scales - Tim:

I use brass rod for some of my riveted handles and I get them tight enough without damage to the scales using the following method:

First, anneal the brass rod by heating to dull red then quenching in water. Quenching in a 10% sulphuric acid solution instead of plain water will strip off the fire scale from the heating, too. Next, I measure the width of the handle at the rivet, using calipers and add approzimately 1.5 times the diameter of the rod to that length to get the total length for the rivet stock. After cutting to length, the ends are lightly filed smooth and square with just enough easing of the sharp edge to allow it to push through the hole smoothly.

The holes in the scales/tang should be drilled as nearly as possible to the exact size of the rivet stock, then the holes are moderately chamfered using a six-flute countersink. I try to get the chamfer diameter to be about 1.5 times the diameter of the rod.

With the rivet stock centered in the handle, rest one end on an anvil or benchplate and peen the other end with a jeweler's chasing hammer. The small peen end of the jeweler's hammer allows decent vision and "target acquisition", (to avoid smacking the scales), and the traditional handle for such hammers is properly shaped to give a secure grip and a slightly "whippy" action. Peen the first end of the rivet until it is just the diameter of the chamfered hole, working evenly around the circumference of the rivet head. Then turn the whole works over and repeat the process on the other end. Just like upsetting steel, heavy blows thicken the shaft more and lighter blows spread the head out more, so light blows are the order of the day, here.

When the rivet looks snug using a magnifying glass, you're done. Finish sand with wet/dry paper on a sanding block to smooth and level the rivet head, then finish/polish as desired.

I use this method with brass, silver, nickel silver and gold rivets on lignum vitae, bay rum, rosewood, purpleheart and cocobolo, to name a few woods. I did split one piece when I was first learning, but haven't had any trouble since. Having said that, I'll no doubt split the next one that I do...grin!
   vicopper - Thursday, 05/30/02 06:07:43 GMT

A rough estimate of hardness can be found in seeing how much a file will bite the hardened steel. As a rule of thumb, if the file zips over the surface without friction , then the steel is too ( brittle) hard
They are all thermoplastic materials..try hot water.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 05/30/02 06:13:29 GMT

ooooh, now i get it...thanks guru, sorry for my ignorance. Still in high school you see, I've been doing alot of research about forges and obviously about being a weapons maker. The weapons i intend to make will definitely not be made to carry out any criminal intentions, they will be used for tameshigiri (cutting through multi-layered objects) to test the blade, in this instant i intend to make katanas. I don't expect anything TOO great out of my first project (actually, my first project was made using a vice grip and a angle grinder...it bent as soon as i struck a cardboard box!).
Also, what sort of anvil would you recommend for a novice such as myself? I also have no idea about what sort of metals i'm working with since it's the only kind i can get a hold of...i think it's carbon steel...
Spring steel and it's properties, how is the "springyness" achieved? Is it the way you temper and harden it?
   Nicholas - Thursday, 05/30/02 07:10:01 GMT

guru ... must protest ... my soft stage blades ring very nicely and add lovely notes to any of the bards good works.
now most of my weapons ("real swords")(as if you couldn't do great bodly harm with a stage blade) don't have a lot of ring and tend to be to high pitched to hear any way.
one trick I found on handle rivets is to taper the hole very slitly in the wood (I use a 4" long tapered reamer (1/4"-1/2") anealing helps as dose coating the hole in super glue (helps to prevent cracks) you don't need to get a lot of head on it as it will be cut off ony way the big thing is to het the hole rivet to expand enough to make a joint with the wood not to press the wood into the hhandle (like a headed rivet) also for any working knife epoxie the handle slabs on!!! not only will this make a stronger handle but it will help to keep the inside of the handle (tang) from rusting.
or go to one of the knife maker sites (jantz supply,koval supply or texas knifemakers supply) and order the loveless or luke type rivets. (made them my self once took me 3 hours and 2 taps to make 2 sets of rivets .... could have ordered them for $2 a pair...)
hope that helps MP
   MP - Thursday, 05/30/02 09:12:17 GMT

when your makeing blades for swords,knives and the like how do they polish the steel to a high shine. what is used.
   jerry - Thursday, 05/30/02 12:09:08 GMT

there are several smiths in your area.
Go to the 'Rogue's Gallery' area and look up Martin and Jack-D both are more than likely only 10 mins away from where you are. Also I am fairly certain both will help you get on your way. Also Wayne Goddard the bladesmith lives in Eugene. Tho he does charge for teaching.
   Ralph - Thursday, 05/30/02 12:50:48 GMT

Hi Guru, here's one that will make you feel sick. A blacksmith friend of mine who works for a small shop was working on a project to upgrade a wrought iron railing (upgrade means to raise its height and decrease its stile seperation to meet current building codes for safety). They were happily modifying the rail when they get the first piece back from the sandblaster. He discovers that it has a Yellin mark. They have been cutting and chopping up an original Samuel Yellin railing. Imagine trying to continue the cutting and hacking with that knowledge. He is sick about it, but he needs to keep that paycheck coming. Too bad they didn't know this before they started. They could have sold the original rail for enough to have built the new rail from scratch.
   - Paul - Thursday, 05/30/02 14:26:00 GMT


Ouch! Says something for sandblasting old work BEFORE you start chopping, doesn't it?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 05/30/02 14:29:16 GMT

Polishing Jerry, HARD WORK is the best answer. See our article on polishing and wheels on our 21st Century page.

The important thing in polishing and finishing anything, wood, plastic, metal, is to do it incrementaly. IF you start polishing when there are still file marks on the work you will get polished file marks.

Starting from forged you file and grind the surface to true it. Most modern blade makers use belt sanders with relatively coarse agressive belts (80 to 140 grit). A coarse belt will leave less scratchs than a file. If filing you start with a coarse bastard file and finish with a smooth single cut file. In either case you want to remove ALL saw, file and forging marks scale or texture at this point. One speck it too much. Note that you can also use scrapers on metal (see our iForge demo).

Then you go a smoother abrasive or a scraper if you have used a file. 180 grit it too coarse on paint or plastic but leaves a fine finish on steel. The trick here is to also leave crisp edges on grooves corners and such where they should be crisp by design. Over rounding of corners is a sign of a poor quality finishing job. Remove ALL the texture from the previous finishing. LOOK closely.

The next step is done by hand or machine. Use 320 grit (3M wet-or-dry) sandpaper wet to remove the marks from above. If by machine you might want to use a 240 grit belt OR jump to emery on a coarse buffing wheel. There is also a polishing wheel made for jewlers that is a hard rubber with abrasive in it that works very well. I prefer 320 wet-or-dry by hand. AGAIN, remove ALL the texture from the previous steps. At this point you should have a very fine flat finish (grey on steel) without any discernable scratches.

If the blade was not hardened it must now be hardened via salt bath to prevent scaling and loss of the above work. Some folks harden after forging, some after the initial grind, then continue finishing.

On soft materials you may want to jump to 600 grit wet-or-dry but it is pointless on steel UNLESS you are polishing by hand without a motorized buffing wheel.

On hard steel or stainless you will want to polish gently with a fine emery or special stainless white buffing compound on a hard cotton buff. Then depending on the steel you will want use Tripoli for a final finish or what is known a "coloring" making the brightest finish.

On soft metals such a brass guards you do not use emery but start the buffing with Tripoli then color with a soft loosely sewn buff using a little Tripoli but rouge is more common.

You can also polish by hand using a rag and Dupont "orange" automotive buffing compound. You start with a heavy wet dab of compound on a soft rag and as you work use less compound until you are using an almost clean rag with just the worn (finer) compound picked up from the work to color. This is the slow hard way but it does not require machinery and is very satifying. You can produce mirror finishes by hand, it just takes a lot of work. I've done it, I KNOW. . .

Depending on your buffing wheel material and speed you can "cut" steel (oe softer materials) with emery or Tripoli. Production shops often do this to skip the above steps. The result is often heavily rounded corners and that wet melted look of a cheap polishing job. However, with skill you can take advantage of cutting if you take care not to over round corners.

Quality work that is the mark of a true craftsperson has crisp edges and straight clean bevels. Distinct lines where intended. Outside corners are often chamfered (not rounded) and then polished to look like the facets on a cut stone. The slightest rounding of these corners is acceptable for safety and comfort but the chamfer should still be obvious. But that is sometimes a matter of taste.

Abrasives are the expensive consumable part of finishing wether by hand or machine. Belts (or the same cloth packed abrasive to use by hand), wet-or-dry sandpaper, buffing compounds and buffing wheels.

TIME is the most expensive part of the process. Skipping steps increases the time when you have to go back and redo at a coarser level. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 15:02:49 GMT

In regards to shaping plastic: In the SCA we make a lot of our "armor" out of ABS (the barrels) plastic and then hide it under something. To shape it we either use a heat gun, or bake it at about 250-275 F for 5-10 minutes (STINKS BAD) If you bake it, it will be HOT so wear gloves. Have your bathtub, or similar full of cold water, because you have to hold it in shape untill it cools completely. Otherwise in my Jr. High shop class they had a plex setup. It basicly looked like the heating element out of a toaster oven. Set your plex about an inch over the element, and when it's soft, crease it. I would recoment testing any of this on scrap before you use your good parts. Plastic tends to shrink, discolor, and warp when heated.
   Mattmaus - Thursday, 05/30/02 15:49:18 GMT

Wire Rope Thimbles: Buddy, if you are talking about the part that lines the loop in some rigging it is a simple sheared and bent part.

Starting with strip sheared to width from coil, a die set is needed to cut the "birds mouth" end of the strips. In high production a punch press with an autofeed mechanism would be used. Feeding is achieved on the upstroke by an overrunning clutch lever mechanism. Distance fed is determined by the diameter of the feed wheel and the stroke of the lever. A hard stop should be provided to assure the proper length. As far as I know all tooling of this sort is custom designed by a tool engineer or designer. However, in a low wage area the machine can be hand fed at very high production rates and avoid fancy expensive tooling. Rates are about 1/3 to 1/2 of fully automatic machinery. The difference being that on top of hand feeding the machine is operated one cycle at a time instead of at full speed with no pauses when fully automatic.

Parts can also be blanked out of sheet or wide strip stock in similar fashion but it takes a heavier press and more expensive dies. However thee is more flexibility in material sources. Production rates can be higher due to cutting multiple pieces per stroke but there is more waste material. In the strip method above the only waste is the end shape cutout.

The second step is the bending. This can be done in one or two stages. It is easier to design two stage tooling.

One step tooling is a tricky bit of work since the piece would be captive on a one piece die and bending is multi directional. The internal die must be two pieces split at the centerline that open and close. Either multiple forming dies are used to to press the shape or a roller and rotational system can be used. Some truely ingenious benders have been built that are setup on old shapers and use the ram motion to do the bending (as well as using racks and pinions for rotation). But for this particular operation I would air cylinders and a programable controller for sequencing and timing. The ease and flexibility of a programmable controller is much less expensive than complicated inflexible mechanical design in this case. Most R&D is in the programming not making new tooling.

In a two step process the "U" cross section would be bent in a press first. If hand fed there must be a VERY rigid system of safety interlocks. This normally consists of two handed operation of the press to assure that a free hand is not in harms way. Dies for this are simple press dies but an eject mechanism may be needed (spring loaded pins?).

Step two would be bending. Rotary benders (usualy hydraulic) are used most often for this work. A manual bender is also possible. The straight part is clamped against the split internal dies (as above) and the bender rotates a fixed distance to bend the part, then returns to the start position.

Due to the problem of the part becoming captive in the dies I would use air cylinders to open and close the internal die even in a manualy operated bender. If both upper and lower internal dies retract the part will fall off the bending and clamping shoe. It may be possible that the clamping shoe be fixed and not need to move. Without doing some layout I'm not sure.

There are large quantities and then there are LARGE quantities. Tooling is designed based on needed production rates. If parts are needed in the thousands per week then manualy fed standard machines can be used (as above). IF you need hundreds of thousands per week then a higher level of automation is needed including auto feeding of parts from one machine operation to another.

After the parts are made I recommend vibratory finishing for all the deburing. If parts are being hand fed it would be advantageous to debur after blanking. Not having workers deal with sharp edges will increase production levels and possible injuries. AND it is not a wasted step. It is just being done in a different order.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 16:51:13 GMT

Wire Rope Thimbles: Buddy, I just looked at the Crosby page. . 16 different sizes in 3 different grades! That is a LOT of tooling. The small sizes can probably be most efficiently bent by hand in a bender that uses a foot operated clamp and a manual lever. Very boring production work but it takes no skils.

At some point the forces required are going to be too much and worker fatigue will set in lowering production rates over time. So the larger sizes will need power tooling.

There are so many sizes that I suspect you will want a range of punch presses for blanking. Presses are actually cheap compared to tooling, setup and tooling changes. I would setup an individual press for each size except for very low production sizes that might be run in batches a couple times a year. Sizing the press for the job also increases energy efficiency. No point running a 5HP motor when a 1/2HP will do.

Enough free advise. .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 17:06:24 GMT

Bending Plexiglas(R) or Acrylic Others have covered this subject for me well. Thanks guys! A few comments.

Once heated the plastic can be "draped" across a smooth wooden form. It can also be "blown". We make fixtures to clamp the plastic to a metal plate. There is a neoprene gasket and a tire air valve. The plastic was heated by setting the whole thing over a top opening electric kiln. When the plastic started to sag from gravity it was quickly removed, flipped over and air applied. Nice smooth bubble shape, no maring or discoloration.

We had someone in the shop come up with the idea of using a pointed guage to determine the height. . Whoops, POW, like bursting a ballon. .

Note that Lexan (polycarbonate) is VERY difficult to heat form. It absorbs water from the air which expands to steam making bubbles in the plastic. Not just little ones either. Some are big enough that they cause a textured surface. The only way around this is to heat the plastic slowly to about 240°F and hold it there for several weeks (min). The then dry plastic must be taken directly to to the oven to heat and bend. The bending temperature is also much hotter than acrylic AND the force is greater.

Lexan is great stuff for bullet proof windows but it is lousy for anything bent or formed. In production applications such as electric tool casings it is injection molded to shape from liquid.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 17:23:50 GMT


Just built a couple of hook and eye loops for a customer. In order to attach them to the wall I pointed the end of the bar I built the loops out of, much like a nail. Seems to work fine.

Now the question: How would I make a woodscrew on the end of the bar? I can make a pointed round taper well enough, but how do you thread something with a continuously varying diameter? I guess I could cut threads with a small file, but yuck. There must be an better way!

   Jim - Thursday, 05/30/02 17:44:08 GMT

Handmade Screw Jim, Point the bar square and twist. A pair of round long nose pliers helps. A beter shape is a "eye" with two round surfaces and two points but it is hard to forge without a die.

The first method makes a "four lead" screw and the second a "two lead". Most screws are actualy single leads. Smiths have been doing it this way probably since the bronze age.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/30/02 20:00:57 GMT

Guru, I have a book that I was wondering if you have heard of. I have had it for 5-6 years. Its called Antique Metalware by James Mitchell. Its a compilation of the ANTIQUES magazine library pertaining to metalware(toys, weathervanes, architectual etc.). To my surprise it had a couple of articles written by Donald Streeter in it about the spring locks and "Stock Locks".One article from 1954 and the other in 1970. Great book, wondering if I'm the only one who has seen this. Has some great examples of latchwork and some interesting history. Published cir. 1976 - Scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 05/30/02 22:34:14 GMT

so how do they get the lexan bodys for R/C cars ... I KNOW that they are vacuum formed and they have no air bubbles...been in use in slot cars sence the 60s..?? I know of a few guys that form there own bodys and haven't had any problems with bubbles unless they over heated.

got a new OLD vise the other day ... free the guy thought the screw was bent ... turned out to be a camed vice un like any I have come acrost. main screw tightens into a cammed foot that draws the jaws closed the screw moves the jaws about 1/2-3/4 of an inch but the vice opens fron 0 to around 14" and weights in at around 100lbs any one seen ony thing like this before? it has no makeings I can find
judgeing by the materals and the condition, I am guessing it was made around 1910 or so (the lead screw is an acme thread with a forged head but the body is ductal cast iron)
any one got any info?
   MP - Thursday, 05/30/02 23:33:44 GMT

Thanx for all the helpful ideas on knife handle riveting, I will try a few on some prototypes and see what works best for me. Also my next two tools will be a bladesmithing book and a CSI membership! Thanx again!
   Tim - Thursday, 05/30/02 23:51:25 GMT


That's the best two tools you can buy, in my opinion.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 05/31/02 01:03:29 GMT

Kevin, I like Blacksmithing for Beginners by D James Morre I ordered it from Centaur Forge a couple of years ago. It was $30 and comes in a spiral type notebook. At first I thought $30 for this!, but it really has alot of good ideas in it and has lots of room to write some of your own ideas as well. Its a good starter workbook.Wendy
   - Wendy - Friday, 05/31/02 02:01:49 GMT

What can you tell me about a 100# Fairbanks power hammer? Have a chance to get one for around $2500. I was told it had a patent date on it around 1905 or some such, have no idea how old it is. Is this machine as good as a 100# little giant in your opinion?


   armand - Friday, 05/31/02 02:17:44 GMT

Fairbanks Armand, A Fairbanks is ten times the hammer as a Little Giant. Fairbanks are a high class industrial machine second in durability only to Bradley and equal in control.

Fairbanks hammers have a seperate anvil reducing shock to the frame. Fairbanks has a stroke adjustment that Little Giants do not have. They also have a heavy duty brake, something that Little Giants did not come with and people go to a great deal of effort to retrofit. The Dupont linkage used on the Fairbanks was THE original pattented toggle linkage. Little Giant copied the patented design and in order to get around the patent made some bad design changes.

The Fairbanks uses a slip belt clutch which on first examination looks cheap compared to Little Giant's Tapered cone clutch. However, slip belt clutches are much more forgiving and give better control. The cone clutch on Little Giants is a design made NOT to slip. In order to properly opperate an LG the clutch surfaces must be kept soaked with oil. When LG cluches wear out they get grabby and uncontrollable and are expensive to have rebabbited and remachined. On a slip belt clutch the entire belt is all friction material. A LOT more wear area than a cone clutch. The top three industrial duty mechanical hammers Fairbanks, Beaudry and Bradley all had slip belt clutches.

The Fairbanks if in good condition is well worth the price.
   - guru - Friday, 05/31/02 02:47:07 GMT

OK, folks, I need some help. I just got a deal on a torch set, including a cutting head. The set is brand new and includes everything EXCEPT instructions. I've found some of the military manuals online and am somewhat familiar with safe torch operation, but I don't know what PSI I should targetting for cutting operations. I'll be using oxygen and acetaline with this rig, which is a simple hand-held unit.

On the propane/oxygen lampworking torch I'm familiar with we go for 10 PSI on the oxygen and around 5-6 PSI for the propane. Is that even close to what I'll want to use on the oxy/acetaline for cutting?

I've never used a cutting torch before, although I understand the theory of operations. Reading about something and actually doing it are very different, of course, so I thought I'd better give you guys a chance to show off your knowledge :-)

Thanks in advance!
   - Marcus - Friday, 05/31/02 14:49:40 GMT


I'm looking at doing some supports for an awning. Is there a steel that is better suited for outdoor exposure? It will need to have a black finish. I assume paint is the best for this...
   Chris - Friday, 05/31/02 15:04:29 GMT

Oxy-Acetylene Marcus, Get thee to a trade school or community college that has a welding course immediately!

Pressure settings a NOT a problem. However Acetylene should never be over 15 PSI and generaly is never needed over 10 PSI. Good actylene gauges have a red danger zone above 15PSI (103kPa). Acetylene is a VERY unstable gas. At pressures over 15 PSI it can combine with the rubber in the hoses and explode.

There are only about 50 critical safety rules to Oxy-Acetylene equipment and about 50 more that are not so critical. THAT is why you should take a class.

Acetylene is much different than propane.

Your acetylene cylinder is filled with porus pumic rock or expanded refractory material to prevent explosive shock waves from traveling throug the liquid acetone that the cylinder is filled with. There is only an inch or so actual "gas" space in the top of an actylene cylinder. The gas is disolved in the liquid. The gas must "boil" out of the liquid and there is a maximum withdrawal rate (about 1/7th the full volume per hour). This means that large rosebuds must be fed by multiple cylinders.

If you lay the cylinder on its side the acetone will go through the regulator and you get a purpleish flame. Bad, bad bad. . This leaves extra possibly explosive gas space in the cylinder. You also get some acetone in the flame just as the cylinder runs out of fuel.

The cylinders also have melt out fuses in the bottom, 240°F (I think) for actylene. These are supposed to melt out in an over heated cylinder and prevent a possible explosion. However, the release of the acetone and actylene will be part of a HUGE very hot fire! It just isn't supposed to explode.

These are some of the reasons behind the saftey rule requiring cylinders to be chained upright to the wall, a stand or cart and NEVER, EVER used lying down.

These are all facts and rules you learn in a proper welding course. Some of the warnings and some of the OSHA requirements are not in the books. So go to school. Not to learn to weld (that takes more time than most courses allow) but to learn the safety rules.

In the least, get a copy of Modern Welding by Althouse, Turnquist, Bowditch published by Goodheart-Wilcox (or at least my copy was). This is a big thick thing and used as a text book by many schools. It is also available from metalworking book sellers and others.

Oxygen pressure settings are about equal to the fuel EXCEPT when cutting. When cutting the pressure is determined by the tip orifice size AND the thickness metal being cut. There are different tips for different ranges of thickness. Within each tip range there are different recommended pressures. Most of us "wing it" from experiance. However, when I am cutting especialy thick material OR using a machine torch, I look up the values. These are sometimes BRAND specific.

As to your specific equipment, IF it is made by a reputable manufacture they will have basic literature for the set available for a few dollars if not free.
   - guru - Friday, 05/31/02 15:37:07 GMT

Awning Chris, Mild steel or structural tubing is used for this. Its a bit of an engineering problem as awnings must be able to take combined rain-wind loads and this is proportional to the size of the awning. Something to think about.

Paint for this should be the four step three coat process I have always recommended here for outdoor work.
   - guru - Friday, 05/31/02 15:43:46 GMT

Guru, can you tell me about the advantages of propane over natural gas forge or?
   Jeesun - Friday, 05/31/02 15:49:37 GMT


Thanks for the info and the advice. Right now I'm just looking to cut through some old fence posts without blowing myself up. A course would definitely be a good idea, but I'm hoping that I can learn enough through books/advice to do this (hopefully) quick job in a safe manner.

I understand the necessity of having secured tanks in an upright position, clearing the lines, oxygen being last on/first off, no oil or grease around oxygen fittings, etc. I think I've got a handle on the big safety issues, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

The set did come with a simple instruction book, but without recommended pressures for cutting. The torch set is Chinese-made but appears to be of good quality. I'll check again to see if I can find any manufacturer info that might lead me to an appropriate pressure chart.

Thanks for the book reccomendation... I'm ordering it now.

   - Marcus - Friday, 05/31/02 16:34:53 GMT

Fuel Gases Jeesun, In general propane is portable and NG (Natural gas) is not except as LNG (Liquified NG) which is pretty rare except for bulk transport.

So to use NG your shop needs to on an NG pipe and be plummed for it. Domestic NG is supplied in very low pressures meausred in inches or mm of water column. It is also a low density gas compared to propane. Piping, valving and burner orifices must be larger to use the low pressure. NG is generaly cheaper per BTU than propane.

Propane can be had in various size tanks from portable "picnic" sized and industrial welding cylinder size up to bulk tanks depending on your needs. Propane can be distributed at higher pressures than NG if needed, which is usualy the case for forges.

Forges will run fine on both gases. Some require replacement burner parts, others don't. The choice is usualy made by whether or not you are on an NG distribution line.
   - guru - Friday, 05/31/02 19:00:12 GMT


If the vise is as old as you think, I doubt if it is ductile cast iron. It more likley is grey cast iron. If memory serves correctly, ductile cast iron is a more modern development. It is possible that it could be malleable iron, which is kind of a cross between grey and ductile iron. Non of this really matters unless you need to repair the vise at some time. If it is grey cast iron, it will be more brittle than if it were ductile iron.
   Patrick - Friday, 05/31/02 20:33:07 GMT

Malleable iron vs. Ductile. Patrick, To the best of my knowledge they are the same animal. Ductile is actualy LOW tech.

To make ductile the CI melt is innoculated with magnesium pellets which causes the carbon to form graphite nodules when it freezes. The low low tech method is done IN the mold. A special chamber is created in the feed runner of the mold. It is filled with the magnesium pellets. Sometimes a ceramic grate is used to hold back the pellets. When the CI is poured it is enoculated with the magnesium and viola' you have ductile iron. . .

I'm not sure when it was invented but I think the early 1900's.
   - guru - Friday, 05/31/02 21:09:08 GMT

Marcus-- one tiny point: oxygen and acetylene regulator valves open and close backwards from your usual bathtub and sink spigots. This may not need stating, but just in case: before you open the bottles, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS MAKE CERTAIN the regulators are closed. That is, that the spinners on the regulators are turned counter clockwise all the way to the point where they spin freely. That takes all the strain off the diaphragms inside. Otherwise when you open the bottles, the huge bottle pressures are likely to pooch the diaphragms. Once the bottles are open-- all the way on the oxygen valve, just a half-turn on the acetylene bottle, so you can shut it down fast in a jam (and that means leaving the wrench on the valve if there is no handle affixed)-- THEN you slowwwwly turn the regulator valves to the proper pressure settings. As Jock said, no more than 10 as rule-- and NEVER more than 15-- on the acetylene. When you open the bottles, stand aside from the dial faces, and do not look at them. Some welders install the regulators so the dials are aimed somewhat downward. (Sometimes things pop and you don't want your eyeballs in the way, you dig?)
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/01/02 00:03:22 GMT

Marcus-- oops, forgot to mention that thus it must follow, as the night the day, that when you are done welding or cutting and shut down, you ALWAYS BLEED the hoses.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/01/02 00:08:06 GMT

Malleable and Ductile iron are not quite the same. Malleable iron is made by heat treating ordinary grey iron to allow the carbon flake to breakdown and diffuse into the iron. It results in a pearlite/ferrite microstructure that is much lower in flake graphite than grey iron. Ductile iron is made as previously described using a magnesium innoculant.
   Bob Nichols - Saturday, 06/01/02 00:26:15 GMT

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