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This is an archive of posts from may 18 - 25, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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I purchased a 80 # peter wright anvil. Someone abused it as a chisel table. There are two fairly deep slits and a bunch of small shallow ones. I'm wondering about getting the deep ones filled by welding and milling the face.
If that's possible, what rod should be used to fill the slits and how much milling can be done on the face if any?
I know anvil repair has been discussed before but I had trouble finding the right info in the archives.
   John - Sunday, 05/18/03 00:22:07 GMT

Has anyone read book by Percy W Blandford, Randy Mcdaniel, or David Harris? let me know
   Devon - Sunday, 05/18/03 01:21:02 GMT

Bated v. Baited: PawPaw, ya had it right the first time. "Bated" is the word. Reckon one gets "baited" breath from eatin' at sushi bars. :<)
   - 3dogs - Sunday, 05/18/03 05:23:45 GMT

Devon, I have the book by Percy Blanford. Got it at a used book store for $2. It is a decent book but after actually doing some smithing, it became obvious that the author was describing what he saw and not speaking from experience. He tries to go into a lot of detail but always seems to leave out something important. Nevertheless, it is a good book for beginners.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/18/03 13:33:26 GMT

Canis Triplex:

'Twas I who "bated" when I should have "baited".

I figure Paw Paw gets enough blame for his own mistakes, no need to add my butchering of the english language to the heap... ;-)

BTW: I'll leave the "raw fish eatin'" to those more trendy folks with unique taste buds...
   Zero - Sunday, 05/18/03 15:45:12 GMT

T. Gold,

I would HIGHLY suggest going to the local library and looking for metal smelting books and metal working. The easiest thing to do is to ask a librain to find some books on the subject you are looking for, often they can actually help find very usefull web pages. Librains are trained to be knowledge detectives and although they may know nothing about what they are looking for, they can find it. Most often web pages just have a piece of the puzzel, books on the other hand usually give the complete picture and make the knowledge acquisition process much faster. Also, try some used book stores, I am sure you can find some GREAT books for less than 5$ in them.


I was thinking about your medium compilation and thought that it would be neet to combine all of your different objects. Something like a combination frame for the relief/burning sceen placed about one foot off of the table, then two small stands in front, one to the right and one left of the frame/relief that are only about half a foot off of the table. The wooden figures could be made to corespond with the sceen that is in the relief and the iron work could hold all of it the together. That would be realitively simple but would require some welding, riveting or bolting of some large pieces. Something like a sceen of a blacksmith shop in relief and then two figures, one of a balcksmith and one of a farier placed in front and below the relief sort of spraled out, on conecting stands. I think that kind of setup would look really smoooooth. Have fun!

This is in no way in referance to you, but last night when I was talking to some of my buddies I came up with a saying you guys might like. Instead of telling someone that they have a lot of messed up problems, tell them "Sir, you have a severe and disturbing lack of solutions.".

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Sunday, 05/18/03 17:10:40 GMT

1.Does anyone know of an online demo for using an air chisel and homemade bits for repousse?
2. I have been through an educational hell rebuilding my 50# LG triphammer. Is there a page online to assist rookie triphammer owners fixing their hammers and not getting killed in the process? If not, there should be...
   andrew - Sunday, 05/18/03 17:25:14 GMT

Whoa, Caleb, let that brain of yours cool down! I'm still working on the frame and stands idea! But your comments brought to mind another idea. I forget what they are called but the idea is a religeous painting in the center with two wings that fold over to cover the center painting/carving and open for devotions. A candle holder could be incorporated somewhere...gotta think on that some more.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/18/03 18:02:05 GMT

QC - it's called a triptych
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/18/03 18:44:39 GMT

T. Gold, I re-read your question about aluminum. Are you fabricating it or melting it? If you plan to sell the aluminum for scrap, the cans will have a higher value than castings. This is because the cans are obviously cans and have a known alloy content (virtually none). However, castings are usually alloys and dealers pay a lower price because the exact percentage of alloys are unknown. If you are welding it, I can't help you, sorry.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/18/03 19:37:01 GMT

Hi Devon I have Blanford's and Mcdaniel's books. If you are going to purchase one of them I would suggest Mcdaniel's. It's a far better book than Blanford's, but I don't think you will find Mcdaniel's book used very easally. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Sunday, 05/18/03 21:21:51 GMT

Jerry, thanks, I knew that. I KNEW THAT!
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/18/03 22:28:28 GMT

I have aquired a 50# Little Giant that has the rear part of the frame that holds the lower die snapped off. Someone had drilled holes and mounted a mechanical repair strap which they used for a while and does not look like it is reusable. Any one with any experience on welding or brazing a repair such as this? I have my own ideas but I am open to suggestions as mine might not work as well and someone else might have done this sucessfully before
   Larry Brown - Sunday, 05/18/03 23:16:12 GMT


I agree with the others. Quit hiding your light under a bushel, my friend. You are a far better smith than you have been admitting.

Your son-in-law has done an excellent job organizing your site.

One private message emailed to you this evening.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/18/03 23:18:28 GMT


If there is anything which I should have responded to and missed, please remind me. I'm extremely tired tonight.

Friday on the way to the demo, I hit a bump in a parking lot and the forge trailer ripped the entire rear bumper off of my truck!

Turned out that it was not properly installed and had been flexing for God knows how long. Two of the brackets were literally torn in two! Thank God it happened in the parking lot, rather than on Interstate 40!

The tension brought on a migraine headache, which I fought all night friday night, all day saturday, and about half of saturday night.

I did the demo, though. With a great deal of help from Jim Lewis.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/18/03 23:21:37 GMT

QC - my reason for asking about how you store the propane btl when using your forge is this; I was recently chastized for designing a similar rig based on a two wheel cart with the btl on the bottoom and the forge on a shelf welded about half way up the frame. My guru told me there is a safety pop-out valve (??) on BBQ propane btls that can some how let go under the right conditions and create a volcano effect under the forge - turning everyone near it into crispy critters. I don't know anything about this release valve, how it functions or even if it really exists on new modern bottles but the thought did pass my mind when I saw that picture on your site of your cart rig - and I thought I'd ask.

Anyone have a comment about this safety issue?
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/18/03 23:28:27 GMT

BTW- QC, I've put a couple of items on keenjunk too. Pretty good site for us beginners
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/18/03 23:31:52 GMT

Jerry Crawford, QC, I also hav my propane tank mounted under the portable gas forge. Mine has about 16" between the top of the 20 lb bottle and the steel plate under my homebuilt forge. (Started as an Abana Sandia but highly modified to be a blown slot furnace with a vertically sliding door.) The forge uses a castable refractory floor and the steel plate does get hot but the bottle is always cool. The fuel line is supported away from the hot side of the box. I've seen an awful lot of other gas forges with the bottle in a similar position. Most gas grills also have the bottle under or low and to the side of the burners. I've never seen or heard of the bottle spraying fuel but I guess a volcano WOULD be impressive!
   SGensh - Monday, 05/19/03 00:09:18 GMT

Home: We are home from the Southeastern Regional Blacksmith Conference. Had a great time. Took over 100 pictures and will be posting NEWS pages all week. The weather in GA held out until the last hours and then there was a brief thunderstorm. . . meanwhile at home it has been pouring for three days and all the creeks are flooding. Hope the rain missed your conferences too.

   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 00:32:43 GMT

Larry Brown, If you haven't welded cast iron before you might want to break a piece of scrap and weld that first for practice. You'll find that there is an amazing difference in the way different pieces of cast weld. Sometimes it's as easy as mild steel and sometimes it seems like it just can't be done. I've found that the Nickel 99 rods you can order from McMaster (or others) are relatively inexpensive and work pretty well for something you need to machine later but these days I mostly use the tig and silicon bronze rods to braze weld most cast iron repairs. For a large casting you will want to preheat the area gradually working out from the break. (Some people suggest searing the break with an oxygen rich torch before welding) Don't try and weave around a lot; use stringer beads (peen lightly) to join and fill the area. When you are done wrap the area in an insulating blanket- like the same kaowool you would use in a forge and let it cool overnight.

I'm sure there a better welders than me on this site who may have better suggestions or a favorite cast iron method. Chime in Guys
   SGensh - Monday, 05/19/03 00:34:38 GMT

QC, I'm looking to do some casting for personal stuff rather than resale to dealers. It's also nice to know that there's nothing in the cans liable to smoke off and kill me (besides whatever coloring process is used, my furnace seems to eat that smoke nicely though). I've always been interested in casting; once I get back to the mainland I'm looking to visit some foundries and learn a lot more, hopefully through hands-on experience. There is not a single foundry on this island, at least that I know of.

Jerry and QC,
I was worrying about the same thing, but quelled my urge to mention it. Now that Jerry has brought it up, though (grin), I believe it's called a POL (Pressure Over Load) valve. I don't know why it might suddenly fail, but the possibility definitely merits investigation in light of the potential for a lovely propane volcano (propano?). A maybe relevant fact: the disposable propane bottles for lanterns, etc. have POL valves on them too and I've never seen one mounted more than a foot from the flame, aside from the one on my portable propane-oxygen torch.
   T. Gold - Monday, 05/19/03 00:42:25 GMT

Alarmist BS: Jerry, If mounting a cylinder under a forge were a serious hazard then you would not see it being done on millions of BBQ grills. Just be sure there is no radiant heat from the forge directly on the cylinder, valve, regulator or hose. If your forge is on ANY kind of table top (wood-metal) with some space between it and the forge you are safer than the commercial grills.

Safety Release Valves: YES they are absolutely there and will vent off large quantities of gas when full cylinders are set in the hot sun. The new ODP valves are supposed to prevent the overfilling related to this BUT the overpressure relief it still there as part of the valve.

Storage of ANY fuel cylinder of any type indoors has serious safety concerns and real consequences. In most commercial uses fuel cylinders are NOT kept inside buildings. They are hooked up outdoors and the fuel distributed via a manifold that is carefully checked for leaks.

Cylinder Safety Rules are why I suggest that you folks to take a welding course! Learn the REAL rules and why fores from experts. Nobody should handle cylinders or torches in any shop setting without knowing ALL the related safety rules.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 00:47:59 GMT

It would be an easy task to take the bottle off of the cart and set it away from the forge if that is a safety issue. I, too, would like to get some more information on the situation. A propane volcano could ruin your whole day! On a better note, the 100# of hex and square bar I was given last week turns out to be high carbon stuff. I quenched out a piece of the 1/4" and it got harder than woodpecker lips! Life is good.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 05/19/03 00:51:40 GMT

Little Giant Rebuilds: Larry, LG's are mechanicaly very simple even though thir dynamics are not. Most of the repairs are standard machine shop practice and every part is covered in one machists manual or the other. This means they require more equipment and knowledge to rebuild than any on-line resource is going to be able to help you with. Step ONE is to be a first class machinist. Step TWO is to have the tools or access to them. These ARE machines built to precision tolerances. For some reason everyone thinks that because they are a blacksmith's tool they can be fixed with a hammer and an arc welder! They never think that maybe micrometers, balancing ways and surface plates might be involved.

There is a book on Little Giants that covers most of the normal problems. However, it treats some items as proper machine repairs and others as low class shade tree repairs the results of which many folks have to spend even more time and money re-repairing or replacing parts.

Most of the serious repairs are things like the dovetail problem above that CANNOT be fixed cheaply in the backyard shop. IF the hammer has an anvil cap (sometimes called a "sow block" then it should be replaced OR a replacement made. The proper repair is to cut the anvil down about 8" then machine a new dovetail into the anvil THEN install an anvil cap to put the die back at the correct height. This requires machinery that is not even MADE. The original factory and the current owner of Little Giant uses specialy modified shapers to machine the frames. I think the total cost is about $1500 US including a replacement sow block. It may be much more than you paid for the machine but it is a small fraction of what a similar machine would cost today IF manufactured.

After the "proper repair" then everything else is a make-do fix and there are a thousand ways that all sort of work. The best is to redesign the die holding system and retrofit it to the hammer. This is not easy either.

There is nothing quick, easy or cheap about repairing machinery. Machine shops that specialize in repairs often carry tools that other shops do not such as magnetic based drill presses, machine moving dollies, cranes, large boring mills. It also requires someone with the engineering skills to reverse engineer a part and design a replacement on the spot.

You CAN DO with less but it takes tenacity MORE knowledge and MORE time.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 01:16:43 GMT

guru - sound advice and well stated. Actually, a welding course is on my ist of things to accomplish this year. I'm just waiting for one to make itself available at the nearby VoTech High school. I just finished a Machine Tools course and had more fun and got more done than you can imagine. I'm writing a pictorial essay for a muzzleloaning community magazine about how much I learned and all the neat tools I added to my shop taking this one night a week course. It cost me $30 and I had a complete machine shop at my finger tips every wednesday night for 6 weeks. The Teacher is a cool guy and when school begins in september I'm taking in my 18" section of 140 rail road track and we are going to machine an anvil. Life is (sometimes) good.
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 05/19/03 02:29:35 GMT

Larry- i've been rebuilding a power hammer in my spare time(hee hee) for almost a year now, the hardest part has been building up a section of the anvil cap that had crashed and blown out 2/3 of the rear dovetail. i called a welding rod rep in dallas, he recommended utp-8 high nickle rod for a transition between the oil-soaked cast iron frame and filler rod. I bought two pounds of rod at forty bucks a pound, and ended up grinding it all off. the old cast iron was boiling out oil and grease in the pores, couldn't get the rod to stick. i had used heat, chemicals, and grinding to try and get to virgin cast, the ni-rod won't stick. i talked to a buddy in the nuclear industry, his lead welder suggested stainless rod as a transition, then fill with 7018. i pre-heated the power hammer with a reddi-blaster, and ran utpe309-16 stainless rod over the cast. it stuck really good. i messed up some of the repair by putting to much filler rod in at one sitting, the heat shrink of welding filler in pulled up the edges of the transition, but i can grind that out and re-fill.
the moral of the story is, cast iron repair ain't for sissies. i've done many repairs with ni-rod, preheat and post heat, but this anvil cap had been soaked in grease for almost a century, and normal procedures didn't work. don't be afraid to try different rods, you can always grind off the bird-poop and try something else.
"shoot low, they're riding shetlands!"
   mike-hr - Monday, 05/19/03 04:19:15 GMT

OOPS: My mistake, Zero. I saw all those PTPs and just assumed it was PawPaw. Shoulda read further before committing smartassery. Mutts to the Third Power.
   - 3dogs - Monday, 05/19/03 06:56:53 GMT

Good morning Got a question on case hardening. I have some mild steel at work looking to make a knife now what could I use to harden it. Could I wrap it in corn husk or something like that and burn it? What could I use.. I have not looked around yet to find something in the stores I was hopeing you guys could piont me in thr right direction Thanks

   Devon - Monday, 05/19/03 12:28:16 GMT

Crawford, Fully anneal the rr track or it will wreck the machine tool cutters.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/19/03 13:41:31 GMT


My propane bottle is stored on the bottom shelf of my forge cart. Has been ever since I got the forge, although the cart has changed. At first I used the cart from an old BBQ grill, now I have one that has more space between the forge and the bottle. But have never had a problem with either cart.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/19/03 14:18:03 GMT

Case Hardening Knife: Devon, Short answer, no. Case hardening requires a carbon rich oxygen free atmosphere for a significant time. The part must be at a red heat to absorb the carbon. Case hardening only produces a thin hard surface. The thickest practical case is about 1/32" (~.7mm) and takes 4 to 5 hours. See our case hardening FAQ.

Case hardening was used on cheap trade knives at one time. These knives had to be carefully sharpened on one side only otherwise the soft core would be exposed at the edge.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 15:21:43 GMT

Im wondering how to make a good falchion, I really think that they are awesome swords but I can't ever get them right. The curve at the end is the hardest part, I just can't get it to look right!
   Derek - Monday, 05/19/03 15:49:39 GMT

Cast Iron Repair: 3Dogs, good comments!

Cast iron is not always porous but in many applications it soaks up whatever it is exposed to including lead and other gasoline additives in exhust manifolds. Automotive block castings are sealed to prevent fluids from soaking through and causing weeping leaks.

Some cast iron repairs go well and others go all to pieces. For one one thing there is CAST IRON and there is cast-iron. . . There are dozens of varieties depending on the melt content, the casting method, the cooling method. In welding class (decades ago) we had a pile of new castings to practice repairing. . . went slick as a whistle. Turns out they were ductile iron not grey or white cast iron. Good brazing practice, but I didn't learn anything about cast iron.

Since then I have welded and brazed various cast iron parts including our shallow well pump numerous times. The last time it got frozen and broke I said the heck with it and repaired it with fibreglass and epoxy. The repair took less time, it did not cause other damage and did not warp the case AND it worked. . .

I've had the best luck with brazing on machine frame repairs. AND from the looks of many of the other old machines I've seen in other places it seems to produce the highest success rate.

On small parts a friend of mine welds the casting with cast-iron rod or scraps and a cutting torch tip. He heats the entire thing to a bright red or orange and then welds with cast iron. . or is re-casting the damaged area. The trick is to heat the entire part so that when it cools and shinks it does so evenly and does not crack as is common in most arc welding of CI. Of course the results are like a rough casting and all the machined surfaces must be redone.

On heavy use machines good heavy bolted on repairs are the best but require cutting down and leveling of surfaces, accurate fitting of parts and significant sized drilled and taped holes. The repairs will often work much better than welding but ARE obvious repairs.

Repairing machine castings is not easy and every case is different.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 15:53:42 GMT

Reference to my anvil question on Sunday 5/18 at 00:22:07. I found your information under the 21st century blacksmith. I guess milling is out, so whats the next best thing I can do? I'm not trying to make it perfect. I just want it to not leave marks in the work. I'll try belt sanding the small marks but what about the big ones? Thanks
   - John - Monday, 05/19/03 16:21:47 GMT

Thanks Guru..
   Devon - Monday, 05/19/03 17:55:20 GMT

"Crawford, Fully anneal the rr track or it will wreck the machine tool cutters."

OK - how does one go about this? With a Big Red Torch or stick it in a forge? I'm looking at a heck of a chunk of RR rail to be wrestling around in a forge of some kind. The edges are rolled over a bit on the crown so I realize the rail must be work hardened to beat hell and this was somtthing I was going to discuss with the teacher. He pulled out a set of plans from his project drawer and we looked in his stock rack where we found about 6 feet of rail on the floor. So, this isn't a first time project for him.
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 05/19/03 18:02:50 GMT

Jerry; Do you have access to a surface grinder? That worked for me, followed by a belt sander. Good luck, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Monday, 05/19/03 18:30:32 GMT

surface grinder - yep, have a complete Vo-Tech High school machine trades shop available. Teacher said something about parking that rail in a lathe to turn the horn - but that's all voodoo mystery stuff to me right now. He'll probably hand me a carbide cutter of some kind and turn me loose. Sooo much knowledge to learn - soo little time
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 05/19/03 18:37:38 GMT

Jerry, I believe most current track is made of medium or high carbon steel. In a cosl forge, build a high, deep fire. Put at least 50# coal on the hearth and build a high "volcanic cone around the fire". When a medium cherry red is reached, cool slowly in lime, wood ashes, or vermiculite. Or heat in a big gas forge...or a furnace, oil or gas fired. A rosebud [heating tip] won't do much. No matter what heating method is used, cool off slowly.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/19/03 18:43:27 GMT

What kind of steel are horse shoes made out of? I find them to be extremely tough. Thank you.
   Wendy - Monday, 05/19/03 19:25:02 GMT

Wendy, normally just mild steel. However, racing shoes are made of aluminium and other alloys. Shoes for street use on pavement MAY be made out of a wear resistant steel but I am not sure. Good place for a farrier to chime in here. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/03 19:33:47 GMT

annealing RR ....hmmmm, sounds like a lot of work (what isn't today, right). Once it's annealed I suppose I'll need to reharden and temper it after milling.
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 05/19/03 20:24:53 GMT

Harping on hearing protection:

Long term exposure to sound levels which are not all that loud can cause hearing loss. I realized years ago that my high frequency hearing wasn't what it once was (I could just barely hear the 15KHz tone at the end of Sergeant Pepper.) And tried to identify a cause. At that point, the loudest sound I was being exposed to on a regular basis was the road noise in my car, subsequently measured at an SPL of 82dBa and 85dBc. Now, that isn't that loud, (well below OSHA 8 hour exposure standards) but being basically white noise, has a lot of high frequency content. I've been wearing earplugs while commuting ever since. . .

Never any problem hearing sirens, even with the Howard Leight 31dB bell shaped foam earplugs. 'Though if I don't take them out at gas stops, I often get to practice lip reading. . .

I use a pair of "Turkey Ears" earmuffs around the shop, which lets me hear the machines etc, but limits the loud stuff. . .

As far as I can tell, really adequate hearing protection for shooting has yet to be invented. Sometimes I wear 33dB muffs over 31dB earplugs, and if I go to the range more than about once a month, the tintinus gets to going again. Of course, most gunshots run in the 160dB+ spl range. Some times I'm surprised that sound suppressors (silencers) aren't REQUIRED rather than being heavily taxed and flat out banned in many jurisdictions.
   John Lowther - Monday, 05/19/03 21:12:02 GMT

Glad you had a safe trip home from Madison, Ga.The conference this year was really outstanding. I was at the conference Thursday through Saturday and enjoyed every minute. I spent some time going through the tailgate sale area and saw alot of anvils for sale at what I considered to be fairly high prices.On Saturday, I made another pass through the sale area and noticed that most of the dealers hadn't sold any of their anvils.On the other hand. the guy from Euroanvils was selling his anvils like crazy. which brings me to my point: Why would anyone want to pay a high price for a worn out anvil with the chipped edges, etc.,when the can buy a brand new anvil that weigh more and at a lower cost than the old anvil? It looks like the new anvils will put a hurt on the used anvil market. What do you think about this? As soon as I can save up my money, I am going to buy one of the 260 lb. anvils for $550. I don't think that you can beat that deal.
   - mike - Tuesday, 05/20/03 00:30:50 GMT

Wendy, I've been out of the shoeing loop for quite a few years, but yes, the Guru is correct. If shoes were made of high quality steel, the horse owner might holler at the cost of shoeing. For street use, parades etc., there are rubber coated shoes and slip-on booties of composition material. Borium is tungsten carbide granules in a mild steel welding tube, and it is spot-applied by oxy welding to the ground surface of a shoe, usually the toe and heel area. This is a terrific anti-slip material, but it does tear into the pavement a bit.

Jerry Crawford, Yes, I would consider a localized
hardening on the baloon [working] portion of the anvil. Personally, I would invert it in a coal fire and quench at cherry red in water or oil. You needn't harden the web and base. You may or may not need to temper. If the rate of heat abstraction is not very rapid because of the big mass of the anvil, then tempering might not be necessary. Give it a file hardness test with a new file. If it removes no material and just skates along, you need to temper. If it removes materal "with reluctance", you might be ok without tempering. Regardless, when hardening, use an enormous volume of liquid. Got a stock tank?
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/20/03 00:44:28 GMT

Re: horse shoes
Well, what ever the ones I was using to make hoof picks out of this morning were dang tough. I thought I'd whip out a few to throw on the table with some other goodies I'm making for a little cratfs fair this weekend and boy, were they some work! I will tell a funny on myself here- mostly because I don't mind if you all laugh and also because it taught me a few things. I tossed a couple of shoes into the fire and cut them in half with the hot cut, no problem. Then when I started to create a step with half face blows, things started to go south on me. I use a two pound cross pien and it didn't seem to be making a dent, so I started swinging harder. I missed a blow in my attempt to wang h*ll on that thing and the hammer bounced up and hit me in the forehead!! Good grief. On the next heat I missed again and knocked the corner off of my anvil!!!! It seems to have been cracked since there was rust on the inside of the fracture, but still, I was not not very pleased. Ok, I said to myself, clearly more heat will help here... Guess what? Next heat I burned it to a crisp. It was one of those mornings.... and yes, I've been doing this for a while now...
   Wendy - Tuesday, 05/20/03 00:51:34 GMT

Wendy, I don't know about the rest of the guys, but I won't laugh at you. I might grin a bit of a wry grin, because I've had entire days like that, and I would bet a pretty good chunk of money that we all have!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/20/03 00:58:50 GMT

Guru,I am a park ranger in Yosemite with about a year's experience in blacksmithing. Here in our history center we have a 1901 rotary blower---today, it became almost impossible to turn the blower. We greased it as much as we dared to considering we were using the forge, but I'm wondering if it is something more serious like bearings and gears? We will look more closely tomorrow when it's cold, but if we have to do more than grease it, can we take it apart, are the parts (bearings/gears) available? Can you offer me any advice? Thank you, I will check my mail in the morning. Ranger Hutchinson
   Ranger Kristine-Yosemite - Tuesday, 05/20/03 01:02:50 GMT

Wendy. . you never know WHAT you are working when using scrap ANYTHING. This weekend at SERBC the fellow demonstrating for Tom Clark picked up a piece of 1-1/2" diameter steel and forged two horse heads out of it after drawing out the middle to make it easier to handle. Later they found out it was the steel Tom had brought to make hammers out of. . . probably 4140 or 5160.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/03 01:10:23 GMT

Anvil Prices: I thought the used anvil prices at SERBC were a little high myself. But they were still much lower than new. Many folks still want the old forged wrought and steel faced anvils and like the old style shapes. But I think too many people think the ocassional eBay price is normal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/03 01:14:13 GMT

Old Blower: Kristine, It could be several things. Worn gears can get VERY tight when they mesh improperly. If the blower made rattling noises for a long time before finaly locking up that could be it. No, there are no new parts. Some of the bearings are replaceable but most were custom made by the factory.

Many of these blowers have worm gear drives. These can get out of adjustment and lock up. Worm gears must be adjusted so that the worm wheel is centered over the worm. If it is to the right or left it can bind up. The worms usualy have adjustment nuts on the ends of the shaft to adjust the end play. If one of these is loose (not locked in place) it is possible for it to tighten with use and lock up the blower OR make it very stiff. Normaly these shafts are adjusted so that there is NO end play and then the nuts backed off one flat (to the next locking point) to leave a very small amount of end play. If left tight the bearings will wear OR tighten up when warmed by use. If left too loose the gears will be "under meshed" having a lot of backlash and wear out prematurely.

Lubrication on these units is normally oil. SAE30 to SAE90. A small amount fills the bottom of the unit and is spread around by the gears (splash lubrication). Most of these devices have no seals and leak oil constantly. So oil must be added at the same rate.

If the blower was fitted with a grease fitting and has been pumped full of grease THAT will make it too stiff to use (at least in cool weather).

If the blower is worn out I would recommend retiring it to museum status and replacing it with a new one. Pieh Tool Company and Centaur Forge carry Vaughans blowers. I believe these British made blowers are the last hand crank types still made. Only a few tool collectors or a blacksmiths would know it was a new blower.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/03 01:31:10 GMT

Thanks to all who replied on the LG cast iron repair,
   Larry Brown - Tuesday, 05/20/03 02:12:49 GMT

Went to a local Michigan Hammer-in this last weekend. Most of us were inside a large dirt floor pole barn. We had a lot of open doors! Must have been 15 forges running, and some had more than one smith at them. From beginners to magicians. A very informal gathering of a lot of talent. I'd get done dinking around on my forge and wander around, see someone make something, or ask how they did it, and head back to my forge to give it a go. Lot's of friendly people and all were helpful. What a great weekend!
   Bob H - Tuesday, 05/20/03 02:57:22 GMT

I was given an anvil a few years ago by a relative and I want to know more about it, can anyone help?
Markings on Anvil:
   Alan - Tuesday, 05/20/03 05:13:10 GMT

Jerry Crawford; A machinist friend asked me to make a RR track anvil for him about 15 years ago. He had a 16" chunk of old, well used track. I roughed out the horn with a torch, and ground it to shape with a 9" disc grinder. Come time to flatten out the crown, I wanted to use his surface grinder, but his new wheel hadn't arrived yet. He handed me this big ol', brand new 2" diameter carbide shell end mill, and proudly tells me that "This sucker will cut anything you can feed it." Sooooo, I figured I'd just kinda sneak up on it with about a .010 cut. I dropped the table feed lever, and when that cutter got into that old work hardened track, you'd have thought that all the banshees in Hell were having a convention, the way that cutter went to screaming, and the sparks started jumping. When he had a look at his formerly new end mill, he decided that maybe it'd be a good idea to wait for the surface grinder wheel. 'Nuff said. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 05/20/03 05:38:45 GMT

Hey, how 'bout Quenchcrack"s website!

Sound, tinitus...hearing loss.
After heavy chemo in '80 i had tinitus in 4 or 5 constant ,simutaneous ,high pitches ( dissonant unfortunately) loud enough to obscure soft voices. Over time it has diminished.. along with my high end hearing.
Devon..it was my kidneys that were trashed by the chemo and I didn't hear any low pitched tinitus. Better validate your info sources...
After a very loud sound or a middle ear infection I've experienced "ringing in my ears" or tinitus and it has not ceased since chemo.
Was told ( don't know if it's true) that that high pitched whistling in the ear is an auditory cell (at the bottom of the pitch sensitive hair that vibrates sympathetically), singing it's death song...singing goodby to being able to hear that frequency.
True or not, it's pretty graphic.,,,,say, what?!?
Andrew, come to the CBA Octoberfest, EA Chase will be demonstrating small airhammers ,and maybe me too, for comic relief.
Propane volcanos; There is a pressure release valve or a burst disk on propane bottles that is mostly there to release an extreme overpressure. The most common cause is "hydrolock" caused by overfilling. When the fluid propane heats up, it expands. The gas on top of the liquid compresses as the liquid volume rises. If there isn't enough gas on top to provide space for liquid expansion of an overfilled tank...the relief valve or burst disk opens up and releases liquid propane so the whole tank doesn't burst. It is part of the reason why the tanks are supposed to be used and stored outside...which I probably ought to do..sometime...pretty soon..sometime.
Jerry C; An RR anvil is fine for forging up to about 3/16" bar...above that It's gonna be frustrating to use in tghe normal configuration.....but
If you take that rail section and set it on end, then the exposed top end will be enough for most normal forging, it wont spring all over the place and you will have all the anvil mass right where you want it, directly under the hammer. 95% of forging goes on in just a few sq inches..
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 05/20/03 09:06:04 GMT

Pete F: This is not a cut and dry thing we are talking about, everybody is different but for the most part if you have a high pitch in your ear's the chances of you liver or gallbladder having blocked energy or gallstones is pretty good :). when the low hum is there the kidney energy is low, Now if you are in a shop for years and are subject to loud noise HEY you have hearing loss. As far as my sources my cousin is a Dr in Chinese medicine for 15 years that is what he told me about tinitus in the ears. :) have a good day guys...What could help you Pete is Milk Thistle look it up on the net.... :)
   Devon - Tuesday, 05/20/03 11:33:21 GMT

Hard horseshoes. In my shoeing days, many moons ago, I was told by a farrier friend that the Diamond brand shoes were extremely hard. He was a cold shoer part of time and was having a heck of a time trying to bend them cold. He even had one break while working it. He gave me a couple to experiment with, and they were surenuff hard to move cold. They seemed to behave like some rebar does. I assume Diamond has improved since then.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/20/03 11:39:12 GMT

Guru, couldn't send greetings to you this AM. You said @ the conference to remind you about the ratio of the counterweight on a power hammer...
   Ron C - Tuesday, 05/20/03 12:10:42 GMT

Guru, couldn't send greetings to you this AM. You said @ the conference to remind you about the ratio of the counterweight on a power hammer...
   Ron C - Tuesday, 05/20/03 12:14:29 GMT


I answered your question about your anvil across the street.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/20/03 12:21:19 GMT

Paw Paw, could you share with me your secret on how to keep it down to just *days*, seems like sometimes I hit weeks and even once a *year* like that. Felt like someone had just got a new hammer and was trying it out on me...just got the final paperwork my *last* job lasted 13 years 10 months and 15 days, but I could get about $100 dollars a month retirement from it starting in June...time to look at investments and roll it into something I can worry about...

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 05/20/03 13:28:20 GMT

Bob H,
And that is what it is all about. Smiths helping others smiths and having a good time. I am glad that you went to a hammer-in as they are generally the most fun and informative events.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 05/20/03 15:14:16 GMT

Wendy, you missed an entire thread on one of the other forums about judging a day on how minor the accidents and injuries were. I think we've all been there.
   Monica - Tuesday, 05/20/03 15:39:27 GMT

Greetings from Skid Row. All of my e-mail is messed up, and my laptop won't connect, so I can't reply to any regular missives. Errgh; Lotus Notes! Ptui!

Quenchcrack; crystals & grains: Thanks, it makes sense and preserves my from folly when next someone asks.

Caleb: Retaining a recognizeable (but perhaps embelished) railroad spike head would make sense.

Paw Paw's truck: Sometimes even when we're unlucky, we're lucky. It could have been worse! I hope you got it back together and your headache is gone.

Derek; Falchion: Try over at swordforums.com. They have a lot of information for beginners, experts and enthusiasts.

Kristine: I'll let the Guru answer this one, but keep up the good work, we need more blacksmithing on out National Parks! ;-)

Okay, back to an incommunicado status. Cool and rainy on the shores of Puget Sound. Off to www.nps.gov/klse/ .
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/20/03 15:44:55 GMT


Days was me minimizing the problem. I think the longest I've ever had at one time was about a week. I got pi**ed and took a week off, even though I couldn't afford it. When I went back to work things were back to normal.

Bruce, had a welder come to the parking lot and put the bumper back on. That held for the rest of the trip to King's Mountain National Military Park, and back home. Am going to make some addtional brackets this week to re-enforce the whole thing.

On another note, I was much impressed by the professionalism of the Rangers, guides and staff at King's Mountain. You may be proud of them, they are worthy.

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/20/03 16:46:23 GMT

I haven't heard or seen any response from anyone about my anvil question posted Sunday and Monday. Am I in the wrong place or asking something everyone is tired of talking about? Just want to make sure I'm posting to the right web site for questions and answers. Didn't mean for this to sound snippy, I just need to get some work done on this anvil as our granddaughter is coming to stay a while and she wants to get started doing some smithing with me.
Maybe I should just leave those big chisel marks alone and try and work around them. They of course are in just the wrong spots. Thanks for any information you can provide.
   John - Tuesday, 05/20/03 17:15:00 GMT

"Jerry C; An RR anvil is fine for forging up to about 3/16" bar...above that It's gonna be frustrating to use in tghe normal configuration.....but
If you take that rail section and set it on end, then the exposed top end will be enough for most normal forging, it wont spring all over the place and you will have all the anvil mass right where you want it, directly under the hammer. 95% of forging goes on in just a few sq inches..
- Pete F - Tuesday, 05/20/03 09:06:04 GMT "

[hmmmm, - {thinking to himself} I've heard of doing this befor and it makes sense about all the mass.....wonder if I had someone weld a 6 - 8" long piece of 1" thick by 4 wide CRS bar across the top (end that's up) with a hardy hole bored in for an anvil face and just forgot about the horn shape.? ...might work...]
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 05/20/03 17:50:51 GMT

Check out this site. www.metaldevil.com. Has anyone ever used one of these blades? How much do they cost?
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/20/03 18:01:50 GMT

hi guys have found some old files what could I use to restore them?? in the past I came read about some mixes people use like a mild acid or something along that line. Could I make something like that? or would I have to buy it? you guys are great.. Thanks

   Devon - Tuesday, 05/20/03 18:16:28 GMT

Quenchcrack thanks for the information the other day I found what I was looking for..

   Devon - Tuesday, 05/20/03 18:18:12 GMT

Electric PH -- maybe?

I have acquired a fairly heavy 100 volt/4.5 amp electric clutch motor off of an old industrial sewing machine table. I've used this machine and you can nurse teh clutch to get full power to the machine or just creep along slowly. I'm getting ready to move the machine and wondered if I might utilize the electric motor later for an electric PH of some kind. By the creative assembly of junque I've seen turned into PH's I just wondered if I might have the heart power of my own hammer at hand and not know it. My intent is something on the order of a knife makers PH rather than something Alexander Calder might have use for. Comment?
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 05/20/03 18:32:50 GMT

John, Anvil repair,
Don't do anything you can't undo, work around the marks for now, they might not be as bad as you think.
   JimG - Tuesday, 05/20/03 18:50:01 GMT

Clutch: Jerry, Clutches are rated by the inertial mass they have to move. Your sewing machine clutch might run a 4oz. power hammer but stall and burn up on anything greater.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/03 19:02:08 GMT

1.Does anyone know of an online demo for using an air chisel and homemade bits for repousse?
2. I have been through an educational hell rebuilding my 50# LG triphammer. Is there a page online to assist rookie triphammer owners fixing their hammers and not getting killed in the process? If not, there should be...
andrew - Sunday, 05/18/03 17:25:14 GMT
   - andrew - Tuesday, 05/20/03 19:10:09 GMT

John-Anvil Repair

Generally repairing anvils is not advised because if not done correctly, more harm than good may result. That is not to say that anvils can't be repaired. They can, but it takes knowledge and skill, and if you can't do it yourself, it can be very expensive. So much so, that it is often cheaper to by a new anvil.
In my experience, it seems that there are 2 schools of thought wrt anvils. The first is that they are tools to be used and repaired as needed. The second is that they are antiques and can be used, but should not be altered.
In your case, some light grinding would be fine and may have quite a noticable improvement. I find that it takes a pretty goods size blemish to show up in the finished piece in such a way as to be noticable. The other thing is to work around the marks. For this to be effective, you must develop the ability to hold the work in the same place on the anvil and keep it from bouncing around. I don't think that for a chisel mark I would go to the trouble of doing a weld type repair. I have an anvil that I have repaired. It had been used as a cutting tabel and and a lot of torch damage on the face and edges. These I filled with 7018 rod, but I preheated the anvil first. This seems to have worked well, but the 7018 is not as hard as the rest of the face. I could have used a hardface rod, and may go back over the first repairs if they prove to be a problem, but they seem to be holding up so far.
If you are intent on repairing your anvil, or just want to lear more about it, do an internet search for anvil repair. Several online articles are available. Good luck.
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 05/20/03 19:19:32 GMT

John, sorry. . I've been on the road and busy. Sometimes questions get overlooked when catching up.

As Jim said don't do anything you will regret. Hand grinders can do a lot to clean up an old anvil. On really rough anvils you start with a heavy duty angle grinder. These take some practice to use. Be sure to keep the grinder moving. Pay attention to keeping things flat as you grind. Do not grind in the low spots. You can follow up with a belt sander to get a smooth flat finish. When you are done if there are still some marks in the face work around them. 99% of all forging is done in a little 3" square space on the anvil and that is all you need to do perfect work.

Perfectly flat anvil faces are not necessarily a good thing even when making flat work. Anvils with a sway or sagging center are better than a flat surface for straightening work. If you hit a piece laying on a flat surface it bends UP. If you hit a piece over a space it bends where you intend. Straightness comes from your eye, not the anvil. The slightly curved surfaces around a swayed center are great for drawing. The curved surface helps move material much faster than a flat one. That is why many smiths draw out on the horn near the body of the anvil.

Good corners are nice but not necessary. They are not worth welding on the anvil and possibly damaging it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/03 19:30:44 GMT

Thanks Guru, Patrick and JimG. Since I'm not an experienced machine welder I guess I'll sand it a bit and call it good. Pretty excited about our 8YOA granddaughter trying it out. I think she is tired of just turning the blower handle for gramps. The price was right and I wasn't sure if anything could really be done about the chisel marks. I guess when I think about it, I'd rather have her put some dings in this 80 # peter wright than My good working anvil. Thanks again for all the answers and we really enjoy your web site. I owe a GREAT BIG thanks to Bill Epps and all the other Iforge demo folks. Great ideas and help when I get stuck. Happy hammering.
   John - Tuesday, 05/20/03 20:16:08 GMT

more about propane forges:

I connected a garden hose this afternoon to the injector nozzles I'm making for my two burner forge. Glad I did. When I put the water pressure to them I discovered the tweco MIG tips leaked badly at the threads even though I thought I had them tight. I'm pretending I don't know what my hair (and maybe some other part of my anatomy) would look like right now if I had been putting fuel though those nozzles and struck a match. That $2.00 brass connector between the injector and my garden hose was a very valuable acquisition. Leson learned - painlessly!
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 05/20/03 20:35:24 GMT


As a grandfather myself, I know the joy of watching a grandchild (g-son or g-daughter either one) pound on iron. Several of mine have and do.

Might I suggest that membership in CSI would be helpful in making sure that anvilfire is around to help them?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/20/03 20:56:25 GMT

I work at one of the last remaining Drop Forges in Lansing, Mi. We try to do all of our Die repair in house, our dies are FX steel, and weigh about 3500 pounds a piece. If we have deep cracks, we weld them with weld-mold 535 after the impression and all cracks have been removed, on top of that we weld them with cor-met 6301. my question is what is the optimal temperature for a pre-heat on the parent metal, and what is the absolute lowest pre-heat temp we should go with before we even consider striking an arc. any information you can give me on this will be greatly apreciated. thank you in advance, i know you will give me the right answer.
   gary budek - Tuesday, 05/20/03 23:18:21 GMT

Sometime ago, someone asked me a question about Beche Hammers. I just recieved the following from a friend:

I just picked up Douglas
feund's new book, A Blacksmith's & Hammerman's Emporium (2001). He has a chapter about Nazel c. 1914. Nazel made and
sold Beche hammers in the USA. Subsequent Nazel hammers were knockoffs of the Beche. Therefore, your inquirer should be
able to learn about his hammer's missing pieces by finding a Nazel to examine. Beche sold thousands of machines in Europe
before entering the USA market. He should be able to ask European smiths for advice.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/21/03 00:21:22 GMT

I have been trying for the last 2 weeks to regester on the anvilfire system, to no avail. Can someone give me some hints?
Thanks in advace.

Mike Mcginty
   habu - Wednesday, 05/21/03 02:20:02 GMT


The guru is running about a month behind on pub registrations, he'll get to them just as fast as he can.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/21/03 02:35:34 GMT

Do you know when the hand-cranked forge blower was introduced? Would it be appropriate to use in Civil War re-enactments? Thanks for any response.
   Robert Dean - Wednesday, 05/21/03 03:24:39 GMT

Thanks, I thought it was because I was a gasser, and did not smell of coke, ;-) waiting patiently

   habu - Wednesday, 05/21/03 04:34:13 GMT

Robert Dean. Blowers. I have used many hand cranked blowers over the years, Champion, Midway, Lancaster, Buffalo, etc., and for the most part, the patent dates are around the turn of the 20th century. However, looking in my mid-1890's old tool catalogs, I see hand cranked blowers and lever blowers, including some oddball ones, Keystone brand, that have sprockets and roller chains running to a blower case underneath the hearth. Sorry, I can't give you a definitive answer regarding your period, but perhaps the Early American Industries Association may be of help: www.eaia.org. It seems unlikely that a hand blower was used in the Civil War era, unless it was a shop made one.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/21/03 12:07:08 GMT


Not sure when it was invented, but the US Army Cavalry travelling Forge had a hand crank blower, and there are pictures of farrier operations outside Grant's headquaters using them.

Mike, not that, just too much to do and not enough hours in the day.

Sorry Frank, Got pictures of them using the hand cranks then, as noted above.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/21/03 12:13:10 GMT

Beche Hammers Early Beche hammers were made by Nazel and part MAY be interchangable. However most made since WWII are Beche design. I may still have Beche listed as out of business but the firm that bought them is producing a small number of hammers and is servicing old machines.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 13:00:00 GMT

Die Welding: Gary, when welding anvils (also big tool steel blocks)it is recommended to preheat to 350°F. This is just below the minimum temper temperature for most steels. This is also in keeping with recommedations for heating tool steels for forging (warm to 350°F before putting in the full heat of the forge). This is to prevent thermal shock that may crack the steel. The usual test is when spit will sizzle.

Each pass should be cleaned of flux and peened before the next applied.

The above is for blacksmith's anvils and may not directly apply to welding such large dies. Folks often "get by" with much less but that is taking a chance and playing the odds.
If anyone else has a better recomendation please chime in.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 13:18:06 GMT

Propane Leaks: Jerry, a small leak around the tip if it is INSIDE the burner bell should not be a problem. The gas is under much lower pressure and most will go out the orifice. The small amount that leaks will be pulled along with the moving air. Leaks OUTSIDE the burner bell are critical.

The threads on those MIG tips are NOT pipe threads. They are straight and will not seal in a pipe fitting. That is why my design posted last week uses a compression fitting on the outside of the tip. Other people braze of silver solder them in place.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 13:42:45 GMT

Viruses: Old and new ones are making the rounds. The "microsoft" virus with a forged return address to support @ microsoft.com purporting to have your personal information. . . IT IS a VIRUS and has nothing to do with the recent findings that microsoft passport information was wide open to anyone that really tried to access it. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 15:05:06 GMT

Guru: what do you know about Power Coating? pros. cons?
   Devon - Wednesday, 05/21/03 15:17:46 GMT

that would be Powder coating!!
   Devon - Wednesday, 05/21/03 15:18:28 GMT

Guru: If your planning on becoming a blacksmith as a proffession, what would be the average annual income?
   - Iron Dog - Wednesday, 05/21/03 15:46:03 GMT


Not sure when it was invented, but the US Army Cavalry travelling Forge had a hand crank blower, and there are pictures of farrier operations outside Grant's headquaters using them.

...FWIW - I've learned to be careful using illustrations as primary evidence for the existance of historical items unless they are original photographs. Artists often used artistic license in otherwise artfully rendered pictures and included items that were not yet invented in the time the illustration was suppose to portray. Just so,meting to consider documenting items for historical re-enactments.
   - Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 05/21/03 16:46:59 GMT

I am having trouble upsetting some 5/16 round mild steel.Any tips on this.
   CHRIS MAKIN - Wednesday, 05/21/03 17:06:18 GMT


These are reproductions of Matthew Brady photographs from the Library of Congress.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/21/03 17:51:12 GMT

Income Iron Dog, Practically all blacksmiths AND farriers are self employed and as such there is no reliable information on income levels. Also, being self employed often means being able to work when want and to take off when you want. . . but this also means a reduction in income.

Blacksmiths come in a wide range of types. Those working as "artist blacksmiths" trying to do nothing but "traditional" work tend to fall in the class of starving artist. They often go from one big commision to the next with significant gaps in their work load.

Those doing less traditional work and industrial work tend to make more money. Farriers seem to always be in demand and make a good income. But they work very long hours in a field that many have no liking for.

To make $50k/year a blacksmith must bill $100/hour for their productive time. Very few have figured this out and do not charge nearly that much. However, those with well mechanized shops doing industrial work often bill $200/hour for productive time (in a small one man shop).

Most folks that are in blacksmithing are not in it for the money. They are in it because they love it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 18:04:57 GMT

guru, sadly you are on the mark here. My oly B_S friend recently went under and had to go back to his "other job". From what you said about shop rate I think I know why he went under - he was charging me $35/hr shop rate for the time he spent with me in his smithy. I haven't any idea what he charged for commission work but I doubt here in Maine it was $100-200 per hour.
   - Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 05/21/03 18:39:57 GMT

That $100/hour rate sounds high but breaks down like this.

Being self-employed you are rarely ever more than 50% efficient. Half a working year = 1000 hours. Your gross is $100K. Out of that you have to pay for materials, rent, utilities, insurance, a vehical. Using real numbers and real working hours that easily comes to $50/hour IF your rent is not high AND you do not have a NEW vehical. . . This leaves you $50/hour for 1000 hours or $50K year.

If you only charge $50/hour you must have little or no rent and must drive old beat to peices vehicals like I do. . . THEN after expenses you might make $15K year ($7.50/hour). If you charge less than $50/hour then you are giving your work away.

IF everything you own is paid for (no rent) you can get away with charging $35/hour and make a little income. But this is not a number a young person should consider as they will soon be broke.

The folks that I know charging $200/hour have big power hammers and a fork lift to move the volume of steel and finished work. Doing little piece work pieces they may be only charging $2/each but forge 100/hour. In the bit sharpening business you can do 70/hour IF you hustle and the rate is $2.50 each. But there are big expenses to go with the bigger equipment. Often you need an full time employee or two when you are in this charge rate range.

The next time you are forging hooks that you sell for $4-$5 each see if you can make $100 worth in an hour. . .

To keep from giving your customers "sticker shock", bid by the job or project and do not give an hourly rate. Then BE SURE you do not underestimate the time AND you apply that $100/hour figure. OR to make just $25K/year use $75/hour. Commision work often goes for this rate or more. The problem here is that the "artist blacksmith" is only making wages and getting nothing for the "art" at these rates.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 19:36:02 GMT

which brings to memory another bit about a good education. When I went to college to get a degree in Fine Art I spent 5 years at university (of New Hampshire) and nobody ever gave me a clue how to charge for work or how to put a valuation on my work or how to make a living at my work. There was absolutly zero information or instruction about making a living as an artist or craftsman. Once, when I brought it up, I was roundly hissed and boo'd by other students for wanting to discuss a topic as ugly and demeaning as making a living and charging for work. It was almost as if I had brought up a taboo topic so disgusting as to be on a par with priestly virtues. I have no idea what these people thought or even if they did, but the crux of the problem may be this:

First: you can not charge a customer for your learning curve. If it takes you a week or a year to learn and practice some skill to do a marketable job - well, that's on you because it will be with you all your life and you will be able to charge for your knowledge many time after you get it down pat. You can charge ($200/hr) for the talented exercise of that knowledge afterward creating the art.

And - many talented craftsman think they should charge what THEY would be able to pay for work rather than charge what it really costs them to make it, the profit added and the cost of doing business. I learned that I'll be making work for the few who can afford it. My market will be the few discerning clients who know good work and enjoy's having it, not the masses who will look at it in a museum gun display in 200 years.
   - Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 05/21/03 19:48:42 GMT

Do you know of any other names throughout history that refer to blacksmiths? i.e. nicknames, slang words, etc?
Thanks for your help
   ryan - Wednesday, 05/21/03 21:38:14 GMT


Jock hit the nail right on the head!

I've been in business for myself for almost 20 years now. The first 10 years were pure hell. It cost me my first marriage, untold friendships (NEVER hire friends or family) and a fortune in lost opportunities.

Why, you ask? Because I didn't CHARGE enough. I took a minor in business, it pretty much taught me the applied principles of accounting and little else. No one teaches you to factor in the level of P-n-A (Pain in A$$) for each job, or how your overhead can fluctuate radically month to month.

$100.00 per hour is good... $200.00 per hour is better (remember; Lawyers get upwards of $500.00 per hour, and build nothing tangible [Note to Slag: I'm NOT bashing Lawyers!]).

Your customer base will be smaller at a higher hourly rate, but those customers you keep (get) will usually (STRONG emphasis on "usually") pay more timely, and leave you alone to do the job as you quoted it.

Again, just my $0.02 worth.... ;-)
   Zero - Wednesday, 05/21/03 21:42:42 GMT


Sorry, kudos to Jerry Crawford as well -- he, too, hit the nail...

FWIW: Blacksmithing isn't my biz, it's metalstamping.
   Zero - Wednesday, 05/21/03 21:48:12 GMT

Blacksmith: Ryan, Smith, schmidt, smit, smed and many other variations have been the same for millenia in Europe. There are some specialists and job titles that are related such as hammerman.

In French it is forgeron, in German, Schmied, Italian, fabbro, in Spanish el herrero or el forjador, Swedish smed, in Holländisch and Afrikaans it is smid,
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 22:36:08 GMT

..for those who may be cheering from the gallery at the actions of a novice, I ran a soap test on the complete propane fuel system for my forge this afternoon from
the fuel inlet through the manifold valves and burner outlets. I hooked up the assembly to my air compressor set at 15-20PSI and, after a bit of teflon maintenance at one joint, everything is solid - not one bubble. Color me happy that's over.

   - Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 05/21/03 22:47:42 GMT

Education and Money: I always thought it was ironic that schools that rely heavily on INCOME to pay their instructors and maintain their facilities considered understanding the business of making a living as something to be despised. Of course these are largely people who have never worked for themselves, they have always worked for other people that worried about the money.

One of the things that I tell wannabes is that they are going to be SELF EMPLOYED and that means understanding the tax system, business rules, doing ones own paperwork and being treated as a lesser person by many establishments such as banks.

The tax laws and forms change EVERY year. If you can afford and account it is well worth it. But plan on carefully explaining your business to him. Do not capitalize tools. Most can be written off as "small tools" or if they have a life over 3 years there is a special deduction of up to $20,000. Use IT. Do not keep a depreciation schedule it will complicate your life, is added bookkeeping ($$$) and may lead to higher personal property taxes.

When you are self employed the US IRS wants 15% of every quarter you make. I say quarter because THAT is where the social security/self employement charts used to start. There are NO personal deductions on income related to the SE tax. You may not pay any "Federal" tax and live like a pauper on a few thousand dollars but the US government wants 15%.

You are not an inventory based business. Small amounts of material left over from a job or kept on hand are not inventory. Inventory is finished product ready to sell such as in a grocery store or department store. Once you show inventory on your taxes you have made a mess that will follow you for years. Be sure your accountant knows that your scrap pile is NOT inventory.

Banks, many institutions (and wives) treat self employed as un-employed. Don't plan on borrowing start-up money or even a short term loan to finance the materials for a big job until you are well established. Credit cards are both a neccessity in modern life AND will destroy a small business (or a marriage) if used unwisely. Generally if you cannot afford to pay for it NOW then you can't afford it. The exception is house or truck but not always.

Everything business related costs MORE. Utilities want larger deposits, landlords higher rent, insurance companies higher fees (is that a SIGN you put on your pickup making it a "commercial" vehical????)

Expenses like rent and utilities are constant even if you do no work. Some expenses like your electric bill can spike hugely when you build a machine or reface an anvil. Expenses like phone bills can be controlled to an extent but $150/month is normal.

The devil is in the details. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/03 23:03:37 GMT

MIG Tip Burners -- Guru, that compression fitting is a neat idea. I've noticed my (Lincoln) tips are exactly 1/4 od. Wish I'd read or thought about it before I designed my burner.

My tips have a shoulder behind the threads. I tapped into the side of a 1/8 pipe burner tube, then filed a flat for the shoulder to seat against. Only left about one thread, which didn't hold. Finally TIGged a nut to the side of the pipe, M6 X 1.25 for my Lincoln tip IIRC. Works okay, but I'll definitely use a compression fitting next time.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 05/21/03 23:17:53 GMT

WOW the way you guy talk makes me want to run out and be self employed LOL...:)

   Devon - Wednesday, 05/21/03 23:22:59 GMT

Edwards Shear:

I am wondering if any of you know of the range of time in which the Edwards Shear was produced.

Mine is a 10B, with "Albert Lea" and "X" on the swinging arm. It has a 7" long blade and under the gunk there looked to be a blue coat of paint.

I have done some web search's on the subject but havn't found any substantial data. Mabey one of you could point me towards the right site(s).


Great pictures and information from the Southeast Regional Blacksmith Conference. I especially like Mike and Dan Boone's dragon. Looking at the pictures of the anvil shoot(what a spectacular tradition) I was wondering if the shot anvil has ever landed on the base anvil. Now that would make some noise!grin

Thanks for everything,

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 05/22/03 00:28:19 GMT

need an opinion (guru?? et al with propane forges)

I fabricated a couple of nice stand-off blocks for the manifold on my forge today and designed them so the handles, valves and connectors as well as the acet hose connection would be blocked away from the side of the forge steel shell about 1 inch....thinking that amount of circulation would be adequate thermal distance between the shell and the manifold. I received a dissenting opinion in the mail this evening about this being perhaps too close and just wondered if I needed to rethink the design befor I welded them in place?
   - Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 05/22/03 00:41:40 GMT


> I was wondering if the shot anvil has ever landed on the base anvil. Now that would make some noise!grin

Yes it has, and yes it does. Happened at BGOP a few years ago, when guru and I were there.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 01:04:07 GMT

Spacing & Heat Jerry, A lot depends on the design and insulation of your forge. But in most cases if the valves are next to the forge body where it is going to get hot then you need a minimum of a foot or more of clearance OR a heat shield 1" off the surface of the forge and the valves at least another 2" from that.

Closer than a foot from the side of a forge and plastic parts will melt (handles, seals) or metal knobs will get too hot to touch.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/22/03 01:18:22 GMT

trying to find out what the best thing to use to line or
'clay' a small cast iron forge with
   mike tanner - Thursday, 05/22/03 01:24:14 GMT

Anvil Shoots: Tim Ryan (who did the SERBC shoot) used to try to see how close he could get the anvil to fall to the launch point . . . until he had one hit dead on. . . said he didn't think about the fact that it would be like a head on train crash. He didn't say what happened but I think he had to replace one of his anvils. . .

I am still posting the news. . . more tomarrow.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/22/03 01:32:06 GMT

Iforgeiron.com has been quietly supporting Anvilfire and the Slack-Tub-Pub by posting photos of projects talked about in the pub, in real time - while the conversation is still running. Those images are kept on the site for 24 hours so anyone reading the pub log, can also see the photos and keep up.

Iforgeiron has grown, thanks to the many contributors to the site, to include tools and tricks of the trade, an archive of project photos, and blueprint pages showing tools, jigs, and other information. If you have not been there, it is worth a look.

   - Ntech - Thursday, 05/22/03 01:37:59 GMT

I saw Tim do an anvil shoot at the Alabama Forge Council Conference in Tannehill about 6 years ago where the anvil fired fell back onto the stationary anvil and broke a big chunk out of the bottom anvil. I think he was using some special shooting anvils he had cast. Not a lot of noise, but that may have been that my ears hadn't recovered from the firing, but the sight was pretty impressive
   Cap - Thursday, 05/22/03 03:09:32 GMT


Just ashes will work, but a half and half mixture of portland cement and fuller's earth (cat litter) will also work. Add just enough water to make a stiff dough before applying. Let dry for several days, then bring up to heat SLOWLY. If It cracks, mix up some more and pack the crack.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 03:12:58 GMT

A comment on self employed and income taxes; each year the tax code grows and becomes more complex. The Declaration of Independence is one page long; the Gettysburg Address about 260 words, the US constitution around 20 pages, the Internal Revenue Code is over 50,000 pages, ...and growing by hundreds of pages a year.

Yet, as Jock said, you MUST have a working knowledge of the important parts of the code as related to your business if you are going to succeed; simpler tends to be better.

If one wishes to trim the self employment tax, one can incorporate oneself (cuts your audit risk to a fraction of the typical schedule C for the self employed), pay yourself a "reasonable" salary, and take the rest as a dividend, subject only to income tax...this does require not only incorporation, but also the filing of a one page election with IRS to be taxed as a subchapter S corporation.

Payroll details can be handled by a service, Paychex, ADP, etc are all good, expect to pay about $35/month for this service.

A drawback to this approach is it will reduce your social security benefits when the appropriate age rolls around because your wage base will be less than otherwise.

An interesting article in the current issue of Time magazine about the next wave of jobs to be outsourced, looks like a lot of White Collar jobs are on the block in software development, support, and the financial services industries.....

A bit off the subject, but it DOES apply to self emplyoment and the Art of Staying Financially Alive.....
   Ellen - Thursday, 05/22/03 03:54:58 GMT

One last detail of the joys of self employment: many folks trim their costs by cutting their health insurance, or may not be able to get it if older and off the "company" plan. You can often get workmans compensation insurance on yourself, and it can be a bargain....accidents happen not only working with hot metal, power tools, hammers, electricity, but also in your vehicle while going for parts, delivering orders, going to the bank etc, well you get the idea. Workmans comp will cover not only your medical expenses but may also pay you 80% of your income till you can work again, and may be available for $200 to $400 /year, depending on location and insurance carrier....
worth checking out.
   Ellen - Thursday, 05/22/03 04:02:00 GMT

Devon; Western medicine has cheap, reliable tests for liver and kidney function that work most every time. My first encounter with your second (3rd?) Chinese medicine proved blatantly incorrect on 2 counts. I'd respectfully advise avoiding practicing medicine sight unseen using incomplete knowledge of outdated techniques. It is the sort of medicine that caused my mother's death.
As for it not being cut and dry...At the time in question i was under close medical scrutiny at a university teaching hospital having undergone 2 major surgeries followed by very heavy chemotherapy. I had so much blood work done then that I knew the phlebotamists by name. Between treatments were lots of diagnostic tests. I was examined by doctors daily. Xrays, CAT scans and so on were everyday stuff. I had no gall stones or gallbladder problems and my liver was probably in better shape than the rest of me. They set the level of chemotherapy by how much of my kidneys they thought they could get away killing. The high pitched and loud tinitus I was experiencing was nerve damage from 3 chemotherapy drugs...Taking milk thisle under those circumstances is an inane suggestion.
Me...rant?...naw...wouldn't..but, sorry about that anyway.

John; Welding on an otherwise decent anvil is generally a mistake, even if done well. Done less than well could easily ruin it.
If the anvil face is soft enough to have been cut by a chisel, then there is a fair chance it is also soft enough for you to be able to hammer some of the displaced steel back into place. I use a hard, polished 1 1/2# hammer with a gently rounded face for this, starting a little way out from the cut or ding and working my way slowly inward in successive passes. I don't strike any hard blows, just keep floating the hammer on the rebound..takes very little effort. Wear a face shield and apron as well as earplugs.
If you bend down and look down the length of the face, especially with oblique light, you should be able to see the pucker of the displaced anvil material from the cuts and check it's movement as you work.
Devon; on a sweeter note..I recently got out my dull files box and took the older ones down off the rack, scrubbed them after a detergent soak and plunked them in buckets of dilute muriatic acid ( swimming pool or masonry supply) with a smaller amount sulfuric ( battery acid) as well. The acid was weak, so they stayed in it for 3 days. Kept pulling some out and checking the sharpness.
Then I took the files and soaked them in buckets of baking soda water to neutralize the acid. At this point, handle the files gently so they wont dull each other banging about.
Rinse , dry and lightly oil.
It worked well on about 3/4 of them. Some were probably too dull to save. Take all the proper precautions on handling acids..even dilute, they cAn do real damage.

Been playing with variations on a simple, handy tool. It consists of 2 parallel bars welded to a plate.
If the bars are right next to each other it is good for hot forming and shaping . If the bars are apart, it makes a good bending tool by bridging the bars with the stock to be bent and striking in the middle...and so on.
Any and ALL persons building or using this tool ( even if you already had it or them) are now profoundly obliged to Join The Cybersmiths!!...or your hammer handle may go limp.

   - Pete F - Thursday, 05/22/03 08:07:00 GMT


Anyone who practices medicine without a license in America is unaware of the criminal penalties for doing so. Which is fine with me, most of them are charlatans who belong in jail anyway.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 12:29:59 GMT

Pete f : sorry to have hit a nerve :). Thanks for the info on the files..

   Devon - Thursday, 05/22/03 13:16:22 GMT

Jerry Crawford; Seems to me I read a post here some time back,advising against the use of acetylene hose for propane. Anyone else remember that one?
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 05/22/03 13:28:21 GMT

Pete are you welding them bars normal to the plate or laying flat on the plate. I think I know but other folks may not...

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 05/22/03 13:44:28 GMT


There is more than one kind of acetylene hose. Two types, IIRC, One is ok for propane, the other is not. Type T is OK, IIRC and one of you weldors, please correct me if I'm wrong.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:04:07 GMT

Fuel Hose: Grade "T" is good for ALL fuel gases. There are other grades ('R' I think) that are not suitable to use with propane. Those non-propane hose will work for a short time and then age rapidly due to the solvent effect of the propane on the rubber. Grade "T" is required for all mixed fuel gases also.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:18:51 GMT

Thankyew, gentlemen. It's good to have it confirmed from time to time that I'm not ALWAYS hallucinating.}:<)
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:29:27 GMT

...include me in on that "THANK YOU" 3dog. Now I can go out and check my hose to make sure it's of the right type. I am learning at every step along this journey and appreciate any offers of help or suggestions - I'm the novice here and the learner - life is good if you don't weaken
   - Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:34:11 GMT

Self Employment: Ellen, Good points. The problem for many of us is affording ANY insurance beyond the minimum required to stay in business.

As soon as you have ONE employee or more things get very complicated in the US. You have to have a federal employers ID number and file quartery reports. You also must have workmans comp. And don't forget that the employer "contributes" 7.5% to the employee's social security. . . Remember to add that to the hourly rate you pay as well as workman's comp. Normally if you pay minimum wage (about $7.50/hour) you need to add about 25% for those other costs including bookkeeping. Nothing is as it seems on the surface.

Where things get real tricky is if you have a sucessfull business. There is a point where the US government wants monthly payments of withheld taxes AND if the amount is high enough it is MORE often than weekly. When you cross these thresholds the tax people fine you if you do not understand them. My feeling is that the ANY employee results in needing a second (a bookkeeper/accontant). This is a huge burden on small (micro) businesses. Remember when the government talks about "small" businesses they mean up to 200 employees. Nobody considers the micro business.

Most micro businesses that I have seen that worked were old family businesses where the spouse and often children worked in the business free of government intervention. The spouse was bookkeeper/laborer and the children skilled or unskilled laborers. All income supported the "family" and there was no individual incomes. Not only are family farms operated this way but so are resturants, service stations, small stores of all types. The only way most of these could be succsessful is to avoid the tax system as much as possible.

Today I desperately need an office employee. I have needed one for three years now to run anvilfire efficiently and cannot afford one. However, when I DO hire it will probably be through a temp agency. Yep, I know, I pay them 2.5 times as much as I would the employee. . . well, it appears that way. But the reality is they take care of all the legalese of the tax system as well as insurance(s). The employer justs writes ONE check. There is no need for dealing with an accountant and filing quarterly payments. There is no impact on your unemployment insurance when you let the employee go.

I used to think this was a terrible system and it IS exploited by many large businesses. But it makes a lot of sense for the micro business. You know EXACTLY what your costs are. There are no surprizes.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:47:40 GMT

how do you tell the type? This is imprinted on my hoses. EHR SIAMEEZ WELDING VDRM
no type

It's a fairly older set that I striped out the acet side to use. If these aren't any good a new hose would be cheap.
   - Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 05/22/03 14:49:12 GMT

Jerry;When dealing with things that go "FLASHBOOM!", 'tis always better to err on the side of caution. Cheaper'n a new roof, or worse. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 05/22/03 15:06:35 GMT

good advise
   - Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 05/22/03 15:21:44 GMT

Pete F: What do you do with all the acid when you are done neutralize it with Baking soda?
   Devon - Thursday, 05/22/03 15:40:08 GMT

Ellen, with all due respect, a dissenting opinion:

Workers Compensation:
I do not advise my clients to purchase WC in lieu of health insurance, I advise health insurance in lieu of WC (in most cases)! Everybody must have health insurance and can include work related injuries (verify in writing). Add a disability policy and you have what you need anyway without double expense and onerous insurance company inspections; no, you cannot use that old machine; yes we do charge for uninsured subcontractors (statutory employees). Workers Compensation rates for GA can be as high as:
Blacksmith/ shop work 10.34 per 100 of payroll or subcontractor cost.
On site erection and fabrication inside 14.49 per 100
On site erect and fab outside 38.29 per 100
On 30,000 payroll you are looking at $3,000 to 11,000 a year, easily the cost of health insurance and disability, that you should have ANYWAY.
There are lots of exceptions to this (contractual requirements, statutory requirements) so check with your insurance agent/broker.

Payroll services: Been there, done that. 940's and 941's not filed on time, sorry you have to pay the heavy penalties. Double drafts on my payroll account, sorry we are not covering the overdrafts. Small shops usually have subcontractors, only 1099's at the end of the year. Easy work for your PA, CPA or accountant.
Blacksmith content: Great time at SERBC and it was good to meet you Jock Dempsey.
   Tone - Thursday, 05/22/03 16:00:08 GMT

Hello, with getting wrought iron production under control I was wondering if cast iron anvils would still be applicable to modern day industry. I know many if not all anvil works now make cast steel anvils. I'm considering a market for cast iron anvils made in the U.S. any information would be a help to my decision to produce anvils.
   Smith Iron Works - Thursday, 05/22/03 17:08:29 GMT


Again, I *THINK* that the R in either the first three letters or in the last four letters is the type. IF I'm right, then that hose is NOT suitable for propane.

Weldor's check me, please.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 17:28:05 GMT

thanks PawPaw, sounds like a trip to the welding supply outlet. a new short length of gas rated hose is really not all that big a deal - I have about $125 into this thing already so the cash drain isn't that much to complain about.
   - Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 05/22/03 17:52:36 GMT

I would like to either get some chemaloy already made or get someone to cook up a bacth for me. Chemaloy is a Fulxless Aluminum Solder that was out in the late 50's and 60's. I have a list of the ingredients and just how to make a 100lb batch, Its on the keelynet website. Can you the Guru help out on this dilema. Please let me know as quickly as you can. Thanx for your time. I entered my work email first and then my home email.
   - Joe Budrow - Thursday, 05/22/03 18:02:44 GMT

Hey Guys, a couple of clarification points and I'm through with this topic.

1. My comments re business form (sole prop vs corp) were based on preceeding comments on small business types, lets stipulate gross receipts $200,000 per year or less. That means a payroll (if any) of two or three people.

2. In that instance it MAY be beneficial for the owner to incorporate and pay himself a small salary. This MAY help with self employment taxes, circumstances vary.

3. Payroll tax deposits are made on a monthly basis if your PAYROLL TAX LIABILTY is LESS than $50,000 per year. Most business in the $200,000 gross receipts category would be happy to pay themselves a gross salary of that amount.

4. In over 25 years of public practice as a CPA, I have never seen a problem with late reports with a reputable payroll firm like Paychex. They can get the ID numbers for you and take care of all the (devilish) details. If you don't want to retain a service you can do it yourself. Some computer accounting programs do a bunch of the work for you.

5. I HAVE seen a number of small businesses eliminated via IRS audits when the "subcontractors" failed the IRS 20 pt test to see if they are truly independent, and the owner then had to cough up back payroll taxes, penalties, etc. This is just about the first area an IRS auditor will hit if you are "selected" for an IRS audit. And the IRS audit manual presumes a 1099 for a subcontractor is usually an indication of unpaid payroll taxes to be collected.

6. I HAVE also seen people lose their business and homes when a "subcontractor" with no Workers Comp insurance injured himself and sued for medical coverage. If you do have subs make sure THEY have workmans comp coverage or you will be hung out to dry if anything happens.

7. Machine shops in AZ have a workmans comp rate of $2.63 per hundred. This works out to $631/year for $24,000 salary. Welding shops are $7.64 per hundred, this works out to $1,833 per year on the same salary. A couple of years without claims and these rates get discounted maybe 10%.

8. In AZ at least, state law REQUIRES you to carry workmans comp insurance, even if you are a sole prop. You can sign a waiver for yourself if you wish.

9. In AZ at least, if you are over 50, and self employed, you MAY find it difficult to obtain health insurance which has decent coverage. It would be GOOD to have BOTH health insurance AND workman's comp; .

I'm done.
   Ellen - Thursday, 05/22/03 18:23:42 GMT

Smith Iron Works:
Why CI? Smiths abhor it, and they'd be your primary market for anvils. CI is no good for anvils; it has almost no rebound and tends to crack during use. If you have to cast CI (as opposed to steel), I suggest that you make boat anchors or drill press bases, items that do not have to be resilient in use. If you have the option to cast steel, by all means make anvils. In fact, if you could make decent steel anvils in the 50-150lb range for low prices, you could sell to all the beginners in blacksmithing who are currently getting scammed with Chinese ASOs and the like.

Thinking about beginner anvils made from recycled steel... .not a bad idea... (grin) JunkYard Cast Anvil, anyone?

Windy and clear in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 05/22/03 18:34:50 GMT

Cast Iron Anvils: Smith, Only disreputable importers are selling cast iron ASO's (Anvil Shaped Objects). These are NOT anvil manufacturers, they are foundries and nothing more. Currently the market is swamped with Chineses ASO's that are priced less than you can buy raw iron for in the US.

Avils are a TOOL that are best made of forged tool steel that is machined, hardened and tempered. The next best option is cast steel anvils that are machined, hardened and tempered. Cast steel anvils should not be as hard as forged anvils and the edges should be radiused more than forged anvils.

The cheapest method of producing suitable anvils was the patent process used by Fisher Norris where a tool steel plate was welded to a cast body IN THE MOLD. This was a tricky process requiring gating that produced turbulence at the weld joint. I expect the steel insert needed to be preheated just before casting.

These were never considered to be the same quality as forged anvils BUT many folks liked then because they do not ring.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/22/03 19:22:33 GMT

Paw Paw I am reading your book on chapter 6 it's good..:)
   - Devon - Thursday, 05/22/03 19:38:54 GMT

S Corp vs. Sole Proprietor:

Good topic Ellen! I myself am an S Corp, and, yes, pay myself a small wage, and a larger directors fee. The directors fee is exempt from Social Security (i.e. self employment tax).

A corporation also insulates YOU from a certain amount of liability. It is harder to get credit and other business aides as a corporation, but like Jock said... If you can't pay cash for what you need, you shouldn't be in business!

On the topic of insurance: You NEED health insurance (those who visit the members forum know whereof I speak). That has to be added into the hourly rate along with everything else. In my state (CA) we don't have to carry workers comp on owners or family members, so the health insurance covers us fine. Basically, if I smash my hand in a punch press, I tell the Doc the truck fell on me while I was changing a tire.... ;-)

Self employment isn't for everyone. It's a lot of work, long hours, sometimes little pay, but at the same time very rewarding. There are rules to follow, but you can also use those rules to your advantage -- all those obscure loopholes in the tax code aren't just for crooked politicians, you can use 'em too.... ;-)

Lastly: I'm always amazed at the diversity here on Anvilfire. I think you could ask any question in the world, and a Guru or member will have the answer!
   Zero - Thursday, 05/22/03 20:09:02 GMT


Thank you, I'm glad you are enjoying it.

One of the things that I lost yesterday was all of the email messages that I've recieved from folks about TRB. Upsets me with myself just a bit that I hadn't printed out hard copies of them.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 21:05:17 GMT

Zero: do you have any tax programs on CD rom in the U.S here in Canada we have Quick tax you do the hole thing your self then e-file the return to taxation. I did not look but would hazard a guess small biss is on there as well..

   - Devon - Thursday, 05/22/03 21:05:55 GMT

Paw Paw: I like the way you have set the moon of the story so do they have a boy or a girl??? Just kidding I have printed it out and placed it in a folder at work and read on breaks.. Boss and puter don't mix well :)

   - Devon - Thursday, 05/22/03 21:08:35 GMT


Ah, if it were just that simple -- to file your own taxes here, stateside.

Many years ago the IRS rolled out a new do-it-yourself tax form called 1040-EZ, the resulting joke was: "Just an EZ way for the government to get your money!"

I keep my own books (QuickBooks), and leave the tax stuff to my accountant. He (my accountant) spends a good amount of time attending IRS seminars, so he's UP on what is new and different each tax season.

And... Speaking of Paw Paw's TRB tale: Well, you know we're dieing to get our next feeding -- there's somethng very Pavlovian about Blacksmith's and Paw Paw's book!
   Zero - Thursday, 05/22/03 22:11:42 GMT


Chuckle, You'll find out when you get to that point. They didn't have sonograms then, they had to wait till the sub was launched to discover whether it had a periscope attached. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/22/03 23:10:15 GMT

Well I'm quite a traditonal craftsmen and I try to operate in a living history atmosphere. I would have cast iron anvils with decent carbon content steel face plates.(which mounting of such plates have sucessfully has been done with period techniques) I have been looking at costs and availibily of materials. Iron is somewhat more available then higher grade steels such as 1450+ and so forth. I could take T. Golds idea and take scrap and say cast 5160 steel :) too hard though. On the subject of cast iron anvils being weak. I beg to differ I own a cast iron fisher and norris which is circa 1840's and it still carries a lot of work in the shop. I have no intention in making chinese aso's lol. Also, yes my target market would be for new blacksmiths and small business. I am thinking of making 75lbs 110lbs 250lbs 300lbs. I'm still probing the market though. If my expectations are correct I will be producing anvils by August. Thanks for the input, I will take into account the making forged anvils. I have never done it before could be fun. I wonder if crucible steel could be good enough steel to make anvils? I lean before the invention of the bessemer converter with most of my iron making and forging methods.
   Smith Iron Works - Friday, 05/23/03 00:37:23 GMT

Zero: That is too bad man you could save hill of beans :)..From what you have been talking about for the last while about small biss in the U.S man it must be hard on the head!!!! for some reason it does not seem that bad here. I do not have a shop of my own yet...but we will SEE later LOL....

Paw Paw LOL I will get to that next week on the road be gone for five days should be intersting :).. So did you look in history books for how things were made at that time?? Or was that the easy part :)..


   - Devon - Friday, 05/23/03 00:53:18 GMT


I had to look the stuff up before 1800. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Friday, 05/23/03 01:03:53 GMT

Boat Anchors: Ah. . . these must also be somewhat resiliant and if cast are ductile or steel. They used to be forged. Comparing an ASO to a boat anchor is insulting the anchor. That is why we (Thomas?) came up with ASO. Some make good door stops and the small ones good paper weights. But they make lousy anchors.
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 01:04:13 GMT

I have a 50 lb. Little Giant hammer that wants to walk around in circles when I really get to pounding on the metal. Right now, the hammer is just sitting on the concrete floor where I have my so called shop( all my blacksmith equipment is in a corner of the shop at which I work. When I get time to use my equipment, I have to drag everything out of the corner and set it up before I can begin forgeing)I was wondering what would make a good stable base for my Little Giant hammer? I was thinking about bolting some 4x4 pressure treated posts together and then bolting the hammer to them. That way, when I lift my hammer out of the corner with the fork lift, the base would move with it and I could go to work.Has anyone had their hammer mounted this way and if so, how did it work.
   - Little Giant Hammer Foundation - Friday, 05/23/03 02:10:15 GMT

Smith Iron Works, is CI period-correct? I don't know much about period stuff, but if I recall correctly, CI is made with more modern processes; older processes to smelt iron ore generally created varying grades of steel. I could be wrong. If you wanna be really period, I think forged wrought body + tool steel face forge welded onto body is the way to go for a regular pattern anvil... this is a huge amount of work requiring a big forge to heat and something strongly resembling a firehose to quench. I don't know how wrought is made, but I know it isn't cast. What do you mean by crucible steel...? If you could tell me/us a bit more about your equipment, maybe we can make some suggestions. You may prefer/like CI, but most smiths strongly dislike it relative to any steel anvil.

Er... I don't know how to organize that paragraph. Hope it makes sense; if you want me to elaborate/clarify, email or post.

P.S. Everyone who knows period stuff better than me, please correct me! I only sorta know what I'm talking about.

I'm in town right now... it's sunny and dry in Honolulu, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 05/23/03 02:48:15 GMT

T. Gold, actually steel relativly new, CI was around for a lot longer.
Period for when? I would say that pretty much everything goes for the period of the 20th Century. (grin)
But then again the period of the early Egyptians would have had pretty much little in the way of iron.
   Ralph - Friday, 05/23/03 03:26:14 GMT

Thanks, Ralph, learn something new every day (grin). I'm referring to Smith Iron Works's period, which appears to be early- to mid-1800s, judging by his statement about Bessemer converters.
   T. Gold - Friday, 05/23/03 05:22:38 GMT

Devon; Apologize for the grump...mostly.(G)
The dilute acid used on the files was pretty well expended in the process and because it was mostly iron compounds it didn't seem too toxic; so i used lime to neutralize it and then some and spread it on the clay driveway. The acid used on copper is nastier and requires more consideration I've always assumed. Interested in contrary opinions.
RE how Paw-paw knows all that historical stuff...well, he is greatly respected for the depth of his seniority(G).
Smith IW; What's the point of reproducing the Fisher anvil when cast steel should be superior, simpler to make and more enduring?
Jerry C. I found several on-sale listings for T rated hose online last year at a nice discount to my local welding supply and bought 50' of 2 sizes. It seems to be stiffer than my old hoses and not as pleasant to use. I don't know if that is because I was cheap or because of the inherant nature of T type hose.
Joe B..similar products are on the market ...a hundred # is a lot of soldering!

Thomas P; Thanks for pointing the ambiguity...The bars are laid flat on the base plate and welded. On the closer ones i usually radius one end of the bars much more heavily than the other.
Tom Wilson demoed at the 91(?) ABANANA conf using a stake that had a working face shaped like 2 eggs touching on their long sides and welded to a base plate that looks very versitile. It seems a logical extension of the side by side bar tool.
3Dogs..we are just a small part of your hallucination. We all evaporate when you go offline...pooph!
   - Pete F - Friday, 05/23/03 08:23:57 GMT


> RE how Paw-paw knows all that historical stuff...well, he is greatly respected for the depth of his seniority(G).

   Paw Paw - Friday, 05/23/03 09:23:32 GMT

Well, Pete good point. I feel whatever should be more available would be the chief material used in castings. For equipment I have a large forge, chaffrey, puddling furnace, fire crane for both the forge and the chaffrey. I have several blister boxes, a cupola, a stone blast furnace(fueled by charcoal) A large home made drop hammer. Which is used in the process of wrought iron and maybe even anvils if I can get a large enough and good enough peice of steel. I use the cupola or sometimes the chaffrey to melt broken up pieces of blister steel and then skim the molten steel and pour the heaver more dense steel(the higher carbon content) into a ingot blank and I pound the ingot to desire ship and I might roll it or I might not.
   Smith Iron Works - Friday, 05/23/03 11:26:23 GMT

If Smith Iron Works has these capabilities, I for one, would love to see some of the operations.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/23/03 12:08:15 GMT

Smith Iron Works: Let me second Frank's comments. If you have a website, please post the URL. If not, some photographs might be posted here if Guru has made any headway on his backlog. Your shop sounds like Disneyland for metallurgists!
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 05/23/03 12:16:00 GMT

Help me out folks. This morning I have a question about that propane bottle safety thing we talked about here a couple of days ago regarding the potential of a volcano effect. Here is what I have so far:

a. there is a valve designed into propane tanks that operates as a pressure release valve to vent under extreme overpressure situations such as over filling the bottle and/or letting the full bottle sit in the sun and heat up. (?)

b. During forge operation when a large volume of the gas is being used the action of the gas in the bottle is to chill down to the extent that frost forms on the exterior of the canister and may require warming that bottle (in water) to prevent fuel freezing.

If I have these two ideas correct it seems to me they are mutually exclusive. You can’t have overpressure and unexpected venting of gas through the valve in “a.” whilst at the same time the liquid gas is cooling down and frosting the bottle in “b”. What part of this am I missing?
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 05/23/03 12:21:52 GMT

First off a large thank-you to Guru and all who make anvilfire the wonderful friendly place that it is.

Could some one direct me to information on how to temper spring steel back to a useable sping after forging and quenching. I am using the roll spring from a garage door to make a spring fuller. I know the information is archived here somewhere but having trouble finding it.

Thanks in advace, Mike
   Habu - Friday, 05/23/03 13:07:14 GMT

Habu, See our FAQ's page under heat treating. Most spring steels are oil quench. Temper to a blue. However, most spring fuller springs are made of mild steel and work fine. Most use 1/8" by 1" or 1/2" round. Most spring steel is harder when air cooled than work hardened mild steel. So if your spring is not strong enough it is probably too small.
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 13:45:25 GMT

Pete F; Thank you for clarifying that for me. I will add that to my list of things to ponder while staring at the fire. Like, where does the refrigerator light go when it goes out?; Is navel lint a suitable fuel for the forge?; Will hand forged iron dental fillings ever become popular? Did PawPaw REALLY know Vulcan personally? From somewhere in the ozone.......3dogs
   - 3dogs - Friday, 05/23/03 14:10:19 GMT

Propane Cylinders: Jerry, these things ARE mutually exclusivie at the same time. But both are conditions that these cylinders see daily. Over pressurization occurs when a full cylinder is heated (in the sun or a fire). To prevent an explosion the gas is vented off. Old style propane cylinders were easy to overfill and just exposing them to normal summer sun would over pressurize them and cause fuel to vent off. It is considered better to add to a fire than to have the cylinder explode.

I had two new cylinders vent gas for about 1/2 hour while they sat in the back of my pickup truck on a sunny day. That is why you are not supposed to haul cylinders in a closed vehical (auto passenger compartment, trunk or van). One of those rules you learn when you take that recommended welding course. It is also a DOT regulation.

On all evaporative cylinders (propane and acetylene) the drawing of gas reduces the pressure causing the contents to boil off more gas. To boil off this gas requires heat which comes from the room temperature fluid at pressure. When fuel is drawn off faster than the surrounding air can warm the cylinder it "freezes". Ice forms on the surface from moisture in the surrounding air. When there is not enough warmth in the fuel it stops evaporating and the pressure drops below a usable level.

In all cases this is an indication that you need a larger cylinder for your application. In order to get by with small portable cylinders blacksmiths have found that they can set the cylinder in a tub of water which acts as a heat sink to provide the warmth necessary to evaporate the fuel. Since propane cylinders float in water it is useful to make a hold down to keep the cylinder on the bottom of the water tank. However, you can still draw the fuel too fast and freeze up the cylinder. In the winter and in cold climates many folks resort to electric blankets, heat tapes or such to keep the cylinder warm. This can be very dangerous if thermostats fail and should only be done with careful consideration.

Related items. . . You can get frost-bite from holding a small cylinder mounted propane torch bare handed in cold weather. A CO2 fire extinguisher nozzel will do the same in any weather. When using a water tank to warm a propane cylinder the cooled water can also be used to cool drinks, beer. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 14:18:10 GMT

Iron Steel Densities: The higher the carbon the lower the density of the steel.

Pure Iron 7.874 g/cm3
SAE 1020 7.859
SAE 1045 7.844
SAE 1095 7.83
Malleable 7.27
Grey Iron 7.15

Back when I was designing and building machinery it was all very heavy stuff and I ran lots of volumetric calculations and weights. Most of the time my weights were within microscopic tolerances. But we had one large 17,000 pound casting that came in 200 pounds over what I had calculated. Even though it is a small amount on a huge part it bothered me that I had miscalculated because this was part of a moving machine and weights were critical. It turned out my volume calculation was perfect, the difference was between grey cast iron and ductile. . . We had changed materials and I had not recalculated and updated the drawings.

I was talking to a fellow that was having anvils cast and they had a new pattern come in at 10% over the design weight. . . bad calculations or inacurate pattern making.

When making wood pattern from known wood types there are conversion factors to metals. Weigh the pattern and you should be able to determine the finished weight. Of course this assumes a simple shape without cores and core prints. Today however patterns are made from odd woods, plastic, metal and various combinations. So you are back to the math.
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 14:47:36 GMT

Smith IW; there's a *BIG* difference twixt a Fisher with a heavy slab of steel for the face and the body cast onto it and an anvil made from cast iron. Perhaps you were intending to copy Fisher's method but just used CIA (Cast Iron Anvil) as a short hand and that's what raised a ruckus.

Where are you at? I have smelting my own WI using the direct method but would dearly like to see/learn how to puddle! I was at the Ironmasters Conference last year and go to tour a number of stone charcoal blast furnaces here in Ohio (last one quit around WWI !!!)

Be careful with PPW he can get riled when you ask him if Tubal Cain parted his hair in the middle or on the left or what did mammoth taste like...

It's always good to research stuff cause you can make some real whopping mistakes---like folks not realizing that iron *changed* around the ACW period with the intoduction of the bessemer/kelly process. One fellow said he was going to amke a coal fired smelter cause it was medieval---only they didn't use coal for smelting then...We have this world view that's like a big picture window and everything we see we see through it; but technology comes along every now and then and throws a brick through it and as we pick up the pieces and re-do it it's changed. And it's hard for folks who never even saw the old window to realize how it coloured the worldview of the time...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 05/23/03 15:24:56 GMT

Y'know, Thomas, I'm personally acquainted with Mr. Tubal Cain, having traveled with him from time to time, and I've never even noticed how he parted his hair. 'Course if it's parted like mine, it's about 6 inches wide, in the middle. As regards the taste of mammoth, given the fact that their remains are often found in France, one could assume they taste like chicken. I think PawPaw will back me up on that.(BOG)
   - 3dogs - Friday, 05/23/03 16:06:41 GMT

The Revolutionary Blacksmith:


Seems during a software upgrade, Paw Paw has lost all the emails sent to him praising TRB -- This is not a software bug, Microsoft considers this a "feature" ;-)

Aclaim and praise for Paw Paw's story not only helps his head fit into that oversize Stetson he has,(Grin!) but it can also be extremely helpful in securing a publisher. Thereby turning his tale from a serial novel to a full fledged book.

So... If any of you have in the past sent an email praising TRB, please look in your outbox and if you can find it please resend it to Paw Paw -- new praise wouldn't hurt either! I know he'll appreciate it.
   Zero - Friday, 05/23/03 17:21:58 GMT

Southern Ohio Furnaces: My GGGrandfather Dempsey owned stock in half a dozen of the furnaces in the Ironton or "Hanging Rock" region of Ohio. Two of his brothers and one son were Ironmasters. One died when converting the old furnace to hot blast (fell off a scaffold). They were rich men at the turn if the 20th century. When GGGrandfather Dempsey died all the family thought they were going to inherit large sums. What they got was thousands of worthless shares in defunct iron furnaces. His second wife "Vermillion" got the house. Several of the furnaces are part of a state park now. All the iron industry had moved to the Great Lakes . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 17:22:22 GMT

Propane Cylinders: Jerry, these things ARE mutually exclusivie at the same time. But both are conditions that these cylinders see daily. Over pressurization occurs when a full cylinder is heated (in the sun or a fire). To prevent an explosion the gas is vented off. Old style propane cylinders were easy to overfill and just exposing them to normal summer sun would over pressurize them and cause fuel to vent off. It is considered better to add to a fire than to have the cylinder explode.

I guess the direction of my thinking was, if the cylinder in use was cooling down during use then the possibility of a catastrophic fuel let-off under the forge from forge related heat would be nul. Once the forge was shut down it would take away the potential for flame induced disaster. Then I remembered what you said about cylinders having been siting under BBQ grill for decades without a problem. Ergo, my forge transport/storage design has merit. Even though another user might not assemble it my way there doesn't seem to be any inherent danger in the design.

Most of this is Jerry cogitating on a mental process - but that's the way my mind works since I acquired a 7" part in my hair.
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 05/23/03 17:34:44 GMT

somewhere along this jorney of forge building I came across a reference about NOT using BBQ propane hose for the forge application and we've had a short discussion about the type (T) of acet hose to use. What is the problem with black propane hose?

I just came from the local welding suppply and they sell this hose by the foot [as opposed to oxy/acet hose that is sold only as sets], it's rated at 200 PSI and they would put any kind of connectors on it I wanted.
   - Jerry Crawford - Friday, 05/23/03 18:39:37 GMT

BBQ Hose Jerry, This hose is also used on trailers and campers. It is a much higher quality hose and is designed for liquid propane. It is also more expensive. The only reason not to use it for gas service is it is more expensive and not as flexible as the welding hose.
   - guru - Friday, 05/23/03 19:00:03 GMT

aha! now I understand. Now it makes sense that a $5 length of hose and $5 worth of gas connectors are more economical than a $XX.XX set of welding hoses - and - just as useful. In my head it doesn't amtter that the propane hose is less flexible because it's not being maneuvered around the shop floor. It's just connected to the tank regulator and forge manifold. Damn, I love this place - are we having fun yet?
   Jerry Crawford - Friday, 05/23/03 19:12:17 GMT

Last years Ironmaster's conference was held at OU in Athens OH; one day was dedicated to visiting a slew of furnaces, coke ovens, historical museums, etc in the hanging rock region. It was a lot of fun trucking down a narrow state road and suddenly noticing the remains of a blast furnace 100 yards off to the side---and not one of the state park ones that have been "restored" but one where we were climbing all over that thing.

The large (thousands of acres) "coal" lands (they used charcoal) owned by each furnace preserved big chunks of woodlands long enough for folks to see their worth and the state and paper companies bought up some of them giving large forrested areas in "semi wild" condition even until this day.

Sorry about the money; but you would have this feeling that something was missing if you did nothing but lay around the islands dating super models instead of sweating over hot iron...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 05/23/03 19:25:48 GMT

what kind of metal do you want in an anvil, Im trying to by another
   Iron Dog - Friday, 05/23/03 19:46:20 GMT

Well thomas I'm in the northern woods of maine. I have not yet begun a website. I have been in business for myself a little over a year. I have been a traditional blacksmith and ironworker/foundryman since I was fourteen years old. Blacksmith came first but my thirst for metallurgy grew into the fields of the Ironmaster. In short my facilites are somewhat new. My methods still need some refining but, I feel confident in my work. As soon as I find someone with a digital camera I will send the intrested parties pictures.
   Smith Iron Works - Friday, 05/23/03 22:24:30 GMT

Be sure to put me on the "interested parties" list, Smith IW; I'm interested in foundrywork (foundering?) as well as smithing, myself. I hope to start casting aluminum as soon as I secure a source of potassium chloride (suggestions, anyone?), but in the mean time I'm content to look at pictures and dream.

Iron Dog: Steel. (Grin) Preferably something work hardening.
   T. Gold - Friday, 05/23/03 23:11:18 GMT

Being left-handed in a world of right-handers can be difficult at times, but it has occasional compensations. Both I and the other smith I work with are left handed. We boought two used anvils that had been owned for years by right-handers, giving us practically unused edges to work on.

Drop in and visit the Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI. (Info. at www.nps.gov/slbe)
   Neal Bullington - Saturday, 05/24/03 00:10:20 GMT

Thomas Powers,

What makes you think Jock would get tired of laying around the islands dating supermodels instead of sweating over hot iron? I've been in the islands for fifteen years now, and I'm not tired of it yet. What supermodels? When do they arrive? I have an older model that I love, but I'd consider trading up to the Super model if one became available. (grin) Just kidding, of course. I wouldn't trade the model I have now for anything or anyone. Put the knife away, Sally.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/24/03 02:52:31 GMT


I have checked just about every link on the SLBE site, and didn't turn up the Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop anywhere. If I can't find it... Shoot our webmaster!

Well, glad to see you're in action, anyway.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/24/03 04:22:39 GMT


Reminds me of the guy who said he wanted to trade one 40 in for two 20's. Then he said it turned out he wasn't wired for two 20's!
   - grant - Saturday, 05/24/03 14:11:01 GMT


Did you try entering the Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop into the search engine? Returned 7 hits. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 05/24/03 23:52:04 GMT

All I found was a reference to it in the General Management Plan. We shouldn't have to use the search engine to find a site, it should be easily accessable, least in the "In Depth" menu. To have to use the search engine means you have to know about it already. Our web pages are there to inform people about the parks, not to hide secret sites. I'm sure it's a great blacksmith shop, but due to poor web page design, the public will never know about it.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/25/03 00:46:31 GMT

Anvil Metal: Iron Dog, ALL good anvils have a face of tool steel usualy of 50 point carbon or higher and some anvils are all steel. On most old anvils they can only tell you it is "steel" and even on some modern anvils the sellers can only tell you they are "steel". What is important is that it is properly hardened.

Old anvils had a crucible steel face forge welded onto a wrought iron body. Later anvils had all tool steel upper bodies. Patent process anvils had a tool steel face and a cast iron body. Modern anvils are either forged or cast steel. Forged steel anvils usualy have a tool steel upper body and mild steel base that is sometimes cast. Cast steel anvils are all steel and one piece.

Avoid low cost anvils on ebay and from hardware and farm supply stores. These are Chinese ASO's (anvil shaped objects). ASO's are a waste of time enregy and good cast iron. They are junkers for the uneducated masses.

See our anvil series on the 21st Century page.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/25/03 00:57:04 GMT


That's true.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 01:35:17 GMT

I am looking at purchasing an anvil but I can not determine its true weight or its maker. All it has is a 88 and hand wrought on it. Those are the only markings on it. I dont know how heavy it is all i know is the woman who owns it cant pick it up. It is in pretty good condition as far as I can tell from the picture i have seen of it, there looks like no chipping at all. This is pretty good since the persons grandfather used it and its 100 years old. How much should this go for and also have you ever heard of an anvil with those marking?
   Xeunieus - Sunday, 05/25/03 02:40:23 GMT


Send me the picture via e-mail, and I'll see if I can identify it for you.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 02:58:59 GMT

I would if I could but the owner of the anvil has the picture. do you know of any websites with the historys of anvils? I dont mind doing researching the main thing is i dont know where to start
   Xeunieus - Sunday, 05/25/03 03:14:22 GMT


To the best of my knowledge, there are NO web sites with the history of anvils. The only book ever published about anvils is ANVILS IN AMERICA by Richard Postman. I have the book and use it for anvil research to answer questions such as yours. You might ask the owner if you could scan the picture, then send it via email.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 03:55:33 GMT

I typed in Glen Haven Blacksmith Shop and it gave me sites to go to but I never seen pics or got into the Glen Haven shop at all. Paw Paw it sounds like you found it, what did you find?
   - Robert-ironworker - Sunday, 05/25/03 05:59:51 GMT

PPW is our man on anvils...but
An anvil with a wrought body and a presumed steel face is very desirable and will sell for $ 1 to $3 per pound. Chances are fair to middling that 88 means 88 pounds and is a bit light for heavier forging. You can guess the weight if she will do measurements for you ( the anvil's, not hers).
   - Pete F - Sunday, 05/25/03 07:09:35 GMT


No, I got the same thing you did. Found several references to it, but no pictures.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 14:02:41 GMT

My 10 year old daughter has expressed an interest in learning how to move metal. Twords that end I purchased one of the 110# anvils from harbor freight. I know they are less than desired but they are also cheap. I have two questions. First Any Ideas about how to teach a 10year? Second has anyone tried ha rdening these anvils?
   Jacob Langthorn - Sunday, 05/25/03 15:16:42 GMT

Jacob - 10 year old's learn well by watching then doing....and being gently supervised. But the goal of the process has to be within their range of abilities to accomplish. IOW, don't hand her a hammer that's too heavy or a piece of 1" bar 3 feet long and expect her to do much with it. She may also be afraid of the hot forge and be timid about sticking stuff in there and pulling it out. Try creating small, lightweight, low heat projects she has some reasonable expectation of seeing through and winning at. Perhaps just handing her a piece of lead bar you have prepared where it's not necessary to heat it to move metal might work and give he a feeling of success bending a piece of stock around the anvil. Slowly teaching her how to hold and handle stock and use a hammer will be a challange for you. If it were me I'd spend mor time helping her learn how to swing a hammer that starting making projects.

Girls are not just soft boy's at this age. They have vastly different body strength's and motions for balance, shoulder and arm strength - she will develop better hand eye (hammer-anvil) coordination as she grows but anything she does now needs lots of TLC and positive reinforcement. If she thinks your making fun of her because she hits the anvil like a girl you've lost her - and she won't be back.

To tell you the truth - I envy you this opportunity and the journey.
   - Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/25/03 16:57:53 GMT

..oh yeah. Rule #1 & 1a should be:

She is NEVER allowed in the smithy unsupervised by YOU!


You never supervise/teach/train her while your doing some other job. She deserves your undivided attention
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/25/03 17:04:40 GMT

Jacob, I agree with every word Jerry said. When she is ready to start with steel, start her small. I started one of my grand daughters out by having her make horse shoe nail rings with a little bender I built. Another good project is various beam hooks, "S" hooks, and "J" hooks. They're small, contain several of the basic smithing operations and are easy to finish in one session. I feel that actually FINISHING the first piece in the first session is important to get them thinking in the right direction.

Jerry, well said.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 17:10:22 GMT

....and finally. One good project to help her develop hand-eye coordination is to set up a 2 X 4 with a bunch of nails already started into it. Let her whail the hell out of the board hammering in those nails. This is a pretty non-intimadating way to learn how to hit where you aim and if you drive int eh nails a short distance so they won't fly away its a pretty benigh exercise. She'll quickly learn that if she does it right the nail goes in and if not the nail bends. Immediate feedback and reinforcement of a skill that can be taken to hte anvil....and into her life.
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/25/03 17:11:49 GMT

Kids in the shop:

Uvex sells a narrow style of their Patriot brand safety glasses. These seem to fit my 9 and 7 year old boys much better than "adult" safety glasses. I think I got them through either McMaster-Carr or Airgas (Rutland tool).

To teach the basics I let them watch first, then stand behind them at the anvil and help hold the hammer and stock the first few forging sessions. Then with an OLD hammer they get to pound on the Harbor Freight ASO with me close at hand.

Mine have an attention span of about... (hold thumb and index finger about one inch apart) So the sessions are usually short ;-)

First half dozen sessions were on shop safety, black heat, etc...

Hope this helps!
   Zero - Sunday, 05/25/03 18:01:24 GMT

Guru...Great photos and text of Madison. Very disapointed that I missed it this year, but work schedule prevented me from making the trip.
   R Guess - Sunday, 05/25/03 18:27:07 GMT

More on kids in the shop:

I find that the Daisy shooting glasses give good protection for hand-tool operations at the forge (I wouldn't try anything with power tools). At medieval demonstrations they're relatively unobtrusive, and light and comfortable to wear (as well as being inexpensive). You can buy them at "Wal-Megamart".

At the home forge mine kids would tend to want their own projects, demanding my undivided attention. I had rather hoped they'd hang out until needed. On demonstrations, there's always enough to keep everyone busy, and they got to play with fire (and fuel, and bellows, and hammers, and punches, and...)

"Give your children sharps things to play with and they'll grow up careful, or maimed, or both!" (Uncle Atli's very Thin Book of Wisdom) BG :-D
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/25/03 20:00:42 GMT

Deja Vu...

Atli: Just finished reading your last post when my 7 year old comes running in the shop saying his brother was bleeding REEEAL bad. I grab my big first aid kit and head to the house.

The nine year old was sitting on the pot (while fooling with a Swiss Army knife) and managed to slice his index finger quite well.

All is fine now. But this was truly adding insult to injury!

Mine will be BOTH careful and maimed... ;-)
   Zero - Sunday, 05/25/03 21:10:31 GMT

My .02 worth. My grandfather taught me to hammer nails at an early age (on a small farm), that was good for confidence, hammer control, and hand-eye coordination, then the use of a hand saw, and a brace and bit (no power cords to mess things up). Then we moved on to cold bending of small pieces of iron and brass......always with safety in mind. It's stayed with me for my lifetime......also learned to drive a tractor loonnnnng before pickups and cars.....kinda neat, fun to look back on, I've always been more than grateful. At the same time grandma taught me to cook, can and sew.

Now for something non-metal working, on this Memorial Day lets all lay our hammers down and bow our heads for a moment of silent gratitude and remembrance for all those who gave their lives....all of their tomorrows....that we might be free.
   Ellen - Sunday, 05/25/03 21:13:14 GMT

I work at a National Historic site and spend a great deal of time in the blacksmith shop. We use a two chamber bellow and it is beginning to show signs of wear and tare at the seams. Every now and then a volunteer, a 72 year old blacksmith (apprently) works in the shop and keeps placing a 20 lbs wood block on the top board of the bellow claiming that he needs the extra weight to force the air vigurously. I use the bellows constantly without the extra weight and it works perfectly well for whatever tasks required. It provides a smooth even supply of air, enough to create any heat required. I believe the extra weight is causing undue stress to the bellow but this grumpy guy keeps insisting on using the extra weight. Is their any logic to his rational or not?
   Louis - Sunday, 05/25/03 22:17:24 GMT

Louis, I can't speak to the need for the extra weight but I can tell you to humor him. At his age you're not going to change his POV or his smithing techniques. It might be helpful to ask him to help you repair the bellows then find out how he was trained and learned the neat technique of weighting the bellows...and then what he was makling when he learned the trick....and so on. A guy that old has a lifetime of wisdom that will soon be lost unless someone like you has the skill & abiltity to pull out some pearl's for posterity. You have a wonderful opportunity here to capture that wisdom. FWIW, that's my thought.
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 05/25/03 23:31:14 GMT


The extra weight is increasing the velocity of the air flow from the upper chamber so it more nearly equals the flow from the lower chamber. So you wind up with a more even flow of air. I doubt seriously if the extra weight is causing the wear, the bellows is doing the same thing we are all doing, getting older. Jerry's suggestion is good.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/25/03 23:36:47 GMT

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