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 8 - 16, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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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

member gallery. GO to the pull down menu upper right corner. Scroll down to the Yahoo gallery link. You may have to sign up but it is free.
   Ralph - Sunday, 05/08/05 00:16:48 EDT

thanks for the advice. I should be okay with the gasket i'm using for the flasks. It started life as a silicone rubber soultion for white metal moulds and is rated to over 400 degrees C, just poured it into an old tuna tin, cut out a hole in the middle and voila! instant high temp gasket for my flasks. The idea of a safety device like the jar sounds good, plus I don't want to loose silver!
Maybe my 9 year old son can play water boy?! lol if I can drag him away from his Playstation.....
   - Tinker - Sunday, 05/08/05 00:19:53 EDT

should have said once it had cured I popped it out then cut a hole...
ah well it is 05.26 GMT
My sleep patterns are fubar, but I have a least had some now!
   - Tinker - Sunday, 05/08/05 00:23:31 EDT

Tinker, A small jelly or jam jar is about right. Use a bit of "form-a-gasket or room temp. vulcanizing sealant to make the gasket after the heating. The rubber you used for the pad should also work.
Good luck
   ptree - Sunday, 05/08/05 08:40:43 EDT

if i want to job in company.i did the D.A.E(MECH).I WANT JOB IN GOOD FIRM.THANKS.
   waheed - Sunday, 05/08/05 09:14:50 EDT

Say Tinkerer, why would I want to know where to find a long rat tail file for homework? If I needed to know something for school, it would probably concern chemical kinetics[damn those different axis values that one must use to graph the order of reaction (k)]. Although I indeed dabble in blacksmithing, I realize that the Guru's time is precious which is why I was apologetic about such a trivial question. And I do realize how willing to help all you guys are. In fact, I have found that many blacksmiths' kindness is rivaled only by their knowledge. I remember a while back when I recommended a homeopathic medication to the Guru while he was sick and someone actually corrected me. I had no idea that occilococcinum was extract of duck liver, and I am in pharmacy school (although I am only a first year student).
   Matthew Marting - Sunday, 05/08/05 12:40:03 EDT

What steels are best suited for ferriers hoof nippers and at what working hardness? This is about the cutting edges, sharpening and toughness as opposed to 'best all-around for edges and handles.

Mike Krall
Lander, Wyo.
   - Mike Krall - Sunday, 05/08/05 13:43:48 EDT

Evolution of the Anvil: start with beginning of iron age; take that estimated date and subtract from *now*---please use UTC.

Beginning with the earliest anvils being rocks of useful shapes people are still designeing new anvils right as this minute! Look at the NIMBA and Hoffi anvils whose shapes were designed fairly recently.

However: the London Pattern---what we think as the "anvil" shape---and the rest of the world does not...dates from about the 1820's. May I commend "Anvils in America", Richard Postman, to you? ILL is a wonderful thing...owning your own copy even better!

As for filing out an eye; half round is much more usefull as there are no flat surfaces in a typical eye. I have found that doing a clean slit and then drifting with a good hammer-eye drift leave very little filing to do---say 10 minutes or even less.

   - Thomas P - Sunday, 05/08/05 13:46:15 EDT

What are the best steels and working hardness for ferrier's hoof nippers? This is a question about the cutting edge material, resistance to chipping or bending, toughness, edge taking and holding.

Mike Krall
Lander, Wyo.
   Mike Krall - Sunday, 05/08/05 13:50:08 EDT

Long Files: Files are made proportional in size for sound engineering and munufacturing reasons. If you are having difficulty claening out a small hole then a die grinder or inexpensive Dremel tool will do the job much better on most cases. The dremel tool and a bunch of carbide rotary files will cost less than a good set of files and the little tapered grinding stones will cut hard steel that would strip the teeth off an expensive new file. This is where the cost effectiveness comes in.

Normally if you have a LOT of filing to do in a hole you did something wrong making the hole. I done a lot of hole filing and it would have almost always been easier to start from scratch (the whole part).

Most common reason for filing holes is repairing the triangular results from drilling large holes in thin steel. . . To prevent this you can stack heavier pieces above and below, drill the stack and get a clean on-size hole.

Hot Punched holes should be drifted to size. Flame cut holes should be avoided. . . Holes drilled undersize should be drilled or reamed to size. Proper sized bits or reamers cost less than files.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 14:43:24 EDT

Nippers: Mike, you are forcing an engineering evaluation on a bad premise, that the manufacturability and durabliity of the rest of the tool are inconsequential.

If you use the "best" steel for the cutting edge for the entire tool then you find that the very high carbon steel (over 1%) is expensive, will require higher forging temperatures, wear dies and tools AND require a very slow (20°F.hr) annealing to be soft enough for the reins without shattering like glass.

Without a lot of research on a particular tool determining the "best" steel is almost impossible. In this case I would guess that one of the very high carbon abrasion resistant molding (P series) tool steels would be best for the tool edges IF inserts were to be used. For the rest of the tool a low cost medium carbon steel like SAE 1040 or a low alloy steel like SAE 4140 would be good. Mild steel would work but the slightly higher carbon alows a lighter easier to handle tool. For a one piece tool something like SAE 5160 would work but would need localized heat treating to create a hard durable cutting edge and a soft springy body.

Manufacturers, even small blacksmith shops, must make their steel selections based on cost, availability and manufacturability over "best for a specific aspect". All steel selection is a compromise of metallurgy, manufacturability, ergonomics (if applicable) and economics.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 15:04:17 EDT

Guru, can you recomend a good reference book of currently available steels. My suppliers both gave me that blank stare when I asked. I have an old version I got from Great Lakes Steel in the '70s; most of book is out of date. Thanks
   brian robertson - Sunday, 05/08/05 16:01:21 EDT

Well, you guys are right about the eye. I am appalled that I could have done such a horrible job on it, but it was kind of hard to do considering I had no hardy hole (just a stump with a plate on top that had a hole). I am going to try and add one to my RR anvil as soon as I can get a few hours off from studying. I have stood the track vertically on one end as you guys have suggested, and I wonder if you think that the anvil would still be relatively stable if I were to weld a two inch section of angle iron onto the inside angle of the anvil.
   Matthew Marting - Sunday, 05/08/05 16:04:59 EDT

I mean, that when I use the hardy hole, do you think that the anvil might tip over. It happened once, and gave my kneecap a glancing blow, but since then I have burned a little indentation into the stump for the anvil to sit in.
   Matthew Marting - Sunday, 05/08/05 16:08:40 EDT

have you tried Machineries Handbook?
   Ralph - Sunday, 05/08/05 16:22:35 EDT

Matthew Marting's Wobbly stump.

Sounds like you have over balanced the stump. To fix this you could burry part of it in the ground and concrete it in, or figure out the center of mass for the stand and counter balance it[ a horn plate, or a punching block? ;) ]. You could even make a post frame from 2X4's and brace your stump.Three small holes vs one big hole in the ground.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/08/05 16:31:41 EDT

Mike Krall:

My question would be why you would even want to make a pair of farrier nippers from scratch. There are thousands, neigh hundreds of thousands, neigh perhaps even a million good used ones out there to be had for about scrap value. Nippers are probably the most widespread and readily available blacksmithing/farrier tools available as likely almost any place which had horses or mules had at least some farrier tools there. Check out eBay. (P.S. It is farrier rather than ferrier.)
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/08/05 17:08:17 EDT

Steels: Brian, Cood complete books on this subject are expensive. However, the book I routinely recommend (almost daily), Machinery's Handbook has a good section on steels and heat treatment as well as THOUSANDS of other things that every metalworker needs to know. . . Any recent edition (1970's up) will cover current steels and used copies average only $25.

More specialized and very complete is the ASM Metals Reference Book. It covers almost every steel available and their heat treatment. It also covers other engineering metals including aluminium and copper alloys.

THEN if you want very detailed heat treating information on every standard steel including graphs charts and processes you want the ASM Heat Treater's Guide to Ferrous Metals.

These are listed as technical resources in our Sword Making FAQ and I recommend Machinery's Handbook in our Getting Started article as well as having no less than three reviews of it that are frequently updated.

Collective Review of Machinery's Handbook

27th Edition of Machinery's Handbook

27th Edition CDROM
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:03:34 EDT

Spark spark join join! I have a quick question, can anyone recommend what kind of welder to get for a good general purpose welding? I was thinking are or MIG, around the the $500 price range, any recomendations for make and model?
   Michael A. Gora - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:06:40 EDT

I’ve read several posted ideas of how to mount the anvil, and it seems like the can of sand is the way to go, but, is it at knuckle high or 2” above the knuckles, sounds like it could make a difference in how tiered your arm gets.
   - LDuck - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:14:10 EDT

Anvil Height = Knuckle Height Arm Relaxed

This is a general rule that works very well but some folks find they need adjustments to this height.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:22:51 EDT

ASM references: Note that these are published by and are only available directly from ASM. They are rarely available used and then are often outdated. Most serious metalworkers that care about the technical aspect of their work have several ASM references.

The ASM "Handbook" is an encylopedic series on metals and mechanical processes applied to metals. The complete set is rare and is usualy on found in Engineering school libraries or large engineering corporations. Individuals often have the volumes that apply to their specialty. I have the volumes on Forging, Casting and metal Forming. They cost roughly $200 each today. I also have very old copies of their books on Forging, Powder Metals from the 1940's. They are generaly outdated but the basics are there as well as some details not included in newer books.

IF I was an Engineering student going into mechanical engineering there would be no better gift or investment in my future than the complete set.

Note that I DO NOT recommend the ASM Open Die Forging Manual. It is a reprint of a Forging Industry Association publication that does not have as much information or detail as the ASM Handbook on the subject. For this type information you are far better off with the book by J.W. Lillico.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:27:18 EDT

The Timken Company publishes a very useful handbook on steels at this website: www.timken.com/timken_ols/steel/handbook/

It is intended for metallurgists but most blacksmiths can find something useful in it. If you download it and have questions, ask them here. Patrick or I will try to answer it for you.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:30:47 EDT

GP Welders: The best for a small shop is a plain old buzz box welder. Next step up is an AC-DC unit. I prefer Miller's but the old Lincoln Tombstone is an enduring classic.

MIG welders are great for a production shop. In small shops the roll of wire will often rust between uses and gum up the works. They also require expensive inert gas cylinders and regulators. The inexpensive units go out of production very rapidly and often end up unmaintainable. There is a lot to go wrong with these machines and want to buy a well known brand from a reputable dealer.

MIG does not weld through scale, paint, rust or dirt. Thus they are not a suitable machine for farm repair of junkyard construction. These machines need NEW steel with minimal or no scale.

I've known shops with a dozen high dollar welders that keep their old buzz box setup because when everything else fails and is waiting to be repaired OR they are out of gas or wire the buzz box will keep them in business. Start with a good one. Upgrade but keep the buzz box.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 19:39:03 EDT

Matthew, Anvils have existed for longer without holes in them, that thy have with. To get around that use a bolster. Either small ones drilled in a plate for punching small holes, or Make a bigger one from some heavy flat stock. Just bend it the easy way to the shape you need. Punch from both sides on the anvil, and then drift it to size over the bolster. As always keep your punch tip cool.
   JimG - Sunday, 05/08/05 20:07:00 EDT

Wobbly Anvil Setup: Matthew, You need to back up, LOOK at what you are doing, apply some common sense, FIX the problems and start over.

Anvils need to be stable no matter what type. If it falls over you need a bigger base, you need to add a foot under the base, attach it to something else or attach the anvil to the base. This is a serious tool where you are handling very dangerous hot metal. Do not continue until you have solved your equipment problems.

I always recommend a REAL anvil of 100 pounds or better on a good stand (see detail stand plans on our iForge page).
Outside or a REAL anvil there are all kinds of make-do ways that are not very efficient but can be used by the hard headed or despately persistant. You have to set priorities. You can spend hundreds on the wrong tools OR start with the right tool. A REAL anvil is the right tool if you are going to be a blacksmith.

As soon as you deviate form the normal path you need to THINK and use MORE common sense than usual. Now, I rarely say this in public but,
Folks without common sense or basic mechanical skills have no business in blacksmithing.
Blacksmithing REQUIRES:

1) Common Sense
2) More mechanical knowledge than average.
3) A sense of self preservation (safety).

Mechanical knowledge is not just knowing about different size wrenches or being able to identify different tools. It is KNOWING without being told when something is top heavy and dangerous. KNOWING where the center of gravity of a mass is so that when you rig to lift it there are no surprises possibly hurting someone. It is KNOWING when to use a bigger or smaller hammer without being told. It is KNOWING when to stop and do something different because you are damaging tools or parts. It is KNOWING to oil a machine by the sound it is making BEFORE it is squeeling and KNOWING to tighten up loose bolts before a machine falls apart while running and becomes damaged OR hurts you. It is KNOWING how to apply "common" sense to a problem. It it KNOWING when to do some research because you do not know the answer to a problem. It it KNOWING when to STOP because something is unsafe.

The last item "KNOWING when to stop because something is unsafe" is drilled into folks in industrial safety training over and over but many folks don't get it and the results are often catastrophic. THINKING about what you are doing all the time you are doing it is required to prevent becoming a statistic.

I do not know exactly what you are doing wrong but you have described a situation than is dangerous and you apparently recognize it is dangerous and have failed to address the problem. I suspect the solution is simple but might take a little work. I DO NOT want to hear anymore about it until you have adequately addressed the problem.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/08/05 20:36:02 EDT

Steel Availability
Brian, The various handbooks are invaluable regarding types of steel, some application, engineering data, etc.,. AVAILABILITY is another thing. If you know anyone in any of the machining or fabricating fields, they might be able to get you a more recent catalog or stock list from their steel suppliers. Jorgensen comes to mind. Most steel catalogs can be a wealth of basic info and help you get acquainted with terminology, etc.,. Otherwise as the crackedquench suggested, some of the steel suppliers have online information. The good guru has explained ad infinitum that junkyard steel is junkyard steel. The best way to know what you have is to get it from a known source. And he has also stated over and over, 1018 or some other low carbon steel is a known quantity chemically while A36 is only performance based and is of varying chemistry.
   - Tom H - Sunday, 05/08/05 21:29:46 EDT

Guru, AMEN!
   ptree - Sunday, 05/08/05 21:43:38 EDT

Michael G:
Welding equipt;
The most versitile single unit would be an oxy-acet torch..it will cut thich and thin steel easily and will weld thin to medium weight steel. However, it is slow and there is a definate learning curve.
Second would be an arc welder...see comments above. These are the lease expensive and most reliable and will weld a wide range of weights and alloys...very funky cutting..some practice necessary.
A MIG or TIG welder is a wonderful machine but tends to be more special purpose and more expensive.\
Don't forget forge welding. Unfortunately, all my forges were welded together before i got any good at it.
   - Pete F - Monday, 05/09/05 01:27:28 EDT

Welding equipt
Michael G:
The most versitile single unit would be an oxy-acet torch..it will cut thich and thin steel easily and will weld thin to medium weight steel. However, it is slow and there is a definate learning curve.
Second would be an arc welder...see comments above. These are the lease expensive and most reliable and will weld a wide range of weights and alloys...very funky cutting..some practice necessary.
A MIG or TIG welder is a wonderful machine but tends to be more special purpose and more expensive.\
Don't forget forge welding. Unfortunately, all my forges were welded together before i got any good at it.
   Pete F - Monday, 05/09/05 01:28:22 EDT

Hi there. its been a couple off months since I have had a question for you, been busy too.
Out at my Dads farm I come across some used grader blades that he bought at least 25 years back. He was going to make a cattle squeeze chute out of them but they where to hard to drill. I am wondering if anybody knows what kind off steel these may be and what temps sould I be using to anneal for knives, axe, and other tools. I checked at the local municipelity office where my Dad purchased these from and they had know Idea and have had differnt suppliers for grader blades over the past 25 years.
What else can I do. If I wing it with working with this steel I want to have an educated guesse what Im getting into.
Thankyou in advance. Well check tomorow night to see what you can tell me.
   NuViking - Monday, 05/09/05 02:09:32 EDT

Have some grader blades my Dad bought 25 years back. what steel might these be , how sould I test them and how can I anneal, harden and temper this steel?
Thankyou in advance.
   NuViking - Monday, 05/09/05 02:20:57 EDT

Michael G: With the 500$ budget You can only get a small MIG setup [asuming You are buying new]. They are fine for the sheetmetal they were designed for. In a stick welder that ammount of money will get You a capable 225 amp AC welder, extension cables, & a self darkening helmet with money left over.Due to the simplicity of a stick welder, buying used equiptment can be fesable for greater savings, or to enable You to buy an AC/DC unit or more gear. A used welder & used torch set would cover a lot of bases.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/09/05 02:35:03 EDT

NuViking: cut some pieces off with an abrasive wheel and try oil and water as quenchants to see what works, then temper at diferent temperatures to see how hard/soft it gets. Normal rules apply, quench from a little hotter than non magnetic on a rising heat to harden,& cool extremely slowly from the same temperature to anneal. Play around with it untill You get the results You can use.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/09/05 03:00:13 EDT

can you help me with any diagrams on how to mark out steel pipe handrails top middle and bottom. im really struggling on the returns .im using butt weld elbows
   john - Monday, 05/09/05 08:11:24 EDT

John, It is not clear what you want.

If it is how to make cross joints this is covered in detail in drafting, piping, sheet metal or industrial plumbing books. However, due to the layout being farily complicated, on small pipe it is most often done by trial and error.

I would clamp a piece of pipe at the intersecting angle, wrap a piece of poster board or tag board around the pipe and sketch the joint. Then I would cut it out, replace and mark closer and trim again. When I had a good fit I would use the template to mark cuts to be torched and ground to fit.

Note that THEORETICALY a pipe intersection comes to a point at the centerline. However, in practice the thickness of the material shortens the line about 1/4 diameter from the center. After some trial and error fit up I would modify my template. Once I was satisfied with the template, AND if this was a large or repeat job I would duplicate it in .024" brass shim stock.

There are also tools for making pipe intersection layouts however they do not work well in small pipe as noted.

If your problem is at the corner joints this is more geometry out of the references mentioned above. This work is generaly done by making true scale layouts of sufficient size and detail that you can scale dimensions off the drawing. Those with the mathematical skills would calculate lengths and angles as needed.
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 09:55:56 EDT

John-- Get The Pipe Fitter's and Pipe Welder's Handbook, revised edition, by Thomas W. Frankland, a 194-page pocket-sized wonder with detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions for just about every conceivable joint and bend.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/09/05 10:17:47 EDT

I torch-cut some big bending forks out of grader blade a while back, found they were surprisingly brittle and snapped under stress. After annealing they are fine.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/09/05 10:25:14 EDT

Available Steels: Everything depends on your local supplier. My primary supplier years ago carried ONLY mild steel and structural steel. Nothing else.

My current local steel supplier carries low grade odd A-36 in the usual selections and plate, good cold drawn SAE 1018-20 and SAE 4i40 in a variety of sizes.

My primary wholesale hardware and machine tool supplier stocks generic W-1 and O-1 drill rod and Starett O-1 precision ground flats in a variety of sections. They also stock good quality pipe but no mild steel other than in 36" hardware packs for farm and hardware stores.

For aluminium and stainless there are two specialty suppliers localy with a narrow range of alloys.

SO, for the full range of localy available metals I have to go to four different places and even then the range is pretty narrow. If I want anything more exotic I have to order from out of town. Easiest for me is McMaster-Carr.

In the "good old days" of the 1960's through 80's big outfits like J.T. Rhyerson and Sons had printed stock lists that covered every size and alloy they inventoried. They had wharehouses country wide and would supply what you needed from what ever wharehouse had what you needed. Today they are a cog in a bigger wheel with a narrower range of supply that varies too much to put into a print catalog. Stability no longer exists in the US industrial supply chain.

If you get a quizical look from your steel suplier when you ask what steels they carry then you have your answer. They carry "steel", usualy A-36 but the cold drawn is probably something else. There may be someone (the boss) knowledgable about the difference in the business but most will only know they sell "steel".
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 11:09:56 EDT

Guru & Ken,
Yes, inserts... 7075 Alum. handles. Inserts don't need to be cast (last ones were investment cast, supposedly A-2) but seems like a less expensive way to the end product). I marginally understand steel type for particular use but I may know more about it than the designers of the nippers, who understand nipper function quite well.

The nipper design is for light weight, highly accurate cutting (least amount of filing to flat), ease of cutting (edge angle, edge attack angle, edge holding, and leverage), resharpenable w/ adjustable stop, inexpensively replaced. Most nippers presently available are "good". Those that are very good are few and also expensive... in the end, a throw-away tool (from the farrier's point of view).

A-2 cutting inserts of various hardness bend or chip under use (hooves are full of grit and gravel and there is a sideways prying motion in use). There needs to be machining done after casting/forging. Are there steels along with the "P" series that may be suitable?

Mike Krall
   Mike Krall - Monday, 05/09/05 11:14:11 EDT

Welding: As Pete pointed out, an oxy-acetylene set is probably the most versatile equipment and most used in a small shop. Cut, weld, braze solder and heat. In the early days they called the outfit "a forge". Although they are not very efficient on large welds they are very good for small welds. I have even welded the frame of a small hand tool trigger switch with OA.

For cutting gas is the most cost effective way to cut the widest variety of steel. The same torch that will cut thin sheet will also cut 3" heavy plate. The new small plasma outfits cut cleaner but cost 3 to 5 times as much.

The buzz box follows in utility. Stick welding can be applied to a wide variety of situations and alloys using the correct rod. You can purchase stainless rod in small quantities but when you go to buy wire for a MIG machine you will find a roll much more expensive PLUS you have to switch gasses.

From these you move up as you need. I recommend a modular system for MIG welding. The units where the power supply, wire feed and torch are seperate pieces are much easier to maintain over the long run. Wire feeds and torches wear out or fail at a much higher rate than power supplies. Integrated units are often cheaper but when one part fails you have lost the whole. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 11:42:57 EDT

Mike Krall: My recommendation would be to buy a high-end pair of nippers with replaceable/adjustable tips and then purchase a life-time supply of replacement tips at the same time. Reshapen until they no longer perform and then replace. Trying to make replacement cutting tips from scratch would seem relatively cost inefficient in the long run.

Guru: Is 'cold drawn' the same as 'cold rolled'? My assumption is yes, but...

On arc welders. I have a Millers AC/CD Thunderbolt purchased 20-ish years ago for around $400.00. Has done everything I have asked it to. Using stainless rod I can even weld black pipe to freon bottles (very carefully).
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/09/05 12:17:50 EDT

Ken; I may be wrong, but I'm inclined to think that the two terms have come to be interchangeable. In jewelery making, there is a hardened steel plate used, known as a draw plate. Metals such as silver wire can be pulled through it with a special pair of pliers to reduce the material to the size required. The plate has a series of progressively smaller, tapered holes, and the wire should be annealed between pulls, to avoid work hardening. The plate can also be used to make tubing, by tapering the end of a strip of the metal, and pulling it through smaller and smaller holes until the seam is closed. The seam is then soldered shut. The word "drawing" itself implies pulling, while rolling involves compression by rolls, thereby thinning,elongating and/or widening the material. (Think "continuous, rotary fullering or swaging".)
   3dogs - Monday, 05/09/05 12:52:37 EDT

Metals Info-
You really need two different books-
No. 1, you need a handbook of currently manufactured sizes and shapes. This you get from a big steel wholesaler or distributor. I have gotten a bunch of these free, over the years, from companies I buy steel from. I have also purchased some interesting older ones. But I often see relatively new ones for sale in used book stores. Yes, they may have dropped some of the shapes, but a book that is 90% correct is better than no book at all, and you can always call up and ask if they still make that 3/8" x 3" x 4" uneven leg angle. Call every steel dealer in your phone book, and ask if they have a book of stock sizes they will give or sell you.
The second book that you want to get eventually is a book that describes the alloys of different metals, with info about what processes are best, heat treatment, etc. The BEST book like this is the ASM Metals Handbook Desk Edition. I found a used copy for $25, but this is very rare- and I am almost as good as Thomas at finding used books. New, it costs a whopping $235. And for me, it would be worth every penny- for instance, they list over a hundred copper/brass/bronze alloys, along with chemical breakdowns, as well as applicable processes- can it be forged? or cast? cold worked? Its all in there. Whadda you want to know about? Ductile vs. gray iron? forging titanium? how deep draw stamping works, and which alloys are best for it?
This book is amazing, and anyone serious about metals ought to save up for one.
Machinery's Handbook, which the guru mentioned, covers a few of these metals issues, along with a lot of other really important stuff, and I would consider it another essential library book. And I am always finding copies of this in used bookstores, usually for 10 to 20 bucks, depending on age.
You really ought to have all 3.
Just because you work with your hands, it doesnt mean you get out of doing your homework. Studying books is still important.
   ries - Monday, 05/09/05 13:49:40 EDT

Hard Duty: Mike, We are back to manufacturability. Although investment cast comes CLOSE to forged performance it does not meet it when toughness and chip resistance is needed. Forged or machined from rolled bar gives slightly better results in all cases. The steel is also more likely the exact chemistry than when cast.

A2 is a common air hardening steel. It is the least expensive and easiest to heat treat of the series. In this type of application the heat treatment is more critical than the steel.

Consider A-7 (UNS T30107), It is a very high carbon (2.25%), chrome vanadium steel with tungsten. It is a hot work steel and MUCH tougher than A-2 and one of the highest carbon steels made. Maximum hardness 67 HRC. This is one of the few steels that cryogenic treatment is recomended.

Then there is D7 (UNS T30407) another very high carbon tools steel. It has 12% chrome and 4% vanadium, max hardness 66 HRC. This is one of the few steels that cryogenic treatment is recomended.

Both these steels temper at up to 1000F so are more resistant to softening from regrinding. Both require careful heat treatment. Tempering to much lower than the maximum hardness will reduce chipping. The proper heat treat is always more critical than the exact steel selection.

P-series mold steels. I had not looked at their carbon content and they are not realy the right steels for this job.

If your A-2 nipper blades are bending then they are probably not A-2 as the anneal to get it that soft is very difficult OR the edge was ground much too thin. As mentioned above the metal chemistry is more difficult to control in castings and not receommended for the most demanding applications. In bar the chemistry has been checked in large batches when in small castings each piece MAY be significantly different.
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 14:11:06 EDT

Cold Drawn vs. Cold Rolled: These are not the same and come under the general category CF for cold finished.

Drawn is drawn through a draw plate and is generaly more precision than other stock. It also requires the best grade of steel to be drawn.

Cold Rolled is a variety of steels. Much plate is rolled from hot until cold and the scale VERY thin of non-existant. This steel is often sheared and edge rolled to clean up. It is very work hardened and NOT the same as cold drawn. Other cold rolled steels are hot rolled, then pickled, then cold rolled to final shape. When you find bright finished CF bar that is out of square it was rolled. . . it often also A-36 rather than SAE 1018. Almost all drawn stock is SAE 1018-20.

Steel Wharehouses lable steel as "CF" covering both types under one lable but they are vastly different in material condition. The worst is when they sell sheared and edged plate as "hot roll". This stuff is nearly a spring temper from work hardening and DOES NOT bend like HR bar. .

See FAQ on Steel Products
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 14:45:26 EDT

Ries, I'm glad we agree on references. I have been pushing Machinery's Handbook for 8 years and a FEW folks have caught on to its value. But the REAL value is to sit down and READ the articles. Some are boring as can be but others are very enlightening. The best thing to do is to read entire sections when you are interested in that topic.

There are MANY good reasons that machine and engineering schools start with a class about using Machinery's Handbook. They are hoping that you will remember just a FEW of the thousands of topics the book covers so that when you need that information you will know where you can find it.

I use Machinery's when I need to solve a triangle, when I need the melting point of a metal, when I need a conversion factor, when need gear strenght forumla or dimensions of a standard motor frame and shaft keyway. I use Machinery's when I need the dimensions of standard pipe or structural steel members. I use Machinery's when I need a deflection formula of that pipe or beam.

These are just a few of the things I look up on a regular basis. They are not the many things I have LEARNED from Machinery's or needed in the past like buffing and grinding speeds, maximum wood saw speeds, metal finishes, coefficients of expansion, densities for calculating weight, dividing plate operations. . . . Centers of gravity, composite centers of gravity. Then I figured out my own method for 3D composit centers of gravity. . .
3-D Distances

Something they should teach you at the time as the Pythagorium Therom is that is works in 3D as well as flat. You just add an axis.

2D(h) = SQR(x2 + y2)
3D(h) = SQR(x2 + y2 + z2)

Most people treat Machinery's like a typical book of data tables and it is that as well but also much more.

Another reference, The ASM Metals Reference Book has a fantastic glossary that if you studied it and learned all the definitions you would have a vast metalurgical knowledge.

An important part of all trades is the technical knowledge and the most important tool is your mind.
   - guru - Monday, 05/09/05 15:33:54 EDT

I wanted to thank you for the great information available on this site. I was able to complete my first successful forge weld today. Your website was invaluable in my getting started in this art form. Thank you.
James Ballinger, Woodbine, GA.
   James - Monday, 05/09/05 20:48:43 EDT

Ken - Cold drawn and cold rolled are not the same - cold drawn bar stock take annealed bar stock, "point 1 end" put through carbide die, clamp end placed through the die, then pull it through the die. Cold rolled - take hot rolled bar stock, place it on cold-rolling mill, start it through increase pressure on mill as needed to make final size/shape. Cold draw is much more precise in cross-section, has been annealed before cold-drawing, and will be more consisten hardness wise. Cold rolled - sharper edges and better shape than hot rolled - structure has typically not been annealed prior to cold rolling. On a cost basis cold drawn should be more than cold-rolled, if you're going to forge it, first I'd buy hot rolled, than cold rolled. Unless you're getting a heck of deal, I'd skip cold-drawn.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 05/09/05 23:40:40 EDT

John -- I weld a 45 deg. fitting on the end of the sloped rail, and blend in the weld with a flap disc on an angle grinder. Next I mark a plumb line on each fitting where it transitions to horizontal. This is an eyeball job. Cut with a portaband and bevel for welding. Weld on the horizontal run 12" at top or 12" + 1 tread width at the bottom.Weld on 90 deg. fittings & a piece of pipe between them to complete the return. The ones I have built didn't involve the bottom rail in the return & still met ADA rules. I use a holesaw to cope the joints where I don't use weld fittings. There are inexpensive jigs to do this, I use a Bridgeport milling machine, It has low enough speeds to keep the holesaw from wearing out quickly.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/10/05 00:22:52 EDT

Why does 360 deg. = 2[Pi] radians? the answer to that is in machinery's handbook allso.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/10/05 00:28:12 EDT

Speaking of radians, etc., any theories out there about why some military compasses are graduated in 64ths instead of 360 degrees? Simpler to deal with under combat conditions?
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/10/05 00:39:23 EDT


Well, I got in a hurry with my last post and didn't thank you for the help, so here's two thank you's... for a lot of help.

I was wondering if maybe the A-2 wasn't. The edge geometry is pretty thin but I don't feel it is too thin. If anything happens with this project, I'll let you know how steels and HT played out.

Thanks again...

Mike Krall
   Mike Krall - Tuesday, 05/10/05 00:56:05 EDT

Where are you boys getting your coal for the forge? I live up here in Montana and we no longer have any mines producing coal,I tried some the neighbor bought in Wyoming, only to find that its not the stuff I need. Is there somewhere I can buy it in shippable bags?
Thanks, Matt Zawada
   Matt Zawada - Tuesday, 05/10/05 01:13:43 EDT

hello all,

Sorry to hear about Paw Paw, I am new here but reading the archives he seems like a great guy, I will add him to my prayers.

A couple of questions: What is a smithing magician? I assume it is a tool similar to the guillotine tool in the i-forge demo's?

Also is there a simple way I can tell if the steel I am using is bad? I think it has microscopic cracks. I know that it could be that I am not very good yet but I made a calla-lilly for mothers day. I split about 3" of 1/2" square stock and drew each end out after forming the head that would be the flower. When starting on the first flower the other half of the split cracked (broke) and went across the room. This happened two times in a row, so only my mom got a flower, my wife had to settle for dinner. Any way I tried to keep the half of the split not being worked bent out of the way against the unsplit stock so it didn't get to hot. I tried not to work cold, I did a little light work to take out hammer divets as I lost the color but only light blows. The stock is 1018 hot roll, I had to have my steel supplier order it all he had was A36 and not much solid shapes. So I have over 200' in various sizes of square, round and bar. If it is the steel I want to exchange the uncut lenghts but I have no idea if it's me or not. Last piece of helpful info this is heated in a gas forge. that will not get to welding heat, so I doubt it was burnt.
Thanks Jeff
   Jeff G - Tuesday, 05/10/05 01:26:05 EDT

Blue looks good on me. Jock this sight is a great resource, thanks. Without this sight I would probably not have jumped in and tried smithing. I posted a couple Photo's of the lily in the above post in case anyone is interested. I know it isn't going to wind up in the M.O.M.A. but it is my first project other than a couple of pig tail hooks to hold my hammers to the stump. I should also say right out front it isn't pure forge work, I had to weld the flower that broke off back on, I also welded the leaves in place, also the stamen(sp). To my way of thinking though the victor or the propane forge aren't that much different except that victor gets to welding heat and the forge won't until I rework the burners. I did reheat the whole piece after welding/grinding to try and work the weld into the metal a little better.
oh almost forgot the photo's are added in a folder Jeff G my user name. Is there a way to see only the newly added photos?
   Jeff G - Tuesday, 05/10/05 01:35:47 EDT

Miles: It is because of the old terminology of dividing in half each of the cardinal directions, then dividing each half in half etc. So You have: North,North north east by north, North northeast by east,North east, East northeast by north, East northeast, etc. These are the names of the directions of a 32 division compass, I forget how each point on each side of these is named, but saying the names of ALL the points in order clockwise from north is called "Boxing the compass" This is one of the things that impeded navigation for years.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/10/05 02:54:19 EDT

Matt Zawada:

Coal by the bag is occasionally on eBay. Would be expensive with shipping charges. You might consider contacting the blacksmithing groups for WY and surrounding states (see link under Navigator) to see where they are buying their coal, then get a pickup load. Coal supplier list under the Navigator bar also). Also check for blacksmithing conferences (aka hammer-ins). Some draw coal supplier. I know it would be a long trip, but Quad-State in Troy, OH always has at least one coal supplier by the bag. If there is a demand in your area from other smiths, bring back a truckload and resell it to cover your trip costs.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/10/05 06:45:16 EDT

Guru, I'm writing the master for help with locating an illistration or resource that can assist me in visualizing THE MASTERs words Proverbs 27:17 "as iron sharpens iron, so one man shaarpens another",I am developing a church directory and the mens bible study claims that verse, what does these words bring to your mind, an anvil? swords? how Does iron sharpen iron? Im a 56 year old lady who would like to somehow visualize this and draw something for this group. I do appreciate your time in responding. I admire your dedication, wish my family would have continued its heritage- my great grandfather was a blacksmith in Penn. All is lost. Thanks for continuing such a fine craft. thank you
   Kathy Gruzalski - Tuesday, 05/10/05 08:25:14 EDT

I'll leave the iron sharpens iron question for the Guru, but you mention wishing your family had kept up the blacksmithing tradition.

What is keeping you from reclaiming that heritage? (question asked in all seriousness)
   JimG - Tuesday, 05/10/05 10:49:24 EDT

Kathy; The tool known as a "steel" which comes with most kitchen cutlery sets is a very good example of your analogy. When a butcher knife is steeled, very little, if any, of the blade's material is removed. Rather, the microscopic fibers of the cutting edge are stood back up to resharpen the knife. normal dulling of the blade is usually more a matter of the fibers being pushed over than of being worn off. A file would be another example of iron sharpening iron, but the knife wouldn't last long.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:03:41 EDT

Matt Zawada,

Kayne and Son's Blacksmiths Depot (use pulldown menu at upper right and click on BlacksmithsDepot.com) sells excellent smithing coal by the bag and will ship.

The is also a company called Reboy Supply that sells smithing coal in larger quantities. I know nothing about the quality of their product, but they have a website you can look at to get an idea of pricing (www.reboysupply.com).

That said, Ken presented the least expensive option. (I was going to say "cheapest idea", but somehow that sounded insulting to Ken -GRIN). Check with local or semi-local smiths and see where they get theirs. If you get a bunch of guys together and buy a large load, it is much cheaper. At least a few of the blacksmithing groups I know of, buy in bulk and sell to members. I'd wager someone near you does the same.

   eander4 - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:07:08 EDT

Kathy and 3dogs,

The image that comes to my mind is sharpening a scythe in the field with a small stump anvil.
   eander4 - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:09:50 EDT

Yes, Kathy; to continue with Jim's thought, we have a number of ladies in the craft of whom we are MOST proud. C'mon over, heck, it's already in your blood.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:12:33 EDT

Good'n Eric.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:14:00 EDT

Kathy, This quote refers to shaping hot iron on a cold anvil OR a soft piece of iron on steel. Almost any illustration of forging illustrates the point. A blacksmith can shape a chisel, axe or other edged tool to a very sharp edge simply with a hammer.

The other early method of sharpening that does not require heat was the sharpening of scythes. This was done by hammering the edge of the relatively soft scythe on a small portable anvil called a "scythe" anvil. The hard steel hammer and the hard steel anvil thining the softer iron or steel blade.

And finaly, a steel scraper can also be used to sharpen a softer iron or steel tool. However, I doubt this is what the Bible was refering to.

A good illustration for this would be a very straight forward and iconic. A man (the smith) standing behind a simple raised anvil striking hot steel (the hammer down on the work). The left hand holding the work with tongs nearly in the same position as the right so that they whole is quite symetrical.

Jerrry Darnnel forge welding Most views of smiths forging are 3/4 views to show the motion of the hammer and the effort being applied. However I think that for your purpose something more formal is needed. The image at left is the type of thing but from the wrong angle and Jerry is stooping to much (too short of anvil).

I would recommend that you find your closest blacksmithing organization and go watch someone work and perhaps pose for you. We also have a Calander of events page that lists blacksmithing events world wide.

Simplify the anvil. Modern anvils have a distinctive shape that is only a couple hundred years old. You want something symetrical, almost rectangular flaring slightly at the top. Let me know if you need more help. I could make a sketch but I have too many other commitments to make anything more formal.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:17:12 EDT

Iron sharpens Iron. If one piece of iron is harder than another, the hard one can be used to remove excess material from the softer. Think of using a file on an ax head. The file is harder than the ax and is thus used to sharpen the ax.

In the same manor, a more mature man can help refine the less mature man by showing him where he needs improvement.

As to an illustration of this, if you think in terms of the above example, you will be on the right track. There are many process that use a harder metal to shape a softer one. The machine shop is full of them. Drilling, milling, turning on a lathe all are examples of harder metal shaping a softer one.

If neither piece of metal is harder than the other one and you put an abrasive between them, such as sand, as you rub one against the other, you have both of them shaping each other at the same time. I don’t think that is exactly what you are looking for but it is also true.

Good luck and
God bless
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:23:38 EDT

Kathy: For other Bibical references to ironworking obtain a copy of the book: Return of the Blacksmiths by Dr. Michael Scantlebury. He associates those spreading the words of Jesus as modern day apostles and uses the very loose analogy of the ironworkers being associated with the building of temples to their work. And it is a very loose association. Your local library may be able to obtain a loaner copy for you.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/10/05 11:59:32 EDT

Two scythe anvilsKathy, As noted by others there are many ways iron sharpens iron but the problem is that few people today would undertand the symbolism of a scythe anvil or other metal working tool. I come back to the scythe anvil (right) because they are a very stylish tool of ancient origin. It is most likely the tool refered to.

The two shown are modern scythe anvils. The orange is more typical of the old style. However, it has an offset edge. The most common types were a combination of these two, a simple crowned face and the classic scroll base stops. Both have a way to attach a lanyard to them so they can be tied to their hammer and the pair not lost in the field.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/10/05 12:06:57 EDT

Dave Boyer-- Thanks, but the compasses I have seen graduated, or calibrated, in 64ths are modern-day working devices. I am talking Brunton surveyor's compasses, military compasses. But with their dials marked in 64ths rather than 360 degrees. Whuffo???
SCYTHES-- Have relatively soft edges so stones of the field won't chip them. The little hammers and anvils merely straighten the edge back to optimal shape.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/10/05 12:09:03 EDT

Jeff G,

I should have added:

After you make the splits, take a second heat, fold back the split areas and hot rasp the sharp interior edges of the splits. This will help to eliminate any unseen stress cracks that might develop into a problem later.

   eander4 - Tuesday, 05/10/05 12:20:26 EDT

Coal on Ebay: I've had a couple people complain about the quality of coal they bought that way.

Before purchasing ANY significant quantity of coal you need to get 40-50 pounds and try it out. It is especialy helpful if you have someone that KNOWS coal try it out. Good coal should smoke little once going and it coking. Coke should form in large light lumps that need to be broken up. Ash should be relatively insignificant and form into clinkers. A small fire should easily reach welding heat or burn the steel once some coke has formed.

Coal is an orgainic mineral product and varies infinitely from hard anthracite which is almost pure carbon and difficult to burn to soft peat which is coal precursor. Purity can vary from so little carbon it just makes black rock that won't burn to that hard anthracite mentioned. Good smithing coal is a soft "bitumious" grade that has some volitiles that need to be burned off as coke is forming but is otherwise very pure.

TEST before buying in quantity.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/10/05 12:34:15 EDT

On coal on eBay. Ask the seller if they would be willing to send you a sample via one of the priority mail flat rate boxes. One will hold about 1/3 cubic foot, enough for a test fire. Shipping postage is $7.70 to any U.S. address (including AK & HI). Expect the seller add on a handling charge to the coal cost itself for the extra service.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/10/05 12:42:43 EDT

I believe the compasses you are refering to are marked in mils. 6400 mils = 360 degrees. There are more mils so you can measure an azimuth more precisely. If I recall correctly "they" came up with mils once indirect fire with artillery started getting big. They needed something more precise then degrees to land rounds on target. I don't know about surveying but it would make sense that you would want to use something more acurate then degrees if you could.
   Martin P. - Tuesday, 05/10/05 13:44:37 EDT

please can you help me to build a carburizing furnace
   tamer khayat - Tuesday, 05/10/05 14:48:04 EDT

please help me , tell me how to build a carburizing furnace
   tamer khayat - Tuesday, 05/10/05 14:49:28 EDT

I recently heard that the Middle Earthly metal of Mithril is possible to make by mixing platinum, steel, and a small bit of titanium. Is it possible?
   Josh - Tuesday, 05/10/05 15:51:07 EDT

I am trying to get an idea as to what kind of parralelism and perpendicularity tolerances to expect from weldments made from 0.025", 0.375" and 0.500" H.R.S. These weldments would typically fit into a 18" x 18" envelope to give you an idea of the size. I am concerned about the warpage created by the welding process. We also have to consider the sheet tolerance when it comes to flatness as this will effect our total tolerances. To your knowledge has there been any published capability studies done on this subject?
   Dom - Tuesday, 05/10/05 16:08:56 EDT

Josh; mithril is a made up name; you could call anything mithril and it would be just as correct as anybody calling anything else mithril.

If you go by JRR's description that mix would not pass as it was supposed to be light, bright and stronger than steel.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/10/05 16:16:28 EDT

Dom: Are you arc welding? Did you mean 0.250 rather than 0.025?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/10/05 17:26:26 EDT

Martin P and Miles. Mils were indeed used for indirect fire weapons. For an example, On the 8" (203mm) weapon I was around in the dark ages, Well 1978, the maximum range was 19,800 meters. Now to move the fall of shot a VERY fine adjustment is need at this range. A 1/4 mil board was used and this 1/4 of 6400 parts of a circle would move the fall of shot 50 meters at max range.
There are some other very useful, (in the dark ages prior to laser range finders) that can be done with a mil devided recticle in a tank. I don't remember the exact fourmula, but if the lenght of size of the target is know in meters, a quick look to see the width in mils can be figured in the mind to give the range, which gives the elevation and the lead on the "rams horn stadia" in the tanks I was around in 1974-1977. This also explains the couple of shots to hit anything much further than 500 meters prior to the computer fire direction control systems currently in use.
I worked on the missle system that was a sure hit out to a range far beyond the range of a first round hit by the bad guys. Fired out of the tank main gun. Worked great, but the fire control system was a much better choice, and that technology is now gone.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/10/05 17:36:55 EDT

It would be interesting to figure out what you COULD use to make a metal that DID have similar qualities to Tolkeins Mithril, an alloy like that would be pretty useful, no?
I can almost hear the stampede of 'bladesmiths' now....
   - Tinker - Tuesday, 05/10/05 17:41:38 EDT

It has alway been my experience that if tolerences in the thousandths are needed in a weldement, I planned for a post weld clean up by machining. This would be for parts mateing to others such as in machines. The tolerences as welded would be totally dependent on the configeration of the parts and welds, the method of welding, and the fixture if any. An inertial weld can give very good tolerence. A stick weld, without fixture, can give tolerences in the 1/4" range with poor technique.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/10/05 17:41:43 EDT

ptree-- Many thanks for the in-depth info! Damn, ain't this site grand?
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/10/05 17:46:46 EDT

Mithril: The big hint here is Mith = MYTH. Added it to the sword making myths list. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/10/05 19:40:31 EDT

You or your parents paid taxs that probably were spent teaching me those tidbits, along with many other usefull (somewhere?)bits of knowledge. Glad to see you get at least something for money:)
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/10/05 20:24:40 EDT

Just found out I will be having the pleasure of more surgury.
Wound area form the radiation treatment area is NOT healing. So it was decided that I need to have the bad area removed. INCLUDING the tissue under the skin. Then skin and tissue ( including muscle) will be relocated from my upper back and pulled over to cover the now LARGER and new hole in my armpit......
Not sure when it is to happen. See the specialist on the 18th.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 05/10/05 21:16:47 EDT

Hi Guru
I am in the process of building a propane forge, i acquired a 6 inch pipe and a 10 inch pipe. My question is this, I have a frind who works in a machine shop and can line these pipes with 30 thousandths thickness ceramic. Would that work to hold in the heat or should I do something else/more. thanks for your time
   David - Tuesday, 05/10/05 21:28:21 EDT

Welding Cast ???

I have a post drill shelf that is broken at the ajustment ear (some gorrilla before me) the casting is .6 to .7 in thickness and 2" wide I have cleaned out the break and v'd the edges and have a couple of pounds of Ni-Cl rod to play with....the question ...most welding mauals tell me to use D/C reverse (positive to the electrode) but none I have found so far say what amps to use the range given is from 70-150 ...given I only have one crack at this one what is your best estimate I intend to preheat to a low red in my gas forge and use a section of 1.5" solid round stock as a placement mandrel in side the shelf and then cool slowly in vermiculite...whats your best guess guys?
   Mark P - Tuesday, 05/10/05 22:13:43 EDT

more. At least one inch mebbe more.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 05/10/05 22:47:17 EDT


You should use the 10 ijnch pipe and line it with two layers (2") of Kaowool refractory wool blanket for best heat containment. That thin ceramic won't contain more than a few hundred Btu's, and you need to contain a hundred thousand or so. You can get the Kaowool through the Anvilfire store. Also, check out the articles here on building simple forges to see how others have done it.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/10/05 22:50:01 EDT


I would think that the rule of thumb for welding electrodes would be a good place to start. One amp for every thousandth of an inch of electrode diameter. If you're using 3/32" rod, that would be about 95 amps, or 125 amps for 1/8" rod. The high pre-heat will drop the amperage requirement some, so be prepared to adjust accordingly. I've only done this a couple times, so someone with more experience may be able to give you better guidance.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/10/05 22:54:26 EDT

I own a small fabrication and steel supply co. in N.E. Georgia and have met two blacksmiths and a Ferrier over the years. The trade has always tempted me and I finally went over to the Ferrier’s shop the other day, long story short I now own a forge. The one blacksmith came in today and I gave him a couple of chipped 14”cold saw blades ( he seemed very exited about having the broken blades) in return he gave me a lot of blacksmith advise, so far the knowledge I have about blacksmith stuff has cost me two worthless blades and a membership. I figure I’ll be pretty damn smart for about a dollar two thirty five.
   - LDuck - Tuesday, 05/10/05 23:34:26 EDT

im just starting out with blacksmithing and i made my forge in my welding class, had my dad liberate some coal from work and everything is great...except im having troulble light the thing do you have any tips
   will - Tuesday, 05/10/05 23:39:23 EDT

ptree-- Is this a great country, or what? Thanks again!
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 05/10/05 23:43:50 EDT

Mark: vicopper's rule sounds like the high end of the range for smaller rods,but the numbers on one welder wont be the same as anothers anyway. If You have a cast iron scrap anything to try on for practice it would be worthwile.Pick Youre favorite phase of the moon, & do Your good luck dance.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 05/11/05 00:07:37 EDT


What type of air source do you have? Also, do you know what type of coal it is? The "traditional" method of coal lighting (i.e. the one that works for me) is a wadded up sheet or two of newspaper with the coal stacked around and above it. Light the paper and apply slow steady air flow. For stubborn coal, a bit of kindling on top of the newspaper helps to get things moving, and for really stubborn coal, I break out the welding torch to light it.

My first coal fire took me forever to get going. My Grandpa gave me no hints and just let me go for 40 minutes, giggling his keester off the whole time. Learned a lot about trial and error that day.


Whaddya mean worthless blades!?! That stuff is Blacksmith manna!(grin) I'm glad you have a nearby smith. Nothing beats hands-on experience with somebody who's been there, done that. I notice you're not in blue yet. Has the alpha guru processed your paperwork?

   eander4 - Wednesday, 05/11/05 00:32:48 EDT

Hello all. I need some help forging on some brass, bronze, and copper. I'm helping a friend with a project. We are in a bronze casting class, and she has made some bells. She now wants to make a hook to hang it from. We are trying to do something about the shape of a question mark ? out of 3/8" round copper or brass. I tried to heat up some 3/8" copper ground rod and pound on it like it was steel but it just crumbled. I ended up just bending it cold, but I keep thinking there should be a way to work it hot. I would like to draw the tip to a point and put a little curl on it to give it a better look. Any suggeations would be greatly appreciated.
   FredlyFX - Wednesday, 05/11/05 00:57:26 EDT

David, I've done 2 foges with 10" pipe and one in an old freon tank. If you check out my web site I have put up step by step pics and explanations as I build them. I'm no expert by any means, so I also put in the screw ups and refits as I made mistakes. Hopefully it will help you a little.
   FredlyFX - Wednesday, 05/11/05 01:00:59 EDT

When I first started blacksmithing the guy who taught me, told me that some metalurgist from UC Berkley had done a thesis on mithril, and had designed an alloy that matched the characteristics listed, I don't rememeber if he knew a rough alloy, but I am pretty sure that Platnum was not part of it due to the fact that its melting temp is well above the temp that ferrous metal burn at:-) but it sounds cool, which makes it more likely the whole thing is an urban legend:-) But if your interested you can try an search for a thesis pubished in the 70s, Good Luck you'll need it:-)
   Fionnbharr - Wednesday, 05/11/05 01:33:18 EDT

Fredly; As soon as the copper starts to offer resistance to the hammer, STOP. Heat it up to pink, and either let it air cool, or just drop it in water. Copper can be pushed all over the place, but once you let it work harden,and keep on pounding, it can start to crack. That has been my experience, anyway.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 05/11/05 02:34:05 EDT

Will: What type of coal forge are you using? If a shallow one, such as a former round rivet forge, consider using an empty 3-lb coffee can (or equivalent). Cut out bottom. Set can over air hole. Wad up three full sheets of newspaper, but not overly tight, light the bottom (defined as whichever side you light) and place in bottom of can, lit side down. Now provide air supply, enough to get paper burning well at first. If you are using new coal, place chunks over paper until it is about 1" thick or so and crank harder. You should start to get a good deal of coal smoke. As it seems to be going well, keep adding on more coal until you can poke a hole in the coal and get a blast or fire out of the hole. Now remove can and continue to build up fire to desired size. Always save some coke from a previous fire to start a new one.

Getting a coal fire coaling is somewhat of an art and I have seen several highly experienced blacksmiths take several tries to do so.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/11/05 02:44:05 EDT

Coal fires are the reason God created the Bernz-o-matic torch.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 05/11/05 03:14:41 EDT

I've used material from a used .035" thick bandsaw blade(sawmill size) to make spatulas for cooking sets. I've used all I had, and don't know where to get any more. Any ideas? How about other mateial for this purpose? That saw blade sure works well. Thanks.
   Terry - Wednesday, 05/11/05 07:57:28 EDT

Terry- where are you located- are there not any saw mills located in your area? - they will give you old blades- the
one I have was laying outback for many years and is very pitted, but they gave it to me whenI asked- we were going to cut it up for damascus but started using 1" wide bandsaw blade-less work
   - ptpiddler - Wednesday, 05/11/05 08:29:42 EDT

Lighting a coal fire.

A little thing I started doing is puting a little coke (from the last fire) inside the rolled up news paper. I Bank the fire as that gets going and turn on the blower as soon as I can without blowing out the fire.

   MikeFerrara - Wednesday, 05/11/05 08:46:30 EDT

Ye Gods!

I went away last Wednesday to the 40th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, and by this morning (between the Guru and Hammer-In pages) there's 84 pages of text when I cut and pasted it to a single document for a quick read-through! Y'all have been a bit busy! (I took my laptop with me, but spent all of my on-line time trying to keep things from falling apart at work.)

I guess I'll have to work my way through it, and see if there's anything I can contribute to the common good.

Busy, busy, busy... ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby: June 24-26
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 05/11/05 08:50:51 EDT

COAL-- On using newspapers for lighting-- note that the Sunday funnies and other highly colored pages, ad inserts, etc., will not yield the BTUs necessary to ignite coal. Something about the colored inks.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/11/05 09:00:15 EDT

You can forge copper hot; but not as hot as steel work it when it first starts to glow. Heating copper too hot helps get more oxidies building up along the crystal boundries that promote cracking.

As for copper alloys---brasses and bronzes some can be forged hot, some can be forged cold with annealing when they work harden and some just can be forged at all. Depends on the alloy.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/11/05 10:26:02 EDT

Cast Iron Repair: Mark, You are much better off brazing to make this repair. More cracks from shrinkage of the cast iron is a significant problem with NiRod repairs.

On machine frames if the heat is going to effect finished surfaces then some kind of bolt on repair is much better.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 10:36:18 EDT

Bandsaw blade:
I live in NE New Mexico--high plains, no trees, so there are no sawmills close. I did get some blade material from a sawmill in Alamogordo, NM, but it is .05". Too thick for a spatula.
   Terry - Wednesday, 05/11/05 10:36:55 EDT

Are old circular saw blades (7 1/4" and 10") of any use for steel for projects? How about old drill bits?
   JL - Wednesday, 05/11/05 10:41:37 EDT

Brass, Bronze: Fredly, See my iForge demo #80 on brass forging. You were overheating the brass OR it was the wrong grade. Lots of machinable leaded brass is not very forgable and heating is to anneal more than to make hot forgable. I've found brazing rod to be very good and it CAN be obtained in 3/8" diameter. If you can see the heat in normal daylight then the brass is much too hot.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 10:48:12 EDT

I am helping restore a coal forge that Sears sold. The turbine fan blade is a 5 blade design. One of the blades are missing. Can someone point me in the right direction for getting some type of replacement part? The part on the fan shows 971.

Thank you.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 05/11/05 11:40:25 EDT

Mithirl Myth: Fionnbharr, I've heard that one too and it is indeed an urban legend.

There is a huge difference between "designing" an alloy and making the alloy and the actual results. With the exception of a few known properties within a given range there is no predictive science of metallurgy. Alloys are made and then tested. Alloys outside the known ranges rarely do what is expected and must be tested and tested. It is an expensive time consuming process. Even with comprehensive testing the metal may have unexpected properties that may take years to discover. Consider Nitrol or "memory metal". It is a difficult to make Titanium Nickle alloy with equiatomic structure (one atom to one atom). It was being developed as a high temperature alloy. However, it was found to have amazing sound damping properties AND ductility where it was expected to be very brittle. It was not until someone in a meeting where the ductility was being discussed applied heat from a tobacco pipe to the sample being passed around that the "memory" aspect of the metal was discovered. The discovery of this property is considered pure serendipity. The alloy had undergone much scrutiny and testing yet this amazing property was not discovered. This is understandable as testing for an unexpected NEW property is an imposibility.

Although there is a LOT of science in metallurgy and there is a LITTLE predictability we are still in what one NASA scientist called it "The Heat-it and Beat-it" era of metalurgy. New discoveries are by trial and error. Predictability is the Holy Grail of metallurgy. Once found there will be amazing new discoveries. But it is still as fleating as the astophysical "Theory of Everything" and I expect will be where Science meets God.

Are those metals of science fiction and myth possible? Maybe.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 11:43:41 EDT

Terry's spatula:

Try splitting a water pipe length wise and spredding it flat. You should have the material needed to make any kitchen tool. Hammer to needed thickness.
OT what part of New Mexico? I lived in Albuquerque on and off for 10 yrs.

Working Copper:
Pay close attention to your ' work ability ' when anealing make shure you completely aneal. Other wise you could end up with a core seperation that would remain hidden untill to late.
Circular saws make an awsome plant holder with the ends bent to make a arched topped box, or bowled. Their pre drilled holes make for a good mounting point for a stand and drain holes.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 05/11/05 11:46:17 EDT

Sears Forge: Patrick, This equipment was most likely made by one of the major blacksmith equipment makers, Champion Blower and Forge or Buffalo Forge over 75 years ago. However, these folks have been out of business for a long time and there are no parts available for their products.

All you can do is remove one of the existing blades and fabricate an identical replacement. Be sure the two parts weigh exactly the same or the blower will vibrate and produce excessive wear.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 11:48:58 EDT

Saw Blades: JL, These vary greatly in alloy but almost all blades are some kind of high carbon alloy steel. They are good for making wood working tools, scrapers, laminating into "Damascus" and other places a high strength hardenable steel would be used. See our FAQ on Junkyard Steels.

Drill bits: Most of these are are very high carbon high alloy HSS (High Speed Steel) which is very difficult to heat treat much less work. They are good for what they were designed for and that's about IT. I have found however that taps are THE BEST HSS and broken pieces are great for making custom milling cutters, fly cutters, gravers. But these are primarily machine shop opperations that only a few smiths get involved in.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 11:57:56 EDT

Spatuala Steel: Terry, you may just have to break down and buy NEW. . . OR travel a little. Many materials used by manufacturers (and WE ARE manufacturers) are not found localy. The problem with JunkYard steels is that they may come in small quantities that cost a great deal when purchased new and may be in a condition different than NEW. Using them is a risk because not only are they an unknown, you may not be able to replace the material when you need it.

I like SS shim stock for spatulas. It is work hardened to a nice springyness and does not rust. It is pricey but can be purchased in small quantities.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 12:08:35 EDT

I sure hope the Blacksmith Manna is on the ground when you get up in the morning, and not fall from the sky in the afternoon (big grin). As far as being blue, I think the main Man here is in the Hospital with an illness, I’m in no hurry to be blue but do hope things work out OK with the Paw Paw, seems like we all get are turn at that sort of thing.
L Duck
   - LDuck - Wednesday, 05/11/05 12:36:10 EDT

LDuck, you have been all signed up (should have recieved mail). Logging in should take care of the blue. But you also need cookies enabled for it to work.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 12:57:51 EDT

please help me , tell me how to build a carburizing furnace
   tamer - Wednesday, 05/11/05 13:33:56 EDT

in the carburizing process , how much must the pressure be in the furnace chamber , and how do i know the requiered amount of carbon gas that must go in ????
   tamer - Wednesday, 05/11/05 13:37:56 EDT

Dear Guru, I am an anxious mother who knows nothing about the welding business period. I have a son that just went to work for a subcontract company as a welder among other things. He is self-taught and good at it. He passed the welding test the first time and now he is welding on weekends for this same company at a meat packing plant repairing tracks or something. I don't know if the company has required him to attend safety classes (seems like one at the beginning of employment), but last weekend we were told that the weekend before he came home all achy and had flue-like symptoms. The next day at work they told him it was galvanize poisoning. He was not wearing a mask. These symptoms lasted about 3 days. Can you share anything else that I as a mother probably don't need to know but want to know about galvanize poisoning? They told him it could be fatal. He is young with a wife and new baby girl. I'd hate to lose him to ignorance. Thanks for your time.
   Chris - Wednesday, 05/11/05 15:08:16 EDT

Tamer, I believe that information on carburizing furnaces can best be found in the ASM handbook. Due to the dangers of the process a brief discussion on the net will not suffice!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/11/05 15:15:39 EDT

Frank Turley:
Frank if you are about I would like to let you know that I have decided NOt to buy the hammer that you offered. While I have no problem with the eye being oval(which for structural strength reasons I would prefer). Due to the description that you gave of the hammer last week it does not fit the bill for what I am looking for. The entire reason I want this hammer is for all of the benefits you mentioned. From your description it doesn't sound like your hammer meets those requirements for me. I am going to Japan this coming October so I will probably be able to look up a particular bladesmith over there and pick one up.

Sorry for the trouble and your gracious offer.

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/11/05 15:28:47 EDT

I might have missed this last week. Can someone please direct me to this "hagenmyer" company? Do they have a web address??

   Ed Green - Wednesday, 05/11/05 15:34:31 EDT

Metal Fume Fever: Chris, There is galvanizing and there is galvanizing. Modern galvanizing is pure zinc. Old galvanizing however contained bismuth, lead and cadmium as well as zinc. Cadnium vapors from welding is lethal. SOME items (usualy military but sometimes industrial) are also cadmium plated. Without testing it is difficult to tell.

Zinc fumes cause metal fume fever and the effects usualy wear off in a few days. However repeated exposures can be acumulative and are worse and worse with each exposure and may become dibilitating. Although zinc metal fume fever is usualy only an inconvieniece to the young and healthy we currently have a good friend in the hospital in intensive care with pnemonia most likely brought about by zinc poisioning.

In other words DON'T DO IT AGAIN.

There are other metals such as beryllium that is used in industry that are very toxic. Not learning the industrial safety rules related to welding is the reason I send ALL would be blacksmiths to an acreddited welding school. Self taught and OJT is dangerous. At least once a year I get a sad letter from a mother or wife about their chronicaly sick weldor who did not learn the safety rules.

General industrial safety classes do not cover job specific hazzards for specialists such as weldors.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 15:38:26 EDT

Ed, Your answer was posted earlier and is probably in last week's archive. I think Frank is on the road to Corvallis, OR. Such business should be carried out by direct e-mail.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 16:00:10 EDT

Carburizing Furnace: Tamer, as Thomas noted there is some information to be found in the ASM handbook. However, building these furnaces are not a do it your self project. It is common for even the commericial furnaces to explode. Modern plants have changed over to salt baths because they are much safer.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/11/05 16:10:25 EDT

Ed Green: I don't see a web site listed on my billing confirmation, but it should be www.hagemeyer.com. If you call them at 502-961-5930 ask for Mike Morrison and be sure to get in you were referred by anvilfire.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/11/05 16:21:11 EDT

Guru: Thanks for the advise. I will look into the SS shim stock--sounds better than what I was using.

Timex: I live in the NE corner of NM. North of Clayton about 16 miles. Thanks for the reply. I'll remember that.
   Terry - Wednesday, 05/11/05 17:20:44 EDT

Ed Green,
Ken got it right. Several people, and myself it I don't pay attention put an extra "N" in Hagemeyer.

Guru, i put your e-mail re: rates in the mans hand. Now we just gotta get some more of our faithful to mention Anvilfire and I suspect a ad order will appear.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/11/05 18:11:42 EDT

No. thank you. I'm fairly new to the 'hot work' but have been working 'cold ' fer years. So any questions or different solutions to a common problem only serve to hone my, as well as , others thinking skills.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 05/11/05 19:15:47 EDT

Thanks for answering my question about the saw blades. I will donate them to the John C. Campbell Folk School resident artist blacksmith the next time I go up for a class.
   JL - Wednesday, 05/11/05 20:36:28 EDT

Hey i was just wondering if when making a sword you start out with like a block of steel thats like 2 inches by 2 inches by 8 inches or do you start with a bar thats the length you want your sword and flatten it?
   Draconas - Wednesday, 05/11/05 21:55:29 EDT

Carburizing Furnaces - Guru, respectfully I must disagree, I've worked on probably dozens of carburizing furnaces some in critical applications such as the ones used by Sikorksy helicopter to produce gears for military helicopters, or at Barden Bearing producing precision bearings for space applications. Also, extensive work at automotive suupliers such as Rockwell - they are all using the gas carburizing process. The ones I worked on had switched from endothermic to Nitrogen/methanol systems, all had extensive safety features to ensure that you didn't get a flammable or explosive mix of air and carburizing gases in the furnace. Typically they run at a slight positive pressure and have interlocks that cause a nitrogen purge out a vent if that positive pressure is lost. Very few production plants (or commercial heat treaters) that I am aware of use salt baths for carburizing. On the other hand, trying to discuss design parameters for one on this forum is not something I'd like to consider - to give an idea, the controls we added for nitrogen methanol atmospheres 15 years ago had about $2500 in parts alone, and that's just an add-on to a furnace with existing safety controls, existing oxygen probe system with Barber-Colman PLC to control carbon potential in the system, existing temperature controls, etc.,etc, etc.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 05/11/05 22:01:14 EDT

start with a small piece. ANd forge a knife. Once you have mastered that then move up to a larger piece and make perhaps a short sword, then move on up to a long sword.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 05/11/05 22:07:37 EDT

TERRY: I have some 3/32" saw blades.
I was wondering if you would ever show up on any of these blacksmith sites??? WELCOME: You used to be a teacher in CLAYTON. Live over to SENECA.
My Grandson, Tanner and I met you and your BETTER HALF at the Ranch rodeo two years ago in AMARILLO. He was the little fellow that was figuring out all the stuff you had on display.GRIN Your wife will remember him.
I live on Highway 102 about a half a mile from the 87 highway. Drop by some time. I know where you hang out, just don't ever get up that way.
One of my buddys has several of these old saw blades.
I hang out every night on the WWW.FORGEMAGIC.COM site. Drop by and visit.

Chuck Bennett
   sandpile - Wednesday, 05/11/05 22:58:25 EDT

Hey guys,
What is your opinion about CLIFF CARROLL ANVILS?
They are ducticle iron heat treated to rockwell 45--60.I am looking for a good anvil for garage purposes. I have read about the junk cast iron anvils. Thank You Paul
   Paul vance - Wednesday, 05/11/05 23:32:40 EDT

Chris-- Blacksmithing a welding inevitably produce a lot of nasty toxic fumes (not just galvanized steel but welding and brazing fluxes are also sources) and grits (grinding welds fills the air with tiny particles). There are respirator-type masks made specifically to fit under welding helmets that come with replaceable filters to help guard against these. Sears has one in its tool catalog. The Willson safety equipment company makes one. There are many others. The large supplier MSC has consultants who can advise you. These do not guarantee total protection. A large employer such as Johnson Controls at Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab provides welders with work stations equipped with vacuum systems to try to suck away the fumes instantly before they get to the welder's schnozzola. I went to two welding schools (UNM Los Alamos and Northern New Mexico) and never heard a word about fumes and/or protection. It is up to the individual to learn as much as possible-- text books, the American Welding Society are two sources-- and do as much as he or she can to take care. No job is worth possible brain damage, losing lungs or eyesight.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 05/11/05 23:41:18 EDT

You need to do the math on this one. A given mass is just that, a given mass. Your 'bar', if flattned would end up longer than what you wanted. Do the math. As for first projects, a sword is not a good idea. Make a few (at least 5) dummys , then make your sword.
Oh BTY I rember you
   - Timex - Thursday, 05/12/05 01:47:24 EDT

First off : I love your site and the information in it,wonderful reading and edcuational.
Secondly: I am intrested in making a Japanese style hammer for blade working ( i was advised that it might aid i correcting my odd hammer style by the way it seems to naturaly hit even) if its like correcting my golf swing it will take centuries LOL.

Question: i have found a pice of nice axle that i like the weight of and the size...how would you recommend taping out the handle hole(please note i don't have an acetline set) without causing great damage to the rest of the hammer.
i have at my disposal both gas and coal forges for the annealing work and a small selection of general shop tools...nothing nice like 20ton press or power hammers.

this axle is rather new 1040 case hardened aprox 2" diameter 10" long. yes... i plan on cutting it down a little but if i need any extra length to work with i would rather know before i cut.

thank you for your time.
   Harold - Thursday, 05/12/05 03:01:37 EDT

RE: Coal Starting. the Rail Roads use an intresting substance Kerosene... soak some coal in it while your getting set up to have fun. stack it over the blower opening ...touch off with a LONG match or torch. kick the blower on lowest setting and relax.
my partner ( a rail road brakeman )and i have been lighting the coal forge this way for over 3 months without any failure or relights.
   Harold - Thursday, 05/12/05 03:21:34 EDT

Harold: For your hammer I'd suggest drilling a line of holes, filing/sawing/chiseling out the little strips between them, and then drifting the slot into an eye. Of course you might have to make yourself a drift first.
   AwP - Thursday, 05/12/05 04:17:19 EDT

to GAVAINH dear sir
   tamer - Thursday, 05/12/05 04:41:23 EDT

Using an advanced alloy steel, buy an exact cube of the preciuse volume necessary for your sword and tang plus allowance for fire scale losses and finish grinding and polishing.
Using the cubical sword conformation will minimize the amount of necessary work because of the reduced surface area.
Because the sword is long since rendered ineffectual as a weapon in this age of firearms...the practicality of the cubical form is clearly apparent.
The savings in forge fuel alone, not to mention abraisives or the years developing sufficient skill to properly forge, heat treat and finish a traditional sword makes an incontravertable argument favoring the new cubical form.
The ease of storage and reduced upkeep, not to mention the freedom from scabbard obligations proves the superiority of the cubical sword in our modern context.
Harold: Regardless of the hammer conformation, you will have to master hammer control to do smithing, especially blade work..there's no way around it.
The eyes in hammer heads are most easily punched hot and drifted to size from both sides. Drilling and grinding/filing will take forever.
Axles are unlikely to be case hardened and for the making of a hammer it isn't relavant anyway as you will have to heat treat the faces and soften the eye to have a functional tool. The traditional style cutler's hammers are arced to match the arc of swing which must be done hot anyway.
My guess is that you are ripe to join your nearest blacksmithing group where they will answer the questions you have learned enough to be able to ask. Check for ABANA associate chapters in your state.
To both of you good folks...the answers you seek are all here on Anvilfire, waiting your search and research.
Join our CSI and help keep it available!
   - Pete F - Thursday, 05/12/05 04:47:12 EDT

in the carburizing process , how much must the pressure be in the furnace chamber , and how do i know the requiered amount of carbon gas that must go in ????
   tamer - Thursday, 05/12/05 04:49:50 EDT

GAVAINH dear sir
   tamer - Thursday, 05/12/05 06:55:09 EDT

Hammer Eyes: Harold, These are hot punched except in the case of the very few non-forged hammers which are drilled with a round eye. It is a task that if you are not capable of there are many that make custom hammers as well as the Japanese style. We had a discussion about the same last week and several people wer mentioned (see archives).
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 08:44:05 EDT

GAVAINH, good luck!
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 08:44:48 EDT

Sword Stock: Draconas, the best stock to make sword from is actually round bar about the same cross sectional area (just a little more) as the finished product. Second to that is a squae bar forged on diagonal.

A cube is very good shape for making laminated steel. Most folks use rectangular pieces which at first seems logical but it is not. When you build up a cube shape the mass is more compact and the heat conserved during welding and forging. The cube has less surface area to decarburize and lose heat. Between laminations the cube is drawn out just enough to make the next cube. The weld is then short enough that it goes much faster than with a long rectangle. I have seen a couple blade smiths use this technique and it is truely logical and scientific as well as more efficient.

The disadvantage of the cube (unless you are making a Pete Fells safety sword :) is the drawing out. This is work for a couple strikers, a power hammer or a rolling mill, not a single man. Even though an individual can EVENTUALY do the forging the number of heats greatly increases the scaling and decarburization. When producing a QUALITY steel product the forging needs to be done in as few heats as possible. A sword forged from a billet in a single heat on a power hammer will be metallurgicaly superior to a sword hand forged in dozens of heats.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 09:38:43 EDT

Cliff Carrol Anvils: Paul, I have no experiance with these. However, a medium carbon steel is the proper material for any anvil. The Cliff Carrol line of anvils is generally made for farriers. Their shapes are inefficient for forging AND farriers treat anvils and most of their other tools as consumables. Use them up and throw them away.

The best small blacksmiths anvils have a wide waist that provides support under most of the face. This is generally only found in OLD English anvils. A 120 pound anvil of this pattern has the solidity of a much heavier latter pattern (American pattern) anvil. Farrier's anvils are the worst being all horn and heel. The only one that makes sense is the Texas Farrier Supply (TFS) anvils which have no discernable waist and small feet. These put all the mass in the working body of the anvil like the Italian style Nimba.

You are often better off with an old beat up anvil than a shiney new piece of junk. Take your time, poke around, save your money for a good anvil OR wait until a good deal comes along.

If you mean by "garage purposes" the ocassional straightening of a bar of knocking out universal joints or bearings then an ASO (bought CHEAP) will do. However, I have found a large (very large) vise better for these purposes. A large vise is a better press than the cheap highly overrated bottle jack types and has many other uses.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 09:58:59 EDT

Miles - Military Compasses:
Military compasses are graduated in mils; 6400 for a full rotation (6400 mils = 360 degrees = 400 grads = 2pi.) I had it explained to me this was to allow more accurate alignment with/of/for the (usually distant) artillery.

As an exercise; take a yard stick and mark out a 36 inch line. Now with a protractor and from one end of the first line mark out the start of a second line 1 degree off of the first line going in the same rough direction (I'm talking about the grade school 180 degrees for a 1/2 turn type protractor.) Extend this line to 36 inches. At the 36 inch point the two lines will be just about 5/8 inch apart. Carry this out (mentally; or practically if you've got the time, inclination and space) to a 1/2 mile, and a mile, that gap becomes quite significant. Yet, its still only 1 degree of difference.

Cool (4 Cel.) and sunny North of the Lake (Ontario.)

   Don - Thursday, 05/12/05 10:19:19 EDT

ok welding saftey:

Not only do you have to be aware of the metal fumes but what was on or in the metal. I seem to rember a young man that was building a charcoal retort out of a old oil drum. The drum had been dry and 'clean' for years so the young man figured that it would be ok to use his cutting torch on it. BOOM! no more drum lid, no more glasses, no more eyebrows. Upon refection the young man had forgotten that some oil based fuild will seep into steel and remain there unless heated.The young man now uses a saws all on a low setting for cutting oil drums( new or not ).
   - Timex - Thursday, 05/12/05 10:35:35 EDT

Cubes for forge welding, a counter viewpoint: I'll go for rectangular solids rather than a cube for a couple of reasons:

One is that the ends of the forge welds are the part most likely to be messed up in a billet and so are often just cut off. With a cube you lose too much stock.

Two: the width of the weld area is important too since any junk in the weld zone has to make it out to the outside edge to be removed during welding. So when folks want to make bigger billets we usually suggest they go thicker rather than wider to build up mass.

Swords: there are two views of what you start with: one is to start with whatever you have available. The other is that you start as close to form as possible to get the dang thing done before you blow out your elbow. Note view 1 => view 2 as the size of the power hammer tends upward.

Even on knives I've had a lot of folk tell me they want to make a knife from massive bits of steel. Never seen one get finished but I do have one that's had *several* "owners" that may see the grinder yet!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/12/05 10:38:27 EDT

Draconas: Suggestion: Go to an agricultural implement dealer who carries three point hitch rock racks. Purchase a replacement tine. They are 1/4" x 1" x 27" of spring steel (in all likelihood of Chinese production). The edges are already nicely rounded. You should be able to either forge out or grind out about a 24" blade (plug tang) from one. My dealer doesn't know carbon content, but my guess would be about 60-70 points.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 05/12/05 11:58:28 EDT

Don-- Many thanks! But... you'd get a similar spread out there at the 1/2 mile and mile markers with mils, too, no? I am beginning to suspect it might be that it's just simpler to deal with only 64 of the little buggers than with 360, maybe.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 05/12/05 12:01:04 EDT

I have a buffalo #1/2 ironworker. I would like to find as much imformation on it as I can . Could you help.
Thanks Bryce
   Bryce - Thursday, 05/12/05 12:05:55 EDT

Can someone please help me to register to use the slack -Tub Pub. I have been trying to register for the last 3 months but received no reply. I have used different e-mails and different sign ins but still no luck. I am living in South Africa and would love to get in touch with other Blacksmiths.

   henniealberts - Thursday, 05/12/05 12:08:06 EDT

A great trick I picked up from Bruce Wilcocks, from Shetland ilses, UK for dressing a hammer face on a hammer you have made is to take the hammer after you have annealed it and done all your finish grinding. Put a handle on it, and use it only on hot steel. The hammer will take a set that matches your hammering style. Then you can do a little more finish dressing on the hammer, then harden and temper the hammer head and put the finished hammer head on a new handle. Or if you are reforging cheap chinese hammers they almost come annealed (since many of the ones I have reforged are almost incapable of being hardened:-)...
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 05/12/05 14:02:00 EDT

Hennie the pub is a free service here, but that also means it tends to get done LAST. The Guru is normally about 3 months behind on registrations to the pub. Joining CSI which supports Anvilfire, generally gets your pub registration done at the same time as your CSI memmbership:-) CSI is trying to free the Guru up for some more of the fun stuff on Anvilfire, instead on working just to keep the lights on here... If you would like to see more iforge demos and cool stuff added to the site, we need to support Anvilfire, Fianncially, Join CSI

   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 05/12/05 14:08:37 EDT

Buffalo is still in business, and could probably give you some info on your ironworker.

The old mechanical no. 1/2 is pretty common, as the castings are so big they dont often get scrapped- too much work. If Buffalo still has any parts, they arent gonna be cheap, but luckily not much to break on one of those. Your machine could have been made anytime from the 30's to the 80's- they all look pretty much the same.
They are pretty obsolete in industry, as OSHA doesnt like em much- and new hydraulic ironworkers are so much nicer to use.

You can get any imaginable punch or die for it from Cleveland punch and die- www.clevelandpunch.com
They will probably also sharpen your shear blades, or they know who will.
They will stock round, square, oval, hex and other shapes, cheap, and of very high quality. Ask for one of their printed catalogs, which includes a chart that tells what tonnage is required to punch a given size of hole.

Remember never to punch a hole smaller in diameter than the thickness of the metal, and dont ask me how I know this.

As far as how to use an ironworker, there isnt much written on this- I have never seen a decent manual, and most books dont cover it.
There is a 4 or 5 page section on it in "Metal Fabrication, a Practical Guide" by O'Con and Carr, Prentice Hall books. It covers punching and shearing, and basic operation.
There are a couple of copies for sale right now on ABEbooks.com, for $36 and YOUCH- $95- I paid $27.50 for mine, new, in 1985. Might be able to get a copy thru an interlibrary loan, although it is a good general metalworking book, with sections on measurement, welding and fabrication, sheet metal, and even some forging and ornamental work.
   ries - Thursday, 05/12/05 14:20:15 EDT

How to use an Ironworker: Rules 1 through 10, Keep your fingers out of the works unless you want to be able to count less on your fingers. Keep your fingers. . .

The general rule on capacity is 30 tons per square inch of cut in mild steel. That is followed by Ries rule about punching limits being no samller than the thickness of the material, punches blow up. . .

Depending on the style of machine the openings may limit the capacity but it never hurts to check. If the machine does not have a plate with capacities in different sections OR if the factory manual does not have one, then DO THOSE CALCS! All it takes is one oversized piece of work to turn a good old machine into scrap iron. . .

Don't know the capacity in tons? See Machinery's Handbook, use the flywheel calcs (DO THEM) and YES 15% is all you take from a flywheel per cycle. The machine will be designed to take more but don't use up ANY of the safety factor.

Otherwise, they cut steel. They are very cheap to operate and efficient. In production operations the clutch is often locked on slow machines and stock fed as quickly as the machine can cut it off. Don't forget to have a way to move the cut pieces out of the way quicker than they pile up.

The only down side is if you cannot use sheared ends with the common distortion and burring. Note that burring can be reduced by tightening up the die clearance and keeping the dies sharp.

See our punch and die iForge articles for other possibilities.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 14:48:04 EDT

WELDING SAFETY: Cutting Containers: Timex, The former contents do not matter. When cutting with an oxy-fuel torch there is often excess gas due to the pressure drop on the oxygen. So the empty vessle is filling up with a mixute of fuel and pure oxygen (acetylene is the WORST). When it hits the explosive saturation point it explodes . . This can occur in brand new containers or containers partialy filled with water.

Yes, oil is a problem around pure oxygen but in this case it is not needed. This particular accident happens OVER and OVER and people keep thinking it is the old contents. Teaching that it is the contents gets people killed.

To safely use Oxy-fuel to cut any container requires that it is well ventilated. Compressed air works if you have enough and auto exhust has been used (not recommended). An inert gas purge works on small tanks but is expensive. On large tanks a fan can be used. Filling with water to reduce the explosive volume works well.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 15:00:39 EDT

I'm a pro smith building a new shop. Deciding between concrete and dirt floor. Any suggestions? What about something gravel-like to lay down over the dirt for a harder pack? I'd appreciate any help you can offer.

   Chris Shea - Thursday, 05/12/05 15:03:45 EDT

Floors: Chris, Concrete is definitely hard on the feet. However, it is the easiest to move and anchor machinery on and to keep clean. In a modern shop you will have a large amount of machinery to install and maintain so concrete is best. Most of us also change machines regularly (newer, bigger better).

The option I used in my shop was a sunken forge area to be filled with soil and gravel. Most of the rest of the shop has a heavy concrete floor. Power hammer foundations were placed at the edge of the forge area and there is a surrounding edge for the benches and forges. Great plan, but I must sell and move. . . The hole needs to be filled with concrete now. . . I also had the problem that I changed hammers for bigger, better and the wonderful foundations did not fit. . . And I doubt the future owners will have any use for them much less appreciate them.

In many machine shops rubber or wood pads are used where the worker stands most of the day. In a forge shop this is in front of your anvil, forge and power hammer (80%). Other machines may require pads as well depending on your shop and how many employees you have.

My next shop will have an all concrete floor. If I want a dirt floor for hand forging I will setup a seperate outdoor shed with nothing but a forge and anvil. I will probably have special hammer foundations. . . However, at my age and for the amount of work I do this will be the LAST shop and it is doubtful that larger hammers will replace those planned. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 15:44:29 EDT

If the axle is a production axle from a car, truck, or recent tractor it is not case hardened, but rather case and core. This is a high hardness than gradually tapers off towards the core. The core is still pretty hard. The material, if a mordern production part is probably 1050H or 1541H. Both make good hammers but you need to quench in oil as water is usually too severe. As a side note the day job is in a plant that makes about 50,000,000# of axles a year.

Guru, a old trick for cutting in enclosed volumes, or welding oil tanks is to drop in a large chunk of dry ice. wait for it to evolve gas. cheap and does not require piping etc. Still not the best idea.
   ptree - Thursday, 05/12/05 17:30:40 EDT

Thank you for the clafication on the drum explosion. BTW my eyebrows are still growing back.
   - Timex - Thursday, 05/12/05 17:33:47 EDT

You are lucky. . heads do not grow back except in sci-fi movies. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 18:05:39 EDT

Saw a guy once, (actually my BOSS!), standing and leaning over a 55 drum cutting the top off with OxyAce. The unburned (heavier than air?) apparently settled in the drum till it couldn't handle any more. Believe it or not, when the drum went up it pushed the torch against his face and 'skidded' up along the torch rather than catching him under the chin and literally de-capitating him. Face was mighty sore but he made sure to tell EVERYONE he knew about the danger. Gosh you guys, be careful!
   - Tom H - Thursday, 05/12/05 18:32:58 EDT

Tom, Acetylene is lighter than air and is why it is not considered as much a hazard as propane which is heavy and tends to "pool" on the floor rather than disapate.

The phenonome you described is the same as I described. It is when the fuel/air of fuel/oxygen mix reaches that proportion or density where it can support a flame front that it explodes. Under a certain density it cannot burn but over a certain point it is just looking for a spark. . which is readily supplied by the torch.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/12/05 21:46:46 EDT

Sirs. I have several forging tongs and a complete foundry I would like to sell. Do you have a new letter that goes out to blacksmiths that might be interested in this equipment.

Thank you for your assistance. Paul
   Paul Sisko - Thursday, 05/12/05 22:03:20 EDT

Tamer - what are you trying to carburize? What alloy are you starting with, what surface carbon do you want to end up with, how deep a case do you want, and what size object do you want to carburize? In building this carburizing furnace, are you going to heat it electrically, or use a gas fired radiant tube design, integral quench or not, are you going to run a batch or continuous operation? For continuous, a pusher furnace design might be appropriate. Pressure in a carburizing furnace is low - not more than a couple of inches of water column above the local atmospheric pressure. If you want to design one from start, check out the ASM resources mentioned by others. I know how to run them, I can check them and determine if they are safe to operate and add safety features to improve safe operation, with a fair amount of time and purchasing some resource books, I could probably design and build one using lots of off the shelf components. But, with my experience it would cost more than a commercially available new one, and much more than a used one in the US market.

Depending on what you're trying to do, pack carburizing with parts packed in carbon may be a more efficient, low tech way to go.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 05/12/05 23:34:28 EDT

Yes, I'm verrrry lucky. It could have been a lot worse than death; I could have been maimed. My mistake was 'asumming' that I knew enough about torches and cutting. Not to mention, allowing my ego to get to big.( I don't need to wear safty glasses, use a sheild, have water near by, this will only take a second.)Let me tell you, the longest second I've ever had was the time it took the 'fump' noise to be followed by the dark fire that slammed me to the ground. The next longest second was the counting of parts(Do I still have all of them?)
Never again will I be 'complacent'!!!
   - Timex - Friday, 05/13/05 01:41:26 EDT

Paul, You may list these items on our hammer-in page. I am in the process of setting up a sale page but have been delayed.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 08:13:51 EDT

Paul Sisko: A foundry can be a fairly simple crucible furnace or a large industrial complex. I will assume the former. Go to the Navigate bar and find the link to blacksmithing groups. Contact those in your and surrounding states and ask them to put a short notice/ad in their next available newsletter. Some publish monthly, bi-months, quarterly or when the edit can find time. You might also consider selling on eBay. Large items are sold there. For example, there is currently a 50 LB Little Giant lineshaft driven powerhammer listed.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/13/05 08:35:52 EDT

I have the need to cut up a few cylinders and was not thinking Oxy/Acc for the safety reasons mentioned. I could use a Saws all though it is an electric tool and I was going to fill the cylinder with water to cut down the space. The use of an electric tool and water also is not to my liking.

I wonder about using a plasma torch? There is no fuel gas involved and only compressed shop air, no oxygen. I could also fill the tank with water with the plasma torch, but no matter what I use, I am not comfortable with the idea of cutting open a closed cylinder. Once there is a sufficient vent, I am much more comfortable cutting it open. Ideas??
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 05/13/05 08:43:50 EDT

Allright folks, I've been bending some .094" diameter stainless spring steel. Now that I have it where I want in I have been try to harden and temper it with out any luck. I have tried many different temperatures and quenches without any luck, it just doesn't seem to get any harder at all. Any advice for working with something of such a small diameter? PS It is Grade 304 stainless.
   Joe G - Friday, 05/13/05 08:46:14 EDT

Paul Sisko, E-Mail me at clevelandsteel@alltel.net or post your Email, I might be interested. Thanks

First, we may want to clear this type of posting with the powers that be????????
   LDuck - Friday, 05/13/05 08:49:21 EDT

304 SS Spring Wire: Joe, This grade wire is spring temper from work hardening. It is used to make springs when you do not want to go through the trouble of heat treating. 304 is not hardenable by heat treatment, only work hardening.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 09:46:05 EDT

Deheading drums:

There is a better way, just buy a drum deheader tool, $50.


It's quicker and easier than using a torch or a saw. Not to mention much safer. Also does a much neater job.
   - Hudson - Friday, 05/13/05 09:56:21 EDT

Plasma: Wayne, that is MUCH safer but there is always the problem of the previous contents. The safest would be to use the plasma torch on nitrogen. This would purge as you go. If there is any question, purge the cylinder prior to cutting. No oxygen. . no explosion. The worst that could happen is a little flare from old heated contents when you open the container and let in fresh air.

If the cylinder is mostly filled there would be little of no problem at all. It is a matter of scale. We all have torches pop or the gas in a spark lighter pop. The bigger the volume the bigger the explosion. So with a small volume and no fuel gas you should be VERY safe.

Few things are as explosive as acetylene and this is why cutting containers with it is such a problem. But as anyone that uses propane forges knows even propane/air mixtures can really "pop". Oil/oxygen mixes are similar and gasoline/air or oxygen is worse.

I have been known to cut a vent hole of a couple inches diameter before cutting the larger opening. Depending on the container size and the vent the problem can be nearly alliveatd. Also being aware that raw acetylene is the problem and running VERY lean can prevent the explosive problem. . but is not a guarentee. But it is why some peole "get away with" what may kill others. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 10:02:02 EDT

Hudson, very good point. I've torched small cylinders but ALWAYS used a cold chisel or air chisel on 55 gallon drums. They are JUST big enough to make a real explosion and the former contents are often a mystery.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 10:06:00 EDT

I saw a blacksmith last night on tv on some camping program or something - i wasn't quite watching. i was on the computer looking at the tv every now and again, and realised the was a blacksmith making a knife.

He only used a hammer, anvil, bucket of cold water, a grinder and a polisher to make a knife without the handle. I was wondering if you could tell me how, preferably with diagrams. Thanks alot

P.S. Im not going to make one, but i'm interested in engineering and blacksmithing, and want to know how to forge that sort of shape!
   Ben - Friday, 05/13/05 12:13:06 EDT

Guru; Thanks for the quick comeback. I guess I should have said in the first post that what I need to do is convert some old 5gallon/20lb propane tanks into forges for my students. I was going to remove the valve, rinse with water/soap and let them air out a few days, valve hole down. Then fill with water nearly full, and cut out around the carry handle with the plasma torch to open the end up, then drain the water, open both ends to the proper size and continue with the forge building process. I have 2 cylinders of Co2 that I could use with an old O2 regulator to purge the remaining air space with. I had forgotten about the Co2 until just now. Thank you again.

   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 05/13/05 12:50:39 EDT

So is there any type of stainless steel wire that heat treatable or will I have to go with a non stainless wire to do so?
   Joe G - Friday, 05/13/05 13:04:52 EDT

Ben: Get it hot, beat it to shape. Grind down to a better finish, then polish. Got it? Really, it is kinda like asking to explain how to fly a plane. Much more indepth and hands on needed, than what can be simply explained.

Wayne: I soaked my tanks with water and soap, drained, and then drilled a starting hole, followed by using my jig saw. Safe and easy. I made a simple jig to scribe the diameter, that set into the valve hole. I just followed that line with the jig saw.
   Bob H - Friday, 05/13/05 13:06:44 EDT

I've made a couple of forges with propane tanks.
First make sure all the propane is out.
Next take the valve off the top, and fill with water. This
will clear all the gas out of the tank.
Then cut off the top handle, an angle grinder or sawsall will do, scribe the cut line, drill a 1/4" hole inside the line and with a metal cutting blade on a jigsaw, cut the top out. Repeat for the bottom.
The jigsaw will cut the thin metal as fast as the plasma cutter with less chance of sparking and easy deburing.
Good Luck
   blackbart - Friday, 05/13/05 13:07:25 EDT

Ben; I am puzzled, what other tools would one need to make a knife?

There is a group called the neotribals that would skip the grinder and polisher as well; but add in a file---they have tutorials on how to do it over at the primal fires forum on ezboard.

If you want to figure it out yourself; get some modeling clay. Steel when hot gets soft like clay and can be moved around with a hammer just like you would do it with clay with your fingers.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/13/05 13:58:49 EDT

You guys have been giving some good ad-vise on how to open up a tank or cylinder, well I just hooked up the LP tank to this used Johnson forge. The blower works, but I’m a little nervous about lighting the thing up, the old boy at Johnson said he would send me a manual but that was over a week ago and I’m getting the itch to fire this bad boy up. However, like the guys opening drums for the first time, this also is my first time with any kind of forge and do have issues with big BOOMS and FLAMES… any body here have experience with Johnson forges model 133 or the like? I tried sneaking up on it already, but it didn’t light up?
   LDuck - Friday, 05/13/05 14:07:52 EDT

   tamer - Friday, 05/13/05 14:08:44 EDT

I want to put an electric motor on a post drill press and have seen alot of 1hp 3phase motors for sale. The voltage was 110 but will they work on household 110v? I thought that 3 phase would be 330v?
   John W - Friday, 05/13/05 14:25:05 EDT

John, all 3 phase motors that I have seen are 208/240/440 volt or some combo of that. No a 3 phase motor will not start and run properly without some sort of converter/starter and with the starter only option you will get at most 2/3 rated hp from the motor. Standard outlet 120v will not do the job.
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 05/13/05 14:42:32 EDT

LDuck; I do not know that model of Johnson forge. I would start it like this if it were mine.
1 open the forge and air out, make sure no gas is left inside. Leave doors open.
2 wadd up some newspaper and insert into the forge.
3 light the newspaper.
4 turn on blower if it has one.
5 turn on gas.
6 adjust gas/air mixture to give desired flame.
7 close doors and adjust mixture if needed.

to turn off;
1 turn off gas.
2 turn off air.

Hope this helps you. Remember that is not specific to your forge, it is the procedure I would use to light it in the vacuume of the manual. Of course, you should check for proper gas pressures and leaks before you tried to start it.
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 05/13/05 14:50:34 EDT

Tamer Khayat: http://www.key-to-steel.com/Articles/Art125.htm
   John W - Friday, 05/13/05 15:01:39 EDT

Thanks, I just went to the mail box and guess what, Johnson manual,.... and some bills
   LDuck - Friday, 05/13/05 15:03:41 EDT

The program you saw was most likely 'Ray Mears Bushcraft'.
If your from England I'm positive it was because I watched it too!
He was in Norway showing us what a fantastic place it is (Like the Rockies to my mind) to live off the land, survival style. He went to a traditional Norweigan Blacksmith to get a camp knife made, It was just one of many jobs this man could do, a complete all rounder.it was done by sandwiching a hard steel between softer steel, when beaten to shape (He made it look SO easy :( )it was ground to reveal the hard inner core of metal for the blades edge, Ray actually made a laminated handle himself for the knife using riendeer horn and pine wood, by the way he did it I've a sneaking suspicion he's done a bit of bladesmithing himself. Its a great program for outdoor types.
   - Tinker - Friday, 05/13/05 15:08:51 EDT

Boonville, NC - Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson

Patriot, Blacksmith, Chairman of Cybersmiths International and author of The Revolutionary Blacksmith, passed away today.

Jim is survived by his wife Sheri, 4 children and 27 foster children. He died of respiratory failure after a bout of pneumonia trigerred by zinc fume fever.

Jim was my best friend and traveling companion. We shall all miss him.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 15:18:17 EDT

hey , i was just wondering what the anvils that a lot of knife makers use are called , their like waist high and are square topped and are what i have seen many strictly bladesmiths use them and i was just wanting to know if you know where to buy them or if their just a block of steel, or if you know their formal name

   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 15:32:56 EDT

Although I only personaly spoke to him once I would sincerely like to offer my deepest condolences and sympathies to Mr Wilson's family and friends. I have spent many hours reading the archives and from this alone I know that the Blacksmithing community has lost an irreplaceable source of knowledge, wit, decency and character.
God bless Paw Paw
   - Tinker - Friday, 05/13/05 15:38:22 EDT

also how would someone go about making a damascas knife out of a railroad spike,
   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 15:43:25 EDT

Round Knife Makers Anvil: Draconas, These are new, possibly based on my suggestion that a cylinder or RR-rail on end makes a much more efficeint anvil than oriented otherwise.

You cannot just call these a "Knife Makers Anvil" because there is an historical type that is mostly rectangular which has grooves for special tooling to be wedged into.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 15:44:26 EDT

to make one should i buy a round bar of steel with a 3/4 -1 foot diamater or what?
what companies sell them and what would the price be?
   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 15:46:26 EDT

to make one should i buy a round bar of steel with a 3/4 -1 foot diamater or what?
what companies sell them and what would the price be?
   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 15:46:26 EDT

double click
   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 15:46:47 EDT

I too wish to offer my sympathies to Paw Paw's friends and family. I know he will be missed.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 05/13/05 16:07:17 EDT

There is a gap in our lives and in our craft.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/13/05 16:09:46 EDT

John W; it's hard for me to write right now; but in honour of Paw Paw I feel we must go on one less soldier in the platoon...

At one of the Knifemaker's guild shows (when they were back in KC) I met a bladesmith who wanted to electrify an old post drill to save money. One day while using the drill he was watching the bit real carefully and reached up to turn the advance a bit and ended up feeding his fingers into the exposed works of the post drill. After several months and several thousand dollars of hand surgery he was still not up to where he used to be and told me that he didn't believe he had saved any money after all.

Do you really need to electrify that drill?

| Thomas |
   Thomas P - Friday, 05/13/05 16:18:13 EDT

LDuck. Just make sure that there is something to ignite the gas as soon as you turn it on. Wadded newspaper, like Wayne suggests, is good. You can only get a whoomp if you allow unburned gas to accumulate. Even when this does happen it usually does no more than take off your eyebrows and they were probably due for a trim anyway.
   adam - Friday, 05/13/05 16:37:36 EDT

I am very sorry to hear about PawPaw. I have enjoyed reading his notes very much. I can see that the smithing community will be much the poorer for his passing.
   John W - Friday, 05/13/05 16:49:40 EDT

Thomas. I am not sure about the electrification, If I do I will certainly shield the pulleys. It is an old lineshaft driven piece. I am still curious about the 3 phase motor thing though.
   John W - Friday, 05/13/05 16:53:24 EDT

I only met PawPaw briefly at the last Quad-State as he scootered around. My impression is he was the type to go well out of his way to help others. There will be a gap in the forum.

Draconas: If you are just looking for a hunk of metal for a pounding surface try your local scrap yards. I was at mine earlier in this week. They had a stainless steel piece about 5" x 8" x 12" ($1.00 lb). Man, you could not wear it out even with strikers. They also had other pieces, such as one about 4" x 12" x 24" which appeared to be mild steel ($.25 pound). Put that sucker up on edge and you have one solid anvil surface.

Technically you could make a Damascus pattern knife blade out of RR spike. Cut the shaft into three sections up to about 3" from the head. Spread, insert some tool steel and then forge weld. You now have the start of a Damascus-pattern billet. Remember you lose one layer as you draw out and fold over. Thus, pattern layers are 5/9/17/33,65, etc.

As the others have said in the past - learn the basic fundamentals of blacksmithing before pressing on to the more advanced bladesmithing.

Some of you associated with the Appalachian Area Chapter of ABANA may know Al Cannella. About ten years ago he self-published a book on 101 Metal Projects for the Novice Blacksmith. A RR spike knife is one of them. I have purchased the copyright to the book from him, reformatted it, had it professionally printed and now have it listed on eBay in my store: Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools (6178841200). A review copy is on the way to Jock. I don't think it is as good as Ted Tucker's Practical Projects for the Blacksmith, but does somewhat compliment it.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/13/05 17:02:06 EDT


Is someone taking up a flower fund for PawPaw? If so, where do I send $ers? (Wouldn't an arrangement in the shape of an anvil be appropriate!).
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/13/05 17:03:16 EDT

CSI had already taken care of it. At this point memorial plans are in progress but will probably be monday evening. For those that would like to ring the anvil for Paw-Paw we will announce a time tomarrow.
   - guru - Friday, 05/13/05 18:04:39 EDT

Draconas, bladesmith anvil, look at www.dfoggknives.com/anvil.htm. I've seen these for several years at the Batson symposium at the AFC's facility in Tannehill state park. Very nice. If blades were the only thing I forged, it would be my choice.

   Steve A - Friday, 05/13/05 18:30:19 EDT

Hello, Mister Guru. I have a question. Can charcoal briquettes be "coked" on a blacksmithing forge? Thank you.
   - Mike Mandaville - Friday, 05/13/05 22:06:48 EDT

Tonight I learned that I have lost a friend. It is damned hard. For all of us. Far worse for Sheri and the kids.

The blacksmithing community has lost a friend, patriarch, mentor and supporter. All of us who knew Jim and were touched by him will regret his passing, but I hope that all will celebrate his life and his memory. Tomorrow I will ring the anvil and hoist one small cup in his memory. Every time I raise up the hammer I will fondly remember the man who gave so much, to so many, for so long.

Rest well, old soldier.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/13/05 22:58:07 EDT

I never met Paw Paw in person, but we talked on the web site at times, always about blacksmithing or rifles (he was looking for a part for his M-1 Garand). Via con Dios....

Vance Moore
Whynot Forge
Meridian, Mississippi
   vance - Friday, 05/13/05 23:07:12 EDT

Round Bladesmith Anvils:

Years back (ca. 1955) John Anstee experimented with forging pattern welded swords, and a number of illustrations have been published since them, including one showing him forging a sword on a big, round anvil.

It's a cheese weight! That's what he was using as an anvil for the experiment!

I've had "Viking experts" come up to me and insist that "the Vikings forged their swords on big, round anvils." And if they believe that, I've got a sword in a stone that I can sell them!


Cattle die, kindred die,

Every man is mortal:

But the good name never dies

Of one who has done well


Well done Paw Paw, you shall be remembered fondly by all of us.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/13/05 23:16:13 EDT

the briquettes are not adeqate for forging. When charcoal is mentioned it is real wood charcoal, and not some small amount of wood ( saw dust) and a clay binder.
Also 'coking' is the process where the volitle and other nasties are removed from coal So charcoal by its very nature is already 'coked' as the wood is cooked to drive out volitle oils etc as well as water.

If you want to use charcoal I suggest you check your local BBQ supply place or resturant supply house for real charcoal.
   Ralph - Friday, 05/13/05 23:21:36 EDT

should i go out and get a round anvil or square tall anvil or what?
would i tbe a good investment concitering i am mainly going to be bladesmithing , i have got a small 100 pound anvil for any hardy hole or pritchet hole work and if i need a horn for anything
   - Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 23:26:11 EDT

should i go out and get a round anvil or square tall anvil or what?
would i tbe a good investment concitering i am mainly going to be bladesmithing , i have got a small 100 pound anvil for any hardy hole or pritchet hole work and if i need a horn for anything
   - Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 23:26:32 EDT

sorry , double click
   Draconas - Friday, 05/13/05 23:27:07 EDT

John W: Unless You have or plan to have other 3 phase machinery in Your shop that would warant a phase converter, putting a 3 phase motor on the drilpress is a mistake. Find a used single phase 1 HP power tool motor and be done with it, 1/3 HP would even be enough for holes under 1" diameter. Get a motor set up for reversing, or wire it that way Yourself as I described a week or two ago on this forum. Unless You go to the expence of a rotary or true 3 phase electronic converter the 3 phase motor won't perform to it's rating. Converted 3 phase is never electrically efficent, My idler motor setup takes as much power as a 1 HP motor at full load just to do nothing,and more power as machinery is operated.This is something that must be lived with where the motor is built specially for a particular machine, but You can bolt on anything that will do the job in this case.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/13/05 23:29:09 EDT


You already have an anvil. Use it. Save the money you would use for another anvil and spend it on books to study and classes to take.

The Grand High Poohbah, Dr. James Hrisoulas, could probably forge a sword using little more than a meat tenderizer and a medium sized gravestone but he has a Doctorate in Metallography, dozens of years of experience and just the right sort of attitude. A novice with no experience or training probably couldn't make a decent butter knife with a Peddinghaus anvil and a hundred dollar hammer. The craft is in the craftsman, not in the toys.

There are all sorts of substitutes for various tools, but there is absolutely NO substitute for knowledge and technique.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/13/05 23:47:39 EDT

When I moved into my last shop, one of the old cowboys who worked around there stopped by and saw my torches set up.
The folks who built the place had 2 sons,he said, and one of them was cutting open an old oil barrel that had held only water for years..."Right there" he said pointing to where I was standing.
Old Clarence nodded his grey head and said....
" Thang bleeew 'is cleeeeen offum".

In later years I would cut up dozens of propane tanks there.

Wayne: I've used that , pull the plugs and valves,full-of-water approach to cut tanks with an oxy acet torch with no problem.
Tamer: The simple answer is heat to bright red and turn up the fuel supply or cut the air down to make a reducing flame...this will impart excess carbon from the fuel.

Aw Paw Paw: I never got to shake your hard hand, but i sure admired your great heart..Thank you good Sir..rest easy.
   Pete F - Saturday, 05/14/05 01:46:03 EDT

" Thang bleeew 'is 'ead cleeeeen offum".

   Pete F - Saturday, 05/14/05 01:53:59 EDT

I met a fellow from Florida who for a period of several years made a living scrapping condemed propane tanks. The scrap yard required [3] holes in each tank. The darn fool cut the 3 holes in with an A/O torch, and lived to tell the story. Down the road 2 miles from Our house a "profesional" scrapper was cuting up an old fuel oil tank at the coal & oil dealership. Our stone house shook from the explosion. The point is that You might not get a warning "WOOSH" but a "KABOOM". It could happen the first tank You cut, or You may get away doing it for dozens of years. I got My warning brazing an oilpan on the engine, sounded like a shotgun. Big Dave & Pete found out that filling a gasoline tank with water before brazing isn't good enough. The tank didn't burst, but it didnt want to fit back in where it came out of.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/14/05 02:39:04 EDT

Hello again fellows, and Thanks, Bruce, for answering my question. I was under the impression that briquettes were made out of coal, though I now realize that they are made mostly out of softwood charcoal, with a coal filler, making them questionable as either charcoal or coal. It is evidently possible to find pure charcoal briquettes, though I think that Ford and Edison, the co-inventors of the charcoal briquette, would be disappointed at its scarcity.
   - Mike Mandaville - Saturday, 05/14/05 04:30:00 EDT

   tamer - Saturday, 05/14/05 05:09:33 EDT

"Post Drill" and 3PH John, Most of these machines are quite small and much handier hand cranked. Although late in their manufacture they came with square flywheels to use power from a small motor they were not designed for being powered. They have plain CI on steel bearings, as-cast gears and exposed works impossible to cover and still be usable. I do not recommend motorizing one.

What makes these machines more useful is the addition of a good Jacobs chuck. However, a new chuck and adaptor costs about what these machines sell for today.

Required motor HP for drill presses is relatively low. Big 21" back geared floor model drill presses only use a 1HP motor to drill holes up to 1.5" (38mm). A little 1/2" machine only needs a 1/3 HP motor.

3 PH motors are inexpensive due to the facts that:
1) They are less expensive to make than single phase.
2) They are used is large quantities on industrial equipment.
3) Most locations, especially homes and small shops do not have 3 PH power available.

#3 is the key and the reason that 3PH machine tools with relatively expensive high HP motors sell for much less that single phase machines that can be used everywhere.

Single motor inverters can be used and shop wide systems installed however they are expensive and often noisy. In most cases it is more cost effective to replace motors under 2 HP than to convert.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/14/05 07:59:51 EDT

Demo: I am off to do my last demo with my old portable forge trailer. This was one of Paw-Paw's local demos that he asked me to do while he was still concious. The trailer belongs to Bethabara Museum in Winston Salem, NC and has been in Paw-Paw's care since I sold it to the museum some 7 years ago. This will be my second good-by in two days.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/14/05 08:05:46 EDT

Draconas: I believe you said you had a 100 pound anvil. That implies an older one, probably London pattern, as the new imports (junk pattern) are 110 pounds. Only problem with using it is lack of bulk. I started on a 100 pound Fisher. When I upgraded to a 160 pound Fisher I was amazed at how much easier it was to work on the heavier one. Before going off an buying an exotic speciality anvil, I would suggest you try to upgrade to a London-pattern anvil in the 150-200 pound range.

There were square topped anvils made and are usually referred to as sawmakers anvils. They were made by most of the major anvil manufacturers, both in the U.S. and Europe. However, due to rarity, they tend to be both scarce and expensive.

Now, if you want a square or round one, go to a steel supplier which specializes in supplying machine shops and ask what one of the size and metal composite you desire would run. Might want to be sitting down when they tell you the price.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/14/05 09:21:54 EDT

I got the post drill today and it is more than I had expected. It is a Champion 1904 Pat date Drill press. I has a pulley for a belt drive. The feed pawl is broken off but otherwise it seems to be in good condition. I am not sure what to do with it. It is too heavy to attach to my shop, it would pull the wal over. I am not sure about fitting an electric motor to power the belt drive aparatus. I really am not sure what to do with it.
   John W. - Saturday, 05/14/05 14:25:32 EDT

Hey there everyone,

I've been away a while, but I'm back. And my anvil is done except for hardening. Should I harden my anvil? It's a 215lb old anvil, probably a different weight, now, since I welded the face and horn and cutting plate. I had the face machined and dressed the horn and cutting plate by hand. So it probably is a different weight, now.

Anyway, I was wondering... Is it a good idea to harden this anvil? Or should I leave the metal in its current state? Or can I even harden 713R Megafil steel weld? I have no clue if it has the correct carbon content for hardenability. Thanks for any and all suggestions. Look forward to using this bad boy soon.

Have a good weekend guys,

Also, got my tax return in the mail, so that trip to the hammer-in coming up might just happen, now. Look forward to that, too.
   CyraLynx21 - Saturday, 05/14/05 14:31:11 EDT

Oh, also, for a little more info on that welding material...

I used 75% argon, 25% carbon dioxide for the gas, and it was also flux-cored. Just found the info on the metal. It was made by a company called "Drahtzug Stein Wire and Welding GmbH." Found a list with info on the different wires here... "http://www.eagle.org/rules/downloads/consummables/27-AprvdGma.pdf" Anyway, thanks again... My big reason for asking here is that I have no idea about the specifics. Another example of the worker not really knowing what he's using.
   CyraLynx21 - Saturday, 05/14/05 14:39:14 EDT

I looked at some pictures and none of them had the belt drive pulley. That may be a late addition. Does anyone know where I might find a feed pawl for the Champion '04?
   John W. - Saturday, 05/14/05 14:45:07 EDT

Having been reading the forum for a bit, I have come to realize that Paw Paw is gone. I am sorry I didn't notice this first, but I was typing up my question before reading, and I am sorry. Sometimes there just aren't words enough to express feelings. I didn't know him and never talked to him, but, really, I feel that there has been a great loss. Each of us, for our individuality, knowledge, and committment to this community, is a dear friend to all others and each person is an integral part of this society we know.

Sorry again and my sympathies, Guru.
   CyraLynx21 - Saturday, 05/14/05 14:46:36 EDT

Cyrat_ynx21: It is basically impractical for an individual to heat treat an anvil, much less one that large. If you search around in some of the big cities nearby you MIGHT find a plant or shop still equipped to heat treat large objects; however, I suspect the cost would be prohibited. I would just use it was is, basically work hardening the top, even if it is needed - and it might not be. Just use it with upmost respect for a while.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/14/05 15:00:07 EDT

Uhm, the thing is, I have access to a shop with propane and oxy-acetyline torches, and several 55 gallon drums of oil, should I need to heat treat it in oil. So, the question is, impracticality aside, should I heat treat it? I have the means to do so, but don't know if I should. And I don't mean to sound contrary, here, in my response, just that I have, I think, the means to do so, but I'm not sure if I should.

Thanks for your comments, Ken. Feel free to advise further.

Back to cleaning the apartment.
   CyraLynx21 - Saturday, 05/14/05 15:37:47 EDT

CyraLynx21, if you want to heat treat that anvil, Charles McRaven gives information on how he repaired and heat treated a large anvil in "Country Blacksmithing".

To know if it needs it will require knowing how hot you got it welding and if the welding wire is a heat treatable alloy.

Of course you need to know this *BEFORE* you start. When we did welding on anvils at SOFA we would do the minimal preheat to keep from having brittleness in the HAZ and use a work hardening alloy and do no further heat treat. Worked quite well.

   Thomas P - Saturday, 05/14/05 16:00:24 EDT

Let me add my condolences to the family and friends of Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson. I met him once, spoke with him many times in the pub and had a profound respect for this man. A soldier, a smith, and a damned fine human being. So long, friend. We shall miss you.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/14/05 16:47:54 EDT

CyraLynx21: If you should somehow be able to get a 215 pound anvil up to a yellow heat and then drop it in a 55-gallon drum of oil, I suspect in a very few seconds you would have a fairly massive oil explosion followed by a still yellow hot anvil sitting in the bottom of the drum. I would highly recommend having your local volunteer fire department standing by.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/14/05 16:54:14 EDT

John W,
Are you sure that it is a belt pully. MY CHampion post drill has what looks to be a pulley but I am fairly confident it is in fact a flywheel.
Of course if it is big enought to pull your wall down perhaps it is ment to be belt driven.
IMy drill is not that big. I will try to remember to get a pic of the pawl and send to you.
   Ralph - Saturday, 05/14/05 17:17:26 EDT

saying by once is hard enough.
I want you to know that you can call me at anytime if you need an ear. Or anything.

I am guessing to cover in a basic way the gap Jim has left will take at least 9 or 10 folks.

   Ralph - Saturday, 05/14/05 17:19:15 EDT

hey guru , i dont know if im just blind or stupid or what but i remember seeing a part of this site that showcased some of your tools and such and for the life of me i cant find it now , is there such a page or am i just crazy , thanks
   Draconas - Saturday, 05/14/05 17:24:12 EDT

John W.-- I, too, have a post drill vastly too heavy for my wall. Solved that by sinking a long RR tie into the dirt floor 3 feet and further bracing it under where the drill would be affixed with a triangular strut of pipe that then got buried. Hoisted the drill up for fastening with a come-along. Some such arrangement might work for you. Also, making a new pawl won't be that difficult. P.S. I agree with the guruissimo that a motor on a post drill is unnecessary. Mine (a monster Canedy-Otto) ran during its youth off a line shaft but it works just fine by hand.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/14/05 17:25:45 EDT

Sounds like an interesting idea. I am still lazy enough to think about trying to marry a 1/2 horse motor to a big belt. I think it will look about like a dachshund trying to hump a lab. And cutting 1750 rpms down to, what 100or so?, will be interesting too.
   John W. - Saturday, 05/14/05 17:36:51 EDT

"I am guessing to cover in a basic way the gap Jim has left will take at least 9 or 10 folks."

Very true Ralph,
But I think we're up to it. Pawp'ud be dissapointed in us if we weren't.

And the same applies to you too you know, you have my ear when needed.
   JimG - Saturday, 05/14/05 18:01:32 EDT

Today I heard the news about Jim (Paw Paw) Wilson.
Jim was one of the first of the Blacksmith crew I met and offerd his support when the chips were down. He will certinly be missed however will all ways be part of my life.
   Kiwi - Saturday, 05/14/05 19:39:06 EDT

John W.

I heartily recommend AGAINST motorizing that post drill. If you're determined, set it up and crank it mightily and see how foast the flywheel turns. You don't want to run it any faster with a motor than you can crank it by hand. You would probably crank it about 70 rpm when using a 3/4" bit in mild steel, and that is plenty fast enough, with the gearing inherent in the drill. For big holes, you want slow cutting speed and high feed pressure. One reason that post drills have a manual advance wheel on the quill feed is so that you can pre-load the bit with sufficient pressure to ensure clean cutting. Run it too fast, or with too lilttle feed pressure, and you will just burn up bits and work-harden your work piece.

A freestanding post like a 6x6 set a couple or three feet in hard ground or concrete will support it nicely. Make sure that when you mount the drill on the post you mount it as close as possible to the crank side of the post, so you have knuckle and thumb clearance when cranking it.

The feed pawl is easy enough to forge, and there are a few dozen different varieties of them that have been made over the years. Even if you look at another drill with the same model number, you may find that the mechanism is slightly different. So just fiddle around and make one that will work.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/14/05 20:08:21 EDT

Ok, that is the thing about asking for advice. When you get an overwheming amount of good advice on something you sort of have to do it even if it isnt what you want to do. I will set it up like that. The pawl is broke just above the pivot point. The screw adjuster and the brass cam are still ok. I will take it apart and see what I can do. The rest of it seems to be cast iron. Do you have any suggestions about what to use for the pawl arm? should I try to weld the replacement on to the orriginal or make a whole new piece? The manual feed handle is broken too. I got some nickle rods and hope that if I preheat the break I can weld it up.
   John W. - Saturday, 05/14/05 20:32:46 EDT

What is a Hack and a Snapper? They bare mentioned in the Hammer blow on the ABANA web site. I was not familiar with them and I hadnt seen set tools with the thin rod handles. I am not sure about the block and side swage either. In fact I didnt know about the tools at all but the techniques of power hammering looked interesting as much as was mentioned. I checked the glossaries and didnt see the hack mentioned.
   John W. - Saturday, 05/14/05 21:06:58 EDT

John W.

I would just start with a new piece of mild steel and make one from scratch. There isn't anything magic about it, it just dangles down and stops the wheel from backing off. There is a relationship between the cam and the pawl that needs to be right so that the advancement is correct, but experimentation will get that right. Some drills, like the wone that I own, have a provision for adjusting the pawl so that it advances either one or two teeth, depending on the setting. You will be able to figure out yours just fine, I'm sure. Same goes for the manual feed handle; consider it a forging exercise, and enjoy it.

A hack is a chisel with the cutting edge parallel to the handle, used for separating stock, raising barbs and any operation you would do with a machete, if the material was wood instead of steel. You can see one in the Kayne and Son (now Blacksmith's Depot) supply catalogue. On the drop down menu, look under Advertisers. Tool catalogues are often pretty valuable learning centers.

Set tools can have handles either of wood or rod, as they are struck tools and not striking tools. I like the rod handles because they absorb shock better than wood if you miss hit, and they won't break if you *really* miss and whack the handle.

All top tools for working under a powerhammer or treadle hammer should be made as short as possible, so that there is less chance that a mis-aligned blow will spit them out at you. Another reason for rod handles, as they allow you to make tools that would be too short to have room for a handle eye. Bedsides, they're quick and easy to weld on be done with it.

If you want to learn more about powerhammer tooling and techniques, locate a copy of J. W. Lillico's book. Brian Gilbert, editor of The Hammer's Blow, sells a copy on CD for about ten bucks, or you can look on eBay and spend eighty or so bucks for a printed copy.

   vicopper - Saturday, 05/14/05 22:07:39 EDT

I will be ringing the anvil for Paw Paw tomorrow. I only spoke to him a few times on the Pub, but seeing how he interacted with people on the Hammer-In and the Den really warmed my heart. Good bye Paw Paw.

Confound it, I *told* you on the Pub and you didn't listen... I looked up the specs on 713R at the time and it doesn't have enough carbon in it to harden at all. See the specs listed here: http://www.arctech.com.tr/english/713r_rutil_eng.htm . This is very unfortunate... you would probably have been better off welding up the top with a regular old medium- or high-strength welding rod like 7018. Oh well, maybe someday. Next time check BEFORE welding up the top! >:O (Sorry, it really bugged me when I tried to tell ya about the carbon content and you didn't listen...) However, the anvil should work OK without hardening... just mount it securely and don't do cold work on it. Too bad you already had it machined, I would suggest peening the face a bit to give it a little work hardening. Might still be worth your time to do on the part that you plan on doing most of your work over. Good luck!

Sunny and hot in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 05/14/05 23:59:42 EDT

Funeral arrangments for PPW - Jim Wilson are posted on the Hammer in.
   Ntech - Sunday, 05/15/05 00:02:36 EDT

CyraLynx21, Your like so many before you, closed ears and running blind. Congrats. on pretty much screwing up your anvil that probably didn`t need any repairing anyway.
   - Robert IW - Sunday, 05/15/05 00:18:18 EDT

John W.-- You may already know this, but just in case: there are some Champion catalogs available in the book section of the online store here, and Centaur has a reprint of a Champion catalog from around the turn of the last century that has detailed pictures and descriptions of beasts like the one you are trying to reincarnate.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 05/15/05 00:37:28 EDT

Does any one have a link to power hammer plans? I've got an Idea on how to build one but need to know the general mechanics. If at all possable blue prints or mechanical drawings. Thanks.

As promised I won't use my hammer again. It will be hung by my grand father's anvil. A place of honor and respect. Never will it be used nor forgoten. A penny by the forge.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/15/05 01:04:29 EDT

I heard about Paw Paw and I'm very saddened. I never got the oppertunity to meet him in person, but from his advice here to chatting in email about his writings I could tell he was a smart man who was very generous with his knowledge and with everything else. It's a great loss to smiths everywhere.
   AwP - Sunday, 05/15/05 04:44:22 EDT

There are several power hammer plans sets available, You do not mention, mechanical or air? If a mechanical, junk yard hammer, look on this site, at the powerhammer page, at the catalog of user built hammers. If you have the mechanical aptitude to build and do the scrounging, then the pictures should be pretty much all you need, as ant scrounged parts will design the thing for you. If you want details on my hammer, email and I will help you out. Beware that several of the "plans" are pretty much overpriced.
   ptree - Sunday, 05/15/05 07:56:31 EDT

Timex: If a mechancial powerhammer see if you can find a copy of Richard Kern's Little Giant Powerhammer book. Don't remember formal title. It is/was carried by Norm Larson Books, 5426 E. Highway 246, Lompoc, CA 93436 - 805-735-2905. If no answer (or return call) try sending a business-size SASE and ask for a price list. It can give you a pretty good idea of the general mechanics involved.

As I noted earlier, there is a 50-lb line shaft driven LG on eBay now. With a motor, these have been selling on eBay for around $3K plus. For about the same amount of money you can have Zoeller Forge (do a google search) build you a 35-lb air hammer which works off of a standard 110v compressor. Please note the other new air hammers today all seem to require a very large compressor with rapid recovery.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 08:21:43 EDT

Jock: Just wanted to add my "Sorrow at Hearing of the passing of your dear friend,and many of our personal acquaintance-PawPaw". I am sure it really goes w/out saying that his life will be missed, especially in his Love of Blacksmithing and the sharing of his joy of the art/craft. I know you and he had many years of personal association and I guess I never really met the one of you w/out the other, first at Arizona Abana conference, then at my former home in Mesquite. My sorrow to you personally Jock for the loss, and to his wife Sheri and family. I was just reading some excerpts from his writings here on the site in the Blacksmithing Stories he loved to tell. We'll miss you Paw-Paw. His e-mails to me always started w/: Mornin' Red! (then a smiley face) Sharon (formerly Epps) Freeman
   Sharon - Sunday, 05/15/05 11:21:31 EDT

Keeping the Fires Lit:

The passing of Jim “Paw Paw” Wilson, our friend and fellow smith, brings up an issue that I feel needs to be brought forth. As Chairman of the Board of Cybersmiths International, the support group for Anvilfire, Paw Paw gave tirelessly of his time and energy to support this site, these people and the craft of blacksmithing. Paw Paw supported blacksmithing in numerous other ways, with his demonstrations, his writings his mentoring and his enthusiasm. He will be sorely missed by all of us.

Jock Dempsey, webmaster and Guru of Anvilfire, has devoted the last several years of his life to making this site the incredibly valuable resource that it is. Paw Paw, of course, was a significant part of Anvilfire, but he has passed, leaving only Jock. No one man can handle all the duties of this large a website and also shepherd its support group, without draining himself unwisely.

It is imperative that we do everything that we can to broaden the support base of Anvilfire through increasing membership in CSI. With a sufficiently large support base, CSI will be able to hire support staff for Jock and relieve him of some of the burden. Should anything happen to Jock, as it sadly has to Paw Paw, only a strong support organization will be able to keep Anvilfire afloat and growing. We have the knowledge among us to provide the answers and guidance, but we would need to hire a webmaster should Jock be unable to continue. Currently, we are simply not strong enough to shoulder that burden. We simply must grow, if we are to insure the future of Anvilfire.

I encourage all those who read this to consider the worth of this site to themselves and others, and try to envision what a disappointment it would be to log on to Anvilfire one day, only to find that the site was no more. Those who previously frequented the former Keenjunk website know all too well the feelings of loss they experienced when Neil Winikoff closed down Keenjunk. How many of us here want to experience those feelings? Not many, I think. But it is not enough to simply say how great this resource is, or praise those who have built it and run it. We must step up to the plate and contribute financially and energetically if we are to continue to enjoy this experience for years to come. Our friend Jim Wilson gave generously to support this little corner of the internet that we inhabit, and I ask all of you to do the same. Join me and the membership of CSI in carrying Anvilfire into the future. Together, we can do anything.

Rich Waugh
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/15/05 11:23:44 EDT

I am dang proud of myself this AM. Just tapped a dozen 1/4" x 20 TPI holes and they work! Did get my first hands-on lesson though. If you don't hold the drill straight, the threads won't be straight in the hole either.

For whoever gave the tip - the battery-powered drill worked GREAT. Easy to make the threads and then reverse.

Thanks for working me through what might have been a simple process to you, but a new one for me.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 11:27:48 EDT

On the future of Anvilfire and funding thereof, I guess it will be OK to announce I will host the first Annual Anvilfire Hammer-in at my farm near Waverly, TN on April 20-21, 2006. My only compensation will be to cover port-a-johns and event insurance. All net proceeds above that go to the anvilfire general operating fund.

If this works out, future hammer-ins will continue to be held here as it is centrally located to much of the Upper South and Lower Mid-west.

This will be an intentionally laid-back event. My shop will be open for volunteer U-Forge demonstrations. I use a propane forge (doesn't forge weld though), but can set a coal forge just outside the door or we might move the forge and anvil under a shade tree. Featured event will be by the BIG BLUE powerhammer team. They will be set up for hands-on testing of at least one of their hammers.

If someone wants to bring along a 55-gallon drum to demonstrate making charcoal overnight I can provide firewood to fill it.

A 'blowing of the anvil' is not out of the question if someone wants to take on the demonstration.

I have lots of room for primitive camping and tail-gate sellers. Spring run next to camping area. I'll run the cattle out of the camping area, but do watch where you step.

I hope to have a couple of local ladies sell a sandwich plus plate for lunch and a BBQ grill will be available.

This will not be a non-alcoholic event (within reason), but will ask that smokers not throw their butts (cigarettes anyway) on the ground. One of my pet peeves.

Anvilfire simply won't have the staff support to do basically anything in the way of advance registration, so it will, in all likelihood, be on-site, do-it-yourself registration only. At this point conference fee is not determined, but a desire is the event generate enough income for Jock to be able to hire a full-time assistant. At this point there will not be an extra charge for on-site camping or for tail-gate selling beyond being registered.

Waverly is located in West-central, TN about halfway between Nashville and Jackson. It is north of I-40 about 14 miles. There are several motels at the Buffalo/Highway 13 & I-40 exit and a motel in Waverly. Loretta Lynn's Ranch is about four miles from here and they have a full amendities campgrounds.

As far as family things to do - there are basically none in the area outside of Loretta Lynn's Ranch - and that only takes an hour or so.

Thus, mark your 2006 calendars. More details will be provided as the event nears.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 13:52:24 EDT

Ptree and Ken,

Thanks for the offer(Ptree) I'm just now getting into the planing phaze( what, how, $, materials). It will probably take a month or two before I make my first 'proto type'. After that who knows? But like I said I'm looking into it and may or may not ( buy it V.S. build it).
BTW, mechanical.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/15/05 14:03:57 EDT

Just had an Idea:

If we ALL donate a small piece of work to Anvilfire, it could be 'Ebayed' to help support this site. Would this be a 'Do-able' action or would it cause to much problem and not enough $.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/15/05 14:15:10 EDT


Would depend on both what and how much was received. I am certainly set up to do the eBay bit. After taking out the eBay/PayPal fees (about 12%), I could send the money to Jock. Finished items would not compete with my business.

Actually it would somewhat be advertising for anvilfire in that I can indicate in the item description the net proceeds go to support it. I cannot provide a direct link in the listings, but there are ways around it.

I'll leave this up to the anvilfire leadership to see if they want to do something with it.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 15:05:59 EDT

Of course, Ken, yellow is way to hot for heat treating an anvil and water supplied under pressure is the appropriate quench. McRaven did use the local volunteer fire department to do the quenching with their high pressure water hose.

Ken where did you get tha info on "yellow hot" and "oil"? You need to check your sources!

   Thomas P - Sunday, 05/15/05 15:30:09 EDT

Thomas P. He said he had several 55-gallon drums of oil available. I stand corrected on 'yellow hot'. Above critcal temperature, whatever that may be for an anvil of that size.

I believe it was Trenton who used a water tower concept. Tank held several thousands gallons. A 'hot' anvil would be placed in a chute and a valve opened to basically pour the full tank over the anvil. Water would then be pumped back up into the tank. Believe it is in Anvils in America.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 16:26:50 EDT

I know very little about blacksmithing, just so you know... I saved a cast iron bench from the dump (probably WW1 era) which is in good shape, except it is missing about 12" of the elipse. You know, the hoop the legs and back bolt to, and the seat drops into. I was told by an antiques vendor another elipse could be forged and placed on top of the old, with a gasket between. Is this difficult to do, and is it amazingly expensive? I liked this bench well enough to save it from the dump, but I don't make a lot of money and am afraid I'll go broke on this!
Also, is 36 too old to learn to blacksmith?
   Sarah - Sunday, 05/15/05 18:19:16 EDT

No 36 is not too old to learn. And that your hanging about the dump and salvaging stuff is a good indicator that you have the scrounging gene which is esential to being a smith.
As for the repair what part of the world are you in? There are smiths everywhere, but most of us don't bother advertising in the yellow pages or the like. But post your general area and we should beable to eventualy point you to someone near your area, or to a smithing group where you can learn smithing.
   JimG - Sunday, 05/15/05 18:40:54 EDT

Timex, I proposed that idea in the Members Forum months ago and was told that the cost to pack and ship the items would be prohibitive if Jock had to do the work. I still think there is a way to do this without burdening Jock. Maybe Ken has the right idea.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/15/05 18:57:09 EDT

Ken, God willing and the creek don't rise, this could be a great event! I am about an hour west of you and would be happy to help out. This assumes I still live here in 2006 but I don't have any immediate plans to move. Yet. Let me know what I can do.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/15/05 19:00:35 EDT

i have a question about making an anvil of sorts, i was wondering if i buy a large suare pipe(8 or 10 inchs across) with like half inch steel pipe thickness and i filled it with concrete to within 6 inchs of the top and and incerted a hard heat treated block of steel and slide that in and have spikes on the bottom that will stick into the concrete , would that be okay or should i have it solid steel all the waythrough?
   Draconas - Sunday, 05/15/05 19:14:48 EDT

You go MS. Smith Best ol' luck...J
   - jimmy seale - Sunday, 05/15/05 19:40:25 EDT


As I would foresee the anvilfire eBay support auctions the items would be sent to me. I would then list them on eBay with a description and photograph(s) as appropriate. Buyer pays S&H from me to them (standard eBay procedure). Thus, the donor is out what it would cost to ship to me (and you can ship a lot in one of the new priority mail flat rate boxes for $7.70 from one U.S. Zip Code to another). I would only do this with physical possession of the item as it is my eBay reputation at stake. Would likely start all auctions at $9.99 and let bidding take its course.

Actually helps me out in that it would potentially drive more people to my eBay store - so I do get a benefit for participating as well. Thus, my back gets scratched also.

"...and the creek don't rise..." LOL, Blue Creek has flooded almost all of the way up to the trailer in the past and there would be flowing water in most of the targeted camping area from the spring run mentioned.

Really about the only help I would personally need is to move some shop tables around to make room and then back after the event. I will sweep, but don't expect me to dust.

At one time Jock and PawPaw were planning to visit something this summer to scope out the place. If Jock comes, perhaps you can meet him here also.

As long as we keep this on the KISS concept, I don't see it as a lot of work for any one person.

CSI members would still be needed for day-to-day expenses. As indicated, this is intended more to try to provide funding for an assistant for him for the store and other odds & ends.

Stop by if you are in the area.

Draconas: Yes, what you envisioned would work; however, my SWAG is you are looking at a good bit of money for the pipe and insert. There is a sawblade anvil on eBay now. Take a look to see if it would meet your needs. I believe it is a Fisher, so would have a cast iron body and steel plate on top. Essentially a large block of metal.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 19:58:07 EDT

Does any one know where I can get a belt for a little giant? I am looking for a web belt that can be joined by a pin going through a set of eyes. Any suggestions? Thanks William
   triw - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:17:42 EDT

Anvilfire Auction: Ken, count me in. I havn't fired my forge in 6 months due to a bad elbow but I do have some stuff already made. I would be honored to donate to the cause. I guess we need the CSI Board to bless the idea, too, eh? Well?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:34:46 EDT


You can get flat belting and lacing clips from MSC, McMaster-Carr or W.W. Grainger. All have on-line sites with catalogues. YOu can also probably get what you need from Sid Suidmeir of Little Giant. I don't remember his website, but do a Google search for him.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:36:04 EDT

Draconas, Dreaming up anvils when you have one to work with is just an excuse not to make anything. I would bet when/if you get a sawmakers anvil the next thing will be some kind of vise and you won`t make anything between that time either. It just turns into a cycle of doing nothing but asking questions. Don`t feel bad alot of other people are in the same boat but most of the time its about building a power hammer of some sort that never gets built.
   - Robert IW - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:38:54 EDT

Based on what I have seen selling on eBay, it would surprise me if much revenue was generated by selling donated items, unless they are specialty desirables like pattern-welded knives and such. True antiques sell in certain of eBay's venues, and custom knives and tools sell in others, but 90% of the items I've seen listed under the "Blacksmithing" category either didn't sell at all or sold too low to be worthwhile. Just my observation, your reality may vary.

Those same items would likely fetch more money if sold at a tailgate event, rendezvous or re-enactment, where the target market is already assembled and in the mood to spend, I think. Again, your mileage may vary.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:41:42 EDT

I know Jock has said that Sid of Little Giant doesn`t advertise here but his name is brought up plenty.

Please remember that MSC, McMaster-Carr and Grainger don`t advertise here either but are places to get what you need.

triw, Do Sid a favor and buy from him, hes a family business and is the sole reason Little Giant is alive today. www.littlegianthammer.com
   - Robert IW - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:46:11 EDT

vicooper: An auction at the Anvilfire Hammer-in perhaps?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/15/05 20:55:39 EDT


Maybe, but that's kind of like preaching to the choir, isn't it? And it would mean more work for Jock. There is bound to be a viable way to do this, but we need to give it more thought, I think. Perhaps making things for a specific market would be more successful. Or maybe there is a section of eBay that would be a good venue for the sort of things we have to sell. As I said, I don't have the answer, just the questions. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/15/05 21:01:03 EDT

I have an opportunity to aquire a Penton brand 100 pound anvil and am trying to find out how much it is worth. Can you give me an idea of what I should spend? It is in great condition, has a great "pitch" and rebound. Thanks.
   Roland - Sunday, 05/15/05 21:06:12 EDT

Drac's filled anvil,

That sounds pretty creative, but after time the concrete would crush out and allow the ' cap plate ' to bow and deform. You could cut the same square tube pipe into plates and either bolt or weild( perferably weild) them into a usable an pretty neat looking anvil. if you bolt the plates place a thin rubber mat or cork matt under the bottom of the first plate then tighten away. It should look like a big wafer cookie, or an ice cream sandwich....or (mmmnnn) a moon pie!
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:19:02 EDT

I have recently purchased an anvil of unknown origin. All I can tell you is that it has "USA" listed on the side and nothing else. It is about 50 pounds and looks to be made of Steel ( no cast marks ). Can you tell me anything about the manufacturer,or anything else about its origin?
Thanks, Jim
   James Hope - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:23:58 EDT

I recently purched an anvil of unknown origin. All I can tell you is that it has "USA" on its side and it appears to be made of steel ( no cast marks ) It weighs 50 pounds,and is quite rusted. Is there anything you can tell me about it's maunfacture?
Thanks, Jim
   James Hope - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:27:14 EDT

I recently purched an anvil of unknown origin. All I can tell you is that it has "USA" on its side and it appears to be made of steel ( no cast marks ) It weighs 50 pounds,and is quite rusted. Is there anything you can tell me about it's maunfacture?
Thanks, Jim
   James Hope - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:27:26 EDT

on your anvil ID, you might need to take a rubbing of both sides to see about any other markings.
This is one of those questions that I sure wish PawPaw was here to answer as I do not have Postman's book to help id the anvil. But if you can get some other marking I am sure that we here can help.

   Ralph - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:28:07 EDT


On e-bay sell items shipped by and supplied to Anvilfire by the users, lurkers, and gerneral pop. . The shipping to the bidders would be covered by the min. bid and should not present any out of pocket. If done correctly it would not only generate some operation cash flow but would also help to get Anvilfire's name out in a big way. If all that do send stuff in would include how to's and alternative meathods of making said items, in time they could be added to the I-Forge how to list and demos.( only use if the forms were used, to make it simpler )This inturn could be be compiled into a book and offered to the 'Boy's in Blue' (oops, gals too) as a benny for paying their dues and providing time out to help with the advise section.It ( the book ) could be sold on site as well as on Ebay. May be a title that honors Paw Paw?

Just thinking.
   - Timex - Sunday, 05/15/05 23:34:48 EDT


1. Penton. I suspect it is Trenton, rather than Penton as that would be a new anvil brand - or at least it isn't listed in Anvils in America. If a Trenton it would would have either a wrought iron body or combination of wrought and cast body and steel plate. If a Trenton it should have an oval depression in the bottom and a serial number on the front foot. If a Trenton, and you are going to pick it up, I would think up to $2.00 lb would be reasonable. Now it it really says Penton then you have a collector's item and normal pricing rules don't apply.

- USA. I have only seen one in person and it had either the horn or heel broken off. Since the letters are cast into it, it is cast, and likely cast iron, and apparently without a plate. If steel, it should ring when struck. If cast iron it will have a thunk sound. I suspect it is a nice door stop, gluing weight or buoy anchor.

On eBay and Anvilfire: I rather think I know a bit about eBaying and in probably 99 plus percent of the auctions the buyer pays for S&H separately. Major exception are the priority mail flat rate boxes and even here then cannot be shipped to other than a U.S. Zip Code. Rarely do you see a S&H one as the question becomes what to make the amount. I can ship something to the next state much cheaper than to CA or ME. If I use an average I would overcharge half and undercharge half. I agree handforged (arts & crafts in general) don't sell all that great on eBay. They are things the buyer wants to pick up and feel. Not only category is important, but how it is listed, such as a good title, description and photographs. Something like a Damascus-pattern crosspeen hammer with nice handle should sell well under the blacksmithing category as it becomes a bragging rights item. I have been burned twice on a third-party backing out and now require physical possession before I list something.

On the I-Forge. Take a look at eBay #6178841200. It is a somewhat similar book to proposed. It was originally self-published via copier. I bought the copyright and had it reformatted from paper copy to electronic file. From the file I had it professionally printed at a VERY reasonable per copy cost of about four cents per page on a 300 copy print run. Having something in electronic form is nice, but I, and I suspect others, like a hard copy. Thus, something like Timex proposes isn't out of the question as long as each of the I-Forge demos is now the property of Anvilfire and someone would likely need to rework them to incorporate the Q&A aspects into the technique itself. Any volunteers? Question is more the front end financing required as I need to sell around 100 copies of this book just to recoup my start-up costs.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/16/05 01:34:47 EDT

FUND RAISERS: I think I'll just put somethin' or other on the tailgate at Quad State with a sign that says "Best Offer,All Proceeds to Anvilfire. Drop a note in the can with your bid and your name on it. Saturday night after dinner, best bid will be announced. Simple enough?
   3dogs - Monday, 05/16/05 01:40:22 EDT

I am thinking that sort of thing is a very good idea.
Actually there are lots of great ideas coming out. Now we just all need to step up to the plate and make it happen.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/16/05 03:03:05 EDT

I am a hobbyist blacksmith on a very tight budget (most of my tools were given to me or were home-built, including my brake-drum firepot). My anvil is a very old one (the elderly gentleman I purchased it from said it came from the blacksmith shop in the town he grew up in and that it was probably close to 100 years old). It has no obvious manufacturer's marks or weight markings. It has obviously seen HARD use. The delineation between the hard surface plate and anvil body is obvious, and where it is still in halfway decent shape (near the hardie and pritchel holes) it is about .350" thich. But in the main "working area" of the anvil, there is a swayback that is about .090" deep at the deepest spot. I have access to industrial knee-mills, surface grinders, and carbide tooling (read: large diameter, indexable insert face-mills) at work. What would be the best way to get my anvil decently flat again with a minimum of monetary expenditure?
   Richard Knack - Monday, 05/16/05 05:17:24 EDT

I would suggest that you leave it alone. Not that it is a valuble antique but because there are amny things that could go wrong with the repairs. For example you might remove enough of the steel face that it will break while using it.
Also many smiths like a swayback as it is useful in straightening things. Find a spot near teh center of mass ( usually a few inches behind teh horn) and use that area.
Use different area on the anvil till you find the one you like and use it.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/16/05 05:42:59 EDT

James Hope, The USA anvil was cast in Alabama. A lady at the flea market had several for sale for $75. I memtioned it to a local *anvil expert* and he said not to buy one; "junk", he said. He then went to the flea market and bought all she had, whereupon they became valuable antiques, fine working anvils, investments or whatever an unsuspecting shmoo may br looking for. It should work ok for light work, but don't pound too hard on the heel, esp in really cold weather. I didn't see a listing in Postman's book for "USA".
   Ron Childers - Monday, 05/16/05 06:56:49 EDT

Sway Backed Anvil: I've repeated posted about repairing anvils. DON'T.

The fact is that the sway is very useful for straightening. In fact you CANNOT straighten something properly on a FLAT anvil. Al you can do is use it for a reference surface. .

Old worn swayed anvils are wonderful to use. This weekend we used a worn out colonial era anvil AND a newly remachined anvil. The newly machined anvil had sharp edges that marked up the work, a step that was too short (and sharp) and a softer than original surface that marred easily. It was difficult to use. The old Colonial was a bit too worn and a little small for my taste. But is was better to work on than the larger "repaired" anvil.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 07:54:30 EDT

Learning Blacksmithing, Ages: This weekend I have been teaching blacksmithing to a family group of a friend that recently passed away. They wanted to experiance some of what their departed father and grandfather had loved so much. We had children from age 8 up to adults in their 40's and 50's, men, women and children. Over the weekend we forged hooks and leaves and various items using a bellows blown coal fire, a gas forge, a handcrank blown coal fire and even a power hammer. With the tools and a little instruction almost anyone can learn this trade if they have the interest.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 08:06:09 EDT

Anvilfire and eBay:

I'll second Vicopper's experience on eBay hand-forged items. Every once in a while I check to see different forged items and I've yet to see anything sell at all. There are minimums set for the item, but if you look down you see nobody bids for them.

I'm guessing that people look to eBay to save money. That's the only reason I ever shop there. Most of our kind of stuff fits into the ornamental category, and there's plenty of competition from the import people for that.

So when the bottom line is calculated and all the eBay and PayPal fees are subtracted, you would end up working for less than minimum wage. You'd almost be better off finding a burger job and quitting after a couple days, then donating your paycheck to Anvilfire.

I think Ken, our favorite "Poor Boy", does well because he has a specific target market with no real competition. Maybe we could find a different niche-type market to make cheap tools? Blacksmithing works because there aren't enough of us to get Sears, Wal-Mart, and Harbor Freight interested. Any other hobby-type markets out there that could use some basic steel tools?

   - Marc - Monday, 05/16/05 08:18:54 EDT

Richard Knack: I am not of the 'don't do anything to an anvil because it is old school'. About like saying an 80-year old shouldn't get a hip replacement. An anvil is a tool and at one time there were several companies (including the major anvil manufacturers) who repaired damaged anvils. IMHO, you would be better off building up the anvil plate and then finishing it than machining out the saddle. I have used 7018 rod on over a dozen anvil repairs - including my own - with excellent results. A trick is after each bead is laid down, flatten it with a heavy hammer. This seems to help work harden it, as well as to make final grinding on the top passes easier. Lay a straight edge on the corners and then build up the outside to just above the height desired. Then pad up the middle to that height and final grind. For around the hardy hole tap in a plug of aluminum. Weld won't stick to it. The pritchel/punching hole can be redrilled from the bottom to clean up the top area and the edges then slightly relieved with a larger drill bit from the top. I would just knock off the edges of the plate a tad and then not radius further until you have used the anvil and determine what you want them to be. Be aware after welding on it a bit, the anvil will become too hot to handle without heavy gloves.

Compounding my reply is there is apparently nothing special about the anvil. Were it saw a James Cash (another words rare), then it would be a different story.

Anvils in America by Richard Postman includes a section on rebuilding an anvil by welding.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/16/05 08:19:14 EDT

3dogs: You could also make it a silent auction. A sheet of paper (or notebook with an item # per page) is provided for each item with just a column for name and bid. That way people know what the previous high bid was rather than bidding blindly.

Ron Childers: Do you know where in Alabama the USA anvils are/were cast and possibly when? The broken USA I saw lives near Dickson, TN. The owner said he also bought it at a flea market. I'd like to pass on the information to Richard Postman. He has closed off gathering additional information for the follow-on book, but is still accepting new information for his use and files.

On the eBay auctions. I guess I didn't make it clear Jock would not be directly involved other than receiving the proceeds.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/16/05 08:25:55 EDT

I have seen four or five "USA" anvils over the last few years, all of which were plain cast iron. One had been surface ground, but the rest were as-cast with the parting line down the middle of the face. I was offered one by a farrier for $35, and turned it down. I've seen them at antique stores for $300. Wishful thinking and a new coat of paint do not a good anvil make.
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/16/05 09:34:43 EDT

I am interested in making sords such as the ones used during the medieval times. I wish to purchase a detailed book on the matter, on how precisely to make such items. I also wish for it to inlcude how to make a verity of such swords, not just one, if at all possible. It would be much appreciated if you have any suggestions on this matter.

Your Fellow Blacksmith,
Michael Walser
   Michael Walser - Monday, 05/16/05 09:47:02 EDT

KEN; Yes, thank you. That would be a better way. I'll do that. That would inject a little more competitive spirit into the process.
   3dogs - Monday, 05/16/05 10:09:26 EDT

Michael Walser, I suggest you scroll to the top of this page and read the link titled "getting started in blacksmithing."

You shall verily learn the ways of making a veritable plethora of objects, starting with the simple and progressing to the complex, which will aid you in your quest to make that most difficult of objects, the sword.

Also, get yourself a copy of "The Complete Bladesmith" by Dr. Jim Hrisoulas.
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/16/05 10:31:35 EDT

   tamer - Monday, 05/16/05 10:45:17 EDT

SO sorry to Hear of Paw Paw's Passing - Been away from the Computer all weekend. He was a dear sweet man and will be missed.

The Kayne Family - Steve, Shirley, David, Cathy, Zack and Eii
   Cathy Kayne - Monday, 05/16/05 11:01:48 EDT

Michael Walser---what you want to learn is the techniques of making a sword. Once you have learned how then you can make *any* type of sword. James Hrisoulas' book is a good place to start. However you do realize that it will take several years to get good enough to make a good sword and quite a bit of money in equipment to make multiple ones.

The hard truth being that if you want a good sword you will get it much faster and cheaper mowing lawns and buying one than you will trying to make your own... swordforum.com can point you at the good ones.

If you have to make your own---welcome to the club! Look around for your local ABANA chapter and attend their meetings, they will help you lean what you need to know and where to find equipment.

If you have the means taking classes at the American Bladesmiths Scociety school in Texarkana AR will speed you along the learning curve.

And finally check out the link to "Sword Making Gen X" under the armour page listed under the dropdown menu at the upper right of this page.

AGE: the oldest person I taught a bit of smithing to was in his 80's; oldest smith I have met so far that still kept their hand in was in his 90's.

Also for an anvil very old is at least 200 years. 100 years is prime age for a using anvil!

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/16/05 11:27:38 EDT

Ken; Yes anvils are tools, yes they wear out, yes there are people who, like yourself advocate repairing them but I must disagree.

Once, there were companies that repaired anvils, BUT, they MADE NEW ANVILS also! They had the equipment to do the job properly and they had EXPERENCE in the field.

Like cutting open 55 gal drums without the tools or experience to do it safely, you might get lucky once or twice "repairing" an anvil but the chance that it will blow up on you (do more damage than repair) is high.

If you have a company that is able to manufacture anvils then you are qualified to give advice on repair of anvils, if you don't then you are just talking out of your hat and passing on what you did when you got lucky butchering old anvils.

You make your living on people who are new to this trade and don't know any better or don't have the experience yet to make the same tools you sell. If these same newcomers went through a course with a group like CBA for example, they would learn to make better tools, cheaper. Please don't add to the population of anvils that are only good as a doorstop by advocating the repair of said anvils by ignorant (lack of knowledge and experience) newcomers.
   - Wayne Parris - Monday, 05/16/05 11:34:22 EDT


Seems to me had PawPaw answered the question he would have given basically the same answer as I did. An anvil is nothing more than a tool, go ahead and repair it back into useable condition.

Ken Scharabok
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/16/05 12:02:49 EDT

The point is that it IS in useable condition, it just IS NOT NEW, people need to get over the urge to have an anvil that is like new. If you want new, buy new, but the anvil that is in question, is perfectly useable, better than that it is more usefull THAN new!

To use Paw Paw as justification is in poor taste in my opinion. Regardless of who says to "fix" the anvil, I still feel the same. Buy new if you want new!
   - Wayne Parris - Monday, 05/16/05 12:14:13 EDT

In my nevertobehumble opinion, Messrs. Scharabok and Parris both have valid points, so what we have here is the makings of a good horse race; i.e, two well thought out opinions, that two people, after having weighed the pros and cons, are prepared to put their money on. May the best man win. (But I'm afraid we're gonna have a photo finish)
   3dogs - Monday, 05/16/05 12:18:24 EDT

Anvil Repair: I truly believe, based on the experiece of both myself and many others, that certain repairs can be made to anvils IF DONE CORRECTLY. If they are not done correctly, then you can indeed cause more damage than was there before you started. Again, I know this from personal experiece. You must have a very good understanding of how the anvil to be repaired was made and the materials used in its construction and you must understand how to effectively make the repair. I think that most people don't have this level of understanding and end up causing damage rather than improving the tool. Also, sometimes repairs are necessary to prolong the life of the tool, and sometimes repairs are really cosmetic.

My current anvil had been used as a cutting table before I got it. There were some deep gouges on the edges and a gouge across the hardy hole. This was of particular concern to me since I use a lot of hardies so I repaired this defect. The anvil is also sway backed by close to an 1/8". I'd prefer it flat, but I don't want to build it up and grind it flat for fear of the face seperating from the body. So, I use as is and make hardies for the times when the existing face is not adequete for the job.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 05/16/05 13:01:49 EDT

3dogs, this need not be a contest. I just wanted to say clearly that most people do not have the ability to do it properly. New is new and used is used. There is nothing wrong with either. New will become used but used will never be new again. Life is too short to fuss and fume. I'm done.... for now EVEIL GRIN!
   - Wayne Parris - Monday, 05/16/05 13:14:14 EDT

annealing 12L14 to r/b 50 to 60 .Can use some help
the book says seldom required.Well my cust is requireing me to.
   dominick - Monday, 05/16/05 13:33:26 EDT

Is there a good glazing compound to use over firebrick? We are using Tanex for mortar and Grefpatch for small patches. We are running the forging ovens at 1800 degrees.

Also, do you recommend SuperBond or something else for larger patches?
   r frase - Monday, 05/16/05 13:46:26 EDT

Dear Guru,
I recently acquired my first REAL anvil (estate auction ;-) and am curious regarding its approximate date of origin. It is a Peter Wright apx 204 pounds (1 3 8 English) with the serial number 6182. I do not have a copy of Anvils in America and was curious if you could help me? Thank you for any assiatnce you can provide.
   Russ - Monday, 05/16/05 14:34:04 EDT

Forgot to reply to: "Above critcal temperature, whatever that may be for an anvil of that size."

Critical temperature is not size dependent so it would be the same for a 1 oz or a 100 ton piece of steel. It's based on the chemistry of the alloy.

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/16/05 15:09:01 EDT

Today i just learned of the passing of Paw Paw, and I must say I am quite saddened at the news. I chatted with him via email several times, and he was so very helpful to me, and was so friendly too. I both admire and respect Paw Paw. he was like a grandfather to me. I will greatly miss that great man.

Rest Well, dear Paw Paw.

Ian Wille
   Ian Blueboy Wille - Monday, 05/16/05 15:29:19 EDT

Sword Making: Michael, We have a lonf FAQ on the subject and a resources list with a few of the hundreds of books you will need to study to make a reproduction medieval sword. No one book covers the whole subject.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 15:51:39 EDT

Tool Making: There is a tremondous demand for good hand made tools of all kinds both economical and pricey. Woodworkers, sculptors and many others are always looking for high class tools. Of course this means exactly what I said, HIGH CLASS. You may START with a hand forged blank but the customer will expect superior materials, superior processing, superior finish, superior function. It is a good business but generaly it requires industrial grade tools.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 15:56:50 EDT

"Critical Temperature for an Anvil"

As Thomas points out, the temperature depends upon the composition of the steel and it's alloy(s), if any. The duifference is the sheer mass a=involved and the heat source that will need to be applied. A small pen knife blade can be done in a propane torch flame; an anvil would take a conflagration.

Should my forge ever (God(s) forfend)burn down, I plan to direct the VFD to work with the hose on the anvil face first, and put out the rest with the spray! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/16/05 15:57:41 EDT

Refractory Coatings and Patching: r frase, See our on-line store and the data sheets on the ITC products. Most are unique or do a superior job.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 16:01:11 EDT

Hello Everybody

I heard about Paw Paw at our Renaissance Faire here in California this weekend. I am sorry that he is gone. He, his family and friends are in my thoughts. There are about 20 blade smiths and Black Smiths at our faire and word got round.

Aaron Cissell
   Arron Cissell - Monday, 05/16/05 16:45:56 EDT

Ken, the official anvilfire line has been NOT to repair anvils. In general (almost without exception) those that have to ask have no business attempting to make repairs to tool steel anything.

There is also the problem of what folks consider "needing repair". I have had the misfourtune to work on an anvil this weekend that was on loan to Paw-Paw. It WAS a very nice 225# Mousehole anvil until someone machined off over half the face thickness. Now the anvil has disasteriously sharp edges AND a soft face. When old anvils were hardened the entire plate does not cool fast enough to produce a penetrating hardness and the bigger the anvil the thinner the hardness in the plate. It LOOKS like an anvil, Is a good brand, but it is one step above being a doorstop and would cost more than it is worth to repair the damage. I would be willing to bet that 5 or 10 minutes with a grinder and this would have been a servicable anvil.

So you have two issues, the questioner may or probably does not know how to properly do what needed to be done AND without seeing the anvil you do not know if they just don't know what is servicable or not. AND ocassionaly there is the possibility that they have a rare collectable piece that even rust removal may reduce its value.
   - guru - Monday, 05/16/05 17:01:44 EDT

Hello Again

I have just about talked myself into buying a Whisper Daddy 3 burner with side openings. This seems to do everything that I want with out all the hassle I have had with the one I built (Thanks for the point in that direction Ken.) I really liked the learning experience of building one, but getting time to get a forge that works great, so I have more time learning how to move metal.

I have seen one that was not used often but it had some bad, bad, burns in the bottom from flux. The owner said that it was the first time he used flux, and never used it in that forge again. With the forge that I made, I have a Fire Brick bottom so when it gets bad I can just drop in a new one.

My first question is:

Is there a way to safely add a false bottom when using flux to prevent this from happening to the Whisper Daddy that I am thinking of buying?

Second Question:

Hammering. I remember a while ago, there was a thread about using a drawing or glancing blow to pull metal forward. I have a friend that uses such a technique but it seems to work well only on small stock. Is this a limitation to this form of hammer stroke?

Ken I really want to thank you for the help. I tend to jump first and ask later. Thanks for being an honest Ebayer and helping rather then making $ at any cost.
   Arron Cissell - Monday, 05/16/05 18:08:53 EDT

Do PW anvils have serial numbers? If so where? I do not recall seeing one on mine but perhaps I missed it.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/16/05 18:10:19 EDT

I would jsut get a kiln shelf and use that as a sacraficial floor.

As for hammering I have heard of lots of folks using the tech you mentioned. I personally do not.
As to why it may not work well on heavy stock is the same reason that many folks have a hard time forging larger stock. Which is htey did not let the core temp get high enough. If you take a fast heat only the surface (skin) of the metal is hot the core is cooler and so does not move. Then all you do is move the outer metal.
Look at the end of the piece being worked. Usually if the core is not hot enought the tip of the metal will have the corners sticking out and the center will be recessed.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/16/05 18:15:57 EDT

Below the english weight designator I have a four digit number. I was told that this is a serial number If I knew how to post a picture I'd show ya how much crud I had to wire brush in order to get to it ;-) ;-) ;-)
   russ - Monday, 05/16/05 19:48:55 EDT

Arron, If you want to experiment with the drawing technique you mentioned just be careful to so by aiming the hammers blow and not by taking an excessively tight grip on the handle and trying to drag the metal toward you. You can quickly injure your arm with bad technique. I've found that this type of stroke can be very useful but that for me it is most effective when using one of my square shaped hammers (like a french locksmith pattern) with a rocker type face.
   SGensh - Monday, 05/16/05 19:57:25 EDT

I checked my PW tonight and there is no serial number.
I wonder if perhaps the 4 digit number was perhaps a companies internal serial#?

Looks like I am going to have to get Postman's book now.
   Ralph - Monday, 05/16/05 20:54:51 EDT

I just want to say I never met Paw Paw but if it was'nt for this sight and you and Paw Paws advice I would never have started Smithing. Thanks and Paw Paw will be Missed
I could tell he was trully a great man.
   TravisC - Monday, 05/16/05 21:45:32 EDT


As Ralph said, a piece of kiln shelf makes a very good, durable and *almost* flux-proof floor. The silicon carbide kiln shelves are the best, and the most expensive. Next best is mulllite. If using SiC, a 1/2" thick one will work okay, and for mullite it is better to get a 3/4" one if you have the headroom for it.

If you use th ekiln shelf liner idea, there is one thing you should do that will save you grief down the road. Get a diamond blade for your angle grinder and grind a shallow cup in the "sweet spot" of your forge chamber. This will allow excess molten flux a place to puddle without running off the edge where it will then proceed to gobble up the liner underneath it (and glue the shelf irretrievably down).

In addition to what Ralph said about not heating stock thoroughly, that effect of the hammered area being moved more than the core metal is a sign that you're suing a light hammer. Heavier hammers drive the force of the blow deeper into the core of the work, causing the core to move more.

I've seen a number of smiths using "wiping" blows to do things like pull clips on horseshoes and such, but I don't do it much. Those fancy two-axis blows are real killers on the joints and connective tissues. I far prefer to select a hammer with a face configuration that will move the metal where I want it with a straight blow. That is one reason there are so many different hammer patterns.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/16/05 22:10:53 EDT


I forgot to note that when you make the "drool dip" in the kiiln shelf liner, you will need to clean it out from time to time. To muck it out, just bring the forge up to a heat where the flux is molten and then stick a rusty steel poker in and gather up a glob. Dip the poker in the slack tub and the flux hardens and cracks off easily. Repeat as necessary. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 05/16/05 22:13:08 EDT

Tamer - I was out over the weekend, which is true of most of my weekends. One of the other smiths listed the site www.key-to-steel.com - check that out for carburizing information it is a great site with a lot of free articles about steel and steel processing. I'm not certain if you can safely do what you're describing. Trickling propane or other hydrocarbon gas into an electrically heated furnace without an inert atmosphere in it such as nitrogen in it in the hopes of carburizing a piece of steel is a good recipe for blowing yourself up.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 05/16/05 22:35:37 EDT

If someone is going to weld on a anvil (which I say don`t) you better know how to lay the beads in right, not just pecking and scratching around but really laying them in! I`ve seen the so called "anvil repairs". Not needing to look close and seeing porosity in their filler, strickly amateur work at best. Then doing a hideous job grinding and not having a clue to what finish work even is.

I have seen a few very nice repair jobs done but to how they hold up after time I have no idea.

Leave to old anvils alone and buy a new one if that is what you want.

   - Robert IW - Monday, 05/16/05 23:30:09 EDT

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