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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 16 - 30, 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
    I was very interested in the New Zealand Air hammer in your pages by Andrew Hooper. I am looking to build similar unit for Damascus knive forging. Do you have an email contact for Andrew? I would like to follow up and see how it worked out. I suspect the mod of heavier anvil is necessary.

    Regards Dave

    Dave Finnie -- dave.finnie at Wednesday, 06/16/99 00:02:33 GMT

    Hello, my name is Tom and I'm an aspiering sculptor from MN. The only knowledge I have of metal working comes from my one semester of welding this year in high school, so I'm pretty green. I didn't learn a lot from the class, but I discovered i love it, I can braze like you would not believe!
    I was wondering about Monel Metal. What is is? How do you work with it? ect. Also, Is there a metal that is maleable like putty, or can be formed by hand?


    Tom -- Tomrut_44 at Wednesday, 06/16/99 00:49:44 GMT

    Dave its a dozen posts above. andrew at

    Tom, Monel is a high nickle or nickle chrome alloy. Its highly corrosion resistant. The variety used for some pumps and boat shafting is 50/50 nickle chrome. NO iron. Very tough to machine but finishes beautifuly. Also quite expensive.

    No, there are some VERY soft alloys that could probably be formed by hand but they are very nasty metals like pure sodium (bursts into flame when exposed to humid air) or certain lead bismuth antimony alloys that melt at body temperature.

    Steel forms like putty at 2,400F :) Is commonly formed by hand by blacksmiths.* And forms VERY easy under a power hammer :) . . .

    * "Hand" forging includes what is now called "open die" forging under power hammers. It was considered hand forging because no fixed dies were used, just general purpose hand held tools. Except for the application of force by power the techniques are the same as used by every blacksmith. What the uninitiated calls "hand forging" using hammer and anvil is still the same thing. Before there were machines, "strikers" were used. A striker is a man weilding a sledge hammer at the blacksmith's command. Often several were used. The result is the same as the blacksmith using a machine. So use of a power hammer is still considered "hand forging".

    If you want to learn a LOT about smithing in art see our review of Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork. Then BUY a copy. If you don't you can't possibly be intrested in making metal works of art :)

    -- guru Wednesday, 06/16/99 02:56:46 GMT


    That should be our REVIEWS (plural) of Donal Meilach's book. (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/16/99 13:51:25 GMT

    Guru and all,

    I was thinking about this claying of forges, It seems to me if you wanted to clay the forge you could
    make a framework(?) of chicken wire and then mold the clay around that. With care you should be able
    to remove the clay to clean the forge and for transporting the forge.
    I think I will try it, but any opinions are welcome. Either way soon as I can get it done I will let
    y'all know how it works out.


    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Wednesday, 06/16/99 14:42:52 GMT


    Vince Gingery has a book available from Lindsay Publications. ( His dad, Dave Gingery has plans for a sheet metal brake. Lindsay Pubs is an excellent source for metal working books. Some of the manuals may be from days gone by, but then again melting metal is still melting metal, pounding on steel is still pounding on steel. Much of the technology is still very applicable.


    Nick -- janes at Wednesday, 06/16/99 14:44:13 GMT

    Don Part II,

    I meant to say Vince Gingery has a book that has slip roll plans. You can build it very inexpensively. Also Lindsay Publications can be reached by snail mail at PO Box 530, Bradley IL 60915-0530 or by phone at 815-935-5353 since you said you don't have regular internet access.


    Nick -- janes at Wednesday, 06/16/99 14:50:32 GMT

    Hi there,We are Distributors of Jeweler's Tools and other related Supplies.We are searching for
    Companies offering Distributorships of their Tools
    etc.etc.Would you help us locate these Jobbers ?

    Mario Salconi c/o Island Jeweller's Supply Co. -- tradehouse at Thursday, 06/17/99 05:58:24 GMT

    I have one of the ubiquitous tombstone shaped red Lincoln arc welders.
    The new version of these are AC/DC, but alas mine is an old one, AC only.
    I'd like to have DC capability as it procuces a much smoother weld. I have considered rectifying the output current using diodes. Do you know of anyone who has done this sucessfully? A source and specification of the diodes needed would be helpful as well.
    I suppose one obvious source of info would be to open up one of the AC/DC welders and see what's inside. Anybody have one and care to take a look?

    RicLieb -- RicLieb at Thursday, 06/17/99 07:47:27 GMT

    My question is that I have ran into a 175# Brooks anvil ,made in England. I was wondering if this is a good quality anvil and what a fair price for it might be.I am unfamiliar with this brand of anvil.I have just begun to tinker into blacksmithing.

    stanley carter -- scarter at Thursday, 06/17/99 15:10:58 GMT

    Hey all, here's a marginally smithing-related question: I'm moving to Bowling Green, Ky this August (the wife is a new prof at Western Kentucky University) and I'm (we're)looking for a blacksmith-friendly place to rent near town. No money for downpayment, so we aren't buying a place yet, and 99.9% of landlords just don't want dirt, coal dust, and an ever-so-slight fire hazard in the back yard. Any ideas? I've tried the technique of showing them one of my dragon-head coat racks and then asking if they want one, and although a few offered to buy it, none wanted me to make one on their property. What can I do?
    Alan Longmire

    Alan Longmire -- Longmire at Thursday, 06/17/99 19:13:04 GMT

    What kind of coating can I use for my work that prevents it from corroding but doesn't hide the hammer marks. I.e. what is the alternative to dreadfull galvanising.

    best wishes


    robert jonker -- jonker at Thursday, 06/17/99 20:01:24 GMT

    I am looking for blaksmith/metalworking classes in the Los Angeles area. Anyone know of any?

    Thanks, Deborah

    Deborah Woods -- djewoods at Thursday, 06/17/99 21:29:24 GMT

    Jim, Sorry about leaving out your review! I started to mention IT as the one to see then went to check to see if it had what I thought it had and then got distracted. . .

    Nick, The Gingery books ARE a good source of ideas for the die-hard do it yourselfer. Primitive but workable. Clear illustrations. Will eventualy have reviews here.

    AC to DC welder conversion (RicLieb): It IS possible but have you ever looked inside one of the more sophisticated welders? Besides diodes mounted on a special insulated heat sink there are capacitors (big ones), resistors and various coils and such for voltage regulation and arc stabilization. For the parts cost you could probably get a very nice used unit. The other route is to go to welding shops (or your welding supplier) and ask them if they have an old unit that doesn't work. Labor costs more to repair many of these machines than a new one costs so there are quite a few around. Sometimes parts are difficult to find and repairmen are loath to substitute parts. Repair the unit or merge it with the welder you have now. In any case, you had better be pretty astute electrictronicaly and have your own test equipment.

    OBTW- Smooth welds are the result of the person and the type of rods more than the machine.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/17/99 21:45:14 GMT

    Deborah, Contact the CBA (California Blacksmiths Association). You can find them through the ABANA web site. They will be sponsoring classes or know where and local classes can be found. Membership will pay off at the first meeting.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/17/99 22:09:41 GMT


    You young guys do get distracted easily, don't you? (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Friday, 06/18/99 00:35:28 GMT

    Do you have any information on good visual resources of crucifixes forged in spain between 1550-1680?

    Eric Pinkel -- eric at 4nr Friday, 06/18/99 06:22:33 GMT

    How does one go about restoring stainless qualities to stainless steel after forging?

    JB Smith -- jefsmith at Friday, 06/18/99 07:43:00 GMT

    I am very interested in jigs that help to make hoops out of round iron bars.

    Jack Harrill -- moisez at Friday, 06/18/99 10:36:46 GMT

    Guru...diehard harley rider here and i'm into fabricating alot of my own parts. I put forward controls on the bike with steel I got at work. When I push on the brake pedal, the connecting rod, 5/16" x 14" stainless steel flex's can I treat it at home so it will stiffen up??? Thanx! Jocko

    Jocko -- jockj at Friday, 06/18/99 14:58:46 GMT

    Jocko, Springyness of Steels is a constant and does not change with hardness. If the part flexes and does not bend then the problem is the part is too light for the task. Try a 3/8" or 7/16" rod.

    Hard steel (including stainless) parts can be flexed further than soft ones but the spring rate stays the same. In other words the soft part will bend where the hard one will not. Both take the same effort to reach the point where the soft piece bends.

    I KNOW, Its hard to believe but, it IS a fact of nature.

    IF you need hard stainless parts be sure they are 400 series. The common 300 series stainless steels do not harden except by work hardening.

    -- guru Friday, 06/18/99 21:02:16 GMT

    BENDERS (Jack): Hoops are bent the same as scrolls. See the article on the 21st Century page about benders. If you need completely round hoops then it is best to bend (coil) the material around the jig (or rotate the jig) until you have used up an uncut length of material. Remove the coil and cut the straight ends off (in the same place) as you cut the coils apart. This gets rid of the "flat" or straight end with the least amount of waste. You get two waste ends for however many "hoops" or rings you could bend instead of two per each. For clean cut ends a band saw works best.

    -- guru Friday, 06/18/99 21:11:10 GMT

    How do you get the "brass" color on steel? The only "brass" brush I could locate is for BBQ's, are these really brass? What are the steps?

    J.B. -- jballinson at Saturday, 06/19/99 01:49:06 GMT

    J.B., The brush must have brass wire. Industrial suppliers and hardware distributors carry them in cleaning brushes. After forging a piece clean it up with a wire brush (steel or stainless, power is best) while the work is still hot and then hand brush with the brass brush. Its a combination of being fairly clean (that shiny gunmetal grey) and being hot. Sometimes you have to gently reheat (warm) the work. When done the piece should be sealed with clear lacquer or Cryalon clear coat.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/19/99 03:25:31 GMT

    Aquiring a 25# Little Giant soon. Should be shipped by 06/25 and be delivered within 4 to 5 days thereafter. I need info on what foundation to build for the hammer to sit on. The floor of my shop is sandy Florida soil. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Randall Guess -- rdguess at Saturday, 06/19/99 04:29:14 GMT



    MIKE ANDRIECHACK -- strudel at Saturday, 06/19/99 06:53:56 GMT


    Do you know what the temperature range is of Hydrogen?
    I was contemplating building a hydrogen forge, and wondered
    if the conversion of the gas back to h2o would effect the forging process.

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Saturday, 06/19/99 20:33:29 GMT

    Hi guru.. I've been blacksmithing for about a year and am looking for a nice, rust proofing finish to use on my outdoor projects. Oil and wax I feel are next to useless and primer and paint combination works better but the paint wears off too quickly. I've heard of the powder paint technique but also heard it is an involved process.. Any suggestions???

    steve -- stevenw at Saturday, 06/19/99 21:07:20 GMT

    Mike, You want the Kern, Little Giant Power Hammer book. It is available from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson. There are photos of Little Giants on our Power hammer page. About the only part that can fool you is the crank link. On early little giants it went below the crank and on late LG's it went above. This allowed them to shorten the frame about 6". Everything else only fits where it belongs. Its simpler than putting together a bicycle.

    Randall, the book above has your foundation diagrams. However, the plans are way overkill for a 25 pounder. On sand you need a "floating" foundation. Two layers of treated 6x6's about 4 foot long bolted together crosswise will make a fine foundation 4 feet square. Then all you have to do is use some 5/8" lag bolts to bolt the hammer down. If you are taller than average then you may want to set a third layer just under the hammer to raise it 6".

    -- guru Saturday, 06/19/99 22:06:35 GMT

    GURU: Am concerned about fumes and airborne grinding/sanding grit associated with forging/working with alloy 655 silicon bronze. Taking the usual safety precautions (eyes,ears,and nasal passages are covered), but am unaware level of toxicity. Can you help?

    Steve Austin -- skaustin at Saturday, 06/19/99 22:14:57 GMT

    Guru...Thanks for the response and the tip about adding an extra layer of 6x6's for tall people. I am 6'6" and will need the extra height. I was considering using 4x4's on each corner, sunk about 3 feet in the sand and bolted to the wooden "foundation" to surpress a Little Giant ballet across the shop, or is that also overkill. Ordering the LG book from Centaur this week.

    Randall Guess -- rdguess at Sunday, 06/20/99 02:13:26 GMT

    I'm back from four days in Arizona. Good practice for the forge: 105 degrees!

    Fortunately, no one here has asked any historical questions, so I don't feel like I've slacked off.

    Still tightening rivets on the Longship and getting ready for Camp Fenby. The "Flaming Scadian" junkyard forge will be fired up for it's debut.

    Visit your National Parks (LOTS of them in Arizona):

    Go viking:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Sunday, 06/20/99 03:15:43 GMT

    "STAINLESS PROPERTIES" Austenetic (300 series) stainless steels are the most corrosion resistant when annealed. These alloys are annealed by heating to 1850F - 2050F and then quenching in water.

    Please note that a lot has been said about "stainless properties". It does not require this treatement except to be its "most corrosion resistant". Without this treatment is is still stainless and will not rust. Stainless steels are used under extreamly harsh conditions in industry far beyond normal environmental conditions. For industrial use with acids and and such proper heattreatment is absolutely necessary.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/20/99 13:33:27 GMT

    Randall, There are sandy soils and then there is beach sand (a LOT of Florida). Do what you think is best. The foundation I described would probably be satifactory for a 50# LG too. :)

    Steve, ALL COPPER ALLOYS are toxic especialy when ingested. Breathing the dust is especialy problematic and prolonged exposure can lead to death. A localized exhaust system is the best for preventing the general spread of the dust. After that a good general shop ventilation is the most important thing you can do. Hospital type "dust masks" can help but do not seal around the edges. I'd estimate the leakage at 15-25%. I've used them for buffing brass and found them inadequate. The only respirators that WORK are the MSA filter masks. These require a good fit and for you to be clean shaven. They also create respiratory stress (make it hard to breathe). For this reason you should have a pulmanary(sp) function (lung capacity) test as well as a general physical examine before using one (tell your doctor what its for). Filters should be replaced on a regular basis.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/20/99 13:52:35 GMT

    POWDER PAINT systems are best handled by those professionals setup to do it. An electrostatic charge is used to attract the paint and it does a great job of getting into hidden spaces. See my article "Corrosion and its Prevention" on the 21st Century page for my feelings on the subject of wrought iron and paint.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/20/99 13:57:42 GMT


    You indicated that all copper alloys are toxic, what makes them toxic? The copper or the alloy? I worked in the junkyards for a few years where I would load copper by the ton with no protection and copper dust so thick you could not see. You got me a little concerned, I still have friends working there.

    J.B. -- jballinson at Sunday, 06/20/99 14:33:45 GMT

    J.B. Its the inhaled copper. It takes a LOT to be lethal but long term effects include (other) metals and chemical sensitivity. I'm not sure of the symptoms but if you can taste it you are doing a bad thing to your body. Seems to me I remember something about effecting the liver (some medical expert PLEASE cmine in here). Other metals in alloys also present problems. The beryilium in beryilium bronze is lethal in relatively small quantities. If its a bronze spring or one of those spark proof wrenches its probably berylium bronze. Its symptoms are flue like leading to pnemonia and it is often undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or only discovered in autopsy. Many grades of brass and bronze (steel too) are leaded to make them more machinable. Under normal circumstances its not a problem but if you are polishing any copper alloy you are breathing copper dust plus whatever the alloying ingrediants.

    I know metal workers that panic if they are asked to weld a piece of galvanized metal but buff and polish copper alloys without a thought. ALL new galvanized metal is zinc coated and is NOT the nasty lead cadnium mix that created so much trouble in the past. Breathing zinc fumes is not good for you but it is nothing like cadnium. When buffing brass ite the COPPER that gets you, not the zinc. . .

    That dust at the scrapyard was probably not so much copper as it was burnt insulation and just plain dirt. It may have also been metal oxides or salts which have their own problems but that's not the current discussion. Unless you were buffing, grinding or dry machining the copper it probably wasn't a problem. The taste of copper is very distinct and you generaly know when you've been breathing it (That green spit is a hint too).

    The problem with metals poisining is that it is cumulative and the metals generaly do not go away. Many of the effects are not reversable further compounding the problem.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/20/99 16:12:20 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    Please explain an existing contradiction about the heat evolved by certain chemicals:

    Hydrogen has a heating value of 62,032 BTU's per lb.(pg. 4-05 Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook)

    Acetylene has a heating value of 21,582 BTU's per lb.((pg. 4-05 Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook)

    Propane has a heating value of 21,449 BTU's per lb.((pg. 4-05 Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook)

    Yet, according to most sources the flame temperature produced by acetylene and propane burned with oxygen (temp. produced is greater than 4570F) exceeds the working temperatures achieved by hydrogen burned with oxygen (only 3600F)?

    Question: What is the flame temperature of hydrogen alone?

    Question: Why is the heat produced by burning hydrogen and oxygen less than that of propane or acetylene and oxygen?

    I am aware that hydrogen has a higher rate of thermal conductivity than both but can you list all the factors why hydrogen burns at so low a temperature?

    ike -- ikemay at Sunday, 06/20/99 18:19:19 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    Can you describe the major classes of vacuum furnaces with a brief description of their theory of operation? If not, then do you know a good book source where I can get detailed descriptions?

    ike -- ikemay at Sunday, 06/20/99 18:24:16 GMT

    I just took a test piece down to the sandblasters and was very disappointed with the result.
    Cleaned up ok but looked very dull like it had primer on it , tried some clear coat over the top and it looks grey when finished .
    How do I get my work cleaned up and clear coated with a bright n shiny finish to the steel .
    Does bead blasting work any better.
    I would just clear coat over my finished pieces but have been told any mill scale left will lift clear coats off after a while.
    Ive looked at some of the other professional smiths here in australia and they just clear coat over their mill scale is this sloopy work or are they using a product that can do this.

    s.sugrue -- sjs at Monday, 06/21/99 04:26:32 GMT

    Ike, the reason for propane and acetylene's lower heating values is that the elements which combine with oxygen in the burning process are bonded to one another more securely than the two hydrogen atoms in a hydrogen molecule. Breaking these bonds absorbs some of the heat produced by the oxidation of the elements. This also explains why an initial heat source (spark or pilot) is required to start combustion.

    Rob -- curry at Monday, 06/21/99 16:21:31 GMT

    Your posting intrigued me, so I thought about it some more. My reference books
    are not handy so some of this may be wrong (I'll check later), but here goes:
    Hydrogen has only one electron and can form only one covalent bond. This bond is
    not particularly strong as covalent bonds go; those formed by carbon are much
    stronger, and carbon can form up to six. The rub is that carbon is 14 times heavier,
    so even if they're twice as strong, hydrogen wins on an energy per pound basis. All
    organic fuels (e.g. propane & acetylene) are essentially a mixture of carbon and
    hydrogen. Carbon, having stronger bonds, releases more energy per bond (higher
    temperature) when it forms these bonds. There's a little more to this. Let me know if it helps.

    Rob -- curry at Monday, 06/21/99 17:15:13 GMT

    So would a Hydrogen flame have a tendancey to oxidise the work
    worse or faster than a flame from propane ro acetylene?.


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Monday, 06/21/99 21:02:32 GMT

    Hydrogen weakens iron, so I'd guess that if the oxygen/fuel mix isn't right you'll have problems, but I'm in over my head here. Anyone else know?

    Rob -- curry at Monday, 06/21/99 21:49:30 GMT


    I believe the term is Hydrogen Embrittlement. I've heard this is a problem with concrete in nuclear reactors, and I believe the same applies to iron or steel. My understanding is that the hydrogen migration into the lattice creates "dead-ended" bonds. That is 1 electron, 1 bond. Unlike carbon which has multiple bonds, and can create multiple links to form a lattice.

    Guru, do I have this right ? I think you did some nuke work didn't you ?


    Nick -- janes at Monday, 06/21/99 23:06:52 GMT

    Dear Sir:

    I believe I can answer my own question. The chart I was utilizing, found in Kent's Mechanical Engineer's Handbook, did not make any references to how their tests were conducted. The chart utilized units in BTU's per pound. Hydrogen was probably measured while in a liquid state. The flame temperature test of hydrogen and oxygen is taken while hydrogen is in a gaseous state, which is subject to different physical laws (Avagadaros Law). This explains why hydrogen's flame temperature is so low. As a liquid, the energy content of hydrogen can be concentrated which explains the extremely high BTU value.

    Although I think I found the answer, I am still interested in the flame temperature of hydrogen standing alone?

    On the subject of heating values of gases, can you tell me the dangers of attempting to work with naphtalene alone? It produces some extremely high flame temperatures.

    ike -- ikemay at Tuesday, 06/22/99 01:14:03 GMT

    ike, Which weighs more, a five pound bucket of feathers or a five pound bucket of lead?

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/22/99 01:29:25 GMT

    S. Sugrue, Most smiths use a power wire brush to remove loose scale before applying clear coat. This is a short lived finish considering your work might last for centuries. Its only suitable for indoor work in dry climates. Sand blasting is the right thing to do but you must PAINT over this surface using suitable protectants, primers and finish coats. See my article on corrosion and its prevention on the 21st Century page.

    IF you love that fresh, just forged and brushed look then use stainless steel. Not only will YOU not have to finish it, neither will your customer or their heirs. Try this link:

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/22/99 01:48:28 GMT

    Hydrogen Embrittlement: Never heard of it in concrete but it is the reason for "low hydrogen" welding rods. I'm not sure what effect a hydrogen furnace would have but it is certainly a different atmosphere than we are used to when burning carbon based fuels. The furnace is either going to be oxygen rich (oxidizing) or hydrogen rich. At least a rich flame in this case wouldn't produce visible smoke. . .

    The funny thing about the hydrogen embrittlement question is that hydrogen atmosphere's are used in heat treating furnaces. ??

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/22/99 01:55:55 GMT

    If you need to clean small parts and you have a cement mixer, throw them in with some pea gravel. Takes about 3 hours to scrub mill scale completely off your parts, but it will save you a lot of labor and the aggravation of setting up blast equipment.

    Rob -- curry at Tuesday, 06/22/99 02:41:46 GMT

    How do you build an area for forging or do you know of plans to make one?

    Jon -- Wolf 12283 at Tuesday, 06/22/99 03:36:55 GMT

    I am seeking an experienced Artist/Blacksmith for a full time position in an established shop in Northwest Arkansas.

    I am wondering if you might know someone who would be interested.
    Thank you.

    Joe Lavely
    JLavely800 at

    Joe Lavely -- JLavely800 at Tuesday, 06/22/99 13:25:12 GMT


    C.WESTER -- CWESTER at NHWL.COM Tuesday, 06/22/99 17:13:09 GMT

    I am about to start my last year at school and I would like to become a blacksmith but I am not how and where I should start looking for training and I am not sure about collage.

    Oliver Good -- goodies at Tuesday, 06/22/99 18:48:35 GMT

    Rob Curry, Great idea! Sand and tumbler media can also be used for more or less agressive cleaning.

    SHOP SIZE: Jon, a forge area can be large OR small depending on the type of work you plan to do. I've seen some nice work come out of shops that were so small you could hardly turn around. If you expect to do a lot of architectual or public sculptural ironwork you will need as big a shop as you can afford, 20' x 30' (6m x 9m) is actualy small for this. 1/3 that is acceptable for other uses. The important consideration no matter what size shop you have it needs good ventilation. The Jack Andrew's book, New Edge of the Anvil discusses forge space and has some work space diagrams.

    HOSSFELD BENDERS are available from Centaur Forge.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/22/99 21:55:17 GMT

    Oliver Good, Last year of what? High School, College, Trade School?

    Blacksmithing requires many skills. Most blacksmiths are self employed and sometimes have contractors licenses. That means they must know more, do more and get paid less while the government and insurance companies want a bigger share of what little there is. Running a small business is not easy. . . The self employed artist-blacksmith often has a degree in art or engineering. Among their skills will be accounting, design, welding, truck and heavy equipment operation. Few can afford employees so they must do-it-all.

    Industrial Blacksmith jobs are few and far between. The work is hard and sometimes dangerous. You will need a high level of mechanical skill as well as some heat resistance! In these jobs you start as common laborer and work up. Heavy forging is highly mechanized today and often computerized. Where it is not mechanized small close knit teams work the big presses. Every man's safety depends on the other so you must be team oriented. Beyond high school you will need at least an associate degree in machine tool operation.

    For a general skills approach see my article Getting Started.
    You can also go to schools such as the John C. Campbell Folk School, Penland or others. The classes from these schools are best when complimented by a liberal arts (college or university) education. In the arts you not only need the technical knowledge but the history and phlosophy. People skills including the ability to converse with others on many levels is required.

    Most of us that are in blacksmithing do it because we LOVE it.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/22/99 22:41:08 GMT

    Hello Guru,
    If I want to go the the CanIron conference, can I just show up on July 1 and expect to get in? Also, do volunteers get a discount on admission? Thank you.

    kevin -- no e-mail address Wednesday, 06/23/99 00:29:41 GMT

    I work mainly with aluminum, tig/hand hammering/shaping, no big forge experience. I have seen these big hammers, and for some of the forming work that I do, they would work great. I have motors and compressed air. Is there a simple basic design that is available for light duty that I could review (picture/plans/description), and then see if I have anything around my shop to fabricate one? Or do you have any other ideas for aluminum?

    Tom Brumm -- contact at Wednesday, 06/23/99 00:39:04 GMT

    seeking info about early american made anvils, heard there was a book coming out about this , but could find nothing. any help would be greatly appreciated.
    thanks, Bill Hart

    Bill Hart -- hartknives at Wednesday, 06/23/99 03:01:48 GMT

    seeking info about early american made anvils, heard there was a book about this but could find nothing. any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks, bill hart

    bill hart -- hartknives at Wednesday, 06/23/99 03:10:47 GMT

    seeking info about the early manufacturing of american anvils, thanks, Bill

    bill hart -- hartknives at Wednesday, 06/23/99 03:19:36 GMT

    Bill Hart,

    ANVILS IN AMERICA by Richard Postman.

    Library of Congress Card Number 98-91240

    ISBN: 0-9663256-0-5

    Easiest way to get a copy would be to call the author at:


    For more information about the book, see the review on the bookshelf at this web site.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/23/99 11:27:34 GMT

    Guru,Paw Paw
    I'm looking for pictures of what a black smith shop may have looked like from 1750-1850.I do understand that the shop and tools have changed very little but the customer I'm dealing with doesn't understand. THat the few changes are clothing and maybe building stiale. I have a few books and I am going to check out the only two books the libarey has so any pictures would be of help. The customer is interested in recerateing a black smith shop of this time he has an on going project of a cotton gin and out buildings now.


    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Wednesday, 06/23/99 13:32:12 GMT

    Sorry for the miss spelled works I throught the spell check worked before the mail was posted.


    Bobby Neal Wednesday, 06/23/99 13:34:12 GMT


    There was a calender advertised on e-bay some time back that had 12 differeent pictures of shops for the pages. I bought one of them, and can scan the pictures for you, if you want. After scanning, I could send them through e-mail


    Would an "art Gallery" be appropriate for anvilfire. I've also got a the print that I picked up about the time we went to Madison.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/23/99 14:13:42 GMT

    Guru: I've been looking at some old antique trunks and chests and seeing that they are often held together with rosehead nails (hand forged nails that have a head with four or five hammer flats). I can see how the flats get there -- probably one initial blow to the end to get a head started, then three or four hammer blows around the edges to give the head a dome shape. Question: how do you hold a piece of hot iron to make these heads? Extra wide tongs? Special anvil?

    Lowell Gard -- lgard at Wednesday, 06/23/99 15:39:56 GMT

    Nails are made by drawing your stock(1/4 is easiest) and then using a "nail header" to form the head. The header consists od a handle to suppoet the "anvil" a small domed striking surface with a square hole in the center to fit the size nail you wish to make. When I made mine I started with a 6 X 2 X 1/2 inch piece of mild steel(1018) and fullered the sides about 2 inches from the end. Then from the fullered area I started drawing out the handle. I ended up with it being about 12 inches overall. Then I punched a hole in the area not drawn down. I believe it was 3/4 inch. Then to make the "anvil" I used a high carbon steel bolt. Annealed it cut off the tip of the shank so it would be flush with the handle part. Drilled(from the bottomside) a hole(forget which size ithink 3/8) to just about 1/8 inch from going thru the head. Then drill a SMALL pilot hole rest of the way. ANd use a square drift/punch to make it square. Some filing may be needed. Then file the top to a fairly pronounced radius. Harden, temper. Then all you need it to cut some theards into the handle and thread in the anvil.
    That and make some nails...

    Ralph Douglass -- douglass at Wednesday, 06/23/99 16:00:46 GMT

    Paw Paw
    THat would be great about the calender I got a letter in the mail so time back . It was from the Alabama branch of ABANA I have miss place the letter. Would you know the person that is selling the calender.


    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Wednesday, 06/23/99 17:18:28 GMT


    I'm not sure if I still have the correspondence between he and I, but I'll look and see. There might be something in the archives about it, guru do you remember?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 06/23/99 17:38:04 GMT

    I believe its Gill Fahrenwald that's selling the calander.

    -- guru Wednesday, 06/23/99 20:26:57 GMT

    Bobby, Find a copy of Diderot's Encyclopedae. Most libraries carry it in two volumes. Centaur Forge and Norm Larson both carry it. The illustrations are from France in the 1770's. There are several types of blacksmith shops. The problem with Diderots is that in Europe the shops were highly specialized. The "village blacksmith" as we commonly know him is primarily a "frontier" blacksmith and a lot of fiction.

    In Diderot's you will find a most fanciful collection of anvils. Most of these probably date from much earlier times and I'm sure some are distorted somewhat by the artist/engraver. One thing that they clearly illustrate is that anvils of the time were built up from pieces of merchant bar (1" x 2" x ...)

    Another intresting source from the time is The Catalog of Watch and Clock Makers Tools published by. . . . ? In any case, tools such as side cutters and needle nosed pliers purchased from your corner hardware store TODAY will match those of 1770 EXACTLY! Remove the plastic grips and any plating and you have 250 year old pliers! The vise illustrations are much better than Diderot's and you will find that most leg vises haven't changed in pattern either.

    The bickern or "stump anvil" was much more commonly used then than now. The biggest difference between then and now is the bellows. In the West the bellows was the ONLY source of air.

    -- guru Wednesday, 06/23/99 20:48:40 GMT

    I recently inherited an anvil with the following information stamped on the side; "M&H Armitage Mouse Hole 1-2-12". Is this the manufacturer and manufacturing date? Just Curious.

    John VanHorn

    John VanHorn -- cvanhorn at Thursday, 06/24/99 00:35:59 GMT

    M&H Armitage made anvils at the famous "Mouse Hole" Forge in England during the early 1800's. The numbers are the weight in Hundred weights (112 pounds), quarter hundred weights (28 pounds) and pounds. Your mouse hole anvil weighs 112 + 56 + 12 = 180 pounds.

    Your anvil is made of forged wrought iron with a tool steel face forge welded to it. The face is then hardened and tempered. These are generaly very good anvils and one of the most common found in the U.S.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/24/99 00:59:11 GMT

    Hi There
    I make custom metal funiture and accessories. I have been looking for finishes for steel drapery rods, I found something called plum barrel brown finish, which is great. I can only getit in 3 oz bottles at 7.95 a bottle. does anybody know where to get this in larger quantity for less money???

    Pete Sweeney
    Metalmagic at

    Peter Sweeney -- metalmagic at Thursday, 06/24/99 01:19:23 GMT

    Hi how are you ? iwould like to find out more about forgeing and was wondering if you could help. i'm 28 and study samuraijutsu a martial art and would like to make my own sword traditionaly they were made out of iron sand. also this would benifit my school as i could have practic sword for my students any help would be apreaceaited thank you

    Trevor Jury -- crytic at Thursday, 06/24/99 10:20:04 GMT

    Dear Metalsmithing Guru, I am a knifemaker and swordsmith with ten year's experience as a full-time maker. I was formerly a member of the "Professional Knifemakers Association"; however, they just started accepting part-timers and hobbyists into the organization. I also make swords with which to conduct cutting demonstrations (katana), and heard that the last demonstration set to go on at the Houston Token-Kai was cancelled entirely and NO MORE exhibition sword cutting will be allowed. My question is, WHERE can I go to be part of a group of SERIOUS professional weapon smiths to take part in the sale and demonstration of "live steel" cutlery? Do the Authorities allow cutting demonstrations (with swords) at the Atlanta Blade Show (by a trained swordsman)?? Which organizations foster a professional atmosphere in which to sell blades? As much as I love chatting with the hobbyists, I need contact with professionals to learn about making a better living from my art. I believe that cutting tests and demonstrations MUST take place before one can be even considered for "master" status, and if possible the demo should be made public.

    David Hesser -- Dave at Thursday, 06/24/99 14:32:47 GMT

    David: The rope cutting contest/ demonstration was canceled at this year's "blade show" because of lack of insurance coverage. There was a demonstration of cutting with Japanese style swords by "Bugei" sword company. Another forum you might want to check is-- best of luck.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Thursday, 06/24/99 16:48:41 GMT

    I have a one year apprenticeship in stock removal bladecrafting and a variety of dabbling in traditional blacksmithing under my belt. While I have some experience in forging, tempering, and grinding steel. What I don't have is any experience in building forges. The forge my boss used for making damascus was a large pipe lined with KO wool and hooked up to a 150# propane tank through an attachment normally used for brush burning (it used the venturi air system). I intend something a bit more, um, substantial. The interior dimmension for the forge that I wish to create are: 81/2" x 21/2" x 36". I intend to use it for both forging damascus and for heat treating knives and swords. It needs to be able to generate heats between 500 (for tempering) to 2500 degrees for forging. I already have decided upon materials and construction for the body. I also intend to create a moveable plug out of a fire brick so that I do not have to heat the unsused interior space when I am doing knives and other small work. Ok, here are the questions...

    1) Given the size, how many nozzles do I need, and how far appart?

    2) How do I install a thermometer to track internal temperature?

    3) What horsepower blowers do I use and where do I get them? Do I need a blower for each seperate nozzle or just one hooked up to the main hose feeding into the forge?

    4) Will one tank and multiple nozzles with on/off switches work for heating the interior? If so what size tank will I need given the size and heat needed?

    Louis -- shadowcrafter at Thursday, 06/24/99 19:03:53 GMT

    Louis, Building a gas forge is more art than science. Somtimes they work the first time but quite often they fail. This results in an R&D project. Gas forges, both blown and atmospheric types have a delicate balance between gas/air volume, the enclosed furnace space and the resulting back pressure. A burner that will work perfectly with the furnace door closed may not work with it open and vise/versa. Blower type forges are typicaly the most fool proof but atmospheric (venturi) type compensate better for varying back pressure. Neither type can be adjusted over a wide range. A furnace is either a forge furnace of a heat treating furnace but can not be both without temperature controls. Even with temperature controls (cycling the burner on/off) at low temperature the high BTU forge burner is going to cause huge swings in temperature that are not satisfactory for heat treating.

    A LARGE gas furnace will run on a little 1/10 HP blower provided you have a big enough gas supply. A little 1/30 will run small forges.

    For common sense gas forge design check the Ron Reil web page. For knife and sword heattreatment you should consider a salt bath. Check the Don Fogg web page for that. See out links page for both and the 21st Century page for some gas forge Q&A.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/24/99 22:20:42 GMT

    PLUM BROWN: Peter, any good gunsmithing book will give you the recipe. The problem IS these oxide finishes (even the harsher ones) require a constant coat of oil to prevent rust. Dry they are not much better than bare metal. To prevent rust the oxide finish should be sealed with clear lacquer or epoxy.

    -- guru Thursday, 06/24/99 22:26:48 GMT

    I Bought an old 1907-8 Hay -Budden from a retired horse shoer.
    He had the heal of the anvil tappered. I asked him back then and got some kind of cranky reply. Maybe you could tell me? Is it tappered to hold the horse shoe or to open the ends?
    Bill Maguire

    William J. Maguire -- recumboman at Friday, 06/25/99 00:18:17 GMT

    I would like to harden the frizzen on my muzzleloader as it is'nt
    throwin' sparks like it should.What would be my best approach and can it be accomplished with a propane torch?
    Any help would be much appreciated.
    thank you Jeff green

    Jeff Green -- bronco at Friday, 06/25/99 00:48:24 GMT

    William, Hay-Budden made a variety of special anvils including a European double horned anvil and farriers anvils. It MAY be a factory job. I've seen a number like that and I think there are pics of some in the Spring Fling issue of the NEWS.

    Maybe one of our farriers out there knows why the narrow heal was popular??

    -- guru Friday, 06/25/99 03:17:47 GMT


    Sometimes (around the turn of the last century) anvils would have the heels sharpened to serve as a "quicky" hardy. My farrier friend would occaisionally cut light rod on the heel of his. If your anvil heel is tapered on the horizontal plane, this could be the reason. if it's tapered on the vertical plane, narrowed at the heel, then it was probably to fit the farriers style (or maybe he did a lot of small mule, pony and donkey shoes). Some European anvils taper this way, and maybe he was following fashion; see my Russian anvil on the last page of last years Camp Fenby article in the NEWS.

    A waxing moon, a cool breeze, and fair weather for Camp Fenby this year on the banks of the lower Potomac. The "Flaming Scadian" portable junk yard forge is ready to fire up tomorrow!

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Friday, 06/25/99 03:22:12 GMT

    Jeff: Most of the time, the problem is caused by a dull flint rather than a soft frizzen. Also please note that frizzens don't get soft over time or use. If they are half soled, or only case hardened, they can wear out though. If that is the case, rehardening will not help.

    grandpa -- darylmeier at Friday, 06/25/99 03:28:20 GMT

    Jeff, That frizzen MAY not have enough carbon in it or the case hardening has worn off. The nice sparks made by flint and steel requires the carbon in the steel. Wrought iron and low carbon steel don't hardly spark at all AND don't harden either. It takes both the carbon and the hardness.

    Re-hardening the part is tricky business and can leave it more than useless if you are not careful.

    IF there is enough carbon you should be able harden it by gently heating it until it becomes non-magnetic (a propane torch SHOULD do on a small part) and then quench in tepid water. Afterward you should temper the part by reheating to 350-400 F for a few minutes or longer.

    IF there is not enough carbon then the part must be re-casehardened. This requires heating the part to a red heat in a controlled atmosphere (oxygen free) while packed in charcoal so it can absorb the carbon. Afterwards it will have to be heattreated. There is a "spot" case hardening product called "Casenite". I'm sure it will work on a frizzen. Any muzzel loader experts out there???

    -- guru Friday, 06/25/99 03:28:32 GMT

    Jeff: Some modern flintlocks, primarily with Eye-talian locks tend to have soft frizzens that don't spark real well. You might go to the Dixie Gunworks website and order a catalog ($4-5). They carry both casenite and replacement frizzens. You might also try their english rifle flints. They work much better than most domestic flints.

    Phil -- rosche at Friday, 06/25/99 11:31:30 GMT

    I have seen some beautiful knives forged from giant "3" ball bearings. I'd like to try my hand at forging some now that I've got a powerhammer and welder. Are there any forging tips you would suggest, and an industrial source for large bearings you would recommend? Thanks for your help on my last question.

    David Hesser -- Dave at Friday, 06/25/99 18:54:53 GMT

    hello guru. I was searching for a product on the web so will stop here to ask the question. I am a proficient carpenter, good welder, and fair basic machinist. Welding trained at trade school (MIG, TIG, SMAW, OXY/Acety., etc. Have made a beautiful set of tapered steel candle holders and want to give them a rust finish. A product called Jax Master Metal Finish is said to do the job. problem is, I don't know where to get that or any other similar compound here on the northwest us. (SEattle) Any help with getting polished steel to have a nice rust finish? Thanks Kevin

    Kevin Burchell -- Kburc17339 at Saturday, 06/26/99 01:00:47 GMT

    Kevin, You must first start with an absolutely CLEAN part. Any oil such as from finger prints will show up. Then plain or salt water can be used in a "damp box". The part is dipped or swabed and then placed in the box containing damp or wet rags. The part should set on a shelf, not on the rags. After a couple days rusting the part is removed and the loose rust removed. The process is repeated until a nice even brown finish is achieved. Oil is required to prevent further rusting as with all oxide finishes.

    Too slow? Chlorox bleach will make em look 200 years old in a day or so. . .

    In the Thomas Register I found:

    Jax Bachman Co., 50T-N, 4th St, Reading, PA

    JAX (Mechanics Hand Soap), Selig Chemical Industries, 849-T Selig Dr., S.W. Atlanta, GA.

    Sounds like a good bet.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/26/99 01:28:08 GMT

    I am just trying to get started in the craft and I am trying to find a detailed instruction on how to build a small coal-fired forge. Habe you got any suggestion or help?

    Thomas Clegg -- possum422 at Saturday, 06/26/99 02:38:43 GMT

    Recently I replaced the hood and stack on my forge. The hood is 3' x 4' 1 1/2 deep. (From a Hardees resturant biscuit range) the stovepipe is 8 inches and rises about five feet off the roof. Only trouble is I get a lot smoke in my shop and it does not draw well. Is there a rule of thumb on relative sizes of these components to produce a non-smoking functional forge?

    hank heintzberger -- ironwrks at Saturday, 06/26/99 13:34:58 GMT


    A couple of things may help.

    1. I don't think your stove pipe is tall enough. Add another section.

    2. If that doesn't do the trick, you will need to increase the diameter of the stove pipe. 10 inches is really the minimum, and 12 inches will work even better. But first try increasing the heighth of you chimney.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 06/26/99 15:35:34 GMT


    Kinda like a vacuum cleaner actually. For a given C.F.M. a SMALLER end gives more velocity. If you bring a vacuum hose close to the fire it will suck ALL the smoke. If you then put a large "hood" on the end of the hose, say two feet square you won't hardly feel any suction at all and holding it two-three feet from the fire it won't suck in much smoke. Velocity and proximity are the real keys here.

    So, how are you going to get the proper effect on a forge? The thing Ive seen work the best is putting a telescoping inside the existing stack. In your case you would want a section of pipe that would slip inside your eight-inch pipe. You push it up inside your stack, hook a small cable to the bottom end and run this up thru a small hole in your hood and over a pulley fastened to the ceiling or roof. Hang just enough weight on the other end of the cable to just balance the pipe. Now you can pull the telescoping section down as close to the fire as your work allows and it will stay there. This will usually suck nearly 100% of the smoke EVEN when youre building a new fire! You wont believe how well this works until you see it.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Saturday, 06/26/99 16:15:39 GMT

    Grant,good to see you on this forum!
    To all the guru's, I am about to start building my gas forge. My internal dimensions are 300mmx300mmx500mm.I'm going to use the simple gas burner from the plans page here on anvilfire. For this size forge is one burner adequete, or should I consider two. Thanx,mike the israeli smith.

    mike -- manzie at Saturday, 06/26/99 16:54:14 GMT

    First I have to get out the calculator for those of us in the backward :) U.S. . .

    In round numbers 300 x 300 x 500mm = 12 x 12 x 20" a nice medium to large size forge.

    That simple single burner will do just fine for that and up to about 4 times that volume. For a larger volume it just takes a larger blower and fuel supply. Some folks put on more blowers but a single blower with a piped distribution system works better and gives the gas/air some time to thouroughly mix.

    For atmospheric burners such as those on Ron Reil's page it would take three or four burners.

    -- guru Saturday, 06/26/99 20:10:03 GMT

    Hank, I've seen the type of setup Grant is talking about and they work pretty slick. They will also create enough draft that you can turn off the blower!

    Your primary problem is that 8" is just too small for the average forge fire. An 8" (200 mm) pipe has a area of 50 sqin (315 cm2). A 10" (254 mm) has 78 sqin (507 cm2). This is a sigificant difference and is usualy enough to do the trick. However, with forge hoods you are not only trying to suck up that 1 cubic foot of hot smoke per second but another 10-12 cubic feet of cold air. If you look at the side draft "hoods" (See the last photos of the ABANA edition of the NEWS), they are sucking up mostly the hot smoke and this increases the velocity of the draft and the whole system is generaly more efficient.

    IF you place a short extension pipe (or even a telescoping one) under the hood putting the intake within inches of fire you will see a marked improvement. A small hole (or loose fit) at the hood will suck up a lot of the smoke that escapes.

    Either my or Grant's solution will work but you will want a bigger (and possibly taller) stack in the long run.

    Hey Grant! When is that new page of yours going to be open? A lot of work isn't it? :)

    -- guru Saturday, 06/26/99 20:33:01 GMT

    Jock, thanks for the,as always, prompt reply.Something I forgot to ask on my last posting, should the burner be mounted from above or from the side (Jim, no snide comments please ;-) ) Thanx. mike the Israeli smith

    mike -- manzie at Saturday, 06/26/99 22:38:19 GMT


    Snicker! Mounted? OK, no smart comments, but you can't stop me from THINKING! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Saturday, 06/26/99 23:18:41 GMT

    Hmmm, No language barrier there :).

    Please remember children DO access anvilfire regularly.

    Mike, I've seen both and they seem to work either way. A single burner mounted on the side at the back works well. The gases need to spiral around for uniform heating. With this arrange there is almost always a hot spot opposite the burner. Due to the hot spot the side works better than the top in most cases (with blower type burners).

    I must apologize for stepping on Jim's answer about the chiminey pipe. He was right, I just wanted to explain WHY it needed to be bigger.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/27/99 11:28:29 GMT

    I have 16 years experince shoeing horses with hand made shoes. I'm now trying to forge weld toe clips to toe weighted shoes. A friend had some old cherry heat welding compound (fairy dust) it was really easy to weld with it, is there anything on the market or any recipe to make a great welding compound? Thanks Tim

    tim dodd -- ffdodd at Sunday, 06/27/99 17:11:05 GMT

    I'm not sure what's in "Cherry" but plain old borax works best for most folks. If you need something a little stronger add 10% ground flourite (the mineral). Its much more agressive than borax and available from ceramics suppliers.

    Most common "recipes" for welding flux include borax or some type of sand. Many include iron (wrought or steel) filings. Sand is problematic because it varies the world over. I suspect that sand from flourite works great while others do not work at all. The Japanese protect the metal with a refractory clay and I've see the red clay found in many parts of the Southeast U.S. used as flux.

    Many smiths weld without flux and some never get there at all. The important thing about forge welding is that it takes practice and patience. Even the best smiths will admit that they ocassionaly miss a forge weld. Pratice on scrap, not some item you MUST finish.

    -- guru Sunday, 06/27/99 20:14:09 GMT

    Tim, Centaur Forge sells Cherry Heat welding compound. They have a page here on Anvilfire. I'm not sure if the new compounds still have iron filing in them, it's easy enough to check with a magnet. If not adding filings is a great tip from the Guru.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Sunday, 06/27/99 20:43:16 GMT

    is it possible to weld on an anvil to build it up with out destroying
    its life?

    david -- david01 at Monday, 06/28/99 01:11:48 GMT


    Possible, but tricky. Go to the 21st Century page (go to HOME first) here at anvilfire, and scroll down to the ANVILS, REPAIR article.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 06/28/99 01:36:18 GMT

    assay and analysis
    Sun, 27 Jun 1999 10:32:15 -0400
    Andrew Curtis
    at Home Network
    zagarell at


    Could you tell me the chemicals I would have to purchase to do a test
    for silver in its raw form. And how to proceed with the test. I used to
    have a chemistry set that had a simple test,
    but I no longer have the book. I am also experimenting with smelting in
    its primitive form... 1800's style using coal and a make shift blast
    furnace. I do have use of a pyrometer and have my own graphite
    crucibles. The silver I dig is from the nearby area, but I don't have
    any quantity to experiment with. however I am trying to do the same with
    copper and I do have a larger quantity of this to experinent with. I was
    able to get a minute quantity of copper smelted but destroyed the
    crucible trying to retrieve it... it hardened with the barite and
    sand... BUMMER. since this was just a coal blast I feel that a more
    refined approach would save me at least another crucible.
    So in conclusion your help is appreciated in these areas.
    1. chemicals to test for silver
    2. procedure for applying these chemicals
    3. optimum pyrometer reading for raw silver
    4. optimum pyrometer reading for copper.-- I plan to do a lot of
    skimming this time :)

    In return I would be greatful enough to E-mail you my procedure and
    results based on your information.

    Andrew Curtis
    368 Liberty St.
    Meriden, Ct. 06450

    experience level: 1 try with copper. willing to try copper several times I want to dig it, refine it, and MAKE SOMETHING.

    acurtis -- ACURTIS at HOME.COM Monday, 06/28/99 03:42:41 GMT

    Copper smelting wasn't normaly done in a crucible. Most smelting was done IN the fuel charge, the metal running to the bottom of the furnace where it was tapped off every so often. A tremondous amount of bronze was smelted and poured by this method (through most of history).

    I'll look for an assayer's test for silver but this is another area where the primitive methods were applied to ores that didn't require modern chemistry to determine their nature. Much of what is considered good ore today requires chemical reduction of finely ground ore. For silver and gold primitive methods were generaly applied to ores where native metal was in evidence. Agricola's De Re Metalica is a good source of methods used in the 1500's. It is available in reprint.

    -- guru Monday, 06/28/99 04:46:42 GMT

    At the Blacksmith's Guild of the Potomac's "Spring Fling" the fashionable flux formula was 4 parts borax (right out of the "20 Mule Team" box) and 1 part boric acid (available at the local drug store). This combination seemed to work just fine. [Of course, given the talent and experience of the demonstrators, some of them could have made welds using dandruff and dog hair ;-)]

    Another factor pointed out by one of the demonstrators was the problems when welding on a low barometric pressure day. At least in his area, good weather gave good welds, given higher oxygen levels and lower humidity. As a farrier, you may not have that option, horses being somewhat ill-timed creatures.

    Camp Fenby:
    Good time! A little short on smiths, but we fired up the "Flaming Scadian Junkyard Forge" and several projects were completed on it, including medieval stirrups, knives and cooking spits. Woodworking and silversmithing projects went well, as did the weaving and soapstone work. If Jock has the space on the NEWS I'll post a few pictures and further descriptions.

    "Urban heat advisory" on the banks of the Potomac. (They should have been at the forge the other night. Harrumph!)

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Monday, 06/28/99 14:28:32 GMT

    Bruce, we always have room in the anvilfire NEWS! its just a question of ME finding time in my schedule! If you send the pics, I DO promise (sounds like were getting married) to run them in the NEWS!

    COPPER: Andrew Curtis, Your copper question makes me realize how much I miss my library (at home 130 miles from "here"). I have two books specificaly on copper. One is a big inch thick quatro(? 8.5x11) sized book published by McGraw-Hill titled Copper and the other is a small industry publication describing the industrial processing of copper. . . Instead of these I'll have to rely on my ASM Metals Reference Book.
    The refining process (for low grade ore) is decsribed as, Comminution (grinding?) then Floatation to remove the lighter parts. That is followed by "Matte" smelting with flux, the slag going to the slag heap, then Converting with flux and air (blown through) which produces blister copper, sufurous gases and slag that is mixed back in at the Matte smelting process. The blister copper is then "Fire" refined and cast into anodes. The anodes are then refined electrolyticaly (also producing some silver and gold). It is then fire refined AGAIN and cast as 99.95 Cu.

    Copper melts at 1981.4F (1083.0C) and boils at 4703F (2595C)

    -- guru Monday, 06/28/99 23:18:15 GMT


    Its just a few days away! They tell me there are a few rooms left for those of you that want to stay on campus. Otherwise they will be glad to have as many of you that can make it!

    Our bags are packed and we hope to report on events daily! Lets go to Canada and beat the heat (or heat it and beat it)!

    -- guru Monday, 06/28/99 23:31:04 GMT

    According to Marks Mech E handbk and all of my expierience Monel is an alloy of nickel and copper. about 66% ni 30%cu

    John A. Careatti -- john.careatti at Tuesday, 06/29/99 11:54:53 GMT

    I posted this earlier and got a response. Unfortunately, it apparently was deleted before I could make a copy of it. I have a chance to get a 170 pound anvil with a mark on it of an arm and hammer, similar to the mark on Arm & Hammer baking soda. I got conflicting messages, one telling me it was a Vulcan, another from columbus something or another. Let me try to describe it as best I can. The mark is stamped into the body and not raised, which leads me to believe it is a wrought body and not cast. The hammer is raised over the shoulder ready to strike, and the view is as if the smith were standing in front of you facing to your right, ready to strike to the right. Since I am unfamiliar with the marks for these two makers of anvils, I can't tell from the replies which anvil this may be. If I understand correctly, Vulcans are cast, and a lot of blacksmiths hate cast-iron anvils. This anvil has a nice ring and rebound, but I know little of such things other than the fact that those are good qualities. I have an interest in making or modifying woodworking tools, and I think the size is ideal for my needs.I appreciate any replies or feedback I can get on these. Thanks in advance.

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Tuesday, 06/29/99 21:54:38 GMT

    Was wondering if anyone had any information on the following forge blower. It is rather large, compared to most I've seen, and on the side, above the gear box, it says "Royal", and below it says "Western Chief". It also has a four-digit number, though I can't recall what is right now (1027 maybe?). It has a brass oil filler opening on top, and a brass drainage spigot on bottom. I would also like to know what is typically used to connect it to the tuyere. The "exhaust" port is 2.25 inches ouside diameter. I've looked at galvanized plumbing fittings, but none of the ones I've seen are large enough to go around it. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:09:23 GMT

    John, you got me there. Monels vary between 40 to 70% Nickel, 1.5-2.25% Manganese and the balance Copper. All are highly corrosion resistant. Inconel™ is the Nickel (76) Chrome alloy but also contains a little iron, copper, silicon and manganese.

    Wish I could find the "old" reference that listed 50/50 Cr/Ni alloy for boatshafting. . . Its screwed me up for years. Hmmmm maybe it was Cu/Ni. . .

    Josh G. says, "Hi".

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:19:27 GMT

    Bob Rackers you have the good arm and hammer. Actually they are one of the better anvils made. If the price isn't real scarry buy it.

    kid -- n/a Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:38:55 GMT

    Bob Rackers you have the good arm and hammer. Actually they are one of the better anvils made. If the price isn't real scarry buy it.

    kid -- n/a Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:39:25 GMT

    Bob, Your Question AND your Answer are on the Hammer-In. You had me looking ALL over the place! I DID find a bug in the archives and got it fixed though. . .

    2-1/2" SCHD 80 Pipe is a pretty good fit for that blower at 2.323" ID. Most of the time exhaust pipe can be found that fits. Not familiar with Western Chief although I've hear the name. Large is generally good unless you are looking for portability. You can get less air out of a big blower but its difficult to get more from an undersizd one.

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:48:30 GMT

    Hey guys! When you don't automaticaly see your post, its generally because you are using an older Microsoft IE browser that doesn't automatically reload when it should (by standard HTML rules). Hit the reload button! If you see the "message sent" screen, it REALLY was sent and posted. Kid, we gotta get you an e-mail address. . .

    -- guru Tuesday, 06/29/99 22:53:02 GMT

    Bob, The blower you have was made by Candey-Otto of Chicago Heights Ill. They were amoung the best if not the best forge blowers made. Candey-Otto also made complete forges and firepots. Although there not as well know as Buffalo or Champion.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 06/30/99 01:49:35 GMT

    Hey guys, thanks for the quick replies. First of all,am I correct in assuming that the "good" arm and hammer" is the one from Columbus such-and-such? Second of all, I had seen somewhere that someone had posted a message that they preferred the Canady-Otto (is that spelled right?) over the Buffalo or Champion because it was the only one of the three that didn't drip oil. I saw that message just after getting my blower and was wishing I could find one of those. Are you telling me that I actually HAVE one of those and didn't know it? What unbelievable luck for someone who hasn't even earned the right to be called a Newbie. I have a blacksmith modifying a woodworking tool for me, and I've always loved watching, reading, etc. everything about blacksmithing every chance I could, without getting into any details about the equipment makers. He had an extra Champion blower he'd cleaned up, and I asked if he'd ever considered selling it. Said he'd sell it to me for $75. Then I went to an event around here just recently and a guy there was selling blacksmithing equipment (anvils, forges, blowers, etc.), and his blowers were just a little more. Then a couple of days later I went to a flea market and was chatting with a guy I've bought stuff from before. Looked down and saw this blower and it was beautiful, and about 1/3 bigger than others I'd seen. He sold it to me for a little over half of what the other guys wanted for theirs, and it looks great. All I had to do was scrape a large accumulation of soot out of the "exhaust", and that's it. I bought it in anticipation of one day being able to modify my tools without having to depend on someone else. Same with the anvil. I saw it, fell in love with it, and if all goes well, it will soon be mine. The only problem is that hearing that it's one of the best made makes me want it even more. It sounds too good to be true. There goes the budget.
    I hate to pass up quality when I can get it, even if I can't use it immediately. Invariably when I need it, I can't find it. Also, I think 170 pounds is a perfect size for my needs. Large enough to be a real anvil, but should still be manageable enough with a little help.
    I've heard a lot about Peter Wright and Hay-Budden. How does the arm and hammer stack up against them. Also is there a Trenton? Any opinions on them?
    I know I'm asking a lot of questions, and I appreciate your patience and opinions. Believe me, I'd much rather go get a six-pack and sit down with you guys and just fire away. (Better make that a couple of six-packs.) Any way, thanks again. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's "two-cents worth".

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Wednesday, 06/30/99 02:40:40 GMT

    Well, guru, I just went and checked out that blower, and once again, my memory failed me. The "exhaust" port is 3" one way and 3.25" the other (the castings open up a bit there, which is the reason for the difference). Perhaps you can tell me if this is large, or all the others I've seen were small. The diameter of the fan housing is 13" and 3" thick. I double checked, and the number is 1027, whatever that means. Model number, I guess. I'm surprised it doesn't say anywhere who manufactured it. Didn't Canady-Otto put their name on their products? Also, regarding the anvil, the reason for all the questions is that I've passed up buying so many other anvils before, mostly due to my perception of their condition, but even on the ones which looked halfway decent, without knowing anything about the maker, I didn't want to put out a hunk of cash just to find out I'd gotten a dead anvil. My apologies to anyone that is reading this and thinking that this guy (i.e. me) doesn't deserve to get his hand on nice equipment like this without planning to put it to use right away. However, I can assure you that I only purchase things to use, and I take excellent care of everything I buy. I feel I would be doing them a disservice to buy them and then just let them sit and gather rust. Unfortunately, I just don't have the room to properly set up right now.

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Wednesday, 06/30/99 03:10:59 GMT

    I am looking for good plans to build a treadle hammer as easily as possible and as low a cost as possible due to the fact that I am loosing the use of my right arm because of nerve dammage and I have to build it myself living on a real tight fixed budget any help getting these plans would be greatly appreciated thank you very much.

    mike cassavant -- cassavan at Wednesday, 06/30/99 04:17:14 GMT

    I too am interested in treadle hammer plans.

    David Hesser -- Dave at Wednesday, 06/30/99 04:46:47 GMT

    owner of mystery blower: what you have is a Canedy-Otto blower, made in Chicago heights, Ill. a masterpiece of the golden age of cast iron I have its twin, marvelous old gadget. Hook it up with some flexible clothes dryer venting tubing, and duct tape, and put it to work before somebody steals it. When it backfires, sending smoke and flame out through the intake, the aluminum molecules in the dryer tubing will add excitement and drama to an otherwise boring and lackluster day. Gives one something to ponder beyond do I put a round point on my soapstone or a chisel point? Is the shop roof far enough above the flames? Will the fire extinguisher still work? Where is the fire extinguisher?

    john neary -- jneary at Wednesday, 06/30/99 05:02:00 GMT

    I have been messing with smithing for 15 years or so as a hobby, but still am not very good. I want to attempt collaring but can't find a good step by step explanation in any of my books. Are the collar ends forge welded behind the joined pieces? If not, how do you keep the collar tight, around the pieces you're trying to join?

    Stephen Fidler -- stephen.f.fidler at Wednesday, 06/30/99 13:24:09 GMT

    Stephan Fidler,

    Collars: No they are not welded. As they are an alternative joining method used when welding or brazing are not able to be done etc.
    The method I have seen is take the strap you are going to use. Measure out how much you will need(just barely undersized) cut off that amount. BTW it works better if the ends are cut at a diagonal(so that they meet up tightly) Clamp or otherwise restrain/hold the work to be collared, heat the collar to working temp, bend around work ensure that the ends are close and let cool. As it cools the iron will shrink and firmly hold the pieces together.
    Leastwise that is my interpritation of it.


    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Wednesday, 06/30/99 13:58:33 GMT

    Stephen, Good Question! Collars are done several ways.

  • The cleanest is to taper the ends as if you were going to forge weld them. Then they get wrapped with the tapers overlaping. If done cleanly it will almost look like a continous collar. The overlap goes in the "back" or the surface you percieve to be the back.

  • You can also just cut to lenght and have a butt joint. It is dificult to get these to close but it can be done. I occasionaly use a butt joint and then weld with a torch. This makes a continous collar.

  • On really high class work collars may be made in a die to produce sharp square corners (on the front). This requires driving the "legs" of the "U" shapped collar into the die to upset the corners. The back is then finished by either of the above two methods.

  • Then there are wrapped collars. These are made from small round or square bar stock (3/16", 5mm, 1/4", 6mm). A piece a foot or so in length is wrapped around the joint several times like a piece of wire. The ends of the "wrap" can be tappered, leaves forged or balls forged on the ends. I use this method a lot when the style of the piece dictates it

  • ALL of the above require some trial and error to determine the correct starting length. Where tapered ends are involved be sure you know the starting length of your stock. If the finished collar is too short or two long simply make your next blank that much different.

    For really NICE accents (on indoor work) use brass collars! Collars are also often made with fancy cross sections by chiseling lines along the edges or forging in a small die.

    When done hot the collar should shrink making a tight joint. A torch is often used for the bending but it is done as well in the forge. I sometimes tack weld the piece and finish flat before collaring.

    -- guru Wednesday, 06/30/99 14:21:31 GMT

    I am an ABANA chapter newsletter editor who got a question from a 68 yr old former surgeon who before that was a blacksmith in England. He mentioned a smithing technique they used to use that used water, but of course I didn't have a clue. Does anybody have any idea what he's talking about?

    Julie Pickett -- jpickett at Wednesday, 06/30/99 15:20:38 GMT

    To those of you who have told me that my hand-cranked forge blower is made by Canady-Otto, I was wondering if there is some book you are using as a reference, or just long-time knowledge. I'd be interested in seeing your reference. Also, is that company still in business?

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Wednesday, 06/30/99 17:00:36 GMT

    To those of you who have told me that my hand-cranked forge blower is made by Canady-Otto, I was wondering if there is some book you are using as a reference, or just long-time knowledge. I'd be interested in seeing your reference. Also, is that company still in business?

    Bob Rackers -- rackersr at Wednesday, 06/30/99 17:19:12 GMT

    Bob: Most of the responses you got about the canneday otto are from experience. There are not many books that discuss hand crank forge blowers, at least in any detail. Centaur Forge has reprints of some of the old catalogs such as Buffalo and Champion. Alas, not only are canneday ottos no longer made, but there are no hand crank forge blowers made any more. The last one was Alcosa which was a Buffalo rip off made in the UK.

    Phil -- rosche at Wednesday, 06/30/99 17:39:43 GMT


    The only "water" forging technique I'm farmiliar with is putting water on the anvil, hold the hot work just over the water and hit it with the hammer. Makes a small explosion as the water instantly turns to steam and blows the scale off! We do this in power hammers by throwing the water up onto the top die with a brush or wist broom. In a big hammer it sounds like a bomb going off! A little soap helps to keep the water on the die.

    grant -- nakedanvil at Wednesday, 06/30/99 18:29:13 GMT


    I think the process he is referring to is called a water pail forge,
    if you have a look on the 21st Century from the main anvilfire page you will find the following link.

    LaGrange Hoho The "water pail" forge, a process from the 1800's.

    I beleive this is ma be the information you were looking for.


    Andrew Hooper (Kiwi) -- andrew at Wednesday, 06/30/99 20:45:01 GMT

    WATER PAIL FORGE: Julie, I think Andrew is right. LaGrange-Hoho was popular around the turn of the century. However, it is inherently dangerous process. The current used is 220 VDC! Having one side of this current attached to your tongs could create some unexpected surprizes! It still may have some intresting applications in a controlled situation.

    Bob, If you REALLY want to know about the various anvils and their manufaturers you need to purchase a copy of Richard Postman's Anvils in America (see our review for ordering information).

    Hay-Budden made probably the best anvil anvil in the world or that the world will ever see. Peter Wrights are a little prettier and also very good anvils. The best anvil made today as far as material and temper goes is Peddinghaus but they are poorly finished for the price.

    Following these are the "Mouse Hole" anvils (made by a variety of owners of Mouse Hole Forge over hundreds of years). Most of the rest of the forged British and European anvils are of equal quality.

    Then come your cast steel anvils. Some of these are very good while others are not. Many are not hardened enough while others are left too hard. The best are the Swedish steel anvils followed by some of the American made ones.

    The cast steel anvils are not to be confused with the cast-iron anvils most of which are useful only as door stops.

    -- guru Wednesday, 06/30/99 21:16:38 GMT

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