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 17 - 22, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Guru, the reprint I bought ($22.95) is a paperback. There's a b&w photo on the front cover of the forging of a small leaf. I try my hardest to never bring a book into my shop. Fear of loss, burnt edges, and quenchant spills keep my books on the shelf. I'll read up on whatever I plan on making over and over again until I can visualize what needs to be done before I even step foot in my cellar.

Wire bound books could be identified by marking the wire spine with paint, you could use different colors for each subject.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/17/06 07:57:07 EDT

This is in response to Tyler back from May 1. I am a chainmailer, and here's a good way to get started; go the www.theringlord.com and find a farm supply store, electric fence wire makes for decent chainmail although their selections are a bit limited. Hope this helps!
   Max - Wednesday, 05/17/06 08:09:23 EDT

I would like information and/or directions to same concerning the patent office data on gear-driven blowers. Any help would be appreciated.
   Lyle Cline - Wednesday, 05/17/06 08:43:04 EDT

Guru. Hawley book. I have the old "The Blacksmith and his Art". The spine came apart right away, as did yours, bu awley has a good informaion and a nice am of a side blast forge. He went to Spain in the 1950s, and saw a smith making faggot welded scrolled forks and spoons with a simple side blast. Hawley said that the guy had a simple firewall with an electrical conduit pipe for a tuyere. When the the pipe got burned, fouled, and lost lengh, the ole boy just kept cleaning it and running it through farther. Hawley didn't get interested in smithery until his trip to Spain, and he was in his fifties! I met and visited with him on a couple of occasions.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/17/06 09:24:07 EDT

Yes, the life of any piece of machinery is a crap shoot, but you can certainly tip the odds in your favor by using some smarts when it comes to lubrication. If you fail to take the appropriate steps to minimize friciton and wear, then you hav enly yourself to blame when the thing siezes up.

What information I have about lubricating machinery comes mostly from an old engine rebuilder and a few old machinists I worked with over the years. These are guys who knew how to keep hundred year-old equipment running like new and extend the life of new equipment long into the future. Over the past fifty years or so I've practised what they preached and found that it really does work.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/17/06 09:52:19 EDT

SECOND CHANCE ANVIL: Many thanks to Guru, Ken and Thomas for thier input. I chose to pass on that particular anvil.

108BUDDEN: I'll keep an eye out for your item. If you want to bypass eBay and have a target price in mind, we may be able to work a deal directly. I'm located in the Atlanta area.
   Dennis M - Wednesday, 05/17/06 10:03:40 EDT

Rule #1 of machinery maintenance: "Oil is cheaper than machinery." (As of this morning, that is.)
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 05/17/06 10:53:16 EDT

I've just picked up a big 7"postvise, Problem is its been abused alot(don't panic,it was real cheap I think less than scrap, its alot heavier than it looks,,,)

Anyway the damages are the handle was welded to center on the screw so it works as a "T", then is bent from a cheaterpipe, also the jaws top are chewed alot from careless torch cutting.

So, I know its steel,not real old. I plan to weld in the nicks and redress the jaws.
But for the handle. Its bad off, the weld failed at the screw so the handle is loose, but captive between the bend and a weld bead It should be cut and removed to straighten, But I think its better off to replace and since I have some 7/8" cr bar lying around anyway.
How did the originals get that nice ball on the handle ends?
I would assume it was upset then finished as a ball under a
2 piece die. I can't replicate that, Maybe I could upset then finish off the ball best as possible on the anvil.
Thanks for any info..
   - Mike - Wednesday, 05/17/06 10:58:12 EDT

Just like any auction, e-bay is a trap for folks who don't do their homework. Many the time I have taken a tool catalog to an auction and watched used items go past the new price...

The reason I hate folks who just resell/dropship commonly available items is that they clog up searches for not commonly available items, especially by misuse of keywords.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/17/06 11:50:16 EDT

Ebay question. I've been looking at and bidding on a Kohlswa 100# anvil in fine shape. There will be no shipping cost as I can readily pick it up. Is it worth more than $3.00 a pound? I want it for a "user", not a collectable. Also, I spent all day yesterday practicing forge welding.....what a pain doing it by yourself!! The only things I couldn't get to weld were rr spikes, melt yes, weld no. Is that because there's too much carbon in them?
   Thumper - Wednesday, 05/17/06 12:23:18 EDT

Does anyone know of any good gunsmithing websites? Just curious
   - boogerman - Wednesday, 05/17/06 13:17:01 EDT

Dennis M
I emailed you a very detailed email with a very good price on this anvil. I included photos and description. If you do not get the email ok click on my user name and send me one with your phone number. I am giving you first chance at this anvil.
   108budden - Wednesday, 05/17/06 13:33:16 EDT

The 100lb Kohlswa anvil would be worth going up to $350.00 in the condition it is in as a user.
   108budden - Wednesday, 05/17/06 13:36:16 EDT

100lb Kohlswa Anvil, Depending on the style,,, I would give 3.00/lb If its great shape its worth it.
For me, It probably says "Made in Sweden" somewhere on it. Thats worth something also. (Am I homesick or what?)

Your welding problem,, Are the spikes melting? That does not seem right, or do they more like crumble as they are struck? Either way, that means its getting too hot.
Get them red hot and brush them, add flux. Depending how dirty they are, it may be needed to heat then brush again, then reflux before going for the welding heat.
Something like a spike could be allowed to spark/burn a tiny bit before drawing out to strike. Be sure to heat slowly so the entire thickness of the spike are completely heated, not just its surface.
While they are bigger than I normally weld, Spikes should weld fairly easy.
   - Sven - Wednesday, 05/17/06 14:22:39 EDT

Thumper, I commonly weld steel with 3 times the carbon content of a railroad spike---at best they are at the lower bound of medium carbon, .27% was the limit quoted by one manufacturer and a good knife steel can be even higher than .9 and I often stick a bit of 1.2% steel into a billet to bost the average carbon content after carbon migration.

I've always done my welding by myself. It was a pain trying to learn by myself---what I think you were trying to say.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/17/06 15:26:57 EDT

Leg Vise Repairs: Mike, old leg vices vary somewhat but most are wrought iron with steel jaw inserts welded in or mild steel with steel jaw inserts. I would preheat some then weld the jaws with E7018 rod. Then grind to clean up. Leg vises are better off with smooth jaws so they do not mar the work.

The original handles were upset then shaped in a ball die with the screw attached for the second upset. The balls do not need to be very large and I have found it easier to use weld build up on the ends. Torch or saw off the old handle. Then clean up the hole. Then find a piece of mild steel that is just a slip fit in the hole. Then start the weld build up.

I have a wonderful old 10" Prentis vice, the biggest they made. The day before the auction some idiot welded up the handle. Did a good job. . . I've finally decided that the best repair will be to replace the handle 100% as trying to cut out the welds will leave a ragged mess that will be impossible to celan up right. I've have to saw off the old one, drill out the remains (about 1.5" diameter!) and grind the screw to clean up. Then I will do as above.

I usualy make vise handles a little longer than the originals (about 15%) so that it takes less effort to close them really tight.

Some vises have screw on ends but I have never had anything but trouble with them working losse and falling off. Very old leg vices had a nut and a big wrench was used to tighten them the same as machine tool vises are today.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/17/06 15:46:18 EDT

A friend of mine just fabricated a new screw and box for a leg vise. He forge welded collars on the ends of the handle and finished them as faceted balls. They looks good.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 05/17/06 16:46:54 EDT

There is a new entry in books on introduction to blacksmithing: The Backyard Blacksmith: Traditional Techniques for the Modern Smith by Lorelei Sims. She essentially starts out with the assumption of total lack of knowledge of even basic blackmsithing and then progresses through set-up, tooling, techniques and over 20 really nice, step-by-step, projects to reinforce the previous lessons. Lots and lots of color photographs.

Newly published by Quarry Books. I obtained some of the first to hit the market and have them on eBay as #6281268797 for $19.99 plus S&H. I will revise price upward in a couple of days to the suggested retail price of $24.99. This gives forum members an opportunity to purchase at a discounted price, but they need to do so fairly quickly.

Folks, this really is destined to become a classic for the beginner blacksmith.

Normally my return policy is on the price of the book only - buyer pays two-way shipping. However, I so strongly believe in this book, for forum members, I'll go a 100% refund if not satisfied - including two way shipping.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 05/17/06 17:35:24 EDT

Forge Welding, RR spikes or other things: if you are having trouble, one or two tricks are to clean up the scarfed areas with a belt sander or a rasp so all the scale and oxide are gone, heat in a reducing atmosphere, flux early, just when the red shows, bring up to welding heat, flux again, reheat a bit, and weld. If it has carbon in it, it will weld at a lower temperature than A36 or 1018. As soon as the borax starts to bubble you should be at a welding heat. YMMMV.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 05/17/06 19:12:58 EDT

Thanks all for the responses. It was 92degrees here today, so I just didn't do any welding, just filling orders doing normal smithing, staying as far away for the forge as possible!! I'll get up early and try the welding again tomorrow, tell you how it progresses. About the anvil, thanks again for the insites, seems like a good value, now it's just a matter of how bad I want it I guess.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 05/17/06 19:53:49 EDT

Air compressor lubes and breakin.
When I ran the powerhouse at the valve shop, we had 4 twin screw, 200 Hp compressors, 1 1700 Hp steam recip, and a myrid of electric and steam recips in the 10 to 70 Hp range.

For new, we always started up, ran till warm, and did an orderly shut down and a filter change. We then went to about 50 hours and did an oil change and from there ran the oil on condition. That means we did testing on the oil condition on a regular basis. When an oil change involves 35 gallons of Polygycol, an air oil seperator and filter, the change runs about $1200.00 I have run compressors of the industrial size on Straight turbine oil, synethic, polyalolefin (PAO) and polygycol. from testing in 200 Hp screws, the hours ran;
straight turbine oil (petroleum) 1000 hours ($2.15/gallon)
Phosphate di-ester 2000 hours
PAO (Mobil 1 is a PAO) 3000 to 4000 hours
Polygycol 6000 hours.($48.00/gallon)

All above on well filtered machines, with regular filter changes. All had good incoming air filtration, and the oil coolers well cleaned.

The polygycol makes the most environmentally friendly condensate. Sewer plants can easily handle it, and I was able to get a permit to dump straight to sewer. When you make hundreds of gallons of condensate a day this is important.

On a home compressor, if filter equipped, change the filters often, as the oil if kept clean and cool, does not degrade that quick. If no filter, change the oil often.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/17/06 20:58:40 EDT

I need to draw done a tube ( in silver ) from 9 mm OD ( 7.2 mm ID ) to 7 mm OD.
How do I calculate the extra length the tube will become.
( thus how thin the wall will go. It starts as .9 mm thick)


   - Kim Edwards - Thursday, 05/18/06 06:48:32 EDT

Kim Edwards,

This is a straight exercise in "constant volume forging", so to speak. YOu will end up with the same amount of metal, by volume, as you started out with, just in a different form.

If you're using drawing dies to draw down th etube to the smaller diameter, the wall thickness will not change appreciably. To think the wall, you would have to have a means of compressing the wall between two die surfaces, which doesn't happen in a drawing die. There will be a minuscule amount of force exerted on the wall by its own resistance to movement, but all the force is really translated to lengthening the tube. You can do the calcs for the change in form, I'm sure.
   vicopper - Thursday, 05/18/06 08:35:16 EDT

Many thanks. Clue is statment that wall thickness will not chamge dramatically.
   - KIm Edwards - Thursday, 05/18/06 08:59:33 EDT

Hello, I am building two swinging gates, fabricated with some forging. They are eleven feet long each and I'm using 1" square tubing for the frame, including the bottom rail. They'll be relatively light weight for the size, but will they sag, bend etc. The design is using just straight bars for the pickets. Thank you!
   - Bill N. - Thursday, 05/18/06 11:36:16 EDT

Bill N.,

Yep, they'll definitely sag as you suspect. You need either some diagonal suspension bracing, or some considerably wider horizontal members. The Guru can undoubtedly give you some accurate guidelines as to what will be required. Is this gate on level enough ground that you can use a caster wheel at the swinging end to support the load?
   vicopper - Thursday, 05/18/06 12:00:32 EDT

Guru, I was showing my dad some pages from Professional Smithing, and he wasked me why is it that when a smith bends steel out of the way to isolate a spot, why it doesn't break when bent back. I told him it's because it's done under heat, not cold. Pretty simple, but now I want to know WHY does it work? Exactly what is happening to the metal under forging conditions? I assume it has something to do with the crystalline nature of the material.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 05/18/06 12:02:10 EDT

Just tell him that it's done above the dislocation climb temperature...(so it doesn't workharden and so it doesn't break from forcing workhardened---full of dislocations---metal)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 05/18/06 13:22:48 EDT

Deflection: Bill, Yes, they will sag considerably and bending is always a problem in gates. The fact is ALL gates sag. An 11 foot gate is a LONG gate. Deflection goes up by the CUBE of the increase in length.

Under its own weight 1" 16ga wall tubing 11 feet long will droop 1/4" supported on both ends. This is at rest with no load.

With 20 five foot long 1/2" pickets (weight 66.8 pounds) the same tube supported on both ends will sag 1.92", a pair taking the load will sag about half or about 1"

This is supported at both ends. I do not have a quick and dirty calculator for fixed at one end but I would guess a minimum of double or about 2". There is also the weight of the verticle and the latch. However, when calculated as a 22 foot continous gate with two horizontals taking the load the deflection is 18" and stress if far above yeild. With fixed ends the sag would theoreticaly be less but the welds would probably tear out.

1.25 by .083 wall square tubing will sag half as much and 1.5 x .74 by .083 wall tubing only .86". The lowest deflection tubing in this scale is 2 x 1 x 11ga (verticle).

When building light gates it helps a LOT to include a diagonal or a solid panel. Panels of about 12" made of your tubing and a sheet of 15ga steel make an incredibly rigid light weight beam. These can be used in the center or the bottom of the gate depending on the look you want.

The other method used in making ultra light gates is to use tubing for pickets. However 1" square tubing weighs the same as 1/2" round. Most gates I have seen using square tubing used the 1.25" square .083" wall.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 13:27:13 EDT

Gates. .?? Bill, Is this an 11 foot panel (22 foot span) or a an 11 foot span with two 65" panels? How tall?

Note that problem of a gate sagging is not so much due to its own load its from people standing on or riding the gate. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 13:40:08 EDT

I was working down a piece of copper tubing in a "V" swage (actually a piece of angle) and it got *shorter*. I was amazed. To give the details, just in case anyone's interested, I was working a piece of 1/2" type L copper tubing (5/8" actual OD). I worked in in the swage until it was about 1/2" round. It shortened maybe 1/4" over 8". At that point, the walls were thick enough that I was able to take it to the anvil face, square it up, and draw it out like a piece of bar stock. I drew it out to a little under 3/8" square and then rounded it up. It ended up somewhat longer than it started, and the ID was reasonably round.
   Mike B - Thursday, 05/18/06 18:31:38 EDT

Thumper all anvil info and photos have been sent to you. If they don't go through let me know. Thanks
   108budden - Thursday, 05/18/06 18:49:16 EDT

Nippulini, it's simple enough. When the metal is heated, the molecules vibrate at a faster rate. As they move faster, they expand. When they expand, they are easier to bend and won't break because they are not formed into eachother as they are when cold. This the best way I can explain it, but I've heard better.
   - Rob - Thursday, 05/18/06 18:49:24 EDT

I'm having a LOT of trouble getting my forge to welding heat. Even when there is at least 6 to 7 inches of charcoal, it won't heat to the proper temperature. Do I need to add more charcoal, get a forge with more of a bowl shaped fire pot than I have now, stronger blower, etc.?
   - Rob - Thursday, 05/18/06 18:53:20 EDT

Charcoal Forge: Rob,

1) What kind of charcoal? Briquettes are not charcoal, they are sawdust, coal, starch glue and a little charcoal. . They will work for ocassional forging but are messy and do not produce satisfactory heat. You must have REAL all wood charcoal.

2) What size charcoal? Pieces that are too big leave too much space between lumps. Even when smelting iron the charcoal is broken up into lumps no bigger than an inch. In the forge you need about the same or smaller. A few larger pieces do not hurt as long as there is enough small coals to fill in the fire.

3) What kind of air source and do you have proper control?

Forges take a large volume of air at resonably low pressure but not so low it cannot force its way through the fire. Too little air and you get no heat. Too much air and you cool the fire as well as cause excessive scale making it doubly impossible to weld.

Fire depth UNDER the steel is important as welll as covering it to protect from air. It you put steel too close to the bottom of the fire pot you can burn it no matter what fuel. Burnt steel will not weld.

The right fuel, the right size fuel, the right amount of air and proper placement of the steel in the fire. Then all you have to do is know when the time is right.

Starting with a clean forge and clean steel helps.

   - guru - Thursday, 05/18/06 19:34:23 EDT

Bending hot metal: Rob got really close to the complete answer. Yes, the ATOMS (not molecules) vibrate when hot; when metal is bent or formed, the layers of atoms must move over one another. It is easier to do when they are vibrating out of their normal rigid position.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 05/18/06 20:09:27 EDT

I am using drill rod to make roller bearings. How do I heat treat this material?
   Ron Smith - Friday, 05/19/06 07:38:16 EDT

Drill Rod: Ron, drill rod typically comes in O1 and W1, two different materials. But depending on the supplier could be other grades. You need to know which. Your supplier should be able to tell you which as well as heat treating specifics.

O1 is better for this purpose if you cannot grind to size because it does not grow as much as W1 when hardened. When using W1 you have to carefully experiment with the growth unless you are grinding the bearings after hardening.

A salt bath is the best way to heat this type part for hardening as it prevents oxidation. Another salt bath is often used for tempering but a toaster oven will also do. If oxidation is a problem stainless foil can be used to protect parts heated in a furnace or forge.
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 07:54:58 EDT

O1 and W1 or W2 These are your common grades of drill rod. But some suppliers also sell A2. The "A" stands for Air hardening, the "O" for Oil hardening and the "W" for water hardening. The difference being the air cools the slowest, the oil faster and water the fastest. Often brine is used instead of pure water. Thin sections of oil hardening steels may air quench. Very heavy sections MAY need a severe quench (iced brine).

Steel Hardening Time at Temp. Quenchant Temper
A2 1700 to 1800°F
925 to 980°C
20 to 45 m. Air 350 to 1000°F
175 to 540°C
01 1450 to 1500°F
790 to 815°C
10 to 30 m. Oil or Air 350 to 500°F
175 to 260°C
W1 - W3 1400 to 1550°F
760 to 815°C
10 to 30 Water or Brine 350 to 650°F
175 to 345°C

When handling tool steels they should be slowly preheated to a few hundred degrees below the handening temperature. Then brought up to the hardening temperature and held long enough to evenly heat. The recommended times above seem long to me.

Parts should be tempered immediately after hardening. Using the low end of the range (350°F) at a minimum for all steels then more as required by the application.
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 09:15:03 EDT

NOTES: The above steels normally come annealed and ground to size as part of their price. Rounds are typicaly centerless ground and may not be very straight or accurate. Flats ar generaly very accurate.

When forged these steels may need further heat treatment (annealing or thermal packing) prior to hardening. After heating and normalizing these steels will be too hard to machine and will need a carefull furnace anneal to be machinable again. Do not cut annealed tool steels with a torch or friction cut-offs (chop saws) as this will create hardened ends.
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 09:36:50 EDT

John Doe AKA Jake deBord stickdeathbbb@hotmail.com, Jesse Jaeger yomama@yahoo.com, VEXX VEXXwashere@yahoo.com, peter joemama@yahoo.com

DNS - [05/19/06 09:54:46] resolves to cox-68-224-164-102.pool.twotrees.net

These folks host school systems. That means we can trace you to the computer desk you were sitting at when you posted. EVERYTHING on the net is traceable.

In my state cursing in public is a felony. It probably is in your's as well. Your school also probably has rigid rules about computer use as well. Hate to see you get expelled from school just prior to year's end. This is your last chance to clean up your act.

   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 10:21:44 EDT

I learned my lesson on biquettes a while back. This was when I first started getting into bladesmithing. I noticed I couldn't get them to heat above a deep orange color, and the longer the burned the cooler they got. The charcoal is farily small, at least not an inch. It's pecan limb charcoal. It's very abundant here, and I have my own small orchard of them. I'm tried cotton wood, but it fell apart and clogged my blower. My guess would have to be the blower then. It's just a blower pulled out of a work van and hooked up to a 12 volt battery charger. I'm working on making a new forge from an old wheel, so I'll use an old blow drier. My dad says he knows how to remove the heating element, so he'll help me with that.

That brings me to the question: Where is the best place to find 3 inch steel pipe? That is the size required for this wheel, but I can't find any no matter how hard I look for it. Thanks in advance, and Thanks for the answer Guru!

   - Rob - Friday, 05/19/06 11:58:57 EDT

Way to spank those troublesome youths. I heard the smack all the way in NY. Maybe we should call their parents and school?? I think it would be great to get them expelled and have to repeat their grad all over again. Kids need a good horse whipping these days. HEHEHEHE!!
   - Burnt Forge - Friday, 05/19/06 14:06:16 EDT

Burnt, When it is the same twit over and over. . . probably writes on walls and carves his initials into anything that would hold still. The only good thing about the military draft in the 60 and 70's is that it gave kids incentive to stay in school. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 14:15:03 EDT

3" pipe: Rob, it doesn't need to be that big and that much air may be too much for a brake drum/car wheel forge. 2" is plenty. 3" is right for a large shop forge.


For pipe and fitting that thread together you can go to almost any big hardware store or pluming supply and the big chains like Lowes carry long nipples (short pieces with threads on both ends).

For plain tube try a muffler shop like a Midas shop. These guys deal with all sorts of odd sizes and should have cut offs and drops. However, they will not have "T's" to make an ash dump.

For on-line ordering in the US and Canada McMaster-Carr is very good. There pipe and fitting prices are good and service excellent. Cost for all the fittings in our brake drum forge instructions should be $20 or less plus some shipping.

THEN. . The hard core way to fabricate an ash dump tuyeer would be to use some scrap sheet metal and make square tubes. Lots of hacking with a chisle and filing and bending in a vise. . . If you are serious about blacksmithing you will find a way.

A GREAT scrap item to build a forge out of is a small discarded electric hot water heater like an under the counter unit. Standard ones will work as well. If you ask ANY plumber you will have a choice of any size you want.

Hot water heaters have a tank with about a 1/8" wall that can be cut with a saw or chisle. The outer shell is nice enameled sheet metal that can be turned into hoods, ducts. . whatever. Between the two is a layer of fibreglass that you can discard. All you need for the forge is the domed bell end. The rest can be made into a slack tub. These things are scrapped due to leaks but it is usually a pin hole that you can fill with a sheet metal screw and a little silicone sealant. Leaks also develop around the heating elements which can be removed and the hole plugged.

You can use primitive methods to build one of these or if you have a buzz box welder there is plenty of material to make any kind of forge you want. Use the skills and tools you have on hand. Sheet metal screws or small nuts and bolts are just as good a way to put some things together as is welding.
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 14:39:29 EDT

Guru---and gave a place for those who couldn't stay in school to learn some pretty important life lessons....

Found a bridge anvil today while walking around during lunch---story across the street.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/19/06 15:08:21 EDT

Pipe can also be flared over an anvil horn to the size needed (within reason -- 2" to 3" might be close to the limit). A lot of work, but lots of neat things can be made that way. Of course, forging threads back on the end is a little tougher (Grin).
   Mike B - Friday, 05/19/06 16:11:44 EDT

Hello I've got some questions about the 2006 ABANA Conference in Seattle. I live in Canada and I can probable get a ride down there for a day.Do I need to be a ABANA member to go? Can I go for just one day? If I can go do I need to Register a head of time? Haven't had to much luck finding this info on their website.

   - TimothyJD - Friday, 05/19/06 16:15:09 EDT

ABANA Convention Costs: Timothy, At the last conference they were charging $80 US for a day pass. I think this makes you an ABANA member for a day (for insurance reasons). I do not know what it will be this time but it is sure to be more. You can pay when you get there.

Note that ABANA has had a bad habit the past few times of spreading the convention all over. In Kentucky the indoor vendors, the gallery and inside events were about a half mile walk from the demonstration area. This does not sound bad but you would lose an hour each trip and that is a lot of time out of a three day convention. This year parts of the convention are down town and the demos a good drive away. I do not know details.
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 17:03:38 EDT

Speaking of T's for an ash dump:
I saw a neat way to lay out a saddle cut on two pieces of pipe. Take a wide rubber band and a hand full of finish nails. put the rubber band around the pipe and place the nails evenly around the pipe, under the band, with the points sticking out as far out as you can. place the other pipe on top of the nails and push down gently at the proper angle.The nails will contact the cross pipe and automaticly lay out both the male and female side of the cuts. Draw around the nails with a silver pencil,cut and weld. This works for any angle lay out.
   habu - Friday, 05/19/06 17:59:21 EDT

Habu, slick trick. I have seen moulding matching tools that worked sort of like that but not for pipe. Making this tricky joint is why I recommended square or rectangular ducting. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/19/06 18:11:39 EDT

Alright, I've got another wheel I can use instead then. About 2 1/4". It might be a bit easier finding pipe that size. I also have sheet metal i can use, so if nothing else I will pound out some tubing myself. I'll try an auto store (there's an Auto Zone near by) as well to see if they have scraps. I may try cutting and welding for the T. Thanks again for the advice!

   - Rob - Friday, 05/19/06 18:31:03 EDT

Abana in Seattle-
to find out about 1 day passes, email em- conference@abana.org
since they are getting more advance registrations than any ABANA conference to date, there may be over 1200 regular attendees.

The conference is all at Magnuson Park, as far as I know- all the demo's, lectures, and vendors will be there, along with the beer garden. I think, but am not sure, that the gallery will be there too. Not aware of anything downtown. The lodging is at the University campus, which is about 3 miles away.
   ries - Friday, 05/19/06 19:52:22 EDT

I TOLD them not to end the draft! Nobody listens to me. ;-)

ABANA has pretty much priced me out, these days. Maybe if they have something within striking distance of Southern Maryland, and that fits my chaotic schedule, I might rejoin but right now I'm juggling too many balls at the same time.

Speaking of which, I'll be in Philadelphia on Park Service business the week of June 12th. Assuming I'm not hijacked by my friends at NPS, BIA, BLM, F&W or the other bureaus, any suggestions for appropriate blacksmithing tourism? I remember when I was up there in the early '90s, Yellin's daughter-in-law directed me to a bank and a church with his ironwork. I had the Jack Andrews book, but I loaned it, and several other books, to a beginning blacksmith whose house burned down; so I have a hole in my references.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/19/06 23:24:58 EDT

Vise update,
Thanks for the advise guys, Great idea about the slightly longer handle, I was about to cut the new bar the same as the original.
As for the end balls, I mig welded pipe collars to the ends. Rigged up a slow rotating drive for the bar so the welds are perfect all the way around, I dont need to dress them, Of course the inner weld will become peened smooth with use.
The jaws are repaired also using the mig, As I dressd the welds, The welding seems a bit harder than the original material. Its a steel vise not iron, I expect the repairs will hold up just fine. Thanks again.
   - Mike - Saturday, 05/20/06 00:08:55 EDT

I finally dragged the ~ 300lb presumed Peter Wright railway anvil up near the house (an epic tale, but space does not permit its telling). It has lots of minor surface rust, and the remnants of grey paint in some places.

I'm preparing this for my smithy - this will be for making works of art, not a work of art itself. Still, aesthetics are important: I saw a sort-of polished anvil the other day, and didn't like the raw steel - I much prefer the 'old leather' dark brown patina.

What's the best way to 1) clean it, 2) preserve it from further rust, and 3) get a nice finish? I have a wire brush, phosphoric acid rust remover, and oil already, if those might come into play.
   Tim S. - Saturday, 05/20/06 08:20:12 EDT

Tim: Phosphoric acid destroys patina! Gentle wire brushing followed by oiling, then gentle brushing again. Finaly wax.

There will undoubtedly be other opinions, this is mine.
   - John Odom - Saturday, 05/20/06 10:34:21 EDT

Anvil Clean Up: Tim, Simple, Only "clean" the working surfaces. A belt sander works great for the face and if you roll it on the horn does a really nice job.

If there is loose paint wire brush it off with a manual brush. If you have paint you want to remove this is a good place to torch it off. They do this on wood all the time. Its much less hazardous on metal. Use just enough heat to loosen the paint and follow with the same brush as above.

Then just oil ocassionaly. Anvils and other heavy tools tend to attract condensation from the air due to their mass that remains cool long after the air has warmed. So they rust. But a light spray of WD-40 now and then slows and darkens the rust. The combination of fine old rust and a little oil is what gives tools that old dark brown patina.

On the other hand. . The environment in a blacksmith shop is hard on tools that are not constantly maintained. If something is not going to be used in a long while you need to paint it as well as oil it. I already need to go back through my collection of hammers from a few years ago and derust with a power wire brush. A thin coat of paint will do best for those that I do not regularly use. THEN when I go to use them the paint quickly rubs off the working surfaces.

I tend to avoid thick goopy paint jobs on tools and machines. They destroy the look of the tool and the thicker the paint the worse if flakes and chips. You have to use your judgement about what and how much.

MOST over painted tools and equipment come from big shops where every so many years they hire a crew to come in and paint everything. . . And they do, including working surfaces of machine slides, hand wheels. . . Everything the same two colors. I have even bought machines that got painted with water based sea-foam green. . .

When painting, color is a personal preference. I try to repaint most equipment the original OEM colors if known. Things like anvils and swage blocks that are hard on paint get a light coat of barbeque black over light rust and oil. These things are not going to maintain a pretty glossy paint job so a thin slow the rust down or accentuate the old rust coating is best.

The only time I put a pretty paint job on an anvil is to photograph them. But I would not put a "pretty" job on an antique anvil. Just a thin coat of oil and a little hand rubbing. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 10:56:20 EDT

Tim. . John posted while I was working on mine. As you see we pretty much agree.

Many may say "WHAT?" about my anvil and swage block painting methods after reading my exhustive CLEAN, CLEAN, PRIME TWICE and PAINT rants about iron work. And actually I would prefer to paint machines this way but sand balasting is very hard on machines so you need to hand clean them. . .

But anvils and blocks which are mostly all working surface simply need temporary protection. Thin graphite based paints that break down and sluff off. Applied over rust, dirt and oil they do just fine. Reapplied only when they are nearly gone there is no heavy build up and the rust patina is maintained.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 12:35:42 EDT

Hey there, i live in calgary alberta canada, and i was in Riptor Earlier today, and i saw they sell 4 sizes of anvils, they tell me they are poured steel,
the prices are,
50 Kg(110 lbs) $160 Canadian
60 Kg(135 lbs) $190 Canadian
75 Kg(165 lbs) $240 Canadian
90 Kg(200 lbs) $290 Canadian
I was told they were imported from japan
are these good prices ?
and has anyone heard of any that sound like these,
   Dylan - Saturday, 05/20/06 15:34:20 EDT

Dylan: As far as I know no anvils are imported from Japan. In Asia, again as far as I known, just China, Russia and perhaps still Taiwan. Apparently anvils are also being cast in Mexico. Don't know exchange rate, but doubt for price they are cast steel. Most likely cast iron or perhaps a cast iron composite, such as ductile iron.

Do the horn tapping test. If cast steel there will be a noticeable ring. If cast iron, a dull sound.

Also pay attention to the size of the hardy hole. Standard is pretty well 1
   - Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/20/06 16:18:41 EDT

Went to Harbor Freight today and purchased a 70-gallon, 12.8 cfm at 90 psi compressor. Also purchased a combinatin air filter, regulator and lubricator for line. On top of the lubricator there is what is called an Outer Cup. All operations says is, "Adjust the oil flow by viewing the Outer Cup and adjusting the Adjusting Screw next to it." Ok, adjust to what, oil showing up in cup?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/20/06 16:24:26 EDT

Thanks for your 'clean the anvil' replies - a wire brush and oil did a surprisingly good job! See the new baby at www.larachristi.com/anvil.htm if you're interested. -Tim
   Tim S. - Saturday, 05/20/06 18:11:17 EDT

Oh, and IS this a Peter Wright anvil as I suspect? Note the "H" stamped into both horn-end feet (see http://www.larachristi.com/images/afootletter.jpg and http://www.larachristi.com/images/aendhorn.jpg). And at 36" from end to end, how much is it likely to weigh? Thanks again...
   Tim S. - Saturday, 05/20/06 18:24:34 EDT

No, it is not a Peter Wright. Nt sure what it is.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 19:04:17 EDT

Guru: Tim S. had me look at some other photographs. My guess is it is from the American Wrought Anvil Company of Brooklyn, NY. Postman (in Anvils in America) thinks they were in business about 1899-1911. Meets known characteristics, such as four handling holes (two in front) and a flat bottom. Side indent also seems to match photo in AIA.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/20/06 22:04:40 EDT

See also this anvil at http://www.beautifuliron.com/tempImages/Anvilold.JPG, which the fellow says was an "American Pattern Anvil". It looks a just like mine.

As an aside, Norfolk Southern railway repair yards in Roanoke was where the anvil came from originally, in case that helps at all.

Thanks, everyone!
   Tim S. - Saturday, 05/20/06 22:32:22 EDT

"just like mine" - and I tried to proof-read, too! Sigh...
   Tim S. - Saturday, 05/20/06 22:32:58 EDT

I just bought about 30 old files for 10$. Are they any good for knife making?
   - BNC - Saturday, 05/20/06 22:55:24 EDT

Riptor Anvil Prices: Dylan, IF indeed these were good steel anvils thir price would be VERY good. These are typicaly the price for cast iron door stops or ASO's (Anvil Shaped Objects).

"Steel" anvils. Good anvils vary from 40 to 60 points of carbon. At the low end they must be alloy steel which hardens more with less carbon. The high end is typical of plain carbon steel and low alloy steel anvils.

An anvil COULD be cast steel and still be junk if it is too low of carbon to be hardened OR if they are not hardened from the factory.

The "ring" of an anvil only tells you if it has flaws or not. Typically soft cast iron anvils do not ring but the hard grades do. However, they are still cast iron and not suitable material for an anvil.

"Imported from Japan" does not mean "Made in Japan". This only means that a Japanese dealer of Southeast Asian goods handled them. They could be from China, Korea, Taiwan, Cambodia. . .

At this time we know of no Japanese made anvils being imported into the US. IF they were good high quality anvils you would expect a much higher price.

Calgary will be full of smiths in a month or so and has a considerable number in residence. Talk to one of them and have them take a look before you buy.

See our FAQ on selecting an anvil and the Link to the "Cheap Russian Anvils" article. It has photos of cast iron junk anvils found in a US farm supply store.

I'd love to see a photo of these anvils and more information. They MIGHT be good but the price is too low compared to anvils made in other parts of the world. If these are in fact decent anvils then they are a DEAL. If they are the real thing there should be a brochure or something with specs.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/20/06 23:43:41 EDT

The "Ball Bearing Test" checking the rebound of a big[3/4 to 1"] ball bearing dropped from about a foot is a pretty good indicator if the anvil is hard. The ball will bounce about 3/4 or more of the hight it was dropped from if the surface is hard, about 1/4 if soft. This will cause less comotion in a store than hitting with a hammer, and who knows if the store's hammer is hard?
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/21/06 00:09:55 EDT

Ball Bearing Hardness Test:

I whipped out a ruler and a ball bearing and tested the pile of Chinese anvils in the FAQ photo IN the store. Had a few employees eye me rather strangely as we arranged the anvils on the floor for a photo.

I MUCH prefer doing the ball bearing test right. Many that do not understand it throw the ball at the anvil and declare that they got 100% rebound! You can also cheat by giving the ball the slightest nudge rather than dropping it.

Using a ruler and carefuly dropping the ball from the ten inch mark and observing the height of the bounce gives you the percentage as a direct reading. Anything over 70% is a good anvil. Less is questionable. Should be done on a smooth spot near the center of the anvil.

Those anvils I tested in the Farm Store had less rebound than the concrete floor they were sitting on!

Note that throwing a ball at a cast iron anvil OR dropping it from more than a foot MAY make a large visible dent in the face of a soft anvil. In some establishments if you damage the product then YOU have bought it.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 00:42:00 EDT

so, if i go back and drop a ball bearing onto it from 10 inches and it rebounds 7 inches or more its a good deal,
is this dropping it with the center, top , or bottom of the ballbearing lining up with the ten inch mark on a metal rule, also, if it has a good shape, and mass, but unhard face, can i just cut it off at the table height straight across witha a metal bandsaw, and then arc weld a new Tool steel face to it, like a 3/4 inch plate onto it, with a new hardy cut in?
also, if im just starting out, using a medium sized brake drum forge, but have done some forging at my friends grandfathers house, and LOVE it, what size anvil shoudl i buy, if their good quality
thanks guru, and all others
   Dylan - Sunday, 05/21/06 01:30:28 EDT

just want to take a look
   bob - Sunday, 05/21/06 03:06:22 EDT

Dylan: Fixing an anvil that is bad from the start is not economically viable. IF the rebound test is good get the 90Kg one if You can afford it, or the 75Kg if You cant.The smaller ones are a bit light, unless You expect to move them around ALOT [like traveling to do demos etc.]For the ball bearing test any part of the ball can be used as the reference, just ALWAYS use the same part of the ball. The difference between a good hard anvil and an ASO will be dramatic, try it on Your frinds Grandfather's anvil, it is amazing how high it will rebound.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/21/06 03:07:06 EDT

Guru: yesterday I found someone answering a question about Alloy 4340 with the formula C.38/.43; Mn.60/.80; Si.15/.35; Cr.70/.90; Ni 1.65/2.00; Mo.20/.30 and they gave as their source a manual by a person with a name like Jordan. now I've found a slightly different formula touted as an ASTM formula. I'd like to find the "Jordan" source again, as I'd like to quote it alongside the "ASTM" formula. I've tried searching and re-searching your site and cannot find it. Do you have a search key that I can use please? Or can the person that cited the "Jordan" source give me the reference again please? Or can anyone else help please? It's important to me !!! I love your site and the fascinating dialogues. Real stuff. Thanks
   bob - Sunday, 05/21/06 05:45:23 EDT

Steel Ball Test: The bottom of the ball is the reference point since that is what strikes the anvil.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 08:26:37 EDT

Bob, I have searched our archives for 4340 and "Jordan" and our FAQ'a with no luck. Are you sure you didn't click a link that took you to another page.

Although I can not find a book by that author there IS a Jordan Steel with a web site. Google 'Jordan Steel'

Note that generally ASTM steels are not necessarily the same as SAE or AISI steels and a cross reference may have been used for "similar" steels. Also note that folks often shorten or round off constituants when they post.

There are TWO 4340 steels. The G steel is a common AISI or SAE "carbon or alloy steel". The H steel is an AISI or SAE "the suffix H is attached to indicate that the steel has been produced to prescribed hardenability limits" (efunda.com).

AISI/SAE 4340 = UNS G43400

C 0.38-0.43
Cr 0.70-0.90
Mn 0.60-0.80
Mo 0.20-0.30
Ni 1.55-2.00
P 0.035 max
S 0.040 max
Si 0.14-0.30

UNS G43400 cross references to ASTM A29 (4340); A322 (4340); A331 (4340); A505 (4340); A519 (4340); A547 (4340); A646 (4340); A711. . . as well as AISI 4340, SAE J404 (E4340); J412 (4340); J770 (E4340) and MIL SPEC MIL-S-5000

AISI/SAE 4340H = UNS H43400

C 0.37-0.44
Cr 0.65-0.95
Mn 0.55-0.90
Mo 0.20-0.30
Ni 1.55-2.00
P 0.025 max
S 0.025 max
Si 0.25-0.35

UNS H43400 cross references to AISI 4340H, ASTM A304 (4340 H), SAE J1268 (4320 H)

Metals & Alloys in the Unified Numbering System, ASTM DS-56 D, SAE 1086 JUN89, ISBN 0-89883-428-7
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 09:49:42 EDT

Even on known high quality anvils the top plate might be soft due to having been in a structural fire. Anvils were often kept in barns and barns have a habit of burning down. Neighbor has a 100 lb Peter Wright pulled out of the ashes of such a fire. Belonged to his grandfather.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/21/06 10:08:42 EDT

DIY Anvils: Unless you have the following:

1) A plentiful supply of heavy steel sections
2) Access to industrial welders and grinders
3) Overhead to hide the cost of supplies (rods, abrasives) and fuel (including the electricity for the arc welder).
4) Time to burn.

Then it is unecomomical to build a DIY anvil of normal shape and proportions simply to have an anvil. You can buy the REAL thing, a MUCH BETTER product for less.

When most of the above is true AND you want a "Quick and Dirty" apprentice anvil it is sometimes economical. But there are still lots of old worn out anvils selling for scrap prices. . .

When you want something unusual in an anvil that cannot be bought then the cost of producing it has little bearing on the project. This would include unusualy large anvils, a uniquely shaped anvil, a sculptural work of art that is also an anvil. . .

Anvil of the Gods: One of my "one day when I have the time and money" projects is to build an incredibly heavy work of art anvil. What would make it incredibly heavy is a solid steel base over 1200 pounds. Then it would be decorated to look like the whole was growing out of rock with stainless and brass crystaline shapes. . As a one piece deal the whole would weigh in at over 1,500 pounds and perhaps hit a ton. The point being for it not to be TOO unweildy to work around but to be incredibly solid AND a work of art.

I've thought about this project a lot and considered what would be required to make a good hard anvil face as I would want the whole to be usable. Then I realized that the way to go would be to buy a good heavy anvil to start and then incorporate it into the whole and modify it as needed. Weld it to the base and build on that. . . Otherwise you need a good piece of alloy steel and a special hardening setup that would be a big cost adder and time waster to the project.

IF you are going to go to all that effort, use up hundreds of dollars worth of electricity, spend hundreds of hours grinding while chewing up a hundred dollars worth of abrasives. . . then why not create a REAL work of art?

If all you want is an anvil, they can still be found for a few hundred dollars or less if you REALLY look. "Field expediant" (as Atli calls them) anvils can be anything made of steel and with some mass. Heavy sledge hammers are a common make do anvil in much of the poorer parts of the world.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 10:29:24 EDT

BNC-- Unknow re: knives, but 30 old files gives you a good lonnnng start into the chispa-- firestarter-- trade. Make 'em itsy-bitsy and curly-swirly and they will drive the mountain men manque mad with concupiscent desire. Hang 'em on leathern thongs, sell with small pieces of flint. Or, get somebody to make leathern pouches for them. Adorn pouches with mystical symbology. Say they belonged to your great-great-grandpappy the renowned frontier trapper who guided Fremont. He got 'em off the bodies of vanquished foe.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 05/21/06 14:47:33 EDT

In general files are a good high carbon steel for making knives---the big problem is that they have all those cracks pr-chiseled in them. When forging it's suggested to grind off the teeth first.

I will often slip a piece of file into the last fold of a billet if I feel that the billet is pretty but the carbon might be a bit low. I also use them starting a billet if I want to juice up the carbon content---I like the *old* Black Diamond files that were 1.2% carbon for that.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 05/21/06 14:59:51 EDT

Old Files: As Thomas noted they are good steel but the cracks are a pain to real with. You also have to know that the cheap farriers rasps are often made of case hardened alloy steel. They are not particularly good steel and the hardness is superficial.

There are specialty collectors today that collect nothing but tools made from old files. These are usualy forge welded into a larged piece then made into something. Often the file texture still shows somewhere to indicate they are made from a file. However, in more than a few cases they are identified by the breaks and delaminations where you can see the original file surface that was not properly welded.

A friend of mine used to tell a story about a shop owner that when he hired a new man the first thig he did was give him a brand new hunting knife and sheath. Invariably the new employee would ask why he was given such a nice gift when he had not yet worked for even a minute. The shop owner would say, "So that there is NO EXCUSE for you to be grinding up MY expensive files on MY time in MY shop!"

Many knives have been made from files by the "stock removal" method. This is simply sawing (on annealed steel) grinding and finishing. If done carefully a knife can be made without heat treating from a file. However, I would recommend tempering it a little softer than file hard as this is very brittle.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 15:35:21 EDT

Went to a knife show today. I must say, I'm impressed with the old weapons! However, seeing the difference in quality of the older ones compared to newer really shows how swords and knives declined in quality over the years up to a point. Many of the younger weapons were loose where as the older were still sound.
   - Rob - Sunday, 05/21/06 17:13:11 EDT

Knives from files: I once overheard a shop hand walk up to the tool room window and ask for a big wrench. "What Size?" asked the attendant. "Don't matter, gonna use it for a hammer anyway". True story. Honest.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/21/06 17:55:51 EDT

When I worked for Dana Corp. they issued 2 1/2# copper hammers, no excuse for hitting hardened steel with anything else.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/21/06 21:36:43 EDT

...and how many of us remember the "Primitive Pete" movies or film strips from our Junior High School industrial arts class?

You can use the wrong tool for a job if faced with no other choice, but even then you have to understand the capabilities of the tool to misuse it efficiently and with as little damage as possible. :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/21/06 22:36:51 EDT

Sears has instuctions that their screw drivers are not pry bars. . So why do the make one three feet long with a 3/4" wide bit??? GREAT handled pry bar. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 05/21/06 22:45:59 EDT

Up in My closet there is a copy of a little booklet"ABC's of Hand Tools" featuring Primative Pete. Copywright 1943. My Dad gave me that book as soon as I could read.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/22/06 00:17:57 EDT

For those looking for an almost complete smithy see eBay #6282430034.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/22/06 00:21:33 EDT

I always got a kick out of that little book with Primitive Pete. It was put out by General Motors I believe. ABC's of Hand Tools. I have several of them in box around here some place.
   - Burnt Forge - Monday, 05/22/06 01:25:07 EDT

General Motors publications: There must have been a series of books, I also have "Disel the modern Power" and "Electricity and Wheels". There are other titles listed in the back of these booklets, some of them seem familiar, We probably had the whole set at one time.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/22/06 02:12:12 EDT

For those suffering from Primitive Pete nostalgia, you can actually download a free copy of The ABC's of Hand Tools at www.BobSokol.com. Just scroll down to the link, but be warned, it's a big download (~108 MB).

   eander4 - Monday, 05/22/06 02:55:52 EDT

Tool Misuse

I watched a mechanic use a shifter to adjust a belt idler on a coach motor - I said that I had been told that you should never use a nut f***er when a real spanner is available. And added that "Everbody knows that that is a hammer anyway!"

   Big A - Monday, 05/22/06 06:21:33 EDT

I have just completed a set of gates that are 21 feet wide.( 2 wings of 10 1/2 feet and 350 pounds per wing). I am looking for a good and solid way to keep them closed. They cannot be secured with a pin in the driveway as they are 18 inches from the ground and the driveway is gravel.I useally install an horizontal 3\4 inch rod that slides into a pipe. But in this case the wings are to large and quite heavy. The frame is made with a 1x2 tube.I would like to use something that will hold both sides of the vertical frame!!! ouf...do i make myself understood????
   André Boudreault - Monday, 05/22/06 09:22:33 EDT

Had a wonderful time yesterday at the Bucks County Crafts Fair (sponsored by the PA Crafts Guild). The local community college had a nice booth. There were 4 metal/smithing booths there total. Most of the smiths were really nice, helpful and enjoyed my work (I brought some of my best work, s hook, twisted nail, integral hook/nail). There was lots of positive energy until I visited one guys booth. I just joined the chapter of the Guild, so I wanted to introduce myself to this guy. I extended my hand and introduced myself. He stood there and stared at my hand as if I was trying to hand him a lit stick of dynamite. "Uh, I don't do that, you know, shake hands". Okay.... well, I told him I just joined and that I have been smithing for about a year. Dead silence. I ask him if he uses a power hammer. "Yeah, sometimes."...... dead silence. I walked away thinking, you lose buddy! I could have been a serious customer wanting to buy hundreds of dollars of his work, I could have been looking for someone to apprentice under. Instead, this guys own personal problems got in the way of being a nice person. I think the world (and the field of smithing) can do much better without people like him.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 05/22/06 09:41:25 EDT

Nippulini: Some people are just not nice. They have trouble making it in this world and blame others. Learn from their negative example!
   - John Odom - Monday, 05/22/06 09:49:11 EDT

Yes, I've ran into my fair share of people like that. Sometimes, the more you try to be nice to them, the more they act that way. If they really understood what that did for business, they might not be that way. I was once ready to buy something (I can't remember what it was) from a vendor, but the guy's attitude just repelled me from it. It makes me think that their product isn't up to the standards it should be, and if it fails then he wouldn't be willing to give a refund/repair the product.
   - Rob - Monday, 05/22/06 12:11:29 EDT

Latching Large Gates: Andre', I would use two vertical pins on a vertical slide. The reason is because the gates can rotate on the pins and not bend them as it would a straight bar. The vertical pins are also not so suseptible to misallignment due to sagging. If the actuator bar can also rotate then lots of misalignment can be

No matter what you do with this long of a leaf they are going to move some in the center. A horizontal bar stong enough would add a lot of weight to the gates and put the stress on the light weight frame.

To make these gates "tight" you would have to use some type of hook and cam lock that pulled the gates together. The problem with this is that it will put tremondous stress on the hinges and anchor points as well as the latch. Being "taut" any pressure applied produces even larger forces than normal.
   - guru - Monday, 05/22/06 12:12:37 EDT

People. . . at least in the blacksmithing world there are mostly good folks that are willing to share information and help when they can. Even those that are not particularly friendly are usualy helpful.
   - guru - Monday, 05/22/06 12:20:53 EDT

Screw Drivers - Guru; I have a Craftsman screwdriver, 24 inches long with a 3/8 inch wide bit, it's great for tightening the butt stock screw on my Lee-Enfield! And that's about the only reason it's still in my tool box.

Cool (9 Cel) and overcast North of the Lake (Ontario).


   Don - Monday, 05/22/06 12:47:46 EDT

I don't have much experience in swordsmithing but I want to give it a shot. I'm trying to find the best method possible for my situation ( which is I have an angle grinder and countless files). After searching the web for some time I came acoss a site called www.livesteelarmor.com which had an interesting article on making a sword from a automobile leaf spring. The article's method sounded logically possible. I then came across an article on this site (www.anvilfire.com) called Generation X swormaking which said that said "You cannot cold forge a sword from a leaf spring". Now my question is, CAN you make a sword from a leaf-spring? What points should I consider? Should I attempt forging a sword from a leaf spring?
   - Mike - Monday, 05/22/06 12:50:48 EDT

Broken Screw Extractor: This may be a bit off topic. One of my project engine blocks has a broken screw extractor in one of the holes for an oil pan bolt. What is the best type of drill bit to try to remove the broken extractor? The extractor seems to be quite hard and may of been hardened by previous attempts by "bubba" to drill out.
   Dennis M - Monday, 05/22/06 13:02:42 EDT


You can make a sword from leaf spring material by stock removal (grinding/filing) methods, but you cannot start with a used automobile spring. Auto springs are arched (curved) and usually have a hole in the center. No amount of fiddling with them will make them suitable for use. If you can buy NEW spring stock from a spring manufacturer, and get it flat, you can work with that. Forget about straightening a curved spring without a forge; it can't be reasonably done, no matter what anyone says to the contrary. And don't use used springs as they often have stress cracks that could be disastrous in later use.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/22/06 13:21:08 EDT

Dennis M,

Screw extractors are some really hard stuff and cannot be drilled out. Sometimes, you can burr them out with a diamond burr and lots of patience, but the best method I know of is to rent the machine for removing them. The machine removes them by EDM (electro-discharge machining), I believe.

On one or two occasions, I've been able to remove larger broken extractors by welding a stud to them with an arc welder. First you warm up the block around the extractor to about 350°F. Then, the trick is to have the rod touching the extractor and then turn on the current, freezing the electrode to the extractor. Then you freeze the extractor with a shot of ethel chloride or liquid nitrogen and back it out. It's one of those 1:10 chance things, but I have made it work.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/22/06 13:28:27 EDT

Screw Extractor: Vicopper is right on this one. There is no easy way. These are made of High SPeed Steel and even at a read heat are still hard. The EDM machine is the best way to go and you still may have an unusable hole.
   - guru - Monday, 05/22/06 14:15:41 EDT

Sword form Spring: Mike, It is possible if you are very desperate. Springs can be straightened but pounding on one on a the gound or a RR-tie is a good way to have it fly up in your face. The sledge hammer certainly will and its a good way to break the handle on the sledge if you miss.

I had a fellow write a long ugly letter about how you could cold straighten a leaf spring with a set of rolls. Yes it is possible. It is also very easy to break a set of normal sheet metal rolls and heavy rolls are not common or available to most. To replace a sheet metal shop's rolls will cost you $1000 or more.

To re-arc a spring to straight requires bending past straight a considerable distance. The safest most controlled method is to use a hydraulic press. It takes a 20 or 30 ton press. Normally a plate with two round bars welded to it is used to support the spring and a third bar or a round nosed attachment is used on the cylinder or press foot. Then the spring is bent, fed in a little, bent, fed in a little and bent. . . With care and a good eye you can make a straight bar out of curved. . .

Now what? You have succeeded in making a curved bar a stright bar.

Then after all this scrounging and hustling around and hard work you have a $25 bar of flat stock. If you search for a spring shop you may be able to get a piece for $5. In either case you will KNOW what alloy you are dealing with.

To cut a used spring you MIGHT get away with a hack saw. After beating on it with a sledge hammer it will be full of work hardened places that will strip the teeth off all but the best hack saw blades. Good hard hack saw blades cost a dollar or more each. After going through a dozen that "free" piece of steel will start to get expensive.

The sensible and cost effective thing to do is to buy an annealed piece of tool steel of known composition of the proper width and thickness. The annealed steel will be straight and you can saw it easily with a hack saw and file it with a file. Then you can grind grind grind away. . . .

Note that if you have a cheap and or small angle grinder the odds are it will be toast by the time you finish the project IF it lasts that long. You may need several of the cheap Chinese imports to finish your project. A heavy duty angle grinder will do nicely but a belt grinder is much more controllable.

You have to decide how desperate you are or how foolishly you want to spend money. Almost no project can be done for no cost. You time is always worth something. How many days can you afford to waste making a free piece of steel straight? You are always better off spending your time finding the smart way to do a job or scrounging the parts to build tools to do the job. See Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop on our book review page. There are tools made from junk or scrounged parts for very little cost. Then if you have a few more tools see the Ray Clontz belt grinder. This is a great tool that can be fabricated by anyone with a few tools and a welder.

Think about your project. There are better ways to do it and in the end you may have tools to do more than pound rocks.
   - guru - Monday, 05/22/06 15:25:07 EDT

   ERNIE - Monday, 05/22/06 15:30:06 EDT

Ernie, Unless the two software packages support each other you will have to export the CATIA file as an AutoCAD DFX file which the MasterCAM software should import. It is a multi-step process but usually works between most machine and drafting packages.

Note that I am not familiar with either you machine OR the drafitng package. However, I have created DXF files from a number of software packages and had them used to control engraving/routing machines in this manner.
   - guru - Monday, 05/22/06 15:36:17 EDT

Have you given though to heating up the area around the screw extractor to ~600, then letting it cool slowly? It might soften(anneal) the extractor enough that you can drill it successfully.
   - Tom T - Monday, 05/22/06 15:53:49 EDT

What Ernie may need is something called a "post processor" which is a small software program that enables a drafting program to communicate with a CAM program.
These are usually available from the CAM program company.
Catia is a french design program, developed to design Mirage Jet Fighters, which Frank Gehry used to design the famous Bilbao Guggenheim museum.
A full seat of 3d Catia can run $70,000.
Master Cam is a very common machine control software- personally, I would contact Master Cam, as I am sure this is a problem they have dealt with many times before.
   - Ries - Monday, 05/22/06 17:36:19 EDT

That particular "SLO" website has always horrified me. Pounding a used spring back straight, riviting a bolt into the center hole---the whole process is "not a good idea" metallurgically to make something that should be ground way down and be light and flexible. Sounds like he's making crowbars rather than swords.

Spring steel are generally good alloys to make swords from. As mentioned go to a spring shop and buy the straight stuff--ask for 5160 if you have a choice.

If you get it annealed or normalized you should be able to file or grind the blade with no problems and then if you are nice they may be willing to heat treat it for you---just like a spring.

Much better than risking your or someone else's life on how much abuse that leaf spring has already seen.

BTW starting off making swords is kinda like starting your medical career doing brain surgery, might be better to go through med school *first* and learn what you need to know.
   Thomas P - Monday, 05/22/06 17:40:20 EDT

Extractor-- Long way round the barn, but it might help: Lindsay Books sells plans for making an electro-whiz bang for zapping stuck bolts out of where you don't want them. Author claims he makes lotsa bucks with it.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 05/22/06 18:44:44 EDT

Mike, DON'T DO IT! I tried this and I'm lucky to be alive. You can try to straighten with a 4lb sledge, but it jars your hand. Do it with a bigger sledge, and you'll lose your head to it. I tried this before and posted my experience if you'll look in the archives.
   - Rob - Monday, 05/22/06 18:53:04 EDT

extracting stuck bolts and extractors.

Working in a factory with hundreds of old machiens and having almost any technology dreamable, I have seen several methods of getting stuck bolts etc out. These are field expedients when we could not get the frame etc to the EDM tap burner.

1. If the bolt, stud etc can be reached, a good pnuematic engraver, use the hand held engraver, applied at as low an angle as you can use and still have the engraver point not skate off. Turn up the air to max rated and apply. It works a treat often.

2. Again if reachable, TIG a bolt of a size or two smaller onto the existing.

3. If no air engraver, while WEARING safety glasses, use an old worn out tap at a punch, and using the same technique tap gently using the hard tap with a sharp point as a punch.
   - ptree - Monday, 05/22/06 19:12:40 EDT

A quote from Mr. Natural. "Use the right tool for the right job....Peanut Brain!"
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/22/06 19:52:51 EDT

Smacking About Cold Leaf Springs:

My question with the site (which seems to stuck in a time warp on certain subjects) is a matter of efficiency. Instead of whanging away for "days" on a cold leaf spring, why not build a small charcoal forge and straighten it right. You could then use the same forge to anneal it, and then harden and temper it. Not only would this probably be more efficient, but then you have a basic forge for all sorts of other projects. I mean, he assumes you have an industrial grade angle grinder (by the picture) or an oxy-acet torch, so why go through this "brute-force-blunt-heavy" process that will take more time and yield an inferior item?

I guess prople come up with something that sort of works, and they decide that since it sort of works, there's no need to bother with anything else. (Sort of like the role of certain traditions in a subsistance economy. You don't dare try anything new, because it may not work, and then what do you eat?) This is how it's done, so there! (Even if it's a very bad way of doing something.)

Clear and COOL (frost warnings in some parts of Virginia) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/22/06 22:52:42 EDT

Hey, if i were to buy a anvil from riptor like dylan, then could it be useable as a Field expediant anvil, if you harden the face, using the method they talk about itn that book , arggh , i cant remember what its called, but it tells how to harden a railroad track for use as an anvil,
i was going to buy one of the 200 pound anvils from ribtor, but decided they must be crap for a price so low, im going to go do a ballbearing drop test this weekend, and will give the results here,

how large of a sledge hammer would you say are commonly used in poor parts of the world?
   Cameron - Monday, 05/22/06 22:55:53 EDT

I know how I have done this many, many times. Place a nut over the extractor and the hole below it. Using 7018 small 3/32" rod, Have someone hold it with vise grips if the engine is still in the vehicle. Take dead aim for the center of the bolt/extractor and the nut, welding them together. let then cool and turn both out.

The nitro. and heat like Vicopper says would help to turn it out.
   sandpile - Monday, 05/22/06 23:02:11 EDT

Drilling out a screw extractor: I recently had to do this for a friend. 3 carbide bits and 2 hours later I had a hole I could tap for a threaded bushing. This requires at least a drillpress or better a milling machine, and is a crapshoot at best.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/22/06 23:03:35 EDT

After seeing several mentions of that livesteel site, I finally went and read a lot of it. What a load of codswallop! Some of the goofiest notions I've ever had the misfortune of seeing foisted off on the unwary. That cold-straightening of leaf springs is the scariest, least efficient and all-around "wrongest" way of doing a task I've seen in ages. Proof indeed that there is a lot of downright outrageous MISinformation available on the 'net. Caveat emptor.

   vicopper - Monday, 05/22/06 23:13:59 EDT

Cameron: If the anvil is not hard there is a pretty good chance that it is not made of an alloy that will reliably harden, and may actually be cast iron or a mix os scrap steel and cast iron sometimes called "semi steel". These wont harden apereciably.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/22/06 23:14:37 EDT

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