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Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 June 1 - 15, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

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    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Guru:Need to know where I can get some plans for making a tube rolling machine, for making ornimental iron gates, stair railing, etc. Could you please send me some info on it if you have any. Or someone who fabricates these machines for sale to the public. Im a custom Motorcycle builder and need to get one for a special project. Thanx for your time Magic Schwarz Los Angeles California.

    Magic Schwarz -- ms7772b at Tuesday, 06/01/99 01:47:25 GMT

    I am a beginner. I'm talking "way" beginner so please excuse the very elementary nature of my question.
    When I square a round rod and drawn it down to the desired length, I chamfer the edges to get a rounded taper and the metal begins twisting like a possessed snake. Yikes. It looks and feels completely out of control so I'm assuming that twisting is a bad thing. Am I holding, hammering, striking, or standing incorrectly? I've tried this repeatedly and get the same result every time. Is is possible that the twisting is ok provided I don't let the metal overlap onto itself?(is that called a cold shut by the way?) I have checked several books but haven't found anything that explains this very well. Which brings me to my next question. If you had to recommend two or three great books for a beginner what would you suggest?
    I greatly appreciate your time and website.
    Thank you,
    Anna Kieffer

    Anna -- akieffbirdy at Tuesday, 06/01/99 02:30:20 GMT

    Matt Marziale: Contact the Central Virginia Blacksmith's Guild They meet all around the Richmond area. Next meeting is the 12th of June at Tom Boone's up in Lousia Co. It will be an open forge meeting. On the 8th of June (I think) the Williamsburg Forge will have meeting. These guys have more meetings than I can find time for even though they are my "home" Chapter.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 02:49:36 GMT

    For ALL of you looking for LOCAL classes.


    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 02:54:07 GMT

    Anna, The two top books are Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork by Dona Z. Meilach and New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews. For historical perspective you need Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing

    That spiral is probably caused by lack of hammer control. Get a lighter hammer. Thin the handle so its slightly rectangular for a better fit (LOOK at the shape of your grip). Most neophytes start with too big a hammer and cannot control it. Work UP to that big hammer of a period of a year or so.

    Then pay close attention to how squarely you strike the work. Although there are a few modern smiths that can get away with it most of us must carefully work the stock on square and perpendicular axis. Many novice craftspeople cannot SEE a right angle if their life depended on it much less hold a piece of work AND pound on it both at that right angle.

    When tapering a round, you forge it to a square taper then make it octagonal. Then if you knock of the high spots and leave a little randomness to the lines it will look much rounder than it is. When you are done if its crooked just straighten it out! THAT is what blacksmithing is about. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 03:09:26 GMT

    Zakaraya, CANIRON II is a NEW bienial event like the big ABANA conference and is held in between ABANA conferences. This year it is in Calgary, July 4th weekend. Click on any of the banners to go to their web page for details.

    Best motor position is what ever works. Overhead out of the way is the best if possible. I photographed one (Beaudry Champion) this weekend and will be posting pics later. Bruce can be of great help if you need.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 03:17:48 GMT

    JIM, OLLE!



    I had a fellow write to me a while back about confusing the statement Hershel House makes in his video about using "lamp fuel". He used Coleman Lanten fuel instead of "lamp oil" or kerosene! Darn near blew up his shop, and had flaming pieces of coal raining down on him for a while!

    Think about it. The most powerful non-nuclear explosive the U.S. Military has is the gas-air bomb. Yep, just plain gasoline and AIR.

    From now on, lets recommend the traditional method and use a little paper and kindling to get some green (fresh bituminous) coal burning! The next best (non-traditional) method is to just use your oxy-actylene torch. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 03:27:13 GMT


    Good point, I should have been more specific.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 06/01/99 07:09:41 GMT

    Thanks Guys
    I was kind of worried about the two-stroke method of lighting forge!
    Really great to find people that know something about forges, not many in Australia!
    I'll be in touch soon to tell you how it goes with first fire.


    Stuart B. -- chatterfxd at Tuesday, 06/01/99 10:49:32 GMT

    Jock, Is there a less labor intensive way to cut 1/4" thick copper bus bars? I tried my plasma on a test sample with poor results (conducts the heat too quickly?) A band saw would be the second to last option with water jet being the last. cool in Rochester. brian

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Tuesday, 06/01/99 12:36:24 GMT

    Are parts available for champion blowers if so where can I find them.

    TWINTER Tuesday, 06/01/99 17:55:42 GMT

    Sorry if you think my method of lighting a fire is unsafe. I should have written " any liquid like kerosene or lampoil, NOT GASOLINE, just like you do when you start a barbeque." Ive never even been close to an explosion in the forge lighting it this way. Im rather scared of acetylene-tubes, though.

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 06/01/99 18:26:52 GMT

    Olle, Anyone with common sense can generally get away with things other less sensible people can not. There are things we all do in our shop that we wouldn't recommend to others. That's the reason I prefer to send wannabe's to a welding class to learn the safety rules that also happen to apply to a lot of other areas of blacksmithing and metal working.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 19:09:23 GMT

    Twinter: Parts are not available for champion blowers. A few items you can make yourself. Some items you could have made by a machine shop. My recommendation is to find another champion just like the first one and have yourself a spare parts inventory. I'm sure the guru will disagree, but champion hand crank blowers are, IMHO, at the bottom of the food chain. They are the most complex. Canneday Ottos are the simplest and most dependable, and yes, I have owned multiple blowers by THE BIG THREE.

    Phil -- rosche at Tuesday, 06/01/99 20:07:52 GMT

    Brian, Copper shears better than it cuts otherwise. A small cut-off type band or reciprocating saw would be my next choice if I didn't have a big enough shear or ironworker.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 21:15:08 GMT


    It's not that your method is UNsafe, it's just not AS safe.
    Guru got me on the same thing, and he's seen me light my forge as I described above. But as he said, we all do things that we've learned over the years how to do. Just because we do them that way does not necessarily mean that they are the only/best/safest way to do them.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 06/01/99 21:23:06 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    I am interested in metalcasting techniques, specifically, making
    metalcasting moulds to mathematical specifications, not merely forming
    imprints, would you posses any information of or about the construction of moulds and the measuring devices which can verify nonlinear cast specs?

    If you feel the question is too broad, then can you list some reference sources which will answer this question.

    ike -- ikemay at Tuesday, 06/01/99 21:46:02 GMT

    Guru; I wish to make a simple forge to make pieces for the yard & garden. Experience level = 0. (saw show once at making one from wheelbarrow tub.) Can you direct me to books of instruction? Do you know anyone in Nashville,TN area who teaches blacksmithing? Thanx so much. R.

    Rhett Love -- mjrl112 at Tuesday, 06/01/99 22:32:01 GMT

    Ike, Virtualy all high temperature metalcasting (iron and bronze) is derived from an "imprint" from a pattern. Patterns are normally produced by hand but more and more machine work is being applied.

    Non-ferrous castings such as ZA-24 (high strength zinc aluminium alloy) is cast in precision machined cast iron and steel molds. Today these molds are produced by CAD-CAM systems (Computer Aided Design - Computer Aided Machining) or via EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining). CAD-CAM systems can be used with Rapid Prototyping which produces an "instant" plastic part. This part can be plated and then used as an electrode in the EDM process to produce a mold cavity in iron/steel for non-ferrous casting. The plastic prototype can be used for verification of the specs and in some cases (such as was done with Iomega's ZIP drive) used for limited production for product testing.

    Measuring of "non-linear" parts is now done with computer input devices that are designed for both measurement and gathering contour data for entry into a 3D-CAD system.

    For a general overview of these processes you want to read ASM International's Metals Handbook on Casting (see our link). You should also subscribe to Design News, Machine Design and Foundry Magazine. Back issues and the complete ASM Metals Handbook can be found in most engineering school libraries. The Zinc Institute also has some intresting literature on the use of ZA alloys.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 23:25:01 GMT

    Rhett, Try our plans for a Brake Drum Forge on the Plans page. Use your imagination. All a forge IS, is a pot or hole in the ground to hold the fuel and a way to blow air on the fire to increase the temperature. In the West we like to stand up and work so our "hole in the ground" generaly has legs to raise it to a convienient level. Join your local ABANA chapter. They will have lessons and you may meet someone there that will give you more formal training. See my article Getting Started

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/01/99 23:32:32 GMT

    Please help:

    I have been forging 52100 in my propane forge and I am having a terrible time with the steel cracking. The steel is in the form of 2 inch by half bars, I forge them in the red-orange range and draw them out and flatten into the general thickness of a knife blade. The cracks are very small and straight with the length of the blade and they also have very fine saw teeth on the cracks. Anybody have any guesses about what I am doing wrong? Any help will be appreciated.


    Josh Amerine -- amerine at Wednesday, 06/02/99 00:01:16 GMT

    Josh, Do the cracks appear before or after heat treatment? How are you hardening and tempering? Do you normalize first?


    -- guru Wednesday, 06/02/99 02:29:17 GMT

    I'm a working blacksmith, architectural and sculptural. I've been blacksmithing for 3 years mostly self-taught. My question is: I'm restoring an old(60's or so) inset barbecue grill. After sand blasting, i plan to coat the area's i can't get to with phosphoric acid to prep the metal and effect the rust. I will be painting this piece with high temp black paint. Will heat effect the coating that is left by the phosphoric acid?

    hinmaton hisler -- hinmaton at Wednesday, 06/02/99 04:59:49 GMT

    This week the tutorial on the Slack-Tub Pub will take place, Wednesday (June 2nd) at 9:30pm Eastern, 8:30pm Central.

    See you there.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Wednesday, 06/02/99 12:23:00 GMT

    Josh Amerine: Can't tell for sure what is causing the cracks, but 52100 should not be worked much above 2150f . It burns easily at that temperature if any oxygen is present. Keep the steel out of the flame in the forge as that is also a place where burning of the steel can happen.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Wednesday, 06/02/99 13:50:17 GMT

    Anna; Spiral Draws:

    Sometimes if you work each face in sequence, either four or (especially) eight sided, the draw pulls into a spiral. On a four sided bar, most folks work 1,2,1,2,1,2, and then clean it up on the other two sides. If you work 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,, it will tend to spiral. You might also try drawing in a 1,3,1,3, and then a 2,4,2,4, pattern. Along with Jock's suggestions on hammer control, this may simplify your work.

    Back from California, and slowly catching up with my work on the sunny, breezy banks of the Potomac. Over 70 e-mails at work and a dozen at home!

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistona at Wednesday, 06/02/99 14:24:54 GMT


    Welcome back! Have a good trip?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/02/99 18:25:38 GMT


    The cracks appear after forging and normalizing, before any other treatment. I am sure that the forging itself is causing the problem. Some of the edges of the steel seem to be disintegrating. I am not sure what I am doing wrong. I have worked O-1 and found that it cracked badly if it was forged below full red. I try not to let the 52100 cool to that point and I start forging (52100)about in the orange range. I am however, taking the half by two bars and forging them almost round and then into half by one flats. Do you think I might be pushing the steel too far? I also thought about grinding it smooth before forging, could that help? The little cracks are very distinctive, sraight, parallel, and finely saw-toothed. I am just guessing at this point. I'll try a cooler steel next.



    Josh Amerine -- amerine at Wednesday, 06/02/99 23:39:32 GMT

    I am doing some work with a plasma cutter and am trying to find a picture of a pantagraph so I can build one, any help would sure be appreciated.

    Elroy Shackle -- skeeterforge at Thursday, 06/03/99 01:41:21 GMT

    Josh: Still sounds like a burning problem. You might want to check the gas/air ratio on your forge, and or try a lower temperature to work at. Also might try grinding before forging to see if cracks are present before you start forging. Are you forging by hand , or with a power hammer. Too much deformation between recrystalization may cause a similar problem.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 06/03/99 01:42:55 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    I am new to oxy-acetylene welding and I am wary of watching the flame work its way into my torch. Is it proper to have the flame completely work its way into the torch or come close to the tip?

    Also, what is the safest way to make torch adjustments in order to achieve the correct flame. Describe the sequence of acety gas valve and oxygen valve adjustments you would make?

    Further, whenever I try to adjust the flame correctly I can't help but look straight at the flame (my welding manual does not recommend the use of tinted safety goggles when making flame adjustments),therefore, I hurt my eyes. What is the long term health danger this poses and how soon can it happen to me?

    My "eyes" thank you.

    ike -- ikemay at Thursday, 06/03/99 02:23:18 GMT

    Ike, filter lens should be used at all times with oxyacetylene. Sometimes we get careless and don't use them when heating (rather than welding) but the proper filter lenses should always be worn. The brightest component of the oxyacetylene flame can not be seen! Its ultra-violet beyond the visible spectrum. When welding you get this plus infra red. Welder's filter lenses use cobalt glass to absorb the UV. For heavy heating and in gas furnace use (high infra-red) special "dydidium" glasses are worn.

    Occasional exposure does not normaly result in permanent eye damage, however each individual has different tolerance for such things. Repeated continous exposure is worse than staring at the sun. Long term "chronic" exposure is believed to produce cataracks (sp).

    The gas flame should never go up into the tip. This causes poping and flame out, flashbacks and flame burning in the lines (normally associated with a whistling noise). Immediately turn off the torch if ANY of the above occur. Immediately close the cylinder valves if the whistling noise persists or there are any other signs of flashback. All modern welding equipment (in the U.S.) is required to be fitted with anti-flashback check valves.

    The flame should just hover at the tip. If is is off the tip by a discernable distance the pressure or flow is too high. Sometimes it can be brought back by lowering the flow then re-adjusting upwards. The gas velocity at the tip must be high enough to prevent the flame front from entering the tip but not so high the flame is seperated from the tip.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/03/99 03:02:34 GMT

    Does anyone of Wendell August Forge in Pennsylvania? Are there any other forges like this one in the US, maybe the southwest?

    Dave -- Thomasdwjt at Thursday, 06/03/99 04:25:53 GMT


    I am trying to punch an oval hole in a 1 inch square bar. If I punch only from one side the bottom deforms outward. I tried punch halfway from both sides and the hole on the inside was a mess. I am using a Bull air hammer (75lb). Should I slit the hole first? Drill?

    Many thanks.

    Nicholas -- marceljan at Thursday, 06/03/99 16:00:37 GMT

    Can you tell me a source for high quality custom made hand stamps at a resonable price? I received a price quote from centaur forge ltd. but it seems high. Thanks.

    Greg Allen -- g-allen at Thursday, 06/03/99 16:35:18 GMT

    More on eyes. As one who has worked in operating rooms for years, I've seen my share of ruined lives all because of a careless shortcut to save a minute or two. Cut off hands, thumbs, fingers and put out eyes are a terrible price to pay. I am not an Opthomologist but have worked with them long enough to pick up quite a lot. The guru is right when he says eye protection MUST always be worn in a metal or wood shop. If your eyes are red, watering, feel "gritty" or itchy after welding or torch work, your filter is not correct and you need to get a darker one immediately. Although acute welding injury is usually temporary but painful, research suggests that chronic exposure to UV rays (be it a welding filter too light or year in, year out exposure to the sun without sunglasses like farmers, carpenters etc who work outdoors) increases the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. Although cataract surgery is very advanced and highly successful (at $4000. + per eye) there is little drs can do for macular degeneration, a condition where the point on the retna responsible for very sharp vision is destroyed, leaving the person with only side vision and being unable to do anything (drive, read, watch TV etc.) To get an idea what its like, stare straight ahead and try to thread a needle or read print held at eyebrow level.And a final point, NEVER chip welding slag without saftey glasses. The slag "explodes" into tiny VERY SHARP fragments that can slice into your eye tissue like a razor blade.As one eye surgeon told me, glasses are a lot cheaper than glass eyes.

    Bruce -- brucelowery at Thursday, 06/03/99 19:28:32 GMT

    HOT PUNCHING (Nicholas): Like other blacksmithing skills this takes practice. Normaly you punch 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through and then turn the work and finish from the back. You align the punch via the dark (cooled) area produced by punching from the first side. The neatness of the hole is determined by the alignment of the second step. If you need a really clean hole then finish to size with a drift (a pin tapered in two directions, the final size at the center).

    To prevent the punch from over heating and sticking some smiths drop a little coal dust down the partialy punched hole OR they lubricate the punch with a little grease.

    You slit the bar the same way. Slitting is used when you want to swell the bar at the hole. This is often done for decorative purposes and to show that the bar has not been reduced in section. The slit should be the length of half the circumference of the hole.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/03/99 22:04:15 GMT

    I'm just trying to get started in blacksmithing and I'm steelworker for the past 7 years. My question is I have a coil spring that someone other than myself heated one end and took the temper out of it .How do I put the temper back in? PLEASE RESPOND ASAP THANK YOU

    SHANNON -- WVADADX2 at AOL.COM Friday, 06/04/99 02:58:23 GMT

    I'm just trying to get started in blacksmithing and I'm steelworker for the past 7 years. My question is I have a coil spring that someone other than myself heated one end and took the temper out of it .How do I put the temper back in? PLEASE RESPOND ASAP THANK YOU

    SHANNON -- WVADADX2 at AOL.COM Friday, 06/04/99 03:03:27 GMT

    I'm just trying to get started in blacksmithing and I'm steelworker for the past 7 years. My question is I have a coil spring that someone other than myself heated one end and took the temper out of it .How do I put the temper back in? PLEASE RESPOND ASAP THANK YOU

    SHANNON -- WVADADX2 at AOL.COM Friday, 06/04/99 03:04:03 GMT

    A fellow just gave me a bunch of bend push rods from hydraulic cylinders, some 2dia.
    Just wondering if the steel is good for tool use? Also what about the chrome finish on the rods.???
    Are some SS on just carbon steel?

    Does anyone know what kind steel is in those big payment breakers? The ones about 3 in dia. Plus.

    glenn -- ridgart at Friday, 06/04/99 11:57:49 GMT

    Shannon, The whole spring must be heat treated. To harden carbon steels they must be heated to the transformation point (a dull red or where they become non-magnetic) and then quench the part in the correct quenchant (air, oil, water, brine). This (the hardening point) is above the point at which all temper (hardness) is removed. If you try to spot harden a part there will always be a soft heat affected zone just beyond the hardened area.

    The entire hardening/tempering sequence is a follows.
  • Normalize (same as anneal, heat till non-magnetic and let cool as slow as possible). This reduces working stresses in the part. The slow cooling is often achieved by burrial in ashes, lime or dry sand.
  • Harden the part by heating the part to the transformation point (non-magnetic) and quench. Various steels require different quenchants. Plain carbon steels use water and sometimes oil. Spring steels are most common;y quenched in oil but some grade require water. Most alloy tool steels are oil quenched and some special grades are air quench. Quenchants cool the steel at varying rates. Some steels need the fast quench of water while others will crack if quenched in water.
  • Temper the part by reheating to some temperature below the transformation point. The higher the temper temperature the softer the part will be (up to a point). Some steels require a temperature as low as 450°F while others are tempered up to 1,300°F. Tempering occurs almost instantly but it is best if the part can be soaked for 30 minutes to an hour. Blacksmiths, knifesmiths and others often vary the temper on different sections of a part.

  • SO, Your question is only partly answered. To do the job you must know what type of steel you are heattreating. Then you need to look up the specifics in a reference such as MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK or ASM's Metals Reference Book. After that you will need ways to judge or control the various temperatures.

    Blacksmiths often DO harden and temper parts by "seat of the pants methods". However, the steps are the same and the need for knowledge is the same. Today it is common to use scrap materials such as springs to make blades and various tools. However, the smith must test a sample of the material before making and heattreating the final part. This is a form of destructive testing and is the only way to be sure of one's results when dealing with an unknown material.

    -- guru Friday, 06/04/99 12:15:48 GMT

    Would like general information on how blacksmiths cut material back in the 1800's. I would also like to know how the locamotive was constructed.

    Alan Watson -- awatson at arwatsonlcom Friday, 06/04/99 18:34:16 GMT

    Hydraulic Cylinder Rods are fairly high carbon alloy steel. Some are hardened (400 series) stainless but most are hard chrome plated over hardened and ground steel. I know folks that make hot work chisels and other blacksmith tools from them.

    -- guru Friday, 06/04/99 21:13:33 GMT

    Alan, Cutting metalic materials a century ago was pretty much the same as today. Blacksmiths used hot and cold chisels, hack saws, shears and punches (hand and power). Twist drills were in use from the early 1800's. The big difference today is the use of alloy and high speed steel in machine tools. Heavy shops of the time used big shears same as today. Rolling and drawing mills had been around from the 1700's up. All of your major machine tools including the planner, lathe, shaper, milling machines and the steam hammer were all invented and well developed by mid century (1850).

    The only tools that were not available were the cutting torch and arc welding. However, both were invented and saw SOME use before the end of the 19th Century (over 100 years ago). Small machine tools were common in many shops from the steam era on (200 years ago). The romantic myth of the village blacksmith doing everything by hand is just that, a romantic myth. However, to be fair, the Frontier blacksmith had always been as primitive as the frontier he was part of. But fontiers are transient things, primitive today, civilized the next, seldom lasting a generation, much less a lifetime.

    -- guru Friday, 06/04/99 21:53:24 GMT


    I am using a 25 lb Little Giant. I think I will do some work at a cooler temperature and see if that helps. The power hammer really moves a lot of steel in a hurry, I may shorten the fire to hammer cycles and go a little slower. On a positive note, I heat treated some of that 52100 just as you instructed, when I found the cracks on final grinding I decided to break the blade. It snapped in several places suggesting that I had not adequately softened the spine, but the grain structure at the breaks was the finest I have ever seen in steel. I think I am going to like 52100 once I figure it out. Have you got any more?



    Josh Amerine -- amerine at Friday, 06/04/99 23:58:16 GMT

    Building a Locomotive: First you study physics, thermal dynamics, engineering, machine design and machine operation. Then you take a 1,175 ton (or 1,000 metric ton) block of steel and carve away anything that doesn't look like a locomotive.

    For details about steam locomotives including detailed drawings and scale model kits try "Live Steam" magazine. There are hundreds of designs including some VERY novel gearing and cylinder arrangements.
    Also try Live Steaming

    -- guru Saturday, 06/05/99 00:06:31 GMT

    "Then you take a 1,175 ton (or 1,000 metric ton) block of steel and carve away anything that doesn't look like a locomotive."

    Loud laughter in Carolina!

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 06/05/99 00:17:28 GMT

    As per your comment "carve away anything that doesn't look like a locomotive", will this procedure work for steam ships as well?, or is primatilly for land based vehicles?.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Saturday, 06/05/99 03:35:14 GMT

    Land OR Sea, However aircraft must start with aluminium for the body and steel for the engine :)

    I believe the response originated with Michaelangelo when asked a similar question about one of his scultpures, his reply, "I just carved away anything that didn't look like. . ."

    I have no evidence other than my own experiance answering questions for people that really didn't want to know and would not believe that they could not understand the answer or have the patience to listen to it, but I would bet that Antonio Stradavarious started the erroneous belief that "The secret is in the varnish" when some pompous fool asked "Why are your violins so much better than all the others?" Ah, 47 herbs and spices????

    OBTW- Steam locomotives have cast iron wheels with a huge wrought iron of steel tire shrunk on (like a wagon wheel). The rims were forge welded. The parts are all machined before AND after shrinking on the tire. The most difficult part of making an efficient boiler is making the necessary grade of steel and drawing the tubing.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/05/99 13:11:04 GMT

    I am looking for a booklet on Beaudry powerhammers. I just bought a 350lb. hammer and wanted to do some matinance on it . thank you Grizz

    Grizz -- tilliegriz at Sunday, 06/06/99 06:04:50 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    I have been trying to locate a business that sells "graphite" crucibles in all sizes. Would anyone know of a place located somewhere in lower NY, NY City, Long Island, or the Northern New Jersey, area that sell crucibles in all sizes?

    ike -- ikemay at Sunday, 06/06/99 13:00:33 GMT

    Hey Guru and Co.
    Got the forge upo and running took a couple of tries, but finaly made it burn well.
    Burnt the first piece of steel but will continue to try(you carn't expect to be good at something first go!!!!!)
    Thanks for the help and I'll tell how I get on later.


    Stuart B. -- chatterfxd at Sunday, 06/06/99 14:02:07 GMT

    Stuart, If you can burn with it you can generally weld with it!

    -- guru Sunday, 06/06/99 14:38:45 GMT

    Ike, Look up "Foundry Supplies" and "Jewlers Supplies" in your local phone book. "ALL" sizes is a problem. Jewelery suppliers sell a huge variety of little crucibles of a pound capacity and less (much less). These small crucible are bought in bulk and are relatively cheap. For larger sizes you have to go to a foundry supplier. If all else fails McMaster-Carr ships all over the country and probably has a local wharehouse.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/06/99 14:45:13 GMT

    I'm just getting interested in blacksmithing. Do you know a good site where i can buy an anvil, vise, bellows,etc?

    Russ -- Wakebrd123 Sunday, 06/06/99 20:50:41 GMT

    Just logged on to see whats going on.

    frank -- laroque at Sunday, 06/06/99 23:07:13 GMT

    I am trying to find the meaning of "Please and Quarters". My uncle was telling me about one of my grandfathers that was an apprentice to a blacksmith. If you have any idea how this phrase would be used in connection with being an apprentice to a blacksmith I would appreciate your help. Thank You!

    Brenda Williams -- brendatw at Monday, 06/07/99 00:43:06 GMT

    I am trying to find the meaning of "Please and Quarters". My uncle was telling me about one of my grandfathers that was an apprentice to a blacksmith. If you have any idea how this phrase would be used in connection with being an apprentice to a blacksmith I would appreciate your help. Thank You!

    Brenda Williams -- brendatw at Monday, 06/07/99 00:45:48 GMT

    HEY:Who is there?

    GRIZZ -- TILLIEGRIZ at AOL.COM Monday, 06/07/99 02:56:12 GMT

    MASTER GURU: I am looking for a booklet for Beaudry powerhammer. I bought a 350lb. power hammer and am going to install it and need to do some matianance.thank you Grizz

    Grizz -- tilliegriz at Monday, 06/07/99 03:02:22 GMT

    Alan; more on locomotives:

    Contact, visit, or pull up the website for Steamtown National Historic Site, one of the lesser known assets of your National Park Service. The information below is pulled from the introductory material.

    "Congress created Steamtown National Historic Site in 1986 to interpret the story of main line steam railroading between 1850 and 1950. The park occupies about forty acres of the former Scranton Yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, and includes historic railroading buildings, some dating from 1865. Steamtown National Historic Site operates three historic steam locomotives. The new core complex area, consisting of the restored 1937 roundhouse, the 1902 roundhouse, visitor center, theater, history museum and technology museum opened on July 1, 1995. One of the ways Steamtown preserves the past is through the restoration shop. The site includes a look at some of our restoration projects."

    The address for an in-depth look at Steamtown National Historic Site is

    My boss has been there and (despite being an old car buff as opposed to a railroad buff) said it is one of our more interesting National Historic Sites.

    Lovely weekend on the banks of the lower Potomac. HHH (hazy, hot & humid) scheduled for tomorrow.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Monday, 06/07/99 03:14:38 GMT

    does any body know anything about a power hammer called a KS no1 made in sweden, it is a lever type hammer but the rear quadrent is broken.
    I am trying to find out what the correct distance between the hammer and anvil should be as this machine is in three pieces.Any info would be apreaciated.

    peter bates -- prbates at Monday, 06/07/99 09:21:15 GMT

    I went to the Dedication of the new "Hart Moore Blacksmith Studio" at TOUCHSTONE CENTER FOR CRAFTS Farmington PA. It is a Fabulous studio, BIG, 12 forges, a air hammer lots of space to work, for info 800-721-0177

    glen -- ridgart at Monday, 06/07/99 12:36:43 GMT

    I'm the training coordinator for the maintenance department at Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. Metalworking training is very much needed. Please send me any information to:
    Lynn Pfenning - Training Coordinator
    Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant
    966 South Mississippi River Blvd.
    St. Paul, Mn 55116

    Lynn Pfenning -- lpfennin at Monday, 06/07/99 13:38:58 GMT

    High Carbon steel (flat pieces and round ones)
    Do you know whaere I can get these?
    If you do please contact me at my e-mail address.

    Isaiah -- blackblade68 at Monday, 06/07/99 17:55:21 GMT

    WHERE TO BUY (Russ & Isaiah): For NEW or USED Equipment the advertisers on anvilfire carry it ALL. Centaur Forge or Bruce Wallace can fix you right up. Bruce carries more used equipment than new. Both carry coal.

    Isaiah, For small quantities of carbon and alloy steel McMaster-Carr is your best bet. Your local steel service center can order almost anything you want but you will be required to purchase industrial quantities. Nationaly J.T Ryerson and Sons is very good about selling stock cut to size.

    -- guru Monday, 06/07/99 21:52:45 GMT

    Train Buffs, Although the Feds spent billions (yes BILLIONS) on Steamtown the Sacremento (California) Railroad Museum is still the BEST on the planet. So, if you are near the East OR West coasts there are FINE railroad sites to visits.

    -- guru Monday, 06/07/99 22:01:22 GMT

    Swedish Hammer (Peter): We are trying to get some hammer photos from our friends in Sweden. If the distance you are speaking of is between the frame and anvil the correct distance is that which positions the lower die under the upper die. Many machines have wooden and leather wedges or shims in this space. If you are speaking of the height of the RAM above the anvil (die to die clearance), this depends somewhat on the size and type of hammer. On mechanicals this is normally about an inch (25mm) but on many can be adjusted to zero to several inches (2-3.5", 50mm-100mm). IN toggle type hammers this also depends on the toggle spring tension adjustment. However, I don't believe the hammer you speak of has this feature.

    Reverse engineering is my forte'. If you can get me photos or sketches (scanned and emailed) I may be able to help you.

    -- guru Monday, 06/07/99 22:11:44 GMT

    I have a Buffalo post drill with the feed wheel on the front of the drill, not on the top as most are. I am missing the dog/arm that causes the feed wheel to index. Anyone know what one looks like? A picture? Thanks.

    Barry Myers -- bmyers647 at Tuesday, 06/08/99 02:06:05 GMT

    i need to know what j2 steel is and can i sharpen the blade on it

    doug -- maxmayhem1 at Tuesday, 06/08/99 04:48:25 GMT

    Guru: Yes,yes,yes, i know I promised pictures of swedish powerhammers and Ill deliver as soon as I find some time to spend in our archives.
    Ive been to busy refitting and testfiring our two model 1831 muzzle-loading cannon for the museum anniversary. (Strange job, aintit?)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Tuesday, 06/08/99 15:41:23 GMT

    I am looking for the plans for a propane gas forge. Do you have these plans, or know how I can get them? Thanks

    Jud Wendel -- OzGreatAndTerrible at Tuesday, 06/08/99 19:24:29 GMT

    There are quite a few plans out there. The Guru has a link to Ron Reil's web sire and his gas forge plans. They work very well!
    Good luck and keep us posted!


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Tuesday, 06/08/99 19:44:52 GMT

    Ooops! That was supposed to read "site" and not "sire"

    Hush your mouth PawPaw!(grin)


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Tuesday, 06/08/99 19:46:24 GMT

    Howdy Guru!
    I was wondering how hot you have to get wood before it will turn into charcoal. What happens if you get it substantially hotter than that? I am building a propane forge out of a 30 or 55 gal drum, and the thought occured to me that it might be a good thing to put an chamber at the top (if the barrel is on its side) for making charcoal for case hardening, a cupola furnace charge, etc.. I wonder if the forge will be too hot to make charcoal with the waste heat, or if this is a nifty idea.

    What do you think ?

    95 degrees and bone dry in Tucson AZ....


    Nick Janes -- janes at Tuesday, 06/08/99 21:14:27 GMT


    Chuckle! Depends on what you're looking for, I guess! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Tuesday, 06/08/99 21:22:18 GMT

    HOT CHARCOAL: Nick, I don't know. I THINK that as long as you keep the air away from the charcoal that you just get better charcoal (no volitiles). SOME may gas off as free carbon but not a significant amount. The problem may be the carbon interacting with other things.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/08/99 21:56:05 GMT

    hello to all here is my first (and not my last ) question
    what is the best suggestion for making a forge. i have not had much experience with metal work but i am getting more knowledgable about every day and i have made the choice of using my backyard shop for metal work ... the flooring is the ground the roof is tin and hopfully soon the inside will be hot from a forge

    thanks for any help you can give a starter to the art of metal working

    ps. i know that a brake drum works as a small one but i am wanting one just a little bigger for bigger tasks

    thanks again

    scott holt -- scott_holt at Tuesday, 06/08/99 23:32:13 GMT

    hello to all here is my first (and not my last ) question
    what is the best suggestion for making a forge. i have not had much experience with metal work but i am getting more knowledgable about every day and i have made the choice of using my backyard shop for metal work ... the flooring is the ground the roof is tin and hopfully soon the inside will be hot from a forge

    thanks for any help you can give a starter to the art of metal working

    ps. i know that a brake drum works as a small one but i am wanting one just a little bigger for bigger tasks

    thanks again

    scott holt -- scott_holt at Tuesday, 06/08/99 23:32:28 GMT

    Need some info on truning flat metal (3/4" or less) and round stock (1/2" or less).. I do a lot of copper/brass work but am starting to incorporate inron into my pieces.. Thanks... Gary

    Gary L. Perrien -- oops at Wednesday, 06/09/99 02:19:12 GMT

    Hi all,
    Can anyone in this distinguished forum direct me to the "Regulator Guru"?
    I have two old industrial strength regulators that I'd like to revive. They don't have the stable flat side one usually desires in a first class paper weight. The acetylene is a Montgomery Ward (when did they stop branding their own?). The O-two is a RegO (cute brand name).
    The local repair rep said the Ward's was obsolete and the RegO didn't have any parts available.

    If nothing works out then I guess they would make nice jewelry for somebody really big.


    Alan Gering -- bradley at Wednesday, 06/09/99 03:35:34 GMT

    I have just acquired a very unusual pair of pliers. They appear to be hand forged and have very unique jaws etc. Can you recommend a website of other reference sourcethat would help me determine intended use of the tool and possibly the maker (no mark on the tool).

    Thanks in advance,

    Scott Kemling -- scott.kemling at Wednesday, 06/09/99 13:07:23 GMT


    If you can take and scan a picture, or take a digital picture, I might be able to help. I've got a small collection of old pliers of different types.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/09/99 17:14:20 GMT

    I am assuming that you bought all your pliers new?(grin)


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Wednesday, 06/09/99 19:11:37 GMT


    Behave yourself, or I'll tell Dawn on you! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/09/99 21:13:14 GMT

    So what!? She already has accepted my limitations(smile)
    Notice I do not threaten to tell Sheri(cause I know she already has your number! grin)
    I am trying to get that package of stuff out to you asap but it seems as if the BOSS upstairs has other ideas. I am trying to finish up tho.


    Ralph -- douglass at Wednesday, 06/09/99 22:40:31 GMT


    Your limitations yes, but has she accepted your indiscretions? (grin

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 06/10/99 00:17:02 GMT

    Oh grumpy gurus;
    I'm converting a Common Sense toggle arm hammer to air (ala Kinyon) and the valving seems intimidatingly expensive. Is there a discount or used pilot valve store that does mail order?

    Pete -- artgawk at Thursday, 06/10/99 08:06:47 GMT

    Can you suggest a good source for learning about making and installing gates, railings, etc.? Books, etc.?
    Thank you

    kevin -- none Thursday, 06/10/99 18:21:03 GMT

    Regulators (Alan): The part that "wears out" in a regulator is the valve/diaphram and seat which are generaly proprietary (special) parts that are not standardized. If not good paper weights then good scrap brass???

    Years ago I bought a popular department store brand welding rig. A few years later I went into blacksmithing and the first thing I thought I should do is get a better variety of cutting tips (one size does not do-all). I was disappointed to find out that the parts were not available AND it was all specialy manufactured for you know who. NO, it was NOT made by another "standard" manufacturer. . . Paper weights and wall hangers.

    Since then I have standardized on Victor torches and regulators. Even 40 year old "junkers" are repairable and most of the torch parts are interchangable. Today nothing is a "sure thing" but buying a reputable quality product usualy pays off in the long run.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/10/99 22:28:54 GMT

    J2 ? STEEL (Doug): I couldn't find a reference for "J2" steel. This may be a non-standard manufacturer's designation. Even then I couldn't find it in my cross reference books. Are you sure its a "J"?

    -- guru Thursday, 06/10/99 22:42:21 GMT

    Scott Holt, There are pictures of fabricated forges on the Centaur Forge web site. You can start with a commercial firepot or fabricate your own. Once you know what a forge looks like you can build them out of mud, metal or brick. As long as you have a place to hold the fire and blow air on it you've got a forge.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/10/99 22:48:02 GMT

    Grumpy???? Sleepy, Sneezy and Happy maybe but Grumpy?????

    AIR VALVES (Pete): Yes, good air valve ARE expensive and YES there are surplus folks that occasionaly sell them. They work basicaly the same as hydraulic cylinder control valves (same circuitry, different seals). You can save a lot of cost by simplifying and building a single stroke machine like the KA-##. . .

    If you compare the cost of the valves to the cost of a good power hammer then the cost is actually insignificant.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/10/99 22:55:59 GMT


    Well, I've been called Grumpy on occasion. Never twice by the same person, though. (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 06/11/99 00:28:16 GMT

    i have a franklin400 hand crank blower verry early model i nead to find a set of replasement bearings ? ore where to find them they look verry much like bike bearings

    tom -- deadapache at Friday, 06/11/99 03:24:54 GMT

    I just purchased a champion trip hammer that needs some restoration work. I noticed that there were listings for little giant hammers but I could not find any leads for champion hammers. Any information would be of great help. It looks like a small hammer (25 lbs or less?) has "No. 0" stamped on the side. Was line shaft driven. I am going to convert it to a motor. How many rpms should the fly wheel turn, how many horse powers should the motor be?

    Bruce -- parkerl at Friday, 06/11/99 03:28:37 GMT

    Have access to large quantities of tempered plate (leaf spring steel). Was wondering if this stuff was of any use in swordsmithing?

    Sam -- holmespi at Friday, 06/11/99 05:40:01 GMT

    Hey Jock
    Hope you are well and happy. And hello to that other "old guy" Jim.
    Jock there is an 8th grader out there who is doing a history report and would like information about the history of blacksmithing. I was hopeing that you and some of the other smiths could help him out. His email address is joew at
    I directed him to your site and you might hear from him in the future, I just thought maybe you and "Jim" the old one, could help him out. Knowing the depth of your combined knowledge is deeper then a well in the mohabi desert, I am sure you can get him an A+ on his report. As always good luck and good fortune to all.
    Still Patent Searching and smithing four days a week. As indigent as a bee with no hive and cantankerous as ever.
    Rick C.

    Rick -- rickyc at Friday, 06/11/99 16:15:54 GMT

    Do you have an address for the California Association Of Blacksmithing? It is my understanding that before begining an apprenticeship I must first be a Member. I live In San Diego and desire to learn near my home. Thank YOu.

    Matthew Lowrie -- Lowrie at Friday, 06/11/99 16:50:25 GMT


    I'm thinking about making a forge out of 1/2" mild steel plate. With steel that thick, would a firepot still be needed?

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Friday, 06/11/99 21:48:56 GMT

    Matthew Lowrie,

    Go to the following URL:

    Click on the chapters button, find the California chapter, and go to the contacts section. You should find an address for the contact person there.

    Matt Marziale,

    I use a forge that the guru made in 1977. It was made out of 1/2" plate and although it's pretty rust pitted, it still works fine.
    I don't think you really need a firepot when you're building that stoutly. Others might not agree.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 06/11/99 22:29:33 GMT

    I only wish someone would be so nice as to call me grumpy, I have been called MUCH worse. Whatever anyone has called or heard about me, it's all true.

    Bruce, your Champion Hercules O hammer is a 30lber. RPM's is 400 and motor size should be 1HP.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 06/11/99 23:26:43 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    I am building a furnace and I need to know what is the approximate maximum temperature I will reach within the furnace, utilizing propane at 600,000 BTU per hour - assume I use two inches of insulating refractory concrete (thickness) and four inches of insulating refractory brick, and the interior volume of the furnace can be saturated with fuel?

    I do not expect an exact answer, but if you can't furnish me an answer, then can you ask your advisors what maximum temperature they reach on their furnaces utilizing which fuels (type) and the corresponding refractory and insulation-lining types they use?

    Also, I want to make my furnace burn as hot as possible, within a fair margin of safety, and I have available acetylene and propane burners, do you know if there are any dangers possible (chemical or otherwise) if I put acetylene and propane burners adjacent to each other (gas types are not mixing within the same burner)?

    ike -- ikemay Saturday, 06/12/99 10:06:34 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    Can you direct me to a website or other source which can show me oxygen lance designs utilized for making "stainless steel"?

    ike -- ikemay at Saturday, 06/12/99 10:11:41 GMT

    1st, the Sacramento Rail Museum has won national awards for being interesting and well laid out.
    2nd, I have seen 420 j2 mentioned in overpriced useless sword catalogs, they call it a surgical stainless.
    3rd, I have made swords in a forge half the size of a brakedrum forge, so I am curious as to what the new smith intends to manufacture.

    Chris -- kilpe4 at Saturday, 06/12/99 12:32:39 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    The acetylene burner company where I bought my burner from went out of business. Do you know where I can find oxy-acetylene burners for sale?

    ike -- ikemay at Saturday, 06/12/99 13:10:18 GMT


    "Propane flame burns at 2950F in free air. 21,600 Btu/lb."

    GAS FACTS, 21st Century Page,

    With pure oxygen both propane and acetylene burn over 5,000F. In a forge where there is some back pressure a propane flame will heat the lining to slightly over 3,000F

    Actylene furnaces are not used do to the danger of explosion. Acetylene is one of the most unstable gases in common use and at one time was used for more things than it is today. Safety issues have relagated it to professional welding use. Before using acetylene equipment you should take a welding course and learn the safety rules and the reasons for them. Actylene cylinders have no less than three safety features that other cylinders do not have. Can you list them? If not, you should not be handling acetylene.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 13:17:22 GMT

    Ike, I do not believe "oxygen lance" and "making stainless steel" go together. The oxygen lance is used for cutting everything from rock to cast iron.

    Chris, thanks for the explaniation on the "j2". I was right, it was uninteligable jargon (Salesman speak).

    Swords are worked in short sections but in decorative work you often need a long heat and therefore a large forge. However, many smiths find it more practical to do long bends with a torch. It is also convienient to shovel in a pile of coal and work all day without thinking about coal.. . I've used both large and small and found advantages to both (you can MOVE a small forge).

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 13:53:38 GMT

    COAL FORGE MATERIAL THICKNESS: I've built forges out of 3/8" (9mm) plate that lasted for YEARS under abusive conditions but have seen (own) Buffalo railroad forges with 1/2" (13mm) thick cast iron bottom that have been burnt OR rusted through. On the other hand many rivit forges were manufactured out of 16 and 18ga (2mm - 1.3mm) sheet steel and hold up fine (just don't leave it out in the weather).

    A popular method of building a gas forge is to use the bell end out of an old hot water heater tank. A 10" (250mm) square is cut out of the middle and a slightly deeper "pot" is made in pyramidal form from a piece of the side of the tank. The twyeer (air pipe) can be fabricated or made like the brake drum forge. See the 1998 AFC edition of the NEWS for pictures.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 14:10:08 GMT

    Whoops! That was supposed to be a "coal forge" . . .

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 15:47:40 GMT

    I cast brass and alum, need to do some cast iron. Is my furnace hot enough and any advice or????? Thanks.

    Frank -- laroque at Saturday, 06/12/99 18:06:41 GMT

    I am new to smithing but am an experienced welder. I was a welder in the Navy. I have some experience in working with different metals. I recently purchased a used Ferrier's 70# anvil and would like to get it cleaned up and ready to use. I have mounted it on an oak log to the right height but the anvil has seen better days. It has a lot of chips and worn areas along the edges and such. I would like to know how to repair it. I tried a little weld on the edge and the steel rod didn't work. I do not know exactly what the anvil is made of. Can it be built back up and then ground or filed to the right shape? The horn is in good shape.

    Ken Jansen -- kjansen at Saturday, 06/12/99 19:59:04 GMT

    Frank, Generaly Bronze and Cast iron can be cast from the same furnaces but iron does require at higher temperature.

    Cast Iron melts at 1990-2300 F

    Brass/Bronze melts at 1616 - 1843 F

    Aluminium melts at 1220 F

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 21:26:37 GMT

    ANVIL REPAIR (Ken): First (as you know) you must find out what the anvil is made of. Cheap anvil shaped door stops (currently sold at your local farm supply) are cast iron. Fisher "Eagle" anvils are made of cast iron with a steel face and reinforced horn with steel tip. These are welded "in the mold" and cannot be repaired.

    Historicaly the best anvils were wrought iron with a tool steel face forge welded on. These have been replaced by modern wrought and cast steels. The steel may vary from 1090 to 4140. Typically the face of an anvil is almost glass hard. Small anvils tend to be this hard while larger anvils (say over 200 pounds) are much softer.

    I generaly do not recommend repairs but as you can see they should be treated like die repairs. A lot of times you can do wonders with a grinder - rounded or chamfered corners are less likely to chip again.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/12/99 21:48:33 GMT

    I want to design a furnace (non-electric furnace) to reach the highest possible temperature, utilizing combinations of different fuels such as propane, coal, coke, etc. I believe complications may arise if coal and propane are utilized together due to air requirements (but I have heard of individuals piling coal around a crucible and then utilizing a propane torch), in your experience, what were the most succesful combinations of fuel types and what temperatures were reached?

    In relation to the first question, how much of role does heat insulation materials play in attaining maximum furnace temperatures? In other words, from empirical studies of furnace temperatures, given different fuel sources, what max. temperature differentials were recorded with respect to the flame temp. of the fuel source, as opposed to, the recorded furnace temperature? At approximately how many inches of refractory materials, such as ceramic fiber, castable refractory, and brick (each standing alone) will I begin to see a decreasing rate of temp. increase - for each inch of refractory material I decide to add.

    ike -- ikemay at Sunday, 06/13/99 01:43:09 GMT

    Ike, To understand the answers to these questions you would probably not need to ask. I recommend you take an engineering course in heat transfer.

    Refractory efficiency varries proportionately to its density. The lower the density the higher the efficiency. The foamed ceramic tiles designed for the space shuttle transmit virtualy no heat AND have juch a low density that one heated to a red heat can be held in a bare hand. THIS, brings up another tricky subject related to furnaces. Many furnaces heat an object with energy stored in the mass of the refractory. The higher the the thermal mass the better the furnace works, up to a point. If the thermal mass is too great the furnace would never get up to a useful temperature. So, a careful balance between mass, density, volume and btu is required while losses and rates of thermal conductivity are also critical factors.

    If you want more specific answers you will have to do the research yourself and possibly develope your own formulae.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/13/99 03:24:43 GMT

    Dear Jock:

    I finally located some more ~95% zinc paint (cold galvanize). Two problems:

    1) It's epoxy, and comes in three cans: one gallon can full of zinc powder (heavy!), one gallon can partly full of one epoxy ingredient (resin?) and a quart can full of the other epoxy ingredient (hardener?).

    2) The gentleman who was discussing it's possible sale ($60+, down from $80) indicated that OSHA (or was it EPA) had some restrictions on it, as in industrial use only.

    Assuming that this is a good price, does this stuff mix up in small batches (figuring a pot life of hours)? Also, I was under the impression that zinc was relatively benign, if you weren't burning it and breathing the fumes, or ingesting quantities of it.

    What's the story, oh wise one?

    Cooler but still bone dry on the banks of the lower Potomac. Rain gratefully accepted, if available.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 06/13/99 04:51:53 GMT

    I am 15 and i have just started and i have some questions for you.
    What is the best size anvil for me if im only going to make knives and other small items?

    Bryan Turner -- warcra7808 Sunday, 06/13/99 05:12:04 GMT

    ZINC EPOXY PAINT: Bruce, the "Professional use only" is probably because of the large quantity of epoxy and the fumes from it. Chemicaly it is no different than "5 minute" epoxy. This stuff is used to paint the inside of water supply tanks to prevent rust. The epoxy pretty much seals the zinc except where scratches and such occur. Where there are scratches free zinc ions (created by the electrical difference between the iron and zinc) attach themselves to the exposed iron. Since this stuff is used largely used in tanks (a confined space) there must be care in its use.

    Mixing requires POWER and yes there is a definite pot life (generaly a couple hours depending on the ambient temperature). The label instructions will tell you more. Epoxy hardens, it does not "dry". If left sitting the entire container will harden like a rock. The warmer it is the faster it hardens.

    For small to medium sized jobs I use CRC "Zinc Re-Nu" which I think is now called "Cold Galvanizing Paint". It comes in spray cans with a lacquer base. Unlike the epoxy above, this paint should be used on bare metal then sealed with another primer and a top coat. I use it directly over sand blasted steel. This is a little tricky because the zinc paint looks exactly like the fresh sand blasted steel. Being a thin spray it doesn't change the surface texture as much as would a heavy brush coat.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/13/99 15:48:43 GMT

    Bryan, Welcome to blacksmithing! You can not start too soon!

    The best size anvil is almost always the biggest one you can get. The reason I say "almost" is because anvils over 200 pounds (90 kg) are difficult to move and you will need help to move a 300 pound (140 kg) anvil. 100 and 125 pound anvils are very common and are a good size for getting started. The fact that these are a common size also keeps the price down. Larger AND smaller anvils generaly cost more per pound.

    For general use in a busy shop a 200-250 pound or greater anvil is needed. Smaller anvils can be quickly worn out by constantly doing heavy work on them. However, small anvils are commonly used in production shops where the production is of light weight itens such as Colonial reproduction door and cabinette hardware or small knives.

    I sold all my "small" 125 pound anvils recently and have regreted it ever since. Why? Because when you need a portable anvil THAT's the right size!

    -- guru Sunday, 06/13/99 16:07:03 GMT


    Hydrogen, as this is pretymuch an abundent renewable energy source and is reasonabbly stable when handled correctly, and (i beleive)
    its burning temperature is higher than propane, why do we not use it for cutting tourches, more to the point.. would it be possible to use it in a gas forge?
    I guess the problem would be the byproduct (H20) and steam, i remember back at tech we had a small hydtoxy generator that was used for brazing, soldering and has a larget tourch that was used for casting.

    I do know also that the IR emmissions are greater than Propane and accetalyne (guess thats the price you pay for a hotter burning gas)

    Any thoughts on the subject?

    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Sunday, 06/13/99 23:43:43 GMT

    OK guys, research time.

    I've found a gorgeous Buffalo Forge. It's complete, hand crank blower than can be valved to create a forced draft chimney or to supply air blast to the fire, or both. Has a side mount hood with stove pipe adapter. About 36" X 36". Cast iron table, square cast iron firepot, table has a slack tub cast into it, and also has a second slack tub hanging on the side opposite the hood. Pprobably a brine tub) Cast into the hood are the words, "Buffalo Forge Co." "Buffalo, NY"
    and "number 8660" The number (8660) may not be accurate, it's hard to read. But I'm fairly certain of the first two numbers.

    Obviously, it's a Buffalo forge. But about how old is it? About how much is it worth? The blower is frozen, but I think some WD49 and some patience can cure that. The cast iron is in suprisingly good condition. Some rust, of course, but seems to all be sound. If I buy it (and I probably will) will clean first, possibly sandblast, and put it back to work.

    It was identified some time ago by someone unknown as a RailRoad Forge. Any ideas where I can find out more about it?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 06/14/99 00:12:00 GMT

    Hello... I'm doing a carreer research project, and I chose blacksmithing... could you tell me where I could find some information on it?? Thanks in advance.

    L. Melendez -- AvatarShiva at Monday, 06/14/99 13:49:44 GMT

    I thought blacksmithing was an addiction, not a carreer;-)

    Olle Andersson -- utgaardaolle at Monday, 06/14/99 14:46:56 GMT

    Dear sir,Im hoping that you could steer me towards someone that could help me or sell to me drawings and or some such with regards to a pneumaticly operated hammer similer to that of the sahinler or kuhn.
    I have worked with the sahinler and with a few mechanical type hammer,a sort of treadle hammer design.The reason I ask is that it is somewhat haed to find this sort of information in my neighberhood.The few who are in the know keep this as a closely gaurded secret.I have limited time and funds but wish to invest in something like this with as little mistake as possible and of course maximum safety.
    with regards
    Craig in the holy land.

    Craig Stephenson -- putski at Monday, 06/14/99 18:24:33 GMT

    Hi, Watching with much interest the Junkyard Hammer projects as I have friend who wants me to build him one some time soon. Is there any way I can get in contact with your Kiwi Mr. Hopper as being in the same country I can give him a ring and discuss matters. I must admit that from your pages the mechanical models also look interesting and don't require an air compressor. Many thanks
    Raynor Johnston, Hamilton New Zealand (phone 07-849-7847)

    Raynor Johnston -- rhj-rbj at Monday, 06/14/99 18:50:48 GMT

    Hi, Please ignore that last message as have spotted Andrew Hoppers address on the chat page.
    Thanks Raynor J

    Raynor Johnston -- rhj-rbj at Monday, 06/14/99 19:02:52 GMT

    Do any of you know anything about Repair Days in Memphis? I have heard great things about it and was wondering if they do much blacksmithing during this event?
    I am interested in volunteering although I am very new to blacksmithing. Got any input on this? I would love to hear it.

    Anna -- akiefferbirdy at Tuesday, 06/15/99 02:55:49 GMT

    Hi, I have an old Buffalo portable forge, the stamped steel barbeque grill firebox type(24" dia.) with a hand blower hanging off the side. I bought it a couple years ago, cleaned it up and it works fine, I think?

    The other day I fired it up to anneal a shaft with a broken bolt I had to remove, when a local retirement village "ol'timer" riding his 18 speed bike caught a wiff of coal smoke and turned into the driveway. We talked awhile of his experiences of working a forge on the farm, eventually getting around to the construction of my forge, he asked what I had on the bottom of the firebox. I said "just the metal". "Oh", he said "we always used yellow clay... Find at a new construction site, dig it out, mix it with a little water to the consistancy of peanut butter and spread it in...."

    You know I went and looked through a dozen books on forging and smithing and not one mentioned what kind of refractory should or should not be used in a forge. So my questions are what kind of refractory should be used? Is clay? good enough? Commercial products? Will it improve fire control or the life of the forge? I'd like to hear your thoughts on what to put under the fire.


    Wayne -- wlpier at Tuesday, 06/15/99 14:43:36 GMT

    Craig hi, the Kinyon air hammer plans are available from ABANA. See the link on this page. I have built a simlar hammer & would be happy to give you any help I can. Let the hoarders of secrets be overthrown, I suffered the same problems but through Anvilfire and some other good sites on the net we shall overcome!
    Mike the Israeli smith

    mike -- manzie at Tuesday, 06/15/99 16:17:59 GMT

    Is there any source of information for somebody who is interested in making his first gate or railing? Books, videos, etc.? Thank you very much.

    kevin Tuesday, 06/15/99 17:43:55 GMT

    I have a friend out in Dallas TX that is a talented artist and has some experience in with metal works. She is looking for a job in the blacksmithing world close to home. She is VERY eager to learn,she used to work for Potter Arts in Dallas and wants to stay in the Dallas area. Any ideas would be great. Thank you

    Michael -- swingst at Tuesday, 06/15/99 19:54:24 GMT

    Michael, Have her try Bill Epps. If he can't use help in his shop he probably knows someone that can.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/15/99 21:32:52 GMT

    Help!! looking for a small slip roller or plans for making same. I wonder if you are familiar with the one advertized in Harbor Freight? Could it work with 1/4" flats ( it lists 3/16 as max) I know the folks in Wyoming make one but it is a bit pricy. I would like to fine a cheap one or make one. I saw a note somewhere about the Harbor Freight unit about 2 months ago but do not have regular access to theinternet. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Don Agostine

    Don Agostine -- prbmeister at Tuesday, 06/15/99 21:42:28 GMT

    Wayne, Claying the forge. I don't recommend it. However, any good sticky clay will do to add a little fire resistance. If you want to go modern high tech, add some fibreglass chop to the mix. The clay should be as stiff as possible otherwise it will shrink and crack badly (It IS going to crack some in any case). If you are not familiar with processing clay you should ask a potter. Processing requires a plaster "bat" to absorb extra water as you work the clay. . .
    The reason I don't recommend claying forges is that MOST part time or hobby smiths often leave their forge outdoors. The acids produced by coal ash and leached out by rain will evaporate a heavy plate forge. The clay just makes it difficult to clean the forge and creates more traps for the rust to do its work. It also reduces the portability of that "portable" forge. A bed of sand that can be dumped out will serve the same purpose although it will tend to get mixed with the coal. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/15/99 21:46:55 GMT

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