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This is an archive of posts from May 8 - 15, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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If it's letters though you can easily google for it on the net. A "picture" is much harder to trace.

We sometimes get this in the SCA when we see modern armour reproductions being sold as antiques. We know that maker's trademark is recent but the sellers/buyers perhaps were not able to research it properly.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/08/09 11:48:19 EDT

If I were looking for a touchmark, I would purchase a Blade magazine and see which companies the knifemakers are getting their stamps from as knifemakers are Very picky on quality. I purchased one from one of the advertisers years ago and it works great.Never heard of the 2 you mention.
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 05/08/09 12:00:37 EDT

Phillip, you and I (and Yellin) are the few Jewish smiths I know of. I wonder if there is any others out there? If so, is there any sort of offshoot of ABANA or other organization for us Hebes? How about JABA? The Jewish Artist Blacksmith Assoc. makes a nice acronym.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/08/09 12:34:46 EDT

Touchmarks: A lot depends on how you want to use it. Blacksmiths tend to mark fairly large work and do it hot and deep. Bladesmiths tend to mark hard finished blades and need sharp edged stamps. Hotwork stamps do not need to be sharp and all the shape including background may show. So there are design differences that need to be taken into consideration. If you do a wide range of work you may want different stamps.
   - guru - Friday, 05/08/09 12:48:54 EDT

The Jewish blacksmiths might be small in number. I've had a couple of students who proclaimed to be Jews, Harvey Brotman and Gary Golding, neither of whom is practicing now. Harvey was a colorblind successful smith who had a kind of mental alarm about iron temperatures, and when he hit the metal, he could pretty much tell what was going on. Harvey left smithing because of another type of physical problem. Gary was a long ago student who specialized in farriery. I think he now sells a PC business program out of Bantam, CT, for farriers, titled "The Clincher." Gary told me that when he got his shoeing rig and was traveling from horse to horse in the old days, he drove up to a dairy farm to shoe the farmer's horse. The farmer asked him, "Are you a Jewish boy?" Gary gave him an affirmative, and when the horse was finished, Gary was invited in for refreshments. The farmer was a Jew who came from the old country. He claimed to be astonished that Gary was working hard with his hands as he, the farmer did. They both agreed that in the U.S., the emphasis in Jewish families was to encourage the sons to become professionals, as doctors and lawyers, and to not necessarily use their hands to make a living. The farmer said that this was not the case in Europe. I wonder.

I may have run across other Jewish smiths or farriers, but it's one of those things that is not known. Jews don't shout from the rooftops, "Hey, I'm a Jew."
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/08/09 13:22:42 EDT

Jewish Blacksmiths,

There is a man whose written several articles for the anvils ring in recent years, Daniel Karem, and much of his work reflects Jewish themes, though I don't know if he himself is Jewish.

I have heard, though haven't verified, that years ago in Europe, Jews were forbidden from becoming craftsmen of any sort and therefore tended to be bankers, layers and doctors. I don't know how true this is or for what time periods it may have been true.

   patrick nowak - Friday, 05/08/09 13:36:42 EDT

One of our smiths was demo'ing to us and had this suggestion - Use letters because you can't Google a logo.

If it's a personal name, a name is a name in any language. You might have different characters in different countries, but the Latin alphabet that we use is pretty global and mostly universal.

Just a thought.
   - Marc - Friday, 05/08/09 14:14:30 EDT


McMaster-Carr has touchmark stamps in various sizes. Mine is simply my initials.
   Brian C - Friday, 05/08/09 15:59:13 EDT

I'm Jewish. Don't practice, though.
   Mike BR - Friday, 05/08/09 17:26:30 EDT

I am guessing Uri Hofi is jewish.
So is Corinna Mensoff.
I would guess that if you really looked into it, you could find a percentage of american smiths are jewish, probably in line with the percentage in the population as a whole.
My kids are jewish, but so far, anyway, neither wants to become a blacksmith.
   - Ries - Friday, 05/08/09 17:45:47 EDT

I had a student who was jewish and is a bladesmith.

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/08/09 19:07:27 EDT

I have really opened up a can of worms there by telling you what my touchmark is!
   philip in china - Friday, 05/08/09 19:44:17 EDT

Nip, Email me. I think it is a great idea!
   philip in china - Friday, 05/08/09 19:45:16 EDT

Touchmarks, mine is tiny, an anvil 3/8" wide with a J in the middle. Seems the problem is not forging an item, but holding it and getting a good clean impression with one wack. Thinking of going to a 1/2" wide stamp.
Oh yea, I knew a Jewish guy once.
   Carver Jake - Saturday, 05/09/09 10:59:50 EDT

If you get a chance read
   - Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/09/09 16:29:01 EDT

Good advice, Ken (grin).
   Mike BR - Saturday, 05/09/09 18:03:04 EDT

Obviously my posting got trunicated. If you get a change read "Poland" by James Mitcher. Fiction, but he is reputed to do his research first. Essentially much of Eastern Europe, until about WW-II, was a two-class system, the aristocrats and peasants. They needed a 'craftsman/businessman' class and the Jews nicely served here.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 05/09/09 20:10:01 EDT


I know, but it was still good advice, anyway (grin). If you're really interested in the subject, try "Yiddish Civilization" by Paul Kriwaczek. I picked it up at the library a couple weeks ago, only because it was (mis?)shelved in the middle of the WWI books. I learned a lot. It's not Mitcher, but not too dense, either.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 05/10/09 07:46:05 EDT

hi all, I just had the luck of purchasing a crate full of tools for $10.00, including a lot of old but still functional Gray tools. One great find was a set of Wiss #8 sheet metal shears. I have been a tin-smith for over 30 years, and have owned Wiss inlaid hand shears but these have stamped on the handle "crucible steel". As they were a little rusty, when I took my wet stone to them you could actully see where a pin was used to hold in the inlaid portion for forging. Has anybody seen the crucible steel designation on a tool before? I have never come across it. Thanks...Dan
   dan raven - Sunday, 05/10/09 08:51:38 EDT

Dan, This is fairly common as all tool steel is technically "crucible" steel. Long after the the method of converting blister steel to a uniform product in a crucible was no long used this term was used on manufactured steel items.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/10/09 09:28:07 EDT

Crucible steel was synomous with high quality tool steel for many years. They were still teeming ingots in Shffield into the 20 century.

I have quite a number of old tools stamped "crucible steel" mainly chisels and *old* files. (I collect them for special commissions where the person wants to go high grade 19th century all the way.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 05/10/09 15:57:16 EDT

In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th century the term "crucible steel" "cast steel" and "crucible cast steel" was often used to differentiate it from Bessemer and open hearth steels which were an inferior product in some ways. Until the 'teens huge quantities of blister steel were still being produced in England from "Norway iron" for the sole purpose of melting into "cast steel".
   - grant - Sunday, 05/10/09 21:35:01 EDT

Does anyone know of any good resources for information about identifying older cast iron portable forges? I recently had one come into my possession. It has three tubing legs that screw into a cast iron firepot about 2 feet across and 4 inches deep. It has a cast blower attached that is powered by a pulley driven by a rachet gear attached to a wooden handle that is pumped up and down. The pulleys use a 1 inch flat belt. The only marking I could find on it is a "100" cast in the bottom of the firepot. Can anyone give me an idea of maker/date or somewhere I could find this information?
   - Jesse - Sunday, 05/10/09 22:47:07 EDT

Odd Sparks and Plow Points:

So, upon my return from Denver my good wif puts me to work on her landscaping projects at the new house, digging holes for various trees and bushes. The house site has been strictly agricultural for hundreds of years (I've walked the fields looking at scatter, and there's nothing from any dwelling or American Indian settlement sites) so most of what I rarely come across is agricultural, a beer bottle fragment or an occasional piece of plow. Sure enough, while digging through the plow zone I hit a biggish piece of rock, and associated with it is a palm-size piece of metal. "Hmmm," says I, "undoubtedly a piece of plow point from sometime in the last couple or three centuries. Maybe I can edge something with it (or more likely just add it to the ever-useful scrap pile)."

So far, so good; but then, when I take it to the forge that afternoon and spark test it, I get a really strange pattern. The near-end sparks are few and red, like cast iron, while the outer stream bursts into double "flowers" like a high carbon or tool steel. I haven't tried to work it yet (no time to fire up the forge with planting and Mothers' Day & such) but it leaves me with the two questions: Would they have used cast iron for plow points; or were they using some really odd alloys for them?

Warm and lightly raining on the banks of the Potomac, where the air is oxygen-rich and moist.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/11/09 08:08:00 EDT

More about Jews and "working with the hands"... in the medieval days it was a sin for the kings and such to touch money (something about greed, I dunno).... anyway, so the neat way around the whole sin of touching money was to hire Jews to do the accounting and money handling for the royalty. After centuries of this practice, it is a common misconception that all Jews know how to handle money.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 05/11/09 09:04:12 EDT

Plough points, Bruce. Depending, who knows how many times the share had been repointed, and with what. There also used to be a case hardening compound sold for ploughshares.

I'm wondering why the point broke off. Maybe a careless or inexperienced smith did a poor job welding on a point and decarburized the share.

   JimG - Monday, 05/11/09 09:25:10 EDT

Odd Sparks

Bruce, I would bet its very old and probably rough bloomery iron that was used as-is. . .
   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 09:26:19 EDT

Attn: Anvilheads. Take a look at eBay #120418859202. At first glance it appears to be a maybe 1800 English, but the photos make me think it is more recent cast steel. Line around the horn? Repair or mold defect?
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 05/11/09 09:32:08 EDT

Identifying Antiques: Jesse, this is done by reading the details on the parts and comparing to tons of old catalogs. The problem is that while many of these products sold by manufacturers were clearly identified, many that they sold to others to resell were not. THEN there is the issue of outfits like Sears who bought some things and had others made for them. There were not a lot of companies that made blowers but nearly every foundry in the country made forges and swage blocks.

Most blowers have markings somewhere while forges vary from few to none. I would look at the blower closer.

Dating these tools is even more difficult. The era of the cast iron forge and drills started about the time of the Civil War and many of those products were made unchanged for nearly 100 years. While manufacturers made improvements and new products they kept the old in their catalogs until the end (mid to late 1950's).

We had 3 catalog CD's we were selling but are out of stock and may not restock. We are more likely to put them on-line.
   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 09:39:07 EDT

Odd anvil. Ken, this is a VERY old primitive cast anvil. The ugly side is where it was cast in a partial open sided mold. So it is probably cast iron. The horn does appear to be repaired, probably using a dowel or threaded stud. OR it could be where someone was trying to replicate the Fisher method to a degree.
   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 09:47:39 EDT

Bruce's plow point:

I bet it's an Oliver (the name of the agricultural equipment manufacturer) point. Chilled cast iron will spark like HC on the skin in contact with said chill, but it's just cast underneath. Late 19th- third quarter 20th century (1960s IIRC) date range. One old farmer of my acquaintance preferred them to steel points because a.) they were cheap and tended to wear much longer than steel, b.)when they broke he didn't have to repoint them, just bolt on a new one.

Just a guess without seeing it, of course.
   Alan-L - Monday, 05/11/09 09:58:48 EDT

Some wrought iron sparks a lot like cast iron and so that could be a steeled tip. However I'm leaning toward's Alan's theory. Are you in a sandy area? The chilled cast iron points were particularly good for sandy soils as they resisted wear better and didn't have to deal with rocks (when they did you get what you found...).

TGN; can you document that? As I recall several high churchmen were treasurers of England in the Medieval and Renaissance times. What I remember is the biblical injunction to not charge interest therefore shifting money lending towards people who could....

   Thomas P - Monday, 05/11/09 10:10:14 EDT

Plow Point: Well, the land does tend to sandy, since parts of it were beach and/or bay bottom in the last 18,000 years; but we do get those occasional rocks and cobbles (from when we had fast-running water in the last 18,000 years) which, when they work themselves to the surface, we collect for foundation and other work requiring rocks. The stone that I found (~ half-head-size) was apparently enough to break it. When next I fire-up the forge I’ll report back on the cast vs. wrought question. Some very interesting information here.

Jews and Medieval Banking: It wasn't handling, making or keeping money; it was the charging of interest that was forbidden to Christians (and still forbidden to Muslims). The theory was that money was a "dead" thing, and to make money on something without work was "wrong." This was all lumped under the label "usury." (Until the credit card companies and banks bought all of the politicians [joke; sort of…] there used to be usury laws in the states regulating how much you could charge in interest. Anything above that would be the domain of loan sharks.)

Since the Jews were not bound by the Christian concept, and also because they usually could not own "productive" agricultural land or any real property outside of certain confined quarters (hence the ghetto; in which, sometimes, they could not even own there, but had to lease, frequently from the crown or the church). Banking and other mercantile activities were frequently the only way to make a living within the strictures of Christian Europe; with occasional physicians, craftsmen, artists and other such as the restrictions would allow.

When deeply in debt, "their most Christian majesties" would frequently discover that they had theological differences with their Jewish merchants and bankers, and suggest that they leave town, and country, as soon as possible, cancelling the debt on the way out the door. The Italians, apparently being close to handy dispensations, soon filled the vacuum, and discovered that "honest interest" was not the same as usury, so it was all okay (at least until another indebted prince cancelled the debt with a handy band of mercenaries).

Well, that's the thumbnail version of it (it's nigh-on 40 years since my college courses); if you want to follow-up, there is a good deal of scholarly research and popular history. Also, we’re dealing with a long time in a lot of places, sometimes things were even worse, sometimes they got better; but it was always good to have a "Plan B".
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 05/11/09 11:52:47 EDT

After using propane for a number of years, I just acquired an old Champion Blower and Forge in excellent condition. The forge itself is just bare steel. Should I line it with some kind of fire clay, or use it as is?

Also, does anyone have recommendations on what coal I should use, and where I should get it?

   Dave - Monday, 05/11/09 12:37:13 EDT

Making money by doing nothing. . . The problem is that a LITTLE interest is required to keep money flowing but far too many think that is the ONLY way to make money. The only way to make true wealth is to make SOMETHING. Interest is just one of the many of what should be minor expenses in the process. When it is seen as the ONLY profit then we have a serious problem. It is the reason for our current economic collapse. Too much being taken out of an economy by those that do nothing. There was good reason for this to be both a moral and civil law issue.
   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 13:15:04 EDT

Coal: Dave, For blacksmithing what you need is the VERY BEST coal (highest BTU's, lowest ash and sulfur). It is normally also soft or bituminous coal. The reason for this is that bituminous lights and stays lit and cokes well.

Coal comes in INFINITE variety from the best down to oil-shale and peat (which is better than the shale). It used to be you could purchase coal almost anywhere but today it is the opposite.

I would recommend buying some coal from Centaur Forge or Blacksmiths Depot. Use this and it will give you a standard for GOOD coal. When you find a local supply DO NOT purchase a large quantity until you have tested 50 pounds comparing it to the known quality coal. You may find the local supply worthless OR the performance of the known coal worth the price difference.

Forges with thin flat bottoms and no heavy fire pot need some insulation. However, those with heavy firepots normally do not. A layer of 1" of clay usually is sufficient. There are many opinions on this and I avoid claying.

   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 13:32:05 EDT

The forge is an antique, and has certainly been used extensively in the past. How thick does the steel need to be to avoid claying? Also, what would constitute a heavy firepot?
   Dave - Monday, 05/11/09 13:39:23 EDT

Heavy Firepots: These are a seperate piece with a significantly depressed center with wall thicknesses of 5/8" to 3/4". The forges that they came in generally had 3/8" to 1/2" thick pans.

The shape of the firepot has as much to do with how things hold up as anything else. The depression lets the metal expand and contract without causing forces that could scrpa the iron.

Most of the old forges that required claying had cast into them "Clay Before Using". These were usually flat bottomed forges with a tuyere that was flush to the bottom with a grate of some sort. The only manufacture recommendation I've seen for claying these showed a "bird's nest" of clay formed over the seam of the bottom and the grate.
   - guru - Monday, 05/11/09 14:17:23 EDT

I don't have a question just THANKS for all the information and sources. Duane
   Duane - Monday, 05/11/09 14:22:50 EDT

It sounds like a claying required forge then. That description matches it. Is there any particular clay I should use? And how much of the bottom should be clayed, just the area around the grate?
   Dave - Monday, 05/11/09 14:27:02 EDT

Guru/Chris E/Frank
There is an excellent book (in my beginners view) called "Wrought Ironwork for the School Forge" by Lionel O Joseph published in 1961 by Macmillan & Co.Ltd. Lafitte Welding Plate is mentioned along with a couple of "recipes" for fluxes. I presume it is probably now out of print?
If anyone can supply a small sample of Lafitte I would be eternally gratefull.
Incidentally regarding rust resistant finishes, the is a product used by The British Museum etc called Renaissence Wax which they use on old armour etc which is supposed to be very good.Will supply contact details if anyone is interested.
   Tony C - Monday, 05/11/09 16:27:46 EDT

So, apparently, this was a Forge/BBQ (a combination I find somewhat disturbing). Does that help with any advice? It does not have a clinker breaker. The blower seems to be in excellent condition.
   Dave - Monday, 05/11/09 17:39:00 EDT

Oh, and if it helps, the forge is stored indoors, and I do live in a damp environment most of the year (Western Washington). And I have firebrick for building an impromptu box for the coal around the tuyere.
   Dave - Monday, 05/11/09 17:59:49 EDT

I have a well used Champion rivet forge that I reconditioned by wire brushing and coating with linseed oil. It has an elevated cast iron grate, pressed iron pan and NO CLAY. I ran it for several hours and the linseed oil on the tuyer under the pan smoked off for about 2=3" but none of the rest of the pan got hot enough to burn off the linseed oil coating. I do not plan to clay it.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 05/11/09 19:00:19 EDT

I am looking for ornamental iron job leads in CT. Does anyone know of a good sorce? Does ABANA or NOMMA offer a service for this? I am willing to pay for a service that provides me with leads.
   Pugs - Monday, 05/11/09 19:17:43 EDT

Today is the first anniversary of the quake here in Sichuan. There is a good story on NPR about 1 blacksmith's attempt to help. Google Steve McGrew to get details.

Why I am really posting, though, is to ask for any tips. One of our art students has had a couple of apples cast in aluminiumn for a sculpture he is making. They look really good but have still got the marks on them from casting. As you probably know we have got very little by way of resources here and I have no experience at all of working with aluminiumn. What is the best way to polish them? Does he just use progressively finer abrasive paper? Are there any helpful tips anybody has for polishing aluminiumn please? I don't think we want a mirror finish but probably do want something of a shine.
   philip in china - Monday, 05/11/09 20:14:33 EDT

Does anyone have plans for a ring roller?
Thank You
   Kevin - Monday, 05/11/09 21:52:06 EDT

Tony C,
That book title is not showing up on my bookfinder radar.
I do have another British school book titled, "Creative Wrought Ironwork" by Austin Underwood that was made and printed in GB for Van Nostrand, Princeton, NJ, USA, in 1965.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 05/11/09 21:59:19 EDT

Phillip: If they are really rough start with files, coarse, then finer single cut before going to sandpaper in ever finer steps. The file will plug with aluminum, and this will gouge the surface. Push a scrap of soft metal or hard wood across the teeth to remove the trapped aluminum. Rubbing chalk on the file before use helps to prevent this plugging. When I was learning, a file with this built up metal was said to be "pinned"
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/11/09 22:08:09 EDT

"Too much being taken out of the economy by those that do nothing..."
Guru, You hit that one right smack between the eyes with a REALY big hammer!
Amen, brother...
I was just having a conversation with my father this morning about the un-sustainability of most of the worlds economy.
Too many poeple want to get rich doing nothing and are more than willing to do it off the backs of others.
A little hard work never hurt anyone.
   - merl - Monday, 05/11/09 22:28:32 EDT

Tony C,

Renaissance Wax is, indeed, an excellent product for sealing metal surfaces against rust for interior use. It is also great for many other materials - for instance, I use it on my wristwatch crystal to keep weld spatter from sticking. :-)

Renaissance Wax is sold by most of the high-end woodworking supply houses and by my favorite vendor, Judy Berger of Blue Moon Press, who attends most blacksmithing conferences with her extensive offerings of blacksmithing books as wel as Renaissance Wax and mechanical pencils that use silver lead for blacksmiths.
   vicopper - Monday, 05/11/09 23:10:27 EDT

Observations on the Plow Point:

I've never tried to forge cat iron because "we all know" you can't forge cast iron. I would assume that it would crumble or snap. However, here are my observation on the plow point sample:

(1) I put it in the gas forge next to some further hardware that I was making for the door of the new forge building, and brought it up to a bright yellow. The sample did forge and draw out a little, but was very hard and red-short, opening fissures around the perimeter and cracking off a corner.

(2) I wire brushed the sample, and it cleaned up a bit, but overall it took on a coating (without any quenching) of very bright rust-red oxidation; not at all like the light coat you sometimes get when working steel.

So, if that's how cast iron behaves under the hammer, then that's what it is (or at least some variation). If it is steel, it does seem unsutable for edging any tools with, given how red-short is was. I guess it goes in the unsorted scrap pile; or maybe I can make some sort of "artsy" brooch out of it.

Sunny and warm on the banks of the Potomac. Camp Fenby is scheduled for June 26-28 ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/ )
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/12/09 07:42:07 EDT

3 leged forge with belt drive.
We have one of these in our club shop in Pontiac, Il. IVBA. It is the last one used, great if you want to raise your heart rate. The were sold by Sears in their Blacksmith kits for farmers in early 1900's. For 12.00 You can Save all that money paid to the Blacksmith! There is a repo old Sears catalog available.
   Steve Paullin - Tuesday, 05/12/09 09:19:12 EDT

The cast iron I have tried forging crumbles like cottage cheese and then melts.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/12/09 10:42:02 EDT

Barbecue / Forge: Buffalo Forge made a barbecue that used one of their forge pans and a blower. The big difference was the grill which adjusted up and down and a tray on the side.

Buffalo Forge Grill

This is a rare antique much more valuable than a forge. Don't screw it up. When I saw these photos I thought it was a very high class home built. But then I was sent the flier for them.

While we do not use blowers on barbecues here in the US they are the rage in many countries. I saw several in Costa Rica built like brake drum forges with old hand crank blowers (VERY rare in many countries).
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 11:25:48 EDT

Atli, see my original post indicating an odd, very old chunk of bloomery iron.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 11:35:01 EDT

This isn't the Buffalo Forge version. It is a Champion Blower, red round pan on a tripod (no wheels, no tray). It does have a grill.

The previous owner used it for some basic blacksmithing (but used charcoal, rather than coal).

Would it be reasonable to put a little sand around the tuyere and then build a fire chamber around it with fire brick?
   Dave - Tuesday, 05/12/09 12:23:05 EDT

Sand does not work as it mixes with the coal, melts, creates big clinkers. Clay, while if the wrong type, might melt but will stay put. See our FAQ on claying forges.

   - guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 12:54:19 EDT

Anybody here remember the movie Robocop? There's the scene where they unveil the prototype for the ED-209 unit. During a demonstration, the robot malfunctions and rips into a lackey killing him in front of the board meeting.

Well guys, check out my latest scuplture. I plan on keeping him out by the creek to scare off any intruders.


The second pic features my Italian greyhound Stella Luna... she is safe, the robot is programmed to only eliminate human targets.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:06:44 EDT

Oops!! the sceond link is bad.

   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:07:49 EDT

So, looking at the FAQ, it looks like my best bet (given that I'm in a rainy environment) would be not to clay it, and instead just build a fire box with firebrick in the center. Is that a fair assessment?
   Dave - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:09:34 EDT

Nip, great sculpture. A couple small glowing eyes would REALLY make it ominous. We have a bunch of solar yard lights that only cost a few dollars each. Would work great. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:14:03 EDT

Dave, to clay or not to clay is up to you. Sources of clay vary from your backyard IF you live in the right place to foundry or ceramics suppliers if you do not.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:17:34 EDT

If it is a reasonable thing either way, I think I will refrain from claying it.

Given that it doesn't have a clinker breaker, just a tuyere, what are the best practices I should follow in using it?
   Dave - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:24:29 EDT

"Plow Point": Come to think of it, it does work like a chunk of bloomery iron. Odd, that ran through my mind while I was hammering upon it, but I didn't connect it to what you posted until you just reminded me. I guess because of the context I was only thinking of more modern plows and such.

Speaking of bloomeries and such; I was out in PG county, east of D.C., looking at potential buildings for one of our operations when I noted some iron ore lying about on an adjacent hillside. When I inquired of the potential landlord, he explained all about the ironworks that started there in the 1850s and continued into the early 20th century. He's even created a little park with large boulders of limonite and a fenced-in area where there are a number of pieces of dinosaur skeletons being unearthed by local paleontologists. (I guess it's "fossil" bog iron, not uncommon in our part of Maryland.)

Nip; Robot and Dog: I'll certainly think twice before messing with Stella Luna, given the company she keeps! :-D
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/12/09 15:00:08 EDT

Guru "Too much being taken out of an economy by those that do nothing. There was good reason for this to be both a moral and civil law issue" I second that emotion

I also object to tourism and Gambling being called industries. I find the parasitic behavior of many so called finical institutions revolting.

I knew we were in trouble when they started telling us that we were moving to a service based economy. Only those activities that leave a durable residual. Feeding, clothing, housing, educating, and supporting human health should be called industries.

I first thought we might be in trouble when US Steel changed its name to USX and then sold the steel business.
   Charlotte - Tuesday, 05/12/09 16:53:40 EDT

TGN: needs piercings...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/12/09 17:35:51 EDT

crucible steel - don't forget that in the US there was and is a steel company named "Crucible Steel" They do a lot of high end PM now (CPM10V for example) , but also did a lot of other activities as well. When I worked at heir Midland, PA plant in the late 1970's they could make steel there in more ways than any other plant in the world. Blast furnace to BOF, Electric Arc Furnace, Argon degas, AOD, electro-slag remelt, vacuum arc remelt, ingot cast or continuous cast, or processed billets on a rotary forge - we couldn't guarantee a solid center on billets over about 18" x 18" round corner square. Products included tool steels, stainless steels, alloy steels, carbon steels.

I forget who owns the plant now, but it's not Crucible, and they're only producing flat rolled stainless via EAF's.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 05/12/09 21:58:36 EDT

Mr. Turley, Ptree, Vicopper, Guru's,

Well, I ordered Mr. Zoellers Z burner and connections,
heated my first steel, wrapped it good in Durablanket with bricks on top. I have a feeling I'm getting involved in
something that is habit forming. I think I will extend my 8 X 10 forge out a little with firebrick, with a slot on the end, cover all cracks etc with clay, vermiculite, cement. I need a good recipe.
   - Mike Thompson - Tuesday, 05/12/09 22:19:09 EDT

I remember the Crucible Steel Company. Re the earlier posts, I have quite a large number of hand tools collected over the years, and I have not seen one stamped "crucible steel." I have quite a few stamped "cast steel," which I understand is the same process with a different name. "Cast steel" does not indicate that the tool itself is cast, but rather that it was forged from a material that was pot melted and cast into ingot form.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/13/09 07:41:51 EDT

This probably needs to go over to the Hammer-In...

Tourism and Gambling are only "Industries" when you're fleecing marks from outside your domains! ;-)

Tourism can be viewed as internal commerce; but as an industry it is more educational and recreational than directly productive. [Non-official comment follows:] The NPS has the difficult task of preserving our nation's natural and cultural heritage while at the same time giving the public (the ultimate owners) access to it without destroying it. It’s a very delicate balancing act; and if all goes well, we all "break even."

Meanwhile, cruise ships (now known as "the cruise ship industry") have been both a blessing and a blight for those locations that they regularly visit; they are just getting too huge and too many of them, creating extraordinary problems for trash, sewage, fuel consumption and other issues. AND they usually have gambling! However, my wif informs me that they are a lot of fun, and you might even learn something about the place you're visiting… All I know is dodging one of the behemoths in Norfolk harbor in our smaller Viking boat. 8-0

I knew U.S. Steel was in the hand-basket when they started developing real estate in Southern Maryland along the Potomac. Diversification was good, but there are limits!

But we digress. ..
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 05/13/09 07:49:24 EDT

"The NPS has the difficult task of preserving our nation's natural and cultural heritage while at the same time giving the public (the ultimate owners) access to it without destroying it."

I have no such difficulty with this situation.... I don't know why my name was used in all caps. Maybe I should send ED-209 to Washington and clean things up. DC has 30 seconds to comply.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/13/09 08:19:19 EDT

Too Big: On one of our trips to Costa Rica the cruise ship QEII was anchored at the major port Puerto Limon. Bad planning, the ship was too tall for the port facilities. The port facilities are huge, most of the country's pine apples and bananas leave there for the U.S. and Europe. . . But they are not setup for the super sized cruise ships. The ship overshadowed the entire city.

The new Airbus also requires passenger loading facilities taller than most airports can handle. . .

The other day Sheri was sent photos of a Russian "aircraft" from the 1930's with 30 engines. . HUGE! It didn't look much like an aircraft and was scraped after killing several flight crews. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 10:02:31 EDT

Frank Yup you're right---that was a brain fart the old tools are stamped cast steel.

Back in the early 1800's there was sort of a contest for bragging rights as to who could cast the largest steel ingot.

At one exhibition Krupp had an extremely large one that some folks claimed must be cast iron and not cast steel---so Krupp chiseled a piece off it and forged it into an item to show that it must be cast steel as cast iron doesn't forge! "The Arms of Krupp" was part of my summer reading one year in HS.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/13/09 11:12:25 EDT

Hey guys, this Crucible Steel ?


Chapter 11 a week or so back im afraid...
   - John N - Wednesday, 05/13/09 11:21:51 EDT

Guru, I just wanted to let you know that all your preaching about painted finishes has not gone for naught.
I am finishing up an art piece for my mother in laws birthday that will be outside in the garden most likely and I have purchaced and will apply some very high quality primer and paint in multiple coats per your instructions.
Unfortunatly I don't have accsess to a sand blaster but I'll wire wheel everything and then start with a rust converter base coat then primer and paint.
The piece is a bouquet of 7 forged cat tails wraped in a long blade of marsh grass that terminates in three forged leaves that represent the holy trinity. This is then "planted" in a large vase full of tumbled river gravel. It even makes a quiet clinking sound, as it waves in the wind, that was a pleasent suprize.
I like it and I'm sure she will too but, I'm admitedly a little apprehensive about seeing it again every time I go over there. Can't figure out why.
I also must give Mr. Blackistone the credit for the idea for making the cat tail heads from 3/4" black pipe. Haveing read his iForge posts making spear heads from the same material, I would never have thought of it otherwise.
I hope some of the other nubes who lurk and log on here take the same advantage of the vast amount of knowlage and expieriance contained on this site.
Thanks again...
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/13/09 11:56:33 EDT

"Cast Steel" This is cast into the frame of my Beverly Shear. I suspect cheaper ductile iron is why the knock offs are SO much cheaper. . . I have seen a few old tools marked crucible steel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 12:27:56 EDT

Merl, Its the cleanliness that's important. After wire brushing a good degreasing is suggested. Wire brushing will remove scale, welding flux, rust. . but it will smear oils and the graphite from scale. Use solvents only for large amounts of oil or grease. Soap and water do wonders. So does SOS pads (soap filled steel wool).

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 12:54:05 EDT

A question popped in my mind as I was pulling wire through a new vineyard on my farm. there is probably a very simple, obvious answer, but here goes. The wire I am using is 9 gauge hardened steel wire with aluminum cladding. This is the same wire used by utility companies twisted together to form cables for guy wires. My question is: why is there no apparent Galvanic corrosion on these two dissimilar metals? These wires last for many, many years with no problems, even on the ends where both metals are exposed to the weather. In some of my vineyards there is over 10 miles of wire, and I have not replaced any due to corrosion. Thanks!
   Dave F - Wednesday, 05/13/09 18:17:26 EDT

Dave, Clad materials are different than simple combined materials. There needs to be both sides exposed to galvanic action which generally requires an electrolytic fluid (rainwater). On sheet corrosion only occurs on the edges IF exposed and on wire the only place both metals are exposed is the ends. Often when wire is cut the soft outer coating smears over the ends and there is no bi-metal exposure.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 20:17:50 EDT

Greetings, I traded an old, out of date cylinder for an anvil about 10 years ago. The anvil weighs around 115Lbs. & has an "M" cast in to one side & a triangle with a "C" in the middle of it. It has a crystal clear voice when rung properly. My question is, who was the manufacturer of the anvil & approximately when was it made? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
   Walter Brooks - Thursday, 05/14/09 02:44:51 EDT

About two weeks ago Guru noted some obscure anvil brands may have come into the U.S. via individual immigrants. Possible, but I doubt many came that way. Most of the working class arrived with little more than a suitcase equivalent. Can you imagine processing through Ellis Island carrying around a 150 lb anvil. Likely weighed more than the immigrant.

This isn't to say come may have come as personal property of a blacksmith, such as one for Jamestown or Plymouth.

My theory is most likely came as ship's ballast. Someone in England would buy them up and perhaps send them on consignment or such.

Some of the streets in Alexandria, VA are cobblestones from ship's ballast. Richard Postman has/had a relative in a house (same place I believe) where all of the bricks come as ballast from England.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 05/14/09 07:38:35 EDT

Walter, you have a Columbian brand anvil. They're very good cast steel anvils, made in the 1920s. It's nominaly the 100 lb model, but like yours mine also weighs a tad more. Be careful around the edges, they tend to be brittle.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 05/14/09 07:45:13 EDT

Guru, If I may disagree slightly (and respectfully) with the answer you gave merl; Yes cleanliness is very important, but so is the surface profile. Wire brushing will remove scale etc., but does not provide an optimum surface for paint to adhere to. This should be done with a sharp angular abrasive, such as aluminum oxide, either by sandblasting or manual sanding. Additionally, I would degrease before using a clean wire brush, and again afterwords, using solvent for the latter. The primer should go on immediately after sanding. Merl, I think you'd be better off using a zinc-rich primer for this outdoor application, rather than the rust-converter you are considering.
   Charlie Spademan - Thursday, 05/14/09 08:20:08 EDT

Just to be clear,
Degrease : Wire brush : Solvent wash : Sand : Paint
   Charlie Spademan - Thursday, 05/14/09 08:23:35 EDT

Yes Guru, I got that part too. I happend to use a lacquer thinner because that is what I had out in the smithy but, I intend to use soap and water befor re-painting my old truck this summer. Sanding causes a static build up and water breaks that charge and prevents "orange peal" in the paint.
   - merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 08:27:37 EDT

Yes Charlie, I'm only actualy wire brushing to remove any scale from forging. Then sand, wash, prime, sand, wash, paint.
I had to forgo the rust converter as the particular type I have only works on metal that is actualy rusty. I did use a high zinc outdoor primer.
   - merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 08:42:08 EDT

I don't do any of that for my robot sculptures. I simply put a few lawyers on after assembly, then put a new top coat on every season.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 05/14/09 10:01:14 EDT

Oops... not lawyers... LAYERS, I keep the lawyers away from my work.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 05/14/09 10:02:02 EDT

Nip, I think I like the image of a robot sculpture built out of lawyers.
   - Marc - Thursday, 05/14/09 12:39:58 EDT

Guru, thanks! I knew there was a simple, logical explaination for the lack of Galvanic action. Thanks again.
   Dave F - Thursday, 05/14/09 12:43:25 EDT

Wire Brushing: Wire brushes leave a variety of surfaces depending on the wire and speed. Some leave a smooth smeared surface, others leave a prickled very toothy surface. The tooth paint needs is very slight. Etched plate such as used on automobile bodies is almost shiny its so smooth. But tooth it has.

I always recommend sand blasting when its available. But many smiths do not have the space, equipment or are willing to sub it out. Wire brushing beats nothing.

The problem with some wire brushing and grinding is that it smears the surface making it like microscopic fish scales. While this creates tooth, it also can hide oil and grease that is nearly impossible to wash out and can be impossible to detect. As Charlie noted, degrease first. It is also important to keep wire brushes used for paint prep oil free.

The advantage to soap and water is that it is cheap and can be used in copious quantities. While lacquer thinner will cut just about anything it (and other solvents) will leave behind a film of whatever it dissolved unless it is used more than once. Its a bit pricey to flood parts with it.

Note that "high zinc" primers do little. Unless they say over 90% zinc solids its just hype. The good stuff is 98% pure zinc powder.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 13:51:37 EDT

Any Opinion on "old style" vs "new style" 25# Little Giant...Thanks
   - arthur - Thursday, 05/14/09 16:25:59 EDT

Nip, I like the visual of your sculpture EATING a lawyer. I think you should get right on that....
   - merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 16:43:35 EDT

Merl, Merl, A vicious guard robot would never, ever, eat a lawyer, remember "Proffesional Courtesy".

I have it on good authority, IE The Rock, that a lawyer can swin across a shark infested lagoon, and never get a nibble for the same reason:)

Ohhh, by the way, The Rock Graduated Cum Laude with a Juris Doctorate in 1981, the day befor we married, and my oldest brother also graduated form the same school, also cum laude, in 1974. So I hear ALL the good lawyer jokes. See me at Quad State for the all time best, a Banker/Lawyer joke.

I also Have one and only one excellent engineer joke.
   ptree - Thursday, 05/14/09 18:14:08 EDT

Styles of Little Giant: Arthur there are at least four or more styles of 25 pound LG. The so-called "transitional" model has heavy cast iron box guides that surround the ram. Only two hammers had the system the 25 and the 250 of the same era. It was expensive and LG dropped it. But it was by far the best.

When comparing early (the bent wrap around guide) to the late dovetail the early is cheaper to rebuild. The late dovetails tend to wear curved and require more difficult machining to repair.

The later hammers where they put the crank UNDER the connecting link is shorter but this also cause more side loads (and wear). In this mechanical arrangement taller it better.

The best LG is the one in perfect condition. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:07:23 EDT

The ONLY really funny blacksmith joke I ever heard was told as an adlib by a young black woman working on a highway crew. The crew had taken a break in front of my shop and the young lady asked me what I was doing. I told her I was a blacksmith and she responded instantly.

Well, I'M black and my last name is "Smith" so that make ME a BLACKsmith!

We both laughed till it hurt.

The first person that posts the horseshoe joke is banned!
   - guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:19:14 EDT

Can someone point me to a link for kinyon air hammer valving, i have the kinyon plans but I understand they are outdated.
   Leaf Dobson - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:51:45 EDT

Leaf Dobson,

Tha Alabama Forge Council used to have Mark Linn's air schmeatic posted, but they have pulled it offline for some reason. You might try finding a copy of Mark's video "Controlling Your Air Hammer" to get the information.

I'm using the regular Kinyon valving scheme, but I use a butterfly valve for the throttle, rather than a ball valve, since butterfly valves are designed for throttling applications and have a better linearity. I also use hard piping rather than hose to speed up directoin change and make the hammer more responsive, With these two mods I find no need to change the basic air scheme - it is elegantly simple, in my opinion.
   vicopper - Thursday, 05/14/09 21:52:25 EDT

Schematic. . I have a copy. When Mike Linn stopped being webmaster they rebuilt the site and lost lots of info. Typical of organization sites. Here is a copy from the site backup.

Mark Linn and Jeff Sargent air hammer diagram
The problem with the control system in the plans from ABANA, is that as a pneumatic system, it is un-balanced. Our control scheme allows one to balance the system and achieve maximum control, or un-balance the system when heavier blows are required, with less hammer control. With the system balanced, one can lower the hammer head and kiss the dies ever so lightly, or/and have a full heavy blow on the next cycle, or anything in between. We offer this control system for those who wish to try it and I will attempt to explain why and what we are doing. This scheme is working on a hammer, here at present and is a beauty to behold. It actually does control like the European air hammers I have seen in operation.


This control scheme came from much aggravation, hair pulling, and yes a broken foot. After many days of total exasperation trying to get good control on the hammer, I contacted a pneumatic design engineer here in Birmingham. He offered to come by my office and discuss the problem Jeff and I were having with our control scheme. With his guidance we were able to come up with this design.


The cylinder chambers are not equal. The cylinder rod takes up air volume in the lower cylinder chamber and this alone causes an imbalance in the system. If equal air is applied to the top and bottom cylinder at the center position, the top chamber will have more cubic inches of pressure. To top this off we have the weight of the hammer head also pulling down to create even more imbalance on the system. All of the simple air hammers I have seen had very little control on the down stroke and it is obvious why, given the above analogy.


The simple cure is to control the amount of air allowed in the upper chamber, compared to that in the lower chamber. By placing the regulator in line to the upper chamber we can accomplish this, and there-by provide a method to tune the hammer to give us the response we desire. With this control you can have a number of different settings depending on the type work you are doing, chiseling, tooling, drawing, texturing, etc .


The main requirement is that your 4-way valve be able to reverse flow. If you study the control diagram you will see that we have basically inverted the control operation. Some valves will not allow you to do this. Check with your valve manufacturer, ours allows this. All else remains the same as the plans you get from ABANA.


Adjust the pressure using the regulator that provides the air to the upper chamber of your cylinder. You will find that it will be considerably less than the pressure coming to the hammer. This pressure should be set so that the hammer head can be raised up past the limit without falling while the pedal is not depressed. This appears to be the optimum setting.

   - guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 23:18:12 EDT

Yes of corse ptree, you're right. What was I thinking...
Unfortunatly with me working week ends I will not be making Quad State this year either. The only week end I have off is to work in the smithy at the Dodge county antique power club show in Aug. Meet me there and we can trade all the various occupational based ribbings you can think of.
Heck, for five bucks you can buy a one year membership and come in and swing a hammer all week end...
   - merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 23:59:49 EDT

Thanks, the problem I am having is I am trying to use parts i already have, but have limited understanding of. I am not sure if I can run my 4-way valve backwards or not, will it be damaged if it is not meant for that? Also the pilots came with bleeder buttons, which seems strange, can I just unscrew them and hook them up to the limit switch? When I hook the pilot port up to air some of it comes out of the valves, does that seem like it will effect anything? Any reason I couldn't just rig up some sort of mechanical pilot? I assume that is what the bleeder button valves are meant for.

The limit switch, do the extra ports just exhaust or are they plugged? Also in regards to the Kinyon valving, both the exausts go to the same place, I am probably not grasping something but why not just use a 3-way valve if that is the case.
   Leaf Dobson - Friday, 05/15/09 00:02:42 EDT

Guru, hope u r doing well ,I live in the South mountain area in North Carolina. I have been fabricating structual and misc steel for approx.11 years and 5 of those years I have been self employed in the Charlotte area. I am fairly new to the blacksmith trade but truly amazed at this ancient art.I have been trying to build up my collection of tools ,forges etc. Honestly I think I have become a little addicted to reseaching and learnng as much as possible about where the modern steel industry originated.I was reading an article from a website my wife had printed for me ,oh yea she's a lil addicted too. Any way the article had a section that stated "a word of caution about hammers" ,and went on to talk about annealing your hammers due to possible damage to the face plate. Recently I repaired the face of a Peter Wright and used 11018 1/8 rods i researched this from some of the wonderful info you guys were nice enough to share.My faceplate is starting to show hammer marks. So my question is should I anneal all my war hammers or shoud I have used different rod when re facing PLEASE ADVISE Thanks again for sharing the vast amout of info your establihment provides
   Robert S. Stallings - Friday, 05/15/09 00:45:01 EDT

Thanks Guru....I've also heard on the older models [LG 25#] the die goes directly into dovetails in the base as opposed to the newer ones with a replaceable block ...will this be a problem down the line.....
   - arthur - Friday, 05/15/09 00:52:07 EDT

Hammer Hardness: My 100 Kilo USSR anvil is a little soft (although apparently not as soft as the post-Soviet era Russian anvils) and there are one or two hammers that I do not allow to be used with it. A few dings gets your attention very quickly; and a lot of beginners use my equipment, too. On the other claw; I have a couple of hammers that have a slightly hard face that I will use with the hardy, since it's a lot easier to resharpen the hardy than to redress a hammer face.

So, there's my basic dichotomy: which tool is easier to repair/reface/resharpen? As long as the work gets done properly and efficiently you can strike your own balance with maintaining the tools.

Cloudy and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/15/09 07:25:23 EDT

LG Arthur, Yes, the sow block is better as it is replaceable. However, if either is broken it is very expensive to repair.

Something Big-BLU has learned is that dies getting tighter over time is from very fine scale getting into the dovetail fits. Theoretically they should never be any tighter than when assembled. However, over breif use they can get VERY tight. They expand on impact, scale works in and then the metal springs back closed. Big BLU now recommends sealing the dies with a little grease. This works great if you change dies often. Sealing with cosmoline or silicon seal might be better for long term.
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 07:31:28 EDT

Air Circuits: The vents on the little switching valves must be open to let air out or after a few cycles pressure they get backed up and stop working. You get VERY bizarre behavior when this happens. Use a filter port here OR plumb back to the exhaust.

Your multi-direction valves can have air travel any direction with no problem.
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 07:40:45 EDT

The black Smith:

Similar story, a black friend of mine (not named Smith) says if I am a black Smith, then HE must be a white Jones.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/15/09 07:54:27 EDT

Hammers and Anvil faces: Robert, if you have read most of my posts on the subject you will have noted I always recommend NEVER to repair unless the anvil is useless as is.

Weld repairs never match the original anvil hardness. If hard facing rod is used they can be harder than the anvil and end up as high spots and ding hammers. Normally even the highest strength welding rod is not very hard compared to a good anvil face and will always show more marking or wear. The heat of welding always causes a larger soft spot in the face of the anvil AND can also aggravate cracking.

With all these issues folks still weld on them. . .

That said, the BEST anvil faces will show marking if you repeatedly strike it with a hard tool. Technically only hot (soft) iron should be in contact with the anvil face but even this will cause wear from scale.

Work forging tapers where the corner of the hammer could strike the face of the anvil should always be done working on the edge of the anvil so that the hammer can never strike the face.

Hammer faces if well crowned and corners if well rounded should not mark the face unless it is repeatedly struck very hard.

Rocker faced hammers and other square faced hammers tend to have edges that will mark the anvil more than round faced (common) blacksmith hammers. These require more practice and skill to use but should also be worked near the edge of the anvil.

If you are scared of working on the edges of your anvil then get over it. Yes, if sharp they will likely break and or damage the hammer face. They should be rounded. But the better the hammer control the sharper they can be up to a point.

Generally if you are marking the anvil then you are doing something wrong or the anvil is very soft.

While I have good hammer control I am sloppy with the hammer. I suspect that is why I never hurt myself. I relax and let the hammer go where it will go, not trying to force it. I work on the edges and with a semi-round faced hammer. But I also ring (bounce the hammer) on the anvil a lot. Working this way my tools got smoother over time not battered.

My biggest problem is OTHER PEOPLE using my tools. You rapidly learn why folks get so anal about other touching their tools. . .

Hammer faces should be well tempered to prevent cracking but should be hard to prevent deformation. Anyone who recommends softening hammers to prevent damage to the anvil is batty. Both are supposed to be hard and when used properly should not damage each other. When a round faced hammer strikes an anvil face hard it will depress the anvil face while the hammer flattens, then both should spring back to shape as the seperate. THAT is why missed blows come back at you so fast. Its those two pieces of steel returning to their original shape. That is why a soft anvil is a "dead" anvil.

SO, proper hammer dress, hammer technique and hammer control (to a point) should prevent anvil damage. If the face of a well crowned hammer marks the anvil then it is too soft. Chisels, punches, hammer corners, hard steel (flame cut edges) will all mark the best anvil.
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 08:19:36 EDT

Flatters and slicks:
You know the problems we face here. I have some axles with round ends. Could these be made into flatters and slicks? Does a flatter or a slick actually have to be rectangular?
   philip in china - Friday, 05/15/09 10:09:53 EDT

Phillip, They are generally rectangular to fit into corners or steps. But if doing something that the flatter can hang over then round is just fine. You may fine the axle flange too flimsy and need cutting back. In that case it could be trimmed to square or rectangular.

I have a corner flatter (or side set) that is rectangular rather than square and the face sloped slightly so that it clears a step and fit well into a corner.

Those axles also make good stakes of various sorts.
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 10:32:17 EDT

I am a GT facilitator working with a high school student that is constructing a suit of armour. He is trying to decide whether to use mild or high carbon steel. We are looking for patterns that will explain how much the materials will expand through the hammering/heating. Any guidance you might be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Robin Atchison, GT facilitator, Comal ISD
   Robin - Friday, 05/15/09 10:52:43 EDT

He just read my posting and wants me to ask if stainless or mild-steel can be tempered. RA
   Robin - Friday, 05/15/09 10:55:00 EDT

Robin, Armour is generally made of mild steel plate. Lighter thinner armour can be made using heat treatable plate but it is tricky to heat treat. Stainless can be used but it work hardens much faster than mild steel. Most stainless plate is type 304 which is not hardenable. But it must be annealed to work. Hardenable stainlesses are much too exotic for this purpose.

For a first time armourer I would go with mild steel.
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 11:27:06 EDT

Robin; may I commend to your attention armourarchive.org a website dedicated to making armour in these modern times.

Lots of past threads on using and heat treating of medium to higher carbon steel armours. (medium is general best especially for a new worker)

There is also discussions of how much you can use thinner metal if it's heat treated (ande treatable) steel.

I would however refer you to "The Knight and the Blastfurnace" Alan Williams for a through history of the metallurgy or plate armour, much more of it was just plain wrought iron than you might expect.

Generally most modern armour work is done cold and thinning of the metal is of greater concern than expanding. Also note that the methodology used can vary the effects quite a lot---one person raising may thicken the metal where another person making the same item dishing may thin it. Makes it very hard to say what your student will experience...

After often years of experience working cold some armourers will progress to hot work---easier on the abused joints, RSI is a problem with armourers! I often point out that while 90+ % of modern work is done cold the top armourers in the world all have the skills and equipment to work hot and will use the process that suits the piece best.

(One thing about cold work is that the work hardening can be seen as a virtue as it hardens mild steel to a degree)

Home to see you over at armourarchive.org (and yes it uses the english spelling of armour rather than the american)

Note if you post your general location it makes it easier for folks to offer shop tours or training...

   Thomas P - Friday, 05/15/09 11:27:18 EDT

Review in Progress - TOMAR Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction
   - guru - Friday, 05/15/09 11:39:52 EDT

Thanks for all your help Guru...I'm buying a rebuilt old model 25LG..one more question please...my shop has a 4" concrete floor ..What couldI get away with for a Base?
   - arthur - Friday, 05/15/09 22:45:53 EDT

If the floor is a good aged concrete it will do but there will be a lot of vibration (rattling things on shelves) and possible cracking. However, a 25 pound LG is a LITTLE hammer and they have a good anvil ratio of near 15:1.

As Little Giants are a tad short you can raise it on a heavy block and put padding between it and the floor to reduce shock to the floor. An above ground foundation made of solid steel is great. . but concrete will do if heavily reinforced and you use a strong grade of concrete (add Portland cement to bagged concretes as most are too lean).

To make a concrete above ground foundation you can start with a light or heavy plate shell, tack in crisscrossing rebar and anchors for the bolting down the hammer. In front it should only extend the distance needed for a foot rest (which can be built into the steel).

Setting the hammer using silicon caulk will assure a good distributed contact and stops walking. Note that do properly it can be hard on the floor to remove later.

The better the foundation the harder the hammer hits and the less shock you have to the floor. Vibration is known to cause fatigue so the OEM recommendation was a fairly heavy concrete foundation isolated from the floor. But lots of folks just skid them in and use them as-is and eventually bolt them down after getting tired of chasing them around the shop. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 05/16/09 01:40:37 EDT

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