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

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

This is an archive of posts from May 1 - 9, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Joe R. - The jefferson smiths chapter of CBA gang up on a railcar of coal most every year. If you want to drive to weaverville, CA to get a ton, email me, i'll give you Rod's phone #.
   mike-hr - Saturday, 05/01/04 00:36:23 EDT

Don, I dress my hammers with my 4.5" Milwaukee angle grinder, but I use a flap sanding disc of 60 grit or 120 grit. Works great. I have bought Peddinghaus hammers from Pieh Tool Co, and also from Kayne's, they all need to be dressed, and periodically you will want to repolish the working surface of the heads on ALL of your hammers, also look after the handles to ensure they remain tight.
   Ellen - Saturday, 05/01/04 00:55:43 EDT

Clifton seems to relish people who don't know who he is, and messing with them, with his pleasantly aserbic wit. "Real pertty, only one problem... It won't work!" Clifton came down to a steam and power show near here and was watching the blacksmithing demo, and told the demonstrator he was doing it wrong:-) The demonstrator tried to be good natured and asked him to show him how it was done, and of course Clifton stepped inside the ropes, and worked with him for 30 or 40 minutes, in which time it became abundantly obvious to the guy who had been demonstrating for the crowd that this guy really knew what he was doing. The demonstrator introduced himself after that, and Clifton introduced himself. At which point the guy knew that he had been had... He REALLY understands blacksmithing, and he REALLY understands volume (as in you take this big hunk of steel and do this, this , and that to it and whola!:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 05/01/04 01:02:48 EDT

The CSI steering committee is busy at work at drafting the incorporation papers and bylaw for a non profit organization under IRS code section 501 (c)(3). If you would like to be a part of this process to preserve Anvilfire, then you need to join CSI. Dues are payable in increments for those who are cash short. If we don't get this done then Anvilfire, the archives, the Iforge, the whole ball of wax will simply be gone, and you will be left with nothing of consequence online. The choice is yours. Membership amounts to $0.14 per day, not a whole lot of money.'

One of the motions on the floor is to ban beards and mustaches at hammer in's as a fire hazard. If this motion offends you then you need to join CSI and be heard. .... (grin!)

In all seriousness, we need your help if this site is to continue.
   Ellen - Saturday, 05/01/04 02:15:05 EDT

ELLEN; I move that all those who possess the hirsute countenances be required to maintain a chew whilst engaged in forging, thereby providing a self contained sprinkler system. Ever dedicated to safety, 3dogs.
   3dogs - Saturday, 05/01/04 03:51:53 EDT

Tres Canines, good idea. We will be sure to incorporate that into the bylaws. Grin!
   Ellen - Saturday, 05/01/04 05:14:22 EDT

Now wait just a minute here! The hirsute community of the web has rights too! Just because you can't SEE our lips doesn't mean we don't HAVE them. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 05/01/04 10:23:28 EDT

Don, I've seen several of the Peddinghaus Swedish-style hammers that have had both the pein end and the face upset, re-heat-treated, and then polished all over by Doug Merkel. They're pretty, but I just can't make a Swedish pattern work for me. I use a plain ol' American pattern crosspein, and a serious production smith I know, who turns out reproduction colonial hardware by the truckload, uses a medium-sized ball pein. It's all in what you're used to. Then there's a few knifemakers who swear they have to have a diagonal pein. I just rotate the work, silly me...
   Alan-L - Saturday, 05/01/04 10:52:12 EDT

The other day I came across a 3 12' chunk of about 12" round that looked like a drive shaft out of some sort of huge machine. The cheap bugger in me went "WOOHOO NEW ANVIL!!" What are the odds that steel used for something like that would be high carbon, and hard enough to beat hot metal on?
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 05/01/04 11:18:34 EDT

Big Shafting: HavokTD, This stuff varies from dead soft high quality mild steel to alloy like 4140. Recently there has been a lot of SAE 1040 or ??40 carbon steel round on the market. Good stuff for shafting, could harden for an anvil.

A spark test might clear up the question. See FAQ on Junkyard Steel.

Three hundred and twelve feet eh'? Kind'a hard to drag home.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/01/04 11:58:11 EDT

Havok; There's a chance that the shaft is of medium or high carbon, but, to what level of hardness has it been heat treated ? If your work piece is up to forging heat, then any piece of steel is "hard enough", as long as it's sufficiently heavier than the object being forged. At one time, a big ol' rock was "hard enough". Remember, being a "cheap bugger" is no disgrace in this craft. It's other name is "resourceful", and that's what we're about. 3dogs
   3dogs - Saturday, 05/01/04 11:58:20 EDT

Win98 SE Upgrade
I'll look throught my software pile and see if I can dig one up.
   shack - Saturday, 05/01/04 12:00:45 EDT

that was supposed to be 3.5 feet, but the backslash didn't show up. I figure it's still gona be over 1000 lbs anyway, though, so it'll still be hard to drag home.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 05/01/04 12:47:40 EDT

Weight: Our handy dandy on-line calculator (mass3j) says 1274 to 1284 pounds (depending on alloy). Nice chunky anvil, especialy since you will be pounding on the long axis!

Better be sure your truck can take it. Then again, it WILL roll on its side. . . ;)
   - guru - Saturday, 05/01/04 14:01:28 EDT

Sell it for scrap and use the money to buy a proper new anvil!
   Bob G - Saturday, 05/01/04 14:14:01 EDT

Treadle hammer anvil, cut off 75# for the hammer
   - habu - Saturday, 05/01/04 14:47:15 EDT

Ah the joy of working in a forge shop! We have run a lot of VERY large flanged axles. I have obtained a flanged 454# axle, with a 22" flange. Perfect height for a power hammer anvil, and as it is 4140, ought to hold up. Shaft is almost 6" od. I guess that a new power hammer is in the works.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/01/04 15:07:56 EDT

SELL IT???????

Bob, surely you were joking! There are two very nice power hammer or treadle hammer anvil in that piece of "scrap"!!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 05/01/04 15:08:32 EDT

This is a question about repousse in copper, I am working on a 3 foot fish, and on one of its fins it has gotten relly hard even though I anealed it twice. what could I have done to make it so hard, and can i work it like normal even though its like this. I have worked with copper befor and never run into this poblem. How much can I work somthing befor I need to aneal it.
Also a chimistry question, I live in SC and I cannot find a place that sells nitric acid can you tell me where there is a suplier. David walker, elrond357@hotmail.com
   David Walker - Saturday, 05/01/04 17:08:52 EDT

Where can i buy a hinge rolling die?
   John - Saturday, 05/01/04 17:10:00 EDT

Hinge rolling die

I made one for a flypress. I copied this one:
   Bob G - Saturday, 05/01/04 18:14:18 EDT

There's still a 7 and a half foot piece of that shaft left, if anybody wants to pay shipping on it. :-) they'll probably let me have it if I can haul it away. their forklift can't lift it into the scrap bin.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 05/01/04 20:42:53 EDT

Havok, where are you located? (approximately)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 05/01/04 21:35:04 EDT

Bob G,
What material did you use for the die? Im making copper hinges.
   John - Saturday, 05/01/04 22:02:17 EDT

Mild steel! If it wears out I can make another in minutes.
   Bob G - Saturday, 05/01/04 22:12:34 EDT

Thanks... I will give it a shot.
   John - Saturday, 05/01/04 22:33:39 EDT

Dear Guru
I have in my possession old London style shoeing anvil. 128 Lbs, 10 1/2 inches high, from heel to point of horn 23 inches, face 13 1/2 inches by 3 3/4 inches, base 7 7/8 x 9 1/4 inches. Cast marks almost invisible due to wear, can perhaps make out two large block letters or four small block letters. Former could be M - H, latter could be A X I S or X E S E. Would appreciate any feedback on indentification or origin of this anvil. Yours faithfully, Mike Mann, Auckland, New Zealand. PS. This anvil has at least 80 to 100 New Zealand heritage with a colourful past.
   Mike Mann - Saturday, 05/01/04 22:43:36 EDT


If you find that mild steel deforms or wears too fast, drill out the hole oversize and insert a tube of a hardenable steel. perhaps an old half shaft that you have turned down and bored out. Copper hinges should present no real problem.
Sometimes I use graphite (or coal dust) as a lubricant/anti-sieze agent. You may wish to experiment with mild steel until you find the right design, then get that design made up in a harder material. Let me know how you get on.
   Bob G - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:01:14 EDT

Copper repousse'

David, if the copper has gotten hard, then it has work hardened and needs annealing. I know you said you annealed it twice, but somewhere you didn't getit right or the copper would be soft again.

Copper is a really good conductor of heat, so it is hard to get a piece that size up to annealing temperature. I have made a huge air/propane torch that I used to anneal big pieces over a bed of burning charcoal. LOTS of radiated heat to dodge, too! You need to get the copper to low red heat and then quench in cold water to effectively anneal. One problem is that if you spot head a section, it may cool too far from conduction to the unheated area before you can get it to the quench. If you are spot heating, have a hose handy for immediate quenching.

You can only work copper until it becomes hard, and then you have to anneal or you risk cracking the piece.

For nitric acid, check a chemistry supply house like Van Waters & Rogers or try the chemistry department of your local university or college for a source. The art department will be using it for etching and the chemistry department will be using it for all sorts of things.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:05:04 EDT

Winnipeg, Manitoba. If anybody here smiths outta my town and feels like showing me some things, speak up, I'd love to hear from you too, while I'm at it.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:09:55 EDT

Big shaft:

Boy, do I wish I coud have found something like that here! I spent several days cutting and welding to make the anvil for my powerhammer, because all I could get here was some old 1" water tank plate. I laminated eight layers of it (oriented vertically) to make a 550# anvil. It took a LOT of grinding and welding to do it, but I sure have a pretty anvil. Now I just need to build the rest of the hammer. (grin)

DO NOT scrap that out! For what they would give you, you could never get a decent anvil of any size. Just bury the necessary amount in the ground to get the right height and start hammering. Hot steel won't dent it, and smiths who work steel cold go to Dante's ninth ring. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:10:31 EDT


If you bring one of those axles to the 2005 CSI Caribbean Hammer-In, I'll see to it that you get free admission to the beach. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:13:00 EDT

I have a Victor single stage fuel gas regulator that makes a motor boat sound as the gas flows. The low pressure gauge
vibrates in sync with the sound from the regulator and the flame at the torch pulses with the changes in pressure.
I'm sure it's the regulator because I took the hose off and was able to make it do the same thing by controlling the outlet flow with my finger. Does anyone know what causes this and is there a simple fix I can do myself ?


   Chris S - Saturday, 05/01/04 23:30:04 EDT

Chris, This is caused by several things. One is that you may be about out of gas in the cylinder. When the cylinder has the same pressure you are trying to run at the diaphram valve is not biased and hops up and down.

The other thing that happens is under a similar situation but slightly higher pressure (but still low) if there is a safety check valve in the outlet of the regulator the two will "hunt" as they open and close causing a honking noise.

If the cylinder is not low on fuel then you STILL might have low pressure/volume in the regulator due to debris or bug nests in the cylinder outlet OR regulator inlet. If the high pressure guage drops noticably or quickly when gas is flowing then there is an obstruction. Once this stuff is IN the regulator it must be dissasembled to fix it. DO NOT do this yourself. Take it to a certified Victor service center.

My old regulators honked often when the fuel was low but were quiet when full.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/02/04 03:17:59 EDT

I have plenty of gas but I'll check for obstructions. This time of year those pesky mud dobbers are always looking for an open line to build a condo in.
- C
   Chris S - Sunday, 05/02/04 09:29:30 EDT

Hi All,
I posted something over on the "hammer in" about an old french anvil I'd gotten my hands on. Anyway; I've a question about how I would go about cleaning up the edges and face. I was thinking of using an angle grinder or something, but I'm not entirely sure about the specifics, or even if it's that good of an idea. Anybody got any ideas or pointers?
   Dan - Sunday, 05/02/04 09:39:44 EDT


If you don't have fairly extensive practice with an angle grinder, I would recommend you use a sanding disc in it, instead of a grinding wheel. One slip with a grinding wheel and you can make a gouge that is hard to fix. An 80 or 120 grit "greenback" sanding disc will radius corners and blend out small chips very handily, and will shine up the face and horn nicely.

The safest way to do it is to use a belt sander with an 80 or 120 grit zirconium belt. There is much less chance of digging a trench with a belt sander than with a disc.

As for where and how much to grind, that is largely a matter of personal preference. The edges should not be sharp, or they will chip. If they are too rounded, then it becomes difficult to find a place to work inside corners. I like to have part of the off-side edge radiused to about 3/16" for a distance of about 4", and the rest of it a bit smaller, like a 3/32" radius. The larger radius should, ideally, be on a section of edge that over the main mass of the anvil, so that you can use this place for setting down heavy stock.

If part of your edge is chipped enough to require a larger radius than 3/16", then do what it takes to blend the chip in, but I wouldn't try welding on it.

I should note that the radii I have given are measured as the actual radius, NOT the diameter. Many people get confused on this, and make the mistake of giving the dimension for the diameter and calling it the radius. The best way I know to be accurate is to use a radius gauge made for machinists. I have one, with dozens of different radii, but you can make one for your particular application by drilling a hole in some thin sheet metal or plastic and then cutting away 3/4 of the stock outside the hole, leaving a neat radius. A 3/8" drill makes a 3/16" radius gauge. (I know you already know this, but there are a number of folks out there who don't.)

Hope this helps.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/02/04 12:57:29 EDT

I agree with the above. Do not use a grinding disk, use a flapdisk in an angle grinder. Be careful as the debris will spread far and wide, I managed to destroy an extension lead by getting it covered in iron fillings. Wear eye, lung and ear protection during the sanding of the face. Do not leave power tools nearby where they will get full of(and destroyed by) iron fillings. If you have an imagestation account you can see my anvil restoration here: http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4287183963.
I've also posted pictures to the user gallery at Anvilfire.
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 13:30:48 EDT

Dressing Anvils: Dan, Besides what VIc has said there is the question of the anvil's age and value and what you intend to do with it.

If it is an antique and has collector's value ANYTHING you do to it may reduce its value to the collector. However, the current state of affairs is that many anvil collectors are as dense as the anvils they collect and do not question a 200 year old anvil with pristine edges. So dealers are welding them up and dressing them. . . When the current market crazyness settles down a LOT of folks are going to find they have done stupid things.

MANY folks will immediately say "weld it up" and dress it. This often results in edges that are soft and or are more likely to chip off in big chunks. Welding should ba a last resort applied ONLY to anvils that are worthless and useless otherwise. Sharp edges do NOT make an anvil more usefull.

Chips: When the edges of an anvil are chipped the sharp edges that result should be dressed to a radius to prevent marking the work. Sometimes a gentle radius along the entire edge will straighten out the chips. Deep chips are just dressed lightly and worked around.

Mushrooming: When the edge of the anvil mushrooms outward it is like any other tool and needs to be dressed. Most mushrooming is the result of heavy work and is full of cracks waiting to spall and send a piece flying off like a bullet. Mushrooming is first dressed back to the original line of the tool (squared up). Then any cracks that show themselves (often as little rainbow colored edges from the grinder heat) should be ground out. Normally this is done by producing a flat 45° chamfer along the edge until the crack dissapears. Then the chamfer is converted into a smooth radius by grinding two more flats that divide the edge into three equal width planes and then the edges taken off those.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/02/04 13:49:09 EDT

Many of the regulars will recall that I recently moved from Texas to Tennessee. I quickly got the forge working but lately have been smelling raw gas when I used it. Having no regulation leak detection fluid, I used soapy water and quickly found a small leak in the connection to the burner valve. I pulled apart ALL of the connections and replaced the teflon tape (which was provided with the forge) with joint sealing compound. End of gas smell. I encourage anyone with a gas forge to replace that teflon with proper joint sealing compound. It costs about $1 for ten times as much as you need and could save you a disasterous fire. My thanks to Guru and the others who addressed this issue several months ago. Now I can get back to forging those patch knives without fear of achieving low earth orbit...
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/02/04 13:51:05 EDT

Give me the EXACT long. and lat. for your shop, and I'll see if the Air guard unit can bomb drop.. Make that air drop you one! VBG. Seriously, it hurts my soul to see these things go to the scrapper. We make em from 200# to about 450#.
   ptree - Sunday, 05/02/04 13:57:28 EDT

quenchcrack: I'm just showing my ignorance here... but what's a "patch" knife?
   - AwP - Sunday, 05/02/04 14:01:12 EDT


It's a small knife used by Muzzle Loader's to trim the cloth patch after a ball is inserted in to the mouth of the muzzel.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/02/04 14:30:39 EDT

Frequently the handle portion was also made so it can be used as a flint striker.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/02/04 14:31:20 EDT

Square, Octagon, Round it the not just the forging mantra but the grinding mantra. When you want to create smooth chamfered OR radiused edges you start with straight square edges, chamfer as above as straight as possible, convert the chamfer to a quadrant (fourth) of an octogon and then lightly knock THOSE corners off (it doesn't take much at this point).

At this stage of 16ths (if you were doing a round) you can roll the edges with a file or fine sander. belt sanders make very stright edges. If your chamfer was straight, and the proceeding flats were straight and parallel then the end result will be a very straight smooth radius.

Using an angle grider: is a skill that many do not master well. When cleaning up torch cuts OR broken edges the most important thing to keep in mind is to DO NO MORE DAMAGE. If you grind perpendicular to the width of the edge using the nose of the wheel (as you should) the wheel will drop into cuts and breaks making them deeper. THIS IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG and most people don't get it. Smoothing the bottom of the divots makes them deeper and the end result is a wavy mess that requires taking off much more material than needed.

When grinding rough edges the wheel should run parallel to the edge so that it does not drop into the divots. You should not use the flat of the wheel except to ocassionaly mark the high spots with long parallel (to the edges) cuts. Then use the worn nose of the wheel on the high spots running is parallel to the line of the edge. As the surface roughness is reduced and the larger waves removed the angle of cuts should be 45° to the long axis alternating left and right. Do not jump to this step if the divots are so big the grinder nose drops into the divots. Alternating the 45° cuts produces cuts perpendicular to each other, resulting in a FLAT surface. The same technique is used when filing.

When the entire surface is brought down until the divots disapear then you will not have had to take off one iota of extra material AND you should have a smooth straight line. The same technique is applied to curved edges but by rolling the grinder while making the cuts parallel and at 45° to the axis until the divots just dissapear.

My last apprentice did not get this after it was carefully demonstrated AND explained several times. An employee that turned the grinder perpendicular to the edge after having been taught not to would need to be FIRED. It is that important.

You see the results of not understanding this in almost every metalwotking shop where hand grinders are used to clean up torch work. Wavy rounded edges on pieces that should have straight square edges.

I started out calling this a skill, in fact it is not. It is simple following of rules. If you follow the rules and NEVER grind the bottom of divots then you will get there faster and have better end results. If you are impatient, don't have self control and go for the quick false appearance of cleaned up by grinding the divots you will take longer and probably have poor results.

A valuable tool like an anvil is not the place to learn to use a grinder. And the skill is probably being capable of seeing a straight line.

This is one of my two major pet peeves. The other (number ONE) is someone handing me a "finished" piece of work that has not been deburred. I don't care how pretty, how precision, how otherwise perfect, those sharp edges and burrs scream the job is not done. I've carefully explained this to every shop employee I have had. And within a week they will bring me an unfinished piece to look at and then walk away scratching their head when I toss it back to them without a moment of study. . . If you are sensitive about your work, deburr it before handing it to me.

All our shop drawings have the standard note, "Round all sharp edges unless otherwise noted". I even put it on my hand sketches. Usualy an amount of chamfer is specified. But overrideing all this is the simple requirement of basic craftsmanship.

In my shop I even deburr stock going back on the rack. Why? because I KNOW who will be the next to handle that stock, ME! The fact is the time is not wasted. When the next piece is cut off, one end has already been deburred AND you have avoided a possible nasty cut or torn gloves.

Even in a one man shop simple etiquette pays off.

   - guru - Sunday, 05/02/04 14:33:59 EDT

Jock, I'm going to dis-agree with you slightly when you say that proper grinding is not a skill, it is a rule. Actually it IS a skill, when you progress to the point that you no longer need to think about it.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/02/04 14:52:11 EDT

I'm with you on the deburring rant, Guru. The guys in my old shope used to drive me to the point of pulling my hair out. they'd make handles for carts and suck, and wouldn't even bother knocking the band saw bur off, never mind anything else. it's a miracle more people were sliced to ribbons.

Why is it you use the nose of the wheel when grinding? I've always found I could get a much smoother grind job when I kept the grinder as flat to the surface as possible.
   - HavokTD - Sunday, 05/02/04 15:00:58 EDT

hmmmm.. once we get the CSI thing bringing in some cash, what are the odds of getting a spell check script added in here??
   - HavokTD - Sunday, 05/02/04 15:02:04 EDT

Even more about anvil edges: The best ancient anvils have gracefully worn radiused edges. Over their life they have not been abused but have probably been dressed dozens of times with a file or stone to clean up minor nicks and possible mushrooming.

Anything that continues this process with the least change in the tool is just a part of its working life and history and does nothing to reduce its value (in my opinion). Who is to say WHEN an anvil's working life is over and it stops being a tool and becomes an antique? But I think that any time the anvil is old or rare that one should think seriously before making serious repairs. Many of these tools are hundreds of years old and may have had many generations of users. WE are just the temporary caretakers of these objects and should take that as a serious responsibility.

Anvils often see wear and tear from normal use and are rarely perfect. The hardest anvil faces get dinged from hammers, chisles and cold tool steel. Ocassionaly they need to be lightly dressed.

One of the most common problems on anvils used by non-smiths is the tip of the horn being mushroomed. I do not know how they do this but it is very common. A minute or two with a grinder and the horn can be cleaned up. Note that anvil horns are NOT sharp. They usualy have a 1/2" (13mm) to 5/8" (16mm) flat on the tip of the horn. Anvils smaller than 100 pounds (45kg) have less. This flat is to prevent injury to those working around the anvil.

On old forged English, London or American patterns anvils with a step and soft chisle table it is common for the surface to be cut up. A little dressing does not hurt but there is no point in trying to make it perfect. On later cast steel anvils the shelf is fairly hard and should not be used as a chisle table. A soft piece of metal such as aluminium or zinc should be used.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/02/04 15:17:51 EDT

Guru, just saw a flyer from Milwaukee about their 14" cut off saws. One is abrasive, the other, 72 tooth carbide insert.Sent a copy to PawPaw.Anyone used this carbide blade? Thanks
   - Ritch - Sunday, 05/02/04 15:20:45 EDT

How do you guys typically remove fire scale on many multiple pieces. I have been experimenting with muriatic acid and water and it seems to work pretty well but there is the hazmat issue. I have also used a tumbler in the past but it does not seem to work as well on long items such as pokers. Wire brushing takes too long so that leaves sand blasting, which is also slow. What are people using who are producing a decent volume of products?
   - HWooldridge - Sunday, 05/02/04 15:46:27 EDT

Any thoughts on a relatively reliable way to bend 1" square tubing in a ninety degree on each end of a piece without having the tubing collapse? I don't have a bender but I need to make five bows for the top of a livestock trailer.
   Ed Long - Sunday, 05/02/04 16:15:01 EDT

Ed Long: if you have a welder, you can cut out a 90deg notch from the inside side of where you want the bend, leaving just the outside surface at the corner of the notch. Bend the single layer, probably easily by hand, and the notch edges should line up and you weld it back closed.
   - AwP - Sunday, 05/02/04 16:27:54 EDT

The easiest and cheapest way to bend square tube is to take it to a company that does have the right equipment! Cold comfort, but the truth is a cruel mistress.
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 16:46:36 EDT

Scale removal
From looking in the archives, I think the most recommended “environmental friendly” pickle for removing scale is vinegar.
   Shack - Sunday, 05/02/04 17:14:44 EDT

AwP, I did that a few times before but this customer wants a rounded top, not square corners on his rig.
BobG, probably good advice IF there were a company close by to do it.
   Ed Long - Sunday, 05/02/04 17:55:14 EDT

Ed, if you've got a flypress or hydraulic press you could try making dies to bend the tube. Be sure to experiment on scrap metal first!
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 18:04:51 EDT

Thank you all for your valuable feedback. Rest assured, I love my anvil very much, in a way that is probably unnatural and quite possibly illegal. I would never do anything to it without very careful consideration first.
Also, Guru, I didn't quite get your meaning about the angle of angle grinding. Am I right in thinking that you are saying that I should use one flat to the surface of a thing, and NOT like a chisel, or a motorised eraser?
   Dan - Sunday, 05/02/04 19:06:15 EDT

Ed Long: ahh, well my way definately won't work for rounded corners. One thing I've heard works to prevent collapse is filling the tube with sand then heating and bending it in a vice or whatever, the sand prevents the tube from collapsing. However, you need to be really sure the sand is completely dry or it can make the tube explode from the steam pressure when you heat it.
   - AwP - Sunday, 05/02/04 19:35:09 EDT

AwP, are you talking just plain old regular pit run sand? If so, it could be heated in an open pan to remove the moisture first, couldn't it? Actually this is along the lines of what I was thinking, heating and bending over a truck rim which would give the radius I want. However the collapsing bit is troubling me. I remember seeing a show where a guy had a press made that slightly squeezed in the sides of the tubing and prevented it from bulging. Maybe I'll have to jury rig something together. I'm open to any suggestions.
   Ed Long - Sunday, 05/02/04 19:45:30 EDT

Do Hossfeld benders work with square tube? There are a few for sale on Ebay but they aren't exactly giving them away
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 19:51:00 EDT

HWooldridge, I am a big fan of sandblasting. However, it requires a VERY LARGE compressor and it must be run at pressures around 100 PSI. When you can do that consistently, you can clean any piece as fast as you can move the gun. Also look into the electropolishing methods that some people have been using... sounds like a good idea to me, but I haven't tried it.

As some of you may know, I am enjoying spending some of my time as a student (i.e. time when I am only paying for materials, not fuel or rent or food) making my own glass tools. I'm meeting great success in this regard, but now I'm getting into making my own blowpipes. I am going to make the bodies out of mild steel pipe. For the heads (glass-contacting ends), I can conceivably use mild steel (the Italians have had great success with this...), but I would prefer to use 309 Stainless, the standard in the glassblowing industry for pipe heads. The problem is that I cannot find anyone who sells 309 in small, non-production quantities. I don't need much, a few pieces of 6"x0.75" round would be enough. If anyone can point me to a source I would be extremely grateful. Thanks!

Overcast and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii... heading out to a Mongolian reenactment "thing" soon.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 05/02/04 20:06:28 EDT

Working copper: one other thing can happen working copper: If you heat too high and/or too long for annealing you can form too many copper oxides that will migrate to the grain boundries and cause the copper to crack apart rather than deform---this can be seen as being too hard..

   - Thomas P - Sunday, 05/02/04 20:14:51 EDT

Scale removal:

Pickling with muriatic acid is a perfectly reasonable way to remove scale, and is no more of an environmental hazard than vinegar, if done correctly. When you are finished with a batch of muriatic pickle, simply get some litmus paper and some lye. Add lye to the muriatic solution until the litmus paper shows you have reached neutral pH. This is called titrating to neutrality in the chemistry world. When neutralizing hydrochloric acid (muriatic) with lye, the end result is salt water. (HCl + NaOH = NaCl+H2O) The iron that is dissolved is no hazard, and the alloying elements are insignificant, unless you're pickling a couple of tons a day.

That said, sandblasting is quicker if you have the right equipment, but much more of an environmental concern due to airborne metal dust and silica.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/02/04 20:55:21 EDT

Hello, I am a member of an Iron Age Celtic reinactment group in Tennessee. We presently are building a Iron Age village and have a full working forge. I am in charge of it's up keep and am working very hard to locate a primitive anvil to replace our modern one. The Celts have been known to use, I believe, what is known as a "mushroom" anvil and I have seen only one other than the actual Celtic finds that are now kept in museums. This one anvil was purchased from an antiques dealer from England. I would like to at least know what the proper name for this anvil is so that I might better search for it. It appears square and tappers down to about the center only to tapper back out again at the anvil's base. Please help! Does anyone know where I may be able to purchase one of these anvils? Thankyou, Heather Smith. (No pun, my family was blacksmiths in Scotland)
   breccamerie - Sunday, 05/02/04 21:13:38 EDT

Case hardening.

I've been asked by an armourer to refurbish an old wrought iron anvil that has a carbon steel face. The face will be easy as I've now got access to a large surfage grinder. He has asked if I can do anything to make the 2 horns harder, I was wondering if it is possible to case harden wrought iron?
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 21:48:07 EDT

bending 1" square to a radius for a trailer top bow
If you are not concerned by added weight, bend some 1"solid
bar to the radius you want and weld it to the ends of tubing
to form your radiused ends
   - ptpiddler - Sunday, 05/02/04 22:09:58 EDT

breccamerie, what part of Tennessee are you in? I have something that might be of use if you are in Western TN.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/02/04 22:13:20 EDT

Ed Long: Yes, just regular sand. If I understand right you're making the bends near the ends of the pipe? You'd probably have to close the ends with something, though it might be a good idea to drill a small hole someplace out of the way to allow any excess air pressure to escape. If it's closer to the middle of the tube then the weight of the sand itself can give enough pressure that capping might not be needed. Actually though, if the weight isn't a problem then ptpiddler's idea would probably be more convenient.
   - AwP - Sunday, 05/02/04 22:32:54 EDT


The only reasonable way to get the horns harder on the wrought anvil is to use buildup rod or weld some kind of plate on them or -heaven forbid - cut off the old ones and weld on something that will harden. Some here may disagree but I do not feel horns need to be hard. Most of the work done on them can be done perfectly well on the wrought surface.
   - HWooldridge - Sunday, 05/02/04 22:53:58 EDT

Thought so, I'll make him some formers from old rail.
   Bob G - Sunday, 05/02/04 23:04:15 EDT

Heather; I don't think a name is going to help you. Nost of the ones I know of are just descriptive--no "cannonical term" exists.

Being involved in several living history groups; I have to tell you that every "correct" period anvil I have seen has been custom made. So get a good pic with dimensions and try to find a vo-tech that's willing to do a project fairly cheap. (CNC Mill or wire EDM can cut just about any shape---though are you going for a "used one" with mushrooming or a new one still square across?)

Also are you going to make it out of wrought iron like the originals? If so it may be a bit soft for working some modern alloys. WI is generally worked at a high heat where it's *very* soft so a WI anvil is fine. Some modern alloys will leave dents in the anvil face when worked at their preferred temp.

If you go with a modern alloy for the anvil 4140 can often be found in large chunks and can be hardened nicely---remember you want *tough* not brittle hardness!

Bob, you can case harden wrought iron---one way they made steel back in the olden times! However a thin case over softer iron won't be very good against impact. Case hardening is usually used to increase *wear-life*.

If you look at the woodcuts of Maximilian's armourer's shop the anvil is pretty much hornless and *everybody* is working armour against different shaped stakes---think they knew what they were doing?

   - Thomas P - Sunday, 05/02/04 23:53:14 EDT

Where can I go to find the Curie points of various ferrous alloys?
   Brennan Downes - Monday, 05/03/04 11:57:21 EDT

Breccamarie/Heather, I'll echo Quechcrack in asking where you are. He's northwest, I'm Northeast/tri-cities. Unlike QC, I don't have anything that might help. Thomas is the guy to listen to when it comes to primitive iron technology.
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/03/04 12:17:55 EDT

Scale Removal in Production: There are several ways. Chemicaly results in LOTS of hazardous waste in the form of semi-killed acid with metal in solution. Big bucks to dispose of. Vinegar is just as bad even though it is a "household item" and a food product.

I recommend sandblasting for outdoor items that are going to be painted. More environmental concerns here too and is best done by a sub-contractor. Let them worry about disposing of the tons of contaminated sand and the equipment ruining dust.

Vibratory finishers are the best route but are not cheap. These work like a tumbler but long pieces are handled much better. In fact vibratory finishers are best for all odd shaped pieces. The shape of the piece does not greatly effect the amount taken off like it does in tumbling.

For tumbling you need the right media. For long items that do not tumble well you want large soft media like steel punchings. OR large size soft abrasive.
   - guru - Monday, 05/03/04 12:56:38 EDT

Longship Company on History Channel Tools Program

The History Channel came down to do a segment on Viking age tools while we were working on the longship last Saturday. I set up the early medieval forge, wanged away clumsily and pontificated at length, as did our ships carpenter. Unfortunately, when on camera, everything that can go wrong goes wrong. They wanted rivets and about all I could do with the wrong-size header for the wrong size stock is wang out something closer to thumbtacks. If we’d but known… Still, with good editing, we might give a half-fair presentation, as they can cut out the fumbles and blunders, and the small riveting hammer head coming loose. Fortunately for the ship repairs, I have a modern clamping header for the silicon bronze stock that we’re using for the actual gun’l repairs.

The segment I did on axes and their evolutions through history from the Viking age, and the contrasts between tools and weapons went especially well.

Paul, our ships carpenter, bashed manfully away at a pecan log with broad axe and adze, and then demonstrated a simple spoon bit auger that we had forged and whose handles (two different styles) Leonard, another one of our officers, had worked up over the last two days. He also did one of the handles from sassafras root from a windfall out back of the forge in about 15 minutes, it worked just fine.

This is for several segments of a 13 part series, with each program devoted to the evolution of one or two tools, to be broadcast over the summer. We’ll probably show up in several segments, with repeats for various tools.

To top off the day, we press-ganged the fellow from the history channel to put him on one of the tackles the help hoist the ship up into the barn and off the trailer, then slid the trailer out for further repairs. It’s off to Coffee Hill Welding as soon as I get back from the 39th International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo. As with everything else, the hoist was more difficult than expected, but no one was killed or maimed, and the ship’s intact, so I guess it was a success.

I figure that anything for the 18th through 21st centuries, I'll just pass them on to Jock or Paw Paw. I'd have sent them to Thomas for further treatment, but these folks shoestring it, driving down from New Jersey, so I don't think they'd take a crack at NM, alas.

Trust me, anything that I can't cover I'm glad to pass the buck to those more sure and knowledgable than I. Or, as I tell folks who ask me about blacksmithing projects: "If I can't do it I know a lot of folks who can."

Raw and rainy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 05/03/04 12:58:58 EDT

Horns and Antique Anvils: breccamerie, As Thomas already pointed out unless you are VERY lucky you will need to have the anvil custom made. AND even when one is lucky enough to find a truely antique anvil for your period it would be a VERY RARE museum piece that needs to be in a glass case not out with a bunch of reinactors pounding on it. . .

Hornless Colonial Anvil photo (c) Jock Dempsey The anvil you describe sounds like what is called (in the States) a hornless "Colonial Anvil" (photo at left). This style would date from the 1600's through 1700's. Even though it LOOKS ancient to the modern eye it is not that old

Earlier anvils tended to be simple shaped and were more often than not a "stake" anvil. These were square on the top and tapered to a blunt rounded point. About half the anvil would be set in the ground or a stump. A fairly easy shape to have cut out. Ocassionaly one of these would have a small stumpy horn but they were quite rare. It was more common in old shops to work on stakes when a round shape was needed.

Ancient anvils also tended to be small due to the cost of iron. A 100 pound anvil would have been very large for the time.

Thomas's comment about medium carbon steel is right on the mark. The old anvils were quite soft but the material worked on them was even softer in most cases AND the users understood their tools and materials well. Modern reproductions are best made of a better grade of material.

Round horns on all old wrought bodied anvils were dead soft wrought iron. The first anvil with a hard ridge on the horn was the Fisher Eagle anvil and this was because it was a cast iron anvil and the horn would break off otherwise.

Even on late cast tool steel and all steel forged anvils the horn is not hardened as much as the face.

Although some smiths forge on the horn because its rounded surface acts like a fuller and metal moves faster it is NOT recommended practice on old wrought anvils. On many of these old anvils the horn is attached with a big butt weld that is weak and often fails. When using old anvils the horn should be used for what it was designed for, bending and truing bends.
   - guru - Monday, 05/03/04 13:42:35 EDT

Curie point the temperature above which a ferromagnetic substance loses its ferromagnetism.

According to the Tempil Guide to Ferrous Metalurgy this temperature is about 1425°F (774°C) for all grades of carbon steel.

This is a rather specialized subject and my metals references do not give specifics.

Key-to-steel.com has some information at


However, full details on this site are only available to paid subscribers.
   - guru - Monday, 05/03/04 14:02:49 EDT

Scale removal

Is the use of a 'needle scaler' not a reasonably efficient and safe method?
   Bob G - Monday, 05/03/04 14:25:09 EDT

request to Link to Anvilfire.com on my new blacksmiths page. I would like to acknowledge the great help that anvilfire.com has been in developing my fledgling smithing skills. Address is posted for your review Guru

address is http://youngblacksmiths.125mb.com

P.S. I tried the :mailto link but I have not set up my browser to open internet email links. Otherwise I would have used that media to ask this question..Thank You
   Joe R - Monday, 05/03/04 14:55:21 EDT

Alan, I don't think if I know much about primative ironworking technologies; just the ones about 1000-2000 years ago...done a couple of bowl smelts with Flaxy; but much prefer the short stack bloomeries...

Guru, Heather may be trying to describe a small stake anvil where the head has mushroomed so it has the "narrower" spot in the shaft and a large face and bulge where it meets the stump.

There is a lovely anvil in the Museum at Bath England that might be exactly what they are looking for; but museums are nortorious for not letting their stuff come out and play!

Vicopper what about production of FeCl? That might be a tad hard on the pipes!

Thanks for the thought Atli; with no shop yet I could set up in the arroyo for some real forging while travelling shots but all the backgrounds don't fit into a "norse" environment!

Someone turned on the heat---this week's temps are 15 deg hotter than last weeks!

   - Thomas P - Monday, 05/03/04 15:15:19 EDT

Thomas, I knew you didn't cover the first thousand years of iron age stuff, but compared to what many of us do (18th century CE and up)that's pretty primitive!
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/03/04 15:59:51 EDT

I have just became interested in some aspects of metal working and I was wondering where to start. Specifically I am looking into making cast iron items as something of a hobby (door knockers, sculptures and the like) I also am interested in creating some wrought iron items. Can anyone give me advice on where to start in regards to equipment needed and resources which could help me get into this? Thank you for any help which you could give me.

   steffen - Monday, 05/03/04 16:30:11 EDT

Ooooppsss... should've checked FAQ first but didn't see them. Please ignore my previous post.
   - steffen - Monday, 05/03/04 16:40:53 EDT

Does anyone have a recommendation for a vibratory media finisher? Looking for a ~3 cubic foot model, for scale removal.

110V if possible.


   -JIM - Monday, 05/03/04 18:21:51 EDT

Steffen, try http:/lindsaybks.com (lindsay books)
they have all the information you will need reprints
of old publications on all subjects
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 05/03/04 18:29:19 EDT

I have recently purchased myself a numatic power hammer(Sahindler 40k). I am also about to move workshop in a few months. I was hoping not to have to knock though the floor in my current workshop to install shock absorbing foundations. Someone mesioned to me that you could avoid these permanent foundations by mounting the hammer on a water tank of some sort, I suppose with some shock absorbing matierial in there. Well I was hoping to find more information on this or even plans before experimenting with shaking my workshop down. If youve got any info I would be most grateful.
   Finn - Monday, 05/03/04 19:54:44 EDT

It's usually illegal to treat hazardous waste without a permit. IIRC you don't need a permit to neutralize acid for handling and disposal, but you have to treat the result as hazardous waste whether it's hazardous or not.
   Mike B - Monday, 05/03/04 21:00:25 EDT

Vibratory Tumblers-
3 cubic feet is middle size for one of these, and new prices are gonna knock your socks off- try 3 to 5 thousand bucks.
I have a Burr King, (burrkingdotcom) and I like it- it is a reputable brand for smaller size tumblers. Built pretty tough. My advice is look for a used one- try locatordotcom or machinetoolsdotcom. Mine is about 3 cubic feet- and I paid 600. for it used, plus freight. Like most machine tools, the high prices are for the ones that fit in garages, and then for the newest ones. Older, medium to large ones are the best deals. I use ceramic media, and a detergent/anti rust compound, and it works great on anything that will fit in it. I have it out in a shed, where it can run for hours at a time, splashing dirty water and making noise to its hearts content.

Power hammer foundations- Footing requirements vary greatly, depending on your soils, neighbors, and wife. But generally speaking a 40kg air hammer doesnt need a big footing- I have mine on a rubber horse stall pad, and it hasnt cracked the concrete yet, in about 3 years of hard use.
   ries - Monday, 05/03/04 21:03:39 EDT

the locator, which is a magazine and website for used machinery (sometimes they even have the odd nazel 5B)
is actually at locatoronlinedotcom.
   ries - Monday, 05/03/04 21:10:57 EDT

Hey I'm not real sure how I ended up here but maybe you could help me. Recently while I was cleaning out the attic of my new house I found a very old Bernzomatic Grill. It folds up to about nothing. It has a tray for the charcoal and a metal plate for the top of the grill either for a lid or griddle. I was wondering if you could tell me how much it is worth, or where I could find out. I checked it out on EBAY but couldn't find anything. Thanks, Brat
   Brat - Monday, 05/03/04 21:56:44 EDT

Steffen, a polite and inquisitive person is always welcome here. After you have read the FAQ's, if you still have questions, please feel free to come back. There are more than a few folks here will foundry experience.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 05/03/04 22:03:49 EDT

More comments on scale removal: I do production runs of 100-200 pieces at a time with nothing larger than fireplace tools and long handled bootscrapers so I would need a pretty good sized vibratory machine but a normal sized sand blast cabinet would probably work for my application. Thanks for the comments...Hollis
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 05/03/04 22:14:28 EDT

In production, a good quality vibratory machine would probably serve you better than a sandblaster, given that you can pound more iron, sleep, eat, etc. while a vibratory machine is running. However, a sandblast cabinet is more versatile (does weld prep, removes old finishes, etc.). I get a lot of use out of a large sandblasting cabinet available to me at school, and with some duct tape and a garbage bag it can handle anything that I can lift into it. Ultimately it's your call... also you may want to consider hiring a professional sandblast/finishing company or even pay a student or someone to do the sandblasting with your own cabinet, as the running of a sandblaster is not exactly highly skilled labor.

Guru, is it just me, or is the overall quality of Craftsman tools pretty decent?
   T. Gold - Monday, 05/03/04 23:51:08 EDT

whear can i get a good and cheep anvil
   nik - Tuesday, 05/04/04 00:33:01 EDT

Sand blasting:-)

Unless you have a really nice blasting cabinet and CFM to blow, a vibratory finisher is the way to go!!! You stick a pile of scaled parts in, you leave and do something usefull!!! and then after a few hours you come back to clean parts. With a sandblaster you are likely still working on cleaning all of the parts...

Sandblasting is like spraying paint, you have to get all sides of the part, and you have to make sure you get good coverage, and you need to do the whole part so the finish matches... Otherwise when you do paint the scaled section that you blasted with have a different texture under the paint than the straight mill finish (Which you should have blasted or treated anyway:-)

Blasting cabinets are very useful, and I love mine, but cleaning production runs on a small blaster is a royal pain, and takes WAY too much time to be profitable!!! You can easily double your time in a project, by sandblasting and painting... I don't know how much you value your time, but I value mine pretty highly:-)

T. Gold You mean crapsman tools?;-) I have never been impressed with any craftsman tool with a motor (with the exception of the new 6 amp professional 3/8 variable speed drill, it's no milwakee Magnum, but it is a good drill none the less) Some are ok if you get a good price on them, but I have burned up a number of craftsman tools, and never gotten good service on items. I have freinds who have always gotten good service from them. But I haven't been that lucky... Plus I hate their industrial design, their tools for the most part are just ugly (again the ones with motors...:-) Just my opinion and experience:-) YMMV...
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 05/04/04 00:43:50 EDT

More Sandblasting:-)

Actually T. Gold sandblasting is so simple even a monkey can do it, but will still do it badly:-) Sandblasting is a skill, in much the same way painting with a HVLP gun is, or working with an airbrush. (Or atleast it is with fresh sharp aggressive media:-) When you are blasting you need to blend in your texture and make sure it looks even, and like I said you need to blast every surface clean. Depending on the blasting media used, and the hardness of the steel being blasted you can get some really interesting textures from blasting. You can even use something like rubber cement or heavy contact paper for a resist, and blast matte textured patterns into stainless forms if your feeling artsey:-)

Presently I am looking for a nice heavy duty battery charger to build a large electropolishing set up out of a plastic barrel I have.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 05/04/04 01:01:30 EDT

I've found Craftsman hand tool, the ones with the guarentee, seem to be pretty good since they don't want to have to pay out on the guarentee very often. I agree with Fionnbharr about their power tools, since they aren't covered by the guarentee they're not so great.
   - AwP - Tuesday, 05/04/04 01:11:02 EDT

I have a new anvil that I purchased for taking to demos and need to build a stand for it. Any tips on damoening the ring? Thanks, Clinker.
   - Clinker - Tuesday, 05/04/04 01:56:23 EDT


First thing...this is a message forum, not live chat. One post will do it. (10 duplicates removed by the webmaster)

That said, I assume you are talking about "dampening" the anvil's ring?

Go to the top of the page to the NAVIGATE bar. Scroll down to "I-forge How-to". Go to Iforge #144. This should get you headed in the right direction.
   Don A - Tuesday, 05/04/04 08:49:04 EDT

I often see examples of exterior ironwork where the material is just allowed to rust for the finish. Everything from sculpture to fence posts and highway bridges can be found with rust finish where I live in central Texas. I want to build some steel fence panels,gates and other things that will have the same look.
I would cold galvanize the in-ground part of any posts and I guess it makes sense to use a thicker wall material for any tubing or pipe.
I don't have the slightest idea about whether my project would last 5 or 50 years.
Is there a rule of thumb or even information available on corrosion rates for different parts of the country ?


- Chris
   Chris S - Tuesday, 05/04/04 09:05:17 EDT

Fionnbharr, I'm surprised at your comments on Craftsman tools. I've owned a fair number and always had good luck with them. Thier Industrial line are really just B&D Industrial tools with a different sticker. A contractor I once worked for had B&D drills and recipro saws and I had Crafteman-- you could pull parts off one brand and set them right in the other.
On the other hand, I have used a LOT of Milwaukee tools. My opinion of them shouldn't be printed on a public website.
:-) I guess there's good and bad in everything.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 05/04/04 11:59:50 EDT

Tools "Where America Shops": I used to buy these 100%. Then I got burned on a "Professional Model" oxy-acetylene outfit that was orphaned the year after I bought it. Then I went into blacksmithing and the first week my new "Proffesional" angle grinder through off a glued on armature pad. Its replacement lasted a week longer until the gear box stripped out. Now this was a HEAVY angle grinder and I was doing light work. . . Then I went to build the bellows on our 21st Century page. The new "Professional" router cut about half the grooves for the tounge and grooved boards then through off a pad on the armature. My 6" bench grinder from the same source fails to turn over about half the time I try to use it. The wheels are the original and look like new. . but the motor is shot. The above angle grinders (3) had the same wheel. I wore out that wheel in a couple days on a B&D wildcat. . .

I THOUGHT I had tools when I went into blacksmithing and found I had to replace all the electrical ones I had bought "Where America Shops". This is a disaster for a new business starting on a shoestring budget.

Their mechanics tools used to be pretty good. When I started buying them they were made by Snap-On. They have since changed manufacturers several times. When someone spilt one of my deep well sockets I tried to get a replacement. The originals were hex broached all the way down, the new ones only a nut's depth. I replaced it with another brand. Their offset wrenches used to have nice thin walls that fit into tight places. The newer ones are fat and the offset is less. THEN there was the snap action torque wrench that never worked properly. . . It had the "brand name" but only a year warantee. . I gave it away.

I have large mechanics tool chests from the same source. The drawers have standard slides that alow removal of the drawers for cleaning and when a tool gets hung up and you cannot open the adjacent drawer. . . The last time I looked their drawers had a cheaper slide that would not alow removal of the drawers. . . I buy Kennedy chests now.

There has been a general degradation in quality of the whole line over the past 30 years. But this could be true of many lines. However, after the incidents with the welding equipment and the grinders I stopped doing business there.

Sadly, to replace their line of electric tools they started buying major industrial lines. . who in turn saw greater profit in cheapening their lines . .

They still have some tools I find to be the best. When they have 13 to 20 piece screwdriver sets on sale they are a great deal. Individualy and off-sale they are over priced. They have the best handle design in the business (the ball end one with shallow straight grips on the barrel).

Who makes the best changes from day to day. However, you are best off to buy from your localy owned hardware store or industrial supplier, even if you pay more. The big chain store doesn't care about you or your success or failure but the mom-and-pops will offer you credit when you are in a pinch, take returns when they shouldn't and honsetly advise you when they can. It PAYS to have a business relationship with real people.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/04/04 12:06:24 EDT

How do I make a forge
   - Link - Tuesday, 05/04/04 12:14:51 EDT

hi everybody ! does someone know where i can find a website or a book about making staiway handrail or ramp. i have one to make and it seem to be difficult to have the good space between vertical bars and want to know if it's better to make jig or you can do it without it.
thanks and good week !!!
   machefer - Tuesday, 05/04/04 12:34:56 EDT

Other Brands: Many other popular brands such as B&D had different levels of quality. They had their "homeowners" line and professional line. The difference between the two was considerable. When B&D and DeWalt merged the professional line went to DeWalt. My B&D Wilcat grinders are no longer made by B&D but come under the B&D line.

In some lines there are good tools and bad. Milwaukee made the best hand drills and drill motors (for mag based drills and such) bar none. I have thousands of hours on my Milwaukee drills. But I bought their slow speed HD drills. I have never had one of their rechargables. On the other hand I have two of their saws. They may be tough but they are worthless from a design standpoint. Too heavy for their size, cludgy feel, clumbsy in use. THIS is from someone that has used a dozen brands over a 40+ year period.

Milwaukee now has a line of cheapened tools they sell through department stores. You can still get their standard models through industrial suppliers. But they cost more.

Many years ago a relative gave me two K-Mart electric tools for Christmas. I looked at their bright orange cases, ($6.99 each) smiled and said thank you as heartily as I could muster. Then I set them on a shelf. . . Years later I was desperate for an electric drill. So our came the K-Mart drill. It lasted YEARS under harsh use. I finally pulled out the K-Mart saw, it ran one foot through 1/8" (3mm) masonite. . . I pulled it apart, welded the cam back on and it ran another three feet. . . So I was half right about the line. . .

When I was about 10 I was given a Dremel set. Great little tool. I begrudgingly loaned to an older friend. . it came back with the spindle lock broken and the tools worn out. I did not have much good to say to the "friend" or about Dremels for many years.

Then a few years ago I bought a new Dremel. They had improved a bit. However, they ARE a super small light duty tool. And almost everything in their advertising is garanteed to destroy the tool on first use (derusting lawn furniture, removing paint. . ). They are wonderful for small routing like edging on a musical instrument or repairing a bridge. Guitar makers have dozens of special fixtures to use with Dremels. I've also used mine for carving small sculptural pieces (hand size) in wood. But you have to consider the scale of the tool and what it is good for. If you need a heavier machine then you want a Foredom flexible shaft machine. In the blacksmith shop you want an air die grinder with 1/4" shank tools.

Every brand has their best tools and their worst AND they change over time. Figuring it out can sometimes be expensive. All you can do is your best and ask around.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/04/04 13:11:55 EDT

Regarding power tools
On the other end of the spectrum I bought a 4 1/2" angle grinder about 3yrs ago that was made in china for less than 20.00 and have been using it a couple of times a week and its still going strong and I really burn trough a lot of cut off discs.
   Chris Makin - Tuesday, 05/04/04 13:45:24 EDT

Mechanics hand tools, sockets, wrenches, etc. I think it was when I was with Airco about 20 years ago I ended up at 3 different manufacturers doing jobs - Crescent/Xcelite in Sumter South Carolina, Armstrong near Chicago, and Easco. At that time, Crescent/Xcelite was still doing a form, quench and temper process and the tool could be labeled Crescent, Ridgid, Sears, or whoever else they made an agreement with. Don't reme,ber alloys, etc. but it was a decent operation. At that time Armstrong was using 4140 in a hot forge, quench and temper operation - producing superior professional grade tools at a fair, but relatively high price if compared to competitors. Easco had switched (at least on the line I was slightly involved with) to a cold forming process where the metal properties depended on the combination/interaction of proper microstructure from the manufacturer and the stresses raised by the cold forming operation. Given a choice and unlimited budget, I'd choose Armstrong knowing I could pass them on to nephews, nieces, etc. If I wanted something to last the balance of my life, I'd buy (and have bought) Crafstman's grade with the replacement warranty - haven't had to use it yet. Will probably set aside the Craftsman in the next year or two once my brother and I finish divvying up the tools Dad collected over his life - good sets of Proto, etc. that are both better made and more pleasing to use than Crafstman mechanic's tools. - Just my $.02
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 05/04/04 13:47:57 EDT

Armstrong and Proto: These are both brands that are rarely found where the average consumer shops. Armstrong is known for their lath tool holders and heavy set screw wrenches. I think most are unplated but have an excellent black oxide finish. Stout, tough tools. Proto has a wider line (I think) and are only sold localy by a few industrial suppliers. Good tools.

You cannot beat the REAL commercial industrial stuff for durability. But you pay for what you get.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/04/04 14:32:46 EDT


Browse around this site, you will find instructions on how to build your own forge, or links to places that have them. Or go to my site Http://youngblacksmiths.125mb.com for instructions on how to build a brake drum forge.
   Joe R - Tuesday, 05/04/04 14:33:13 EDT

sorry link, didnt post the whole url
either click "What's New" and scroll down to the link to "build your own brake drum forge" or go here

sorry about the long url guru
   Joe R - Tuesday, 05/04/04 14:34:36 EDT

Guru, in reference to your electric tool woes, are you sure this isn't a direct result of your statement "I don't trust any electrician's but myself"? :-) LOL
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 05/04/04 17:10:57 EDT

Hello, i was wondering what a good type of workbench was that would hold my vise and other power tools?
   John Mahoney - Tuesday, 05/04/04 17:53:38 EDT

What do you mean by 'hold my vise and other power tools?'?

Depends on what you plan on doing. ON what type of vise ( post vise or machinist ) what tools and how they are to be used.

General rule of thumb in my mind is have the bench at the height that provides the least strain on the body for the job at hand. which is different for different folks and different jobs being done.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 05/04/04 19:33:56 EDT

I recently killed my 20+ year old Dremel, so I boxed it up and sent it back to Dremel with a $25 check and a couple of weeks later got back a factory rebuilt latest and greatest Dremel with a note "we could not fix it, here is a replacement"

   - Hudson - Tuesday, 05/04/04 23:38:39 EDT

Buyer Beware! :-)

You can get some good tools at Sears, but you have to be informed and/or lucky... Apparently I have been neither, except the new craftsman professional 3/8 drill I got for Christmas last year and just used for the first time last week. It is surprisingly a nice drill, balance isn't the best, but it has enough power for it's size and all the parts work:-) (I cannot say the same thing about the other craftsman 3/8 drill I had gotten for Christmas six years ago: it is wimpy, gets very hot when loaded, and the keyless chuck was worthless, until the chuck failed and then it was even more worthless, the service guys couldn't help me, so of couse I replaced it myself with a keyed 1/2 Jacobs chuck and I am much happier with it, atleast I don't strip bits with it anymore :-)

Much of Milwalkee's consummer line is trash, and I don't partically like any of their rechargeable tools (with the exception of thier medium sized demolition hammer drills they are nice, but that is about it:-) But their drills as the guru noted are hard to beat, good feel, LOTSA power, most of the new ones have replaceable twistlock cords, available in different lengths too... (A 1/2" Milwalkee Magnum, can nearly break your wrist if it binds, it has that much torque:-)

If you buy cheap tools you are gambling with your money, or maybe you can consider it an extended rental (where you get to keep it the length of its useful life; could be twenty five minutes or twenty five years, you can never tell by looking:-) And what is worse is that cheap tools often do not do as nice a job, and are harder to do nice work with... ESPECIALLY in metal.

Personally I hate cheap right angle grinders, they vibrate much more than a really nice grinder that is balanced and tuned. If I use a cheap grinder my hands will be numb in just a minute or two. For me a cheap grinder will likely last a very long time, cause I will not use it unless I have no other choice...

Sometimes you cannot afford nice tools and have to spend money on what you can afford, that is reasonable, but go into it with your eyes open, and look for the best tool you can afford. (If that is a 15$ chinese right angle grinder, well try to get your money out of it) Maybe later you will be able to afford a nice right angle grinder like a Fein, Metabo, or a Porter Cable (the nice model made in germany by Fein:-)

And when the cheap tool stops working before you can afford to replace it... Replace or fix the switch, brushes, or armatures, often times that is where the problem is. AND protect them from water, dust, and grinding swarth. These kinds of things will kill good tools, but wreak havoc quickly on cheapies:-) I have seen too many tools killed by being stored in a barn or a damp basement, or underneath a bench where someone was grinding. Sometimes you can save them sometimes you can't, but you should try to take care of your tools, then they will take care of you...:-)

And shopping at an industrial supplier is no gaurentee of getting a good tool either, the low end tools there are sometimes not much better than the stuff sold at the big box stores.

Good tools are a lasting pleasure. You don't need the best tools to do good work, but it does make it easier. If you learn to do it the hard way, it should be much easier when you do have nice tools to work with. And in some ways it is better to learn to do some things the hard way, like filing and hand finishing. Hand tools have the advantage over power tools in that with a power tool you can ruin a project in an instant, faster than you can see. With hand tools you can atleast see the mistake as it happens:-)

   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 05/05/04 01:48:16 EDT

On the subject of tools, I remember reading in Wood magazine some years ago that most large electric tools (table saws, band saws) regardless of brand name, came out of one of three large manufacturing plants in Taiwan. I don't know if this applies to hand held tools or not but it probably explains why they all seem to look a lot like each other. I guess the blame for poor quality tools lies on the shoulders of those who bought cheaper tools and didn't once complain when good North American tools became "outsourced" to Asian plants where cheaper is always better in the name of economy.
   - Ed Long - Wednesday, 05/05/04 10:16:34 EDT

I am urgently needing to heat treat 4340.

4340 Output splines from a differential are being welded to a mild steel cv coupling. The splined shaft is about 5 0r 6 inches long and the coupling is 1.5 inches diameter.

Obviously on welding the heat will anneal the splined ends. We have been recommended to preheat the material to 400F before welding and then reheating to 1500F before oil quenching. Does this sound right?

How long should it be heated up for etc? All i know about this process is as above, therefore please include as many details as possible, even anything subtle.

Much appreciated
   Glenn Hogg - Wednesday, 05/05/04 10:20:32 EDT

Please note my email, is glenn.hogg@strath.ac.uk, not what pops up with windows script post!

   Glenn Hogg - Wednesday, 05/05/04 10:22:33 EDT

The tool subject is a sore one with me because I used to own a manufacturing company that eventually went bust due to the outflow of work to Asia. I won't get into a long editorial here because I have written several commentaries on the subject elsewhere. The fact is that the $15 right angle grinders exist because there is a market for them. Some folks cannot afford anything else and others will only use it once and put it on the shelf. Most Americans now have a Wal-Mart mentality and the market is driven accordingly. It is interesting that Sears is now carrying many tools that do not have the Craftsman name and warranty. I took a broken wrench in a few months ago that they no longer carried. The salesman replaced it with a no-name and said it would not have a warranty plus the overall finish was much less than the original. I have had good luck with the yellow Delta tools that Home Depot sells and my Milwaukee recip saw is also pretty good. Most of the stuff Grainger sells is decent but they are just distributors and sometimes you see junk from them, too.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 05/05/04 10:25:23 EDT

SAE 4340 Glenn, Everything is kosher except that you left out a step, tempering. I would not let the part cool after welding and go straight to the heat treatig furnace. Immediately after hardening (before reaching ambient temperature) the work needs to be tempered to prevent quenchcracking. How hot you temper depends on how hard you want the part to be (or how tough). Minimum tempering for this steel is around 400°F and the max 1200°F. The temper must be set by a metalurgist, engineer or by trial and error (destructive or durability testing).
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/05/04 12:45:26 EDT

Choices: For a long time I was an ardent "buy American" fan and the heck with the price. I would still be buying American but in many areas you cannot find American made goods. The lack of American made goods is not the fault of the consumer but of the corporate manager and lack of proper safeguards against dumping and predatory marketing.

Try to buy American made shoes, cameras or electronic goods. . . For that matter try to buy American made STEEL. For two decades we have let forign manufacturers dump steel at prices that American makers scould not compete with. Now that there is almost no American steel production prices are skyrocketing. During the last election they tried to make steel a campaign issue. But American steel was already dead. The problem goes back to Regan, freetraders and a "service economy". Now we are exporting service jobs to Inida and elsewhere. If we let things keep going the way we are the only services left to provide will be prostitution.

There are in fact many forign countries where they still prefer to "buy American" due to the quality we USED to provide. Now much our manufacturing is going overseas to the lowest bidder even when it has an American brand name on the item.

This trend will eventualy (much too soon) put us in "third world" status economicaly. We are exporting raw materials, jobs AND services. Soom there will be nothing less. Squabling over the last bit of oil in the Middle East will not solve our economic problems, it only makes them greater.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/05/04 13:22:00 EDT

Guru- I apologize for the excessive postings on 5/4. I had no idea that that even happened. I am a computer idiot. Again I apologize. Clinker
   Clinker - Wednesday, 05/05/04 13:36:59 EDT

Work Benches: All work benches need to be as heavy as you can afford. Benches with vises need to be as stout as possible.

Bolting the top of the bench to the shop wall is the best thing you can do for sturdyness. On my wooden shop benches I bolt the back corners to the wall and front legs to the floor. The result is that you have to pull the building down to move the bench. This can be done with small angle iron brackets and wood screws and be plenty strong.

Light steel benches need all four legs bolted down. Heavy steel benches of 500 pounds or more generaly do not need to be bolted down. However, I HAVE skidded my 1,500 pound welding bench around while trying to bend something clamped to it.

I build wooden benches with construction lumber tops 2x8's and 2x4's (1-1/2" thick actual) that are sturdy and can hold anything you can set on them (anvils, engine blocks). I usualy build at least one shelf under the bench that extends about 2/3's of the depth. The junk that accumulates there adds to the bench mass.

My welding bench has a 1" steel top on half and fire brick on the other half. Underneith there is a 1" bar grating shelf. A very stout bench.

Many shops also have weld plattens for benches. These ton and up blocks of iron are excellent places to anchor a vise.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/05/04 14:08:55 EDT

Amen on the previous post guru. A third world country is defined as one that has to import its goods, cannot produce its own food, has a majority of its population living in poverty and is energy deprived. We here in North America are three for four and the energy issue is killing a lot of good people right now.
   - Ed Long - Wednesday, 05/05/04 16:11:31 EDT

I have a work table made from the back plate of a large injection mold - it's 36 x 36 x 2-1/2" thick with four pieces of 4" pipe as legs. It was surface ground at one time so is very flat and I use it as a straightening aid.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 05/05/04 20:01:43 EDT

On workbenches - I relied on the experience of a friend and welded in a 2"x2" short section of square tubing that I had drilled and tapped. It hangs under the steel bench not far from a corner. I made up mounting plates for vise, beverly shear, stock shear snd a chinese copy of a Hossfeld. Each has a section of the next size down square tubing on the bottom of the mounting plate that fits well into the 2"x2" tube in the table. These are "drop ins" and in most cases I can work off either face of the corner. I have a screw with a cross handle that I can tighten in the tapped hole to firmly fix the unit. It worked really well for everything but the Hossfeld clone as my table was too light to be able to use it. Two caveats. (1)Don't make the smaller tubes out of the bottom of the mounting plate too long or you will have to lift the heavy things way up to drop them in. (2)Put the tapped hole in the 2"x2" tube low enough so that you don't skin your knuckles tightening it. This lets me do different things on my one small metal table.
   - JOHN M - Wednesday, 05/05/04 20:26:21 EDT

Milwaukee tools... A personal friend of my parents, and me, used to run the gear hob department at Milwaukee. When Amstar (a holding company) bought them, the bean counters told him to run the tools longer between sharpenings. He refused and eventually quit over the matter and like decisions made by those interested only in making a buck for the shareholders. Not about their integrity. This was more than 20 years ago now.

I just got a phone message that the last good guy to run the gear hob department at Milwaukee died today. His name was Mike. He'd like it if you lifted a glass in his name and kept your good (old) Milwaukee tools for a long time. He was proud of his work. And damn well should have been.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 05/05/04 21:16:05 EDT

anyone attending the workshop @ the ornamental metal museum, 6/4-6/6??

guru, do you know of any drawings for snub end back up tools? what is the difference between a snub end and a penny end??

   - rugg - Wednesday, 05/05/04 21:49:02 EDT

ed long, centaur has not had the cookbook for quite some time. norm larson and the other craft book dealers can not find one either. it will be a matter of stumbling on to one and diligent searching. still have not heard about volume two that was to be completed after FW's death....the public library has a copy...would hate to copy the book. any leads are appreciated...
   - rugg - Wednesday, 05/05/04 21:55:36 EDT

Thanks guys

Just wanted to say thanks to all who posted answers or advice to my anvil purchase question. I have now been pointed in the right direction. As I had hoped would be the case.
   lazarus - Wednesday, 05/05/04 22:49:51 EDT

Huge political rant self censored:-)

It is so hard to hold in the moral outrage...
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 05/06/04 01:34:56 EDT


I found a secondhand lathe on the internet, and the pic attached looked really ok.

It's a 31" lathe and I'm just curious if anyone knows the brand "REW" ??? so- where does it come from? It looks like a 1950-1960 type of lathe...
More info should be great.

the type plate:
The lathe itself...
   Duco de Klonia - Thursday, 05/06/04 06:52:12 EDT

REW Lathe Duco, I am not familiar with this brand in the United States. The style looks very standard and could be a copy of a Southbend or Atlas.

Lathe sizes are given in diameter of swing over the ways by length of the bed OR sometimes the length of work. This appears to be an 8 or 9" (~215mm) by 33" bed length. The work length would be around 24" between centers (without chucks) or 18" with chucks. The diameter that can be worked over the carriage is usualy 1/2 to 1/3 of the swing.

What bothers me about this lathe is the fact that the carriage has been removed (I had to lighten the image to see it to the right). This is not easy to remove and almost always indicates that something is worn out or broken. But it COULD just be that someone took it apart for cleaning. In the least their may now be missing pieces.

Normally a machine like this came with a face plate and two 60° centers (minimum). Chucks would be optional. This lathe should have about a 5" three jaw chuck and OR a 7" four jaw chuck. The three jaw chuck on this lathe is undersize for the machine (looks to be about 3.5 or 4"). The tailstock chuck is a keyless chuck which is not the best choice.

This lathe also came with a stack of "change gears". These are standard spur gears that are used to change the feeds and to setup for different thread pitches. There are usualy 8 to 12 gears with different numbers of teeth, NOT including the ones on the lathe. Sometimes there was also extra shafts and gang bushings as part of the system. These may just be out of the picture but they are necessary to operate the lathe. After market change gears can be purchased but they are expensive compared to a used lathe.

The tool post has been replaced by a modern block type. Although these are more rigid (necessary for carbide tooling) they do not have the range of use of the original tool post and tool holders. But this is my personal opinion. I prefer the OEM tool posts.

This lathe could have had a couple other attachments. A steady rest and possibly a follower rest. The steady rest is very handy and hard to do without once you are used to having one. The follower rest is used to turn long slender shafts and is rarely used.

Before purchasing this lathe I would want to know why the carriage was removed and why it has not been replaced. I would also want to know about the change gears.

The best deals on old used lathes are when they come with a full complement of attachments and toolholders. It is common for dealers (and ocassionaly individuals) to sell a lathe and keep all the extra peices. This is never a good deal and should be avoided.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/06/04 11:35:16 EDT

Good Old Gears and Proud workmanship: Tony, Here's to Mike the gear cutter, who probably made all the gears in all my Milwaukee tools that still run great 20 years later.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/06/04 11:48:20 EDT

Snub end and Hapenny Scrools: Rugg, I am not sure but I know the penny or hapenny scrolls are thin and flat like a penny. The snub end can be as wide as the parent bar and are ususaly not so large.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/06/04 11:51:31 EDT

Fionnbharr, I often spend an hour writing a long political rant (as I just did) and then dump it. New mantra:

Must keep to blacksmithing content. Must keep to blacksmithing content. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/06/04 12:19:53 EDT

hi i was wondering if you could describe how blacksmiths does there job. it is for a school project. cwhat tools and skills do a blacksmith need?
   host - Thursday, 05/06/04 15:37:39 EDT

Blacksmithing is the art of shaping heated iron and steel with hand tools such as hammers or with forging machines.

A Blacksmith is the person who does this work either by hand or with help of machines. "Black" comes from the color of the metal after being heated and cooled. "Smith" comes from the word, "smite" or "to strike". Therefore the blacksmith is one who strikes black metal.

Blacksmithing dates from the earliest iron age, which started about 1500 BC or earlier in Central Asia. Many of the tools and techniques date from the earlier times of the bronze age going back over 5,000 years.

The metal worked by the blacksmith is either the old ductile wrought iron or the modern steel. Wrought iron is the product of early iron furnaces called bloomeries. Wrought iron has no carbon and cannot be hardened. It is no longer manufactured but old scrap wrought is sought out by blacksmiths and recycled.

A blacksmith must have have a minimum of an 8th grade education but those that operate their own businesses usualy have a college education or better. A blacksmith must have good manual dexterity, understand tools and machinery and be a problem solver. An "artist-blacksmith" must have all the above and have good artistic capabilities as well as be able draw their designs for themselves and their customers. Since most modern blacksmiths are self employed entrepreneurs they also must have the skill of a sales person and understand business. Most of all they must love the profession because there are many easier ways to make a better living.

A modern blacksmith shop often contains every type of metalworking tool and machine from hammer and tongs to milling machines and plasma torches.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/06/04 18:06:40 EDT

I have purchased an 1880 storefront in a historic Virginia town. The 2nd story has a pressed tin facade that is in need of repair. The guys have elected me to find a source explaining how to repair it. Is there such a thing as a "how to" guide?
   debi - Thursday, 05/06/04 18:15:40 EDT

Debi; have you checked the back issues of the Old House Journal (*NOT* "This Old House)? I've notice Renavator's Supply catalog sold a number of different patterns of pressed tin.

   - Thomas P - Thursday, 05/06/04 19:22:09 EDT


We can help you, but we are going to need some images to refer to. Is that possible?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 05/06/04 19:23:30 EDT

Pressed tin- This stuff is hard to actually repair- usually what you do is replace the bad parts. Luckily, there is a place that has been continuously manufacturing this stuff since back before forever, and they still make many of the patterns today. Call up the W.F. Norman Company, in Nevada Mo. and get their catalog. They make stuff very similar to, if not the same as, most of the old patterns. It is not cheap, but it is historically accurate. They still use the same old drop hammers they have been running since at least the 20's. 1800-641-4038 should still work- my catalog is kinda old. If not, call directory assistance.
   ries - Thursday, 05/06/04 20:18:18 EDT

Another thought- some old buildings have elaborate facades of galvanized sheet metal. This is different from pressed tin- pressed tin is the stuff metal ceilings are made out of, with elaborate patterns embossed in it. If your facade is simpler geometric shapes, made from smooth galvanized sheet, it could have been custom built by a sheet metal shop.
If that is the case, then you need to find a local sheet metal shop to make you replacement parts. Most of the old facades built this way are constructed from lots of simple shapes, layered up on top of each other- usually screwed or nailed up, but often liberally buttered with roofing tar. If you can peel off the old parts, a competent sheet metal shop can make a pattern from the old parts, and make new ones. Sheet metal hasnt changed much in the last 100 years- they still use similar brakes, shears, and rotary machines to make the same profiles.
So- if it is heavily embossed- W.F. Norman.
If it is smooth- look in the yellow pages under sheet metal.
   ries - Thursday, 05/06/04 20:24:17 EDT

Lathes - I bought a 1946 Sheldon lathe from a gunsmith that started life with a 10" swing and 24" centers but he added a 12" extension to allow the tailstock to sit way down the bed for doing gun barrels. The extension was professionally done in a large machine shop and has never given me any trouble but the main drive gear broke soon after I got it (it was worn and one tooth gave way). I had to remove the carriage and find a replacement. Fortunately, it was a standard gear in the Browning Gear catalog so I paid $50 instead of $300 from a Sheldon parts house. It took quite a lot of work and time to remove the carriage and fix the gear so a lathe that's already been stripped is probably asking for trouble unless you have done a few before. There is a glut of machine tools on the market right now in very good condition so take the time to find something that you can plug in and turn on. In addition, as "Guru" mentioned, the auxiliary tooling and equipment often costs more than the lathe so it pays to look for someone selling a package.
   - HWooldridge - Thursday, 05/06/04 20:33:00 EDT


I made my welders bench from old surface plates. The largest is 6 x 3 and weighs over a ton. It was difficult at first to use a precision table as a bench but it is worn and out of calibration and if I didn't buy it it would of been cut up for scrap. Surface tables often sell below scrap values and are a lot cheaper (and better) than making a bench from new steel.
Now can anybody suggest how I get an 8 x 4 table (plus legs) out of the back of my van with a small 2 ton engine hoist and a winch?
   Bob G - Thursday, 05/06/04 20:33:42 EDT


Put one end on casters and pull gently.
   - HWooldridge - Thursday, 05/06/04 22:45:44 EDT

bolt the back of the lift down to the floor just inside the door of your shop. Open the back door to your van, and back up till the hoist is over the center of the table. Weld a big mother eye bolt onto the center of the tale. Attach winch to big mother eye bolt. lift table 6 inches or so. drive van forward till table is clear.

of course that's assuming you're talking about the engine hoists that have the lift arm sticking out the front.
   HavokTD - Thursday, 05/06/04 22:46:54 EDT

then of course there is the tried and true method of opening the back doors, reverse till you're up to 30 or so MPH, and slamming on the brakes.
   HavokTD - Thursday, 05/06/04 22:48:24 EDT

Moving Heavy Bench or Machine: Bob, Carefully.

I built my big welding bench so that the 400# top plate and bricks are removable. Reduces the weight to half. I drilled and taped a 1"-8 NC hole in the center of the plate for handling seperately OR assembled. I also fitted an eye-bolt to screw in flush from the bottom to fill the hole and store the bolt. Sometimes moving something in pieces and assembling it in place is the best method. I moved a big geared head drill press in pieces and assembled it in my shop alone. There was no way I could get it where it was going assembled without a LOT of help.

Rigging things out of vans is a pain. They often get loaded with a fork lift then must come out without. I have often found that unless you have a similar machine it is best to think long and hard about loading with one.

My preference is to skid the item from the van into a pickup truck where I can then lift verticaly.

Depending on the item you can dump it the drive way or grass and then upright and skid to where you want it. I've had to unload numerous items from closed top tractor trailers (when we had specified flat bed) by droping on the ground and then figuring it out from there.

I have also skidded parts most of the way out of a van, balancing the load OR supporting it with a floor jack, rigged it at the cg, then lifted and let the load swing out gently. This assumes your van has side opening doors, not a hatch. DO NOT attempt this with a rolling engine hoist.

Another method is to use LOTS of dunage, make a platform to skid the part onto then carefully remove bits of dunage to lower the load. Sand or gravel can also be used but is a pain to move. Heavy power hammer anvils have been set into pits by filling with ice, skidding the anvil over the ice and waiting for it to melt.

I HAD one of those cheap rolling "2 ton" engine hoists on casters and found that they were nearly impossible to use with a 300-500 pound load as well as being the most dangerous lifting device I had ever used. I gave it away. . . My shop is MUCH safer without it.

If you are going to move much heavy equipment into or around your shop you should invest in some heavy nylon load slings, shackles, a chain hoist and a couple come-a-longs (last choice). Nylon slings are much safer than chain, slip less and do not mar paint of finished surfaces. Connections to slings should always be with shackles (big ones) not chain. For your truck you should have chain and load binders to fit. I have a bunch of 5/16" chain and found load binders that size. Works great in a pickup or small truck. You do not want or need the big heavy binders used on flat beds and logging trucks.

Rigging is expense and must be bought purposefuly. Lengths of chain with both grab hooks and chain hooks, binders to match, shackles and slings. Rigging always seems expensive but it is always cheaper than broken equipment, dropped loads, torn up truck beds or injured persons.
   - guru - Friday, 05/07/04 10:07:27 EDT

Hi there
okay i know this might seem simple, im making a trailer out of square tubing it is 1800mm x 1145. i cut 45 degree angles on the four pieces and welded each pair together (making sure they were as square a possible!) now when i wanted to weld the pair together they did not fit 100% :-( so im wondring what is the best way to weld the two together keeping the joints all square if they dont line up exaclt first time

i was also wondring if you know where i can get (if they have)a parts list for a 1930 (i think crafts man circular saw that i picked up in pieces from a friend?

thanks soo musck

   Tim - Friday, 05/07/04 12:32:02 EDT

Welding Frames: Tim, You can align the corners of a mitered frame abosolutely square and after welding it will be way off from shrinkage. If you weld the joints from the outside in the gap spreads and so does the parts. If you weld from the inside out the the gap spreads on the outside and closes the angle between legs.

If you weld the top and bottom and manage to get no warpage then weld the vertical corners the frame will close up.

Welding assemblies is an art. First part of the art is understanding shrinkage of welds. THEN plan around the shrinkage. Often frames are tacked together then small short welds made at each joint until the job is complete. There will still be warpage but the corners will be square and equal. Welding often requires judicious realignment with a BIG hammer after welding. But the BEST solution is joints that are designed for minimal warpage. Lap joints are the best, mitre and butt joints the worst. Often flinch plates are used over butt joints because the lap joints in the flinch plates reduce the possibility of warping.

There are other simple cases where tacks and warp muct be understood. A common joint is a flange on the end of a piece of angle for a foot or bloted joint. If you tack the flange on the outside it will pull away from the angle. The result is a very crooked flange. If you tack the joint at the inside corner of the angle the shrinkage pulls the flange up tight against the angle and everything will be straight and true when welded.

I start with the best design I can, then use lots of little short welds.

Often weldments are clamped up on a big heavy weld platten and welded. The stresses can spring or break clamps so VERY heavy clamps are used. However, when finished the weldment will be JUST AS WARPED as if it had not been clamped. The solution is to heat each joint to a red heat and let air cool while still clamped. Sometimes the joints are shocked with a hammer to relax the stresses. Then when the clamps are loosened there should be mo spring and the part reasonably straight.

Tis art.

   - guru - Friday, 05/07/04 13:16:07 EDT

1930 Saw???? HA HA HAH AHAH HA . . . . ROTFLAMAO! I couldn't get parts (new tips) for my 2 year old Craftsman welding outfit made in 1973! OR parts (that fit) for a similar era air compressor from the same place a few years later.

Some of the earlier products were made by big name manufacturers and parts OCASIONALY fit. However, Sears has their own specs. When Hotpoint made a couple million washing machines for them SOME Hotpoint parts fit and other were Sears ONLY. Almost everything they have ever sold under their name has been that way. So NEVER believe anyone when they say "Oh that's made by. . ." Yep, might be, but that doesn't mean it is the same as THEIR product line.

My Craftsman welding outfit LOOKED like a big name product but every part was custom made and ONLY fit that model. When they dropped production (the year I bought it) they also lost access to any spare parts. Instant orphan product.

I've managed to get stung spending serious money on orphaned welding equipment TWICE. So now I recommend to everyone to buy the most standard model from a big name well known manufacturer. Victor, Smith, Miller, Lincoln. . .

Old equipment is almost the same as orphaned. Most manufacturers only maintain parts supplies as long as there is demand and they can still get the parts.

Old equipment is cheap because it is OLD. Not because of its condition. Perfect condition old equipment has SOME value but when missing parts or needing repair FORGET IT, unless it is the kind of part you or a machine shop can make. Sometimes you would be surprised what you can make with a block of aluminium and a file. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/07/04 13:32:00 EDT

Hi there most exalted bladesmiths and (not so exalted ones as well) I've got a few basic questions... First off i'd like to say that thius site KICKS major as@ for the amatuer blacksmith,bladesmith or whatere you will be, and the experienced as well.

I am currently enrolled in a certificate welding course and i am abvout halfway through. I've always had quite a fascination with metalworking. So I decided i would start there and move on to where i roamed..

Would it be logical, INEXPENSIVE and actually useable to make a forge out of older disc blades(from a tractor) the old iron ones.. and some type of blower?.. or should i just get metal from my shop and build one from "newer" alloys?.

From your experince is Wood knives,swords,crossbows ..(are the handles) tough enough ?./.. or should i make them from The same maertial as the blade?..

see my problem is $$$.. i get the wood from my 2 acres of almond and walnut trees.. or i get scrap..sheet,plate and junk from school?... one last question(sorry so long a post) Is it feasible to actually make your own anvil and vise?>..im not very good with a lathe .. and im about as poor as an ethiopian is starving.. thanks for your time.

An aspiring welding,bladesmith,swordsmith..or all around metalworker -wannabe- <-- lol
   Joshua T. - Friday, 05/07/04 16:43:36 EDT

oh also where can i buy files cheaply.. ive asked my teachers..(who know nothing of smithing) AND THEY DONT KNOW.. Ive asked around town.. no one..

I live in Modesto,Ca .. so if anyone near would like an apprentice.I buy the beer !!.(i dont recomend metalworking when drunk or under any influence, metal working requiers your mind,body and spirit to make truly perfect projects, but this applies to anything)
   Joshua T. - Friday, 05/07/04 16:50:32 EDT

Joshua T: Hi, I'm in a similer spot to you except reversed. I've been smithing for a short time now and just started a class on welding :)

I'm not sure what a disk blade looks like, but if you line your forge then nearly any material can work, no special alloys needed. I heard of one guy who made a forge from a cardboard box filled with dirt.

For fixed blade handles, you generally need a piece of the blade material to go the whole length of the handle (called a tang) and then that would be covered with wood. A crossbow stock should be fine made from wood though the trigger mechanism probably needs to be metal.

You can get files cheap if you get them used from garage sales, flea markets etc, though good odds they're no good anymore. Better to get a good one so it lasts longer, then when it wears out make a knife from it.

Most of the good folks here aren't specifically bladesmiths, and they get alot of questions about sword making from alot of youngsters who aren't really serious about the whole thing, so I try not to ask bladesmith specific questions here... just the more general smithing and metalworking stuff.

There's some good tutorials around the site, you can find them in the scroll down navigation bar on the upper right corner of the screen, and for lots of specifically bladesmithy stuff try checking here...
or here...
Good luck!
   AwP - Friday, 05/07/04 17:04:54 EDT

I tried to make a hot cut hardy from some leaf spring, but it doesn't work. It will cut a shallow line and that's it.

I don't have any stock around heavy enough to make a solid square shaft, so I forged the end of the leaf spring to fit diagnally across the corners of the hole. Then I bent it over so part of it is laying on the face, and bent it again so the blade end points up. It's basically shaped like a Z or S. The blade section was hardened and tempered. It's 5/32" thick, the part on the face and the blade end are both about 2" long, and it's 1 3/4" wide.

Why doesn't it work? If I had to guess I'd say the rounded bends might be making it act like a spring and bounce? I'm not sure, any ideas on what's wrong and how to fix it?
   AwP - Friday, 05/07/04 17:15:49 EDT

Files are one of the only things I will still buy from Sears. Why? Not because they are great (though they are okay) but because they are covered under the lifetime warranty. Really. If/when they get dull, I bring the file back and exchange it for new.

Less like buying a file, and more like buying a subscription to "file of the month" but hey, it works....
   -Jim - Friday, 05/07/04 17:22:29 EDT

To get your files sharpend try Boggs Tool & File sharpening. http://www.boggstool.com/index.htm

I bought some files from a tailgater at the CBA conference that had been sharpened by them and I am very pleased with how they work. Actually, they are the first truly sharp files I think I have ever used.
   FredlyFX - Friday, 05/07/04 17:23:01 EDT

Anyone have a source for *good* 8" wire wheels? Some of the ones I have been getting lately are awful! I run them under the rated speed, and I still go through them way too quickly.

The Sears (bleah) ones seem to last the longest, but I would like to hear if there are other recommendations.

Oh: these are mostly used for scale removal from a gas forge. Thanks!

   -Jim - Friday, 05/07/04 17:25:15 EDT

While I'm thinking about files I have a question for you folks.

I got these new files that I want to keep in good shape. Do any of you have a good way to store files? How about any kind of racks or anything like that?

Also, do any of you have a source for good file handles? I can't really use golf balls because I do renaisance faires and they just don't look 15th century enough. I could have a friend turn some on a lath, but I would like to gat the metal ring around the opening as well. (I'm not sure how I could make something like that) Thanks
   FredlyFX - Friday, 05/07/04 17:27:24 EDT

About makita tools...

Most of the older tools in our school shop are makita... They still seem to work really well. Just used a 180mm disc grinder that about vibrates my arms off though...lol
My teacher just said " that'll make a man outta ya"
   Joe R - Friday, 05/07/04 17:41:04 EDT

Hello, i am new at blacksmithing and i was wondering what an easier kind of forge would be to start out on, Coal or Propane? please e-mail me with a response.
   John - Friday, 05/07/04 17:49:48 EDT

Fredly; why don't you do it right to start with and then you can brag about it rather than make excuses! So take a look at what renaissance tool handles look like---easy to find some as there are the woodcuts of Maximilian visiting his armourer and lots of paintings of Joseph in his woodworking shop. Don't recall De Re Metallica having many handtools in it but there are some. Don't trust what someone else says; go to the original sources! Your public library is your friend!

(as for metal rings: conduit, 20 ga shotgun shells, punch and hammer---lots of stuff that can be used.)

AwlP How hot was the steel you were cutting? It should be a nice orange and you work fast---assuming a hot cut.

Cold cuts pretty much have to be made right to get the force necessary to cut stuff cold.

   - Thomas P - Friday, 05/07/04 18:34:40 EDT


Get a painter's drop cloth and sweet talk you wife/significant other into making a tool roll for them with an individual pocket for each file. The worst thing in the world for files is to rub against each other in the drawer or tool box. Painters drop cloth (the white/biege ones are enough like sailcloth to get by the traditionalists.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 05/07/04 18:35:09 EDT

The steel was just getting into the orange range in daylight, I'm guessing just a little below critical though I didn't magnet test it. The steel is 3/16" X 1 1/2", I tried on the flat and on edge. Should I have taken it above critical?
   AwP - Friday, 05/07/04 18:47:57 EDT

A good hot cut can be made from a truck axle. First tings is, if you look for an axle less than 1 3/8" od on the shaft, it will be 1050H most likley. If bigger, than 1541H. both will be pretty hard, and will require anealing to cut with a blade saw. An abrasive saw won't care. Cut a nice chunk, and forge a square to fit your hardy. Then heat to a good forging temp, and place in the hardy hole and forge down into the hole so as to make a good shoulder. Then forge out the cut. Raise the cut end to about 50F above the critical temp(above the point where the metal is non-magnetic, and then quench in OIL. Just quench about a 1/2" of the end, and then polish the end quick, and quench the whole thing in oil at a straw color. This will give you a tough, not brittle cut, custom fit to your anvil. The axle stock, if made in the last 10 to 15 years will be the alloys with the H, which indicates an alloy modified for quick, deep hardenability. Do not hold the part at heat treat temps for very long as grain growth is a problem in these steels.
All of the above techinique is what Tom Clark did at a hammer in in Tipton In. last year, with a chunk of axle stock I supplied. He made a hot cut for the club anvil, for students, and it is reported to work very well.
If you will be in the area, I will be at Tiptin again this year, and will have lots of this stuff with me.
Good luck.
   ptree - Friday, 05/07/04 18:58:49 EDT

A good hot cut is thin and most common steels do not really answer the call. I make all my hot tools from H13 tool steel and have one that will cut 2" deep. The edge is about 1/32 and tapers to only 1/8 before meeting the chisel body. This is easy to drive into hot steel and keeps its edge. Air chisels are good stock to make into chisels so salvage any you can find.
   - HWooldridge - Friday, 05/07/04 19:18:02 EDT

John what *kind* of smithing will you be starting out doing?
Propane gets rid of the smoke/fuel/burning up the metal issue; but coal is real handy for heating just the part you want to heat.

Ptree, I took a piec of 1 3/8" axkle heated it and put it in my hardy hole, picked it up off the floor....1.5" hardy hole...Actually what I did was to take the broken tip off a jackhammer blade and forge down the shaft a tad to fit the hardy hole of my regular using anvil-did that bout 20 years ago and still using it...

   - Thomas P - Friday, 05/07/04 19:24:20 EDT

Fredly, the metal band is called a ferrule. I f you can get a copy of The Complete Modern Blacksmith (buy, borrow, or get from the library) by Alexander G. Weygers it has some good info for making complete handles yourself. If I remember correctly it even has a technique for turning them on a drill press.
   Nomad - Friday, 05/07/04 22:22:00 EDT

ptree & HWooldridge: Thanks, if I get my hands on some good axle steel or some air chisels I'll definately try that.

I'm just hoping I'll be able cut whatever I get, with my setup I can anneal pieces only so big.
   AwP - Friday, 05/07/04 22:54:31 EDT

hey guru, i was wondering, now that i have gotten a makeshift anvil, a few smithing books, and so forth, where can i find lists of japanese sword smith's? i am wanting to get a little practice with scrap metal and then try to apprentice, also what are some good swordsmithing/blacksmithing books to try to aquire and read?

Thanks, Oshi
   Oshinokeru - Friday, 05/07/04 23:49:34 EDT

Technical Question on Quenching Oils. I was wondering how soybean oil would work for a quenchant. I am told the flash point if over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. My reason for asking is that I have a source for that, used for cooking, and I hear bad things about using motor oil, even if you use new synthetic oil. Thanks!
   Ellen - Saturday, 05/08/04 02:38:00 EDT

I've heard soybean and corn are two of the best cooking oils for quenching, though this was in relation to things with thin cross sections(blades). I'm not sure if it would work as well with bigger stuff or what you work on since it's not what I personally use.
   AwP - Saturday, 05/08/04 03:35:56 EDT

hi sir,
Please note me if you have any information about "heat treatment fixtures" or if you know just some websites that can help me.
I'm a graduate student and want this for my presentation.
thank you so much.
   mohammad bidhendi - Saturday, 05/08/04 04:48:26 EDT

Thanks much for the helps guys. I knew I could count on you.
   FredlyFX - Saturday, 05/08/04 06:27:17 EDT

Quenching Oils

I use used canola oil for quenching, I can't see why soybean oil wouldn't work. Of course use proper saftey precautions such as a metal container with a lid, a LARGE volume of oil compared to what your quenching, and some way to put out a fire.

This answer brought to you by the letters C, S, and I. *admires his name in the pretty blue letters*
   JimG - Saturday, 05/08/04 10:43:24 EDT


A smart person would follow the advice posted above and not use a leaf spring to make a hot cut hardy. Not falling into that category, here's what I did:

Cut a piece of leaf spring maybe 5-6" long. Leave 2" or so to form the body of the hardy. Draw the rest out into a tang the same width as your hardy hole, making the shoulder between the body and the tang as square as possible. Fold the tang back on itself so the end will be flush with the anvil face. Don't close the fold all the way at first; heat up the folded tang and drive it into the hardy hole to get a snug fit. Grind a cutting edge and heat treat.

The only problem I see with this method is that the shoulders where the spring rests on the anvil are small, concentrating force. I'm careful to use mine only on hot stock and haven't had any trouble so far.
   MIke B - Saturday, 05/08/04 11:41:58 EDT

Ellen I would say use it. I have used a lot of diffent oils and to be honest they all work about the same as far as I can see. But then I am not approaching this from a scientific method either.

Actually one of the best oils is free oil...(grin) as long as it is not used motor oil.
   Ralph - Saturday, 05/08/04 11:43:41 EDT

FREDLY: One of my favorite things to use for handle ferrules is oddly enough.........ferrules. The brass ones used for compression fittings on copper tubing. They come in all sizes.
   3dogs - Saturday, 05/08/04 13:12:11 EDT

Follow up question to Ellen's above. If useing vegtitable oils does one need to be concerned about them getting....for lack of a better word, rotten?

Wouldn't YOU like your name to appear in blue on this forum? For a dollar a week you can! Join CSI!
   Nomad - Saturday, 05/08/04 14:26:14 EDT

Mike B: So yours doesn't bend, it goes straight up?

Nomad: Yup, they can get rancid and need replacement eventually.
   AwP - Saturday, 05/08/04 15:32:22 EDT

PawPaw, great idea on the tool roll.Duluth trading offers lots of storage goodies.Fredly, get a file card, or brush, and clean the files often. Few shots of W40.Learn to file in one direction.(still got a knot, from dragging Dad's file on the return)
   - Ritch - Saturday, 05/08/04 16:32:53 EDT

While comericial heat treating oils are not free, they can be bought in 5 gallon buckets. Try Chevron, Castrol, or Mobil. They all offer oils with different flash, and quench rates. All have very high flash points versus motor oil, and also have additives to make them wet the hot parts better. Expect to pay at least $6 to $8/gallon. These oils will last for many years, as long as you keep them covered, and keep the water out. By the way, always keep all heat treat oil water free, as very wild explosions can occur if the water in oil flashs to steam.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/08/04 18:36:38 EDT

Thomas P,
axles do come in bigger shaft od's, for those with big hardy holes. By the way, a tool called a scale, (ruler for the tool challenged)exists that may assist you in your future endeavors at getting things to fit. VBG
   ptree - Saturday, 05/08/04 18:39:32 EDT


Yep, it goes straight up -- the body of the hardy sits directly above the hardy hole (but toward one side).

   MIke B - Saturday, 05/08/04 18:52:03 EDT

Thanks, maybe that's the problem with mine, or maybe I'm just not heating the metal to be cut enough (it is a little red hard anyway). I'll try making another one straight up and see if that helps until I get some good heavier stock for some serious anvil tools.
   AwP - Saturday, 05/08/04 19:08:06 EDT

Gurus sirs, I should be in blue w/you. Did my credit card bounce?
   - Ritch - Saturday, 05/08/04 21:38:09 EDT

Where would I find some info on forging stainless steele?
   Sherk - Saturday, 05/08/04 22:33:29 EDT

hello, im a 22 year old art student out of frostburg md. i recently tried (or am in the progress of trying) to build a mechanical power hammer. for some reason the motor i have on there has been blowing the fuse after running for about a minute or two. its a baldor 1hp motor, 110/220 running at 110. any idea why it is blowing the fuse or how to fix it?
   mike edelman - Saturday, 05/08/04 22:46:34 EDT

Mike, a 1 hp motor running on 110 volt probably pulls
approx 15 amps, I don't have one in front of me but I build
belt grinders using a 1 hp and if your load on the power
hammer is very much it will blow the fuse. You need to be on
a 20 amp circuit or it could be your circuit breaker, I have
also had these to go bad. You didn't mention if the motor
blows the fuse under load or freewheeling.Try another circuit and make sure you are on a 20 amp circuit
   - ptpiddler - Saturday, 05/08/04 22:58:57 EDT

Ptree, I have swept up all the scale around my anvil---how is this supposed to help making a hardy to fit the big-un?. BAG

   - Thomas P - Sunday, 05/09/04 01:10:02 EDT

Cutting directly on the table?

A London pattern anvil has a soft block between the horn and the face known as the table. I've found at least two references ("Forge Craft", Crowe, 1911, p. 14 and "Elementary Forge Practice", Bacon, 1914, p. 10.) that state that it is OK to cut through directly on this table, letting the chisel makes marks in the table surface.

I've tried this myself and it is effective and convenient...and the resulting marks in the table surface do not distress me.

But I have run into several smiths that claim that this practice is abuse of the anvil and insist that all cutting through be done on separate soft plates.

O' Oracle of Orange-hot Iron, I await your opinion on this vital matter.
   Scott Little - Sunday, 05/09/04 02:14:06 EDT

Joe R;
A disk grinder that has excess vibration is an invitation to disaster and needs fixing. Usually replacing the grinding disk is all it takes. Things that go around that fast, throw hard stuff hard when they come apart. Better to play with rattlesnakes.
Fredly, my file racks have a bunch of parallel fingers sticking out. I hang them by the handles according to type and size. It's all up pretty high and swings out of the way. The argument for a ferrule on a file handle is that when the handle splits under pressure, the tang doesn't embed itself in your palm. It's discouraging to use a file that way.
Awp; it does sound like the soft bends are a good part of the problem, you want to transmit the force of the blow straight to the anvil. Spring stocks should be adaquate steel quality.
Ellen; Sure, soybean oil works fine, peanut oil is supposed to have a bit higher flash point though. The local deep fry place sells it used for a penny a gallon. When it turns rancid, I trade it in. Or just keep it covered for a couple of months till it quiets down....little grin.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 05/09/04 03:59:31 EDT

"I have a friend who's offerd to stand over the pile with a gun while I'm being burried to prevent anybody trying to get a head start---" lmao Thomas..:) you got the style I like. I tell the old lady to just put "blacksmith tools galore" on the sale bill when the time comes and I suspect that she will have plenty of folks show up.

   - Ten Hammers - Sunday, 05/09/04 07:08:20 EDT

Guru or others I want to build a side draft hood in my new shed,similar to the ones in plan file,but I would like to vent thru back wall instead of up through roof,horizontal pipe would be approx12 inches to the elbow,is this a bad idea.
   crosspean - Sunday, 05/09/04 08:47:15 EDT

Thomas P,
One word, "super glue"
   ptree - Sunday, 05/09/04 11:22:50 EDT

Mike edelin,
If you have 220 volt available, the motor will draw less amps, run cooler, and develope more apparent Hp.
   ptree - Sunday, 05/09/04 11:24:01 EDT

Guru: Since I am rebuilding my shop, I want to change to side draft chimney in the forge I have two questions. After having looked at all the palns out there I can find, is there a minimum size the flue box at the forge needs to be, or will it work as long as it is slightly bigger than the stack. I am planning on using 12 inch dia. stack, which brings me to question two. I have looked extensively on the net, but cant seem to find any of the 12 inch stainless single wall pipe I have seen several used in several of the shots on the web. Where can this be found and will it costs me my right arm (oops thats three questions). I live in the DFW area of Texas. Thanks for a great site.
   RC - Sunday, 05/09/04 11:56:06 EDT


I made a side draft with 12 inch galvanized stovepipe. The flue box is an old material hopper flipped upside down and capped with the cone cut away enough to allow the stovepipe to fit. The important thing is to use a large flue and make sure it goes at least 1-2 feet above the roof peak. You will see a natural pressure differential that draws all the time but really picks up when it gets hot. Light a piece of newspaper and hold it near the opening. A metal stove pipe gets hot quickly but cools off quickly, too - a stone or brick chimney stays warm and still pulls smoke well when you break for lunch. You will find over time that very fine cinders and ash collect in one side of the flue box which shows the cyclone effect of the side draft design.
   - HWooldridge - Sunday, 05/09/04 12:37:43 EDT

Life of the Guru: I took off one day (yesterday) to visit with Paw-Paw and some other blacksmiths, a half day to recouperate from getting home at 3 AM. . And now I am waiting for 300+ e-mails to download. Most of it is spam and virus mail but it takes time to download, time to filter and time to trash. Much of the spam is so well disquised that I have to open it to be sure it is not anvilfire business of one sort or another. I used to wonder about folks that could not personaly answer all their mail. . now I know.

Yes, I have spam filters. . but only about 15% goes straight to the trash. Do you know how many ways you can purposely misspell "viagra"? Hundreds. And now there are new brand names for the same product. . . So the question IS, why do these cretins want to trick you into taking delivery of mail that you have purposely filtered?

Fully 25% of today's mail was virus mail. The forged return addresses are folks I know from anvilfire so the infectee MUST be one ouf YOU. Learning about viruses and keeping your machines virus free can reduce the junk mail load for all of us.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 15:01:57 EDT

12" Flue material is available in in galvanized and SS as ducting and flue. Try a heating and ventilation outfit. In the worst case these folks can make the pipe.

Galvanized works but coal fumes are heck on steel. SS holds up just about forever. It pays in the long run IF you can affored it AND there is a "long run".

The initial intake chamber on a side draft can be just the pipe itself but a little bigger is best. See the "super sucker" hood drawing on our plans page. The bigger type also work well. But all need that big flue.

My plan if I every have another permanent coal or charcoal forge is to put a hinged extension nozzel on the side draft intake that reaches to within about 3" of the center of the fire. When the fire is smouldering and not creating enough heat to have a good draft OR while starting the fire and warming the stack the nozzel would be flipped down. When the stack is drawing good it would be flipped up out of the way. A little extension "hood" will also help do the same when the conditions are not right for good draw on the stack.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 15:13:04 EDT

Horizontal Flues: These reduce the draft a little but it is done all the time. IF you have a good drawing stack the the elbows and the horizontal section will have little or no apparent effect on the efficiency of the stack. However, if you have a small marginal stack the resistance can be the difference between working and not.

Note that ash is going to accumulate in the horizontal section and this is where you are going to see the most corrosion. Moisture tends to collect in the ash at the outside vertical elbow and these can have a short life. It pays to take future maintenance and replacement into consideration at these elbows.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 15:19:01 EDT

Cutting on Table: Scott, you are right, this is and was common practice. Unless a huge amount of cutting is being done it dose not damage the anvil. Being out where the anvil is soft also means that it is not difficult to make a weld repair. Once in a while folks ask about the cut up table surface and I recommend just leaving it alone or dressing with grinder.

On later all steel (forged and cast) anvils the shelf may not be all that soft and the damage is to the chisle. Because of this it is a good idea to get used to using a cutting plate. Many folks use an aluminium plate but zinc is better if you can find it as it is just as soft and does not conduct heat nearly as fast as aluminium.

Many smiths use the corner at the table as a handly forging feature sach as making folds and bending (I do). Having this area smooth is better if using it to forge but it does not need to be perfect.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 15:31:29 EDT

Disk Harrow or Plow Forge: Joshua, This is a common forge design. I thought I had a photo of one in our news somewhere. . NC-ABANA meet but I cannot find it. May not have gotten that event posted.

This forge used two disks. One for the forge pan and the other for the base with a large 6" pipe inbetween. Made for a clean classy modern looking design.

It IS feasable to make your own anvil but you can buy better from Euroanvils for less than you electric bill and the cost of welding rods.

Good files are never cheap and cheap files are rarely good. For most operations grinding media is cheaper and less sensitive to hard scale and flame cut surfaces which kill files.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 16:12:24 EDT

Hot Cut that doesn't work: Awp, although your design sounds a little springy it SHOULD work. To reduce spring do not make it an "S" curve trying to get the cutting edge over the shank, just an L bend so the cutting edge is supported verticaly over the face of the anvil. It may also be too tall. Shorten it to no more than 1" above the face of the anvil.

And last put not least, the work should be good and hot soaked all the way through to hot cut.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 16:18:33 EDT

True BLUE CSI: Ritch, I do not recognize your name and you gave no e-mail. I suspect you registered through Pay-Pal. The fellow handling that has been out of town for several days so I have not gotten the registration. We should have you sorted out Monday.

Also note that unless you log-in your name doesn't come up in blue. Several folks (such as Pete-F) either do not login or have trouble doing so.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 16:27:14 EDT

Oshinokeru, see our resources page of the Swordmaking article on the FAQ's page.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 16:28:00 EDT

Follow up question on using cooking oils for quenching: I am going to initially quench a six long piece of 7/16" O-1. How much oil is the proper volume? Two gallons?

I won't worry about it going rancid. I do believe I have access to more than I can use....for free. It's been used for deep frying fish, or for french fried potatoes.....

VIRUSES: there was some talk on the radio yesterday about putting a "router" between your modem (or cable modem, or DSL modem) and your connection to the internet as being a good way to filter out most viruses, and at a cost of less than $30. Anyone here know anything about these devices? Any info posted here would be of great benefit to all members. I too have had viruses sent to me via email using the names of folks here who are frequent posters and are too computer savy to be hosting viruses on their computers....on my computers I run a virus checker about two times per week, plus Spy Bot, plus Ad Aware......one can get a free virus check by logging on to Symantic.com, but it is a tad slow...you can run it overnight and not tie up your computer. Spamming should be a capital offence.....in my humble opinion.....
   Ellen - Sunday, 05/09/04 17:22:18 EDT

DANGER!!! Vibrating Grinder : Joe-R, Pete was right but not nearly strong enough on this situation.

Depending on the size most hand held grinders vibrate some. High speed 7" (180mm) high speed grinders (6,000 RPM) are the worst. But if it is more than just a little motor vibration then the wheel is damaged. Vibration that shakes your arms visibly is dangerous. Any instructor that says "use it as is" belongs in another job or should be FIRED. Yes, that is harsh but not nearly as harsh as the results of using a damaged grinding wheel.

This is a VERY dangerous situation. Either one of two things have happend.

1) The wheel has been dropped or snagged and is severly out of round and possibly cracked or split. Out of round where are often wearing rapidly at a split. In many cases the wheel is likely to self destruct. It should be removed immediately and destroyed (to prevent re-use). The result of a breaking up high speed wheel is a wide swath of destruction that can lead to maiming or death from flying parts. Fiber glass reinforced wheels are tough but NOT indestructable. As the wheel breaks up the tool will see extreame imbalance that WILL jerk the tool out of anyone's hands no matter how strong, and THIS can result in an out of control power tool. It is common for such tools not to have proper wheel guards (does YOURS?). That means that the flying parts are likely headed for your crotch, gut or face. They CAN kill you.

2) The grinder has a bent spindle. This puts out of balance loads on the best wheels and can cause them OR the shaft to fail. In the least it will eventualy wreck the bearings or gears. The grinder should be RED TAGGED, taken out of service and repaired or scrapped.

Both the above situations are common in community situations where no individual feels responsible for the tools and are likely to be amatures, students or hourly employees and tools are routinly abused and poorly maintained. Community tools ALWAYS need MORE maintenance and more expensive to maintain due to thoughtless abuse. Often those responsible get lazy or tired of making constant expensive replacements, but it comes with the territory.

The problem is that almost EVERYONE in these situations forgets the first rule of industrial safety,

YOU are personaly responsible for your own safety FIRST.

Second is:

You are responsible for the safety of others around you.

If you expect your employer or supervisor (or guardian) to be aware of every possible dangerous situation and be responsible for protecting you all the time then you WILL be a casualty. People often win law suits for damages when they are hurt on the job but just as often they are found to have contributed to the problem by not avoiding what they knew was a dangerous situation. This is called contributory negligence.

Anytime a tool or machine makes an unusual noise or has a destructive vibration it needs to be properly investigated. If the tool is not yours and you were the last to use it (or try it) and there is a problem then the tool should be RED TAGGED and looked at by someone responsible before it is put back into service. Not taking action makes you just as repsonsible for the next person that uses the tool as your employer or supervisor.

The problem is that this often puts the complaintent on the spot like any "whistle blower". It should not. Folks should be congradulated for reporting any unexpected dangerous situation.

I am usualy the one that confronts management and have had to do so on a number of situations. It is not an enviable situation. You do it because it is the moraly right thing to do. It CAN be a carreer stoper. Life is full of choices. Often the right ones are the hard ones.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 17:43:43 EDT

Ellen, A router between the cable modem and your computer is nice because it keeps the outside world from accessing various ports your computer may have open. That is a good thing, and I have one. I would suggest it for anyone with an always on Internet connection like cable modem or DSL, since it does reduce the ways you can be attacked.

On the other hand, it probably does not filter your incoming email, or the web pages you chose to visit, so you can still be bitten by the email attachment you click on, or the spyware that installs itself with the (usually) free whatnot you just downloaded.

Now a CSI member so new my login hasn't been setup yet...
   rwidmer - Sunday, 05/09/04 17:48:06 EDT

Real Life Grinder Incident:

A few years ago we had a serious angle grinder accident in the shop I was managing. The angle grinder in use did not belong to the shop, it had been brought in by an employee. It did not have a guard on it. The grinder snagged in a piece of work, kicked out and hit the operator in the jaw. The wheel nearly cut his lower jaw off and the impact knocked him unconsious for a few moments. The accident only took a milisecond but the repercussions took years to resolve.

Who was at fault? Everyone. The employer for not providing a safe grinder (they were cheap and refused to purchase a good one). Myself for letting the unsafe grinder in the shop. The worker for grinding in a notch in a manner he was told was dangerous and NOT to do. The manufacturer of the grinder for not providing a permanent guard (although it was questionable that a guard would have helped in the situation - I think it would have helped reduce the extent of the injury).

It took many surgeries to repair the damage. OSHA was involved and there were law suits. The fellow had some permanent nerve damage but came out alright otherwise. There was a lot of lost work and a lot of expense and a whole lot of agrevation of everyone involved.

All it takes is a weak moment not to do the right thing. At the time this was a minor problem as I was trying to avert major disasters every day and was constantly at odds with the top management. This was a LITTLE "gotcha" where there was other major life threatening problems at the site. I was never so relieved as the day the management got tired of my complaints and fired me. . . .
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 17:56:53 EDT

Thanks Guru for your response on horizontal flue,hope you had a good time at demo,get some rest.
   crosspean - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:06:24 EDT

Routers and Firewalls: Ellen, As Rick noted, if you are on a full time high speed connection such as cable and you are using anything over Win98 then you are operating a server on the internet and you MUST have a firewall.

All new PC's running Windows 2000 (I think) and later are running server software (want it or not). This opens up your system to hackers.

The hacker you need to worry about are NOT the guys you see in the movies who work one on one to crack a specific server. These are reptiles that write robotic scanning programs that scan EVERY port on the internet for a server. Every connection on the entire internet that is full time (not dialups) is tested ever few minutes by one or more of these hacker robots. These programs do not care what kind of server you have, they just try a whole series of Windows hacks. Even UNIX servers like our anvilfire server is hit over and over with windows commands (which in turn make huge error files). If you are not running a firewall they immediately upload a series of backdoor programs to your Windows PC. Please thank BILL GATES.

These programs do everything from capture passwords and relay them to the author to install memory resident viral components that prevent anti-viral and software firewalls from working. They don't put ONE program on your computer they put dozens and THOSE invite their friends. In a few unguarded nanoseconds your system is THEIRS. It can take months to clean up and sometimes requires replacement of hard drives to get them off the system 100%.

The biggest authors of this cracker software is currently spammers. As the war against spam heats up the spammers are looking for more and more systems to compromise and use to send spam from. This is hacking for financial gain on a global scale. It is illegal but nothing is being done. The US government is the only entity that has the power and leverage to combat these REAL terrorists that effect a significant number of housholds in America.

Meanwhile we just passed a law that makes spam legal and has not teeth in it. These guys are serious crimials and we need serious laws to deal with them.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:20:22 EDT

Perhaps this has been mulled over already. I wish to know if anyone has knowledge of the "basic" setup (chip, whatever) that is envolved with all the automtic welding helmets. Do they all have the same technology ? Are there differences (like say in processors or RAM chips ) that make the price difference ? I recently (last Thursday) got an arc flash in the eyes am currently cussin the problem away. I can buy an automatic helmet at a farm store for $99.- to $129.- these both have single setting lenses. I can get a top grade Jackson Helmet from the welding supplier for roughly $325-340.- It has at least 3 settings and speed control (sensitivity). substansial difference in price and I'm wondering if it's bells and whistles or if in fact the pricier helmet has better quality guts (so to speak). All help appreciated, and thanks.

   - Ten Hammers - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:33:19 EDT

Ten Hammers:

When we were looking to buy a couple of those at my old shop, we found the biggest differences between the different masks was response time. (aka how long it takes the lense to go from clear to dark, after it detects a flash) The bettery operated ones, or bettery with a solar re-charge seemed to come out the best that way, but were also about $500 CDN a shot. kinda hard to justify the cost for guys who can't even be bother whiping the grease off a wrench after they use it.
   HavokTD - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:51:23 EDT

MORE on Firewalls: Note that EVERY software firewall has a known hack. Hardware firewalls built into routers have proven to be 100% reliable. However, diabling one for a few minutes can mean disaster as noted above.

As Rick pointed out the firewall does not protect you from things you download OR give your PC permission to open/install.

Hijack software is a form of a hack and the guys that use it should be jailed. However, most of these guys are the Russian Mofia and run their servers in places where they are safe from prosecution. To stop them will take SERIOUS International efforts up to and including removing entire countries from the INternet.

The way hijack software works is that the site opens one of those nusiance pop-up windows. The window in turn is setup so that clicking ANYWHERE in the window is a "Yes" command letting the site download an update your browser. Just clicking on the window so that you can close it will trigger the yes command and and your browser is now THEIRS. Thank BILL GATES.

The hi-jack software not only makes the invader's home site YOUR home page but it installs memory resident components that prevent you from resetting your home page. It also has complete control of your system and can download MORE nasty software onto your system and install it. All because of that ONE "yes" command that you did not intend AND the huge security holes in Windows and IE. Thank BILL GATES AGAIN.

   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:51:28 EDT

Thanks for the information on the value of routers, but what I would like to know before I go shopping for one is:
1. What are they?
2. How are they installed?
3. Approximate price range?


Ten Hammers: I have a Chameleon automatic welding helmet from Harbor Freight. It cost (on sale) about $90. Seems to work fine IF I set it out the sun once a month or so for the solar recharge component to work. It can also malfunction IF you have the sun at your back. Don't know why. The Chameleon is adjustable as to welding shade 9, 10, etc. The speed control seems fine as long as I:
1. Keep it charged via the solar component.
2. Avoid backlit situations.

I am told by those who weld full time for their daily bread that you can get an "eye burn" if you use one for many hours, that the lag in kicking in, while fine for a reasonable time, can cause a cumulative "eye burn". I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement, but if I am going to weld a big project at higher amperages, I drag out my old fashioned hood with the fixed shade at number 12 and have at it.

For a "firewall" I use Zone Alarm Pro. I have been told it is a good one, but that a "hardware firewall" is also a good idea.
   Ellen - Sunday, 05/09/04 18:52:50 EDT

Automatic Helmets: Ten, I had one of the very first of these and was completely dissapointed. The response was just slow enough that I could see arc spots after striking every arc. The manufacturer said it was in perfect operating condition. I ended up throwing away a $100 Helmet (in 1984 dollars).

Supposedly they are much improved but I have not tested one. Back in 1984 everone said the helmet I had was great and worked perfectly. But *I* could see the arc spots and they were a distraction. They may not have been harmful, but they WERE a distraction that I found unsuitable.

The best solution to arc flash is better ambient lighting. Most people flash themselves in the process of aligning the rod and flipping down the helmet just as they strike the arc. But with good ambient lighting you can see fine with the helmet down. No last minute flipping and no need for a $100 to $300 piece of high tech battery eating technology.

Lots of folks love them but I would rather turn on the lights. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 19:02:38 EDT

I'm going to add to Jock's rant about computer security.

I've had a home computer since the 1970's. We currently have four computers, all on a Local Area Network (LAN). Over the years, I've had to deal with virii a few times. If you are a hacker, you'd better not EVER let me find out. (very small grin)

Our system has a cable modem, so we are connected to the internet 24/7. We have the modem connected to the router. Each of the computers is then connected to the router. So in effect, all four of our systems are connected 24/7.

The router provides a hardware firewall. I also run McAffee's Firewall, and McAffee's Virus Scan Pro. EVERY message I receive is scanned automaticly. Both Windows, and the McAffee programs are on automatic update.

I have a folder on my desktop that is titled "Security". In that folder are located, LeakTest, Registry Medic, Shoot The Messenger, Spybot Search and Destroy. All of which get run several times a week and are updated religously. When I get a message from ANYBODY that has an attachment, the message MUST explain what the attachment is, or the message and attachment get deleted. If it's from somebody, the same rules apply, and are enforced even more strigently.

I don't think there is much way to be more safely.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/09/04 19:34:05 EDT

Motor Overloads: Mike, as ptpeddler pointed out the fuse/breaker is probably too small. However, there are lots of other problems that can occur.

First you said "fuse". . Ah its been about half a century since places were routinely wired with fuse boxes. Most I have seen were cheap old Murray boxes that are fire hazzards. If this is household wiring or in a small shed then the 110/120 v circuits were all designed for lighting and other light loads, not motors.

Wire size and distance can be a factor. Too small of wiring can create resistance, heat and thus MORE resistance and a load that WAS 10 amps can easily become 15 or a 15 a 20.

A motor running on 110/120 draws double the amperage as running on 220/240. The wire size must be higher for the low voltage. 12 AWG copper is the minimum recommended for this motor at 115V (including distribution wiring). I would want no less than 10 AWG. The recommend circuit breaker is 30 AMPS.

Note that 30 AMP breakers are no longer the norm. Most household circuits use 15 and some 20. 30A circuits are considered special circuits requiring heavier wire and special plugs.

HOWEVER, I have found that common tools that are supposed to run on 20A ciscuits, like big angle grinders, will trip the breaker with just a little force applied. I have had to put in special breakers for my B&D Wildcat grinders even though they take standard plugs. This is not an unusual descrepency between equipment manufacturers and the electrical code. . .

NEVER increase the fuse size or breaker unless you KNOW the wiring can take it. I usualy use #10 wire where #14 called for. The #10 will safely take a 30A breaker and meets code while common #14 housewiring does not.

When idling a motor draws almost no current. Normally if you can start it you have gotten over the big hump. However, starting under full load can draw five time the rated amperage for just a second. They make special time delay fuses for this situation. Most breakers will take it unless previously overheated. Even though a 30A is recommended a 20A should handle it.

The solution is often to go to the higher voltge wiring which requires lower amps and smaller wire.

   - guru - Sunday, 05/09/04 19:34:23 EDT


> If it's from somebody

Should read: If it's from somebody I don't know, the same rules apply, and..........

> I don't think there is much way to be more safely

Should read: to be more safe.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/09/04 19:37:18 EDT

"Q Oils"
Sometimes I use fry oil. It makes the shop smell like french fries. Easyer to breath in shop than that old oil. Also old oil has some flameables in it so be careful folks
   Barney - Sunday, 05/09/04 20:09:13 EDT

Hardies.. I make mine from RR track. I have it sliced into 1" pieces. Cut off the bottom, then I form the hardie I want. They make good cut off's. Unless you have a helper to swing a big hammer or a power hammer. Its takes awhile to make one by ones self.
   Barney - Sunday, 05/09/04 20:14:06 EDT

File Attachments (computer not metal working)

My mail reader allows me to block (hold) the downloading of file attachments over a set size, I have it set at 100K this means that since most virii are bigger then 100k, they never even get to my computer. When there is a file attachment over 100k my mail reader asks if I want to download or delete the attachment.

If its from the anvilfire team I just delete it.
   - Hudson - Sunday, 05/09/04 20:34:10 EDT

Question on coal forge blowers:

I've looked on the info pages of the anvilfire site, including the FAQ for forge blowers, and I have a query: what is really an adequate CFM for a "moderate" size forge's air input? I have a coal forge with Centaur's 12"x14" square firepot, and I'd like to have a healthy air blast for it, to take on good-sized piles of coal, but I don't want/need a blower that can scatter burning cinders all over the place!

Kayne and Sons, for example, sell several sizes of blower. The 112 cfm one looks nice ($90) but I could afford the 400 cfm model ($200); I just don't know if the bigger one is way too much capacity for my forge. (Of course, I realize that a big blower can be throttled back, while an undersized one is stuck at its max; but I'd feel kind of silly having a monster blower that had to be 70% choked off all the time.) Anyone out there with some "how much is really enough" numbers?

Eric T.
   - Eric T - Sunday, 05/09/04 20:57:47 EDT

Welding Helmets:

I am a big fan of automatic welding helmets... we have one up at the shop and I use it regularly. Can't contribute anything to the "cumulative eye burn" argument though... I have never used it for more than a few minutes straight. Never needs a charge, seems to charge off the arc light.

Hack attack:

I run a webserver off my own home PC. I have no hardware firewall and no software firewall. I used to run an FTP and a WinVNC service for my personal use, which I have stopped for the moment due to router issues. In all my time owning this PC (about four years so far) I have had exactly zero successful hacks. I run WinME. Interesting statistic to chew on, yes? The only problems I have EVER had were self-inflicted! My advice to those who are concerned about their security is to get a REAL web browser, for instance Opera (www.opera.com) or Mozilla (www.mozilla.org). Personally, I use Opera, and it is better than IE in just about every way I can think of. I always laugh when my friends complain about popups or computer crashes from visiting certain webpages or getting adware installed on their computer without their knowledge... and I usually reply with one word. "Opera."

Anyway, enough proselytizing Opera. On to some blacksmithing content!

I've started making glassworking blowpipes out of 1/2" blackpipe... it has a good feel in the hands and seems to work well, but I'm concerned about the scaling that is traditionally a problem with these pipes. I was wondering if pure iron scales at all; if not, would it be feasible to decarburize the hot ends of my blowpipes to the point of having almost no carbon left in them? Thanks for any info y'all may be able to come up with.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 05/09/04 21:11:08 EDT


If you have too much air, you can throttle back in several different ways, an air gate being the simplets.

If you don't have enough are, you don't have enough air, period.

I would (and did) buy the larger blower.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/09/04 21:21:12 EDT

Volume of quenching oil.
Ellen, I think 2 gallons would be plenty. I have no idea what the ratio of oil to what your cooling is, but you want enough so that it won't get up to boiling temp real fast.
I have a 4 gallon metal pail and an big old deep enamel bowl for a lid, this hangs over the outside of the pail by quite a bit.
   JimG - Sunday, 05/09/04 21:23:36 EDT

Thanks Jim G, good advice. I like the idea of the big old bowl for a lid, I was scratching my head over what to use as I was planning to use a 3 gal. galvanized bucket for my quenching bucket, and I think I will get 3 gallons of oil to start with.

Thanks for the explanation on the routers, any idea what is a fair price for one? I know so little in this area that I cringe whenever I have to go to a computer supply store.

TGold, thx for the recommendation about Opera, I will check on that. I hate Windows XP and Internet Explorer! There is no security built in at all.

Eric I bought the big Centaur Blower, I think it is 450 cubic feet per minute, installed an air gate and I am very happy with it. This is the one which has a decent sized motor, with variable speed, and the blower portion looks like an old Buffalo or Champion blower, same shape, but all aluminum, and it doesn't leak oil.
   Ellen - Sunday, 05/09/04 22:42:09 EDT


I use a Linksys four port router. Cost less than a $100, You should be able to find a two port for around $50. (at a guess)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/09/04 22:50:13 EDT

Allright, One of you "expert" blacksmiths give me a few pointers in forge welding wire rope. I have some 3/4 cable that I have soaked and cleaned and I want to experiment with some in trying to make my first wire rope/cable knife. I assume that it will burn really easily, each piece being so small. Flux it like normal? Any tips on welding around the piece so I can still have a cable handle. Any and all ideas and experience welcome.

Vance Moore
Whynot Forge
Meridian, Mississippi
   vance - Sunday, 05/09/04 23:18:39 EDT

Thank you Paw Paw. Question, my home computer uses a dial up modem, only on when I am online. Would a router for this be a good idea?
   Ellen - Sunday, 05/09/04 23:54:51 EDT

On a dialup, you'r not really online 24/7. You're only on line when you dial in. I don't think a router would add much safety your situation. That you will have to check with the folks who sell the router. Check with more than one supplier and by comparing the responses, you can verify their truthfullness. But in your shoes, I'd DEFINITLY set up the McAffe Firewall and Virus Scan.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/09/04 23:59:02 EDT

Thanks Paw Paw, I have Zone Alarm Pro set up as a firewall, and do regular virus scans as well, not to mention Spybot.
   Ellen - Monday, 05/10/04 00:11:45 EDT

Virii, one word *linux*! Wouldn't you rather be spending that time learning stuff rather than just doing the scut work of keeping a window's system working?

Vance---have you checked the cable for carbon content?

Today I framed up the first section of the wall for my wife's spinning Studio, she's calling around to see about getting my shop equipment moved down here---something seems backwards...

High 80's but it's a dry heat and the breeze only was bowing the 2x6's a few inches

Thomas "jerky on the hoof" P posting on my linux powered PC
   - Thomas P - Monday, 05/10/04 00:24:35 EDT

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