WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 16 - 21, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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I need to know how feasible it is to sell a 3cwt Massey Pneumatic Power Hammer into the USA. I am based in Sydney Australia. I have had one in parts for the last 10 years and half restored. It is a hammer that was in very low use and passed to a local museum and "Stored" in the weather. I can pass information and pictures if anyone is interested. If not I will sell it in Australia. This exercise is more to get this hammer back where it should be WORKING!! Thank you I am reachable on +61 416 218 324 Mobile. alanfwheeler@gmail.com
   Alan Wheeler - Thursday, 05/15/08 22:48:19 EDT

I am asking this question for my husband. Do you know of any spiritual or esoteric wisdom/practices that were historically attached to forging/sword smithing? Specifically, we are trying to find spiritual/esoteric relevance/meaning/practices from Northern Europe and surrounding countries. Any and all assistance is greatly appriciated!
   Jessica McComb - Friday, 05/16/08 01:50:06 EDT




   cary - Friday, 05/16/08 03:09:14 EDT

My wife wants a Japanese hand scythe for her gardening (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kamas.jpg for a photo). I want to be a
   - Paymeister - Friday, 05/16/08 08:41:29 EDT

My wife wants a Japanese hand scythe for her gardening (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kamas.jpg for a photo). I want to be a "toolsmith" rather than a bladesmith, but this kind of fits (and 'free' beats buying one). How should I go about this? My thought is to:
1) Straighten and anneal part of a car coil spring;
2) Forge into an "L" with a rough blade shape for later grinding;
3) Forge a tang (at 90 degrees to the blade), the width of the handle;
4) Grind and mostly sharpen;
5) Heat treat;
6) Make a sawcut in the end of the handle;
7) Secure the blade into the handle with rivents.

OR... make it like a froe, only turn it so the blade faces up.

   Paymeister - Friday, 05/16/08 08:42:16 EDT

oops. "Rivets"; and then 8) Sharpen for real

This tool is a 20" or so straightish handle, with a blade about the size of a large kitchen knife coming off at 90 degrees, with blade facing towards the person. It is used by grabbing a handful of grass and drawing the blade towards one, cutting the grass in the process.
   Paymeister - Friday, 05/16/08 08:47:06 EDT

Anvils are where you find them. Received an e-mail asking me to identify an anvil. 255 lbs. Probably a Mousehold. Guy said he was removing a tree from a guy's yard and notice that anvil, and a 70-lb ACME, used as garden ornaments. Commented on them and was told they were his for the hauling off.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/16/08 09:03:34 EDT

The colonial anvil is in the us, Connecticut, I picked it up at Brimfield flee market in Brimfield, Ma.

   Pugs - Friday, 05/16/08 09:23:37 EDT

Paymeister, If using a spring, I would be tempted to torch cut a rough, undersized shape from a flat spring. The angle bend could be part of the torch cutout, or you could bend it on edge while it's thick and draw an outside corner with the hammer peen. While forging to shape, if you have too much material, it can be hot-cut to size when necessary. I would not use a froe eye, even though the froe eye is tapered to help keep the haft on. Froes are not swung; your sickle is swung, a quite different usage.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/16/08 09:25:36 EDT

Pugs, Depending on the exact style Colonial anvils are collector's items valued at $200 to $800. Style and condition means a lot and you often have to sit on them a while to get top price.
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 09:34:44 EDT

Paymeister, And if you're going to hammer the rivet heads, it sometimes helps to put a washer under the head to try to prevent splitting the wood. Tandy/Leather Factory sells copper rivets and "burrs", as they call the washers. An alternative is to use "cutlers' rivets", which screw together, male and female. They are sometimes called "Chicago screws."
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/16/08 09:38:45 EDT

Tradition in my part of the world is that it is very disrespectful, to the Smith, and any of the previous owners of the anvil to put that part of your body on it. I have no idea where it comes from.
   JimG - Friday, 05/16/08 09:54:17 EDT

Old Nebraska country saying.
"If your anvil ain't too hot to sit on by lunchtime, you haven't been workin'.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/16/08 10:13:42 EDT

HD Vises and Prices: Cary, sadly these wonderful tools sell for much less than they are worth. None of the great American vise manufacturers are still in business making vises in the U.S. The imports under the last "old" line are not a lot better than the no-name or faux-name imports.

If you have no use for it then you should sell it. While they are wonderful old tools and better than what is new they do not appear to be appreciating in value. While an old 100 pound blacksmith leg vise is currently selling for $150 to $200 U.S. a good HD old bench vise may sell for only 1/10th of that. They are worth more.

This 1/10th difference is also the difference between what the good old American made vises were selling for and what similar Chinese vises sell for today. However, while the Chinese can produce good products none of these vises are made like the old one. None have forged on handle ends. The new handle ends all tend to loosen and fall off. With sufficient use the small screws holding them on will shear off. Most do not weigh nearly as much as the old vises. While then LOOK the same size there is a lot more hollow in the castings. The quality of the iron is also much lower. Most imports are common cast iron while a great many of the old industrial duty vices were ductile iron or an alloy iron much stronger than common cast iron. The screws are also smaller.

The last HD Columbian vises made in the U.S. sold for up to $1500 in the 1970's. Today some of the import Columbians list for up to $500 but sell for as low as $300.

Both old blacksmiths leg vises and old good quality bench vises are selling for far less than they should. This makes them a good investment for the buyer but a lousy one for the seller. I suspect this will change.

We have three vices to sell in our auction tomorrow. I suspect the Chinese vises will go for very little but we have a nice old 5-7/8" jaw 80-90 pound English leg vise in the sale now. It has the scroll type bench bracket. While it is in good condition it does have considerable rust pitting where it set outdoors for a long time. No missing parts and selling with the stand made by PPW. Reserve is $150.
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 10:33:04 EDT

Kama; make it light! If you use it a lot you will appreciate it. Most modern kama are made by stamping them out of sheetmetal. Look at the weight of a sickle a western hand tool used for pretty much the same purpose.

You might think about making it out of a circular saw blade so as to not have so much forging down to do---in fact you can make one that way with no forging if you have good grinding facilities. (and a plasma cutter to cut the basic shape out of...)

I have made an O Kama ("Big Kama") from leaf spring for a martial arts instructor that was quite substantial and he used it for cutting on oak trees for practice. Way too heavy for a "sane" individual; but he was hard core. Was teaching martial arts for the military on Okinawa last I heard...

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/16/08 11:33:18 EDT

Jessica, look into the sagas and legends of the Norse, as they sometimes mention special practices in sword forging. The legend of sigfried and the forging of the sword to kill the dragon for example.

I would also look for references in the Song of Roland and Poema del Mio Cid not that I know they have such references but both date to the proper time and involved "named" swords.

Have you checked "The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England" if nothing else it is a good primer on how to research similiar data given the types of sources available.

This is much more likely to be an early occurance than a later one and unfortunately early work is poorly documented.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/16/08 11:40:07 EDT

Sitting on the anvil: when I used to work for a swordmaker, on cold days we would preheat the anvil (400#) by hanging paintcans full of burning kindling on its horn and heel to warm it up nicely and then we would bicker over who got to sit on it while waiting for the metal to heat---cold concrete floor in that shop!

I'll sometimes sit on my anvils when talking at demo's to rest my feet a bit.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/16/08 11:43:28 EDT

I also would rest on the anvil. However, as Frank noted, resting on the anvil and especially the vise after working for a while might be a hot surprise. It takes a lot of work to get an anvil uncomfortable to touch but it does happen when doing a lot or especially large work. Vises get hot enough to burn after working a few hot parts in them.

A truly modern blacksmiths vise would be water cooled. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 12:18:22 EDT

Cary, I am interested in your vice. 508-280-8807
   John Christiansen - Friday, 05/16/08 12:49:20 EDT

Alan Wheeler: I strongly suspect the freight cost to ship your powerhammer from AU to the U.S. would far exceed its actual value.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/16/08 15:28:22 EDT

Last I heard, it was running about $2500 to ship a 40,000lb container from Hong Kong to the west coast.
And around here, a running and maintained, usable 300lb hammer, even a 50 year old one, fetches between 8 and 15 grand.

Russell Jacque's widow sold both of his hammers, a Nazel 3B and a 700lb or so chambersburg, within a couple months- asking price was $15k each, dont know what actual sales prices were.

So, theoretically, if the 300cwt Massey ran, it could be worth 3 or 4 times shipping expense.

People routinely pay $6000 to $10,000, plus freight from China, for new Anyangs and Strykers.

But a box of parts that sat outside for 30 years is a different kettle of fish.
   - Ries - Friday, 05/16/08 16:37:42 EDT

The "not working" or disassembled is a significant problem. The is especially true in the U.S. where Massey's were not sold in great numbers. The control mechanism of these hammers has a long stack of many parts that could easily be missing and not know without a manual and parts list.

There is also the issue of 50Hz vs. 60Hz power. A 20% increase in speed can cause problems with operation as well as contractors failing. This was a huge problem on early Anyang imports that would not run on 60Hz. . . You can easily spend a few thousand dollars on this problem.

I suggested he try to move it in Australia.
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 17:15:27 EDT

No reason for an entire container. There are consolidators who fill containers from and to almost any port city. I shipped a 50 kilo air hammer from Gotteberg Sweeden for around $250.00 to Tacoma Washington! Cheaper than shipping it from Seattle! That WAS ten years ago, but.........
   - grant - Friday, 05/16/08 20:22:35 EDT

Ken: Most people assume the same as you. That's why I was able to buy a great air hammer for $1,200.00 U.S. and ship it here all for under $1,500.00! It was advertized in the old Blacksmiths Junkyard for (I think) 8,000.00 Kronner.
   - grant - Friday, 05/16/08 21:32:07 EDT

Does anyone have plans, or links to plans for a demagnetizer? I just need a small one to demagnetize files. I have some small knowledge in electronics, so if this isn't too difficult of a project, I was hoping to tackle it myself.
   - Hollon - Friday, 05/16/08 22:39:08 EDT

The trick to international shipping is to be able to pick up the item as soon as it clears customs. Freight consolidators are famous for giving you a call AFTER it is in port OR an expensive warehouse. . . Just be sure to have good communications or someone on this end to ship from the port ASAP.

Expect some handling charges on large individual items like a power hammer but cost are generally reasonable.

Per pound a full container is a DEAL port to port. IF you fill the container.

I bought a 5,000 pound capacity fork lift on ebay that was in Minneapolis. Shipping it 1100 miles cost $800. No bad considering a smaller 3,000 pound lift cost $225 to move 90 miles, and the 5,000 pound lift $60 to go 2 miles from a loading dock to my lot on a tilt body truck. . .

On the other hand. I am delivering a shaper to a friend next week. The round trip is 500 miles. In a truck that gets 7 MPG that is 72 gallons of fuel at $3.75 for $270. Then there is 10 hours time on the road. . . IF everything gos smooth probably a 14 to 16 hour day. I'm trading for a big gear box that was going to cost about $800. Might be a deal, might not. Long day, will probably need a helper (more cost).

There are costs to everything and they are rapidly rising. But cost are costs. You either adapt to them or not.
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 22:50:21 EDT

Hollon, small ones are cheap enough to buy and study. Most are a set of plates like half a transformer with insulators in between and a long coil of wire around them. It is powered by simple AC current and the rapidly changing magnetic field scrambles the field in the magnetized part. Basically it is half a transformer.

Besides de-magnetizing tools they also work on magnetic media. My old 486-66 PC had a tape backup that after a few years I could not get tapes for. However, the new tapes were just formated differently. I used the small shop demagnetized to "bulk erase" the tapes. In about 5 to 8 seconds the tape would get hot. I never tried longer as I suspect that meltdown would occur pretty quick. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/16/08 22:58:53 EDT

Hollon, I know diddly about magnetism, but years ago I bought an Alsaco brand "magnetizer/demagnetizer. The package said Cleveland, Ohio, but they may be out of business at present. For all intents and purposes, the device IS a magnet. It is made of two 1/4" thick bands of semicircular material held together with a broad rubber band. The ends make contact, so it is shaped like a football about 2" from point to point, 1 3/4" wide, and 1" deep. It was designed for mechanics to demagnetize things like screwdrivers and twist drills. You drag the magnetized tool over the side of the band to demagnetize it. You run a tool like a screwdriver through the central hole to magnetize it. To increase the magnetism, you can leave it hanging on the tool itself. It is handy and I've used it for years. There must be something similar in the marketplace.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/16/08 23:55:22 EDT

Habba Flate sells a perfectly usable magnetizer/demagnetizer for three bucks. Item number 5932.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/17/08 00:37:24 EDT



   cary - Saturday, 05/17/08 01:01:16 EDT


As some of you are no doubt aware, Philip Greening-Jackson is one of the regular contributors to this forum and lives with his wife in Dujianyang, China. This is the city nearest the epicentre of the recent earthquake.

The good news is, though, he and his wife and students have all survived the earthquake and although they are having to camp out (in tents improvised by Philip), boil rainwater to drink etc. they are all OK.

He's front page news in the local paper in our old home town:

I'll keep you guys posted on any significant developments. If you want to know anything else please e-mail me as I don't usually read this forum.

PS He's talking about sparking his forge up to improvise some sort of supports for the tents they've made. So things can't be too bad.
   Tim Greening-Jackson - Saturday, 05/17/08 02:21:53 EDT

Our auction is today (Saturday at 11am EST). If you need blacksmithing equipment and are in NC or SW Virginia we have it and are selling. See Hammer-In page for links to details and a complete list, flyer and map.

We have reenactor items, blacksmith equipment, shop tools, forged items, parachutes, panels of chain link fence. . . . you name it.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/17/08 07:40:45 EDT

cary-- you are not doing your homework,lad. Your vise query has been answered here not once, but several times by the inestimable Guruissimo his very own self, by me, by others, I think. It's a nice vise, but not a rare vise. As with everything else in life, it is worth what you can get for it.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 05/17/08 07:59:33 EDT

Hi, I recently completed an 8' tall vertical sundial sculpture which mountains on a 13' diameter limestone rock. I used muriatic acid with some disolved copper and sprayed it on the piece to give it a rust patina. After a couple weeks and some snow the acid has stained the customers rock. My customer loves the piece but doesn't like this problem on the rock. How can I neutralize this problem? Thankyou for your help.
   Dan - Saturday, 05/17/08 14:47:54 EDT

I have been asked to make a weather vane. Anyone have any advice for how to determine the size it should be so as to make it look right for the size building it will be mounted to? BTW I cannot ask the building owner nor can I be seen checking out the barn ..... it is to be a surprise gift.
Thanks , Harley
   Harley - Saturday, 05/17/08 17:09:15 EDT

Harley, Do a drive by shooting (photos) OR ask the customer (gift giver I assume) to provide a photo from the average distance the barn is viewed at.

Then draw a weather vane on a copy of the photo and scale it.

On my shop trailer which had a 12 foot tall peak and a roof about 16 feet long my anvil weather vane was about three feet long and over a foot tall. Sounds big but looked right on the trailer.

The style of the vane makes a difference. Just a simple arrow can be pretty big but how big do you want to make an eagle, pig or horse?

I wouldn't make anything less than four feet on a full size classic barn.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/17/08 18:14:16 EDT

Thanks, Tim for the update on Philip.
   daveb - Saturday, 05/17/08 18:38:13 EDT


It isn't the acid that has stained the rock, it's the rust. Rust is an ongoing process and will continue to develop, dissolve off and percolate down onto the rock and soil below. As long as the piece has a rust patina, this will continue.

If you want to stop the process, you'll need to prevent the formation of further rust, either by plating or painting the metal. Were it mine, I would take it down, have it sandblasted, then paint it with cold-galvanizing paint (90% zinc), then prime with a high quality epoxy primer, followed up by two or three coats of rust-colored automotive acrylic enamel with urethane hardener additive. I'd also add a bit of flatting compound to the final topcoat, let it dry to a hard tack, then "dry-spray" a heavy, coarse-mist coat of the same paint with even more flattening agent in it, and just a tiny bit of yellow ochre. This will produce the mottled, uneven "rust" finish that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, except it won't stain the rock below it.

The limestone itself can be cleaned with muriatic acid and rinsed.
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/17/08 19:29:26 EDT

Thankyou for your advice about the large limestone rock I've stained with rust. I think I'll clean it up and try a clear coat.
   - Dan - Saturday, 05/17/08 20:08:46 EDT

Dan, follow vicopper's suggestion to the letter. Clear coatings don't hold up well to UV, and they don't offer the protection of the 90% zink compound.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 05/17/08 23:01:09 EDT

Harley-- however big you make it, be sure you design some high-security fastenings for it. I've read newspaper stories saying thieves are going to all sorts of lengths to steal weathervanes, including helicopters. I would imagine if it's copper the risk is vastly increased.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 05/18/08 01:38:58 EDT

What are the auction STATS
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 05/18/08 01:52:53 EDT

Thanks Jock ..... the drive by shooting idea will work I believe.
   Harley - Sunday, 05/18/08 07:27:22 EDT

re: Discussion on when hand-cranked blowers came into use. See eBay #360052879428. I asked the seller if the photograph is dated or a guess. They said it is not dated but they are highly experienced in dating vintage photographs and are comfortable with the 1880s dating.

For Frank T. Are those mule shoes on rafter?

Also note bolt headers on bench in lower left.

Which is the master smith and which is the apprentice?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/18/08 10:28:45 EDT


It might be later than 1880, gut feeling.

The shoes are probably horseshoes, "stock shoes" made during dead time in the shop. The toe calks are already welded on. The heels are left long so that later they can be turned into heel calks to fit the animal. If need be, the shoes could be narrowed and the branches straightened a little to fit a typical mule's hoof. If the shoes are toed and heeled, the animals were probably used in agriculture, as in plowing and harrowing, the calks providing some traction in the turf. Toed and heeled shoes are were not designed for city street horses.

The man behind the anvil is the fireman, and the man in the foreground is the floorman {doorman in the UK}. The floorman has the split apron, which means he gets under the horse, trims, and nails on. He may be a journeyman who floors the horses, not necessarily an apprentice.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/18/08 11:06:38 EDT

Auction STATS? If you mean how it went, poorly. After spending nearly a thousand dollars on advertising in local papers we had another poor turnout and had to cancel the auction for the second time. This really amazed me since the last time I sold blacksmithing tools I ran a FREE ad in one of the little local free trader papers and sold several thousand dollars worth on one day.

Since we had spent a total of well over $1000 on advertising, several hundred on labor getting ready, asked friends and relative to come and help (twice), and had the shop completely filled with stuff on display so that it could not be used. . . we gave up and sold the lot for about 1/3 of what it should have brought (even with many items going for $1) to a local auctioneer that had come to see what we had. We held back the blackpowder rifles, the forge and the power hammer. Everything else went for a paltry sum. Tuesday the shop work space will be empty again as well as 90% of two storage buildings. Dave and I will be able to get back to the Power Hammer project.

IF we had tried AGAIN, we would have had to have spend even more on advertising and the stuff would have been out on display for another month. . . And even if we had a GREAT auction our costs would have eaten up over half the proceeds.

Sometimes you have to be practical (something I am usually not). The goal was largely to get rid of most of this stuff as it was a collection of junk only Paw-Paw loved. What DO YOU DO with 200 sort of crummy restaurant place settings and a box full of old electric hand tools that even Paw-Paw would not use? Multiply that by hundreds and that is most of what we had. But then there were jewels like an almost new troy built riding lawn mower that anyone COULD have had for a couple hundred dollars!

We DID have a complete set of blacksmith equipment. If someone had wanted to setup shop they could have done so for considerably less than $1000. For about $1300 they could have had a cut off saw saw (almost new), a small drill press, and several vices along with the blacksmith equipment. You can spend more than that on a new anvil. . .

So this is NOT a time for someone to post a whiney sounding, "I can't find an anvil or a forge."
   - guru - Sunday, 05/18/08 12:24:46 EDT

Hi Guru
I am really sorry to hear the sale did not go well. I understand the frustration, money and labor involved. I am really surprised the turnout was poor for the area you are located. I wish you great luck in selling off the power hammer and other really nice tools. Someone out there will want them for a fair price to both of you.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 05/18/08 12:31:59 EDT

NOTE: We still have the NC-JYH for sale, a bargain for $600, the Buffalo Forge for $250 and the Revolutionary Blacksmith rifle and pistol set with boxes, tools and bullet mold for $1750. If we have to advertise the guns in print again we will have to add that cost.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/18/08 12:37:34 EDT

That power hammer is a steal. If I had a way to get it would be gone.
   - Rustystuff - Sunday, 05/18/08 12:52:44 EDT

Guru, I think your auction was a victim of the ecomomy. Even ebay has flattened out considerably in the last several months. I suggest one of us get started inventing 100 mile carburator so we can get back to life as we knew it.....and oh yeah, no more "Business as Usual" in the political arena would help greatly also !!
   Thumper - Sunday, 05/18/08 18:30:49 EDT

Hi again Guru(s),
I have made two gum leaves and left the stems straight (about 1/4 inch round). I had thought to arc weld them together, lengthwise, with another 1/4 inch round hook between them to make a coat hook. In your considered opinion, will the weld stand up to a little forging to smooth it all out? As I have mentioned earlier, my forge does not facilitate easy forge welding...
   Craig - Sunday, 05/18/08 18:37:43 EDT

Craig, It all depends on how good your arc weld is. But if your arc weld is good it should stand up to being forged.
   JimG - Sunday, 05/18/08 19:03:34 EDT

Sorry the sale was a dead loss. There are few things more annoying than doing all the work on something and then nobody showing up.

I need to spend some time clearing up the shop. At present it looks as if an earthquake has hit it ;-)
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/18/08 19:28:14 EDT

Bad, bad, joke. . . Glad you have your sense of humor!
   - guru - Sunday, 05/18/08 20:07:52 EDT

Welding and Forging: Craig, I do this all the time making basket twists. I arc weld with 6013 rod at high enough amperage to get good penetration. Clean with a power wire brush. Forge at high heat. The ones I did most recently were 3/8" square bundled and welded to 1/2" square. After forging they are hard to tell from forge welds.

With something loaded like a coat hanger I would recomend twisting the bars together to hold them mechanically, weld some of the twist and forge that into a hook.

At high heat you can get the centers of this type joint to weld and it is already fluxed with that of the welding rod.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/18/08 20:13:52 EDT

Guru, What are (is) the bpm on your hammer? On mine, 160+ is optimum or a bad rendition of the hula commences (need a bigger spring I'm sure).
   Thumper - Sunday, 05/18/08 20:20:14 EDT

I ran across an old drill press, I am trying to find out its
worth. It is a hand operated drill press, I am not sure how
old it is. Could you help me?
   Jason - Sunday, 05/18/08 20:39:59 EDT

Jason, Those are called post drills because they were mounted on a plank to get proper vertical alignment, and then attached to a post or a wall. Presently on eBay, there is a Champion brand without its table, going for $74.
In an in-person transaction, I wouldn't expect to get much more than that, if that much.

Craig, When your forge welding improves, I made my baskets years ago by binding the bundle with two tight wraps of haywire, a little time consuming. I saw that in an old book. Then, I found that I could lightly tack with the arc welder, and that would hold until I got the forge weld. Finally, one day, I picked up a pair of bolt tongs that just fit the fagot, and the tongs held it tight enough that I didn't ever need to fumdiddle with the first two methods.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/18/08 21:24:46 EDT

Saying eBay is flat is an average. Personally, for the first four months of the year, I'm down from 06 by $1.3K, but up from 07 by $4.6K. Virtually all of my sales are discretionary spending.

Question for Frank T. on the photo. Shown is only a small portion of the shop probably. With the bolt headers I'm wondering if they might have also built wagons, at least at some time? It is the first old shop photograph I remember seeing with bolt headers - and they apparently had a range of sizes.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/18/08 21:34:19 EDT

Two of the toughest things I've done were selling off the tools and supplies of one of my reenacting/blacksmithing friends (with a much smaller accumulation than Paw-Paw's) and the auction of most of the family antiques after the siblings decided to sell off Oakley House.

In the first case I asked the widow if she wanted the money fast or in quantity. She said both, so I did my best, but I always wonder if I did enough.

In the second case, sets of furniture were broken up, family portraits were sold for the frames, and even my old comic books and Mad Magazines "just happened" to end up going to the auction. The really old stuff (1600s) is now in the keeping of the historical society, but most of the last 200 years went out the door for less than a song. One of my few comforts is that many new owners will put all of this to good use.

Timing is everything, and sometimes time just works against you.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 05/18/08 21:38:52 EDT

Old Hand Crank Drill Press:

Jason, There are hundreds of types and dozens of sizes of these great old tools. However, they are not so great when they are very early primitive models with thread-feed OR any parts are broken or missing. They are very handy for a shop without power OR any other kind of drill press. That said, I have a variety of good drill presses and still occasionally prefer to use the hand crank on a very picky piece of work where I think there is a high probability of breaking the bit.

Value? $5 to $150 depending on size and type, occasionally more.

Most of these machines came with a 1/2" diameter straight bore spindle. Drills are no longer made for these so a good Jacobs chuck is recommended. This can easily set you back about $150 including the arbor. A FEW of these machines came with Morse tapers. While you can still purchase Morse taper drill bits they are quite expensive making a chuck a better deal unless you only want one or two bits.

These machines are MUCH better for drilling metal than a small modern drill press most of which are designed to drill wood and go too fast for metal work. With a speed of 0 to about 250 RPM they are perfect for metal drilling up to about 1/2". Over that size and you REALLY learn what horse power is and that your arm produces less than 1/4 HP and only for a brief while.

I like them. Have a small one with a Jacobs chuck and no missing pieces. I extended the column to compensate for the addition of the chuck. BUT, I would not want to rely on one in any size business. Electricity is too cheap a slave not to take advantage of it. My old 21" and 23" floor drill presses will drill 1" and 1.5" holes in steel in straight gear and are sensitive enough to bury an 1/8" drill bit as well as tap holes with a taping head. They will production drill holes up to 5/8" about as fast as you can clamp and move the work.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 00:13:21 EDT

I've been working on a design for a weapon for a while and the best description I can give is a chinese pudao on steroids with a 3/4 length handle, almost more like a club with a blade on the end than a spear.
I need to know what kind of steel (i've been thinking stainless, rust is a real problem here) would be best for the blade, it will be rather thick and will need to be able to take a solid blow (I'll have it made up by a local engineering workshop).
Also what's a good, heavy, dark wood that won't easily spinter from a hard blow?
   Plant - Monday, 05/19/08 00:19:08 EDT

Plant, Cutlery grade stainless such as 440C is difficult to work and heat treat. It is something for specialists. Movie prop blades made of SS are usually 304 which is rather soft but it can take a lot of abuse. There is an infinite variety of technical steels for making blades. You would get your best answer at a blade forum.

Wood is similar to steel in some regards. The harder it is the more brittle. However there are some good tropicals such as Brazilian rosewood. Then there is Chiracano from Central America. Both are rare and expensive in large pieces. One of the toughest hardwoods globally is New England Rock Maple. Rock Maple is not actually a variety but is a type that has grown in tough New England hill and mountain country where it is windy and forces trees to make harder denser wood than other places. It is used for handles and musical instrument parts that need high strength.

Wood that has been sawn into thin strips and then laminated is less likely to crack through than solid wood.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 00:52:49 EDT

Hey guys. I've found a good source for lawn mower blades(new) and the company told me that the alloy is B 1038. Anyone familiar with this? Can I make hot work tooling? What about knives? Thanks
   - mark H - Monday, 05/19/08 08:20:53 EDT

Ken, Bolt headers.

I know that you know about aggie stuff. The pictured shop is probably an aggie repair shop with a shoeing floor. You know that the moldboard needs to be attached to the share with bolts, and that all sorts of farm machinery needs bolts. I would guess that it is not a wagon shop, since you would have a whole team of men and various departments: wheel/tire; blacksmithing; woodworking; assembly; paint.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/19/08 09:27:02 EDT

Farm Repair Shops: I inventoried the tools in an old shop that was a combination of rural and urban. They did shoeing and wagon tire work as well as repairs. The tool they had the most of was headers. Every common size and many worn out. There were also numerous plow bolt headers as well as plow bolts in stock from a later era.

Prior to bolts of every size being available by the pound a blacksmith might make a LOT of bolts. However, this was a brief period historically between when manufactured machines and equipment used a lot of bolts and when the manufacturers started making nothing but bolts for distribution. Remember that this was before the era of specialized manufacturing and most early large manufacturers made every part of what they made including castings, bearings, bolts and even paint. They also often made their own manufacturing machinery.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 09:46:39 EDT

B 1038 or SAE 1038: Mark, That is a 0.35-0.42 percent carbon steel with 0.60-0.90 percent manganese. It is a deep hardening medium carbon steel that is designed mostly to be tough and not break. Probably 52 HRc when full hard. Modern lawn mower blade specifications are based on legal liability NOT what makes a good edge holding blade. They want them not to break. It is common to have to replace mopdern blades every year where old high carbon blades might last a decade. . .

It is probably more useful for tongs, pliers and wrenches than other tools.

Sources for used mower blades are like sources for used horseshoes, automobile tires and freon containers. They will overwhelm you in their throw aways in no time. Good if you are in the scrap business (except the bottles and tires) but not otherwise.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 09:48:14 EDT

One method that seemed to work for smithing tools only was that a Widow asked SOFA to sell off her late husband's tools at Quad-State one year. It was not an auction. They pulled out the tools and set a fairly nice price on them---top end of the going range and I believe they pretty much sold out. Not too many folk would haggle in that situation.

Shoot even I bought a bunch of stuff.

Unfortunately the time and distance factors make this a pretty rare occurance.

I've warned my wife about folks wanting to buy all that junk, cheap, "raping the widow" is what it's called in many collector groups...

I'll be offline Wed-Monday; taking the forge and going to an SCA event here in NM.

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/19/08 10:53:54 EDT

Selling an Estate: IF I had known it was going to come down to making a deal on the lot I would have separated more of the tools and sold them elsewhere. But there was an AWFUL lot of junk and we got more than what the tools were worth. I had already bought most of the small stuff for a fair price but did not want the HabaFlait junk. We had also sold some of the tools to others. AND we still have a couple pieces to sell yet.

It was a disappointment (I didn't get to try my auctioneer skills) but it was far from "raping the widow". But we would have made considerably more if only a dozen more people had shown up and the auction went on.

I've seen a LOT of that doing realestate research. Husband dies, wheeler dealer buys property cheap, resells it high within a few months. . . Our old Mill was sold that way more than once.

The only way to get top dollar for every item in a case like this is to take a lot of time selling each item. At some point your time is worth more than the additional cash.

And we STILL have an awful lot of junk to dispose of . . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 12:27:48 EDT

Just bought a Modern Power Hammer made in Iowa looks to be 40-50 pound hammer anyone have any info on these hammers? Thanks Larry
   - Larry - Monday, 05/19/08 12:58:14 EDT

Just bought a Modern Power Hammer made in Iowa looks to be 40-50 pound hammer anyone have any info on these hammers? Thanks Larry
   - Larry - Monday, 05/19/08 12:58:27 EDT

Larry, They have a good bit of information on these in Pounding Out The Profits.

This is a lever arm with bow spring hammer. I think the spring is attached to the ram with leather straps. Made from 1904 to 1908 is was the lowest cost hammer sold in America ($75 at the time).
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 15:19:44 EDT

Guru, you know I was not implying you had been involved in RTW; just a warning to folks that they should think about these things ahead of time to prevent bad things from happening.

My shop too looks like it was hit by an earthquake; without Phillip's excuse!

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/19/08 17:25:52 EDT

Thomas, I know that was not directed at me. But it does happen a lot.
   - guru - Monday, 05/19/08 17:51:41 EDT

My shop look like an earthquake hit it, as indeed we had that little rumbler last month. A 5.2 is nothing to what the folks in China had, and in reality, my shop looked the same before the rumbler:)
   ptree - Monday, 05/19/08 18:13:33 EDT

A few years ago the children of a longtime blacksmith around here sold off his shop by starting the sale at 8:00 for fellow blacksmiths, 9:00 for tool collectors, and 10:00 for the general public. I think they got the best sales in the first 2 hours and for almost every item they asked "Are you going to use it?"
   Judson Yaggy - Monday, 05/19/08 18:48:19 EDT

One thing I have done, and recommend that all serious smiths, tool collectors and craftsmen do, is make a complete inventory of my shop, with current values. I also have a select group of friends that will show up and help to dispose of the goods for a fair price so my widow doesn't take a hosing from some carrion-eating second-hand dealer or other opportunist.

Many of us, as we go through life, accumulate a lot of stuff. Some great, some good, some crap. Particularly when it comes to the paraphernalia associated with a relatively uncommon such as blacksmithing or underwater archery, it can be extremely difficult for someone not intimately familiar with the particular affliciton to know the worth of the paraphernalia. That's where the inventory comes in. You should list the item, describe it completely, indicate purchase price and current value. Photos are a big help. Keep your list somewhere it can be accessed after your unfortunate demise, (brought about by reading about the complete blacksmith shop sold for fifty-three bucks by a grieving widow), and keep it reasonably up to date. Try your best to arrange with someone in our area to assist oyur next of kin with the disposal. This can be a very good activity for a local blacksmithing club or chapter to do for all its members.

If you're worried that your spouse may hasten your demise after discovering just how much you have spent on your hobby over the years, the group and your personal lawyer can keep the lists until you're safely in the ground. It's not always a good plan to be worth more dead than alive, so don't be too optimistic when you place the current value on your treasure trove. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/20/08 00:08:51 EDT

On value it is often difficult to determine. For example I suspect we have all been to auctions where an item went ridiciously high because two people just had to have it. I've been at auctions were family members were bidding against each other, knowing the sales price went into the estate settlement.

My neighbor, Hunter Pilkinton, was an avid tool collector for over 50 years. Each tool is numbered and has a 3" x 5" card with it. If I remember correctly, last number used was over 20K. His workshop is as packed as the tool museum. Neither of his children have any interest in the tools. Someday will be disposed of, but we are in a rural area. Even if heavily advertised in tool collector publications there is simply soooooo much it would have to be sold by the box lot. I suspect his collection isn't worth as much as family may think it is. Hunter didn't specialize in any particular area - a tool was a tool. He would buy a new tool from a catalog if he though it would someday be collectible. eBay has now greatly increased the availability of old tools and, as such, probably driven down value on the supply and demand concept.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 05/20/08 07:37:04 EDT

Two old maid sisters had their dad's rollaway full of tools dating from about 1925, and advertised "tools" in the paper. He had the first Chrysler dealership in town. I arrived at 8:30 AM, but a guy bought it at 8:00 AM. The ladies said that their father told them to get a lot of money for it, so they sold the whole shootin' match for $50.00. I don't dwell on this, but when I think about, I sob and snuffle a little bit.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 05/20/08 08:01:58 EDT

Old Tools, Collectibles, Junk and Good Tools:

I would not give much for mechanics tools from the 20's and 30's. This is a class of tools that greatly improved until the 1970's when Craftsman and Snap-On made some fantastic tools. Wrenches and such from the 20's through 40's might be collectible but not great tools and mostly junk today. Now if this fellow had continuously updated his tools they may have been worth a great deal. Certainly they were worth more than $50 in either case.

Most collectible tools are either famous brands of wood working tools or rare tools that are complete, in sets or VERY VERY old. I am a tool USER and have little interest in collectibles. However, many of our blacksmith tools that are no longer made are moving into the range of collectible. . . It would be much worse if a collection did not weigh TONS. However, I do know people with anvil, vise and even power hammer collections.

The problem with buying collectibles is that prices make little sense unless you are VERY expert in the field and you can end up paying a price that the item will not reach for another 50 years if you are not careful.

Many old tools are pretty junky and have been replaced by much better modern tools. However, the market is now flooded with imported garbage. One of Paw-Paw's NEW tools we sold was a "Chicago" cut off saw. I had thought to keep it until I replaced a blade and found that there were NO adjustments for blade tracking or side play. In attempting to snug up the bearing clearance the undersized guide bearings were overloaded and the shields (metal seals) popped out. So we had to leave the guide bearings at the far side of the cast holes and about 1/16" slop in the blade. I also noted that the saw was billed as a 4x6 but would only handle about half that due to some odd changes in the base casting. . . Paw-Paw had gone to a great deal of trouble to build this saw into a nice long roller rack which we included with the saw hoping to give it SOME value. . .

For years I have warned folks that much of the junk import machines do not work out of the box but they still buy them. If you have to FIX a tool or machine it is better to put your time into something old that WAS a great machine when new rather than something new that junk to start with and can never be made into a great tool.

I have resurrected a number of old machines from junk condition. Some were a good investment in time, a couple questionable. But none were expected to run when I brought them home and none cost new prices. All that were fixed up are still running. The problem is that fewer and fewer of these machines exist. For decades they have been going to scrap and now with scrap higher than ever they are about to be completely swept up and gone forever.

A lot of smiths have spent a lot restoring old Little Giants and continue to do so. However, I wish more of this effort was going to the old machine tools that were used to BUILD Little Giants. The old lathes, drill presses and shapers that are going for scrap. Old milling machines are also out there but those that are repairable are rarer and more expensive to maintain. Far fewer should be going to junk.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 09:56:06 EDT

Single greatest enhancement to the value of my tool collection was my daughter damaging the anvil. She is my apprentice,and pretty soon she will have picked up, put away, misplaced, found, cleaned, repaired, used, abused, misused and/or created something beautiful with every tool in the shop. In one of our first sessions, I heard a heart-stopping "clonk" and then, "Uh, Dad,I think I may have chipped your anvil." She had, but it was not a big one, and led to a conversation that assured me that when I am gone, there will be at least one of my children almast as familiar with and attached to my stuff as I am. Now, I don't expect her to become a blacksmith, but she will be an artist of some kind (she's trying everything), and when the time comes, those tools will mean something to her. And just as importantly, she will know who else in the world they will mean somethng to and and how much, and she will make damn sure that they know that she knows that they know. SO, God forbid, the time ever comes she needs the cash more than the tools, she'll be able to sidle up that Wyle E Coyote eyeing my 300 lb Fisher and before he can offer 50 cents a pound, point to that custom 3/16 radius notch in the edge and tell the story of how she learned just how much a good tool is worth. I know not everyone has a 14 year old willing to swing a ten pound sledge, and I count my blessings with every hit, foul or fair, but anyone expecting to pass on a barnful of gear without passing on the memory of at least a few hours in the shop is missing a good deal.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 05/20/08 10:24:38 EDT

The scraping of America: Most people do not think of scrap metal as a national resource but it is. It is the result of mining and smelting ores both domestic and imported. It is the result of burning millions of tons of coal and oil. It is the result of processes that polluted the ground and the sky. It is the product of lives lost.

Scrap metal is a resource that has been paid dearly for in natural resources, damage to the environment and lives. The cost should be considered a national investment and scrap a strategic resource.

Instead we are shipping it off to China as fast as we can to be made into cheap products to be resold here. . .

Exporting raw resources to be manufactured into goods and returned here to sell is the act of a third world nation. It is the system we fought a revolution to unbind us from.

Scraping old machine tools reduces the number of small shops that could make diverse products as well as supporting other industry. Sending that scrap overseas or selling ANY natural resource reduces the value of our country and thus our currency and position in the world in the long run.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 10:35:50 EDT

Here,Here. Well said Guru as usual.
   John Christiansen - Tuesday, 05/20/08 10:50:24 EDT

Getting the word out about a sale can be a big problem. I would have driven a couple of days to go to the Lynch Collection Auction; but it was never publicised that far out.

Instead I was told that entire barrels of hammer heads were sold for what *1* hammer was bringing on the open market and I've been buying them by the ones and twos whenever I can find them at a decent price.

I've suggested that when I'm dead they keep the nucleus of a good smithing set up in case one of my descendants is interesting in smithing but let the big stuff go to folks who will *use* it. A 2' square box 3-4' tall would take a swageblock, anvil or two, some tongs and a bunch of hammers and tooling to pass on down the line...

I'm heading out tomorrow morning taking a forge to an SCA event, Grand Outlandish, no water on site and high temps forecast. Should be fun!

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/20/08 11:46:48 EDT

Thomas, Carry lots of water WITH you.

Large collections: such as the Lynch Collection and Pilkinton Collection CAN be sold for very tidy sums but it is a ton of work. In the case of the Lynch collection the family did not appreciate the value and apparently did not want to put in the time. I'm sure they would have made a ton more by having the Kaynes or Centaur make an offer. In the case of the Pilkinton collection someone should be hired on salary or percentage of sales to catalog categories and run sales. This is a vast enough collection to be a very good business for someone for several years AND make a good profit for the family. But I suspect that it will not be sold well.

Besides setting up to advertise and sell you must also be prepared to ship. It is a full fledged business.

In our case there was just not enough quantity to make the advertising worth while. I had estimated that at top dollar we might generate $5000 in sales but more probably about $3000. Remember than a LOT of that would be from junk we would otherwise send to the dump. After spending $1300 on advertising and labor to no good it was time to stop wasting money. If we advertised again and had a good auction we would not have been ahead any more. We also knew we could do better on ebay on the long run but did not want to go that route.

The fellow we sold the stuff to has a weekly auction as well as traveling to flea markets on a regional scale. Besides what he paid he will have rent and labor moving it all and fuel bills hauling it all over the country. He will make a profit and that is business.

My collection is a different matter. It is larger than Paw-Paw's and of better quality tools. It is also mostly tools. However, the machine tools which I have put so much into may go to scrap if the world keeps going the way it is. . .

I am still enjoying my tools but at some point I would hope that I would see the light and dispose of them while I could still make use of the money. Once in a while I think about lightening the load and selling out NOW. . but its not worth enough. While both of my children appreciate tools neither has an interest in the blacksmithing stuff and both understand the need for portability in modern life, or at least in the lives they have chosen. Only time will tell.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 12:45:38 EDT

Youth and the value of tools and an education: This spring I paid Sheri's 18 year old granddaughter and her girl friend to help in the shop getting ready for the Hammer-In. They helped move heavy things on rollers, rig using chains and nylon slings and most importantly clean old machinery. Over a period of a week of weekends they helped clean and setup several old machine tools. They scraped paint and debris off every surface, sanded off rust, cleaned out T-slots, oiled and moved parts until they moved freely and removed MORE rust. They also had the opportunity to grind corners off a bunch off steel plate for our power hammer project as well as drill holes with the drill press they had helped put back into operation and with a magnetic base drill press.

They learned a lot in those weeks of moving and setting up equipment. They learned not be afraid of getting their hands dirty doing a job or to be scared of machinery they did not understand. As they worked I showed them how to figure out what things did on a machine by studying the components and learn from a little trial and error.

They will both make darn good employees for SOMEONE. I wish I could afford to keep them employed for the summer. We would both benefit. At this point they have a good work ethic but could stand to learn more about tools and machines.

I've known these girls for several years so I was not surprised. They turned out to be better shop helpers than several male apprentices and employees I have had in the past. I was especially disappointed in the apprentices that could not see the value in jobs that seem like sh**-work such as cleaning a machine but were in fact an opportunity to study every detail of how that machine was made and worked.

Educating young women in the use of tools and machinery is an opportunity they rarely get. If for nothing else other than to give them a sense of empowerment in a mechanical world. But it could also lead to their being more women engineers or perhaps a few more voters that understand that the scraping of America is a bad thing. . . OR it can also lead to just having a good shop helper or employee.

Note that these things do not always work out. Often there are people so non-mechanical, have a block against things mechanical or a fear of machines that it just doesn't work. This applies to both male and females. I've also found that some folks may say they want something, such as being a blacksmith, but are lacking that spark of deep interest or willingness to keep at it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 13:11:44 EDT

Girls learn better than boys, and are more motivated. I urge anyone with a son 0-15 yrs old to read this book. I'm reading it now and IT'S SHOCKING. Tries to answer the question "What’s wrong with today's young men?"

   Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 05/20/08 14:31:48 EDT

I think being able to look at things and figure out how they work is an extremely valuable talent and should be trained in everybody. I don't know howmany times something has gone wrong and people have just left it until I could work on it, (could be a while when I was out of country). When I asked them why they hadn't done anything the reply was that they had never done anything like that. My counter was that neither had I; I just looked at how it was supposed to work and tried to guess what had gone wrong and fixed it.

Having a big muffin pan so I could save all the pieces sequentially when dissassembling things was a big help.

Today you can use digital cameras to record how things were set up step by step too.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/20/08 15:25:36 EDT

I am a learning smith trying to get my shop up and running. I don't have a lot of money to spend. I have all the parts of the forge I am building and raw stock to work but I am having difficulty finding an anvil at a low price. All I am looking for is an anvil in the MD, VA, WV, or PA area that is cheep or less than $500.00. Does anyone know of a possable source? I have seen anvils on e-bay fairly cheep but I am not wanting to risk the shipping I would rather pick it up.
   Justin Caradoc - Tuesday, 05/20/08 17:47:23 EDT

Justin, for $500 or a bit more you can buy a new one. Check the anvils at Euroanvils or Delta Horseshoe. The ones at Euroanvils are excellent cast steel anvils made in the Czech Republic. Delta Horseshoe sells USA-made TFS Anvils, a review of which has been sent to the Guru to post when he finally gets time.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/20/08 17:56:21 EDT

Guru, the scrap we are selling overseas gets a better dollar than selling it here. With the weak dollar, all exports are worth more abroad than they are in the US. Lets give George Bush a big round of clap for selling out our economy, our future and our young men and women.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/20/08 18:00:55 EDT

Thomas P.
Nice thought but I don't think it can be taught. I built a sloppy but usable rendition of the Spare Tire JYH after seeing the pic here on the JYH page. I have shown it to other smiths, fabricators, construction workers, mechanics and just plain folks, only a couple could understand the workings without explanation and only one figured he could make one just from looking (with improvements to mine, I might add). I think that the "Rube Goldberg" gene is recessive and is gradually being bred out of our character. There's plenty of "Eureka" moments still being enjoyed by tinkerers and inventors, but mostly electronic, no longer mechanical, most people just don't find getting dirty, scraping your knuckles and sweating to be politically correct any more. Quite honestly, 3rd world countries are much more intuned with reverse engineering and mechanical innovation than we are here in the US, these are countries where apprenticeships are still the norm and learning a craft from the "broom" up is still looked upon as a meaningful and well respected career choice.
   Thumper - Tuesday, 05/20/08 18:12:02 EDT

Of course scrap is selling for more since we have let our primary metals industries fail. We also buy BACK that same scrap as steel that is priced lower than American made steel. . . IF we taxed the export of critical industrial raw materials (including coal and lumber) there would be more of a market for them HERE.

Prior to the "temporary" income tax the U.S. government operated for 175 years on nothing except import duties. Maybe we should try import taxes again since we import more than ever before. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 18:18:28 EDT

Anvils: Justin, See my post above titled "Auction Stats?" If you and a couple other folks had shown up at our auction interested in tools you would have had a chance at a truck load of equipment for that price. IF ANYONE wanting to start a shop had shown up we would have negotiated to sell them just about everything they needed.

If you attend the blacksmith meets in the Virginia area you will easily find a nice usable anvil for less than $300. But you might want to come visit us in NC and learn what a usable anvil really is. There is a big difference between a usable and dream anvil. I have a complete range.

I have yet to see a reasonable anvil on ebay. Perhaps you were looking at the new cast iron or "supposed to be steel" anvils? Good old anvils sell all over the country for HALF of what they do on ebay.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/20/08 18:29:15 EDT

Mark H: are you sure it's B1038 and not 10B38? They do a lot of alloys now with micro additions (like .001 or less)of Boron. Adds toughness and hardenability much like nickel. In fact they are sustituting 41B40 for 4340 in some applications.
   - grant - Tuesday, 05/20/08 19:28:32 EDT

I have 4 children and all are different. The oldest started following me around the shop as I did things at about 4, and asked questions etc. Started at the forge at about 6 standing on a box. first hammer-in at 13, first nice sale of original design at 13. paid for three used cars so far blacksmithing. Did i mention SHE is only 5'-2" and maybe 100#:) The second had no interest, did a little work for spending money but no desire to do hand work. Computer and crypto genus. Third much like the first except HE is now big enough to swing a good 14# striking hammer, and occasionally a 20#:)
The 4th works only for the $, and does not really want to have the skills. She is 5'-1" and about 110#.
Size never mattered much, desire did.
   ptree - Tuesday, 05/20/08 20:04:14 EDT


Article I, Section 9, clause 5 of the Constitution prohibits taxes on exports. Of course, the Constitution was amended in 1913 to permit the income tax . . .
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 05/20/08 20:17:39 EDT

Funny we've been talking about scrapping steel and auctions, cause as a buyer they both have the same feel. Picking through the pile or landing that 10 cent on the dollar tool you almost think you're doing something shady. Hope the scrapping senario doesn't mean we're at the end of the line.
   jamie - Tuesday, 05/20/08 20:43:02 EDT

Justin: In the MD VA WVa PA area, there is no better single resource than the Blacksmiths' Guild Of the Potomac. Run, do not walk to their website and if you are anywhere close to DC, get to their next event. Next best is the Potomac Antique Tools and Industries Association. OK, yeah they are collectors, but a lot of em are users too and know where all the local goodies are. Good luck.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 05/20/08 20:57:19 EDT

Tools from the '20s & later: My Granddad was an auto mechanic in the '20s.

Some of His tools from that period were pretty crude. The good ones were Snap On, Blue Point and Bonney, these were of as good a quality as any made EVER, but the Snap On 1/2" drive ratchet did require being turned over and the drive lug being pushed through to reverse direction. The valve spring compressor that fit Essex engines, I used on every valve job I ever did [1970s]

My Dad's set of Craftsnan tools from the late '40s- early'50s are among the best Craftsman tools I have ever seen, pretty much the same as Mine from the late '60s-early '70s. I will concede that the release button on the rachets was a worth while improvement.

In My rambunctious youth I bent some of those old slim Craftsman wrenches that would fit in places others won't. The replacements are more robust, and take a lot more force to bend, but they don't fit in the places the old ones did. The reversing mechanism on the rachets has gone down hill from those of the '70 eara, and I think the screwdrivers are softer.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/20/08 22:53:48 EDT

Quenchcrack: You can do Your part if You want to. I will sell You [or anybody else that wants it] a Landis 10x24 cylindrical grinder, complete & always stored indoors for $.10/# You remove. The alternative is that I will take it out piece by piece untill it gets light enough to load with a JCB compact loader [3500#?]. Then I will take all that to the salvage yard where they will give Me $.14/# for it.

My location is in southeastern Pa. The salvage yard says the good iron & steel goes to the former Lukens Plate Plant in Coatsville, Pa. now run by Mikasa [?sp].

At least the iron & steel stays in the US, as that plant is closer than the nearest port. Transformers, motors & "dirty" scrap are going to Asia for cheaper processing.
   - Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/20/08 23:16:30 EDT

The lowering quality of Craftsman tools and tools in general has always disappointed me. I don't think it was because a few broke but changing manufacturers to those that would make them cheaper and cheaper.

Craftsman made some of the finest box end wrenches. These were the light pattern double box end wrenches. Lots of offset and very thin. I also have deep well sockets that were broached all the way to the bottom. I had one break and the replacement was only broached nut deep. . .

Craftsman has always had more than one quality ratchet. The fine 24 or 48 tooth model was very good and I have several. But I see they have a new 60 tooth model with a different mechanism. They still make the same coarse tooth ratchet with the pivoting handle. I used my 3/8 drive of that type for almost everything.

I invested in a LOT of tools when I was a mechanic, mostly from Sears. But when I started having trouble with them I switched over to Snap-On. I bought an expensive snap action torque wrench from Sears and had to return it TWICE due to failing to snap resulting in numerous broken or stripped head studs. . I could not get satisfaction from Sears and replaced it with a Snap-On which worked perfectly and still probably will.

Sears used to advertise their 3 step plating which prevented rust (copper flash, nickle, then chrome). It is still the best and only way to plate tools and my Craftsman tools have held up better against rust then any other. I do not know if they still use it. I know my most expense Snap-On wrench set (Whitworth and British Standard) has rusted through the chrome in a general haze. Very disappointing.

The Craftsman wrench set I really drooled over was a solid polished stainless steel (440C) combination set. They only made them for a year or two in the 1970's.

I looked at a stainless steel tool chest at Lowes the other day. Beautiful thing but only good for very light weight storage. I tend to end up with as much as will fit in a drawer and they need to be stout.

Hmmmmm, looked at the price of Snap-On boxes. . . can buy a new car for what they want for a stacked set. Something wrong there.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 00:39:47 EDT

Best thing about Craftsman is lifetime guarantee. If you don't know about it you should. Only one better is LL Bean. Take ANY Craftsman hand tool, no matter how old, to any Sears store, and they will (must) replace it with the current equivalent. Guy I work with brags he has bought one tape measure in his life (c. 1950) but always has a new one, even after measuring alot of salt water fish and hot iron with its predecessor.

Worst thing about Craftsman is lifetime guarantee. You can only replace with the progresively chincier newer models. Best investment Sears ever made was buying Craftsman, even with the guarantee. They stopped supplying the plated tools years ago. New version is sort of machined finished deal, made you-know-where. Notice that there is now no difference in quality between the Crafstman and Sears brands. Just price. Oh, and the color of the handle. So they sold those nice plated wrench sets at the guarantee price and now pay off in pot-metal, rubber handled imitations. Hmmmmmm. Sounds like a cause of action to me. I think they ought to pay off in kind. If I bring in a worn out triple plated 3/8 -- 7/16 offset box end wrench made in 1952 I think they ought ought replace it with one they saved from that production run. Or the monetary equivalent.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 05/21/08 04:18:20 EDT

Oh and that push button socket release on the ratchet? Amuses me every time I use it. Sears initially screwed the guy that invented it. Did it on his own time, at home, developed and patented entirely at his own expense. But he happened to work for Sears at the time after he proved it up, so wen he offered it it to them, Sears claimed they owned it because he worked for them. Paid him 10 K to go away and made a gazillion on it. Oh, he sued 18 years later and made out ok. Not great, but ok. When you push that button to change sockets, remember Peter Roberts, the teenager who invented it.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 05/21/08 04:55:46 EDT

Thanks for the information all. I would have made it to the auction if it had been within a 4 hour drive from me. I love this site. I have been looking for blacksmithing information for about 5 years and stumbled accross this site about 2 months ago which is the same time I found out a friend of mine has a forge. Now I swing a hammer when ever I get the chance. My friend is helping me build my brake drum forge which I am going to photo document and turn into a website.
   Justin Caradoc - Wednesday, 05/21/08 07:03:57 EDT

Snap-On VS Craftsman: My son will soon complete his schooling as an auto mechanic and we are buying him some basic tools. The school offers Snap-On at half price. I thought this was great until I got the price list! OMG! a basic 200 piece set is $1500!!!!!! I paid less than that for my first car! My father passed away last December and he was a life-long tool collector. I will be driving up to his house to collect some tools for my son (OK and for me too) to fill in the gaps. He only bought Craftsman and similar top of the line tools. Too bad I can't afford the gas to drive my truck up there and get them all!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 05/21/08 08:16:34 EDT

What happened to Proto tools; must've merged with Stanley. I wonder what they're like. A Mexican guy worked with Proto for years, and there may have been some shenanigans involved, but he began to drop forge and finish similar tools when he moved back to Mexico. I have ordered a few and I like them. www.urrea.com
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/21/08 08:42:12 EDT

Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools:

There are still some industrial tool makers like Armstrong that make very good tools but are not as well known as Craftsman and Snap-On because they sell only through industrial distributors. They are made in USA and have a life time guarantee. . . a product I can get behind!

I knew of Armstrong because most of my lathe tool holders were made by them and had their trademark forged in. They make the full range of tool post holders and milling/drilling furniture. Then I saw their tools in several of the industrial suppliers I would frequent.

On-line they are sold by MSC, Fastenal and Applied Industrial.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 09:53:59 EDT

I have to say that we used all of the above listed tools and others at the big valve and boiler shop. Armstrong was the best handtools of the lot. They have a large offset double box end slim style wrench that is the best wrenches I have ever held. Inherited many Armstrongs from my Father and Grandfather. Also Williams. Great tools from as long ago as 1910.
Far Armstrong hagemeyer also sells. Another good tool is the Allen line. Good guarantee. Not an Armstrong, but less expensive.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/21/08 10:27:54 EDT

Drive Time: As gas prices soar this is a sore subject for many. However, even though there are thousands of smiths in the US today, some 30 years ago we used to have to travel much greater distances to find and talk to one and other. This was also the era where long distance phone calls were billed in dollars per minute and it was cheaper to make the trip than to talk on the phone. . . The first time I visited the late Bill Gishner is was a six hour drive. Luckily, Bill, a complete stranger at the time, offered me a room for the night or I would not have had enough gas money to get home. . . (after buying equipment!)

Even today thousands travel as much as a thousand miles to go to SOFA because of the fantastic range of tools for sale and the camaraderie of other smiths.

When I was in California on business in the 1980's I spent a number of weekends on the road with a friend visiting smiths I had read about. Four to six hours one way was not unusual as California is a LONG tall state. .

In the 1970's when I was looking for tools it was not unusual to spend every weekend traveling to auctions. The total drive time was fantastic before I bought my first anvil. I suspect that if I had saved my gas money (even at 34 cents per gallon) that I could have bought that Kohlswa NEW. . . However, it was an education in auctions and auctioneering as well as how not to look for tools!

Just a recently as last December we drove 10 hours (one way) to central Florida to pickup a small lathe. It sold on ebay with "local pickup only" . . It sold cheap and made the trip worthwhile. The brief view of Jacksonville harbor at night was almost worth the trip.

A friend of ours made a 20 hour trip (one way) from west of Oklahoma City to Lynchburg, VA to complete a trade on a power hammer. And them did it AGAIN going to Richmond making it a 23 hour trip. . . each way.

A lot depends on how important blacksmithing is to you.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 10:28:53 EDT

As a mechanic I have to agree. Snap-on and Armstrong are excellent hand tools. I also like Mac and SK Wayne. Sears/Craftsman has been hit or miss.
   Jason Mecum - Wednesday, 05/21/08 10:49:59 EDT

Gee, a whole thousand miles to QuadState? Would that it were such a paltry peregrination. I travel more like three thousand miles - one way. Some of you have no idea how good you have it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/21/08 12:14:21 EDT

The Proto/Mexico connection story is very interesting, and can be found at http://www.urrea.com/public/pag5.aspx
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 05/21/08 12:35:14 EDT

80% of the steel used in the USA is made in the USA.
Sure, it would be great if we made 100% of what we use, and if we made even more and exported- but the fact is, 80% local manufacture is a long way from "failed".
FACT: 50% of american made steel is made from scrap, and 50% is made from ore. This is somewhere around 40 to 50 million tons of each, a year. Assuming a little bit of additives to get new steel, we are still buying, and remelting, a good 40 MILLION TONS a year of our own scrap- again, it could be better, but its not the same as selling everything out to china.
FACT: The largest machine tool manufacturer in the world, by dollar and by amount of machines made, is located in the USA- Haas, of Ventura California, who exports over 100 machines a month to China- and these are not $200 drill presses- these are CNC machines that run from $30k to $200k.
FACT: The USA exported $50 Billion Dollars worth of vehicles last year alone. This does not count Boeing Airplanes, or GE or AMD Locomotives (both of which are backordered for a couple years with locomotive orders from China, all export, once again), and, I am pretty sure, does not count John Deere, or Caterpillar construction machinery.

All of these things add up to mean that the american manufacturing infrastructure is far from gone. It has changed, slimmed down, and no longer has mills employing 15,000 guys- a modern Nucor mill can make as much steel as one of those old ones with a couple of hundred employees. A modern CNC machine shop can crank out as many parts with 5 twenty somethings in expensive sneakers as it used to take 300 guys laboring over Bridgeports and Monarchs.
We will never employ 20% of our workforce in manufacturing again, its true, just like we wont employ 80% of our workforce in agriculture- but the sky is FAR from falling.
If you subtract energy (OIL) from our trade figures, we are much closer to balanced trade, and in many categories, we export more than we import, including us sending BMW's to Germany and Honda's to Japan, both made here.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 05/21/08 13:48:09 EDT

Ries: Do you really think your fact stand up to folks perceptions and emotions? What does it matter that we have lower unemployment during a recession than Europeans have in good times? Don't you know that Americans DESERVE a dispropotionate amount of the worlds wealth? So what if the rest of the world has been paying more than $5.00 for gas for years? In England, I understand gas is near $10.00!We deserve cheap gas! We should go back to when each state printed it's own money and taxed trade across state borders! Hmm, maybe spreading caitalism around the world wasn't such a great idea! Everone hates change, but it's the one thing you can depend on.
   - grant - Wednesday, 05/21/08 14:31:35 EDT

Thanks for that enlighenment, Ries. The facts, whether positive or negative, are always our friends.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 05/21/08 14:37:37 EDT

Ries, Thank you for setting me straight on some points. However, if we were manufacturing things at the rates we should we would need all that scrap and more steel to boot. There are vast markets where neither we nor the Europeans are selling automobiles and trucks. Japan and China dominate over 90% of the market in Central America which is just a hop and a skip from the U.S. They also dominate the agricultural market in those countries. In both cases it is due to the fact that we do not make appropriate machines for those markets. That market not only includes Central America but all of the so-called "third world".

Lots of missed opportunities.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 15:13:27 EDT

Diesel is £ gbp 1.26 / 1.30 per litre & rising in the UK at the moment ( = $ USD 2.60 ), so yeah, $10 per US gallon. Yup, our country is smaller so we do less annual mileage than some in the US, but its still robbery, and takes a bite out of disposable income.
   - John N - Wednesday, 05/21/08 15:53:52 EDT

Most of the higher cost in Europe is taxes. The current price for gasoline in Saudia Arabia is 45 cents per gallon.

For the cost of international shipping it seems like you could buy a tanker full of gas (not crude) and sell anywhere in the world and make a killing. . .

Ah, fill 'er up mate!

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 17:01:56 EDT

I used to work at Marvel Manufacturing in Oshkosh Wis, this used to be owned by the Armstrong & Blum families also of the Armstrong Tool company. Needless to say we had the best selection of hand tools any one would ever want in the tool crib and some of the best equiped machine tools anyware.
A few years befor the Armstrong family sold off thier intrest in Marvel (Marvel bandsaws) they started to modernise some of the equipment and get rid of the excess.
Guru, you are lucky you didn't know about all the "good stuff" they were throwing out... I broke the rear springs in my Jeep Cherokee hauling stuff home (try 213#s of freshly resharpend Hss endmills and 135#s of brand new but obsolete carbide incerts and the tool holders to go with them just for starters) I paid for very little as most of it was just tossed out but the list of stuff I took home from there goes on and on.
I recently went through the Giddings & Lewis plant in Fondulac, Wis. and we can all take some comfort in knowing that not every old machine tool is beeing gotten rid of. They still have and use some of the oldest machines anywere and even though they have one of the nicest facilities I've ever seen they still have wood post floors in some parts of the building. Mostly it's like a 15+ acre labritory/ museum with its own railway...
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/21/08 17:53:23 EDT

Marvel Saws: I have one of their old reciprocating saws. However, it is not quite the one I wanted. Back in the 30's or 40's they made a simple saw similar to the 4x6 bandsaws in size. It had automatic feed and a dead simple quick action vise. I used one in an old tech school shop and spent years looking for another like it. The one I ended up with was a much heavier industrial model with a big 3PH 2 speed motor.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 18:38:15 EDT

Reciprocating Saws: Like the shaper I consider these another blacksmith class machine. The simple heavy blades last forever if treated right and the machines themselves last forever. And if things get bad and you cannot get a blade to fit then one can be made from band saw blade.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 19:02:45 EDT

Guru, I think we had one of the Marvels that you wanted in the tool and Die shop at Vogt. It was in daily use for many decades and still cut straight and true. We had many marvels thru the shops with several very large ones. Even when very hard used and worn, witha good blade they would cut true. Very nice old American Iron.
That little saw was finally scrapped in about 1996. The last big one from the valve shop was auctioned in 2002 when the shops went to india. I still have a pair of new 13" blades for the little saw.Marvel brand. Been thinking of building a good heavy hand hack saw.
   ptree - Wednesday, 05/21/08 21:12:41 EDT

One of my next repair products is to setup the Marvel. I am not sure of its capacity . .

I looked it up in my 1955 Industrial Supply Corp. catalog. Its a 4B Marvel 2 speed that weighs just short of 1,000 pounds and has a maximum 6-1/8 x 8 cut. It equipped with a coolant pump and sumb in the cast base.

They made a No.1 and a No.2 that were very similar open frame saws with 4x4 and 6x6 capacity.

I have a book with a photo of a man hand sawing a R-R rail with a heavy hack saw that looks like the blade is from a power hack saw. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/21/08 23:27:16 EDT

Ries, did you know that 76% of all statistics are fictional numbers? Grin, sorry. Your information lacks only one significant point: The largest steelmaker in the USA (Arcelor Mittal) is owned by Lakshme Mittal, and Indian who lives in London. The Russians are also buying up US steel mills at an alarming rate. Why is this? Our steel industry is reasonably modern (compared with theirs) and the workforce is very efficient. The steel is made here, the profits go overseas for re-investment and to fund expansion outside the US.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 05/22/08 08:20:50 EDT
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