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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 25 - 31, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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AWP: I think you will be happier with 3/8" rivets, Alan mentioned a trick I forgot to mention with the brown paper from a grocery sack, it does give a bit more clearance, slightly oversize hole, chamfered on all entrances and exits as guru said will also help the longevity of your rivet. No way an 1/8- 1/4" rivet is going to hold a pair of tongs unless they are ***real**** small tongs. Let us know how it works for you.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 05/25/04 00:58:13 EDT

AwP and rivets for tongs

At a guess there are a number of things conspiring to thwart you in how you are trying to rivet the tongs:-)

First the stock you are trying to use is too small, drift out the holes in your boss area to a little over 3/8", or if you cannot find 3/8" round stock, use 1/2" round.

The other thing that could be at fault is the quality of your steel. So what was it? Wrought iron, tool steel, rebar, cheap chinese hot rolled? Next how you work the piece down? Did you get the piece too hot? Did you work it down too cold? Some steels are very unforgiving:-)

And of course you may have not preped the boss on each rein half of the tongs well enough; if you have impressions and divets next to your punched hole... You are much more likely to rivet too tight, and then your rivet will shear and give you problems.

So to fix the problem:-)

Drift your holes in the boss of the tongs larger... If need be you can use the same stock you are going to make your rivets out of to make your drift (especially if you had to jump up to 1/2".:-)

Next if you do havea piece of 3/8" round stock to make the rivet out of take a piece of 1/2" x 1" x 1" flat bar (or if you had to jump to 1/2" make it 5/8" flat) and drill a loose 3/8" hole in the middle of it, and then take your tongs and run the rivet stock through the drifted holes and into the hole on the bolster plate, then measure up from that about 1/2" then cut your rivet to length.

You want to dress your boss area on both halves of your tongs, so that they are smooth and flat and well chamfered. If you have a star chisel you can nick a nice X on one half of your tongs, other types of chisels and even a center punch will work too. Rivet this side LAST, so make sure it starts down. This will be the side where the rivet does not move. If you fix one side of the rivet to the tongs; as they wear they will have less of a tendancy to bind. Try and heat one end to a good yellow heat,(good heavy tongs for round stock should be enough of a heat sink, especially if you just quenched'em:-) insert the rivet blank into the tongs (with the stared half down remember:-) ontop of the bolster plate with the cold end in the bolster plate against the anvil face. Pein down your rivet cap, or use a rivet set. (You can make a rivet set, by heating up a likely piece of 1/2" or better piece of good steel, and forging it onto a nice rivet head, or you can use a bob punch to make the correct sized impression...:-) Knock the bolster off the cold end and work the joint, you want this side to move freely. Then heat the hole thing in the forge, and forge the other end of the rivet down onto the star. Being careful not to rivet too tight and check your joint as you work. Once you have have a rivet head you like work the joint as it cools. Once it is at a black heat, get it hot again and adjust your reins and your jaws, and make sure your reins line up like you like.

Hope this helps:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 05/25/04 01:54:50 EDT

Good day Gentleman,

Thanks for the comments on the whitewash, As a knife maker I do use the foil for heat treating the blades, being a bit of a sole author I like to do everything myself and that go’s for making tools and jig’s etc. and therefore sometimes have to heat treat something with an odd shape and was thinking of trying the whitewash.

Cheers to all.

   "VAN" van der Merwe - Tuesday, 05/25/04 03:19:41 EDT

Tool Steels: Guru pretty well summed it up. No sharp corners, section thickness changes, small radii, etc. Work it hot, reheat before it loses color. Heat and cool gently. good agitation of the quench or up-and-down figure-eights in the tub. If you choose to cryo treat it, I would use a short (1/2-1 hr), low temperature (300F) temper immediately after the water quench, cool to room temperature and then cryo treat it. Acetone is somewhat toxic and I would prefer to see plain old alcohol used instead.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/25/04 09:38:35 EDT

Forgot to mention another source of rivets: R.J. Leahy in San Francisco. They do have a website but the on-line ordering doesn't work. Call to order(415-861-7161). They will sell retail and ask only a $10 minimum. Rivets are about $3.60 per Lb for most any common size. The bad news is shipping will cost almost as much as the rivets. 4 Lbs cost $10 from SF to western TN.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/25/04 09:45:55 EDT

I just read over your article about sword making...along with all your comments about making weapons in general. Saying that, I'm reluctant to ask you this, but I'm interested in making a knife. I've read somewhere that native americans had made knives out of old files...probably along with any other scrap metal they could get their hands on. Is there any special consideration I should keep in mind while working an old file into a knife? I have a friend who knapps blades from stone, but the period I'm interested in doesn't go quite that far back. I'm thinking about a "presentable", but still functional knife made from a file with maybe an antler handle. That's the goal anyway. Thanks for any advice.
   Budd - Tuesday, 05/25/04 09:56:51 EDT

TONGS: Awp, The primary problem is your rivets are too small. Second you want them loose in both sides for tongs. Tong joints CAN be quite smooth operating but are more often very loose. Between Fionnbharr, Ellen's and my post you have way more tong debugging information than you probably need.

I've never seen tongs with 3/16" (5mm) rivets. 1/4" (6mm) rivets would only be suitable for VERY light small tongs with springy reins. Machinery's Handbooks prior to the 23rd edition have a tongs dimensions chart with rivet sizes. The smallest use 1/4". Common tongs use 5/16" (8mm) and 3/8" (10mm) rivets. However as the tongs increase in size so do the rivets up to 7/8" (22mm).

Many of the listed rivet sizes are hard to get. When in doubt, use a larger diameter rivet. I've seen many old tongs with a nut and bolt or round head screw instead of a rivet. You assemble then cold head the extra threads so the nut does not turn or fall off. I've also seen rivets made by cutting off a long bolt or round head screw. Its not pretty but it works.

One of my old references said to put a piece of heavy brown paper (like paper grocery bags used to be made of) in the joint of the tongs while riveting. This will burn out leaving clearance. I've only done it once and it seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, but it may help some.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/25/04 10:00:27 EDT

ITC and Metal: ITC-213 is used on metal to protect it and as a primer for other ITC products. When gluing Kaowool to metal I prime with ITC-213, bake, coat with ITC-100 and apply the Kaowool to the wet surface.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/25/04 10:04:04 EDT

Indians and Knives from Files: Budd, knives were and are commonly made from old files and before that old files were usualy recycled back into more files by annealing, grinding and recutting. Knives made from files must be VERY carefully heat treated and tempered otherwise they will be so hard as to shatter with the gentlest pressure.

Most of the metal knives used by American Indians during the 1800's were trade knives made by Europeans. These varied greatly in quality. One source states that they were often case hardened wrought iron. If they were only sharpened on ONE side the hard case hardened edge remained to provide a hard edge. I suspect most were just made of low quality steel.

In your case STYLE is more critical than material. You need to find photos of knives from the period. There are others that may know what you are looking for and can advise you better. If you hand forge a small tanged knife (no square shoulders) and finish it on a piece of sandstone (no powered grinders) you will come very close to what might have been made by a primitive smith.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/25/04 10:15:49 EDT

More on blade steels: Budd, most springs of any type also work to make blades. Round stock from coil springs is actually easier to forge to shape than a large flat bar. See our FAQ's about Heat Treating and using Junk Yard Steels.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/25/04 10:20:30 EDT

Budd, there is a review of Wayne Goddard's $50.00 knife shop on the book review page. My wife made a gift of it to me the other day. I happen to agree with the review, by the way. See if your friend has it or maybe your local library. Might help in your quest.
   Gronk - Tuesday, 05/25/04 11:34:47 EDT

Have seen early Indian trade knives that have the entire bevel on one side. They appear to have been forged as simply and quickly as possible with no extra care used to finish. The user then sharpened on a stone. Case hardening was another step that added cost so I doubt it was done very often. Steel eventually got better and more plentiful but this was after the height of the trade period.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 05/25/04 11:36:46 EDT

I'd think that early cheap knives would probasbly just have a small piece of steel welded on for the blade if they didn't pack harden them---just like they did for chisels at the same time. Steel was quite expensive back then compared to wrought iron. If it was laid on on one side you would want to sharpen the other side to keep your steel as long as possible.

   - Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/25/04 12:15:09 EDT

We have received an old forge in pieces. The metal ring, I think it is called a basket is about 3 feet in diameter and 8 inches deep. There is a wooden floor in it. All of this seems to be in good shape. There are a couple of buckets of bricks, a bucket of larger rock and a second bucket of smaller rock. We would like to put this together for display in a small historical museum. Can you point me to a diagram that would show me the proper way to put this together?
   - kevin - Tuesday, 05/25/04 12:15:54 EDT

guru/ellen, thanks for the advise. i was using coke and EZ weld when attempting to forge weld. now that i think about it, i should have laid the "dropped tong" piece more over the face of the anvil rather than the edge. it is hard to judge the temp in coke. it seemed that just when a few sparks appeared, it was close. it is also difficult to know where the hottest part of the fire is (burnt scarf lips). with the shape of the scarfs, it seems that the first blow should be on the tangent. just throwing some thoughts out there; i think i am getting closer....thanks
   - rugg - Tuesday, 05/25/04 12:58:37 EDT

Forge welding - For what it's worth, my two cents on the subject...I watched many people who were accomplished at it but I had mixed success for many years until eventually figuring out a method that works for me. I use coal/coke and starting with a fire that has coked but is still mostly free of clinker, I put the pieces in and heat to a dull red, then either pull them out and flux with borax or flux in the fire. Plenty of fuel under and some covering the work. I gave up on EZ Weld and use plain borax. The blower is opened and the fire brought up fast. When the fire is a bright yellow white and the material is the same color (but before sparks appear) I turn off the blower. The fire continues to soak for a few seconds and the pieces usually begin lightly sparking. I pull the irons and stick them. Unless they are very small and can be finished in that heat, I usually reflux and take another welding heat before finishing the forging. I have seen other techniques but this works for me.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 05/25/04 13:18:40 EDT

Just ordered rivets and some copper and NS sheet from RJ Leahy - www.rjleahy.com - this weekend. Online ordering did work. Got a nice email this morning saying the size I wanted was out of stock and presenting options to backorder or select from a few alternate sizes that were in stock.

I have made and use regularly 10-15 sets of tongs with 1/4" rivets. Nice smooth operation, work fine. Admittedly they're relatively light, and I'm not forging full time (spending 10-20 hours a week out there right now, though - BIG grin). I've also made a few sets with 3/8 rivets, and I do prefer that size. I drill usually 1/64 oversize and work the tongs hot after setting the rivet. No problems with getting them stuck or shearing rivets. Until I found the place to order rivets, I made them myself, with a tenon tool and a header that I also made. I can't make rivets for anything close to what I can buy them for. ;) But hand made do look cool, allow for decoration, and let me feel close to my ancestors. ;) It's character building! ;)

   Steve A - Tuesday, 05/25/04 13:55:28 EDT

Thanks for all the information on riveting.

The first ones were made of round stock and not based off any specific plans, I just tried to wing it based on the different ones I've read about (didn't turn out great overall which is why I made a whole new set with proven plans instead of winging it).

The second set I attempted were using the Dempsey Twist method and it was 1/4"x1", the directions said use the same thichness rivet as the thickness of the metal which is why I did 1/4". I'll definately try bigger ones.

The steel, both the flat and the round, is "welding steel" from my local hardware store, which I'm under the impression is plain mild steel, maybe 1018 or so?

Thanks again for all the advice, hopefully I'll have better luck when I try again.
   AwP - Tuesday, 05/25/04 14:50:34 EDT

Rivets - Doesn't look traditional but a simple 1/4 hex nut and bolt works fine. Tighten until you like the tension, cut off the excess thread and pein the end so the nut won't back off.
   - HWooldridge - Tuesday, 05/25/04 16:10:02 EDT

Budd, Check out a copy of "Tomahawks, Pipe Axes of the American Frontier". Several photos of knives of that period; some in color.
   - Ron Childers - Tuesday, 05/25/04 17:36:58 EDT

Hi I am currently trying to make a scroll jige but with out much sucsess have you any ideas
   peter - Tuesday, 05/25/04 18:20:28 EDT


I know one of the COSIRA books that can be downloaded from... well, we've talked about it here, someone must have posted the URL, but I can't find it... anyway, one of those books talked about it. Some other books probably do, too, but I can't remember and wouldn't know if you have access to them anyway.

Way I do it:
1. Draw and spread one end of 1/4x3/4 flat like to make a fishtail scroll. Flatten it so all the spread is to one edge of the bar. When you get the jig made, this part will stick up so you can hook on to start the scroll.
2. Scroll this piece by hand, with hammer and anvil or pliers, or scrolling tongs, until you have a scroll you like.
3. Make this scroll nice and flat, with the spread part sticking up.
4. Weld a piece of angle on the bottom so you can hold the jig in the vise.

You can make a whole set of progressively larger jigs by spreading another bar and forming the scroll around this jig. I guess the obvious sticking point in all this is that you have to be able to form at least one scroll the manual way in the first place. I got to where I could do that consistently by the hammer and anvil method right about the time the local group had a session where we made scroll jigs. But a couple guys who had trouble with that did make good useable jigs by drawing a scroll they liked with chalk and bending with scrolling tongs or wrenches until the steel matched the line. Comes out kind of bumpy, but that's okay - when you wrap the hot stock around the scrolling jig it kind of averages out the bumps and comes out smooth.

Not the only way, maybe not even as good as some other ways, but it's how I've done it. Hope it helps. I think there's a picture of some of mine at home.hiwaay.net/~alfords but I'm not sure it'll help much. It's kind of a group shot.

   Steve A - Tuesday, 05/25/04 19:15:15 EDT

I will post the Cosira URL in the Virtual Hammerin.

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/25/04 20:46:43 EDT

Hello...I am in northern NY and well over the age of 16.
My question is:I have a 40" Shear,press brake and slip roll from Harbor Freight and I am having trouble shearing.It bends instead of shearing.thank-you for any info.
   Gary Dishaw - Tuesday, 05/25/04 22:30:06 EDT


I have not used the HF shear, but any shear needs to have the knife and platen both sharp and the clearance set. If the shear is dull or the clearance is too great, the stock will bend rather than shear. Just like a loose pair of scissors.

From what little I know about those multi-purpose tools, they are not rated for stock much more than about 20 or 22 ga, less for stainless.

I checked HF's website and downloaded the manual for their item #43353. If that is the machine you have, it is rated for 18 gauge. Supposedly. I usually downrate any discount tool by at least one size, so I would figure 20 gauge.

The online manual indicates that there is an adjustment for clearance by moving the lower blade. HF specifies 6-8% of the stock thickness for clearance. That means that on 18 gauge stock (.040") you would want about .003" clearance between blades. Less clearance for thinner stock, of course.

I hope this helps.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/25/04 23:00:29 EDT

Ok, so you coat with ICT 213, for primer, then apply a coat of ICT 100. would this do much to improve the performance of a pizza oven, or something like that?
   HavokTD - Tuesday, 05/25/04 23:00:37 EDT

Rugg: You've gotten some great tips on forge welding, and I only want to add one important point. Well, maybe two. First one, make sure both pieces are the same color. THAT tip really helped me out on my welds. Not close, but the SAME color. And some people like to strike the piece on the edge of the anvil to sling off some of the excess flux before trying to stick them. And it really does make a difference to have a clean fire, no clinker. Them dang clinkers sure can take the heart right out of a fire.

Dang, I like this site. That is why I am a CSI member. My dues, voluntarily given, help others view this site and learn this great art.
   Bob H - Tuesday, 05/25/04 23:04:32 EDT

Not a blacksmith question per se, but I expect someone here has the answer. A neighbor gave me 330' of 2 wire with ground 10 gauge wire (for a welding job on his pool fence), nice thick flexible black rubber coating, will make some great heavy duty extension cords for power tools; will control the voltage drop quite a bit. Anyway my question is: Where do I find the 3 prong plugs male and female for 10 gauge wire with thick exterior? I just want to run it on 110V. Went to Home Depot today and bought some I was assured would work, well they're too darn small (#12), so any tips appreciated. Thanks!

Also, I was going to buy some 2" 10' long galvanized pipe or threaded heavy conduit, was $28 per piece a couple of months ago, now $40 per piece......off to the salvage yard tomorrow!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 05/25/04 23:08:47 EDT

Budd - re trade knives, if you haven't seen it, also check out "Swords and Blades of the American Revolution" by George C. Neumann, ISBN (softbound) 1-880655-00-4. Don't forget that there is also a long history of recycling broken sword into items like Scottish dirks. This book covers knives, swords, bayonets, ax heads, and weapons like spontoons and halberds.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 05/25/04 23:10:30 EDT

Re: #10 extention cord plugs

You need to go to a real electrical supply house to find 15 amp plugs that will fit on 10/3. Hubbell is a good brand to look for.

   - Hudson - Wednesday, 05/26/04 00:31:04 EDT

#10 Cords: Ellen, Almost nothing in the standard 3 prong category works. However the Bryant water proof line will work but is a VERY tight fit. You have to go to a REAL electrical supplier to get them. I use #10-3 SO on small machinery cords and the fit just does work. You have to be very careful about stripped length of cord and wire. It takes the absolute minimum.

For the female end a nice square gang box with 2 or 4 outlets works nicely. Get a good rubber bushing strain release. These both hold the cord and prevent fraying. I used to use the fancy stainless wire basket (Chinese finger pull) type when I was in the money. . . Great things but cost a fortune.

What I like about the good HD lines is that they are made of nylon which can take unbelievable abuse rather than hard plastic which begs to be broken.

What is sad is that manufacturers make ends ON huge cord that is nothing but thick insulation over #14 or #16 wire. . This stuff is often bigger than 10-3 SO.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 01:53:42 EDT

Bending Instead of Shearing: This problem occurs in all shears if poorly adjusted or the frame is sprung (or made incorrectly). Once overloaded and sprung the blades have excessive clearance and instead of shearing the metal bends. Dull blades can also contribute to this problem.
Some shears can have the clearance adjusted to fix the problem of excessive clearance. However, if the blades or supporting structure is bent then forget it. On many of the "clone" tools there is a VERY good reason they sell for 1/4 of the brand name tool. . . In fact, IF they were as good, it wouldn't matter HOW LITTLE they cost to manufacture they would sell for close to that of the brand name product.

On many cheap import tools the quality control is terrible. Your neighbor may buy a tool that works perfectly while the one you buy may never work at all. I've seen a lot of these tools (some big ticket items) that NEVER worked on paper, in the factory OR someone's shop until they had significant work done to rebuild them. I've seen mill-drills and lathes that the motors could NEVER have operated on as-designed. One mill drill from Enco had to have all the motor mounting brackets remade and the belt cover cut all to pieces to work. On a South American lathe the headstock casting was such that belts could only be used on one step of a typical four step spindle pulley. Neither of these tools ever worked at the factory and NONE like them ever did. . .

You often get what you pay for, sometimes much less.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 02:09:12 EDT

Scroll Jig: Peter, we have several iForge articles on this topic AND the bender articles on the 21st Century page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 02:12:34 EDT

guru, can i ask what is the best container for pack carburizing small items? the largest being a bumperrete (like the ones on a Jeep)
   Richard - Wednesday, 05/26/04 03:03:31 EDT

how do you sharpen a straight razzor?????
   fred - Wednesday, 05/26/04 11:39:01 EDT


With a fine stone to put a very sharp "wire" edge on it, then use a leather "strop" to take the wire off. Done carefully, that will put a very smooth, "razor" sharp edge on the blade.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/26/04 12:03:13 EDT

Thank-you for the info on the shear,press brake & slip roll.I have another question:what is the general adjustment for shear hold down? Can the shear blades be sharpened with a flat grind stone? thank-you and keep up the great advice.
   Gary Dishaw - Wednesday, 05/26/04 12:08:26 EDT


Don't know exactly how that would go together. since the base is wood, I would assume that the rocks are on top of this.

Where is the tuyere?

Send me some pics if you have them and I'll see if I have seen something similar.
   Escher - Wednesday, 05/26/04 12:48:35 EDT

Case Hardening: Richard, This has and is done a variety of ways. Clay crucibles were used in ancient times. Iron boxes can also be used but they have a limited life due to scaling. The last special made boxes for small work were made from graphite like crucibles and were called "Diamond Boxes". Not sure why but I expect there was a diamond logo on them. In primitive situations the object was packed and wraped in old leather then a coating of clay used to seal.

Today I would use a crucible for small items that would fit. For larger items I would use stainless foil. The foil is specialy made for heat treating and can be crimped and sealed. They also make stainless foil envelopes for low production use.

Make the envelope or wrap the part, fill with charcoal and seal.

Vehical parts are HUGE for this process. It is usualy used on gun parts, small shafts, precision tools and such.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 13:03:40 EDT

"Shear hold down": The adjustable fence or screw is normally set at just a little (~,005") over the maximum capacity of the shear. This does double duty, first it keeps the work from flipping up, second it acts as a size limiter so you cannot but too thick of stock in the shear.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 13:06:54 EDT

bob h, thanks for more tips. i am using coke and have not seen any clinkers since i have been using it. i have read about forge welding for some time, probably 10 different references. from what i have read, the scarf should be convex on the weld surface, and as JPPW said, not "long". i think my scarfs are good. practice will be my friend. right now, i need to judge the temp better, but i think i am close. i will try this w/e using my forgemaster; i just dont like heating more than the "business end". i have been careful to have both pieces at the same temp. it will happen, soon i hope. thanks for the input
   - rugg - Wednesday, 05/26/04 14:00:27 EDT

I like to use chain links when teaching someone to forgeweld. It takes the extra step out of having to juggle two peices and hammer, getting the timing just right etc.
   JimG - Wednesday, 05/26/04 15:21:20 EDT

Fred: go here to learn how to sharpen: www.antiquetools.com/sharp/index.html

If the straight razor edge is not badly nicked, you should be able to get it shaving sharp just by stropping it.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 05/26/04 18:45:45 EDT

Guru & Hudson, thanks, visited local electrical supplyhouse this AM and believe I have something which will work.

Quick welding (stick) question. I used to make hitching posts, clothespoles etc out of 2" galvanized pipe and just screw the pieces together. Now it is out of sight. I bought some .120 walled 2"o.d. steel tubing today (less than half the cost of the 2" pipe) and was going to insert the pipe into my 2" fittings and weld with stick to fill. There is about 1/8" clearance all the way around, so it is doable. I have a Lincoln 225V AC/DC welder. Normally I would just grab 6013 in 1/8" and have at it, but am trying to learn a bit more. Is there a better rod than 6013 to fill in this gap? Thanks in advance....
   Ellen - Wednesday, 05/26/04 18:55:55 EDT

My father used nothing except 6013 for his entire career as a welder. He says the problem with 6013 is the fact that there are many poor quality rods on the market. Buy decent rods and you will be ok.
   Bob G - Wednesday, 05/26/04 19:23:23 EDT

Stick Welding Rods - I use 6011 rods on pretty much everything. 6013 sometimes has a tendency to get slag inclusions and the 6011 slag can be welded right over in non critical applications. You can intermittently weld with a 6011 and fill up bad fitments or plug holes.
   - HWooldridge - Wednesday, 05/26/04 19:53:36 EDT

jim g, thanks for the tip...
   rugg - Wednesday, 05/26/04 20:13:30 EDT


I prefer to use a diamond "file" for sharpening shear blades, as it cuts smoothly and leaves no wire edge.


I would use either 6013 or 7018, whichever I had on hand. The 6013 is a DCRP fast-fill, slow-freeze rod that will produce very nice looking welds. Too many people don't use it correctly and end up with welds that look nice but have inadequate penetration, but that won't be a problem in your application. Wire brush between passes to remove any stray slag to avoid inclusions. Oh...6013 isn't much fun for vertical or overhead work, unless you really love welderberries down your shirt. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/26/04 20:30:55 EDT

Thanks Bob, HWoolridge and Vicopper. I usually only buy Lincoln or other high quality rods, and keep them in an airtight container once I open the package. I have 6010, 6011, 6013, 7014 and 7018 (AC) on hand. Might be a good time to experiment! VBG. At any rate doing the job for less than half of Home Depots price will make me feel good. Real good!

For out of position welding I always wear a leather weldors shirt. Even when it's 115 F outside. Which explains why I go to such lengths to position the work. I do not like welderberries, I got enough of them welding on farm equipment as a kid when I had no leather shirt.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 05/26/04 20:55:27 EDT

The 2" x .120 tube into fittings, might go well with the 7014, as that is a high deposition rod. It will fill the gaps, but will not be as strong a weld as the 7018. We welded boilers with low hydrogen 7018's and if used correctly are a very good rod. A rod heater is a very nice thing to own. Makes the rods weld just like they just came out of a freshly opened can.
Shame your are not close, as I have several tons of various pipe sizes in my future oppurtunities piles.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/26/04 21:19:15 EDT

I am looking for someone who will hand tie a broom onto a handle that I have forged.
   Russell Colvin - Wednesday, 05/26/04 22:31:56 EDT

Sharpening Shear Blades: (missed that one). That depends on the type of shear. Long precision metal (paper and other) shears are normally sharpened on a surface grinder or with a precision sharpening fixture. This is the only way to produce an absolutely square straight grind. Often blades from large shears must be sent back to the factory to be sharpened.

Short shear blades can also be sharpened on a belt grinder with a table set exactly square. Special shear blades like those for a Beverly Shear must be ground at a clearance angle. On the Beverly that is 10 degrees. This angle must be very accurate as the blades pass each other at that angle. To do the job RIGHT requires a special fixture to hold the curved blades at the correct angle. And folks want to know why one gets pissed when someone chips their new Beverly Shear blades. . .

After sharpening on a precision grinder the edges have any burr or wire edge removed by carefully stoning with a fine stone. When installed the blades are adjusted to have a minimum non-contact clearance. This is usualy only about .005" (.13mm) and is set using a feeler guage.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 23:15:11 EDT

Filling 1/8" gap in pipe fittings: Ellen, if this is diametric clearance I would find some sheet stock and roll a bunch of bushings to use to fill most of the gap. Even if only 1/16" thick and a loose fit they would help center the parts and reduce the fill gap and shrinkage. You can do the same with some 1/8" wire but it will likely burn out and leave gaps as you weld.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/26/04 23:19:39 EDT

Thanks Ptree and Guru. Good tips.

The electrical plugs I bought at the supply house this AM worked just fine, one tip I got there was to cut the stranded copper wire a bit so when I rolled it up with my pliers it had a nice taper. That way it slipped into the connector nice and easy and I was able to get a solid connection. I now have 300+ feet of 10 GA copper extension cord with a heavy duty, flexible coating. Weighs a ton, but should take care of voltage drop on my Lincoln weldpack 100 (without buying a generator!). Got all three cords made up for about $20. I LIKE cheap!
   Ellen - Thursday, 05/27/04 00:24:14 EDT

A question Good Guru;
After many hours and a lot of brazing rod, the set of 5' slip rolls has been repaired to the point that it's time to inquire...how long was the manual crank handle on this old dog?
The rolls are not quite 3" in dia and solid. Understanding this lacks the necessary specifics to give an exact answer, I'd be pleased with a ballpark estimate....ThankyouGuru...Pete
   Pete F - Thursday, 05/27/04 04:11:01 EDT

Pete F
The handle bar on my 48" sliproller is 18" from center of sproket to center of handle grip, the handle tapers from 1.25" down to .75" and form a gentle "s" curve the real length of the handle is 26".
The answer to your question is really another question, how much leverage do you need for the stock you are forming? remembering that you have to be able to turn a the crank in a full circle while guiding your stock. Unless you are a knuckle drager with ape length arms I would keep it in the 18"-24" range.
hope this helps you, if you need pics of a handle let me know by e-mail and I'll take and send some digital pic's
   Mark P - Thursday, 05/27/04 08:59:45 EDT

Slip Rolls: Pete, Five feet is a LONG set of rolls. Mark's response about the capacity is the correct one. Judging by the length and diameter of the rolls I would say that these are light sheet metal rolls designed for no more than 16ga stock, maybe slightly heavier for narrow sections.

The problem with roll capacity is that it is limited by deflection. Old rolls had cast iron rollers with a steel shaft through the center. Being cast iron they can be quite brittle. Deflection increases by the CUBE of the increase in length. So small increases in length make for a large increase in deflection. My small 24" sheet metal rolls have 1-3/4" rollers. It is designed for up to about 16ga steel. However, it is antique and has no capacity markings.

Back to the point. . Long rollers mean lots of deflection even if the work is narrow. So be careful about overloading. My old Champion tire bender has 3" diameter by 4" wide rolls and easily rolls 3/4" square or 5/8" flat. But THAT is with those very narrow rolls.

My little rolls have about a 12" crank. The tire bender about 18" (not original). Generally the shorter the crank the more convienient a machine is to use. Many have adjustable lengths so that if you are doing light work you shorten the handle to make it less cumbersome to use.

I would say that with a 12" to 18" handle you should be able to roll anything within the rolls capacity with little effort. If you have to put a lot of muscle behind manual one-man rolls you are probably overloading them.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/27/04 10:54:35 EDT

Hey Guru, I have an anvil that looks to be forged and it is small, maybe a 125#er. It has a short horn with a hardie hole in it. It also has a regular Hardie hole in the usual spot and no pritchel. It is not marked. The body has like a fifth foot, or ridge like the old medieval anvils. It a short heel on it. Any Ideas?-scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 05/27/04 15:41:16 EDT

hey. i did some blacksmithing all last summer, and i LOVE it. i, unfortunately moved out of state, and i would like to apprentice some more, but i have no idea where i could do it. I live in Salt Lake City, UT. if at all possible, could you get back to me on places where i could apprentice? thanx
   David Pooler - Thursday, 05/27/04 15:43:41 EDT

Old Anvil: Wolfsmithy, This sounds like either an odd Colonial English era anvil or a European anvil. It probably dates from the 1700's. A photo would be nice but I doubt it would help with the ID other than to say it is probably not from Mousehole forge. A small collectors treasure. Don't weld or grind on it!
   - guru - Thursday, 05/27/04 16:11:10 EDT

David Pooler,
There is a fairly active smithing guild in the SLC area.
   Ralph - Thursday, 05/27/04 16:39:17 EDT

Wolfsmithy, how large are the hardy holes? I agree that it's probably an old european or english anvil. Don't know if I would go quite so early on the date though. Need to see pictures. Can you tell if the face is made from several pieces of steel or a single piece? Any possibility that the horn has been re-worked?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/27/04 19:47:28 EDT

Hi folks,

Made a hammer out of some high carbon steel from the 1.5" inch square bit of an ashalt scraper, the guy I got it from called it a scarifier (sp) bit, about 5" long with a scythe style peen. Hot punched the hole for the adze handle with a rectangular punch that I made and drifted with same. What I'm unsure of is how to heat treat. I know enough to harden the face but,,, how hard, this stuff quenches real hard in water. don't want it so hard it will chip and be dangerous. How much of a temper should I draw (color wise). Oh BTW thanks Guru for the great hammer making demo in IForge. It turned out excellent!!! about 1.75 #'s and real well balanced. would hate to mess it up now on the heat treat.

Any and all help/suggestions will be greatly appreciated

   lazarus - Thursday, 05/27/04 20:28:59 EDT

Make that 1.25" square stock for hammer
   lazarus - Thursday, 05/27/04 20:32:35 EDT

lazarus, see the FAQ page under Junk Yard Steel and then the Heat Treating FAQ. You probably want to draw it back to a straw/brown. But read these two articles first.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/27/04 21:00:45 EDT

RUSSELL COLVIN--- Diana Davis of the Salt Fork Craftsmen Artist Blacksmith Association hand-ties brooms. Go to the ABANA site and find the Saltfork assn under Affiliates. Her email is there under the newsletter editor entry.
   - gerald - Thursday, 05/27/04 21:28:59 EDT

Thankyou good Guru and Mark P too, for the help on the slip roll Handle length.
Abuse? This one came pre-abused, the blocks on 2 out of 3 rollers were cracked and the non-power end frame was in pieces by the time the cracks were ground out. So the frame will probably kack before the rollers.
Am I correct in assuming that i can roll thicker material by staying closer to one end or the other?

General Note to Lurkers. The information I just got from the Guru is one piece of many recieved that makes the cost of joining the CSI just plain dinky. JOIN ANVILFIRE!
   Pete F - Friday, 05/28/04 04:40:19 EDT

ANVIL- I just got the anvil and have not had a chance to really look at it under a microscope, I dont think the horn is reworked. the hardies are about 3/4 square. Its in nice shape. I've always thought the early horned anvils had a short horn and no soft table. Any guesses on its age. I paid $200.00 for a large coal forge the anvil, tongs, hammers and 7 pails of coal:)
   wolfsmithy - Friday, 05/28/04 08:01:56 EDT

Russell Colvin - Jeff Mohr sells a video on broom making for blacksmiths. His phone # is 850-926-4448.
   Ron Childers - Friday, 05/28/04 09:12:12 EDT

Table/No Table wolfsmithy, The table/no table question is maker dependent and not a hard fast rule. Many English anvils from the 1700's had tables. The most telling tale is the shape of the feet and body. However, the farther back you go the more makers there were and the more varried the styles for the same period.

A friend of mine has a collection of Colonial (US) era anvils. Every one is different. Some are ugly lumps and others gracefull sculptures. The majority are ugly and all different.

Later anvils in the US mostly came from a small group of known English manufacturers who directly competed. When any one made an improvement the rest followed. So you can track the styles starting in the early 1800's. The US manufacturers also followed suit.
   - guru - Friday, 05/28/04 10:11:54 EDT

Rolls Use: Pete, Yes you can overrate rolls slightly by rolling narrow stock on one end of the rolls. However, other parts start to become limiters such as the gear teeth. I know that you are experianced enough that I am sure you will know by feel and sound when you are abusing the machine. Most broken machines get that way by folks that don't know or care.
   - guru - Friday, 05/28/04 10:14:41 EDT

Jock, is there any photo's of anvils in chronological order. Just to see if something looks close-thanks-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Friday, 05/28/04 11:08:09 EDT

It's a lot simplier with anvils made by a known company to figure out where in the production run it came from.

Un Marked anvils could be anachronisms---I've seen some anvils that have been made in the last 40 years that were styles that had been made 200 years ago. The method of manufacture is a big help here as earlier anvils tend toward being welded up of more parts than later ones and some of the "recent old styled" are actually castings where the originals were welded up.

European and South American anvils have a wide variety of styles that can be hard to fit chronologically.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/28/04 11:22:42 EDT

I heard that leaving steel in a fire to long or working it wrong can cause unrepairable damage to the steel (mainly softness). What are some basic things I can do to avoid this? Thank you.
   - newbie - Friday, 05/28/04 11:30:11 EDT

Thanks so much for the advice Guru(s). I'll do some more research and try to post a photo. Thanks again-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Friday, 05/28/04 11:50:47 EDT

Does anyone know anything about Olsen horizontal band saws? I just picked one up in almost perfect condition for $40 canadian, which seemed like a steal to me, but then again im kind of uneducated in the ways of metal band saws.
   Sherk - Friday, 05/28/04 12:27:47 EDT

Working Steel: Newbie, most things done to steel can be repaired by proper reworking by heat treating, but a lot depends on the steel.

Steel that is is left in the fire too long can have excessive scaling (burning of the surface). This is only a problem in stock loss and surface texture. But steel can be burnt by over heating. Burnt steel can not be fixed.

Holding the steel at high temperature for a long time results in crystal grain growth that results in weak steel. This can be corrected two ways, one by heavily forging the steel to break up the crystals, the other by heat treatment (prefered). Heating carbon steel to the upper transformation temperature (A3 point) and then quenching it.

Alloy steels sometimes fall apart when overheated. Ocasionaly they can be saved by letting them cool and then forging to recondition.

See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Friday, 05/28/04 14:05:37 EDT

Anvils in order by age: I am working on a photo series. It is a LOT to collect. Especialy good photos of good examples. Your best bet is to buy a copy of Anvils in America. You can afford it after the deal you just got. We sell it.
   - guru - Friday, 05/28/04 14:09:05 EDT

Normalizing should help refine grain structure, one reason triple normalization is common in the bladesmithing world.

Of course alloy makes a difference too.

Also for a new fellow---remember that some steels with crack when quenched in water, oil is safer---for the steel, the fumes and flames are harder on the smith!

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/28/04 14:27:40 EDT

Dear sir,
I am a 17 year old helpers boy in a a blacksmith. I've worked there for almost a year and studied books like Bealers' "The Art of Blacksmithing". Now this summer I'm building my own workshop, mostly for hobby purposes. I have been given an area to build but I have a limited budget, (3000 pounds for materials for shop and tools). I wondered what your views were on what tools I should prioretize and approximately how much space I should build in. I believe I have enough skill to produce simple tools like chisels and tongs myself.
Sincerly Joakim H Ulstein
   Joakim Ulstein - Friday, 05/28/04 15:47:56 EDT

Joakim; what you planning to make? Knives have a different toolset than gates!

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/28/04 18:29:58 EDT

Joakim, what country are you in?
   Bob G - Friday, 05/28/04 19:17:13 EDT

re: Newbie & Guru - if you leave thin stock in the fire too long, in addition to scaling you'll decarburize the surface. Not a big problem if you're making something in a traditional wrought iron format - gates, primitive campware, hooks, candle holders, etc. Much more of one if you're making something that needs to be hardened and/or hold an edge such as knives, axes, hammers, etc. I've seen steels as a metallurgist with decarburization going down to 0.05" or deeper and thats with essentially no carbon left at the 0.05" depth starting at 0.40 carbon. That was for steel annealed in a furnace at 1600 F in a nitrogen atmosphere. Much worse when you get hotter in an oxidising atmosphere.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 05/28/04 19:48:26 EDT

Does anyone know how long coal is good for. I am wondering if it is still good if it has stayed outside for many years!
Thanks boby
   - Boby - Friday, 05/28/04 19:53:16 EDT

coal does not really have a shelf life. It is after all a 'rock' (smile)
   Ralph - Friday, 05/28/04 23:21:02 EDT

Joakim and getting started...

Thomas asked the most important question in tool selection and shop design. What do you want to do? Some of the tools overlap and can be useful in any shop. A good anvil, on a secure stable base. Atleast one vice, preferably a post vice (also called a legvice) mounted to a post so that you can work all the way around the vice. And a good and hot well vented forge. These should be arranged so that you are just a step or two away from the forge. Most people arrange things in "a work triangle" In shops with a power hammer the work flow sometimes becomes a "work square" With the vice being on the opposite diagonal from the forge and the power hammer to the left and the anvil to the right (or vice a versa:-) Another important thing to save space for is a good tool rack, to hold all of the hammers, tongs, hardies, chisels and punches as they accumulate. A welding outfit of some variety or another, an old arc welder would likely be the cheapest and most versitile (you can weld and cut with an arc welder), an Oxy-Acetelyne torch is useful but if you run low on gas your our of luck, whereas with the arc welder your electric bill just jumps... Migs are very good at what they are good at, but some of the cheaper units lack veritility. A nice cheap belt grinder, and a decent bench (or pedestal) grinder, can find lots of use in a blacksmith's shop. A right angle (or side) grinder is also a really handy tool to have access to in a shop. As far as hand tools, get a couple Peddinghaus slitting chisels, they are a joy to use. You can make your own chisels, and you should, but get a few slitting chisels (that way you can modify them to suit individual tasks, as well as switch them out as they start to get too hot) A set of turning forks is nice to have. Otherwise spend your money on the building materials, and for fuel, and steel.

A note about size you could fit all of this into a 12'x12' (3m x 3m) shop, but it would be somewhat tight. Though 24' x 24' (or 10m x 10m:-)is better still. Also consider the height of the ceiling, if you build a shop with a low ceiling it will restrict what length of stock you can reasonably work with in your shop, and what types of opperations you can do...

Give us a little more information and we can give you more opinions about how we would like a shop set up:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 05/29/04 01:12:38 EDT

I am a complete novice,a woodwright by trade,who wanted to make his own tools and hinges...
So I picked up an old Alldays & Onions portable forge.It has old leather bellows beneath it(which are generally good but need a few patches,as they are not blowing out any air...But as I am keen to get started I will probably try to use an electric blower for the time being ,and seek advice on their repair another time.
Which leeds me to my problem ,the tuyre?(I think(where the air comes in)) is mounted at the side in true english fashion,But there is no base to put the fire on,It used to have a piece of tin that had completely rotted away.I got a price for a piece of steel 60cm diameter 3mm thick to replace this,but this would costŁ55.00+v.a.t.more than I payed for the forge.Can you offer me some advise as to what should be there,and whether it needs to be lined with anything?
I will be using charcoal.When outside does it need a hood (there is not one at the moment)
I appreciate your advice.
A complete novice in a quandry
many thanks
   stephen - Saturday, 05/29/04 03:13:29 EDT

Alldays & Onions portable forge Stephen, This has probably rusted out due to ash (both wood and coal ash leach corrosives if left in the weather).

The bottom can be replaced with almost any thickness of steel or cast iron. The piece you selected is ideal. However, it could be thicker or a little thinner. Be creative, look for junk that will do.

Depending on the size of the fire you are going to build some forges have a 10-15mm clay lining. This can be any kind of ceramic or artists modeling (not oil base) clay. Many folks go to the trouble to get expensive refractory clay or cement but it is not necessary. Generaly it the fire is off the bottom 100 to 150mm or more and you are doing small work there is no need for a clay lining.

My suggestion is that you put away your Alldays & Onions portable forge to restore in the future and build your own forge. You have one to look at that will give you the general form factor.

A forge can be built entirely from wood with an earth and clay "firepot". It helps to make the wood a little more fire resistant with some sheet metal on the exposed edges but it is not necessary. Basicaly you need a box to hold the fuel, with a mount for your blower and a pipe (tuyeer). See my story on our story page titled, A Blacksmith of 1776 it describes the making of a wood box forge.

THEN there is our "brake drum" forge plans. See our plans page.

Another simple forge is the Oriental trough forge. This is two walls about 8" (200mm) apart that are a foot to two feet tall and about two to three long. It is easiest built of stacked bricks on a base of brick. Air come in through a gap in the bricks about mid-way at the bottom. The disadvantage to this design is that it is fairly heavy.

HOODS on Outdoor Forges: These are not necessary but they make the forge much more convienient. Smoke and fly ash will almost always blow in your face without one. Charcoal creates a lot of little burning "fleas" that can be almost as bad as arc welding sparks. Having them constantly blowing onto you can be quite uncomfortable.

Now. . most of us think of a hood as a funnel shaped affair with a pipe and this IS the classic shape. It appears logical but it is a bad design. Funnel hoods have to move all the air at their opening both hot and cold. The cold is usualy far more than the hot so there is a VERY inefficient draft. The best forge "hoods" are the side draft type. A simplified version for outdoors is a simple wind screen as tall as you are and a pipe (8" or 200 mm min.) that is open a foot or less above the center of the fire. It can be attached to the wind screen with an angled opening at the bottom. This is not QUITE as good as the side draft hood but it will work.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/29/04 11:33:33 EDT

Building a Shop: Joakim, Generally you want as much space as possible. At first the decision seems to be "space or tools" but tools WILL come along, new, used or gifts from heaven. But SPACE is very dear and we ALL seem to fill up no matter how much we have.

Being a hobby shop it does not need to be all-weather. That means you can do without heat. Or perhaps you already can. In any case, I am sure you already know that you need as much ventilation as possible. A tall roof and high ceilings help and do not cost much extra.

LONG is often better than square or rectangular. A long shop gives you room for stock racks and a cutting area. To store 20' (6 meter) bars AND have a cuting area (assume up to half length) takes +30' (+9 meters).

A long narrow shop with windows (shuttered opening) on one side also means good natural lighting.

Tools, you already know the minimum you need (anvil forge hammers). You can always get away with less than you THINK. Doing more with less is good for character and skill development. If you keep at it eventually you will find or afford all the tools (or more) than you need. As you pointed out, you can make many of your own.

Aim for tools that can be used to MAKE more tools. A drill press and an old engine lathe are worth their weight in gold in imaginative hands. An arc welder is the most efficient way to put two pieces of steel together and a cutting torch the fastest most efficient way to to cut up large pieces. With these you can build and repair machines and tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/29/04 12:11:24 EDT

The Engine Lathe: When many blacksmiths go to mechanize their shop today the first thing they think they need is a power hammer. And the truth is, to be productive and compete against imports you MUST have one. But for the long haul there are more important tools.

Uses for an Engine Lathe in the Blacksmith Shop
  • Blanking punch and die making
  • Die set part making
  • Die grinding/sharpening
  • Cup forming die making
  • Drift turning and finishing
  • Pin punch turning
  • Tennon turning
  • Fixture part making
  • Precision rivet turning
  • Machine shaft and spindle turning
  • Machine shaft repairing
  • Bushings for pulleys and benders
  • Lock and Key part turning
  • Drilling (lacking a drill press)
  • Pilot tool turning
  • Tube polishing
  • Stock squaring
  • Power hammer die radius turning
  • Roll turning
  • Decorative (free hand) turning
  • Metal spinning
  • Hollow rivit making
  • Power taping
  • Thread turing (vise screws)
  • Pattern and core box making
Most people think of a milling machine or shaper when it come to squaring stock for dies and such. However, a lathe works just as well and is often faster. Single point tools for lathes are are also very inexpensive and almost infinitely resharpenable. In a production blacksmithing setting I have used lathe to chamfer triangle stock and to turn thousands of tennons (one pass, about 20-30 seconds from chucking one piece to chucking another and very precise).

Drilling can be done two ways in a lathe, with the drill bit in the tail stock or in the spindle. When in the spindle it is used like a horizontal drill press using a small table in the tool holder or a larger table bolted to the carriage. This is not the best way to drill but it works in a pinch. We chamfered a few thousand holes in parts this way when our drill press was tied up. . .

The engine lathe is called the "King of Machine Tools" for good reason. One can be used to repair itself as well as make important parts for other machines. Every engine lathe has the capability to turn a spindle for an even larger lathe. . . and it is said that the lathe is the only machine tool that can nearly reproduce itself. An Engine lathe can also be used to turn wood, plastics and ceramics. Using the lathe to machine weldments and forgings you can make some amazing parts in the blacksmith shop. Try to find one with a quick change gear box. They were not always standard on old lathes.

Along with a lathe you need a heavy duty drill press. See our iForge article on the furniture used and operations you can do on a drill press. Which comes first, the lathe or drill press, depends on your needs. The drill press is more of a production tool when it come to the blacksmith shop while the lathe is usualy a support tool.

Supporting the drill press and lathe it helps to have a cutoff bandsaw, especially if you are going to do any production part making or building of machinery.

These tools can often be found used or scrap for very little money compared to new. They can be used to make other tools and machines, such as a power hammer, that are not so easy to find used. Having the capacity to build your own tools and machines opens new horizons and helps one be independent of other shops.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/29/04 12:58:17 EDT

I see the topic of "triple normalizing" followed by "annealing" has been brought up again. Permit me to comment as follows. Triple normalizing has benefit, especially if you heat to successively lower temperatures. This will cause finer and finer grains to be formed. Multiple normalizing will cause more of the carbides to dissolve and diffuse throughout the piece. This will result in higher hardness as quenched and less distortion. However, if you anneal the part after normalizing, you completely ruin what the normalizing has done. Annealing allows the carbon to precipitate into large carbides that will not completely dissolve when you heat it to harden it. It allows the grain size to increase and that will reduce toughness. For the record: Annealing after you normalize is exactly the WRONG thing to do if you want a tough, hard piece of steel after you quench it. Since annealing does prevent some of the carbon from contributing to the hardening process, annealing may reduce distortion and cracking at the expense of hardness and abrasion resistance. If you do choose to anneal it, don't bother normalizing it. If you normalize it, don't anneal it.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/29/04 13:12:41 EDT

QC, Thanks for the clarification. I think in the demonstration I saw the material was quenched between heats (instead of air cooling as in normalizing) and called heat packing.

Looking at my Tempil Guide it appears there is a very narrow point where the finest grain structure occurs (the A3 point). This is about 1675 F° for low carbons steel and drops off as the carbon increases to a low of 1350 F° for 85 point carbon steel and then spikes to 1475F° for 90 point carbon steel (where the chart ends). However, it apears that the A3 point would be about the same for 100 point carbon steel as low carbon steel.

This would seem to indicate that only one temperature is best and that it varies with the alloy. So as always, you need to know what you are working with.

It would also seem that multiple treatments would be like multi-tempering in that it just makes SURE you have treated ALL the piece as well as possible as well as having some small metalurgical advantage.

Am I correct?
   - guru - Saturday, 05/29/04 15:29:33 EDT

Guru, normalizing is typically done at a temperature 100 degrees above the A3 or Upper Critical Temperature. For those who heat only to non-magnetic, this method works for carbon ranges of about .65% to about 1.0% where the A3 roughly coincides with the Curie point (non-magnetic point). For carbon contents below .65 or above about 1%, you need to heat hotter than non-magnetic to achieve a fully austenitic condition at the A3. To normalize, you go about 100 degrees hotter still. However, the exact temperature for normalizing is not terribly critical and you can take a .40 carbon steel to 1700F, 1650F, and 1600F to refine the grain. Multiple normalizing is not significanly better than doing it once if you do it right the first time. The primary objective of normalizing is to put the carbon into very small, evenly disbursed carbides so that the steel will harden uniformly. Grain refinement is kind of a side benefit. The problem for most smiths is that proper normalizing requires holding it at a controlled temperature to dissolve the carbides without growing the grains, and that is difficult in a coal forge. Multiple, short normalizings may prove easier and safer that trying to hold the piece at temperature for an hour. Quenching, instead of normalizing is better yet if you are certain that the part is not going to crack after 3-4 quenchings.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/29/04 15:54:43 EDT

So soft quench (hot oil, cold forced air). . Thanks!
   - guru - Saturday, 05/29/04 16:55:06 EDT

I wonder if you have any more info on the Niles, Bement hammer. I have just purchaced a 750 pound and am in the process of rebuilding it. I am also missing the anvil cap. Any information would be helpful.
   Michael - Sunday, 05/30/04 15:26:15 EDT

Niles Bement, Michael, Niles has been out of business since the great depression of the 1930's. The most information I have found on them (mostly reproduced in our PhP article) is from an old 1911 Audels Steam mechanics manual. Much of the same information was reproduced well into the 1950's and beyond in forging manuals.

When I bought my 350 I also traded for a 750. Both were missing anvils. The 750 I traded to a friend who had a 750 pound Chambersburg self contained hammer. It was missing parts but the anvil and dies were the same as the Bement. Well. . almost. The anvil stem had to be turned down 1/4" on one side (it was assemetyrical and wouldn't QUITE fit the hole in the Niles frame). In trade I got a piece of steel to make part of the anvil for my 350. Still a big job ahead to finish it. I also have the 750 bottom die.

With all these old orphan machines you are entirely on your own on parts and repairs as well as engineering. There has been some REALLY BAD advice published in books and videos on rebuilding various power hammers. One of the major problems with these old steam hammers is wear in the control valve. A LOT of extra air will bypass the valve and the hammer may not perform well.

Also note that some Niles hammers had saftey caps and others did not. When Chambersburg took over Niles' market they came up with a pneumatic safety cap that is pretty much the industry standard now. These prevent the piston from being launched through the head if the hammer is abused OR if the rod seperates from the ram (a common failure).

Bruce Wallace with Josh Greenwood next to 12,000 pound anvil for a 750 pound air hammer!
I've run my friend's 750 and it is really nice. A SERIOUS hammer when operated by one person. Anvil photo at left. This is a Chambersburg HD 20:1 anvil and is larger than the standard Bement anvil.

   - guru - Sunday, 05/30/04 16:07:49 EDT

Thank you for some great advice,
as an answer to your questions:
I am building the shop in Norway. I plan to make basic tools, such as hatchets etc, besides that I will also be making some decorative hinges, the biggest thing I will produce (as far as my current plans go) I think is skiis for an old snow horse carriage. All in all a pretty multipurpose smithy.
Thanks again
Joakim H Ulstein
   Joakim Ulstein - Sunday, 05/30/04 16:32:14 EDT

I have coal small pieces of call scattered everywhere outside. Its been siting for years. Would it be still efficent for a large forge?
   - Boby - Sunday, 05/30/04 21:02:54 EDT


If there is enough of it, yes.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/30/04 21:44:11 EDT

In addition ot what Paw-Paw said. I would say gather it up and see how much you really have. I would usually go thru about a 5 gallon pail of coal each time I would light my forge. It is not so much how big your forge is but how big a fire you make and how well you manage your fire AND your fuel use. Admittedly a larger forge makes it much easier to build LARGE fires, but a LARGE fire can be built in a small forge. Also this coal may, I repeat may be antracite coal. It can be used to forge with, But it will reqiure a different fire management style. Bituminous or smithing coal does not require a constant air flow to keep it going, but antracite will. Otherwise it will die out in the space of time required to take a piece of metal to the anvil and work it, then reture to the forge.
So gather the coal and try it. Having been out in the elements will not have harmed it.
For what it is worth, during the heyday of operations, Fort Vancouver (Hudson Bay trading post) would have had about 10 to 20 tons of coal in a mound out side. And all the PNW rain did not seem to stop the smiths from producing a prodidgious amout of iron goods.
   Ralph - Sunday, 05/30/04 21:54:48 EDT

thanks Paw Paw,
Should I be in a rush to collect it up? My grandFarther must of had it imported. Is it going to be at the same value if I were going to sell it to a blacksmith?
   - Boby - Sunday, 05/30/04 21:55:16 EDT

Thanks Ralph,
Will do that, need to get it all weighed.
   - Boby - Sunday, 05/30/04 21:57:35 EDT

The website that sez it has the downloadable COSIRA book and many other goodies in PDF format such as weathervanes, thatch roofs, etc. is http://www.countryside.gov.uk/NewEnterprise/Economies/craftpublications.asp
Good luck-- I can't get it to work at all. Yes, the page loads, but the clickable books freeze my computer every damned time I try to get at them. There is no free lunch, I guess.
   Smartleigh Smitten - Sunday, 05/30/04 22:51:04 EDT


I would collect it. Historic Bethabara Park has about a ton left that has been sitting outside in a pile for over two years now, and it still works just fine. But as Ralph point out, a lot depends on what type of coal it is.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/30/04 22:52:59 EDT

SMARTLEIGH SMITTEN; Have you downloaded Acrobat Reader ? That's what it takes to print/download the COSIRA stuff.
   3dogs - Monday, 05/31/04 04:00:28 EDT


My brother (a chalkie) has asked me to do display for a group of 13 year old students. Anyone got any ideas as to what might keep them interested.

   Pat - Monday, 05/31/04 06:20:36 EDT

If so - email to:
   Pat - Monday, 05/31/04 06:22:05 EDT

Yes, but maybe not the proper version. Think I'll stick with Gutenberg.
   Smartleigh Smitten - Monday, 05/31/04 11:06:47 EDT

"Scrap" coal: The problem with recycling coal laying on the ground is contamination from dirt and gravel. Coal is often dumped on a gravel surface, the gravel gets black from coal dust and is hard to distinguish unless you examine each piece.

A small amount of dirt, sand, gravel contamination greatly reduces the value of the coal to a smith. Blacksmiths use the best quality coal measured in small percentages of silica and ash. One lump of gravel can make a pound of goor coal equivalent to the poorest. The result of contaminated coal is a fire that does not burn well and a large amount of clinker and ash.

SO, YES the coal is the same value IF it is clean.
   - guru - Monday, 05/31/04 12:28:53 EDT

Display or "demo"? Pat, When demonstrating for school children I describe the tools and explain that an anvil is a sophisticated TOOL not something for Coyotes to drop on Roadrunners. . .

I heat a piece of steel and explain how hot it must be to be soft, bend it with tongs, then demonstrate that a black heat will brand a block of wood.

Then simple forging, turn round into square and back into round leaving all three on the bar then pass it around.

Then I make something that can be made FAST that I do well. A hook, a small horseshoe, a leaf or a scroll. The sample is cooled, passed around and then given to the teacher.

NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE away somthing to a child at a demo. That IS unless you are prepared to make 25 for THIS class or group and another 20-30 for the NEXT . . .

It also doesn't hurt to have a short written page about blacksmithing and what you do, names of tools the difference between forging and casting. Include the type of fuel you use, how hot the forge gets and a list of common forged products. EXAMPLE:

Auto and Truck axels, brake levers, springs
Tools (wrenches, spanners, pliers, screw drivers, hammers)
Chain and chain hooks.

Give the paper to the teacher before the demo. If you do so a few days in advance they may make copies for the children OR review the information with them. REMEMBER, few people know anything about the reality of forging or forged products today. Simple things like a sample lump of coal may be interesting to students and teacher alike.

   - guru - Monday, 05/31/04 12:50:47 EDT

Thanks for the adivice on coal Guru, It must have been properly kept while my grandfarther had his fore in use but know it is in the gravel.
   - Boby - Monday, 05/31/04 17:01:05 EDT

Thanks for your reply. I have broke down the machine and found what I think to bee the nessary repairs. The throttle valve is ate up a bit, from somthing abrasive in the steam I asume. What are your sugestions for repair (Tig - Silicon Bronze)? Also the throttle valve sleve was damage when removed, I am considering bronze for a replacment?
The controlling valve also has a hole about the size of a quarter in its side, It probally didnt run very well when they took it out of service. I think this could be welded with nickle rod. The control vave chest seems to be ok ecept fo a little feathering at the ports, but I not sure what tolerences sould be on any of thease areas. The main cylinder is also very smooth with little to no scaring, but I'm wondering if a honing is in order? The piston shaft needs to be chromed and polished. I have a idea for building a anvil cap out of three pieces of 8" plate bolted together, 20" in length would fit on my shaper in order to cut the dove tails. I guess the fondation is a whole other book?
Thanks Michael
   Michael - Monday, 05/31/04 18:37:24 EDT

sorry about all my typos, my hammer hand is a bit heavy!
   Michael - Monday, 05/31/04 20:40:14 EDT

A question for the British inmates on the forum:
Does anybody have any information about 'Atlas Forge' blacksmiths tools or JB anvils? Were the Atlas tools (I think the label says: Whitehouse tools, Atlas Forge Made in England)made in the famous Atlas forge in Bolton which was the last forge to make puddled wrought iron?
   Bob G - Monday, 05/31/04 23:11:13 EDT

What if anything can I do to fix a crack on a knife I`m forging. It look`s like it occurred when I was doing a counter bend on the blade. The crack is about center, two inches down fron the back of the blade.
   Stan - Monday, 05/31/04 23:36:29 EDT

I should of mentioned the crack is about 1/2 inch long running vertically
   Stan - Monday, 05/31/04 23:39:14 EDT

best thing to do is place that one in the I learned something pile and start again.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/31/04 23:56:49 EDT

Stan and the crack:-)

Or just snap it there and scarf the two ends and forge weld it back together. Does give the knife a bit more character;-) I don't want to talk about how often I have had to use that little trick:-) Get to talking with someone at a hammer-in or demo working with an unfamiliar forge, or with a helper at the blower/bellows Pull out a sparking mess where a really nice knife USED to be:-) Wire brush it, pack it, lap and weld it. And generally it is a patternwelded piece that get it too:-(

Otherwise Ralph is right pitch it into the learning experience pile (also know as potatoes in some shops:-) and make a new one, being a little more carefull of how you treat your steel...

Stan what are you making this knife out of?

IF it is a good steel of know qualities: you got it too hot or are letting it soak at temp and getting aweful grain growth, and/or you worked it down too cold.

If it is a junkyard steel: You may have worked it wrong, and/or you may have just exposed a fault that was in the scrap all a long...

Solution: use good steel of know qualities, that you know and understand! Work in the correct temperature range for the steel. So don't let 1095 get into the cottage cheeze range (ie too hot, which if I remeber right is just getting into the yellow:-) And don't try and move the steel after it has gotten below the forging range, you can pack the edge slightly in that range, but no bending or working on the bevel! Normalize often while forging to reduce grain growth. Triple normalize before hardening to keep the grain growth down.
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 06/01/04 01:09:12 EDT

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