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 22 - 31, 2009 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Lacota: I strongly suspect your posting is a joke, but will reply anyway. The condition is commonly called 'elves foot'. Something causes one or more hooves to grow at an accelerated rate. I have a favorite cow with the condition on one hoof. A vet clinic with a rotating squeeze chute may be able to handle her. Some confinement dairies have their cow's hooves trimmed on a regular basis. Same question on her fitting into the equipment though. Were she tame enough you might be able to work on her with a hoof clippers and palm grinder yourself.

Elves foot cannot be cured, only somewhat managed.

While 1,000 lbs sounds high, back when lard was a major commodity it wasn't unusual for swine to be raised to even higher weights. Back in the 1930s one was weighed in at 2,552 pounds. Heck, some people have weighed more than a half-ton.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 05/22/09 07:10:29 EDT

A coworker of mine has a Tungsten wedding band. I think it may be sandwiched between another metal. I'll ask him today. Another excellent biocompatible metal is pure cobalt. They are used in hip replacements.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/22/09 08:04:16 EDT

Oops... just saw Jocks post about the rings.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/22/09 08:06:12 EDT

I just wanted you to know that I found the info I need for the layout for a cone for my boss. Thank you for putting this resource on line for free. Please keep it up, it is appreciated.
   BJ - Friday, 05/22/09 10:15:23 EDT

BJ. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
   philip in china - Friday, 05/22/09 10:29:19 EDT

Interesting development last night, I came home from work (the job that pays the light bill) and found my black stove stove pipe chimney laying on the floor of the shop. It was rusted well beyond any repairs. It will not be a major deal to change, but it's only been in place about 16 months. Is there another type of chimney I need to install, or do I need to plan on replacing this pipe each year?
   - Nathan - Friday, 05/22/09 10:36:17 EDT

Stove Pipe: Nathan, NEVER use the shiny black stove pipe on a coal forge. It is much too thin and has no protection from the corrosive action of coal smoke. Even on a wood stove it has to be replaced every couple years. Replace it with galvanized stove pipe. The pipe is heavier steel AND the galvanizing will protect it from the corrosion. It should last quite a few years. You can also get stainless but it is much more expensive.
   - guru - Friday, 05/22/09 10:44:03 EDT

Thank you so very much for the helpful information. Canyon Lake High School is part of Comal Independent School District. It is located north of Canyon Lake, Texas 78623. If anyone in the area is interested is assisting with this project, please feel free to contact me. RA
   Robin - Friday, 05/22/09 10:45:52 EDT

Sorry about jumping in to the above discussion - I posted a week ago, my student is fabricating a suit of armour - chain mail/plate mail, etc. We are looking for advice/guidance. Thanks, RA
   Robin - Friday, 05/22/09 10:47:43 EDT

   SEAN T - Friday, 05/22/09 10:56:31 EDT

Robin, There were two responses to your original post. I also posted a link to a review in progress of a book on making armour.
   - guru - Friday, 05/22/09 11:26:41 EDT

SEAN, You do not need to yell (ALL CAPS).

No, anthricite is not the best to use. It is hard to get started, hard to keep going, hard to control when you need less than maximum heat. It will work but there is an art to it.

The coal will last as long as it lasts. However, you would be pressed to use 1/6 of a drum in a day in a large forge working all day. Most likely as a hobbiest a drum will last a month.

See our FAQs on Coal and Charcoal, and Coal Fire Management.

Blower size varies with forge size. Small forges may run on 150 CFM or less. Large forges use blowers up to 500 CFM. You can always reduce the blast but you cannot make more than what you have. . .
   - guru - Friday, 05/22/09 11:36:07 EDT

Forge colors - Before Dad passed away, he picked up and gave to me a WWII surplus portable forge with hand crank blower. It was still banded together and had never been opened. When I cut the banding some of the packing was WWII era newspapers in sad condition due to age/acid content of the paper. The forge was fine. I forget if it was a Buffalo, or Champion, but it's paint job was and is still totally intact - Army Olive Drab on all parts - blower, fire pan, legs, etc. Since I haven't fired it up, just assembled and clayed it, the paint is still pristine.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 05/22/09 12:15:26 EDT

As usual thanks for the great info. This site is quite possibly the greatest thing since sliced bread. Thanks again for the time and effort put into spreading our craft.
   - Nathan - Friday, 05/22/09 13:24:29 EDT

Is there a way to put a curve on a katana without physically bending it or cutting the shape out of flat steel stock? Thanks.
   Mike - Friday, 05/22/09 17:18:41 EDT

I just received my 2.2# Ergonomic Hammer from Big Blu. This is the hammer that Big Blu learned to forge from Mr. Uri Hofi. The Big Blu hammer is very well made and nicely finished. It is beautifully balanced, too. You can buy them from Big Blu for the same price that Hofi sells them for only you don't have to wait several months to get them. It won't be kissed by Hofi but try to imagine how little I care.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 05/22/09 19:16:24 EDT

Nathan, I used to go through galv pipe about every two years. I went ahead and bought 10 inch pipe 316L stainless. been there two or three yrs now and hasen't even discolored. I suspect it will last a long time.
   Harley - Friday, 05/22/09 19:33:29 EDT


Typically, the curve in a katana is largely the result of unequal grain growth during the hardening process. The clayed portion of the katana does not get as much hardening as the unclayed edge, thus it expands less than the edge, resulting in the characteristic curve.

Katana that are mass-produced cheaply are cut to the curved shape and finished by grinding, with no differential hardening.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/22/09 21:46:55 EDT

Blade Curves: Mike, A blade will curve to the point it comes full circle and touches itself simply by forging an edge on one side. The hard part is making it straight. The only time a blade doesn't curve is if made by the stock removal method. However, steel with rolled or drawn surface that is machined on some sides and not others will also spring into a curve. To machine such a piece straight it must be machined on all surfaces.
   - guru - Friday, 05/22/09 22:23:32 EDT

NOTE: VIcopper is correct about katanas. They are made straight or nearly straight, then heat treated.

Try forging an edge on a blade and see what happens.
   - guru - Friday, 05/22/09 22:26:12 EDT

i picked up a 3.5 big blu hammer last weekend at the madison conference and brought it home....i agree, nice hammer. this one had a nice looking curly hickory handle to boot.
   - Tyler Murch - Friday, 05/22/09 22:38:32 EDT

This contraction of a Japanese blade into its curvature by quenching is shown and discussed in NOVA's DVD, "Secrets of the Samurai Sword." There is also a good section on the tatara iron furnace.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/22/09 22:46:20 EDT

How can I find information for scythe balcksmithing?
It's hard to find it in internet.

Sorry my poor language


Alpo Koivisto

   Alpo - Saturday, 05/23/09 05:00:54 EDT

The bow spring on the tire type mechanical hammers, would it not be better to mount the spring and toggle arms up the other way, as in upside down, thereby increasing the hammer weight and reducing your unsprung weight which should reduce vibration?
   Peter - Saturday, 05/23/09 07:02:44 EDT

Hammer Design: Peter, Yes it does make sense. I've got numerous designs on paper with the spring on the ram including a "rubber band" hammer with no steel springs. We have one unique design in the shop under construction that is nearly complete. We've been working on it for over a year. Just haven't been able to put in the shop time. After it is tested we will release design details and plans.

The big advantage as you noted is much of the weight is transferred to the ram and stops being part of the horizontal imbalance.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/23/09 09:18:36 EDT

Scythe Forging: Alpo, I have never seen anything published on this subject.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/23/09 09:34:14 EDT

This was the first hit when I searched for "making a scythe". Looks fairly comprehensive.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/23/09 13:00:02 EDT

I didn't read the entire "Sythe Connection," but I wanted to add some about the blade shape. I purchased a blade at an antique mall, and it is marked on the tang, J LUSSON / AU / LONGERON, and is 28 inches long. Until I saw it, I didn't realize how thin they were at the cutting edge; mine is 22 gage just behind the cutting edge angle. It is about 16 gage at blade mid-width, Standard U.S. Sheet. It looks as though they started with 1/8 inch thick stock. The back has a short, right angle turn for a spine that is upset to a scant 1/4 inch and tapers gradually toware the ending point. The blade has both camber and declevity, resulting in a subtle compound curve. The blade is 4 5/8" wide next to the tang.

I can see where the thin blade could get a warp or wow in it if it accidentally hit a hard stump or stone, and that is why sythe anvils* were sometimes carried to the field for straightening and peening.

If I were to hand forge such a thing, I would probably have to charge a month's wages. I think they were drop forged.

When Marc Simmons and I wrote our book about Southwestern ironwork, we looked for evidence of the use of sythes. We found none, so we assumed that the hand sickle was used, because we found a number of them. That makes me wonder when the sythe came into prominent use in Europe.

*Pennsylvania Germen "Dengelstock.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 05/23/09 15:23:35 EDT

Got a chance to use my $125 Big Blu Ergonomic Cross Peen hammer today. Uh.......feels a lot like my $20 Czech hammer from Blacksmith Depot. Nice hammer, don't get me wrong. I just wonder why it costs $125. I know, the Big Blu is forged and hardened and the Czech is cast and somewhat soft...but they feel very similar.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/23/09 16:48:18 EDT

The difference is that between hand forged in the USA and imported (probably from Southeast Asia). The BigBLU's also use handles made in North Carolina from American hickory and probably American steel. Finally they are hand dressed by U.S. workers. Finally the handles are attached with a high quality U.S. made adhesive. . .

I haven't seen ANYONE'S hammers dressed the way BigBLU's are except a few other hand made hammers. If they made a full line of repousse' and specialty hammers they would be worth collecting at those prices.
   - guru - Saturday, 05/23/09 19:07:07 EDT

Besides BigBLU there are a handful of makers of handmade hammers and most of their prices are around $150 or more. I've reworked and hand dressed a lot of hammers and the dressing alone may be worth the price.

The question should be is why Hofi's cast hammers are so much more than BlacksmithsDepot's cast hammers?
   - guru - Saturday, 05/23/09 19:17:54 EDT

If you want a real bargain on a hand-forged Czech-style hammer, I recommend you look to Old World Anvils or Jerry Hoffmann of The Blacksmith's Journal. They are now selling hammers made by Nathan Robertson of Jackpine Forge. These hammers are made from good 'ol US-made carbon steel and hand-forged and heat treated, then fitted with American hickory handles. At around $70 for a 2-1/2# hammer, I think they're a real bargain.

Nathan also attends most of the major blacksmithing conferences around the country selling his hammers. His full line comprises somewhere around fifty different styles and sizes, and (if you're patient) he'll do custom orders, too. I have a couple of his forging hammers and a set of his gorgeous repousse' hammers, all of which I'm very pleased with.

The other day Nathan told me he'd just finished his 2,600th hammer, if I recall the number correctly. That's a bunch of hammers! I'm looking forward to seeing him again at QuadStates in September.

Disclaimer: I get no consideration whatsoever for bragging up Nathan's hammers - in fact, he swills down my rum and smokes my seegars whenever I run into him. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 05/23/09 23:13:13 EDT

CLINKER BREAKER Thanks to everyone who responded-got it all figured out now.Guru the diagram does the trick.             
   Amos Culham - Saturday, 05/23/09 23:44:44 EDT

I'm writing a book and want one of the main characters to be using a portable blacksmith. I found your article on how you built one. (Assuming this is Jock Dempsey)My question is, do you think that a portable version could have been possible in the Middle Ages? My setting is more fantasy, but that time period is of a similar flavor. Thanks in advance!

Maddie McEwan
   Maddie - Sunday, 05/24/09 04:11:04 EDT

Maddie, you mean a portable FORGE? Most of us blacksmiths are fairly portable, being self-articulated and bipedal. If your character is really using a portable blacksmith, this may not be the proper forum to discuss it. :-)
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 05/24/09 08:34:12 EDT

Quench, I have a set of Nathan's hammers and they are the ones I use the most. Got my first one at Quad State about 2005. He makes as good or better a hammer compared to any I have held. And he is a truely nice guy. And he annoys the heck out of Vicopper:) (Not really)
Disclaimer, I get no monetary return for proclaiming Nathan's hammers, just sastifaction of seeing a nice guy sell good hammers without telling me I am swinging a hammer all wrong,and his way is the one true way:)
   ptree - Sunday, 05/24/09 09:09:40 EDT

Portable Blacksmith. Considering the usual public reaction at the price of decent hand forged work, I would say we are all "portable Blacksmiths "Used" by the public at large.
And this is perhaps an intro to another Quad State hat:)
   ptree - Sunday, 05/24/09 09:11:59 EDT

QC with comments like that no wonder you get banned from sites.
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/24/09 09:22:57 EDT

See if your local library can get you a loaner copy of "Look to the Mountain" by LeGarnd Cannon, Jr. Takes place in VT just prior to and then after The Revolution. A scythe plays a promenant part in it. It was noted it, an axe and a rifle was a man's most precious possessions. These just weren't loaned out. No mention of a dinglestock in it from what I recall. On the axe it was also used as a measure, such as a cabin was to be so many axe lengths long, wide and high. It implied the size of a cabin was somewhat restricted to what could reasonably be heated in the winter.

If you do a Google search on the history of the scythe the wikipedia reference indicates it likely originated in Greece and was introduced to Europe in the 12th and 13th century. May have been used in China before Greece.

A long-term SOF&A member, Dick Franklin, visited China. In one city was they were touring he heard the distinct sound of metal on an anvil. He snuck away long enough to find a hole-in-the-wall blacksmith shop specializing in hand scythes. Used water running in a gutter as a quench tank. By gestures and making a sketch of an anvil and pointing to him and the blacksmith he got across they were both blacksmiths.

When I visited relatives in Croatia in 2001 my cousin still used a scythe to harvest grasses and hay for his rabbits. I also saw it in use by others. I gave it a try, but definitely a learned skill to sweep the blade parallel to the ground.

Scythes are still available today, such as from www.lehmans.com. (Frank, the AU indicates it was made in Austria.)

When Quad-States were held at the Studebaker Homestead Emmert had a hand-pulled forge cart device no one could every give a proper use for. Best guess was a 'tinner's cart', used in a city to repair pots and pans and such. Perhaps used charcoal as fuel.

(For those who have been to the homestead it was deeded to an historical society. The blacksmith shop is in daily use today by Larry Gindlesberger who noted he, one of his sons and a grandson work together. And those who know Larry may not know he was once a B-52 pilot carrying nukes.)
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 05/24/09 09:39:52 EDT

Not to forget brentbaileyforge.com for good looking hammers. I custom make one or two hammers a year, and they hold up to the work.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/24/09 10:05:12 EDT

Portable Forge: Historically many smiths traveled to their work. The early evidence is from known Viking, and the famous Mästermyer Find in Sweden. More recently you have the itinerant Chinese smith and the prospectors of the 1800's. However, rather than a large contraption they all carried a relatively light kit of tools.

Due to expense early anvils were MUCH smaller and lighter. 20 to 30 pounds was common and portable ones would be on the light side of this. A bellows or method to pump the air may have weighed as much. Most primitive forges used a shield stone or wall to protect the bellows from heat. The rest of the forge would be a simple pit or in the case of the viking ship's forge a thin iron tray. Total weight of the kit was determined by the method of transportation.

The itinerant Chinese smith carried his entire set of tools on his back using a yoke dividing the load in two seperate bundles. The ancient Swedish smith traveled by dog sled in the winter and probably stayed home in the summer. Snow and ice was a boon to transportation in the days before modern roads and vehicles. The ice made it easy to move heavy loads and the frozen ground did not mire wheels. The modern prospector carried his tools on a pack animal as many probably did before him. The tools of the late 1800's and early 1900's included small scaled down versions of a cast iron forge and blower. While the pack animal could carry a considerable load these tools had to be a minor part of the load. During the era of the great caravans itinerant craftsmen probably traveled with them as well to make repairs to gear as well as to ply their trade along the road.

Besides the small anvil and forge the smith would have carried several hammers, a couple pairs of tongs which he would reshape as needed, punches and chisels, files, a brace and bits for metal, and a supply of metal. Noticeably missing would be the screw vise a relatively modern tool.

Viking Forge in Anvilfire NEWS

Viking Reinactors with Portable Forge

Chinese Box Bellows in anvilfire Review

Note that many early Iron Age anvils derived their shape from the Bronze age anvil. They had a pointed end to stick in a stump or the ground and had a single horn to one side. Many bronze anvils were made so that the stake was also a horn so that there was more working shapes. One horn may have been smooth and the other grooved like a swage block. See SwageBlocks.com : The Antiquity of the Swage Block. Since stake anvils are still made it is logical to assume some early anvils followed this pattern.

SO, you start with the mode of transportation that was available for a relatively poor craftsman. Make the kit of tools small and of regional type. The bellows would have been carried but the forge may have been make do (a shallow pit and some rocks). Men with families would have stayed home during the growing season to work the farm in order to feed their family unless they lived in a large population center and had a permanent shop that stayed busy year round.

Other Thoughts: While a city blacksmith may have been a respected local businessman his itinerant traveling counterpart would have been looked upon with some distrust as are traveling salesmen and Gypsies. Thus he would not have been as well off and his low means would have been reflected in his tools. It was also a rough world and those travelers that looked too well off were also targets of thieves or highwaymen.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/24/09 11:26:47 EDT

Hello, i just read on your suggestion. Thanks for the hint on where to go because to tell you the truth i have no idea on where to start. Now thanks to you i have and idea.
   - Brandon Williams - Sunday, 05/24/09 14:31:04 EDT

Brandon, I missed your question. See our getting started article linked at the top of this page and the articles it links to.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/24/09 15:41:25 EDT

New Book Reviews: I've just posted 3 new book reviews along with 4 other recent reviews and the new eBook (2 listed under rare/out of print). More are coming.

I probably work as hard or harder on our book reviews than any ofter part of anvilfire. While anvilfire has grown with more articles continually being added I still believe BOOKS are the answer to education and find it sad that one of our least traveled pages is our book review page.

Along with this lack of interest in books is the lack of interest in things like our Sword Making Resources list. Only 1/7th of the readers of that article continue to that most important page.

There used to be a literacy campaign with the slogan "Reading is Fundamental". It is, and even those seeking information do not understand that simple fact.

Read the reviews, if the books appear to be helpful BUY them. Virtually all are references you will refer to over and over again as long as you continue to interested in metalwork.

   - guru - Sunday, 05/24/09 16:05:01 EDT

eBooks: We have posted two blacksmithing books from 1911 that cover largely the same subjects. However, one is targeted to the serious metalworker while the other was written for youth and includes a great deal of soft metal (copper) work. They are very similar except in the level of language and illustration.

More are coming. I have two locksmithing books from the 1800's scanned and will be processing them soon. It is not a small job to do properly. Every page must be cropped, straightened and resized. Often pages must be repaired and their color and contrast adjusted. For indexability we are now using OCR to produce a text copy of the pages. Tables of contents are also converted to HTML so that the reader can jump to the chapter or reference.

The eBooks as we have them setup also require individual programming. While many "standard" books look alike, the order of introductory pages is often different, tables of contents vary and some do not have alphabetical indexes. Some do not number plates as pages and others do. We also still have programming improvements to make such as entry of specific page numbers and personal book marks.

Eventually we will convert these to PDF's that can be downloaded for a small fee. This is an altogether different job as PDF indexes need to be generated and edited. There are good PDF's and poor PDF's and most are rather poor. While the collection of images is a good start it is only a start.

Hopefully advertising revenue will support these efforts. However, many of these books cost hundreds of dollars. I paid $450 for one of the locksmithing books we are putting on-line. Add over a week scanning, processing and setting it up and the investment is well over $1000 not including hardware and software. These are rare enough that they will probably never be on Google books. At the current rates it will take years to recoup our investment, much less make a profit. Hopefully the subject matter will create the interest. Due to the cost of these specialty books they will most likely not be available for download as PDF's but will be sold on disk.

We are looking for more available books to put on-line. In general they must have been published prior to 1926 and copies NOT be modern reprints. We are looking for books to buy OR borrow. Ideally they should not be books for sale as reprints by our advertisers. Contact me if you have a book or catalog that you think we should have on-line.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/24/09 17:44:08 EDT

Hi. Do you know any blacksmiths in Georgia, that will sharpen my 3 swords? Thank you.
   Nicky - Sunday, 05/24/09 21:59:32 EDT

Czech hammers.
I am trying to source some acceptable hammers. The main concerns about the czech hammers seem to be the dressing isn't as good as it could be and they aren't as hard as they might be. So if I get a couple, without handles, what is to prevent me from dressing them how I want them, hardening them and then putting in my own handles?

I was VERY fortunate last month when an American company sent me 120 assorted hickory handles, and wedges to suit, for a very reasonable price. It was to help me set up my project here and should mean that I shouldn't need to buy any more handles for a very long time!
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/24/09 22:51:17 EDT

Sword Sharpening: Nicky, you need to look for bladesmiths or polishers. If the blades are antique you want someone with experience in the particular blade type. If the blades are modern practice weapons then they may not have been designed to be sharp.

Try swordforums.com
   - guru - Sunday, 05/24/09 23:29:14 EDT

Philip in China, you know what the Guru will say about having to re-dress your hammers...
I do it all the time. Even as a newbe I'm to the point that I offten need a certain radious on the face or, a diferent size cross or straight peen hammer. I go down to the local farm supply store and get a 1.5-3.lb engineers hammer or a cross peen and take it to the belt grinder to make it into what ever tool I need it to be. Same thing with the handle. They never fit my hand correctly so they go to the belt grinder as well. We had the first annuale "Hammer Handle Holiday" this year here on anvilfire, you'll have to dig around a little for the meeting minets but, it was a considerd a succsess by all those in attendance.
   - merl - Sunday, 05/24/09 23:32:40 EDT

Philip, if you go to the "calendar of events" button on the home page you will find a nice artical, posted around the end of Jan., on the topic of hammers and handles.

May I add this thought as well.
Tomorrow, as we go for the second or third helping of picnic food and drink, let us all not forget why we are here and free today and therefor give some thanks to our honored dead and those who fight today and again tomorrow and to those for whom the wars never end...
To sit comfortably at home and say "Thanks" may seem meaningless to some but, I say it none the less.
Thank You, my brothers and sisters. I love you all.
   - merl - Monday, 05/25/09 00:04:35 EDT

I am looking for a pair of wrought iron hooks and eyes about 4 feet long sometimes used for keeping barn doors open. Any suggestions where I could find them? Thanks.
   Alexander Clarke - Monday, 05/25/09 22:50:43 EDT

Alexander Clarke,

I'd be happy to make you a set, since you specified wrought iron and not mild steel and not a lot of smiths will have sufficiently large pieces of true wrought iron on hand to make those hooks. Depending on where you are, shipping may be moderately expensive since my shop is located in the US Virgin Islands.

If you just want the hooks and are happy with mild steel, any blacksmith in your area could make you a set. I'm not aware of any companies that routinely stock hooks in that length, so this will be a custom order item. If we knew where you were located, we might be able to recommend a nearby smith to make them for you.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/26/09 00:42:28 EDT

Alexander, I have made something of the sort here. I would suggest that next time you are in central China you call by and have a look. What colour would you want them painting?
   philip in china - Tuesday, 05/26/09 01:18:19 EDT

Funny thing about sword sharpening, in my line of business (and associates), I've been known to un-sharpen blades. Sword swallowers don't like sharp or burred edges.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 05/26/09 08:56:52 EDT

Thank you, VICOPPER, and yes I am a long way from you, being in Ottawa, Canada. Mild steel would be fine. Perhaps you would know of a blacksmith in this area (Eastern Ontario).
   Alexander Clarke - Tuesday, 05/26/09 09:34:46 EDT

Alexandra, Now that we know where you are. There are blacksmithing groups you can contact that can put you in contact with someone local in Canada or in New England, US.

maritimeblacksmiths.ca are located in Nova Scotia

ontarioblacksmiths.ca may be more likely for you.

newenglandblacksmiths.org and nysdb.abana-chapter.com in the US may help you.

I do not recognize the part you are looking for but it may be a regional thing. If you have a photo or sketch I would think any smith could make it for you.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/26/09 10:25:35 EDT

Alexander I am in Hamilton Ontario and could supply you with what you need. I have sent you an email.
   - JNewman - Tuesday, 05/26/09 11:30:05 EDT

John, You may need to correct that email address as I have not yet sorted out the DOT in names bug. . just build her name as first.last removing last from the network side.
   - guru - Tuesday, 05/26/09 12:50:24 EDT

Uh, Jock... I think Alex is a guy.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 05/26/09 13:04:41 EDT

Back from camping for 5.5 days, I brought a forge of course and had a lot of fun. I tried something new: re-tinning copper pots for a friend. Looks to have worked; but am waiting till the new pots are throughly cleaned and used till I'm happy.

Off to NW AR Thursday Morning.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/26/09 13:24:50 EDT

Medieval travel smithing: since most medieval smithing was done with charcoal as a fuel there was no need to carry a forge with you---just grab a corner of the campfire, (or make your own fire ring of rocks or turves) rake up the charcoal, stick the bellows snout into it and forge!

Also when travelling you were generally going from place to place and medieval villages were generally within a day's walk from each other---why bring a smith and all their equipment when you can just use the local one?

Think about it as being like today WRT car repairs. Most of us don't carry complete car repair tool kits and supplies; perhaps a few tools and an item or two we know is likely to break; but if we need major repairs we go to the nearest town and have it done.

Most fantasy books have it terribly wrong. It was very refreshing to visit Marksberg castle in Germany and hear the tour guide explain that while there was a smithy in the castle it was only used for day to day stuff and repairs. The lord of the castle would get his swords and armour made by specialists in a big(for those times) city. There was not the demand to provide the training and orders for such specialized items in the general countryside.

A special case would be a Journeyman smith traveling between shops as part of his training and carrying a basic set of tools as part of his kit. (He would also know where he was going and who he would be working for when he got there and most likely have letters from the guild in the city he came from to the guild in the city he was going to.)

Not a lot of medieval travel through trackless wastes---why would one travel there? And if it's a trade route people tended to congregate around it to make use of it.

Thomas (note I will be out till June 1st)
   Thomas P - Tuesday, 05/26/09 13:43:38 EDT

Maddie McEwan, come back. I am a hopeless wiseacre but there are others here who will give you a straight answer.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/26/09 20:35:06 EDT

The part Alexander is looking for is basically a long hook similar in configuration to the little hooks commonly used ot hold wooden screen doors shut when I was a kid. They are very prevalent here in the Caribbean because most dwellings have heavy wooden shutters and/or doors for storms. I usually make them from square bar, 3/8" to 5/8" depending on size and severity of service. Traditionally, they get a 1-1/2 turn twist in the center area. Depending on where they will be mounted, they may be fixed with staples, ring-eye pintles or pad-eyes. When turning the hook itself, I taper the point and then bend the hook so that the bight is above the bar an amount equal to two thicknesses of the bar and the point is below the bar equal to three thicknesses. This configuration keeps the hook in the eye against either push or pull forces. I've probably made a few hundred of them over the years, so any half-decent smith could do them in his sleep.

In fact, I made four of those hooks for the shutters on my shop just last week. I've been listening to those shutters bang in the wind for five years now and I finally got tired of it enough to do something about it. Talk about the cobbler's kids going barefoot! :-)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 05/26/09 21:46:34 EDT

QC you are not a hopeless wiseacre. You are quite good at it. I think we could make a good double act.
   philip in china - Tuesday, 05/26/09 21:55:33 EDT


I am a woodturner and want to make some hook tools from 3/8" O-1 drill rods. I have zero experience blacksmithing, but I've done my homework on the subject.

There are a few points I would like some clarification on.

The basic process is to heat tip of rod until non-magnetic, shape to desired shape while maintaining heat. Once desired shape is achieved, quench in warm oil and agitate steel. When steel is room temperature, polish it up, then using a torch, heat steel 2-3" from hook until the tip of the hook reaches a bronze color, then quench the steel for the second time...but in water or oil?

Some of the stuff I read said after reheating steel to bronze color to quench it in oil, some in water.

Also, since these are small items, how critical are heating times?


   - Joseph - Wednesday, 05/27/09 08:41:13 EDT

So, now that election day is over (I'm talking about the primaries), I got a whole load of free round stock mild steel 3/16" up to 1/4". This comes from the cheap election signs people stick in the grass. It's legal for me to take them as long as it's AFTER election day. If anything, I'm actually helping to keep the environment clean by reducing waste and pollution. Also, seeing as how I actually USE the stuff I could consider it a form of recycling.

Here's my question: these staple shaped pieces are all out of whack. What would be an efficient method for straightening these pieces? Unfolded they average about 6 feet long, but are variable in thickness. My shop is small and I have hand and power tools only.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/27/09 09:15:39 EDT

Working O1 Joseph, The heating to non-magnetic is for the heat treating, NOT the forming or forging. Forging is done at a considerably higher heat but below a yellow. After forging you will want to let the part air cool slowly from a red heat (1600 F). Bury small parts in an annealing medium like vermiculite, lime, wood ashes or wrapped in kaowool will slow the cooling.

After cooling grind or rough shape the tool but do not sharpen.

Then gently heat the steel to a little above non-magnetic (1500F) and quench in oil. Note that the O in O1 is for "oil quench".

Temper immediately after hardening by heating to 350-500F. This is anywhere from where the slightest color shows on a cleaned surface to a bronze color. The higher temperature is the softest (about 57 HRC) and is recommended for this type tool.

After tempering you can cool in air, or water. Yo may also want to repeat the tempering process to assure that you have a through temper. Small tools can be tempered on a heavier piece of steel heated to the temper temperature in order to not overheat but assure proper heating.

Heating times are not as critical as temperature. But it is important to get through heats.

Some tools are selectively hardened and tempered so that the cutting edge or tip is the hardest and the shank much softer and thus tougher.

Note that these tool steels come in the annealed condition and can be worked cold, drilled and filed. Once heated it is difficult to get back to the annealed condition.

Finish grinding and sharpening after hardening and tempering.

You were very close but missed the forging temperature.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 09:23:41 EDT

Straightening thin bar and wire: Nip, Short of straightening rolls it is just like straightening any wire. . . a tap here, a tap there, eye ball it, roll on a surface (anvil) and correct as necessary. Hand un-bend using a vise, mounted bending fork with round surfaces, OR a large radius bending jig. Then go at it with a soft mallet (wood, leather). For small kinks use a brass or light steel hammer.

Straightening is a bit of an art. But once you get into it there is a sort of serene aspect to it where you can think about other things as you work. Its also a good task to give an apprentice as it develops metal moving skills and a critical eye. Its also easy work for you to check and reject if necessary. IT is also good group work as you can talk as you work. .

I used to pickup all kinds of odd metal scrap from a non-ferrous metal dealer. Much was bundled and pretty mangled. I've straightened a lot of wire sized (up to 1/4") stock and put it on the shelf.

One thing to watch out for is kinks. These thin the metal and make weak places in a long bar. Pieces with kinks should be cut at the kink so there is not a weak spot in the middle of the bar.

Bar stock 1/4" (7mm) and up can be squeezed in the vise or under a flypress to straighten. Heavier bar is done in a press (hydraulic).
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 09:45:55 EDT

TGN: I love those signs! A couple of the things I make with them is:

Basket hooks---cut 4 (or more) pieces 4-6" long, forge weld the ends then twist and untwist while hot, forge the ends into hooks and they look pretty good.

Hotdog/marshmallow roasters. Take a length, (you may need to unbend a corner---if so do it hot and tap it down with a wooden hammer so as to not thin the stock), and bend it double and then while hot twist the middle of the wires leaving a 4-6" on both ends untwisted. Forge the open ends into the fork tines and upen the closed end a bit for the handle. I did this with a cup scout den once with them helping with the twisting and then "trying them out" afterwards---each kid getting the one they helped on.

Lastly this is the stock I use to make the handles for my camping pans. It turns out that revereware pans have an excellent handle attachment stub to rivit on hand forged handles. So I take 4 pieces of sign stock around 16" long and forge weld the ends together and then twist the entire length and untwist to make a long thin basket---tricky to do and there are some tips to do it---gas forge for long heats, rolling it on the anvil and lightly tapping it with a wooden hammer to true it up and using a flat blade screwdriver to adjust the location of the wires when they get "off"; are some of them. Then forge one end to be a hook to hang it from and the other end to be a flat to rivet it into the handle stub on the pot. Season to taste and you have a great camping pot with a handle that won't burn off and will stay cooler when used on a fire.

Best of all there is a crop of these signs every year and a bumper crop every 4 years! (I generally call up *both* sides and have them plant them in my yard---I'm all about getting out the vote!)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 05/27/09 10:39:28 EDT

Nip, that's a great idea for re-using those anoying signs but, BE CARFUL that they are not made from GALVINISED wire.
You know what happens to people who accidently breath zinc fumes and you might get a particulate dust from cold straightening as well.
I have a couple hundred feet of 5/8 tie rod from an old silo that I'm not sure what to do with because of the zinc plating on them. My shop is like a big tent with good ventilation and I wouldn't put anything zinc plated in the fire. You're in the basement and, I have to addmit, I would be a bit concerned about fumes...
   - merl - Wednesday, 05/27/09 11:12:14 EDT

Election signs:

Check with your local laws about grabbing these. I think in my town they are private property. However, within one or two weeks after the election they have to be removed from public property or are considered litter. I figure by then, the owners are no longer interested, and don't mind grabbing them.

I got a whole bunch from the town dump once. Not the signs, but just the metal holders, too. So now I check after every major election, but so far it's been a one-time deal. Our town doesn't allow dump picking from the metal pile, but if I ask nicely on a non-crowded day, they let me take whatever's within easy reach.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 05/27/09 12:36:08 EDT

Sign wire galvanizing. IF galvanized most of this has the thinnest electroplate or shot peen coating that is only there long enough to keep the rust at bay prior to use and for a few weeks of exposure. It is not much of a problem. Other wire is phosphated and some lacquered after manufacturing the sign brackets as many have small welds.

Silo tie rod is hot dip galvanized or even cadmium plated. Both a serious hazard and the latter a VERY serious.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 12:39:18 EDT

Well, I can be pretty sure that politicians won't fork out the extra cost for galvanized wire. Besides, I can tell galvanized by looking at it. My basement has an industrial exhaust fan in the cellar fireplace chimney, so any fumes and smoke get dragged up really efficiently.

In one reference I've seen a wire straightener that was a segmented tube with offset holes drilled in the center sections. I've been using election sign wire for pretty much everything for a while now, and usually straighten each one, piece by piece with the usual methods. I was just looking for a lazy way of doing all them quickly.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 05/27/09 13:03:46 EDT

I have recently aquired a "casting forge" (!? please feel free to correct that term, I know it has to be called somthing else but it isnt like any furnace I have ever seen) but I would like more information on it. I am willing to send detailed pictures of my find if you can reply with an email address I can post them to. I can describe it as being 30 inches tall, with a removable bowl that is 9" deep and 13 inches across on the inside. It has a gas burner attached to the bottom and is factory made cast iron. The previous owner did not know much about it other than he beleived it was used to cast shot or slugs. The only marking I can find is "B3" on the leg base. I would be grateful for anything you can tell me!
   Gary Sissom - Wednesday, 05/27/09 19:14:03 EDT

"shot reen coating"?? Not sure what you're alluding to there, Guru. Shot peening is an abrading process that throws steel shot to clean and/or compact the surface of a piece, not a coating of any sort.
   - grant - Wednesday, 05/27/09 19:34:59 EDT

I have a 4 pound stanley Blacksmiths crosspeen, and the edge of it is cracked. Is this safe to use? Is it worth fixing?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Wednesday, 05/27/09 20:11:58 EDT

Nip- I've never tried it but one of Weyger's books (that I've leant to someone so I don't know what page or even how to properly spell his name) has a wire straightening jig that is just a pipe with 3 small jogs bent into it. The bends are each the same but are radially equidistant when viewed from the end of the pipe (they show as bumps at 10, 2, and 6 o'clock when peering down the barrel). Don't know how hard you'd have to yank to pull 3/16 thru such a thing or even if it'd work but give it a try and let us know.
   Judson Yaggy - Wednesday, 05/27/09 20:19:15 EDT

Hey my name is Aaron and I was wondering if there is some where I can buy prepunched rose pieces for the #13 iforge demo rose

   Aaron R - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:13:56 EDT

Aaron, Blacksmiths Depot sells them. Look under supplies on their site.

   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:20:13 EDT

Zinc Coating: The cheap coating put on much hardware is done by tumbling or zinc shot blasting. The zinc under pressure sticks to the steel leaving a very thin coating. About all it is good for is keeping rust off the hardware while on the shelf in dry conditions.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:22:51 EDT

Cracked Hammer: Jacob, No it is not safe until repaired. The entire area of the crack must be removed. This may only require taking a slight amount off OR significantly shortening the hammer. If a lot needs to be taken off a chop saw would be the best way.

When dressing out cracks a grinder will leave a rainbow color line at the edge of the closed otherwise invisible crack. Grinding must remove ALL the crack. After grinding the hammer will need to be properly dressed.

Note that 4 pounds is pretty heavy. Removing some mass will not hurt.
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:29:46 EDT

Forge ID: You may send photos to me (click on "guru").
   - guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:30:34 EDT

zinc shot peening

that must have been what i noticed on the inside of socket wrenches. it's a soft silver colored finish that rubs off on the finger.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:35:34 EDT


I've had some luck straightening wire & rod by clamping the bent area in vise jaws which have pretty flat faces. the wire or hot rod is clamped parallel with the jaws, clamped, turned 90 degrees, clamped again, turned as needed to push out any remaining kinks, clamped, etc. (rotate & clamp repeatedly) You will have to first roughly straighten the 90 degree bends over the anvil. This may be an art; I can’t tell; I've been doing it for years. You want to roughly straighten first and use this to press out the remaining bends, and you can do one 4 or 5 inch area at a time. Overlap successive areas in the jaws.

Does this make sense?
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 05/28/09 06:33:22 EDT

Yeah, it was Weygers book that had that odd pipe looking offset jig for straitening. Must take some serious muscle to use it. I'll fab one up and try it, let everyone here know. What I usually do is hammer out the corners on the horn of tha anvil, then tap/roll on the face for straight rods. Another method I've employed is the vise method above, where I keep the rod in the vise throughout and move it along, tweaking it here and there.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 05/28/09 07:16:18 EDT

In the spring makeing world the stock is kept on large coils. Befor it can go through the spring winding machine it has to be straightend.
As I recall the wire went through a set of five rollers that were offset from each other and worked very much like a slip roller does to roll sheet metal and rings.
There is one set for the vertical axis and one for the horizontal.
A very fast set up but, of course, it wouldn't take in a kink or bend in the wire just a long curve.
If you think about it, the wire is drawn straight, wound on to a big spool for storage and handling straightend agian befor being wound into a coil spring or some other wire form. Sounds like heating your home with electricity...
   - merl - Thursday, 05/28/09 09:26:59 EDT

Straightening rolls will not take out sever kinks but they will take out more than just the curve from coiling. Generally if you can get it in the rolls it will straighten.

I do soft wire in my hands and stiffer stuff on the anvil. Even pretty mangled stuff can be straightened to a reasonable degree of straightness. It depends on your eye and how picky you are.

Vise or press straightening will only get down to the where bends still spring back. To do better you have to work by eye and hand. However, straightening rolls overbend in alternating directions just enough to get beyond the spring and result in about as straight as you can get. The problem with the rolls is they must be scaled and spaced for every given size. Those for flat (ribbon coils) only need to work in one axis thus are much simpler than one for wire or bar the must work in multiple axiis.

In the end, unless it is a production process the best thing to do is sit at the anvil or a heavy bench with a hammer and a soft mallet and just do it. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 05/28/09 11:23:11 EDT

Gary Sissom, what you describe sounds like a plumber's lead pot. They used them with a ladle when fitting cast iron pipe. Fit the pipe, pour the joint full of lead, peen it in, and you're done. Bullet casters and fishing sinker makers like them a lot.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 05/28/09 11:28:12 EDT

Gary, Alan,

I had an Okie friend who when unsure of the outcome of something, would say, "It ain't a lead pipe cinch."

Straightening lore? I heard that in the days of the Old West, if a journeyman applied to work in a shop, sometimes he was given a ugly, knarled, twisted, and bent piece of iron to straighten. The other shop workers would get a break from their work while they watched the man struggle.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/28/09 18:51:36 EDT

Gnarled, not knarled.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/28/09 18:53:52 EDT

Frank Turley, In the boiler shops we used 24" about 240# wide flange for the structual frame work of the boiler modules. They came in on rail cars and were somewhat gnarly as you use the word. New fit up welders were often asked to straighten the rails before starting the fit up. These rails were 70'+ and were a real challange. The old timers would watch and have a ball. Then with the biggest rosebud I have ever seen, and a water hose, the old timers would straighten to a near perfect line:) Then thru attrition we suddenly had no more old timers and there seemed to be no way to get those darn things straight. So they started using a 1000 ton bull press and that worked for a year or so. Then the press was taken out of service and scrapped! Really bad decision:)
Then they called the mad blacksmith in the valve division for a suggestion. I came up with a 1000 ton PORTABLE straightening press, that was slid back and forth and used to straighten the rails. Just for grins, they took a 20' scrap and made a nice arch:)
Portable is defined as easy to move when you have lots of 100 ton bridge cranes in a boiler shop:)
   ptree - Thursday, 05/28/09 19:09:44 EDT

One of my old students worked in a place where they fabbed 18 wheeler trailers. He said that his job was to locally heat and cool where needed to give the trailer its final delivity.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 05/28/09 23:06:16 EDT

Portable and Newby jobs:

A journeyman that couldn't straighten ANYTHING that one man could pick up wouldn't be much of a journeyman. . . maybe an apprentice or someone that lied about being a journeyman.

We used to build "portable" equipment. Machines that weighed from 3 to over 10 tons. But since it went TO the job it was considered portable.

One of the fun projects I built was a 100 ton tensile test stand for testing lifting fixtures. It was all built from scrap H-beam and pieces of drop plate (3/4", 1" and 1.5" thick). The base was a "scrap" piece of 4" thick plate about 36" in diameter. The flanges for the frame were cut from a similar diameter piece of 3/4" plate such that the outer edge matched the base plate. A couple straight cuts and we had flanges that looked cut to suit and with no unnecessary waste.

It still amazes me how quickly we got things done when all the equipment in the shop worked and I had a helper when needed. It only took a couple days to build that stand from the time it was designed to when it was used and we didn't have to buy a single piece of steel. It was all drops, cut offs or leftovers.
   - guru - Thursday, 05/28/09 23:41:04 EDT

I'm working on building a parts tumbler. I have the motor and other components figured out but I do not know how to line up the fins that are supposed to mount inside the drum. Can you recommend a source for a diagram that I could take a look at?
Many thanks.
   Bill - Friday, 05/29/09 00:02:23 EDT

Here most of the rebar arrives in coils- it is run through a portable machine with a series of rollers and comes out in one long piece as straight as you could want.
   philip in china - Friday, 05/29/09 01:18:00 EDT

TNG, my vision for your next project will be a Giant Robotic Anvil with tiny Jewish blacksmiths dangling from its nipples......I'd pay to see it!
quenchcrack - Tuesday, 05/19/09 18:46:21 EDT

AS a Jewish blacksmith,I'm trying to understand this post...Will you please explain
   - Arthur - Friday, 05/29/09 01:22:27 EDT


When I built my tumbler, I went through a lot of angst over style and placement of those fins. I finally got sick of all the prolonged ratiocination and just took some scraps of bedframe angle iron and welded them inside the drum. I put in four of them, and allowed them to run off-axis a bit, in opposing directions. This seems to work, though I can't say whether that is because: (A) it is an inherently good design concept or, (B) because I just got lucky, or (C) because it doesn't really matter at all how you put them in. The stuff I put in there goes round and round, sounding like a cement mixer with a Volkswagen caught in its throat, and comes out free of rust and/or scale. My total investment in the thing, with salvaged treadmill motor, slavaged propane cylinder, scrounged bed frames and leftover paint, is three bucks for the new plug I had to buy for the cord. I can live with that. :-)
   vicopper - Friday, 05/29/09 01:29:10 EDT


Don't get your yarmulke in a knot - TGN, and several others of us here are also Jewish and what Quenchcrack posted is just the culmination of a running discussion from a couple of weeks ago. He meant neither offense nor disparagement so we don't need to send the JDL to talk to him. :-)

You'd really need to know the history here to fully appreciate the joke - TGN is a Jewish former stage performer who used to hang anvils from his nipples and even holds a Guinness record for same. He also has a project of making some robotic something or other, so it all ties together in twisted way. (grin)

However, what this points up is the transient nature of posts on the 'net and how they can be mis-interpreted due to prior histories not being present or known, cultural differences, personal histories and idiosyncracies, etc. When reading the internet,we need to take things with a grain or more of salt and be wary of interpreting other folks motives without knowing the whole story. I've misinterpreted things a few times and been embarrassed to later find how wrong I was. I've also had stuff I've written mis-interpreted a few times, too. It's a tricky thing to communicate in only one dimension.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/29/09 01:41:25 EDT

As you can see my post was neither offensive or defensive, I was simply baffled by Quenchcracks cryptic message and was trying to figure out what he was talking about...
Thank you for the explanation..
   - Arthur - Friday, 05/29/09 02:06:57 EDT


I was pretty sure you were only puzzled, but you never can tell for certain in this one-dimensional medium. It did make me think that there might, however, be someoneout there who had taken umbrage but said nothing. so I addressed the issue from that perspective.
   vicopper - Friday, 05/29/09 02:23:55 EDT

On the subject of straightening ,Im building my first forge using some old pieces of diamond plate for the table.Any advice on the best way to flatten them again after the cutting and weld tacking Ive done.Just so they make a reasonably flat surface with edges that line up?
   wayne eddy - Friday, 05/29/09 07:17:41 EDT

You can get by without fins in the tumbler. Just throw in a handful or two of small, scrap, M.S., cutoff pieces.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/29/09 07:49:58 EDT

Art, glad to know you're part of the tribe. To second what vicopper said, sometimes on the net you can read things in forums that, when taken out of context, COULD be interpreted as insulting, what have you. There's also lots of inside jokes only a few will get, leaving others (like yourself) scratching their heads (under the yarmulke). About a month ago I had the idea of a Jewish Artist Blacksmith Assoc. (JABA)... sounds cool. I'd like to be a part of it, but I have NO time whatsoever to put something like that together. Philip (in China) is another of the rare breed of Jew Smiths, (I like that... almost like a surname.... Jewsmith). I make robots, and used to hang things form my nipples (as noted).... pick up a copy of 2005 Guinness Records and turn to page 34.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 05/29/09 08:12:56 EDT

Unfortunatly I have seen alot of so called "journeymen" that couldn't straighten their way out of a paper bag!
That skill is something you only realy learn on the job and with some guidence from someone that knows what they are doing.

Arthur, please keep in mind that this forum is like one long running BS session at times. We get alot of questions and answers done but, sometimes things can get a bit "pear shaped" and "well, iffy".
The Guru is in charge and rides heard over all of this. He sees all and knows all that goes on here on his web site and will not hesitate to rein us in if things get out of hand.
When you log on here just pretend you are walking in to your favorite fab shop in some big old garage out in the contry. You never know just who will be there hanging around drinking coffee and talking smart but, someone will have an answer for your question and an opinion on anything. The best thing to do is check in every day at least once or twice to see what the banter is about and, join in the fray...
   - merl - Friday, 05/29/09 09:04:08 EDT

Speaking of "Jewsmith" and surnames, when Uri Hofi demoed in my shop a few years ago, his striker at that time was Tsur Sadan. Tsur is now on his own. I asked Tsur whether he could translate his name into English and he said it meant "Rock Anvil!" I told him that I was jealous; wish I had a name like that.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/29/09 09:31:49 EDT

Tumblers: Most do not have "fins" They are just hollow drums. However, some are hexagonal or octagonal inside and I suspect square would also work. The reason most tumblers do not have fins is that they are lined with rubber. The rubber cushions the shock on the parts while reducing noise and wear on the drum. However, many tumblers for soft metal parts are made without liners.

The trick to tumblers is their speed. Too slow and the parts slide and wear on one surface (or the pile of parts only wears on that surface). Too fast and the parts go round and round doing nothing OR they rise too far before falling. This is where the "fins" come in. A tumbler running too slow will still work. However they make too fast a tumbler worse.

The biggest problem we had with tumblers made from car tires is parts and water/foam splash. These need covers.

The most convenient tumblers I have seen looked similar to a concrete mixer and ran at an angle so that parts could not hop out and the operator could check conditions while the tumbler was operating.

According to C&M Topline their 16" Octagonal Barrel should run from 27 to 18 RPM. Smaller barrels run faster and larger slower. C&M Topline sells plastic barrels and covers to run on their roller driven machines.

   - guru - Friday, 05/29/09 09:52:21 EDT

Political Correctness (PC): I go as far as I can to be PC and even try to avoid some of the sexist terms that have developed in the trades (craftsfolk rather than craftsMAN - we NEED women in the trades).

But as to others speech as long as it is in fun and not hurtful I believe our society has gone too far on this issue. There is a difference between making any group or minority the but of every joke and calling a spade a spade.

The people I give the very hardest time are my closest friends and colleagues. And in a shop environment if you can't take some serious ribbing then you are going to be a sad and lonely person.

On the other hand, as has been noted here many times, this is a one dimensional medium when it comes to tone and character of comments. Words on a page are cold hard things that just lay where they are being hard to decrypt other than their literal meaning. Top that off with the lack of writing skills that many of us have and it is better to lean to the safe side of PC.

Then there is the target dejour. For a while the French and Arabs were the butt of many North American jokes but today it is safe to say you can end anything stupid with "Somali Pirate". I suspect that flies anywhere in the world other than the beaches of Somalia. But then. . . I suspect there are a lot of bad jokes out there about American Investment Bankers. . and the worm turns. . . let's no let it become Foul Mouthed Blacksmiths.
   - guru - Friday, 05/29/09 10:24:38 EDT

Is it better to have two people or one to work in a forge?
   - Brandon Williams - Friday, 05/29/09 16:10:51 EDT

How Many Smiths: Brandon, To perform many of the tasks completely by hand you need a helper to hold work, swing sledge hammers and other tasks. A smith CAN work alone and many do. However, many operations shown in books require a striker with a sledge to flatten or upset large pieces of stock. Most modern smiths replace that kind of helper with a treadle hammer or a power hammer.

There are other cheaper tools as well as techniques that help when working alone. See the clamps and hold downs on our iForge page to start. Then there is the technique of holding tongs between ones legs while one chisels or punches the work held by the tongs. Many smiths practice this and are quite good at it.

A good blacksmiths' leg vise is indispensable to any smith but especially any lone smith.

The ideal shop arrangement is when two smiths work together and work alone as well as together when need be.
   - guru - Friday, 05/29/09 17:27:36 EDT

Thanks for the responses..They are appreciated
But it leaves me with two buring questions:
1..How does one attach an anvil to ones nipple?

Maybe we can get Mr. Turley to demonstrate at an upcomming SWABA meeting [LOL]
   - Arthur - Friday, 05/29/09 19:45:26 EDT

Hey Arthur,

At my age, who needs the anvils? I'm glad I never had tatoos as a youngster, or they would be distorted by now.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 05/29/09 20:17:22 EDT

Here is a link about heat straightening:

   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 05/29/09 21:21:18 EDT

Brandon, to add to what the Guru says. I find that a sturdy and somewhat "robust" midsection will go along way toward aiding you when trying to hold work to the anvil and still have two hands free. In other words put your gut into it. Because this doesn't always work I'm making a heavy floor stand that will hold a pair of tongs and has three locking swivle joints, so that I can take work out of the fire, swing it to the anvil, lock the joints in position and then be able to move around to what ever position I need to be to get at the work.
I have two sturdy boys that like to help but, at six and four years old, they aren't quite ready for hot work...
   - merl - Saturday, 05/30/09 00:50:16 EDT

Tumblers: I found these guys to be the experts for serious tumblers,vibrators and media
   - Arthur - Saturday, 05/30/09 01:24:55 EDT

HEAT STRAIGHTENINGBack about 20 years ago when the Welding Institute of Canada was still a functioning body,we had a fellow (I don't remember his name)come in and put on a seminar on heat straightening.The only equipment he brought in was two humongous rosebud torches and a nozzle with a Y connector to connect a 1 inch water line and a 1 inch air line to.We set up a couple of I beam uprights with machined eyes in the top about 4 feet apart and welded them onto a 1 inch thick steel base with one of the beams misaligned so that when a shaft was slid into it it missed the other eye by about 8 or 9 inches.Well within about 10 minutes this feller had that shaft sliding through the other eye like it had been line bored.With the big heat on one side and quick cooling on the other you could literally see that 2 inch shaft heading for the other eye -double time! Since that day I have probably done the same thing a dozen times myself on different jobs and saved a lot of time and money that would have to had to be spent cutting away and replacing material on different machines and structures for the sake of a 1/2 inch or so of misalignment on somebody elses part.  
   Amos Culham - Saturday, 05/30/09 01:26:06 EDT

It's likely that fellow's name was John Adolph.
   - djhammerd - Saturday, 05/30/09 06:21:42 EDT

Arthur, I have been a body piercer for over 16 years now. Back in the late 90's, I would hang 1 gallon bottles of water from my nipple rings to freak out customers. I found a shopping cart behind the shop in center city (Philly), loaded it up with a big fat tattoo artist and dragged him up and down South St. I figured I could make a stage act out of this, so I did. In due time I did some research and found out about a blacksmith sideshow performer from the 1930's named Rasmus Neilsen. HE picked up his 250 pound anvil lifting it off the ground from his nipple piercings. Well, as soon as I saw that I had to go out and get some anvils. Turned out I got ASO's. No biggie, they were simple props for me, not a tool. Puls at this time I had no idea what blacksmithing was all about.

One day I was Googling my name, and a comment turned up here about a picture of me with the ASO. I came in and started asking questions about steel and grinding sparks (a different part of my act). Than a good friend of my dad's gave me a REAL anvil. I had some spare time on my hands, a little fire, so I beat some metal. I've been hooked since.

Now, to answer your question of why: (this is from my onstage patter) I do this for the same reason a dog licks his balls....... because I CAN. No, really the reason a dog licks his balls is because he knows he will lick your FACE next (wait for the laughter).

I have retired from doing stage shows in 2006, but will do the occasional TV show, break a record, do an interview, etc. Strange trip it's been for THIS Jewish boy.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 05/30/09 08:20:25 EDT

How Many People in the Forge: A second pair of hands is invaluable in the forge, with the caveat that they are there to help you; and not just there to chat and drink your tea, beer, soft drinks, and/or coffee. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/30/09 08:30:17 EDT

Arthur, what else are a guys nipples good for?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/30/09 10:46:03 EDT

Thats exactly who it was,his name came to me after I posted.He also had a slideshow of a ferry dock he and his crew had repaired where it would have taken over a hundred thousand to replace a bunch of structural beaming and with his straightening techniques they brought the cost down to around 10,0000 dollars.
   Amos Culham - Saturday, 05/30/09 10:46:25 EDT

Arthur, as a point of further clarification, when Nippulini first posted here, most of us thought he was just another wacko/troll/lurker. He persisted and some of us visited his site to see how he hung anvils from his nips. Then he posted some of his smithing art. OK, he has a way of growing on you despite his strange proclivities. He is a full fleged member here and we enjoy his participation. There was absolutely no offence intended in my post.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 05/30/09 10:49:47 EDT

Last but not least, How many folks can say they have a blacksmith buddy called "the Great Nippulini?
Nicknames can be fun, when I was a skydiver some were unique. My now wife was a then tiny 5'-5" and 96# and so became The Rock due to how slow she fell:)
   ptree - Saturday, 05/30/09 18:17:02 EDT

At parachute school I could never quite get over how some of the girls went up as they jumped- due to thermals I know but it always seemed so funny. As this is a family forum best not to discuss our theories on the subject!
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/31/09 07:10:28 EDT

   STEVE MORRIS - Sunday, 05/31/09 07:43:36 EDT

   - STEVE MORRIS - Sunday, 05/31/09 07:49:50 EDT

See Canadian Fairbanks Spec Sheet:

Should be about a 100 pound hammer. However they had some late models that were heavier for their size by a couple hundred pounds. Like all the old mechanical hammer makers they have been out of business for decades.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/31/09 10:07:20 EDT

Hello, Could you please answer a few newbie questions for me? I am an author writing a story that is based in 1811 England, Kent/Sussex area. Don't get mad , but I am thinking of making my village blacksmith the villain (don't eat me, please!:) My heroine will accidently put out his forge (is that right) anyway she'll put out his fire and that sets off a series of events, etc.
What I would like to know is:
1. did the blacksmith keep his fire burning at all times: 2. Was it possible that this fire and its embers were never allowed to go out.
3. Could the blacksmith be working over the same fire as had his ancestors?
4. I have visited many area blacksmithy's created to be historically accurate here in Ga. and I am wondering if the South of England smithy would look the same or similar.

I am sure I would have a lot more questions but these are the ones that are uppermost in my mind as I write a scene.
Thank you so much for your time and sharing all the information on this site.
Rachel Lynne
PS: I will be happy to mention you and your site in my book.
   Rachel Lynne - Sunday, 05/31/09 13:26:15 EDT

Fairbanks hammers- I have a model E, 150#. Pretty good hammers. They have a good pitman adjustment mechanism. To adjust for various stock thicknesses put in a block between the dies, rotate the hammer closed onto the block (by hand) and loosen the big nut on the front of the pitman 1/4 to 1/2 turn. Then tap the nut lightly with a mallet. Pitman should come free and adjust itself to a new length, if not disassemble, clean and lubricate. Tighten nut and hammer away.

I don't know about the Canadian models, but the ones made in the US had a integral brake in the form of a large split ring inside the back of the flat belt pulley. There is a cam at the split linked to the foot treadle that expands and contracts the split ring as you stomp. Often either the ring or the cam is worn, but there are 2 set screws in slotted holes in the cam that can be loosened to widen the set of the cam and then re-tightened. This may be enough to take up some of the slop in the brake and make it work better for you.

Hope this is helpful.
   Judson Yaggy - Sunday, 05/31/09 17:09:24 EDT

NO, NO, NO and probably NO.

Forge fires are rebuilt daily. Fuel is (always) expensive and smiths are not wasteful. For good work the fire must be cleaned of ash and or clinker.

You COULD have an ancestral forge and perhaps someone destroy it or steal some critical piece. If was an ancient forge it would be built with stone and have a wood and leather bellows. Depending on the are the fuel would have been charcoal or coal. The British like to use powdered coal and side blown forges.

The only was around any of these issues is with magic.

An Option: Now, the anvil used in 1811 could have dated back centuries and been made just after the bronze age. The anvil is often called the heart of the forge and a very old one could be said to possesses the spirits of the ancestral smiths. You could play to this in any way you wish and no unbelievable magic is required. The anvil could be stolen, bewitched, cursed or desecrated (pounding cold iron on a cold anvil in some witch like ceremony).

One of the "magical" aspects of smithing that is quite famous (and full of factual error) is the making of the harpoon from used racing horse shoe nails. For the task at hand Captain Ahab wanted it forged by a non-Christian. This was part of his inner sickness that was core to the story.

There is a lot that could be done by an imaginative author. For a little in this vein see by story on our Story Page, A Day in the Life of an Apprentice.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/31/09 17:18:21 EDT


Georgia seems to have been settled by folks from all over the British Isles, as well as parts of the European Continent. The vast majority of the Puritans came from Southeastern England, but they came long before 1811. A historically accurate forge in New England might still be the closest you'd come. But I wouldn't bet on *any* forge being historically accurate enough to trace to a specific region in England.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 05/31/09 18:00:21 EDT

Found a neat little 2 pound hammer today at flea market. Regular sledge style face on one side and the peen is taperd to a half inch round flat face. Any suggestions to its original purpose? Got another nice 1-1/2 lb straight peen hammer head, beat to hell (got it for $1). 10 minutes of dressing and a new handle and I got a REALLY nice hammer cheap, plus it looks hand made.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:42:27 EDT

Making hardies.
I saw somewhere that it should be possible to make a hardy out of railroad line. Saw it into a hardy sized slice, cut off the rail, forge to an edge, temper and then weld a stake on the underneath. Would the steel be suitable? It all sounds so simple that my real question is- why don't people do it? Am I missing some hidden difficulty? It seems I would get a hardy with a wonderful shoulder for very little effort and probably little cost.
   philip in china - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:42:53 EDT

Philip, See my iForge demo on Tools from RR-Rail. No welding required to make a hardy or fuller. The shape is handy for all kinds of tools.

The steel is 60 to 75 point carbon and heat treats quite well.

The trick is fitting heavy enough rail under a saw. Most is just a LITTLE larger than fits a 4x6 saw.
   - guru - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:58:33 EDT


That hammer sounds like it might one of the Bell SYstem punchlok hammers.
   vicopper - Sunday, 05/31/09 20:08:57 EDT

Rachel, If I may suggest, try to keep your smith (the man) and his smithy (the structure were he works) as TECHNICALLY accurate as you can. The mystery and suspence will follow on its own as most smiths are somewhat supersticious.
Don't worry too much about being strictly historicly correct. I know that sounds rather conflicting but, consider that your smith may be using techniques passed down from a couple of hundred years ago right up to the present or, maybe he doesn't "follow whit dem modern ways" and doesn't go beond what his grand pa taught him. Either way what ever he does should be accurate. If you are going to have him making horse shoes, for example, then you need only to listen to Frank Turly describe the prosses to get the full visual. He is just one very good example of the fine talent on this site but, you'll have to do your home work for it to sound good in the book. I was thinking that one way a woman might cause trouble for yor smith (other than simply drawing his attention away from his work) might be to throw his best/favorite/passed down from generation to generation, hammer into the fire and it be consumed or maybe break the horn off his anvil in a fit of rage with a large sledge hammer?... We'll be waiting for the advanced copy! Good luck!
   - merl - Sunday, 05/31/09 23:44:10 EDT

I hadn't thought of doing it like that. That seems even easier. Linna's uncle works in a railway line making factory so I hope to get some offcuts for very little cost. So fullers, bottom swages and hardies are easy enough. I suppose if the base of the rail is a decent size I could finally make my flatter as well. That is all without needing to think of much. I am sure other tools will suggest themselves once I get started.

BTW why are flame cut edges always so hard?
   philip in china - Monday, 06/01/09 01:21:48 EDT

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