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 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Will-who-needs-blacksmith; where in Maryland are you? We're not that big a state, but there's a big difference between Southern Maryland, the Western Panhandle and the Eastern Shore.

I'm in St. Mary's County and there's a few smiths down here, but ther's a whole batch, belonging to the Blacksmiths' Guild ofthe Potomac, near the Washington Metropolitan Area, and another batch near Baltimore in the Central Maryland Blacksmiths' Guild, and still another group near Furnacetown on the lower Eastern Shore.

Fire Control:

When I'm running my coal forge I might use a gallon per hour in keeping a small, intense fire; or far less if I'm letting it spread out for working on a cook pot. A matter of style and expedience, your realities may vary.

Warm and wet on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby- a laid-back medieaval arts and crafts weekend in Southern Maryland: June 24-26.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/01/05 00:00:49 EDT

New hammer. Sandpile, I know how I heat treat a hammer, but if it is a combine part, it's like guessing at tomcats. Anyway, the eye is supposed to be left soft, either normalized or annealed. The face and peen are done separately. I use the "wet rag method". I harden the face by heating at the edge of a coke fire and quench vertically, figure-eighting in water (for high carbon or medium carbon steel). Put the head face up in the vise.I drop a tight fitting turned eye (with handle) over the head. The eye is at a welding heat for a heat conductor. The scale free face will, you hope, turn a dark straw. Whoa. Pour on water to hold your temper.

Wrap the head with a big ol' wet rag and hang on with large bolt tongs. Heat the peen end at fire edge and quench in water. Figure eight. Keep the wet rag on to protect the head temper. Put the ragged head end in the vise, peen upward. Abrade scale and temper by slowly chasing color with a torch. I normally take the peen to a purple.

I think most smiths advise against hardening the entire hammer at once. There is a possiblility of getting a crack on one or other side of the eye, because that area in hardening faster than the face, a difference in the speed of heat abstraction. It might not happen, but why chance it?

The face temper is relatively hard, because over a period of time, used as a forging hammer, the center of the face wants to hollow. We're trying to prevent that.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/01/05 00:34:13 EDT

Sandpile; ya wanna be careful with that seat-of-the-pants stuff, ya could burn your tuchas.(BOG) One of the best hammers I own started out as a piece of God-only-knows-what kind of tough 2" square steel shafting from a long piece that was used to wind up big rolls of fabric in a textile mill. I ran a bar of steel through the holes I had bored to make the eye, and laid it across the top of a water pail, face up. I then took a rosebud torch and heated the face until the red ran about 5/8" down into the face, and took another pail full of cool water and slowly poured a stream right into the center of the face until all of the water was in the lower pail. Call it "Scientific Wilda$$ed Guesswork" if you will, but after 16 years of serious whuppin', I have yet to mark, chip, mushroom or cup the face of that hammer, and I'll be happy to show it to anybody who wants to see it.
   3dogs - Sunday, 05/01/05 02:11:03 EDT

The above is not meant to meant to contradict what my esteemed friend Frank has posted, rather it is something that worked for me, once, and might not happen again. "Every now and then, a blind squirrel finds an acorn".
   3dogs - Sunday, 05/01/05 02:23:04 EDT

hi im 46 years old live in phoenix az usa
i need to know the proper way to use a smiths precision sharpening kit its the one with three stones that you atatch to steel rods any info would will be helpful

thankyou kiddkowboy at your service
   michael knapp - Sunday, 05/01/05 04:48:12 EDT

Will: Once again, just click on the link to Getting Started in Blacksmithing at the bottom of this page (it is right above the question box). You will find information there on how to locale the various blacksmithing groups. You can then contact one or more near you to perhaps obtain a sample copy of their newsletter, which would contain their schedule of events. Most groups seem to meet once a month. Some do so at the same site and other travel around to various members' shops. Several hold annual conferences or 'hammer-ins', which can be both educational and a source of used tools. You will find it well worth the effort to get in contact with one or more of them.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/01/05 06:16:42 EDT

djahmmerd: I am unable to open the gallery (probably due to being on AOL). About all which can be said about your anvil is it is of English manufacturer and likely dates between cicra 1820 to the early 1900s. The less refined it is, the earlier it is likely to date. See the chapter on English anvils in Anvils in America by Richard Postman. It is sold in the Anvilfire Store.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/01/05 06:20:42 EDT

ok thanks i will do that but i read most of it
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 09:05:50 EDT

what should i do after i read it i found a guild right near where i live
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 09:06:34 EDT

bruce blackistone there is a gild called blacksmith guild of central maryland and its in randdels town
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 09:36:51 EDT

how old do you have to be to join csi
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 09:39:44 EDT

Will, there is no age minimum for CSI.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 05/01/05 10:10:36 EDT

Ken Scharabok... You need to join the YAHOO group before you can access the pictures. It's painless. Just click on the user gallery link and look for a link to join. It may take a bit for you to get access.

Thanks for your help.
   djhammerd - Sunday, 05/01/05 10:15:20 EDT

Will: Contact that Guild and make arrangements to attend their next meeting. You will find some extremely knowledgeable and helpful smiths there.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/01/05 10:59:45 EDT

ok thankyou
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 11:06:37 EDT

Jock have you received the two replies to your E-mail or have your spam filters filtered them out.
   - JNewman - Sunday, 05/01/05 12:13:03 EDT

John, got your mail will reply momentarily.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/01/05 12:31:35 EDT

FRANK-Thanks, I will keep all of your(as usual) posts in mind for the future.grin.
This one is a done deal. I heated the hammer end up to non-mag. I tried my slowest oil, then the fastest cool oil and ended up with room temp. water. I dunked the face and about 1/2"(the rest, never came up to heat) until a good black heat, the spit bounched off. I set it aside and when checked it later, I could almost handle it without gloves, I dunked it and cooled it completely. A file will cut it but not enough to worry about.
3DOGS: That is by the seat of pants.BOG. Thanks to both of you.
By the way this is not a real hammer, it is more of a flatter, to be used in hand or with another hammer.

   sandpile - Sunday, 05/01/05 13:28:47 EDT

Will and forges

Why not build your own? I've built several on the cheep and they all " worked " to a greater or lesser effect. All it takes is a little 'backyard engeniring' and some help from mom and dad ( forgot your age, sorry ).

Guru Ptree Atli and all thoes that helped with my anvil lay out( pics ) and advise on how to make it:

THANK YOU! I finished the 350# one last night and intend to use it this morning.
   Timex - Sunday, 05/01/05 13:34:01 EDT

Junkyard Steel and Seat of the Pants Heat Treating:

Wow. . take the critical variables and raise two by the power of the variables and you have your chances of getting the perfect heat treat. . . On the other hand, nothing is perfect in the world of steel. It is always a compromize. You want hard AND tough, but in steel these are partialy exclusive of one and other. Full hard is very brittle, the toughest is considerably softer. Somewhere in between is the best compromize. How you get there is temper. The higher the temper temperature the softer and tougher the steel.

Now. . in blacksmith heat treating we do things that commercial heat treaters generaly do not. We use localized heat treating. Face and peans of a hammer hard, body soft. That is what Frank was describing. By using localized heat treating you can get away with much less than the optimum steel.

Generaly a hammer wants to be softer than you anvil to reduce marking the anvil. A hammer is also a relatively small tool that you can dress on a grinder or with a file as needed.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/01/05 13:50:32 EDT

Will all the blacksmithing groups I know of have free and open meetings. These meetings are often held at various member's shops and so may jump around the state a bit. Some groups have their own building, like SOFA in OH, and have the meetings there.

Meetings usually include a smithing demo, often a raffle AKA "Iron in the hat" some low key tailgate selling and sometimes a potluck.

I'm sure you Parents will want to attend a few meetings with you until they feel comfortable with the group. If you are lucky you can find a smith near you that goes to the meetings and can carpool with them.

When you go to the meeting talk to folks and tell them what you are trying to do and get their advice and perhaps be gifted with a tool or two.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 05/01/05 13:50:34 EDT

Blacksmiths Associations: Besides what Thomas had to say, you will find most blacksmiths to be some of the best people in the world. Honest, kind and generous. Many will talk like tough guys but will give you the shirt off their back.

As Thomas pointed out, guests are welcome to every blacksmith association meeting. However most have annual events where there IS a modest fee. Dues are usualy only $15 to $40 a year.

Memberships: The advantage of being a member is that MANY of the blacksmith associations have an annual scholarship available to members. These are usualy several hundred dollars or more for the recipiant to go to a blacksmithing school. Sometimes the school is specified, sometimes it is your choice. Most associations have a hard time finding deserving young recipiants of these scholarships and they end up being awarded to any member that applies for them, needed or not. If you JOIN your local association(s) and APPLY for the scholarship. The only thing that is asked of the recipiant is that they write a report or newsletter article about their experiance.

I know for a fact that our local associations are desperate for a YOUNG inexperianced member to apply for their scholarships.

Will, You live in area where you can be a member of a half dozen groups and could go to meeting every weekend (provinding you have transportation). If you combined scholarships from two or more groups you could go to any one of the blacksmith schools for a week including all your expenses.

Blacksmithing is a great hobby and learning experiance no matter what your liftime goals are. It includes basics of engineering, art, history, economics and good old fashioned self reliance. The study of blacksmithing is the study of technological development from the stone age to the space age and just plain fun.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/01/05 14:12:26 EDT

ok thank you all that replied and i will use the advice all of you have given me and have fun blacksmithing.
   will - Sunday, 05/01/05 16:37:24 EDT

Brian Robertson-I would order the lowest carbon steel your supplier carrys. This will typically be 1018/1020, but you should be able to find it in hot-rolled bar, depending on the size you need. (You will probably find that hot rolled rounds are much more common). As Quenchcrack pointed out, the trick to buying high quality steel, whether foreign or domestic, is knowing what to order. When you order A-36 material, you are buying steel that is made to ASTM Specification A-36, which requires a yield strength of 36,000 psi(minimum) yield strengh, but has a wide chemistry range. This is why you find variation in heat treat response from one batch to the next. I would expect this problem to continue as long as you are ordering the A-36 material.

As to the quality of US steel, I again concur with Quenchcrack. We are capable of making top-notch material, as are many contries around the world. At my shop, we use on US made steel, and while we do occasionally have material quality issues, we are able to work with our suppliers to correct them. This would be much more difficult with an overseas supplier.

   Patrick Nowak - Sunday, 05/01/05 16:52:09 EDT

Michael Knapp: the name "Smith" is the manufacturer not something used by a Blacksmith. I suggest you read the instructions. If you cannot follow the instructions, I would not recommend you play with sharp objects.....
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/01/05 17:13:33 EDT

Lowe's and Home Depot sell hot and cold rolled steel shapes, rods flats etc. I know that it is very expensive compared to junkyard or larger quantities but it is very handy for a hobby smith--but What is it? Any ideas about what the carbon content is likely to be?
   John W. - Sunday, 05/01/05 18:34:21 EDT

Hey folks...made my first real money as a smith today. I could not have done it (in my opinion) with out the advice and help, over the last couple of years, from Jock, Anvilfire and all of you who are here keeping the fires stoked. My membership dues for CSI is going out tomorrow. Thanks everybody....
Dave "Gator" Hislop
   Gator - Sunday, 05/01/05 20:26:16 EDT

WILL: I am in the process of teaching my Grandsons the fundementals of Black/Bladesmithing. I have five Grandsons and I love every one of them.
The ones that are courteous and polite, listen to what I have to say, attempt to do things as I say, get more attention and do better work than the ones that are not cooporatings.GRIN This will be the case with anybody that sets out to instruct any young preson. The easyier you are to get along with, the more likely you will be able to keep an older persons interest in you. It sounds like you are a intelligent,courious young man. Keep up the good work and I hope you can find a good instructor.

   sandpile - Sunday, 05/01/05 20:46:48 EDT

Hi I have a Champion Blower that is marked 400 on the fan housing and is gear driven and I am wondering what type of lubrication should be used in the gear housing?
   Samuel - Sunday, 05/01/05 23:19:07 EDT

I would guess that what the local big box store carries in short lengths is A36 and so of variable composition as mentioned above.

As for markup; looks like I will be buying 20' of stock fram a steel supply store for the same cost as 3' at the big box store. I live rather in the middle of nowhere and by my calculations what I save in steel costs will pay for my 2+ hour trip to buy it just buying a couple of sticks! (and I get to visit a different fleamarket and visit my parents on Mothers' Day)

In emergency the local lumber yard has a rack of 20' steel; less pricy than the short length stuff but still double the price down the road 150 miles and they don't re-stock very well. Can't understand why the store doesn't re-stock what they are selling out of guess they are afraid of repeat business...

   Thomas P - Sunday, 05/01/05 23:55:47 EDT


I use SAE 30 in my old champion blower. It works nicely, but you have to add some every time you use it for very long, as the blower has no real seals and dribbles oil quite liberally. (grin) I just fill 'till it starts to leak out the sides(halfway full roughly) and I'm good to go!

The 400 is a nice blower. Take good care of it and it'll take good care of you.

   eander4 - Monday, 05/02/05 02:36:24 EDT

Thomas P:

On restocking:

Chances are the local lumber yard doesn't sell much steel stock. Thus, they need to wait until they have a large enough order to justify a purchase as their supplier may have a minimum purchase amount without a substantial delivery charge. Very much a reaction of supply and demand. For my forges I get most of my propane-related parts from a local hardware store. When I first started purchasing they would only have a couple each of the individual items and I would buy them out. Doing so triggered their restocking and the level thereof. Now they keep a pretty good supply of what I need and, since I am not a fairly steady customer, eagerly deal with special orders.

On steel stock, my shop building is the type with post at 10' and runners between. I turned one wall into steel stock storage by putting in two 2" x 4" upright between the 10' posts and then used 3/8" rebar to make large spikes spaced every 6" hortizonally. By grouping sizes, I can tell fairly quickly what I need to restock. Much better than when it use to just be laid on the floor.

If you use stock on a regular basis talk to the lumber yard about purchasing extra for you the next time they restock.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 05:02:07 EDT

What does N.C. stand for, as in 1/4" x 20 N.C. threads for a bolt?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 06:03:00 EDT


I have taught basic blacksmithing to a couple of young folks. Problem I've noted is they are so full of questions it is hard to keep them focused on the matters at hand. For example, I'm trying to work them through making an S-hook and they are asking the purpose of various tools in the shop. When you receive instructions try to concentrate on just that individual aspect for the moment. Most of the rest of your questions will be answered in due course.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 06:07:37 EDT


NC when used with a thread designation stands for National Coarse. You will also find NF which stands for National Fine.

Many bolts, screws, carriage bolts come in two different threads. The one that comes most readily to mind is 10-24 NC and 10-32 NF.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 07:05:26 EDT


It stands for National Coarse, the thread standard. NF is National Fine, more commonly called SAE these days,
   vicopper - Monday, 05/02/05 07:12:29 EDT

Sometime threads designated UNC or UNF also. (The auto field equivalent was/is USS and SAE but now it is getting to be METRIC)
How is the hole tapping coming along?
   - Tom H - Monday, 05/02/05 08:11:33 EDT

Threads: Ken, For thread designations and forms you should peruse a copy of Machinery's Handbook. Thread standards were developed early in the last century then adopted by the government during the build up between WWI and WWII. Prior to that there were inch standard threads going back a century or more but there was no guaruntee that bolts from manufacturer A would fit the nuts from manufacturer B. Generaly they would but not always. . .

Machinery's Handbook is almost an absolute necessity in every metalworker's reference library. Used copies can be picked up at 1/10 the new price on ebay and 1/5 from the on-line used book stores.

Note that coarse and fine threads require different tap drills. Fine threads are more vibration resistant, slightly stronger and are easier to form. However, they require slightly better precision or higher percentage of thread.
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 08:30:23 EDT

The N.C. is in a book I have purchased copyright of for further publication. Book is basically projects for a novice blacksmith. For someone new to the area, what would be a good way to express something like: thread tenon with 1/4" x 20 N.C. Perhaps ... with 1/4" x 20 course threading or just ...1/4" x 20 standard threads. Needs to be something easily understood.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 08:32:31 EDT

Tom H: Tapping is on hold for now. Just received my replacement credit card, so can now call the place in Louisville to purchase a high quality 1/4" thread tapping kit. I have six forge kits made up now, so somewhat a low priority as I don't need to make more parts for a while.
Off subject, but on whether or not it pays to be an anvilfire advertiser, Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools did something like $17K in 04 eBay sales. First four months of 05 are a tad over $12K and don't seem to be slowing. My sales just about started doubling the day my anvilfire link appeared. I can't prove it is all link related, but it certainly seems more than a possing coincidence.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 08:39:48 EDT

Thread Standards, Metric System Besides NC and NF (standard coarse and fine) which are a proportional inch form there are series threads 10, 12, 14, 16. . . that are applied to any diameter. In Metric the so-called "world standard" the Europeans and the Japanese cannot agree on a fine thread and use different ones. The 10mm fine bolt from your old VW will not fit your Toyota. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 08:58:22 EDT

Ken, I try to deal with questions as they come, because the questions show interest, motivation, and desire. It takes the students off track briefly, and then they get on track again. It's all blacksmithery.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/02/05 09:36:17 EDT

Ken, it's not just steel, but bolts, electrical fittings, paint, and they will be out of stock through several deliveries---I've done special order and so know how often the "truck" comes. They have a computerized inventory system too. Next closest lumber yard is about 50 miles away...

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/02/05 10:35:44 EDT

Metric System: Because Inch Standard fasteners are still used more in the US than metric, they are used more globaly (even in many metric countries) because they are less expensive and have a higher availability in more sizes than metric. For this and other reasons workers in metric countries can generally work in both inches and millimeters while our US workers most often cannot. To make it worse our schools have largely stopped teachiing the inch system because WE are supposed to be a metric country (since the 1700's!). This means kids that do not understand the inch system in a country that is still 90% English standard.

This standards confusion also exists in Australia, Canada, England and Mexico (and maybe India), not just the US.

You will find that if you travel, people from metric countries will speak to you in inch units while THEY actualy work in metric units. I often surprise folks as an American that can work equally well in both. In our new global economy if you work in any mechanical field you had better learn to handle both.

What's Best - Metric vs. English: The US sort of got bamboozled into the metric system by French intelectuals who managed to convince most of Europe to adopt their new "scientific" system. However, most of the logic as to why it is a better system is not good logic and very weak reasoning. Some was just plain wrong and some compromises to the past.

Competition: In the US we were told by the pundits for over a century to convert to metric or lose our industrial dominance. This has proved to be false. We are losing our industrial dominance for other (social political) reasons. Meanwhile inch standard products including everything from precision measurment tools to nuts and bolts are made in 100% metric countries to sell in the US. . . We import more Inch bolts than we make and they come from Metric countries. . The fact is that the US dominated a largly English standard world and could have insisted that it was the better standard and the world would be a better place for it. There are still more inch standard products manufactured globaly than metric. . .

Standards: The point of the standard was to base it on something universal. . The meter a division of the Earth's diameter, temperature the freezing and boiling point . . . However, they missed and the Earth's diameter varies over time. . The boiling point. . . that of water at sea level is also variable with gravitational and atmospheric change. AND IF (big if) we were to try to communicate with ET's (extraterestrials) the size of our puny planet and the boiling point on its surface has nothing to do with anything Universal. . . There ARE things that are universaly standard but the metric system did not use them and now it is too late. . Consider the UTU (Universal Temperature Unit - my invention), take the difference between absolute zero and the ice point of water (that IS constant), divide by an even number (say 100 or 100 x PI) and you have a Universal degree which can then be applied at temperatures above freezing. It works ANYWEHRE in the universe where there could be life.

Mathematicaly: School children and those that were never taught the importance of algebra (not algebra, its importance and history) love the tens system that SEEMS so logical and does away with the dreaded FRACTION! However, numeric systems are almost purely arbitrary as long as they are based on even numbers. IF you speak to computer scientists they will tell you we would have been much better off with 8 fingers and octal or hexadicimal systems. WHY? These convert directly to binary (on/off) states and are the basis of ALL machine language and mathematics which must then be converted to the more arbitrary decimal system. . . AND the adopters metric system itself did not go all the way, they compromised. They still use the ancient Summerian base 60 (sexaguesimal system) as does everyone for measuring time and angles. The only people that adopted the offical metric angle measurement system was the computer chip designers. . . they all calculate in Radians (fractions of PI). . .

The importance of fractions is that they are an algebraic system. They represent simple division and basic algebraic math. And the fact is that little children can be taught fractions much easier than the decimal system. They can be taught fractions before they can even COUNT! What could be more simple than on half, half or a half, half of a quarter, a third, half of a third. . ? The concept of fractions and the conversion of fractions from one base to another can be easily taught and learned and is the basis of all algebra, the binary and derived systems, the sexagesimal and EVEN the radian system (its metric but NOT based on 10)! By starting with fractions and not seeing them as some terrible thing to learn (or is anti-metric), we find learing algebra and higher math MUCH easier.

Early in school we try to teach about time and half and quarter hours but our school systems completely fail the point because we are anti-fraction. The clock and base 60 is a wonderful thing. The ancient Summerians that invented it were mathematical geniuses. Its 60 minute divisions can be divided evenly by more hole numbers into various fractions than any other number. 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 6, 4, 3, 2. These produce the fractions 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/10, 1/15, 1/20, 1/30. When further divided to make 360 degrees many more whole number fractions. The number 60 is so universal that many machine tools have a 60 tooth gear on their spindle to use for dividing parts. The 12 hours in a day are a subset of the 60 minutes and the half and quarter hours even divisions again.

Time and fractions and algebraic conversions all intertwined and we largely miss it when teaching children in school. The problem is so bad that I had a woman in Spanish class that did not understand the relationship between a quarter hour and a US quarter (of a dollar). That both are the whole divided by 4 and that quarter means one fourth. . .

Did you know that small metric tools stop being made in even or decimal increments and go to FRACTIONS? Yep. They are expressed in decimals but they are 2.5mm 1.5mm, 1.25mm, .75mm, .5mm. . . . halves and quarters. NATURAL, algebraic, fractional.

I would agree to change to a truely universal natural measurement system that made sense. But to adopt a system of measurement at an unbelievable expense that is based on bad science and weak compromises is foolish. . . But this debate ended a couple hundred years ago and for at least the next couple hundred we will still be using both the English and the metric systems. So you had better get used to using both. . .

   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 10:47:47 EDT

I'm going to make some knives this summer. I'm thinking about getting the blanks laser cut out of O-1 by Admiral Steel and then just hot rasp the bevel. Does anybody have any pointers or a method that might work better?
   - Trapper - Monday, 05/02/05 12:11:24 EDT

I'm told there used to be available a five lobed (negative space) threading die instead of the standard four lobes...for threading square stock. Door spindles for knobs and lever handles in the U.S. are an odd 3/8"-20, and it would be nice to make your own. Does anyone know of a source?
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/02/05 12:36:40 EDT

Trapper, That O-1 will not stay hot raspable for long. Normal stock removal is done with a belt grinder. They are not too difficult to build and have been made with wood frames. See our book review of the $50 Knife shop.
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 12:43:43 EDT

More on Stock removal: Trapper, That O-1 you are buying is high priced stuff that is fully annealed. You can saw it with a common hacksaw and file it cold with common files. It will also drill fairly well. When you buy most high priced tool steel a large part of the price is the annealing. When it is flame cut, even by LASER the heat effected surface is going to be full hard and will tear the teeth off a file losing the advantage of that expensive anneal.
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 14:51:47 EDT

Will O-1 stay hot long enough to forge the bevel?
   - Trapper - Monday, 05/02/05 15:04:49 EDT

Trapper, yes. But afterwards you will have a lot of rough oxidized and decarburized surface to remove (back to the need for a grinder). However, if you are going to forge a blade, that is completely different operation than stock removal. I suggest you see our book review page and get a couple of the books on blacksmithing and bladesmithing and study them. Then before trying to forge very expensive tool steel experiment with some old spring steel.
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 15:18:17 EDT

Guru: re metric system. I largely agree with you except in two places. 1. small weights. The apothecary system of drachms, scruples, mimims, grains and so on is so screwy that it makes drug errors almost manditory. Second is when it is necessary to convert volume to weight. Like how much does a bathtub full of water weigh. It is frequently easier to convert english to metric, get the answer and convert back to english rather than do the whole thing in english. Lastly, only the truly nostalgic regret the loss of the english weights of stone, hundredweight etc and pound, shilling and pence. Not to mention furlongs, gills, pecks, chains and rods. But we lost these before the metric invasion of the sixties, thank God.
   John W - Monday, 05/02/05 15:30:32 EDT

TRAPPER: Where are you located?
If you are just wanting to play around and mess with making a blade. You can start with the oldest worn out file that you have. Have a bucket of hot ashes sitting ready by your forge or what ever you are heating the steel in. Take your old file up to a bright red or orange color, where a magnet will not stick to it, and right quick stick it all the way in the ash bucket completely cover the file. Leave it 24 hours and it should be ready to file, grind, or sand. It should be almost limp. The file is most likely to be 1095, if not it is still a good grade of steel.
If you don't beat on it and keep both sides equal it probably won't warp when you harden it. If you forge it or beat on it, it will have to be normalized. Grind it thicker than you want the finished blade, then after hardening finish grinding it down to what you want. If you grind it to thin, you will burn the carbon out of the edge of the blade.
To harden take it up to where a magnet won't stick to it and just a tad more. When you quench it, do so in cool oil. 1095 is supposed to be quenched in water or brine. You are messing with 3/16th steel so quench in oil. After you quench it a couple of times from heat, put it the wive's oven(use new oil and wipe off) at 350 degrees for a couple of hours and do this twice.
You are now ready to finish your grinding and what ever amount of polish you want. Do not forget to make holes or tread the tang before hardening. Good luck...
   sandpile - Monday, 05/02/05 15:49:09 EDT

English Wheel Question
I have noticed on English Wheels that the upper wheel comes in different sizes, is there a benefit to the upper wheel being wider than the lower?
Thank you
   Cathy - Monday, 05/02/05 17:05:13 EDT

I understand Your point completley Jock, but I don't want to trade the readout on My Bridgeport for one that reads in fractions. As much as the Metric system is superior in some areas,there are others where it could stand improvement.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 17:32:47 EDT

John, say what? A pint's a pound the world around, 8 pounds to the gallon, 8 gallons to a cubic foot of water. Give me a weight and I'll provide cubic feet or gallons, give me gallons and I'll provide the others---I don't know anyone who converts to metric and then back converts.

The apothecary system is insane I'll agree and be happy to have my Dr work in cc's

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/02/05 18:00:53 EDT

Units: John, I will agree that since g/cm3 = SpGr almost exactly that you are somewhat correct on the mass/volume calcs. However, most English references such as Machinery's Handbook and even many old scientific references had density in lbs/cuin. Much of the original work on density was done in these units and later converted to metric units. The constant for mild steel is .2835 lbs/cuin. and is dead accurate.

I'll also agree that many of the Olde English units were totaly screwy. However, today you pick a unit and just use more decimals or scientific notation. Many common electronic scales measure in thousandths of a pound. A grain =.00014 (1.4E4) lbs. which is only one figures of magnitude smaller. A milligram = .0000022 lbs (2.2E6), two more figures of magnitude. Simple, from the same unit.

Dave, I have no complaints against the decimal system (see above).

The metric system does it with Greek/Latin prefixes resulting in multiple names units. . Except in physics where they use the base units for everything. You can do the same in the English system.

What is just as screwy in the metric world as the English world is the adoption of certain units by different fields. In the mechanical trades everything is millimeters. In the construction trades it is centimeters. I have yet to find anyone that uses decimeters. In American engineering we use the inch for large and small structures. The building trades use feet and inches. In Engineering it is common to use decimal of an inch for everything and SOME industries standardized on 1/10 inch increments instead of fractional 1/8's. Southbend Lathe did this before WWI so you find all the shaft sizes and gear centers and various measurements are even tenths of an inch. . .

The English system IS screwy but it could be fixed and it can be used AS-IS without a problem.

MANY other countries have the same problem with their traditional units and the metric system. In Costa Rica and probably most of Spanish America they use the Spanish manzana still because all the old surveys were done in those units. . Yes they convert to hectares but land area is hard to get a feel for so I have to know in acres. . . Many countries have their local distance measurements and old maps and surveys are in those units.

The only way for a country to be all one system or the other is to START in that system or rewite all their history, maps, historical documents, contracts, court descisions, books . . . In the case of an industrialized country like the US it means replacing quadrillions of dollars worth of machine tools and measurement tools. . . All the time we have supposedly been a metric country we have been buying and manufacturing English standard tools and equipment (still are).

There were several other measument systems for angles including the 400 degree circle where a right angle = 100° that were considered for the metric system and eventualy rejected. Do you know why they settled on the using and irrational odd number (PI) and then multiplied by two?
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 18:02:27 EDT

I need to put a "U" type bend in the center a straight piece of 1/2" round. 18 inches long.
I have no swages. This bend or "U" needs to be about 1" wide and 3/4" to 1" deep.
How do I heat this and what part of the anvil do I use?
Thanks in advance! Vic
straight across...how do I heat this and what part of the anvil do I use to get a "U" in the middle of this 18" straight piece of mild steel? Thanks in advance! Vic
   Vic - Monday, 05/02/05 18:05:50 EDT

Metric System -

A while back I read a book on the survey on which the meter was based. IIRC the title was _The Measure of All Things._

At the end of that book they examined the history of the adoption of the metric system. It seems the great impetus for creating a new system of measures was the diversity of standards: There hundreds of local standards for units of measure in France alone.

Further, the persistent mediaeval doctrine of fair price contributed to the diversity: The price of a unit of grain was the same in the village and the market town. However, the grain merchant made his living by the fact that the village's unit was smaller than the market town's.

In Brittan there were comparatively few differing standards, and the Crown was able to enforce uniformity without buying into a standard based on the length of the Paris meridian.

In the US, the Constitution gave the Federal government exclusive authority over weights and measures, so the diversity of standards which drove the adoption of the Metric system in Europe simply did not exist.

France was by no means the first country to implement metrication: One of the Low Countries imposed metrication long before it became obligatory in France. It was into the last quarter of the 19th century before the French extirpated the last bastion of the Ancien Régime: Land Survey Measures.

IIRC before WWII British & American inches were of slightly different size. For that matter, my 1955 Machineries Handbook shows the inch to be ever so slightly larger than the present 25.4mm, as the previous conversion standard was based on the yard. I'm real vague on this since I don't have my Machineries here, but it seems like the yard was defined as being equal to 914.5mm which made an inch equal to 25.402777...mm

Before unified threads, various industries standardized on threads which didn't make it into the modern standards: For example, tripod sockets on cameras are either 1/4"-24 or 3/8"-16 thread, neither of which you will find in your standard tap & die set.
   John Lowther - Monday, 05/02/05 18:08:42 EDT

English Wheel: Cathy, There are just a few of us that know what an English Wheel is and less that use them. . . You question might be better answered at one of the bodywork or sheet metal forums (unless someone here pipes in).

My thoughts: On all the Wheels I've seen the lower wheel was interchangable but usualy smaller and crowned. The upper wheel is not only wider but flat and larger in diameter. When wheeling a piece the upper wheel represents the flat plain. The lower wheel is narrower and of smaller diameter so that the work can curve down around it OR more correctly:

"Shaping results as the lower wheel is forced under pressure into the metal, stretching and forming it."

This means the top wheel is acting like an anvil and the lower a rolling hammer. . . however, on Metalcrafttools they call the changable lower wheels the anvil. . . The lower wheels are available with various crown radii.
   - guru - Monday, 05/02/05 18:20:39 EDT


A pint's a pound the world around . . . except in the UK and other parts of the old British Empire. But I think an Imperial gallon of water weighs exactly 10 pounds, so conversion there is easy too.

I guess I'm going off on a tangent to a tangent, but the buildup between WWI and WWII the guru mentioned started in 1939, some might say 1941. The standardization might have owed something to the consolidation of industry in the Great Depression and/or the New Deal agencies, but that's just speculation.
   Mike B - Monday, 05/02/05 18:58:30 EDT

Vic: I am with you on the 1" wide, but not the 3/4" to 1" deep. For the 1" wide use your vise. Just clamp in two pieces of 1" thick round stock, 1/2" apart in the jaws. Heat your 1/2" stock in the area to be bend. Put your 1/2" stock between the posts such that the center point will be in the back center of the post you are bending around as you bring the outside leg around towards you. You may have to adjust length of legs a tad.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/02/05 19:13:36 EDT

As blacksmiths we should stick with the cwt system where I can happily say I weigh under 17 stone...

Vic my first answer was "with your bare hands"; but 18" is pretty short and would be too hot to grab and bend bare handed... How do you heat it? What do you have to heat it with? what kind of radius do you want on it? O-A torch or forge would work then over to Ken's vise, skip the anvil unless you need to make the sides touching each other.

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/02/05 19:54:16 EDT

Hi I have my forge all built blower plummed in ash bucket in place and I can not find coal any place. Is it something you have to order in . I live in central IN. I have called all over our county no one has it in stock. can you help .

Thanks Jack
   jack - Monday, 05/02/05 20:12:37 EDT

:) lighweight! I used to weigh 23 stone 7 lbs (or 329lbs) at my heaviest! Thats when I thought beer was just mucky water. lol! Luckily i'm over 6 feet tall too, and now a slightly more svelt 18 stone 2lbs.
We were taught metric in school (the U.K) but my dad always used feet and inches in his workshop so I learned it, its silly because even the doctors here still measure how tall you are in feet and inches first and if you went to the local pub you'd get a pint of beer not a litre, even supermarkets still sell a pint of milk. its a funny old world!
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 20:54:06 EDT

oh by the by, most tool shops and suppliers over here work in both, and all our retractable tape measures (and most other rulers carry both feet/inches and meters/centimeters on the tape, just had the bizarre idea that American ones don't, is that true? or is it just me? :)
Dark and drizzly on the banks of the Aire
(its 0202am GMT here)
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 21:00:42 EDT

Insomnia can be a terrible thing ;)
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 21:04:39 EDT

Okay I now have a much more on topic question that maybe someone outhere can help with...?
I've heard that an old refridgerator pump can be rigged up to do vacuum casting, I know this is a blacksmith site but I've seen I-forge demo's on casting so I know some of you do it! Does this sound at all feasable to anyone? I was wondering how much vaccuum it could produce and how fast? I also heard somthing about a vacuum pulling inches of mercury, (in this case 27 inches) can any Guru explain what thats all about?
sorry about the earlier rambling but I really am cream crackered yet unable to get some much needed kip!
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 21:13:41 EDT


On this side of the pond, most retractable tapes are inches only. For some reason, most 12" rulers seem to have both inches and cm, and I think most cloth sewing tapes do too.
   Mike B - Monday, 05/02/05 21:14:44 EDT

Coal is available at City Coal Yard in Brazil In. this is the coal available at the indiana Blacksmithing Assoc. annual hammer-in in Tipton in. This is in early June, and if you are just starting out they have a wonderful beginners class. The conference is very reasonable. It is held at the Tipton co. Fairgrounds and camping is available onsite.
Coal is also available in Louisville from Cumberland Elkhorn coal co.
Both the companies supply VERY good coal.
   ptree - Monday, 05/02/05 21:19:33 EDT

Cathy-- I think Lindsay Books has a volume re: English wheels that might answer your question.
   - Sebastian Chippinghammer - Monday, 05/02/05 21:28:09 EDT

Bradding, and the tenons thereof:

I think I'm off in the weeds. I've been making a number of tenons lately, and haven't gotten them looking up to snuff yet.

I'm working on getting squarely shouldered tenon(I wish) in 3/8" sq stock.

The best I can do without file work is a close approximation of a square shoulder. I size the tenon to a close approximation using my one-man swage tool. Then I break out the monkey tool to try to square the shoulder. However, the monkey tool ends up bending the stock, rather than sizing the tenon and squaring the shoulder. The stock also ends up getting mauled by the vice. Do others start out with an oversized monkey tool to rough down the outer portion of the shoulder, then break out the exactly sized one to finish sizing the tenon, and shoulder? Am I missing a step somewhere?

   - Tom T - Monday, 05/02/05 21:32:59 EDT


And I'm a bit under 12 stone. You've been feeding on good pasture! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 21:38:48 EDT


Some do, some don't. Most 1 foot rules have both. I've never seen a retractible or folding rule that did, but they are probably made. Very few tradesmen use them, unless absolutely required.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 21:42:05 EDT

Thomas P. If I am your doc you would really have a problem if I had to use the apothecary system but then as I am a gynecologist you would be in serious trouble anyway. My point on the volumes is that if you want to know the volume and weight of a swimming pool ten meters by 100 meters it is a no-brainer, you can do it in your head. what about a pool 100 yards by ten yards. I would have a problem. My wife still thinks I am an idiot because she can do mental math so much quicker than me but she grew up doing pounds, shillings and pence as well as florins and guineas and crowns, not to mention hapennise, thruppenses and sixpenses and god knows what else. It make her a better person, as she never tires of reminding me.
   John W. - Monday, 05/02/05 22:02:50 EDT

All of my tape measures and rulers except for a few yardsticks are metric/standard. I use both all the time. I often find myself doing drawings which are 1cm on the drawing to 1" full size! (Convenient standard for small parts ;)

John L,
My tripod's screw is 1/4"x20TPI... I know this because I use it for other things (plein aire painting), and I use a 1/4"x20TPI T-nut to hold my box to my tripod. Never seen a tripod with any thread but 1/4"x20TPI. YMMV.

Tinker, I'm no expert on vacuum casting, but usually you use a perforated stainless flask and you're doing investment casting in it -- the flask has a flange on it near the top end, you drop it into a chamber and open a valve to your vacuum pump and it pumps it down, sucking the metal that you pour into the flask into the mold. If this doesn't make sense, I'm sorry -- I'm not being quite as clear as I could. :| For a low-capacity pump like a fridge compressor, I would suggest using a holding tank like an air compressor tank to provide a "buffer" so you get a quick initial suction. In this type of casting you don't need vacuum per se -- rather a low pressure zone to suck the metal in.

Cooling off in Coogee, Australia.
   T. Gold - Monday, 05/02/05 22:35:09 EDT

thanks for not jumping on me with hobnail boots guys, I hate not being able to sleep it fries your brain a little. Not good because I've a seriously 'finicky' cast to do 'today' (its in sterling silver and gold. whimper!) hello Paw Paw! Its an honour to finaly get to say hi.
03.36 GMT Still Dark and b****y raining on the banks of the Aire.
Thats it, time for the sleeping pills unless anyone knows somthing better than a six pound sledge hammer! ;)
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 22:35:57 EDT

The older of two Trentons? I have two Trenton anvils, the first, I have had many years, marked with Trenton on the side in the diamond, no other markings. Serial number 178206 on the foot and marked 103 pounds. Thinner waist and longer heel. Very clean anvil with obvious weld line for the face plate and at the waist. Oval depression in the bottom. The second anvil just acquired, super clean, marked Trenton in the diamond, PATENT, and solid wrought in a circular shape below, and stamped 112 below that. No other markings, no serial no. and the feet have the shouldered edge. Flat bottom. Plate weld not visible, but plate seems in tact due to the edge chipping and overall dimensions. Excellent rebound. thicker waist and shorter stouter heel. Both anvils have the usual handling holes. I understand some Trentons, were made in Germany, before being made here. Which of these anvils is the older of the two? Any info is greatly appreciated.
   - RC - Monday, 05/02/05 22:40:19 EDT


You CAN rig a refrigeration compressor to be a vacuum pump, and it will pull a fair vacuum, but not quickly. The 27" of mercury is how high a vacuum will pull mercury up a manometer tube, based on ambient standard pressure and temperature.

If you want a vacuum source for vacuum-assisted casting, you need high volume but don't need high vacuum. The purpose of the the vacuum is to scavenge gases out of the mold flask so that the flow of the molten metal is unimpeded. You can do this with a venturi vacuum pump if you have a decent sized air compressor.

If all you have to work with is the refrigerator compressor, you'll need a vacuum receiver. This is just a vessel capable of withstanding a vacuum that you can pump down to "accumulate" a larger vacuum, (if you can mentally encompass the idea of accumulating a lot of nothing. grin).

For vacuum assisted casting, the casting flask is a section of pipe, open at both ends. The hot flask is placed on a vacuum table, over the vacuum port. When you pour the metal into the flask, the vacuum is opened, drawing the air through and out of the investment in the flask, making the metal flow into detail better. Since the whole system is "open", you need a large volume more than high vacuum.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/02/05 22:42:27 EDT


Serial number 178206 was manufactured in 1920. I would suspect that the un-numbered anvil is the older of the two.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 22:47:52 EDT


What cha, bloke! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 22:50:33 EDT

yeah I get the idea ;) fried but still running on 3 cylinders!, if i'm getting it right its a case of a powerfull but short lasting vacuum (hence the reservoir) as oppossed to a vacuum that takes a while to get up to speed ( no good when speed is of the essence as it is with rapidly cooling liquid metal) that sound about right?
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 22:50:40 EDT

Paw Paw,
Awwight Geeza?! lol, bit further north than London, Yorkshire to be precise, Herriot country if anyones read his books (All creatures Great and Small etc) here, try deciphering a bit of 'broad' Yorky...
naw, tininttin...?
lol :0 )
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 22:57:45 EDT

Vacuum Pump -- a refrigeration compressor will easily pull 27" mercury, if the one from a fridge isn't fast enough use one from an air conditioner, if still not fast enough,try one from a central air conditioner. They won't last overly long because they normally rely on oil circulated in the refrigeration system for lubrication. Discarded but operable units could be had from a HVAC Tec.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 23:00:01 EDT

Vic -- If I understand You: bend [2] 90 degree bends 2" apart as sharp as You can to form a 2" wide "U" shape with equal length legs. Start with extra length so You can cut it to the proper finished size when done. Heat ONLY THE MIDDLE of the "U" shape and bend it around a piece of round stock held in the vise. If it comes out close to what You need, heat up again, & true it up on the anvil. If some dimension is off, make allowances for it & try again.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 23:15:51 EDT

Thanks Dave, I've a 'mate' works at the local tip (Dump)so getting my hands on 'tired' fridges is easy. I reckon I'll try a fridge pump onto a reservoir (maybe an old fire extinguisher or freon tank. Its not gonna have to work heavily cos I'm still producing hobby peices not full scale production.
As far as the Yorky translation goes lets see who got it right.....
has he put his hat on?
is it in the tin?
No it isn't in the tin
I once bought a canadian woman a brilliant little book up in the dales entitled "'Yorkshire to Queens English' a guide to non Yorkies (A.K.A Foreigners)", she's now happily married to my best mate (another Yorky)and can finally understand what I say to her (he's lived in London awhile 'an ee int as bruward as wharrah ahm) Big grin!
   - Tinker - Monday, 05/02/05 23:17:52 EDT

Guru: I remember doing trigonometry using fractions of [PI] in highschool,so I probably knew at that time. I also remember knowing how to calculate trig functions mathematically,which I am no longer clear on. More disturbing however is the lack of a [PI] key on the computer. There is one thing that does make sense, that is that 1 minute of arc at the radius of the Earth's surface = 1 nautical mile[6024']. Indispensable if doing celestial navigation. Where the other mile comes from beats Me.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 23:30:42 EDT

Tinker: The vacuum acumulator doesn't need to be exceptonally strong, but should be large, as You have only aptnospheric pressure to work with, 15 psig to us Yanks. An old water tank, air tank,or propane [butane] tank may work. I have a bunch of friends from Manchester who seem to have a language of thier own allso.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 23:41:32 EDT

Life is too short to learn how to spell.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/02/05 23:42:54 EDT

Knowers of all things knowable: I acquired a couple of empty nitrogen bottles at a garage sale. I'd like to cut the bottoms off to use as dishing anvils and use the remainder of the bottles to make bells. I saw one made like that years ago, and it fascinated me. What is the optimal length for a good-sounding tone? I only want to cut them once, if possible. I read the FAQ on bells, gongs and triangles, but found no specified length for a starting point. Does it matter? I'd just like a nice, low sound. Also, I'm not worried about tuning them to each other. Appreciate whatever help you can give me.
   Koomori - Monday, 05/02/05 23:44:21 EDT

Metric System. Guru, damn if my old age don't got me confused. I thought we got the metric system under the auspices of the same fellow that gave away the Panama Canal, Uncle Jimmy Carter. Damn, my old age has got me confused. How could I ever think we could let the fro....French get to us. Damn, I'm confused.
   - Kent Fowlr - Monday, 05/02/05 23:46:21 EDT


I got the two tins, but the azeepurrization got me.

They're all on my shelf, a bit tattered, but well loved.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 05/02/05 23:53:36 EDT

RC: According to Anvils in America, by Richard Postman (and available in the Anvilfire Store) it is though an H. Boker imported the first Trenton anvils from Europe (likely German rather than England) before becoming an agent/broker for the Columbus Forge and Iron Company of Columbus, OH. It is speculated he suggested they use the name of Trenton for their anvil as it was already known in the American market. Had they not done so, their blacksmithing/farrier anvil line would have likely been the Buel or Indian Chief. Furthermore, besides a flat bottom, the stamping on that anvil may be very deep, unlike some of the Columbus ones. Thus, if an H. Boker associated Trenton, it would predate the earliest Columbus Trenton by ten years or so.

Several months back there was what appeared to be a Boker Trenton on eBay, except the logo had been chiseled in, rather than being stamped in. Richard was divided as to whether or not someone might have either tried to emphasize a faded logo or just tried to make a counterfiet, so to speak, Trenton.

Richard is hard at work on the follow-on to Anvils in America (More on Anvils) which might contain additional information on the Boker vs Columbus Forge Trentons.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 00:04:51 EDT

Fantastic author, off topic totally...but did you know his real name was 'Alf Wright'(from Glasgow so he was an 'adopted' Yorky and he qualified as a Vetenary Surgeon in Edinburgh)his wonderful wife 'helen' was actually called Rose. The village of 'Darrowby' isn't real, its actually an amalgamation of three villages in the dales above the 'Vale of York' and not far from Scarborough. His son and Grandson are also practicing Vets in the Dales
   - Tinker - Tuesday, 05/03/05 00:21:24 EDT

0525 GMT Grey dawn and drizzle on the banks of the Aire
sleeping tablets are naff!
Utterly F.A.U!!!
hmmmm, quarter to six in the morning....wonder if its too early to fire up the furnace :)
...I live in a terraced house (BIG) :)
   - Tinker - Tuesday, 05/03/05 00:26:44 EDT

just realised thats funnier if you know what a terraced house is...

   - Tinker - Tuesday, 05/03/05 00:28:56 EDT

I own a Boker Trenton anvil and have seen several in person. I just passed on a 176lber at a farm sale about a month ago, the face and edges was a little rough. It sold for $200
   - Robert IW - Tuesday, 05/03/05 00:34:15 EDT

I have a question about a couple anvils I'm looking at. There is a Vulcan taht weighs 95lbs according to a bathroom scale. There's also one that weighs 115 lbs and the top is in better shape. It has a C on one side in a triangle or shield, and an M on the other side with a similar shape around it.

I'm a newbie knifemaker (stock removal so far) but have been thinking that an anvil might be handy to have around and have come across these at what seems a good price. (under $100.00 ea). Any idea as to the ID on the C/M anvil and weather or not it's better than the Vulcan?

Thanks in advance.

   Excitable Boy - Tuesday, 05/03/05 01:06:35 EDT

could you define "primary processes" in manufacturing
also enlist five different primary processes
   ram kumar - Tuesday, 05/03/05 01:53:45 EDT

Excitable Boy: The one with the C in the triange is a Columbian anvil. Solid cast steel. Vulcan would be a cast iron body and steel plate. Both are relatively lightweight anvils. Vulcan will not have a ring, which may be preferable to the Columbian, which will, if you live in a suburban neighborhood. Close neighors are likely to find the ring amusing at first, then quite annoying. Columbian would be a higher quality.

ram kumar: Sorry, forum doesn't do your homework for you.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 02:56:20 EDT

Tom T. Bear in mind I am not a purist when it comes to blacksmithing. Consider using a hacksaw to do the shouldering. Cut down to tenon size. Then forge out the tenon as normal, staying slightly away from the cut portion. Then file (or angle iron grind) back to your square (cut) shoulder. IMHO, the real purpose of a monkey tool (and I sure would like to know how they got that name) is to upset the area in back of the tenon so it is stronger in a mortise. If done in a vise, consider putting it in cold and then heating only the area to be worked with the monkey tool with a torch. A propane plumbing torch with the special, higher-temperture gas (name escapes me at 2AM) should provide sufficient heat for 3/8" stock. I'm sure others will have other techniques for you.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 03:04:18 EDT

Hi, I'm an Australian working in Papua New Guinea and I am interested in helping people living in villages to learn some practical blacksmithing skills. My own skills are basic, I have made tongs, some simple knives and a few other things. My question is this - I have seen many plans for home-made anvils but most include large pieces of tool steel and oxy-acetalene equipment etc, which I don't have easy access to. I am planning to make some 4" wide anvils from large truck springs, welding some plate steel in the centre (with the edges chamfered), then repeating the process on both sides until the leaf spring is completely filled in. This is about the only way I can see to make an anvil in PNG. I plan to weld on a horn made from shafting. Has anyone tried this before? Is there a website I access? Do you have any advice? I have taught some villagers to make nails and hooks that you hammer into a post or beam and they were very interested. Any help would be appreciated.
   Daryl Brenton - Tuesday, 05/03/05 05:02:25 EDT

Ken, you're probably thinking of MAPP gas.

I just bought a Victor Turbotorch off of eBay last week. What an improvement over the Bernzomatics at Wal-mart! This one came with the T-4 tip (not their biggest), and even without MAPP, I can get a 3/8" piece red-orange.

I think I spent all of $30, including shipping, and it came with the T-4 tip, quick-disconnect handle, hose, regulator, and POL fitting.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 05/03/05 07:41:33 EDT

Tinker, it might be even funnier if I knew what "naff" and "F.A.U." meant :-)
   - Marc - Tuesday, 05/03/05 07:44:34 EDT


Let's take the book discussion to the Hammerin Forum, it's not really apprpriate here on the guru's page. That said,

Yes, I've read the author's blurb on each book, (authors do read them! grin) His stories about his Daughter and Son were very interesting to me.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/03/05 07:53:42 EDT

3/8-16 thread
This is the common UNC thread??
   - Tom H - Tuesday, 05/03/05 07:55:21 EDT

Tenons and vise mauling:

To reduce vise mauling, I've been using some aluminum angles on the vise jaws. I cut them about an inch longer than the jaws and bend the ends in so they don't move on the vise jaws.

The hacksaw (or bandsaw) method works nicely for square tenons. And only a little forging to make them round. A friend of mine, who's also a machine head, uses a plug cutter in a lathe when making lots of pickets.

The best "blacksmithy" way for tenons I've seen is to use a smithin' magician. I made some dies by drilling three different tenon-sized holes inline, widthwise, across one piece of die stock, then cutting across the holes. This leaves three top and bottom swages for different sized tenons. I also rounded the sides of the swages to keep from pinching the stock. You still need to forge down close to the size.

Then, a little while ago, I saw a better magician set of dies. It just had one bottom die that had a wide square slot cut out the depth of which was the size of the tenon. The top die was flat. You just forge the piece close again, and then finish up in the magician. No worries about pinching. For round tenons, just rotate the stock when the square tenon is down to size.

But since I'm not a machine head, I have no way to cut the bottom die like that. So I'm thinking of making a bottom die about an inch narrower than normal (1" wide, in my case). Then I can make "stops" of different lengths to place at both sides of the bottom die.

   - Marc - Tuesday, 05/03/05 08:13:24 EDT

Daryl Brenton:

I would recommend you try to keep the anvils as simple as possible, yet serve the purpose. In this case it would be for small items and thus doesn't need to be that robust.

Cut the 4" wide spring steel into perhaps 12" lengths. On one end weld on a U made from the same (or near) thickness of mild steel stock, such that it leaves a square hole. For example, for a 1" hardy hole use one piece of 1/2" x 1" x 4" and two pieces of 1/2" x 1" x 1 1/2". That then becomes a 1" hardy hole. On what will be the bottom of the top plate, on the sides, weld on perhaps 1/4" x 1 1/2" x length of anvil. Now form a length of heavy (dense) wood to fit underneath (top will slip over it) with a drilled hole for under the hardy hole. The side pieces will allow you to bolt, screw or nail the top securely to the wood base, perhaps with some type of adhesive between the bottom of the metal and top of the wood. Wood block would be very portable, but could also be secured to a large block of wood using angle iron.

The hardy hole now allow you to provide tools which would serve many of the same purposes as the horn. Take a look at the tooling I offer on eBay by using the NAVIGATE anvilfire box and then going down to advertisers and selecting Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools. With a bandsaw and arc welder you should be able to duplicate many of the same tools locally. Note most of my tools are made out of mild steel (sometimes quenched) and serve for light-duty work.

For hammers you can also construct them fairly easily. For example weld together a billet of two pieces of 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 4" and two pieces of 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 1 1/2", leaving a 1/2" x 1" eye hole in the center. This now becomes a 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 4" hammer body. On each end weld a slug of 1/4" x 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" to become the hammer face. I have also made crosspeens this way by staggering one end and welding in length of coil spring. Then fill in with weld bead to create the tapered shape, with the shaped coil spring then becoming the end of the crosspeen.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 08:22:11 EDT

Marc: Francis Whitaker trick (or at least picked up from him). When drilling out rounding swage tops and bottoms place a business card between and then drill through it. This leaves the necessary gap between the top and bottom grooves.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 08:25:32 EDT

Could you please tell what degree of heat it takes to melt siler, & gold?
   John R. - Tuesday, 05/03/05 09:54:01 EDT

I am looking for a method of holding a lot of small pieces of 3/16 rod in place while I MIG them together to make letters for names. Letters are about one and 1/4" wide by 2" high. I tried some blobs of non-drying modeling clay under the rods but when the heat melted the clay it turned into a molten mess. Had to burn and wire brush the residue.

Any suggestions would be welcomed.
   Jim Curtis - Tuesday, 05/03/05 10:16:27 EDT

Followup to previous question: I do not want to weld the letters to a background. In other words a see-through or silhouette (sp?).
   Jim Curtis - Tuesday, 05/03/05 10:33:56 EDT

Jim, If steel or brass I would line them up and use a torch. For MIG they are going to need to be held very steady as the wire and arc blow both are going to move the parts. clamping each corner may be the only way.

In my shop I would take a piece of expensive but available refractory board and use thumb tacks to hold the pieces.
Years ago I would have used a piece of wood and put up with putting out the fire. Wetting the board would help but the steam might interfer with the MIG.

A plater vat with thumbtacks might work. I had thought of drywall board but it has paper on both sides. . You can use magnets for corners but that only works for the first corner. . .

In the end it might be easiest to just clamp each corner one at a time with a couple little clamps. Get some cheap one and file a V-groove in each foot so it clamps well on the round.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 10:48:43 EDT

Non-ferrous Melting points: John, these can be found in any encylopedia. I used Machinery's Handbook because they are all on one page.

Silver Ag 1761°F (961°C)
Gold Au 1945°F (1063°C)
Copper Cu 1981°F (1083°C)

Now. . Gold is very soft and is almost always alloyed with silver and or copper. The result is a different melting point for each alloy. You will probably need a jewelers reference for those specific temperatures.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 10:57:31 EDT

tenons: in my limited experience, the key is to start with a sharp shoulder. this (for me anyway) is easiest with a butcher, preferably a top and bottom tool. i have seen tal harris do it with a cut off hardy by carefully rotating the stock around, less than the desired tenon width. this creates a sharp shoulder. a spring swage with various holes and a hardy shank should finnish it up, ideal if you are working alone. take a good orange yellow heat on the end and place the appropriate size monkey tool; you dont need to hold the stock in a vise. you can hold the stock over the anvil and rapid light blows will finnish it nice. the monkey tool that i have has a slight countersink, which should minimize the chance for the tenon to fracture. the monkey tool cleans up the shoulder and upsets the end a bit; it is not intended to bring the tenon to the desired width. light blows with the monkey tool. i did some tenons this w/e and used the magician. this is a perfect operation for the fly press, but of course, i havent made the tooling yet; a combo buthcher and three size holes is what i am thinking...soon
   - rugg - Tuesday, 05/03/05 11:05:24 EDT

Jim Try Kant-Twist clamps http://www.newmantools.com/clamps/kanttwist.htm
they are the best clamps I have ever used.

another sugestion is PLay Dough it will take quite a bit of indrect heat, harden in place and wash off with watter
   habu - Tuesday, 05/03/05 11:15:40 EDT

Tenon in 3/8" stock: Tom, I machine these on a lathe.

For swages see our iForge demo. Note that making them 100% round is for finish dressing only. To forge them the swage needs to be shaped like your eye. This lets excess material push out without creating flash and cold shuts. Rotating the work in the tool it eventualy becomes round and corectly sized.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 11:16:11 EDT

In making a crosscut saw, would it be better to temper the top softer than the teeth or temper it evenly? What are some good types of steel to use?
   - Trapper - Tuesday, 05/03/05 11:49:35 EDT

Anvils in Primitive Places, PNG: Daryl, We have numerous anvil plans here. See our anvil series and iForge demo on tools from RR-rail. However, most fabricated anvils would not be made in primitive places. Among other things, when you start doing that much arc welding you can easily end up spending enough on fuel to buy the real thing. Access to oxy-actylene also means more cost. It also means that no matter how primitive the place there is probably a ship or rail yard with some heavy scrap that torch would be better applied to.

The MOST important thing about anvils is that the mass be compact. Making them from long bar and plate is a lot of wasted effort and expense. I-beam doesn't work well and RR-rail though fairly heavy is very springy and the mass is not compact enough for efficient work.

The most common anvil in primitive places in our modern world is a heavy sledge hammer head. They are common up to 15 pounds (7kg) but are also made up to 25 pounds (11kg). They are a compact mass and hardened steel. They are a MUCH better anvil than was available in most places for milliena. Sledge hammer "anvils" are currently in use in many poor places of Packistan, India and Southeast Asia. Many export knives are forged on these.

In the places these are used they normally work setting on the ground. The sledge is set face up into a burried stump. For rigidity the sledge is set about half way into the stump. If you are going to work standing then the stump is not burried. However, a partialy burried stump is more secure and steadies a small anvil.

Horns are over rated and were not part of anvils for most of history. In the middle ages when decorative work became popular the bickern or stake anvil was invented and used as an "accessory" anvil. These were in common use as a second anvil well into the 19th century. It is possible to fabricate one from RR-rail, shafting or even a worn out pick ax. This would be set on/in a seperate stump. Since they are used primarily for bending and light forging of corners the stump can be most of the mass.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 11:59:02 EDT

A cheating method is to drill a hole in the edn of the piece and drop in a capscrew and fill the rest of the hole with a weld bead---not my method; but one I have seen done by a fabricator.

Jim if you are going to be doing a lot of this stuff you may want to build a set of clamps for each letter you use a lot.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:01:28 EDT

Y'know, I could just about swear I've read in several photo references that tripod sockets were 1/4" - 24, but never actually checked. . . I mentioned this last night to a friend who built a number of fixtures for his photo business, and he said 1/4 - 20 worked just fine. . . Loose tolerances on the screws, or was there a typo in some reference and it propagated? Or is my memory FUBAR? Now where did I put my thread pitch guages. . .
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:09:29 EDT

Smithing in Primitive Places, PNG: If doing serious work making parts, doing repairs a vice is used as much or more than the anvil. Bending, twisting, upsetting, chisling, filing and sawing is all done in the vise. Leg vices are the best, followed by bench and wagon vises of the same style. A cast bench vice will do but must be treated with care as they are not designed for heavy pounding.

For blacksmithing the biggest flaw of machinist or bench vices is the teeth on the jaws. They imprint in hot work and mar cold work. I do not like teeth on ANY vice. I am lucky in that the teeth are worn off of all my old vices but I would have to grind the teeth off a new vice. .

Anvils can be make do, forges are easy to create but a good vice is as difficult to make as it is indespensible.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:11:11 EDT

John, tripod mounts have been the coarse thread from as long as I can remember and on all the cameras new and antique as well. Even the all metric made cameras have that 1/2-20 thread and probably always will.

Did you know that standard spark plug threads were 14mm from the beginning of time?
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:14:56 EDT

Ok another stupid question-er ok not a stupid question.
I see somany things around that look like they are made from iron. I have tried to lcate some actual iron that is suitable for forge work , i,e that will not shatter when you hit it with a hammer.
I have purchased several samples from various vendors and have found that everything I get seems to shatter when I hit it with a hammer. Is there any iron that anyone recommends that I could use to "play" with that won't shatter? I thought possibly that I was overheating the iron when I tried to work it so I tried several diff heating temps and everything I have found shatters.

Help please for vendor locations of good iron to use for forging.


ed Green
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:25:42 EDT

Why Radians, 2PI and PC math : 3.1415926535897932384626433832795

I am not going to look up the details but it has more to do with higher math than just trignometry. PI is used to calculate sines and cosines but most important to do inverse calculations (derive the angle). It is also used to calculate other constants such as "e" for logarithms. It is also a constant in probability calculations.

PI is also used to directly calculate the square root of two rather than using iteration.

PI is built in to all modern PC chips but as pointed out there is no PI button on the keyboard. However, in Windows you will find it on the scientific version of the calculator to 32 places. Spread sheets have always had an @PI function. An assembler call to the math chip set can return PI. Sadly most programming languages do not have it available so it must be calculated or a constant used.

I use old TI-30 solar calculators made before the clam shell cover. They had PI as a top function where it SHOULD be on all calcuators. By some idiotic design decision they made it a second function on new models (in the 1980's). I went out and bought all the old style calculators I could find and still have one in the original shrink wrap. Hopefully these will last me the rest of my life. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:36:15 EDT

Letter Clamp: Jim, You might want to try a small plate of Aluminum (maybe something like 1/4" by 3 or 4" wide) long enough to mount a DeStaco or similar toggle clamp on. Take a bolt which will fit inside the slotted clamp arm and weld a short piece of stock to it to create a T shape. Using two nuts set the height of the cross bar so that it will just clamp your 3/16 stock to the aluminum surface. Set your letters up under the clamping bar with a corner ecposed for welding and tack it together. You could also use two clamps as long as the bars clear each other. If you don't tighten the upper nut fully you can easily rotate the clamping bar and it will stay in place once the clamp is set. I have several toggle clamps set up with a 5/16 nut welded at the end of the arm and a mounting base that fits my t slot welding table for this kind of quick fixturing.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 05/03/05 12:51:56 EDT

Ed Green: You should be able to go to any steel supplier which sells retail and obtain mild steel in either 1018/1020 or A36. Some limit choice on hot rolled vs cold rolled. I don't know what you are obtaining which would shatter on you in the manner described outside of cast iron.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 14:49:08 EDT

Iron: Ed, Your problem is your terminology.

Iron = Element 26, Fe : Pure iron is very ductile.

Iron (common) is usualy cast iron which has too much carbon to be forgable.

Wrought Iron, the material is elemental iron with slag inclusions. Very ductile, no longer made commercialy,

Wrought Iron, the decorative product made of materials including aluminium, brass, cast iron, steel, wrought iron.

Mild Steel, replacement for ductile wrought iron has less than 25 points carbon. SAE 1018-20 (18 to 20 point carbon) was the standard for many years.

Structural Steel, ASTM A-36 has a range of chemistries and is often substituted for Mild Steel. IF is forgable but will often harden to the brittle point when quenched.

Today if you ask for "iron" you will most likely be sold cast iron bar which is either continous cast or sawed from a billet. In either case it is brittle as glass and cannot be forged at any temperature. What you want is "mild steel" or structural steel (A-36). This is what is used for decorative "wrought iron" work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:00:32 EDT

Math Ignorance: Most people are not very math literate. Three examples.

Television news reporter on advanced math in elementary schools. . sees PI carried out to several hundred places on the wall above the blackboards. Reports that children "learn what a BIG number PI is" . . . To this guy numbers between 3 and 4 probably ARE large numbers. . .

Thirteen year veteran US shipyard welder making bracket produces part less than 1/2 the size it is supposed to be. Drawing clearly marked in INCHES. . . he uses the wrong side of his metric/English tape measure. . . uses cm's instead of inches. Still does not know the difference.

Middle aged lady in Spanish class, does not understand why the root "cuatro" (four) in Spanish and Latin is related to the word "quarter" (cuarto) or why a US 25 cent piece is called a quarter and quarter past the hour is 1/4 of the whole in both cases, much less that a quart is 1/4 gallon and the word comes from that same Latin root. . .

Blacksmiths and Craftspeople need to have better than average math skills. We do not need to be able to do calculus or probability studies, but we DO need to understand basic math (what they used to call an 8th grade education). Simple geometry for making a square corner (3-4-5, or 5-12-13 triangles), understanding volumetric relationships (cone equals 1/3 of cylinder, pyramid equals 1/3 of rectangular), calculating weights, having a feel or knowing the metric to English unit conversions. The ability to dig out Machinery's Handbook and use its math in our work. These are all simple tasks we need to be able to handle and are part of the job.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:07:00 EDT

mm. ok thank guru. Here is another question for the all knowing....
I have searched high and low to no avail- where can I find a good cutlers hammer to purchase?? At a REASONable price. I have seen them somewhere before buit they are $100.00 and up for something looks like a big hunk of steel on the end of a stick(and not faced at all). If i pay that much fior a tool it better ba a least faced somewhat.
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:13:09 EDT

also thanks Ken forgot that. (you and I have talked before on Ebay ALOT GREEN27712 -rem??)
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:14:08 EDT

Knowing the jargon: When you go into a new area be it blacksmithing or flower aranging one of the first things you have to do is to learn how the participans use the language to convey information. This may be through words specific to the craft or through specific usages of words that may be commonly used differently by folks outside of the craft. Example "hardy or hardie" a word specific to the craft "a 20 point steel" words with specific meaning in smithing that are all commonly used differently by "outsiders"

Smithing makes it a bit more difficult since there are many archaic usages that we still cling too---like cwt weight system, "wrought iron" used as both a material and a class of items, etc. (I had to gently break it to an armourer once that he couldn't buy wrought iron from the wrought iron fence company down the road...and was bowled over by running across a martial arts smith who *did* find a source of wrought iron down the road---drops from a company that recycled old WI fences into furniture!)

This makes it quite hard to understand what we actually mean at times---So if you are not sure---PLEASE ASK! You many notice that we will ask for details if we are not sure what you are talking about.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:30:17 EDT

Hammers: Today the best bargain in hammers is the German hammers sold by the Kaynes (Blacksmiths Depot). They have a square face which is rough dressed. But the price has compensated for the lack of dressing. These and the Swedish hammers can be dressed as you wish. Bladesmiths like a straight edged hammer with a "rocker" face. This allows you to forge an edge outward rather than lengthwise. Some blacksmiths like this shape as well. I prefer a round face with a crown in all directions as it marks the work less.

Don't know how to dress the face or have the tools (belt grinder)? Then you pay the for the high dollar hammers. .

If you haven't done much forging, start with a small hammer (2 pounds or so) and work up. Control is more important than power when you start out. By the time you have developed control you may be ready for a heavier hammer.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/03/05 15:56:42 EDT

Vises-- Beware the ubiquitous made-in-China rotating-swiveling machinist vise. It's handy as the dickens, mainly as a welding clamp. But it cannot take much stress. Two main weak spots are: 1) the doughnut at the aft end with the prong that makes the jaws tighten up. This is a critical part, but a weak, delicate, unfixable (unless you want to make a new one) casting instead of the stout forging it ought to be. And, 2) the weld securing the forward jaw will easily separate. And 3) The table or anvil is just a block cotter-pinned to 4)an extremely thin cast barrel and 4) the fixing bolts are cast iron. Don't tighten anything on these vises too hard! The vises look terrific (Bondo and enamel do wonders)and would cost probably close to $1,000 if U.S.-made, can be found for less than $30 in many venues. You get what you pay for. They are okay only with gentle use.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/03/05 16:09:35 EDT

Okay so I can't count too good today. It's five main flaws, not four.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/03/05 16:12:06 EDT

I know its off topic but major appologies for last night's performance, I'm now on 47 hrs without sleep (and its really not fun) I'm not normally a pillock honest, and have regained a little lucidity so again my apologies. I hope Paw Paw reads this.
   - Tinker - Tuesday, 05/03/05 16:14:17 EDT


Not to worry, mate. Been there myself and understand.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 05/03/05 16:41:29 EDT

Don't knpw if either of those places carries a dog headed cutler's hammer---a lot like a saw tuner's hammer or the japanese cutler's hammer.

Only place I remember selling them was hand forging them and priced them accordingly. I would suggest that if you are good enough to need one you are good enough to make one...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/03/05 16:48:07 EDT


Eastwood Company sells (or at least used to sell) a putty for making heat dams when welding sheet metal that looked it might work for you. Of course, it might be just Habu's play dough with a higher price tag.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 05/03/05 17:04:29 EDT

Ed Green: Make sure your supplier isn't selling you ductile iron (also called gray iron). It is basically cast iron with magnesium (I think) added during the casting process to make it more workable than cast iron. For example, most of the cast plumbing connectors you buy today are ductile iron. They are a bit malable and when drilled produce small curls. However, they are not forgable.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/03/05 17:07:19 EDT

Hey guys, I have a 100lb Vulcan anvil that yall so graciously gave me more history on recently. It has some hammer marks in the face and I had asked about grinding it down to get it smooth again. It was suggested that I fill in the marks with a hardfacing rod and grind smooth. Is this the best way to go or should I just find a machine shop and smooth out the face.


Byron Witty
Beginner knifemaker
   Byron - Tuesday, 05/03/05 17:12:29 EDT

DAVE BOYER..thanks, Vic.
What side of the anvil is best to work from...with the horn on my left or right ?

   Vic - Tuesday, 05/03/05 17:42:59 EDT

Anvil repair questions, go to the FAQ`s page and read about it.
   - Robert IW - Tuesday, 05/03/05 18:04:17 EDT

Vic, the answer is *yes* except for when you turn the anvil over to work on the base or side...

The *best* side is the one that works *best* for what you are doing. The anvil police will not come and confiscate your anvil if you work on one side of the other and you may want to switch it around if you have a project that uses the horn or heel to a much greater degree. In general you want to work over the middle of the anvil so you have the most mass under your hammer---but special cases apply.

Wait a minute!!!! The anvil police will show up and confiscate that anvil! And I hereby deputize Paw Paw as Anvil Police east of the Mississippi; I of course handle east of the rockies and west of the Mississippi---got an opening for West of the Rockies folks...what am I bid? All proceeds go to CSI of course...

Thomas APW
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/03/05 18:18:44 EDT


I'll echo what "Thomas The Orange" says. I keep my anvil accessible from all sides so I can freely move around it, depending on what I'm doing. If you have limited space,and that's not an option, try it both ways, horn left and right, and see what's more comfortable for you based on what you tend to do. It's really just a matter of what works for you.

   eander4 - Tuesday, 05/03/05 19:13:31 EDT

Geez, for a bunch of would-be inventors and genii you guys can't see the obvious. Mount your anvil on a lazy suzan and whirl it around any old way you want it, no walking involved. This could be your chance to get in on the ground floor of a whole new business making rotating anvil stands. The possibilities are endless...hydraulic raise/lower for those who can't decide on the right height or who want to share with a vertically challenged friend. Six-way power forging seats, electric forge doors, flux dispensers...there is LOTS of room for innovation/modernization! (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/03/05 22:40:46 EDT

KNOWERS OF ALL THINGS KNOWABLE, please enlighten this poor schmuck! I acquired a couple of empty nitrogen bottles at a garage sale. I'd like to cut the bottoms off to use as dishing anvils and use the remainder of the bottles to make bells. I saw one made like that years ago, and it fascinated me. What is the optimal length for a good-sounding tone? I only want to cut them once, if possible. I read the FAQ on bells, gongs and triangles, but found no specified length for a starting point. Does it matter? I'd just like a nice, low sound. Also, I'm not worried about tuning them to each other. Appreciate whatever help you can give me.
P.S. Is there any way to log on as a CSI member without using the dropdown menu? Thanks!
   Koomori - Tuesday, 05/03/05 23:01:15 EDT


Tlry setting your bookmark to:


That should bring up the log-in window first, which I keep automatically filled and just hit the enter key to get the Guru's Den screen open.

It works for me anyway, using Internet Exploder in WinXP.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/03/05 23:12:21 EDT

It worked! Thank you very much! I'll bookmark it right away.
   Koomori - Tuesday, 05/03/05 23:41:57 EDT

Tom H -- Yes that is the coarse 3/8
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/04/05 00:00:13 EDT

Spark plug threads: Somebody forgot to tell Henry Ford & a few others about 14mm sparkplugs, or more likley Ford was too stubborn to go along with it. Modle "T"- 1/2 NTP Modle "A" 7/8[I forget what pitch]
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/04/05 00:45:59 EDT

All the time in the world isn't long enough to learn how to spell.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/04/05 01:31:18 EDT

Daryl Brenton:

If you have access to vehicle leaf spring, you may other parts as well. Coil spring makes dandy punches and chisels. My favorite chisel for fine work is a former front wheel tie rod off of an old Vega. I believe it is the torsion bar which can be made into larger tooling.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/04/05 06:33:41 EDT

Thomas, that "martial arts smith" that found the wrought iron you spoke of was me.
It is true that I was able to find it but the supply they had has now run out on me. Hence the reason I am looking around to find it commerically. But since I can;t find it I think I am just going to go on and use 0-1 tool steel for my wares. While it can be a bit difficult to work at times especially when using it for smaller items like I do I find that it is very tough and easier to heat treat (at least as well as my eyes can tell). the one thing that I have a problem with it is that my quench coating of black oil doesn't see to stick very well to it for any length of time and guilders paste doesn't work worth squat. I am trying to avoid black oxide as these will be handled quite often and most of my folks don't like the smut that comes from it. any ideas??

Paw Paw, I am looking for the Japanese style cutlers hammer. And while I can make one I simply do not have the time. I am so busy with my work right now I can't even find the time to put a roof over one of my work areas. That is the reason I am looking to buy one instead of taking the time out to make one. If I can;t find one I suppose I will have to make one. Just though tI would ask to see if anyone knew where I might be able readily find one.

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:14:12 EDT

and one more thing, all this talk about spelling punctuation etc. let it go man!! While being able to write properly is an important skill to have when attempting to convey thought one must keep in mind that we are all working on computers to write. Sometimes typos occur for other reasons than a lack of knowing. I get typos alot because my fingers get ahead of my brain or my wireless keyboard will have a brain fart every once in a while and cause them.
Not all of us are mechanical engineers with a penchant for perfection. If we are blacksmiths what we do is create art and art is never perfect except in the eye of the beholder. I am a systems engineer by career and a blacksmith by night. Therefore I actually HATE computers and find that threatening them with replacement most times fixes these typo problems - hehehehe. So relax, apparently someone knows what these people mean(including myself) so they must be able to convey thought in a meaningful manner- that is the goal is it not??
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:23:25 EDT

komoori, as a former musician percussionist look at making bells in this way. Have you ever seen a church chime set??
Large thing used in orchestral settings they are about 3-5 feet long and about 6 feet high and have many different sized steel tubes hanging down that are struck with a mallet.
Unless you are looking for specific tone the rule is : The larger the area of volume inside the tube, the lower the tone. You can have a long skinny tube but still get a high pitch when it is struck. the idea is to increase the volume of air inside the tube so that the vibration waves are larger. When those vibration waves get smaller the note is higer in pitch.
As an example a good meditative tone is a low c or g. You often will hear these going off in shinto temples in Japan.
In your case you are limited by the size of the bottles so if they are short bottles I would imagine that cutting them off at the bottom seam would generate the tone of middle E or F#. If they are large then you will probably get a much lower tone into the next lower octave of the scale.
just a little music theory to go with...
Oh yeah and material composition will also make a difference in the tone as well and how it carries.

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:35:20 EDT


I think Dave is lambasting himself more than anyone else. It's just his way of acknowledging his own typos. As for punctuation, I agree it's not a major deal. That said, it still cheeses me when someone types a question as a random stream of consciousness, completely non-punctuated, non-capitalized turd littering the information highway.

   eander4 - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:41:29 EDT

Ed Green,

For a nice black finish on steel items that are handled a lot, I use cold gun bluing and coat over it with Birchwood-Casey SatinShield™. Doesn't rub off and resists rust fairly well.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:55:07 EDT

Members of our group made a set of gongs out of I-beam chunks hung from a curved structure. they made it a full octave, with full and half-steps (black and white keys)like a piano. Basically, they experimented. Once they got the middle C, they were able to figure the notes above and below it by tuning fork. Then they took the math and continued on, since it is a roughly linear progression.

I suspect that is what you will have to do with the bell, make one, then experiment with sizing.
   Escher - Wednesday, 05/04/05 09:57:00 EDT

I've always wondered where in the wave would be best to cut a tubular bell? I've assumed that cutting it at a node would send out less sound. Would cutting it at the peak of a standing wave be best?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/04/05 10:13:44 EDT

Spelling and Typing: Spelling is difficult for many of us and I have a collection of words that I repeatedly spell incorrectly and I am afraid a few credit me with "creative spelling". However, English spelling was not standardized until the 1828 edition of the Noah Webster dictionary and many of the rules are arbitrary and were made up by the Encylopedists who were trying to standardize the language. Prior to then even the best writers used much more creative spelling than I do. Double f's and double t's were used everywhere because they looked pretty in long hand script. . .

From http://www.historyhouse.com/in_history/webster/
"Even the sacred writings are interpreted, but most people will just grab whatever Dictionary they have on their shelf, regardless of age, publisher or edition and treat it like the literal word of God."
AND despite the above quote, Webster's primary reference was the King James edition of the Bible.

That said, generaly speaking one's spelling or lack of often indicates one's level of education.

On the other hand, the basic English rules of capitalization and most punctuation are simple. *I* and pronouns are always capitalized. Capitalize the first letter of a sentence and end it with a period or what ever mark reflects the character of the sentence. Spanish speakers can't figure out how we know a question when it doesn't start with a question mark. . . (Do you know how we do it?). Run-on posts without paragraph breaks also make it hard for others to read and sometimes I just plain do not want to answer that which is made difficult to read by such lazieness.

Typo's are a different thing but I would NEVER EVER say bad things about computers in this regard. EVERYTHING is fixable on the computer screen until you hit POST or PRINT. Try digging out a good old fashioned TYPEWRITER. Hit a key and the letter is indelibly set in ink. Even if you use white-out or erasure tape the evidence of that first mistroke is forever recorded in the compression of the paper. The mechanical typewriter was probably one of the most demanding tools invented by mankind. It created perfectly spaced easily read characters but required PERFECT spelling, punctuation and page formatting. It was a cruel master that taught perfection with hard raps across the knuckles and imperfect work tossed in the trash.

Even after you press post, print or send you often have a chance to make corrections in the digital age. Articles on anvilfire are constantly being updated as I find typos or my mispellings. Unlike the printed word in web publishing you always have a second, third, fourth. . . chance to fix your errors.

When I archive these pages the new page starts with the first post of the week. It is the first thing thousands of people see for a week and with the hundreds of subsequent openings of the archive. I capitalize the leading words and the I's sprinkled through those posts.

I fix MANY of my errors and will fix those of my helpers when asked. However, the general public is on their own. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 10:26:10 EDT

Well, thomas, if I understand you correctly you are speaking of using an oscilloscope to view where to cut.
There are mathematical equations that are used to determine where to cut a piece based on it's volume- but I can't remember them. A couple of years ago I got the Native American Flute bug and thought I would try my hand at making flutes too. Once I got into looking at the math involved with it that kind of went on the back burner. I find it very interesting as a martial artist that studies an art that is so closely associated with nature that science always seems to take over and screw up the most beautiful things by trying to make things exact so any idiot can do it. By using Math in the making foi flutes sure you can produce an instrument that will produce perfect pitch everytime no matter how it is played, but that is not the premise behind the NA flute. The pitch was never meant to be perfect.
Vic, I have used the cold bluing . it is the same thing as cold black oxide. I am trying to shy away from the chemicalk treatments as they tend to leave behind smut that rubs off and DOESN't come off very easily even after sealing it. thanks anyway. I really like the look of the carbonized black oil it gives each of my pieces the antique hammered look when it's done. I have tried everything from sealing it with beewax too to no avail. guess I will have to live with the limitation of what it is that I produce.

Thanks all
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 10:51:33 EDT

Length of tubular gongs: They are cut at the length that creates the correct note. . . The note is determined by length and mass.

Somewhere in my now dead old 486-66 PC I had formulas and a program in basic that would calculate a simple vibrator's note. . . The formula is not perfect and I had tweeked it until it gave the same results as a handful of tuning forks. I had planned on carefully measuring and weighing all the bars from a Glockenspiel I have and comparing them to the theoretical results. But I got out of the musical research business. .

The bars in the Glockenspiel (metal zylaphone) are tuned by drilling holes in the bottom to correct their mass to withing a gram or two. IF you remove too much mass, which lowers the note, you can then shorten the bar to raise the note. Simple trial and error tuning.

The most important thing about simple vibrators is how they are supported. On the Glockenspiel or zylaphone the supports are at 1/4 of the length. If you look, some makers of gongs are supporting them at the top node 1/4 of the length down.

HOW. . the above applies only to simple gongs with two open ends. As soon as a gong has a closed end it becomes a true bell and the rules become much more complicated.

MUSICAL NOTES: Tuning and notes are an arbitrary decision and based on your culture. Oriental and Middle Eastern music sounds different than ours because they use a different standard. SO. . how you tune your gongs is up to your tastes in music. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:03:12 EDT

Ed Green
You can order one of those Japanese style hammers from Bill Fiorino at Koka Metals
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:08:02 EDT

Correction: The calculations I spoke of work perfectly. Where they need correction is on tuning forks. These act as simple vibrators but the joint has a small but significant effect. SOME of the joint is part of the mass but not all and it varies with the shape of the section. My correction factors were so that the formulas could be used to design a tuning fork and not need to hand tune it. The goal to generate a table of dimensions for several octaves of tuning fork.

The mass corrections on Glockenspiel bars is most likely to compensate for minor errors due tolerances and radiusing and polishing the bars.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:23:06 EDT

Flutes: Are much more complicated as we are dealing with air columns of varying densities, turblance and the parabolic nature of best fit air columns. A lot has been written about the subject. If you can read French look for Instuments a Vent, Tome 1, Tome 2 by H. Bouasse and M. Fouche', Librairie Scientifique et Technique, Paris, 1986.

They are rare books but are the last word on wind instruments. Include many charts, graphs ilustrations and mathamatics.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:30:28 EDT

Chris that information would get me no where. Any contact info?? I did a search on the Net and returned 50 pages of junk not relating to him at all.
In any case, I may be getting one from Frank Turley.


   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:34:52 EDT

Cathy:English Wheel,,
Automotive Tools and Supplies catalog.
Eastwood has Instuctional videos, parts, kits. page 44 of their catalog.
Tell them you heard it here on anvilfire and that they should Advertise here.
   DanD skabvenger - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:39:11 EDT

Guru- I am not sure why but I don't see how you can compare a Native American flute to one that is made for say classical orchestral use. The NA flute, like asian music has a sound and feel all unto itself. I am sure that the person who wrote Instruments a Vent never played one. Once again the idea that science has taken over and made the refinements to it using mathematics to obtain perfect pitch from flute to flute was so that dumb white men could play it(no racial slur intended here).
Think... did Native Americans subscribe to the white man's culture?? Nope, not until they were forced(and many still do not which is good -I think). Therefore the idea that they came up with this instrument all on their own without intervention of science and mathematics is simply astounding.
My point, and I know I am getting off subject of blacksmithing, is that music is a conversation and expression of feeling. While on the flip side science and math is cold and hard fact- no room for error, very exacting. The first instruments were not "exactly" produced. And IMHO "exactly" produced and mass produced instruments aren't necessarily better. Ye God where did all that come from???
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:45:33 EDT

No Ed I was just going to use a finger to detect the node/peak in a general way. I don't have the tooling to make a lot of slices and so wanted to get in the neighborhood to start with.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:49:08 EDT

Thomas, I could only say- start at the bottom and work your way up -so to speak. :-)
Here is a place that might help you-

It's a length calc for windchimes but might help. It's a kewl little thing.
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:54:29 EDT

or more on topic and to the point here:

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:56:56 EDT

Custom Hammers: Bill Fiorni had gotten out of the hammer business the last time I spoke to him. However, if you check our last SOFA Quad-State NEWS we have the address of a fellow making Japanese hammers. For Bill Fiorni's drawings and dimensions see RepousseTools.com.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 11:57:03 EDT

Nodes Thomas, As soon as you cut part off you hvae changed the length and mass the nodes will change. The only thing you can do by feel is to detect a null node for the best support position.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 12:02:25 EDT

Drilling Hard Steel: Al "Teach" Pratt your e-mail keeps bouncing. Here is my response.

Hard steel can be drilled but it is a difficult task.

1) You must use solid carbide drills. Note that these require a diamond wheel to resharpen and are very expensive.

2) Drilling is done at relatively high speed rather than low. I would try standard speeds for mild steel and work up.

3) The highest pressure that the drill bit can withstand must be used. Any rubbing without making chips will cause enough heat to melt the carbide bit and embed parts of it in the surface.

The pressure and rigidity require a good drill press. The shortest drill bits you can get (or use) are best. The shorter the bit the more pressure that can be applied. DO NOT chuck on the flutes. the work must be securly clamped.

There is a bit of trial and error in this. However, safe crackers use this method to drill the special armour plates used to protect the locks in safes. Machinists also use it for drilling out broken bits.

Other than the speed rule the same applies for drilling using cobalt alloy HSS drill bits. Short, lots of pressure.

You will find that the costs involved will make it much more attractive to rethink your process and do the drilling in annealed steel.

Another alternative is to have a shop EDM the holes for you. Electrical Discharge Machining can make precision holes in ANY metal no matter how hard. It also does not apply heavy loads to the part or any heat. In special applications you can build your own EDM machine. The most important feature is the very (imperceptably) slow downfeed. The electronics are fairly simple but this is not a project I have looked into.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 12:09:42 EDT

Ed, That's a nifty calculator. Especially written in Javascript. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 12:10:53 EDT

I have a couple of scrapped tanks that will be cut into a bell, a couple of gas forge shells and a dishing form---I'll save the cuttings to add into billets and use the noise to drive off the sparrows trying to next in my shop's eves.

I was originally going to have Patrick do the cutting with a dull hacksaw; but then realized that he was studying "energetic materials" at Tech and might be tempted to speed things up...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/04/05 12:19:05 EDT

Japannese Hammers: I was wrong, Bill is still selling a few Japanese hammers. Click link.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 12:31:09 EDT

Talk about service!!! I ordered 1/4 taps, drill bits and taping fluid from Hagemeyer about 8AM yesterday morning. They were here this morning before noon via UPS.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/04/05 13:28:50 EDT

Check with my friend Ric Furrer of door county forgeworks.com as a source of Japanese cutlers' hammers.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 05/04/05 13:30:06 EDT

Yup, I’m a newbee, just bought a used Johnson Forge 133B 400,000 btu nat gas and wondered how much trouble it will be to convert to LP gas, I’ve emailed B.Brown of the Johnson Co. and asked the same question and also hope to find an operators manual. In viewing the archives of this site I hoped to find an answer but I was easily distracted by the overwhelming amount of interesting info, is there any way I can learn it all in a couple of hours? I also looked at some of the home made power hammers other folks have made…….WOW. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Mr. Guru…..LDuck
   Lawrence Duckworth - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:04:52 EDT

Cansomeone please tell me why people that sell tools such as these do not have any way to buy them online??
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:07:31 EDT

honestly I think I like ric's better than Bills. Bills look like regular hammers that have had the angle of the eye offset. But I could be wrong.
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:20:45 EDT

of course from what I see Bill's mainly into making knives and not hammers so that may have an influence.
   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:24:06 EDT

Ken, Paw Paw and all: Thanks for the info on the Trentons. From what info you provided, and others this does indeed appear to ba a H. Boker Trenton. Are these relatively rare anvils? Is it more of a collectors anvil, or should i just go ahead and use it? It really is in great shape. You stated it would predate the earliest Columbus Trenton by ten years or so? When would this be, 1900? 1890? Thanks for your help.
   - RC - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:39:32 EDT

Lawrence; this is a blown forge; right? You should just need to change out the orifices for LP ones and throttle the air accordingly.

Can you learn it all in a couple of hours? No but a short smithing course can really speed things up!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/04/05 14:57:28 EDT

Ed, Bill Fiorni used to make a complete line of silversmiths and repousse' hammers as well. I think the hammers he has for sale are made by someone else as his were nicer. However, the functionality is what you are looking for and the looks should be secondary. Bill studied Japanese bladesmithing as an adopted member of a Japanese bladesmithing family (one of those Japanese National Treasures). He probably knows more about their tools and methods than any Westerner alive.

Selling on-line means giving a significant percentage of your price to the Credit Card companies or Paypal. Unless you do a lot of on-line business it is a pain in the neck and also costs you in administration time. Send a check by mail and you can usualy get a turn around in a week.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/04/05 15:25:09 EDT

Thanks, Thomas I'll give it a try.
   Lawrence Duckworth - Wednesday, 05/04/05 15:46:43 EDT

I was never good in English class but I have found that the word processor is a wonderful tool to keep spelling and grammar in check. Just type what you want to, press a button and all your mistakes will be found, err most of your mistakes. The computer cannot help you if you do not know the difference between for example, to, too or two. Only you can pick the correct one. You then copy the corrected text and paste it into the text box you enter your post into.
   - Wayne Parris - Wednesday, 05/04/05 16:06:58 EDT

RC: According to Anvils in America the early days of the Columbus Forge's Trenton are murky. Postman said no one he talked to who had any connection with the company knew why they used Trenton. However, he knew H. Boker imported anvils and was associated with a foundry in Trenton, NJ, then be became a broker for Columbus Forge and Iron and they started using the name of Trenton instead of Buel or Indian Chief. Thus, logic is the name transferred essentially from Boker to Columbus Forge.

The earliest date for a serial numbered Trenton is 1898. Some may have been made before they started putting them on. It is now known when the first Boker Trenton was imported. I think you would be fairly safe in using cicra 1880-1898 for the anvil. (And there are anvils around stamped H. Boker.)

On rarity, they show up on eBay from time to time so I would not consider it a museum piece. Go ahead and use it.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/04/05 16:38:34 EDT

Does anybody have the recipe for that interior metal finish that has beeswax, linseed oil and other stuff? I've forgotten the ingredients and porportions. I mixed up gallon of it years ago put it in pint containers and to my horror I discovered today I've used up the last of it. It's a bit of a rush guys; I'd like this job to go out by Sat. thanks ahead of time
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 05/04/05 18:27:42 EDT

Ken Scarabok, Now you know why I like Hagenmeyer. I buy nearly everything i need for the shop that is of new manufacture. As they sell "soup to nuts" I can get about anything. I particularlly like the Tuff-coat sray paint in "max flat black" It is actually a satin black and covers well and holds up pretty well. Ask Mike and he will know the line of paint I am talking about. I also get my safety stuff their. Remember to remind them to advertise on anvilfire.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/04/05 18:31:37 EDT

ptree: I didn't hit them up on advertising, but did emphasize the referral from anvilfire forum several times.

My father once told me a coat of paint can hide a multude of sins and a welder friend once said an angle iron and a can of paint are a welder's best friends. I stray paint my tools with flat black Wal-Mart $.97 can flat black. Does a decent job for presentation/first impression purposes.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:00:00 EDT

New vs. Used anvil:

What criteria do folks use to determine whether to buy a used anvil, or a new one? I have the Nimba Centurian in mind because I like the pattern. If I buy used, I could probably save around ~$400.

Considering the anvil is probably a purchase that will outlast my lifetime, the new one seems like a better deal. I get the pattern and size I want, it's a known quantity(no mystery repairs), and the cost is amortized over many decades. However, I have anvil lust and can't think clearly, and would appreciate some experienced guidance.

   - Tom T - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:04:00 EDT

Ken Scharabok:"thankyou for the hammer its very nice!!!"
   will - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:28:20 EDT

Tom; if you can afford it and will use it go for it---especially as the brand may not be around long!

Me I'm cheap, I'll put off spending the money till it's too late and then stand around crying in my beer

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:33:49 EDT

Ductile VS Gray Iron: Ductile iron is indeed treated with magnesium but it is not an alloy element. Gray iron is poured over metallic magnesium, causing it to ingite. The resulting flare causes a churning action in the iron and the gray iron becomes somewhat frothy. As it cools, the graphite precipitates in the fine bubbles and when the iron is solidified, the graphite is nodular. Graphite in gray iron is in flakes. The nodularity is what makes the iron more ductile. It will also ring like steel since the nodules do not attenuate the sound waves like the flakes. It is not forgable. The iron must be poured into the mold within about 20 minutes of innoculation with mangnesium. After that and you are pouring expensive gray iron.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:54:53 EDT


Here you go.

1 cup Johnson's Paste Wax
1 Cup Turpentine
1 Cup boiled Linseed oil
1 cup shaved beeswax
2 Tablespoons Japan Dryer (Art Supply Store)

Melt ingredients together
Mix throroughly
Apply to WARM (not hot!) iron
Wipe excess off with soft rag
Allow to dry
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/04/05 19:58:42 EDT

we once had a supplier pour ductile that was too long in the pot. Poured handwheels for our valves, and mixed them in with the good ones. Looked identical. In the auto drill then auto push broach machine, the broachs tended to shatter, as well as the castings and throw parts about. Very bad for operator morale. Also tended to cost alot in tooling! Sorted by ringing the castings with a tiny ballpien, next to a ultrasonic transducer. Very easy to see the difference on an o-scope display. Sorted many, many thousands that way, as we had to have some good ones to keep production running while they made more.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/04/05 20:44:43 EDT

Ken Scharabok,
I use the $2.00 a can paint as i mostly do outdoor yard stuff, like trellises and arbors etc. My customers expect a bit better paint than on a tool for use.

I just got a new supply of the Norton NORZON type discs for my disc sander. As I have a standard norton aluminum oxide disc left as well, I will try a test to compare and do a review.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:00:31 EDT

Thanks PawPaw. The recipe was on the tip of my tongue I just couldn't retrieve it.
   brian robertson - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:06:01 EDT

Rust proofing compound.
I put some of the test rust prooffing compound that I recieved on some test samples of ground clean steel. I put one inside my very condensing shop, and one out in the weather. I coated half with WD-40 analog and the other with the WOCO compound. I checked the ouside one every time I go up to the shop. The WOCO side of the outside one hazed to a cream color in a week or so. The oiled side had rust pops in a week. The oiled side is now heavy with rust. The WOCO side still has a cream colored haze, that wipes off with fair ease. The steel under is clean and rust free! And we have had about 4" of rain in that time.
The inside part is dark, but neither side shows obvious rust. I will wipe it down this week end and report further. I also coated a 70# cast steel anvil, half and half. Inside exposure, the table has a bit of staining with rust on the oiled side. The WOCO side looks dark, but no rust.

Only down side so far is it will not spray with a spray bottle, too thick. I will also try a weld thru test this weekend. Looks good so far guys.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:09:27 EDT

Am fairly new at this. However, have access to a forge and anvil, and am interested particularly interested in knife making. So the question: What type of oil is used in the quench for hardening?

   - Brian - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:11:18 EDT


No problem, I've got a file of all kinds of things like that on a ZIP disc.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:15:57 EDT

Hi all, I recently picked up a Cinncinati camel back drill press and am now restoring it to it's former glory. I must have been in a flood at one point as some parts sans grease were rusted when they should not have been, such as the internal gearbox for the power feed. I am slowly getting all the parts to move again.There are a few broken and missing parts. .On the left side off the top there are what looks like the remains of two levers,I surmise that these were for the cluch mechanism which seems to be intact. Anyone with experience with this or similar machine? Thanks
   - Ron J. - Wednesday, 05/04/05 21:49:16 EDT

Guru and Ed: Thanks for your advice and the link to tuning bells. I'll go with the longest length I can, then see how it sounds.
   Koomori - Wednesday, 05/04/05 22:06:54 EDT

Brian, oils for quenching. Depends on what you can afford.
I like peanut oil but usually can not afford it in the amounts needed. Any veggie oil works fairly well.
Some folks use motor oil or ATF or some witches brew . I would suggest using NEW motor oil, but I do not like the nasties in motor oil to begin with.
See if there might be a local oil company that sells quenching oil. I used to have 5 gals of it but then I forgot to put the lid on and after a big rain most was gone...( sad face)
   Ralph - Wednesday, 05/04/05 22:16:56 EDT

Tom T-- I agree with Thomas. A friend has a Nimba, uses it professionally daily, loves it. My own rule is, if you can afford it, get it. You can always sell it for what you paid for it with something like this. If you don't, the remorse causes severe and lasting emotional damage. Plus, it's a mdeical fact, there is organic damage, as well: little stalactites of misgivings form on the ceiling of your skull, grow down and encounter the stalagmites of lust forming on the bottom of the brain pan, causing extreme discomfort. This is a man talking who passed up a chance at a pair of Wally Yater swage blocks brand new out of the foundry once upon a time. Alas.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/04/05 22:19:21 EDT

I think a lot of the spelling and grammar trouble with computers stems from the hair-trigger keyboards. True, with a typewriter, if you had to produce clean copy, you tended to stop and really think before writing (which is why mystery-writer Lawrence Block always used the most expensive bond he could afford for first drafts). With this electronic Magic Slate, it's always a maybe until you hit SEND or POST. But even so, errors are easy to make, and harder to see, much more so than with a good old manual typewriter. I hear the old IBM computer keyboards are more klunky, friendlier.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/04/05 22:38:13 EDT

Yesterday I got the 5 bandsaw blades I ordered from Hagenmeyer, I mentioned that I heard about Them on Anvilfire. With a bunch of new business coming from this site perhaps Jock could put a "guilt trip" on them & encourage them to advertise here. Spelling has never been one of My strong points, so I guess I will have to find out how to copy & paste as Wayne suggests. I have writen very little in the past 14 years, and My spelling skills have deteriated acordingly. Andrew Jackson once said "It's a damn poor mind indeed that can't think of at least 2 ways to spell any word" My english teachers disagreed.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/04/05 23:04:10 EDT

Guru, you are right about looking for the functionality of a tool. However, after much study on the subject myself I have found that the shape and set up of the hammer is what gives the hammer it's functionality. The heads on Bill hammers are simply square (slightly chamfered edges) with the angle offset. In looking at other cutlers hammers the have octagonal faces. The way I use a hammer(and I presume alot of others do too) when moving material on the anvil I will adjust the material to the hammer if things get out of line then go back and straighten it up at the end of the heat. the design of this hammers head allows for multiple direction movement without actually changing the orientation of the hammer. Unlike European (German) hammers you have to move the position of the hammer to get that consistency which ends up in alot of movement of the material and the body holding it around the anvil. I could be wrong in my interpretation but after using both styles this has been my observation. I currently use a swedish style since it has an octagonal face lends much to this capability of moving the material insteda of the hammer. Once again I could be wrong, but I see it that way. Japanese bladesmiths (In Japan) generally are very stationary when working. their shops generally are very small and don't lend well to alot of moving around when work begins. therefore they have to be able to move the material under the hammer while semi squatting in position behind the anvil. Not move the hammer orientation to the material. I could be wrong and not conveying my thoughts properly (hence the reason I talk to myself alot- I am the only one that understands me) but this seems to be logical to me.
As for selling online, it's the chicken or the egg syndrome. Perhaps he doesn't want to sell alot online. BUT if someone does want to sell online you have to bite the bullet and expect a certain percentage to be eaten by those costs or do very little business in that capapcity. In this day and age of the internet we are an instant gratification generation. when we want to buy it we want to buy it. In this case, ok- I send a money order that takes roughly 3-5 business days to get there. 1-2 days later the item is shipped. them another 3-5 days for it to arrive. 2 weeks total time on maximum. It's aggravating. Probably more aggravating to me for reasons surrounding recent events that have happened to me where materials have been delayed in shipping to me.
Fee's? Well they're part of business life. They are everywhere. If you are in business- licensed and all- those fees taken by the credit card companies are tax write offs as a cost of doing business and noted as profit losses due to online customer credit card purchases.
I simply hate it when someone advertises someting online and doesn't give you a quick and reliable avenue to buy it. I have emailed these folks expressing my interest in buying one and never get a response. It's annoying. If you don't want to sell online then don't advertise it. It is like standing outside a steakhouse watching someone eat when you are starving but can't afford the steak.
Just my thoughts on both matters for the day...

   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 09:15:39 EDT

Brian, quenching oils, not only does it depend on what you can afford but also sometimes what metals you are working with. Since each alloy has it's own set of properties they also have different rates of cooling, annealing, etc. and thusly require different quenchants and vicosities of those quenchants.
I personally use a concoction of used motor oil and diesel fuel(2 parts MO and 1 part diesel). I use this mix because the vicosity of it can be adjusted up or down depending on what medium I am working with. Need lighter oil? Add diesel. Need heavier oil? Add more oil. I also use it because it gives me that nice iron black finish that I want afterward. Then I touch it with beeswax and I am done.This is matter of preference and functionality to me though.
Your mileage may vary.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 09:25:18 EDT

Motor Oil Quenchant: All please note. Many new motor oils contain heavy metal additives (cadnium is one) which are VERY bad for you when they smoke off. Used motor oil is much worse as it also contains the toxic gasoline additives that the US Congress is currently trying to exempt refiners from legal libility. . . Diesel fuel also has exotic chemical additives.

When formulating home brew quenchants never use anything designed to put in an internal combustion engine. Use vegatable oils, mineral oil (come in two viscosities at the grocery store), kerosene (AKA parafin in Europe - same as diesel without additives), lard and parafin wax.

Quenchants: See our FAQ's page.

Knifemaking in general: See our FAQ's page and Sword Making Resources list as well as our book review page.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 09:51:56 EDT

I was wondering, I have a 4x4 vehicle which has leaf spring suspension which is in good condition. I need to 'relax' each leaf pack or flatten them, or i guess, make them so they go soft and just flatten under the weight of the vehicle. Icidentally, I am doing this to install helper airbags and I want the springs to stay there to hold the axles but to carry no weight, I want the air bags to carry the weight instead. I was wondering what the procedure might be to relax the springs into a softer non load bearing state?
   John - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:00:26 EDT

Square vs. Octagonal (round) hammer faces: There are many in the knife making world today that prefer the square faced hammers and those like the Hofi and Swedish hammer because the straight edges are good for drawing an edge with less change to the length and resulting curvature.

I prefer a standard American pattern hammer with a round face but I do mostly decorative work.

NOTE: Swedish pattern hammers have a square face, not octagonal unless someone has reground the face.

There are all kinds of opinions on the long bodied Japanese hammers (they were also common in Europe during the Renaisance). If ANY of the logic related to the balance of the short bodied Czech and Hofi hammer is correct then the long bodied hammers are very bad for your joints. Both styles are an extreame and one or the other is wrong. Unless it just doesn't matter and the whole issue is moot because the problem is in the USER not the hammer. . which is my opinion. But then I stick to common middle of the road hammers which can be modified to any face you want and are not either extreme.

The logic of the rough ground German, French and Swedish hammers sold by the Kaynes and others is that the European manufacturers believe that the end user should know exactly what dress they want and how to produce it. It is a personal preference. Otherwise they have no business buying a craftspersons's tool and should go to the hardware store and buy tools designed for the average homeowner.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:14:08 EDT

Suspension Modifications: John, normaly this occurs over time or from an overload. To do the same on purpose you would remove the springs and re-arc them on a press cold. This is a trial and error process as the springs will travel a long way before yeilding. Knowing how much set needs to remain is also trial and error.

WARNING: Note that any suspension modifications can adversely effect your vehical's handling and steering. Gross oversteer, understeer and sudden pitching resulting in rollover can be the result of minor changes in the suspension (springs, wheels, tires, sway bars).

As an ex-auto mechanic and sports car owner I speak from experiance having done all the above and more with various results. Finding out in a high speed ememrgency that you have created gross understeer (slow or lack of stearing) or oversteer (overfast resulting in sudden rollover) that only shows up at high speed is no fun. That is why the automakers have expensive test tracks and high dollar test drivers. And even then they ocassionaly get it wrong.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:27:38 EDT

hmmmm. okay John. the first question I would have would be "why"? What are you trying to accomplish? Lowering the vehicles ride height, correct rough ride issues?
Since the design of your vehicle is such that the leaf springs DO carry the rear weight of the vehicle there is no way to take the load off of them completely. The suspension is just not designed to operate that way(unless you have learned to levitate the body of your vehicle off the frame
somehow :-) )
Even in older cars like lincolns and cadillacs, etc that used airshocks with level ride technology(new at that time) load bearing suspension components were still used like coil springs and air assisted struts to bear most of the load. But these airbags were prone to frequent blowout or compressor failure. The level ride system was supposed to smooth out the ride of the vehicle and adjust ground clearances to compensate for pitch and roll conditions caused during higher speed manuevering. Many people have the misconception that these types of suspension were supposed to make bumps in the road feel like riding over glass. Not so, although they did help in the respect- a bonus if you will. If you are trying to smooth out your ride think about switching tires to a softer sidewall tire like a michelin or continental touring model of tire. the benfits of that little change can be realized inmany ways from gas mileage to smoother ride , etc.
In essence the springs will always carry the weight of the vehicle unless you can find a way to take the load off the frame. Since the leaf springs are attached to the frame there is no way to do this safely. I don't recommend altering the springs with any kind of heat. One thing I have heard tell of is to remove a leaf or two from the leaf spring unit. That will help "relax" the suspensions deflection. However, in doing so you could be causing severe alignment problems such as bad camber or caster. This will result in munched tires and possible unsafe driving conditions from poor handling of the vehicle. Not to mention the stress that it will place on the other suspension components that will have to compensate for the weakend link in the suspension chain.
If you are trying to lower the vehicle I would recommend that you go to a suspension customizer and ask for their advice. Offset spindles generally are used for the lowering of vehicles(properly done anyhow- I have seen other ways of doing this through hack jobs).
One other option instead of helper airbags is to explore air shocks and struts.
You really have to explore the purpose of suspension on a vehicle before you go monkeying with it.

Just my thoughts(as a Former ASE Mechanic and race car builder.)

Ed Green
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:38:27 EDT

Carrying no weight: John, there is only a very narrow range, that of the backlash or play in the suspension that the springs will carry "no" weight. Springs that are flat (a straight line) have less resistance to force than an arced spring but this straight line geometry ends as soon as the spring is flexed (up OR down).
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:40:32 EDT

This is why my choice for quenchant is veggie oils.
   Ralph - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:42:34 EDT

Ed; I have noticed that online shopping usually takes much longer to get things than going directly to the supplier---I can get the same book from Lindsey as from Amazon; but lindsey will have it in my hands *WEEKS* earlier (personal experience). Most of the Supply companies have "next day" service.

Guru, the "japanese hammers" were common in use in Sheffield England through the 1930's or so as the knifemaker's steady hammer and we in use other places as a saw tuner's hammer.

I personally love my sweedish crosspien with a lovely "rocker" face on it and will try to get the next lighter one at Quad-State for when I've been busy at work and not at the forge...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:46:14 EDT

Guru- hammers-
My swedish hammer I bought from the Kaynes- it has an octagonal face that I did not regrind but rather just dressed the edges and adjusted the handle to fit me and moved along with it. It is my "everyday" all purpose hammer.

I think in order to understand how the long bodied cutlers hammers are used one must realize that the way "we" westerners use the hammer and the way the Japanese use it are a bit different. Traditional methods and conditions once again dictate that the Japanese sword maker is pretty much in a static semi squatting position similar to the position of the Togaeshi (sword polisher)when polishing is being performed.
I do not look to this hammer for everyday use but rather for specific purpose. Could it be perhaps also that this hammer was developed by accident?? Some guy had a chunk of metal put it on the end of the stick and called it a cutlers hammer. Some other guys saw it and decided to try it too??
If what you propose about the position of the hammer being bad for your joints could be true then perhaps this is the case or as I suspect there is indeed a specific purpose for it's design.

BTW, your last paragraph- must be written somewhere because that is "verbatim" what Jeff Kayne and I discussed one day over the phone. I thought it ironic when I read it.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 10:53:37 EDT

I have one of those Japanese style hammers custom made by Frank Turley and I find to use it properly I need to have good form and very controlled movement to get smooth results it is over 3lb and is great for starting a blade.I also have one of Bill Fiorino's that I bought 5 yrs ago it's 900gr and is great for finishing.It is different from the ones he's selling now.The front is long but it also tapers to a smaller face and I can really get out to the edge of a blade.Its true that you can't force your way with either of these hammers or you will make some deep dings.
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 05/05/05 11:21:32 EDT

Ed, The Japanese sledge, used by standing strikers, has that same long unbalanced side. . As did Early European sledges. Many other Asian and Middle Eastern workers that sit working on the ground do not use this style hammer. So sitting has nothing to do with it. I suspect that it is more a matter of style as you pointed out. However, the one advantage long boddied hammers has is better visibility.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 11:28:01 EDT

Thanks Chris I am getting ready to buy one from Frank since he is the only one that ever wrote me back on it. Nice to hear words of compliments on him and the hammer.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 11:48:03 EDT

Suspension Changes: I went through all the different possibilities on ONE little car many years ago. I made a front sway bar on the car to counter act its relatively high center of gravity. It sat very flat on curves but in sudden turns the front end plowed (understeer). So I rigged up a rear sway bar and that flatened the ride even more but also helped the understeer, a LITTLE. I changed to radial tires and the car suddenly had gross oversteer (this was back when radials were still new on the American market). I changed the front shock angle and that helped but in the end I had to run VERY careful wide range air pressures much like the old corvairs, 16 PSII front and 28-30 PSI rear to reduce the oversteer. This was opposite of the factory bias.

Now. . the tricky part of all this was that I drove like a maniac at the time and having a car on two wheels was a daily occurance and spinning out almost as frequent . . . Testing the suspension changes under extream conditions was not a problem for me, THEN. Now, this is VERY a good way to kill yourself (or others), it is illegal and is NOT recommended. I survived, but it was just plain pure luck. Today I drive like an old lady because I figure I have used up all my driving luck. . . However, not testing leaves you with the problem of not knowing how your vehical is going to react when you have to swerve out of the way of some idiot on the Interstate while traveling 75 MPH. . . or faster. SO, if you make changes, plan on renting time on a test track and paying the local emergency folks to stand by. . (and oh-yeah, if your insurance company finds out you will be looking for a new one).

And the same is still true when you go to almost any "professional" hot rodder. The results are often unsafe and the testing is NOT done.

Want to live a long life? Don't modify street car suspension.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 12:05:59 EDT

suspension- seems to be the conscensus: don't monkey with it
Lots of smart people plan and design suspension on vehicles(well ok the majority of them are smart - I think). there are lots of actors that they take into account SAFETY being the biggest of them all(excepting in how cheaply they can do it - nowadays anyhow). My Dad always had a saying- "let the professionals do it when it is critical". There are lots of pro suspension modifiers out there. My advice would be to go to one and get their opinion. This is what they do daily and would be the best to ask.
Guru- yep I rem bias ply tires they were smooth riding puppies.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 12:13:11 EDT

Where can I find this Hagenmeyer place you are taling about? Google returns nothing useful, and www.hagenmeyer.com doesn't look right.....


   JIM - Thursday, 05/05/05 12:17:20 EDT

Slightly off the Blacksmithing topic, but on the suspension topic. How many of you guys remember Tom MacCahill's (sp?) opinion on how suspensions should be set up?
I think of it everytime I drive a "Smooth" riding car..........
   JimG - Thursday, 05/05/05 12:22:24 EDT

I have a copy of Tom McCahills' book TODAYS SPORTS &
COMPETITION CARS--put it on EBAY -got no interest- Guess it
shows my age-
   - ptpiddler - Thursday, 05/05/05 12:29:42 EDT

Hi Folks
I just joined CSI, after reading this site for a while.

Here are a few pieces of information I can add.

I am testing a finish called Penetrol (available at hardware stores as a paint extender). I painted it on two pieces of steel, one cleaned, no rust and one rusty, then set them outside in the sun and rain. They have been there since last September and are looking as good as day one. Have any others used this?

I work in the film industry doing Special Effects, and have used many different cameras. The SLR's, point and shoot's, and consumer video cameras have a 1/4-20 mount, and the Professional Video cameras and Motion picture cameras (35mm)
use a 3/8-16 mount. imhe

I also had a great stroke of luck, or a ton and a half burden, I bought a 100# Little Giant. Its dirty, but appears to work. Now a base needs to be made for it, a moving company found and an inverter set up.
Should be fun.

   blackbart - Thursday, 05/05/05 13:02:22 EDT

I am trying to rebuild an 1860 ornamental iron fence. I plan to make a steel frame and bolt cast iron fence panels to the frame. I would like to use hot rivets to assemble the fence. Any idea where I can learn more about the technique?
   CASEY - Thursday, 05/05/05 13:14:09 EDT

Welcome blackbart!
Nice to see your name in blue.
Now you can check out the members forum where you can find out where the source of unobtainium can be found!
   JimG - Thursday, 05/05/05 13:43:06 EDT

Riveting: Casey, See our iForge demos #83 and #84 on rivets, riveting and rivet heading.

Most cast iron decorative components will not stand up to riveting, they are too brittle. Historicaly the cast stuff was all bolted together. Round head and countersunk flat head machine screws were used. Ocassionaly nuts but usualy tapped holes.

A good modern screw that LOOKs rivet like is the button head socket cap screw. They come in high strength steel and stainless.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/05/05 14:12:14 EDT

Hello Everybody

This is my first actual blacksmithing question. (Yahoo)

I am attempting a pen and pad holder with a solid base/pad holder and a Lilly for the penholder.

I would like this to be all one-piece solid piece (no welding). Eventually I want to make these from pattern-welded billets.

I am setting the size of the base with a center ridge. The base is 3.5” X 5.5 X 1” with the center ridge .5” taller in the center of the 3.5” width. I was hopping to split this, turn it up and apply Iforge lesson 156/157 to create the Lilly.

I am currently having a problem splitting the center ridge away from the base. I am using a hot cut chisel but I am getting a pigs tail curl to it. (I wont mention that I do not have good control and am not getting an even cut.)

Is this just a control issue or is there a better way to do this?

After I get the center cut away I am going to make a 3” X 5” X .25” depression in the base using a piece of steal cut to the size and vice to press it in.

Does this sound like I am on track?

This is designed to take a Post-it 3x5 pad.

I am currently learning what I am doing and I am working on S hooks and simpler stuff but if I do not attempt things that gave the spark to start I get frustrated. So attempting this is just to appease myself. If I wok on the project I learn my way through it and feel driven to get it correct, which makes me happy as I move forward.

Thanks for any info =)
   Arron Cissell - Thursday, 05/05/05 14:38:08 EDT

Does anyone know what the steel sold in Lowe's home center type stores as "hot rolled" and "cold rolled" steel is. It comes in 3' lengths, rounds and flats. Is it a mild steel? What sort of carbon % would be expected?What is the real difference in uses between the two steels? Thanks.
   John W - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:01:52 EDT

When I re read what I wrote I thought I should clarify my steps.

1) Form base with section to become Lilly.
2) Split Lilly section away from base.
3) Press 3x5 block in to make depression for pad.
4) Form Lilly.
5) Clean and dress Pen/pad holder.
6) Insert pen hardware into Lilly.
7) Step back and go Ohhhhhhh.
   Arron Cissell - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:01:57 EDT

There also used to be an item(I think it is still available) called rust converter.
This particular brand was on the market by a British company about 7 years ago. this stuff was phenomenal. You could take ANY rusted part and apply this to it paint or spray and it would actually convert the rust to a painted surface- not a paintable surface mind you but PAINTED. It came in a myriad of colors so that when you applied it and it was done doing it's stuff you were done. The coating it left behind was tough as nails and nothing would stick to it or stain it!! I imagine it is still available I got turned onto it by a hardware /industrial asupply store in Wilmington NC. Don't know where you are but if you are doing SE work you might end up there someday for Carrollco studios(I think it was bought by paramount not sure). Just thought I would add that. Will post the brand name of it if I can rem.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:07:16 EDT

Dear John

Lowe's/Home Depot and now here in California Ace Hardware have no clue what they stock when it comes to anything but the basic. What they have this week may not be what they have next week. Even if someone did know what the Lowes had in your area next week or month they will change suppliers and it will be something diffrent.

Research Metal supplyers in your area. Find one who is willing to, as it was put to me "teach you what you need to know to make my job easer" and stick with them.
   Arron Cissell - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:13:55 EDT

Arron; that would be close to 8 *pounds* of pattern welded steel---enough to do about 3 medieval swords. I would suggest working heavy sheet and rivit the lilly into it.

John as a *guess* the cold rolled will be close to 1018 and the hot rolled to A36 though I have heard some folks talking about CR A36 lately---actually the correct answer is probably "whatever was cheapest"

In general CR is lower in carbon content than HR as it's easier on the rolls that way. A36 carbon content can go from low to medium---it's spec'd by *minimum* yield strength (36 KPSI) rather than content and so can vary quite a bit from piece to piece.

Neither one is suitable for blademaking if that's what you are thinking of.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:14:15 EDT

John steel-
Lowes has mild steel only. Probably 1018 hot rolled.
The difference is in the way they are formed. One is formed under heat (around 1700 degrees) and the other is not. The differences in forming make a difference in the tolerances in manufacture. hot rolled generally has looser tolerances since it's size cannot be truly estimated until it is cooled. As for their properties- not much diff. Cold rolled generally has about .18% carbon.
most mild steel today is of the A36 variety which can have carbon content as high as .29% but it's variable. A36 however I have actually heard called "junk" metal. Mainly because it is made from all the scrap and crap metal in the world. If you take a solid piece about 2 x 2 inches and heat it up you might even see shapes in it where screws and things have dropped into the smelter.
If you are looking for hardenability this stuff is not hardenable unless you maybe superquench(quenchant formulation using water, Dawn dish soap and lots of surfactant) it and then hardening is very moderate.
Oh and one other major differnce- you pay twice as much for cold rolled as you do for hot rolled because it takes twice as long to form under scaling temperatures.
   Ed Green - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:21:17 EDT

Thomas P.

Yah the amount of pattern welded steelI plan on making and using in art projects (when I get better control) has a couple Blade Smiths I know wanting to shake me until I yield to their point of view.

I see no reason for me to make blades. There are thousands of blade smiths out there. Ones honored by royalty and presidents to the back yarders that earn a small living from the craft. I love blades and god knows I own enough of them, but, I still buy one or two every year and they go into my collection, but I find no want in me to make a blade right now. I do find a want to make some useable art and I have a style that I want to try for.

LOL. If you think that this is a waste of pattern welded seal you should see the door I have planed for when I get at least somewhat good with hammer control (3-5 years from now).

Thanks for the input though. I have read all your posts and respect your opinion.
   Arron Cissell - Thursday, 05/05/05 15:44:25 EDT


I've used some of the hot rolled steel from Lowe's on a couple of occasions when I needed a quick fix on the weekend (supplier was closed and I needed half inch round - bad!). Just based on the way it worked under the hammer(i.e. different each time), I would suspect it to be A36. I've never tried the cold rolled, but if it's from the same supplier, I would suspect it to be similar, just pricier for tolerances and finish I would never need with for general forging. Just my personal experience, others may differ.


   eander4 - Thursday, 05/05/05 16:15:16 EDT


Splitting off the lilly section with a chisel is do-able, but you may need to make a hot slitter that has a single-face (chisel) grind. The split off part will still want to curl, but not as much. It is all a matter of forces being resisted and having to be displaced somewhere, in this case by curling.

As for using a vise to depress thecenter of a 3x5 form, you may have a real problem there. I figure it will take somewhere around half a million pounds of force to do that cold, maybe a quarter of that to do it hot. Or thereabouts. Doesn't matter, no vise is going to generate sufficient pressure. You need a hydraulic forging press or a honking big drop press to generate the forces needed to depress 15 square inches of contact area all at once. It might be possible to do it a bit at a time using a smaller contact area, say 1/4 of a square inch at at time. Of course, that would take a minimum of sixty hits just to rough it down. Then you would still have to smooth it up.

I wold seriously consider building up the base by forge welding the rim to the base. It would still fit with your pattern welded thing and wouldn't take equipment you don't have.
   vicopper - Thursday, 05/05/05 16:22:51 EDT

I have a quick question about securing my anvil to my stump. I have a 300# anvil sitting on a walnut stump (walnut was the only thing I could find not cut in 14" ~ 16" lengths). Any way when I work on the horn I notice the anvil walks slightly I wind up repositioning it every fourth heat or so. I have redressed the top of the stump so it is dead flat and level. I would like to make a few large staples basically just a double taper bent to a U and then work the U to conform to the anvil with the torch and a hammer. My concern is the holding power of the staple and the fact that it is not something I could take out over and over again. Would you recommend that I use screws into the stump for more holding and because then I can take them out more than once? My other thought was to band the stump with some flat bar, and then rig a hold down to the flat bar. I am thinking of going that route because as this stump dries and I continue to pound on the anvil I figure chances are good the stump will develop some splitting/cracking issues. Thanks Jeff
   Jeff G - Thursday, 05/05/05 16:33:00 EDT

It's not the "waste" of PW stock---shoot I use it for hammer handle wedges; it's just the ammount of time that goes into making it and the "clunkiness" of having an 8 pound pen holder on your desk. Me I want a pattern welded stainless truck bumper...

My most wonderful of wives just told me to buy "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" found a used copy for only US$207!
(It's an in depth, 954 pages, study of the metallurgy of medieval/renaissance armour by the leading scholar in the field)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/05/05 16:39:06 EDT

Jeff G,

My anvil is mounted using two metal straps, leftover from a packing crate, that are screwed to the sides of my stump. Each strap wraps around the feet, one over the heel feet and one over the horn feet, with the strapping angled so it points down at about a 45 degree angle toward the center of the stump. I have to remove my anvil periodically to move it to the shorter stand I made for my youngest daughter, who is substantially shorter than my 6'4", and I have only had to move the screw holes once due to stripping out. Even then, it was just a matter of changing the angle of the strap a few degrees and pre-drilling a new set of holes. It does a good job of stabilizing my anvil and might work for you, although I will add that my anvil is about half the size of yours.

If you want, I could just bring you my anvil, and get that oversized monster you've got out of your hair. (grin)

   eander4 - Thursday, 05/05/05 17:30:22 EDT

Eric: thanks, that lets me know a little what to expect.
   John W - Thursday, 05/05/05 17:31:03 EDT

Thanks for the info I did not conceder the force needed to hot press. I did not think it would take more then about a hundred pounds or so. Looks like I get to work out my arm a bit.

I will look for a hot slitter I am not sure what one looks like. Would the weld be a flat weld? I am thinking so.

I have four strips of Plumbers Tape (the metal strapping with holes) holding my anvil in place on my stack of 2x6 it crosses the feet and keeps it from shifting.

Thomas P.
Hummm Pattern welded car parts... Stainless worked for DMC and Aluminum worked for the bike industry. Maybe Pattern welded parts will reenergize the American car market LOL

I would like to see a Pattern welded bumper though; it is big enough to get a full appreciation of the craft and of this metal’s splendid beauty.
   Arron Cissell - Thursday, 05/05/05 18:28:37 EDT

Hi. Picked up 2 rusty anvils last Winter. One of them looked like someone used it as a base for a cutting torch. When I took a wirecup brush to the rust, I noticed a brassy color underneath. Anyone know what this coloration is from? I have a 150# Peter Wright and did not observe this coloration when cleaning down to the bare metal.
   Allen - Thursday, 05/05/05 19:18:21 EDT

The correct name is Hagemeyer. http://www.hagemeyer.com/
is the web address. The real deal is to be had at 502-961-5930. ask for Mike Morrison,and be sure to tell him you are an Anvilfire reader and suggest they advertise.
The louisville office(they have about 1700 locations) is offering special pricing for blacksmiths.

   ptree - Thursday, 05/05/05 19:43:48 EDT

May i beg to differ on the cadimium content of new oils? Perhaps you were thinking of Zinc Dithiophosphate. It is an anti-wear additive in almost all oils with any additive package. The cad is alleged to come from worn bearing shells after engine oils are used. I suspect that the bearing shells in new engines probably do not contain cad.
Just to be sure, I checked the MSDS for several large name brands for cad, and found that they did not list cad. Under federal law, ant toxic chemical such as cad must be listed on the MSDS if present in more than 1%.

The purpose made quench oils are indeed a much better thing to use as you suggested, as they have much higher flash points, and are available in several quench rates. All are available in 5 gallon pails from your nearest oils jobber. Just look in the book. I think that new quench oil is only slightly more expensive than new ATF.
I have a 5000 gallon tank of used quench oil to scrap!
   ptree - Thursday, 05/05/05 19:51:06 EDT

Guru, can you email me your ad rates and the hits per day stats? I will forward to the guys at Hagemeyer.
   ptree - Thursday, 05/05/05 19:52:20 EDT

Evening all,
I followed a few links from here the other night and saw the most amazing american flag and 'USA' in pattern welded steel billet, un sodding believable craftsmanship. The old boy that made that really 'knows'his trade.

As an aside still had no sleep :(

but thanks to the advise recieved here I am now in posession of a vacuum pump, reservoir, vacuum table, flasks and flask gaskets that I made myself.

It all works too! :)

Many thanks to everyone out there,

   - Tinker - Thursday, 05/05/05 20:28:31 EDT

Re: Lowe's steel. I have bought a couple of pieces in the past to make little odd things out of, a pair of tongs, stuff like that, especially when I wanted to mess around withthe forge and have no steel and it is Sunday. I ahve used it for some rivets and stuff. Havent tried ot harden it and,now, won't bother. Thanks guys.
   John W - Thursday, 05/05/05 20:51:22 EDT

I have just found out the CSI membership process is not fully automated, about how long will it take to process my order? Thanks Jeff
   Jeff G - Thursday, 05/05/05 21:57:33 EDT

Tinker, The flags were probably by Daryl Meier; click Top Post, and the list of Gurus and helpers.

Arron, Tao Goo, in his formative years, used to make pattern welded "executive paper weights".

Casey, It's a little unclear. If you bolt panels to a steel frame, aren't you assembling? For what use are the rivets?

Ed and Chris, This "cutler's hammer" that I am offering to Ed is apparently manufactured in the Western world, as Thomas P suggests. It is stamp/marked with a large "2". It is a tapered octagon in section. The face is a 1 5/8" diameter round. Very near the poll, it has an oval eye, and all Japanese hammers that I have seen had a rectangular eye. Furthermore, the Japanese eye is punched at a slight angle, so that the haft has a little bit of drop toward the head. This Western hammer more resembles a Japanese sledge than a Japanese hand forging hammer. The Japanese hand hammers are "head heavy", but they have a reasonably stout poll. The cross section and faces are essentially round. They don't have the exaggerated taper in section, narrower at the poll; at least, the ones I have seen did not. The taper in section on a Japanese hand forging hammer makes it somewhat narrower at the face than the poll. When you pick up the Japanese hand hammer, there is no mistaking how to hold it; the head "will find the work". The poll is not designed to be used for striking. I saw extremely long sledge heads being used in Dallas, Texas, by some Japanese smiths who came to demonstrate their art. The reason for the length should be obvious. The anvil is low-down and buried in the ground, so the long head means less "throw" for the striker.

Ed, if you are interested, I have a few hammer patterns of the renowned saw maker, Yataiki.

Reference. "The Craft of the Japanese Sword", by Kapp & Yoshihara, page 60.
Reference: Notes taken at Yataiki workshop, Fairfield, Iowa.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/05/05 23:56:50 EDT

I am trying to find a use for old, plastic lsminate files. These are steel files and I have collected a lot of worn files. My latest project is carving wood spoons. I am trying to make inshave or scorps with different radii, some with small radius like 1/2" radius. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   bigmanaz - Friday, 05/06/05 01:00:22 EDT

Jeff G; My anvil is only about 120 lbs, and sits on a hickory log that is 3 feet into the shop floor. The log diameter is about 3 inches larger than the base area of the anvil. Having leveled the end of the log when I installed it, I centered the anvil on the log end and traced around its base with a Magic Marker. I then set my router to cut about 1 1/4" deep, and cut away the area under the anvil. Start in the center and work your way out to the traced line, so the router has more support. I just set the anvil into the recess without any further securance, and it seems to stay put pretty well.
   3dogs - Friday, 05/06/05 02:57:05 EDT

Hi Blackbart;
Yes , Penetrol works...just gotta refresh it once or twice a year...gets to look like leather.
Ed and Chris;
Seems to me that the reason for a long headed hammer, aside from being able to reach over tongs and into a bowl, is that it stacks the mass of the hammer directly behind the striking face where it will be most effecient in transfering the force of the blow.
Join CSI, support anvilfire or your handle will go limp!
   - Pete F - Friday, 05/06/05 04:33:00 EDT

With regards to the correct thickness to contain a 10 the minus power of 8 NM to the power of minus 2 vacuum inside a steel sphere and to stay inside british safty standards.
   ANDREW BAILEY - Friday, 05/06/05 09:20:43 EDT

What kind of scarf?

I want to make some of the adjustable scrollers that you stick in the vice. These are composed of a piece of angle, with a pin welded to the outside face of the angle. You make two that are identical, then clamp them into the vice such that they slide back and forth, causing the distance between the pins to vary. These things are common.

If I had a welder, I'd just glue the pieces together, but I don't, so I'm going to forge weld. My question is, what type of scarf would I make for welding a round pin to the flat angle face? It seems like all I would have to do is flatten on side of the pin, with no preparation done for the angle.


Thanks all.
   - Tom T - Friday, 05/06/05 10:23:38 EDT

Jeff; just cut a couple of pieces of wood to fit the sides of the anvil and nail them to the stump---the anvil can't move more than the tolerance of your cut and is easily lifted out when needed.

Funny the 515# anvil has not shifted since I put it on top of the timber baulks...

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/06/05 10:55:40 EDT

Lowe's John, the only way to know it to ask them. See my FAQ on Steel Product Types
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 10:59:06 EDT

Striking fun and some questions. I went over to a friend's shop to do some team blacksmithing, and it was great fun, as usual. I wanted to try knocking the head down on a railroad spike and drawing the end down to make a tong blank. It is kind of hard doing this alone on a small RR-track anvil. But, he has a 400 lb. piece of ship armor, and I used a large two handed hammer that I was swinging hard. At yellow, the RR spike head was gone in a few hits!

Drawing down was difficult, though, since the block did not have radiused edges. My friend told me that the sharp corners would mangle the metal. He tried to radius one edge, but he only was able to get a 3/16 radius on about 3/4" of one corner after 45 minutes with an angle grinder. He said that ship's armor is HARD, and the only thing that will make a dent in it is an Exocet. Although it is reported that the French sell these at the drop of a hat, it is probably too expensive, and it is difficult to control the radius with this tool. Is there a more appropriate grinding disk that can be used to cut a radius?

Also, we had an argument about when to stop hitting. He said as long as there is color in the metal, you can hit. I said that his shop is poorly lit (not in those words :-)), and we were hitting black hot metal, even though it was glowing. Yes, you are right about what comes next: the spike was not marked "HC", it spark tested on the low end of the carbon range, I listened to my friend (master and it's his shop), and I cracked the metal on my last hits. Who was right? Maybe the metal got too hot?

Good news was it was fun to move metal that fast. Also, he liked my homemade bolt tongs for 5/8 stock more than his pair of RR spike tongs made out of welded angle on horse nippers that he bought on Ebay.
   EricC - Friday, 05/06/05 11:09:32 EDT

Pins in holes: Tom, If you press fit pins in snug fitting holes then bring the assembly up to welding heat with a little flux the joint will weld. . . easy.

Otherwise the joint would be a T butt joint. You would upset the end of the pin using glancing blows so that it was about 50% larger and the surface very slightly conical. On joining the pin would be driven into the other surface and then the edges of the scarf closed with the pien of the hammer. This type of butt joint is common but not very strong and this tool needs a strong joint.

We have made these tools by arc welding dowel pins in holes but found that the arc weld resulted in brittle steel at the joint. Probably needs to be welded with stainless rod then heat treated. The other problem with this arc weld joint is that the tight hole expands and ends up loose due to weld fill not alowing the hole to shrink.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 11:20:01 EDT

Jock, no fear on Pi. the Texas Instruments TI30X-IIS has Pi as a top key. Right near the square key as it should be. And the 2 line display with scroll keys is real nice also. $12 on sale. I wear the markings off the keys about every year or so. The Pi key is one that goes early.

Or coffee clogs the keys.

Or the calcualtor can't stand up to the imposed loads and becomes more than one piece. grin.

As a side note, I was pleased to see my son is learning trig as a sophomore HS student that I learned as an advanced class as a HS senior.
   - Tony - Friday, 05/06/05 11:27:51 EDT

Vacuume Stresses: Andrew, The stresses are directly related to the size and shape of the container. . hmmmm you listed sphere. So then the question is what are the British Safety standards? Most of us are in the US and even here finding the correct US standard is sometimes difficult AND costs money to purchase.

As to the vacuume, the maximum force of a PERFECT vacuume is that of the atmosphere if in air, or the water if submerged. In air the maximum is not much.

I am also finding it difficult to find calcs for stresses on a sphere. . not a common engineering question. I do not have references on pressure vessle design. However, size is factor as the stresses are proportional to a ratio of the diameter and the wall thickness. So you have not properly defined the question.

I suspect you need to go to a British Engineer on this one. Or back to the library and your text books if you are a student.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 11:34:45 EDT

TI30X-IIS Tony I will have to look for this one. Apparently enough people complained (I did).

I used to wear out the buttons on my small calculators doing taxes. . . Now I use a spread sheet. On repetitive calculations it is easier to write a quick and dirty QuickBASIC (or even GWBASIC) program. Sadly Microsnot has stopped including a simple programming language with their OS. GWBASIC came with DOS from the earliest versions I remember (2.11) and then QBASIC which was a non-compiling version of the very popular and inexpensive QuickBASIC which has been replaced by the expensive PITA VisualBASIC for Windirt.

I still ocassionaly open a DOS window to use QuickBASIC 4.0. I probably should repair my old DOS machine just for running it. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 11:48:24 EDT

Low LIght, Low Heats: Eric, You are right about woking in dim light. However, most important is the kind of steel you are working. Low carbon steel and steels of certain chemistries can be cold worked. So as long as there is visible heat you are probably OK. . but wasting effort. However, low heats are good for finishing a piece and avoiding another heat that would increase scale and cost fuel.

As steel becomes higher in carbon and alloy content the higher the minimum working temperature. Tool steels will tell you it is time to quite by their resistance to the hammer.

As to grinding the armor plate it should grind just FINE. It IS still steel that must be ductile enough to form and soft enough not to shatter like glass. Hard steels take softer wheels than soft steel AND the armor plate will be high alloy making it abrasive resistant requiring a high speed grinder. My Big HS B&D Wildcat runs almost 7,000 RPM and with a soft wheel eats up the most tenacious steels. In the small grinders you need those that run 20,000 RPM or greater and the proper wheels for the high speed.

There are grinders and there are GRINDERS and there are the proper wheels for every job.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 12:01:48 EDT

I need a large file. I saw an old worn out one at a knifemakers shop that was probably almost 2 feet long. I need one about that large. I've looked all over the internet, where can I find one?
   - Trapper - Friday, 05/06/05 12:25:41 EDT

I need a large file. I saw an old worn out one at a knifemakers shop that was probably almost 2 feet long. I need one about that large. I've looked all over the internet, where can I find one?
   - Trapper - Friday, 05/06/05 12:26:20 EDT

Pen and Paper Holder:

Interesting project but you are REALLY trying to do it the hard way. Sometimes there are reasons for making something from one piece and sometimes not. On this one the only reason would be to prove how hard headed you are.

Normally a base of this type would be made of sheet stock and worked to upset the corners to avoid welding. The recess would be formed over a plate using punches made to fit the inside. Being hollow it would be a little light. In the old days they would fill it with lead, today I would recommend something less toxic (tin or zinc).

THAT is also the hard way. The best way would be ro make it like lock cases. Piece it and braze it. The precision forge brazed joints would be almost invisible and in the case of laminated steel parts would be just one more line among many. You would have several choices of how to fit the parts together. In a modern shop (post 1700) the frame might be made of solid bars fited like a picture frame. Grooves would be milled or hand cut for the plate to fill the frame. The whole could be riveted or brazed together.

MANY MANY high art items like this have been made over the past couple hundred years but MOSTLY starting in the late 1800's when machine tools became available. Artistisans would use EVERY tool at their disposal to make the best possible most artistic product.

Today you have even MORE choices. You could start with that expensive slab of laminated steel, precision grind or mill to a rectangle with sharp edges or even molded edges. Then the inlet could be machined by EDM. . .

Using machine tools can be as much of an art as any other. In the 1800's the silversmiths and ivory turners created fantastic machines that used pure gearing to produce decorative swirls and spirals and beautiful engraved patterns. Some of these machines still exist and are in great demand.

I have created beautiful cross hatched finishes on a surface grinder by first grinding a perfectly flat piece, then dulling the wheel slightly and making two diagonal passes opposite to each other. The result looks like high class hand scraping or a tartan and has the same effect of holding oil but being impossible to feel.

Laminated steels are a relatively modern product and those made with alloy steels are an entirely modern product. Many making them use the most advanced machines they can apply including EDM for fancy inlays.

This is NOT cheating NOR proving they can do it the hard way, it is proving they can make the finest most beautiful work possible.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 12:32:42 EDT

Pins in holes:

Do I need to tap the pin(slight upset) to make the weld, or does the act of bringing the assembly up to welding temp, then cooling back down do the welding for me?
   - Tom T - Friday, 05/06/05 12:37:34 EDT

Tom T,

If you take a couple of pieces of 3/4" round bar about 6" long you can upset one end of each bar about 50% larger diameter for a finished length of an inch. About 2-1/2" of stock will need to be shortened to 1" to get that increase in diameter.

Once you have upset the ends of the bars, take a good heat and forge the end flat using half-face blows of the pein end over the edge of the anvil. Use the pein to spread the metal sideways as you thin it to about 3/8". You should be able to end up with a rectangular flat end about 1" long by 3" wide, sufficient to hold in the jaws of the vise. If you forge the ends out to the same side, (like making two identical jaws to make tongs), you will be able to hold them together in the vise jaws at varying distances up to about 2" apart. Forging the flats offset to one side of the pin allows them to act as their own stops when lapped. No welds to break this way, and a good exercise in constant volume forging.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/06/05 12:46:33 EDT

Big Files: McMaster-Carr carries flat American pattern up to 16" (19" with tang) and half round bastard files up to 14" (17" with tang). The largest files I found on the Nicholson pages of Cooper tools were also 16".

I suspect that like many things that are no longer made that really huge files are no longer made (at least in the US). On the other hand a 16" file is HUGE and may look 2 feet long.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 13:07:09 EDT

Tom, if the parts are press fit and clean that should do it. If you flux as soon as possible air should never have a chance to oxidize the clean press fit joint. A light tap to upset a little would not hurt.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 13:10:38 EDT

Speaking of tools, is there a reason that no one sells a decent hacksaw that takes more than a 12" blade? The stroke is so short that I feel like a grown man riding a tricycle.

I'd like at least a 16" blade. There's a nice hardware store that sells these antique "meat saws" that take what looks like a 24" blade, with maybe 14TPI. The thing looks like an overgrown hacksaw. Has anyone tried to cut metal with one of these things?
   - Tom T - Friday, 05/06/05 13:48:06 EDT

Tom T,

YOu can buy hacksaw blades designed for power hacksaws, up to about 24" long. It is perfectly reasonable to make your own saw frame to fit these blades. I haven't seen a ready-made one, though. I know Jock has made his own heavy duty hacksaw frame, and there is a picture of it posted here somewhere.

In the longer lengths, i.e. 16" and 18", you won't find blades much finer than 10 tpi, however. They ARE nice stiff blades, which is helpful for hand sawing. Check out McMaster-Carr and Grainger.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/06/05 14:28:12 EDT


Thanks. I'll looked into the power hacksaw blades. If I buy one, then I'll have to build the frame!
   - Tom T - Friday, 05/06/05 14:56:58 EDT

Tom; I use a sandvik bowsaw frame and make my own blades from bandsaw blade stock---punch the holes a bit closer than the wood blade has as you want a bit more tension on the system, the blade holding "rivit" may need to be upgraded too.

So basically I have 2' and 3' hacksaws as needed; been using them for over a decade, real handy when you need to cut something and they won't allow OA and you can't get power anywhere near it.

Pattern welded steel goes back to about the end of the Roman Empire in swords, most migration era swords used it and early viking blades. It's use tapered off closer to the 9th century until the revival in the 1700's.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/06/05 15:10:24 EDT


Thanks ptree!
   JIM - Friday, 05/06/05 15:29:42 EDT

Tom T,

If you have a drill press, you could try a friction weld. Chuck the pin in the drill press and put the angle in the vise. Set the press up for high speed, and pull the pin down against the angle. Keep some pressure on it until the drill press starts to bog down, then shut it off quick, still holding pressure.

Notice I said *try* -- I just gave a whirl and only managed a tack weld. Maybe it would have worked better if I'd pointed the rod a little and cleaned the scale off the angle first . . . or maybe not. Might be fun to experiment with, anyway.
   Mike B - Friday, 05/06/05 15:48:07 EDT

HD SAWS: When I made my saw frame (see Getting Started) I used nothing but "All Hard Tungsten" blades in it. Wonderful blades, brittle as glass but cut really fast! They stopped making them. . .

However they ARE made in machine saw blades which start at 14". They are very heavy blades and quite expensive compared to hand saw blades (10x).

Somewhere I have a photo of a fellow using a very heavy deep frame saw with about a 1" x 18" blade hand sawing a piece of RR-rail. . . Tough job, tough guy.

   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 15:54:07 EDT

Friction Welding: Mike, this is often accompanied by flooding the area with argon or other inert gas to prevent oxidation. The trick is letting go at the exact moment welding occurs.
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 16:00:48 EDT

I asked a question the other day about how difficult it might be to convert a Johnson forge from NAT gas to LP, the answer I got from Thomas and B.Brown of the Johnson Co. was very helpful and accurate, Mr. Brown went as far as suggesting I remove the 5/8” orifice, tap it, plug it, and drill a 19/64th hole through the threaded plug and save $60.00. it worked great…….. this may sound trivial to some, but it sure is nice to see others willing to help out a nubee.
Thanks again!
   - L.Duck - Friday, 05/06/05 16:40:12 EDT

L Duck, A couple more of those and a CSI membership is paid for!
   - guru - Friday, 05/06/05 16:52:33 EDT

You’re right again, I just bought a one year membership…..
   - L.Duck - Friday, 05/06/05 17:27:58 EDT

Friction welding.
At the old valve shop we friction welded millions of flanges on valves. This process is used alot in the auto world. Heavy truck axle spindles are often welded this way.

I have never seen inert gas used for carbon or stainless steel. As Jock noted the trick to to quit spinning when at the right point. For valves we used an inertial weld type friction welder. This had a flywheel that was spun up to a a set rpm for that piece part. At the set point, the flywheel is allowed to freewheel, and a thrust is developed to a set point. When the rpm drops to a lower setpoint, the thrust is increased to a higher setpoint. The excess heated metal in extruded out of the joint, and the flywheel stops by itself.(In a couple of revolutions) A 2" valve was 60 seconds finished valve to finished valve, 2 flanges, full penetration weld. We hydro tested every weld, and in 21 years, I never heard of a bad one.

Now the bad news for blacksmiths wanting to friction weld. This was a 200 horse hydraulic machine, and each new joint design took an extensive developement. Welds are perfect, or fall off when the part is dropped in the tub. No middle ground.

I doubt that a small drill press will develope the required rpm and thrust. Neat process though. Never failed to amaze visitors.
   ptree - Friday, 05/06/05 23:06:46 EDT

When I first heard of inertia welding we tried a 3/8" rod in a 1/2 HP lathe. It did weld together, but I never messed with it again.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/07/05 00:16:55 EDT

The Black&Decker "Wildcat" grinder Jock mentioned is a 15 amp 7"/9" machine that You can really lean into. These & similar machines are used a lot by stone & terazzo finishers and can often be found in pawn shops, that is where the ones I have came from.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/07/05 00:35:50 EDT

I want to make a steel vase out of twisted forged pipe, I have read your acticles about finishes, but I would like to get a few opinions on what would work. I would hot dip galvanise it but I live out in the bush, the nearest place to do that is to far. Do you think the cold galvanise paint would work on the inside, to protect it when filled with water?

Thanks a lot,
   - Hayes - Saturday, 05/07/05 10:59:36 EDT


If you clean the inside scrupulously, then cold galvanize with the 90% zinc stuff, then prime with primer for epoxy paint, you can then apply a couple of coats of epoxy paint.

You want to get the two-part epoxy paint, not the junk they call epoxy that is used straight out of the can. A couple of coats of the real epoxy will make the vase sufficiently waterproof.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/07/05 15:16:36 EDT

How did the develop ment of the anvil that we all know come along? Or basicly what is the history of the anvil and how long has it taken for it be developed from its earliest form to what we all know now?
   - James - Saturday, 05/07/05 17:56:57 EDT

I would say 'need', 'evolution of need', a hell of a long time.

Theres no easy answer and I'm not a blacksmith (yet, BIG GRIN 8>) but look through all the articles within this site and you'll be amazed what you can pick up.
Half my set up for casting silver was based on what I learned here along with ron reils site.
   - Tinker - Saturday, 05/07/05 19:40:22 EDT

Oh by the by,
I've just woke up after 14 hrs sleep, feel GREAT! pity its 00.56 GMT :(

In fairness James maybe digging around a few history sites ( just type 'Bronze Age' or 'Iron age' into Google ) will give you the kick off point and may also have pictures. Then try the library, I'm sure they can help A LOT, I myself have just landed a copy of 'the complete metal worker' by Tim McCreight from mine and its very interesting reading.
Maybe Paw Paw or one of the other 'Proper' Blacksmiths can help with reading suggestions or topics within anvil fire (I'm reading all the archives at the minute, funnily enough Jock was talking about wildcat grinders on the very first Guru log), but you'll have probably answered your question by then.
   - Tinker - Saturday, 05/07/05 20:05:19 EDT

Have you got a pump saver(trap) on you vaccumn set up for for investment casting? This is nothing more than a small glass jar, just under the casting stage. The vac pump line goes into the jar thru the metal lid, and is soldiered in. Stops just under the lid. The stage line also is soldiered into the lid, but goes about half way down. This way, if the investment fails, the molten metal shoots down the tube, hits the jar bottom, breaking it, and preventing the shot of metal from filling the lines and pump. If you put a coffee can just under the jar, you do not even lose the shot of silver. I have had investments fail and allow the metal to enter the vacumn line. The trap saved the day every time.
   ptree - Saturday, 05/07/05 20:42:31 EDT

Thats a top notch idea, thinking about it I'll have to re-do the piping (its heavy duty rubber from the vacuum tank to a steel plate that my flask sits on, oops :)
I will be able to get some thin copper piping (from an old frige) but how did you avoid scorching off the rubber seal of the jar lid when you soldered it?
   - Tinker - Saturday, 05/07/05 21:19:37 EDT

I am terribly sorry to bother you guys with such a trivial question, but is there anywhere I might be able to buy a rat tail file or rasp that is about fourteen to twenty inches in length? Are they even made? Yes I know that such a thin long file would be rather breakable, but that's what case hardening's for, right? I am just about fed up with these little eight inch ones, as I am attempting to clean up a less than perfect eye in my first railroad spike hatchet. I am also very unhappy with the ammount of time it takes me to widen up the hole in handle slabs to accomidate a narrow tang blade (which is why I want to know about long rat tail rasps). Also, does anyone know if people still make those rat tail rasps with a gimlet at the tip? You know, the kind of rasp that bores it's own hole as well as being able to widen it. Thanks in advance.
   Matthew Marting - Saturday, 05/07/05 21:24:32 EDT

Is there a picture gallery here?
   - LDuck - Saturday, 05/07/05 22:12:20 EDT

There are pics in the I-forge demo's, do you want to post or find somthing?
If its post you will have to ask the GURU if thats possible? (No idea!)If looking then the I-Forge is a good place (I haven't seen many other pics apart from the news stuff)
Mathew, from the time I've spent here I've found these guys to be VERY willing to help someone who was genuinely interested in the skills and art of working with hot metal or in real need, but not so willing to do homework for schoolchildren! lol (Miserable old f*rts! ;)
If I'm wrong about this then I'm sure Paw Paw or one of the other GURU's will correct me with 'pit boots' on!
   - Tinker - Saturday, 05/07/05 23:29:10 EDT

Tinker, been looking at the I forge illustrations and other stuff (hours of reading old archives)but just can't find a member gallery, thought it would have some cool pics of some of the work you guys have done.
   - LDuck - Saturday, 05/07/05 23:44:08 EDT


solder and gaskets,

I did some AC work years ago and we had to careful about the rubber wall seals that closed the 'wall pass through'. Some of the guys would put ice on the gasket to keep it cool. Me, I would get my helper to dribble cold drinking water just in front of the gasket and would place a sliver of paper along the pipe as a temp indicator. when the paper starts to burn, yell at the water boy for more H2O.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/08/05 00:10:18 EDT

Yep, there's some examples of the work these guys do in the I-Forge, like the dragon tongs, and the wall spike candle holders, there's even a rams head cane top and all sorts of great stuff like that, but I don't honestly know about anything dedicated to members (or visitors) work, I may be wrong but I don't think there is anything like that.
However I, like you, would like to see more of what these guys can make myself.
   - Tinker - Sunday, 05/08/05 00:14:12 EDT

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