WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from June 22 - 30, 2000 on the Guru's Den
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Need to purchase Carbon Coals for Forging.....

Do you know of a supplier near Los Angeles, CA ?????

Your help will be much appreciated.

IronMan  <Metal Odyssey at aol.com> - Wednesday, 06/21/00 23:01:33 GMT

Coal: Ironman, These are from the Blacksmith's Gazzete list. Can't vouch them. See the posts above yours about coal.

California Charcoal & Firewood, Inc., 1518 Eastern Avenue, City of Commerce, CA. TEL: (213) 780-6000. A bit pricey, but better than no coal. A 50 pound bag cost $11.50.

Lazzari Fuel Company, Inc., P.O. Box 34051, San Francisco, CA 94134. Business is located at 11 Industrial Way, Brisbane, CA. To call them, use (415) 467-2970. They have charcoal, coal, and coke.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 00:31:14 GMT

Hello Guru, I am having a problem with the on-line ordering system. I tried to sign up as a member and it said that you can't use this at this time? Thanks Steve
Steve   <coolcrabster at aol.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 00:55:16 GMT

Hi almighty masters of the world of steel....
Has any of you ever had the experence of a crack in a 30" jump shear( in the middle of the bed were the the cutting blade attaches the bed). It is cracked about 1/2"into the bed and it runs from the top surface to the the under side.
I don't know yet if it is cast or steel, but I was just wondering if you all might know how to go about repairing this jump shear. It was built in 1907. Would be thankful for your input to my problem.. Thank you in advance for any info.. m/w/c
man with concerns  <isa4412 at vbe.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 03:15:07 GMT

Dear Guru,

I am very interested in learning some blacksmithing. I'm 50+ years old and have a little experience welding (arc and ox/ace)& with machine tools. I have a small workshop and have made me an anvil from an old RR rail. I made a brakedrum forge but can't find any coal in AZ. I tried charcoal brickets but they made too many sparks. I'm thinking of making a propane forge and was wondering if an electric forge would be practical and if not, why? Thank you for your wise reply.

tomt2  <tomt2 at netzero.net> - Thursday, 06/22/00 04:35:17 GMT

Form Error: Steve, The CC processing company's computers must have been down. . Thanks for letting me know. I'll file a complaint!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 05:26:52 GMT

Shear: Concerned, I think you are talking about a foot or "kick" shear. If you have to jump on it that might be the problem. These machines are rated for a certain thickness material and cutting heavier will definitely cause problems.

I suspect you have an old Peck, Stow and Wilcox shear (later known as Pextow). The frame will be cast iron. It can be repaired by brazing. Welding will create too much warpage.

If the the crack can be clearly seen or made to be seen with dye penatrant then a hole should be drilled at both ends of the crack. This stops the crack by distributing the stress across the back of the hole rather than having it concentrated in a line. If the frame can be reinforced from the back without brazing then that should be the first approach. If brazing is necessary then remove the blades, drill the holes as above, V out the crack with a grinder, preheat the frame and then braze the groove. Leave the crack-stop holes open. After the frame cools the joint will have to be carefully ground and filed flat.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 05:46:35 GMT

Electric Forge: Tom, Contact the AZ Artist Blacksmith Association. They may be able to help you with coal sources. Then PLAN on going to the ABANA converence in July at Flagstaff. Tools equipment and information will be plentiful.

For forge work electric is not practical. Induction furnaces can be used but are very expensive and require a LOT of power. Direct resistance heaters have also been used but also require a large power source. Kilns are much too slow to heat up.

Gas forges are very practical. See our plans page. Our burner plan has links to other sources.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 05:58:32 GMT

Great Bellows.

I have just been given the opportunity to renovate a great bellows, about 5ft x 3ft and old forge. As a relative newcomer (I retire in Sept and b'smithing seems a great relaxation), I do not have any idea how rare these. I would not like to think that I am possibly wrecking the last one in England (well, last of the few).
Any links or advice would be greatly welcomed.
Mike Lock  <m.w.lock at cranfield.ac.uk> - Thursday, 06/22/00 11:08:56 GMT

The last coal I got from California Charcoal & Firewood, Inc was pretty bad. I think it was hard coal. LOTS of fly ash, coked poorly and just didn't get real hot. I don't know where they got the coal or what the specks are (the wouldn't tell me :o) but if I had to burn that stuff, I would switch to propane. It was sacked in bags that were printed for some nut company. This was about 6 months ago. I guess it could be better now..... mabey not.

When I get the address and Ph# for where my CBA group in Vista buys coal, I will post it. It is Elkhorn-Cumberland coal and it burns clean, low clinkers and ash, cokes well and is good stuff.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Thursday, 06/22/00 12:56:20 GMT

COAL: Wayne, Thanks for the warning. The only coal I've used in California was being sold for landscaping (color). Landscaping was about the only thing it was good for. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 14:34:26 GMT

OLD BELLOWS: Mike, In the U.S. commercialy made bellows were in catalogs up to WWI. There was a lot of resistance to change to blowers. Enough that there were several lever and ratchet forges built that emulated the motion of the bellows.

Because they are made of wood and leather and subject to aging they are relatively rare. While there are many 300 year old blacksmith tools (especialy anvils) still in use, old bellows are rarely usable.

Due to shrinkage of the wood and drying of the leather most old bellows become museum pieces. There was a period of time when the fashion was to make coffee tables from old bellows. I know of a few that were converted BACK to use from having been a table.

Rarity is mostly relative to whether or not the bellows are hand made or factory made. A hand made bellows may have some local historic interest. Of course if they are now 75-80 years old it won't be long befroe they are 100.

A bellows is a pleasure to use. There is something organic about the "breathing" of the bellows. Of course they also link you to millenia of metalsmiths as much as the anvil and hammer. On the other hand there is nothing more convienient than an electric blower.

Restoring an old bellows can be quite a challange. Between the boards are "hoops" or bands made of split and bent hardwood. Because of the number of nails and the drying of the wood these are rarely reusable. Generaly making these requires cutting of a young oak or hickory and spitting out the pieces with a froe then shaping and bending them while green. This is not difficult but may not be within your scope of work. A good option would be laminated maple hoops (made like the frame of a tennis racket).

On a bellows that everything is in good condition except the leather is dry you might get away with oiling the leather with "Neets Foot" oil. This takes some patience. Moisten the leather with water before applying the oil. I'm not sure why but I think this opens the pores in the leather and alows the oil to follow. The oil will soak in rapidly at first but needs to be reapplied several times over a period of months.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 14:38:24 GMT

Thanks G.
First time a chat line has been of any help!Mike
Mike Lock  <m.w.lock at cranfield.ac.uk> - Thursday, 06/22/00 14:46:59 GMT

dear all knowing all seeing Guru :)
Its me again , i was wondering where i can pick up some information on how to make a forge, i need specific dimentions . as well as any other type information on construction of one. i borrowed 6 books from the local libary but all of them had no information what so ever. ive looked in news agencys and non of them had any magazines on blacksmithing, and ive spent endless hours on the internet looking for them. If you could sketch a basic design of a forge and send it to me , i would really aprecate it . PLEASE HELP!!!!
Jimmy  <Vantage25 at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 14:53:50 GMT

Forge: Jimmy, there are all sorts of forges. Specific dimensions depend on the application. Look on our plans page for a starter "brake drum" forge. We also have a gas forge burner drawing and links to other gas forge info.

Click on the "Auto-wheel" forge on the Getting Started page.

For brick forges you'll have to get a copy of MT Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing. For steel forges look on the Centaur Forge page under forges and the last pages of our 1998 ABANA coverage in the news.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 17:45:47 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am attempting my first sword with stock removal method out of 1080 high carbon steel. The blade is 2.25" wide and 32" long with twin blood grooves on both sides. The blade is neerly finished and looks beutiful. I am taking it to Lindberg in Milwaukee this Saturday for heat treating. They will do a stress relief (It has some memory bowing from the original piece of sheared 1080. They recommend a salt to salt bath verticle heat and quench. My questions are: 1) How finished should the edge be for this operation. Do I wan't to sharpen the edge completely before heat treating? 2) I haven't a clue how hard I wan't the finished product. What hardness 1080 steel maximises its properties for the aplication of big old broad sword material? I have two days to figure this out. Can you help me? Thanks for giving us Anvilfire. It's an awesome resource for us little guys.
Dan Trocke  <dtrocke at acscm.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 18:15:32 GMT

Sword: Dan, Generaly you want swords tempered or "drawn back" sufficiently to avoid brittleness and the tang drawn nearly to point of being annealed.

Grandpa would be able to advise you best but here's my 2c worth.

Full hard is 388HB, tempered at 1000°F = 321HB

Grind full tapers but do not sharpen (the final bevel), leave a flat on the edge. If using a salt bath I believe you can finish complete except for the edge. For a high polish you will have to finish again after heattreating.

Atli says you would rather have a dull sword than a broken one. . . Makes sense to me.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 18:59:31 GMT

Jimmy: for different forges try my link page under forges I have gathered the links I have found on forges there.

or try my own forgedesign (allmost identical to the one I use only slightly smaller). it is just a scetch but has enough to make one that works.here is the address to that


be careful smithing can be adictive and dangerous
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Thursday, 06/22/00 19:15:50 GMT

Dan: Guru's advise is about right. There is considerable difference of opinion as to the "right" hardness for sword blades among the various sword makers. If possible, the edge should be somewhat harder than the body of the blade. In any case, 50C rockwell is in the general area of what is most common. The use of the sword should be considered in making the decision about how hard.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Friday, 06/23/00 03:51:45 GMT

Greetings! I pray I find you all in good spirits. I have been working as a carpenter/cabinetmaker for over 20 yrs. I have also tinkered with blacksmithing and metalwork in general. Not nearly as proficient with the iron as I am the wood, but learning more each day. Blacksmithing has been a fasination of mine for over 30 years. I am in fact building a blacksmith shop in my spare time. I intend for the builing and its contents to have the appearance as it would have had 100 years ago. I have collected an assortment of tools and equipment and remnants thereof for probably 30 yrs. i have located and have some additional parts of old line shafts. I would like to install the shaft in my building and actually have it operational if only for posterity's sake. However, I have had no success in locating any source for the materials to make up the flat drive belts. Any ideas?? Thanks. I'm sure that I will have many more questions as the building progresses and even more once I start playing with the fire!!
John Graham  <tcs at axs4u.net> - Friday, 06/23/00 10:33:57 GMT

Flat Belts: John, almost any industrial hardware supplier or power transmission supplier can supply you with flat belting from leather, cotton, rubber. . . Most major cities have belting suppliers that are specialists. You can also order all the belting materials mentioned below on-line or mail order from McMaster-Carr (see our links page).

Leather belting is the best for old machinery but it is high maintenence. It stretches and must often be respliced to to take up slack on machines with close or fixed centers. However it is not unusual for leather belts to last 20 years or more. I use them but I have an old Clipper floor model belt lacer. If you are going to have a bunch of flat belts you had better find one. They are necessaury to install Clipper pattent wire lacing. Clipper lacing can be used on leather, cotton and rubber. They also make an inexpensive "vise" operated lacer.

Cotton belts work well but don't quite have the friction of leather. They also tend to wear pullies and are not recommended for wood pullies. Cloth reinforced (cotton, rayon, nylon) rubber belts work well and are low maintenence. I just noticed that McMaster-Carr has nylon core leather belts!

There are other belt lacing systems. Aligator brand laces can be installed with a hammer or vise but are stiff and noisy. You can also glue belts together but it is an art that takes practice.

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and other machine shop references have articles on rating flat belting and even the OLD method of actualy lacing belts together.

There is a LOT of old flat belt drive machinery available including most power hammers. Many times they require back shafts to setup. If you are going to use this old machinery a line shaft can make sense. However, they are generaly inefficient. Due to friction and startup ineritia you need to opperate a motor or prime mover of considerably higher power than the largest machine on your line shaft.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/23/00 13:33:25 GMT


I really like your forge plan. I'll be passing it on to a friend who was just inquiring. The 1/8" steel mesh shelf is a great idea, I may be incorpoating it on mine.


Grandpaw has it right. The best combination of hardness, sharpness and toughness for a sword for actual combat (hewing something that can fight back) may not be ideal for reenactment purposes. ("WHERE'S MY ARM?!") A sword for practice at the pell (heavy wooden stake) would also be tempered and sharpened differently. During the Indian Wars the U.S. Cavalry were instructed not to sharpen their blades too keenly, since then they would tend to stick in the bone with foreseeably messy complications and consequences for victim, horse and rider. On the other claw, in one of the sagas, a Viking king issues fresh swords to his crew half way through the battle when he observes that the edges are no longer cutting.

It's an art, not a science.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Friday, 06/23/00 16:05:19 GMT

Swords and Hardness: Bruce makes the important point. What DO you intend to DO with it? If its a wall hanger then just finish it and don't worry about heat treating. It will still be a leathal weapon. Is your life going to depend on it? Does it need to be battle ready? I doubt it.

The numbers Grandpa and I gave are actually pretty far apart. I gave Brinell numbers listed in my ASM Metals Reference. He gave a Rockwell number based on his (significant) experiance. I'm not hot on the Brinell scale and the number I gave was about 35Rc (a little low). I picked the next to lowest common temper for the steel. Grandpa's is also less than maximum hardness but closer to the top.

However, what Grandpa pointed out is that you want the center of the blade to be softer than the edge. This is very tricky diferential tempering. I suggested a soft tang because a commerical heattreater may do that for you but won't probably won't do differential heat treating of the blade.

The point IS, there is no perfect temper for anything made of steel. Every decision about critical applications is a compromise.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/23/00 17:49:10 GMT

Thankyou Guru:
I don't know how that shear got the crack, but was wanting to know if it was repairable ... Without alot of
head aches.. I can handle brazing,Should the whole piece
be heated to acertain temp,then cooled slowly?? Thankyou
for your time and info......m/w/c
concerned  <isa4412 at vbe.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 00:53:38 GMT

Brazing cast iron: Concerned, Generally you can't preheat the entire piece when repairing machine frames but heat the general area mostly to prevent too rapid cooling in the weld/braze area. Thermal shock is not good for cast iron and should be avoided as much as posible.

Note that certain shapes in cast iron require parallel heating. Frames, wheels and pullies need the opposite side heated so that both sides are expanded and then contract more or less equaly, reducing stress in the repair area. Occasionaly a repair is made on one side of an object and the far side will crack when the weld cools. Most welding books have a chapter with a diagram on the subject. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes not.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 01:20:30 GMT

Guru I would appreciate your help.I have found an old Macgowan & Finnigan mechanical hammer & I nearly have it restored but i have no idea on what rpm to gear it to. It is about a 50 pound hammer,runs a leaf spring arrangement & was patent in ST LOUS IN 1907.I was hopeing you have heard of or could find this out for me.I live in Austrailia & cannot find anything on it. THANKYOU. BLAIR SCOTT.
Blair  <wyattearp at globalfreeway.com.au> - Saturday, 06/24/00 14:59:40 GMT

Macgowan & Finnigan: Blair, According to Freund's Pounding out the Profits they made a 30,40 and 80 pound hammer. The 30 and 40 would run close to the same speed, about 300 - 400 RPM. The 80 would want to run slower, about 225 RPM.

These are just estimates from other hammers. There are a lot of variables in hammer speed ratings. The heavier the spring, the faster the hammer can run. The shorter the stroke, the faster the hammer can run. In his video Dave Manzer explains the spring/rpm relationship to be such that the faster the hammer runs the harder it should hit. IF it starts to hit softer at high speed then the hammer is getting way out of time and either needs a slower maximum speed OR a heavier spring.

Some hammers have adjustable strokes and others do not so this is not always a variable. However, I would expect that for setup purposes an adjustable stroke hammer should hit hardest at full stroke and maximum speed and the stroke adjustment be used to run fast gentle blows at short stroke.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 15:41:23 GMT


I'm a complete novice, brand new to this game. I'm 41, a competent woodworker with a shop full of tools, and a bit of experience in welding, cutting, and machine work....but again NO blacksmithing experience or knowledge.

So, I jumped in and bought what I think is a decent starter anvil, a 70 pound Vulcan in apparently good condition. The face is marked up very slightly and has one small chip of about 3/4 inch on one edge. The step on the other hand is in terrible shape.

My question: Would it be reasonable or stupid for me to mount the anvil on a mill and take a few passes over the step to clean it up? If that's not unreasonable, how about the face? I envision taking maybe 0.125" off the step and maybe 0.030" off the face, then honing.

I appreciate your time and look forward to your answer.

Helena, MT
Kalvin Wille  <kjwille at aol.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 22:38:45 GMT

This request is from out in left field, but do you know of any source of calcium carbide, ("carbide"), in small quantities? I'm looking for some for my two old carbide lamps. The lid on my ancient tin of carbide wasn't resealed tightly the last time it was opened, so all I have is a half pound of fine powder. Thanks for any leads.
Kent  <anexwrench2 at msn.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 23:14:54 GMT

Anvil machining: Kalvin, The face of most good anvils is between 62Rc and 50Rc hardness. Although there ARE machines that can cut this hard of material it takes a BIG very rigid machine and expensive multi insert cutter. It is a grinding job.

Use a belt sander or grinder with flexible disk on the face. The shelf on most anvils is soft and is used for cutting with a chisle. On later one piece cast anvils and others with all tool steel uppers the shelf is a little too hard to use for chisling. In any case, that is why they get cut up. Knock the worst off with a grinder and live with it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 23:41:05 GMT

Carbide: Kent, many Spelunkers still use carbide and you may be able to find it at an outfitters supply. Otherwise I think Union Carbide still sells it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 06/24/00 23:46:55 GMT

I bought a 115# Peter Wright anvil with a 5/8" thick, 12"x16" steel plate welded to its bottom. What is the best way to remove this? Or shouldn't I? The anvil is in pretty good shape. thanks - Marty
Marty  <martymil at aol.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 00:21:54 GMT

Plate removal: Marty, The body's of Peter Wrights are made of wrought iron. Due to slag inclusions and lack of carbon it does not torch very well but it DOES torch. A cutting torch OR arc gouge could be used to cut out the welds. Divots could be welded with any rod and ground to finish. Anvil bases are not critical but its nice if they are right.

You are lucky. Many anvils used by welders end up being used as a cutting table and the edges and horn torched up. I've seen anvils that the edges look like a comb :(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 01:28:41 GMT

I need information on grinding and belt-sanding
titanium. The dust is very easily ignited,
and until this week, I was lucky enough to
avoid that. After a small blaze in my dust
collector, I need to find more info on how
to grind/sand it *without* setting anything
on fire. Thanks for any help or suggestions.
moonsword  <moonsword at angelfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 02:51:58 GMT

Grinding pyrophoric metals: Moonsword, Most metalworking grinders are designed to be setup with a liquid coolant system and belts are waterproof for this purpose. Check with the manufacturer.

Pure water works but you can add special "soluable cutting oil" to the coolant to reduce corrosion. They also include anti-bactierial agents to reduce the probelem of bacteria growing in the coolant. These systems require a settling tank and a pump. The grinder "dust" collection system can usualy be plumbed to the tank with a large water hose or PVC.

Coolant systems rapidly pay for themselves by increasing belt life, reducing the problem of overheating metal and controlling dust. The down side is that some coolant often runs across the work and ends up on the floor. The machine should also be operated on a GFI (Ground Fault Interupter) in the event of a short as water and electricity do not mix.

Collections of certian pyrophoric metals (chips and dust) often ignite from spontaneous combustion. DO NOT ADD WATER! Once pyrophoric metals (sodium, magnesium, zirconium) start to oxidize and produce heat they have a greater affinity for the oxygen in water than the hydrogen. The result is a bigger fire. Use CO2 or a dry chemical extinguiser.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 03:21:56 GMT

simple question....what is brass made of? the metal break down? how hard is it to cast?
Skip Smith  <arms at vzinet.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 03:24:27 GMT

Brass: Skip, Brass is copper and zinc. Bronze is copper and tin. A typical yellow brass is 60%Cu, 40%Zn.

It is not terribly hard to cast but like anything it takes study, preparation and practice. I recommend the books by C.W.Ammen, Casting Brass, Making and Using Wooden Patterns and The Metal Caster's Bible.

Brass can be melted in a graphite crucible in a forge burning coal, charcoal, oil or gas. Molds can be greensand or plaster. Plaster molds can be made by lostwax or from a permanent pattern. The ancients poured bronze swords in permanent stone molds (soapstone I think).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 03:51:01 GMT

I am a sculptor in San Francisco (20 years experience) working primarily in welded steel. My materials are mostly heavy structural steel: tube and pipe with wall thicknesses up to 3/8", plate up to 1" thick. I use SMAW, ocy-acetylene, and plasma cutting. I just burned out a 14" DeWalt abrasive chop saw and am considering buying a Porter Cable "Dry Cut" 14" chop saw, but I have no experience with this type of saw. It uses a 72-tooth carbide tipped blade and spins at lower RMS (1300), claiming no smoke/smell, no sparks, cooler work, better accuracy, very long blade life, etc. I am wondering whether this saw will really have the power necessary to cut the type of materials I am using. If you have any knowledge of this type of saw, and comments, or a pointer to where I might get more info, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and any help you can give. Paul
Paul  <pgralen at slip.net> - Sunday, 06/25/00 04:59:30 GMT

Gentlemen, Geetings from Adelaide, South Australia. I read in Jack Andrews "New Edge of the Anvil" on page 121, that a interior finish for ironwork can be made from boiled linseed oil, paint thinners and beeswax, mixed to proportions discussed in the book. Is the paint thinners refered to what we would know as "Mineral Turpentine"? There are a number of other more volatile substances available here, which are also known as paint thinners.
Peter Lawrence  <edenlaws at senet.com.au> - Sunday, 06/25/00 09:48:46 GMT

Thinners: Peter, Good question. So many of these products are sold under trade names or generic (local) terms that it is hard to compare. The other problem is that they often have a dozen ingrediants. There are also hundreds of grades or compounds producing varying levels of volatility.

The paint thinner Jack refers to is designed for oil based paints or enamels. It is often called mineral spirits and is similar to products sold as charcoal lighter and may contain benzene (benzol) as a basic ingrediant. It has an oily feel to it and does not immediately evaporate from the skin. Turpentine is slightly less volatile but is a better drying agent.

The more volatile solvents used for Lacquer generaly have a toluene base plus several other solvents including alcohol. These have a watery feel and evaporate from the skin immediately.

The simple statement above "including alcohol" shows how complicated this subject can be. There are at least a dozen alcohols all with different properties.

Tupentine is also used with oil based paints. It has a distinctive "pine" or wood oder. Sysnthetic turpentine is sold in the U.S. under the name Tandrotine. Turpentine has a slightly oily feel and does not evaporate of the skin quite as fast as mineral spirits. As mentioned above it is a better drying agent. This is because it absords and transfers oxygen to oils that harden by oxidation like linseed oil.

In general I consider wax finishes as a temporary high maintenence finish. What you are doing is formulating a low grade clear finnish designed to be applied by hand. Why not use a product formulated by experts and use a clear lacquer or similar finish?
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 13:56:47 GMT

Saw: Paul, I'm not familiar with the particular saw. The manufacturers specs should tell you what the capacity of the saw is. For general comparison purposes horsepower should determine if it will do the job as fast.

Saws in general meet most of the claims mentioned. ALL work better with a coolant system rather than dry cut (of course so do abrasive cutting machines).

Abrasive chop saws are noisy, dirty and use up wheels rapidly. Their advantage is that they are generaly cheep and will cut hard materials. However, they are not recommended for non-ferrous metals.

Saws are slower but do not heat the work. They also work on non-ferrous metals and non-metals (plastic, wood). Although not burr free, sawed edges are much cleaner than abrasive cut and the burrs are not hardened from the heat.

I'd compare the HP and general weight of the machine. Perhaps ask for a demonstration or ask if a there is a local user of the machine that can demonstrate it for you.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 14:13:49 GMT

I am a newbi. I am just getting started reseaching the artistic side of metal working. Is there any other resource besides classes (which I plan on taking along with the books you recommended)in the San Diego California area? Perhaps any people that can be personally contacted via compurter or by mail who might show a new comer some expertise?
Any help you could pass along would be greatly appriciated.
Thank you for your time and attention.
MoeB1  <MoeBrock at aol.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 14:58:42 GMT

Contacts: Moe, Contact the California Blacksmiths Association. They are your best bet. THEN, Almost every art school that has a sculpture dept has a metals lab. Some are quite basic while others are well equiped with blacksmithing equipment.

Remember that the art schools teach the artistic side of metalworking but to learn good metal working skills a trade school is better. Good craftsmanship is just as important in sculpture as it is in welding a petroleum pipe line. Learn the basic skills. The art is either in you or it is not.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 06/25/00 15:27:55 GMT

I've been studying 2 or 3 different gas-forge designs and am considering building one. All of them talk about reaching forge-welding heat. I guess it goes with out saying that these gas-forges can also be used for melting metals in a crucible also. In other words does a forge need to be built specifically for forging and a another built specifically for casting? Can one design serve both purposes?

Abel   <abelgarcia at usa.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 00:53:59 GMT

Universal Forge: Abel, It IS possible but it takes a fairly large forge to contain a crucible. A furnace designed to heat a crucible has the burner at an angle so the gases spiral around the crucible. The crucible needs to sit up off the floor of the furnace on a block so that it gets thouroughly heated.

The "roof" of a gas forge radiates heat that is absorbed by the refractory. A relatively low roof is more efficient in gas forge.

And THAT, is the major problem with gas forges. Size is critical. A big forge uses lots of gas whether you do large or small work. A small forge is efficient but limits the the size work you can do. Every gas forge or furnace is either a compromise designed for a specific class of work.

Just some things to think about.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 03:02:11 GMT

I have a small silver box that have 3 marks on it and if possible can you identify what those mean, the 3 marks are: a lion, a shield and the letter k.

Thank you very much.
pogi  <pogi7777 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 04:35:29 GMT

Hi, I'm searchin' for a two-handed sword, to put it on a wall in a meditation-room in my flat. My problem is, I don't know where to get one wich is sharp, no-one sells such swords. I want to have the sword as a symbol of danger I want to be protected of. But if I cannot get a sharp one the symbolic meaning will be lost.

If anyone can help me finding what I search. Please Write...

Thank you very much and keep your lifes peacefull...forever.
André  <alpha_et_omega_99 at yahoo.de> - Monday, 06/26/00 08:59:16 GMT

Silver Box: Pogi, These are probably the makers marks or "touchmark", like a signiture. I understand there is a registry of silver smiths marks but I have yet to find it. Sometimes marks like these indicate the shop and each worker that worked on the item, not just an individual.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 13:17:44 GMT

Sword: André, There are knife and sword makers all over the world that may be willing to help you. However, there may be local laws that govern such items. You may want to investigate them before trying to purchase or import a "real" sword.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 13:23:28 GMT

Pogi & Guru,

Those marks are called a "hallmark" when they are on silver items. Supposedly they originated or were registered in the guild "hall".
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 13:53:12 GMT

one placce you could look for a sword is http://www.atar.com/index6.html
But there are lots of others. Like the Guru said, do some research bith in local laws and also in price and quality. Swords are not cheap.
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 06/26/00 14:43:46 GMT


GOOD swords are not cheap. Junk reproductions like those made in India and Pakistan are pretty cheap. I recently purchased two reproduction US Cavalry sabers for re-enactment purposes for $34.50 apiece.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 20:14:50 GMT

i would like to build a small forge to make things like forks & spoons, jewelry and such(very small items) and would like to make bellows for it(i'm working at a renaissance festival)...is there any good plans for making bellows? and how do you size the bellows to the forge? thanks...
chris  <cp3crow at hotmail.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 20:51:17 GMT

Bellows Size: Chris, Good question, I don't have an answer! So lets work it out. A general shop size bellows is about 3 feet wide, 5 feet long and opens (both chambers expanded) to a little more than the width or equal to it. This is suitable for most work. It is a very usable size for a smith working alone and will fire a LARGE forge with a helper.

A bellows half this size has 1/8th the capacity. That means you will need to pump fast and often. It would be suitable for a large jewlers forge.

A bellows 2/3 the full size above (2 feet wide) will have a little over 1/4th the full capacity. This is a convienient size to haul around and is suitable for small iron work such as you describe.

The advantage of a larger bellows is the storage capacity of the upper chamber. When counterbalanced or valved to provide a gentle blast it can provide air during the time you are forging. This helps keep your fire from losing a lot of heat and costing you time pumping the fire back up. So bigger is better, but not necessarily portable. Build as big a bellows as you think you want to haul around.

I've promised bellows plans but have not completed them :(

We have a brief article about a set I built years ago on the 21st Century page. Centaur forge sells a small booklet on how to build a bellows.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 21:23:43 GMT

hi guru i am coded pipe welder i live in scotland as i work with metal i have started as a hobbie making gates and hanging basket holders i am finding very difficult to make the scrouls i have a flat plate about 8inches square with a scroul welded to it and flat plate welded to the underside of the plate which i grip in the vice and pull the flatbar round it i was wondering if there was a better way of forming them or jig you can buy i would be very grateful for any advice thanks. yours harry maxwell
harry maxwell  <max at maxwell65.freeserve.co.uk> - Monday, 06/26/00 21:41:38 GMT

True, if you want to consider the junk as swords. Andre did say he was looking for a swoard that could stay sharp and cut, so, only a good sword would do. (smile)
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 06/26/00 22:08:06 GMT


Well, I understood him to say that he wanted a sword that could be sharpened. I didn't see anything about how long he wanted it to hold an edge (while in use). These reproductions that I bought are soft enough that they take a very nice edge. I wouldnt' want to try and cut a second time with it though. (grin)
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 23:35:24 GMT

Scrolls: Harry, Is that TOP SECRET CODE pipe? :)

Scrolls are basicaly an art. Making smooth graceful scrolls comes naturaly for some of us and is near impossible for others. Its akin to running one of those perfect nuclear quality pipe fillet welds in SS using TIG in one continous pass. Easy for you (maybe) but impossible for most of the rest of us. The point? Practice and experiance make a huge difference. When you get to the level where the metal moves easily and the way you want it, then everything else becomes much easier.

It helps to practice drawing scrolls. If you can't draw one with a pencil then its going to be very difficult to "draw one in iron". This also trains the eye to see the progression of the line.

Most scroll jigs are made like the one you described. We have several articles on them and laying out scrolls. The jig article is under benders on the 21st Century page. The one on laying out scrolls is on the iForge page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 06/26/00 23:42:09 GMT


One point about doing scrolls. Make sure that your heat is as even as possible, and don't try to work "cold".
Uneven heat and not working hot enough will both lead to a lack of smoothness in the scroll "line".
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 00:50:08 GMT

Do you know of any historical descriptions, dating to the 19th century or earlier, that detail techniques for using charcoal (rather than mineral coal)?
J. Walker  <wmoore at rmi.net> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 02:35:58 GMT

Pogi; Hallmarks and Touchmarks:

Go to your library and pull a few books on antiques and antique silver Some of them have lists of the marks which can be used to identify company, city and year of manufacture. Good luck.

Andre'; Swords: Check out the links here for Viking Sword, Wilkinson Sword and do a search for Swordforum and Netsword (sp?). You can put a sharp edge on almost any sword, and it will keep it until needed. It's just a matter of how well it keeps it, and how long the sword lasts, if you use it in various activities. On the wall, the sword will stay sharp, and that should suit your symbolic purpose. Higher levels of performance and reliability in the field cost more.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 03:06:36 GMT

Charcoal: J. Walker, There are few details to report. Charcoal burns, forced air accelerates the burning and increases the intensity of the fire.

Charcoal was used almost exclusively for metalworking from the beginning of the bronze age until well into the 19th century. And "Charcoal Iron" was imported from Europe and Sweden into the early 20th century. Some six thousand years. In north America we were some 100 to 150 years behind the British in converting to coal. Why? Because it was known that the sulfur in coal made iron brittle, AND because we had the timber reserves to keep making charcoal.

The primary differences in the fuels are their density. Soft coal has a density of aprox 1.3 g/cm3 while charcoal is at best 0.4 g/cm3. A ratio of 3.25 to 1. That means it takes three times the volume of charcoal to have the same energy as coal. In the design of forges and furnaces this means a deeper fire bed is necessary for charcoal. Otherwise the temperatures created and most of the chemistry of the fuel related to processing metals is the same.

Meanwhile, a significant number of smiths still use charcoal world wide.

The two major historical works with information are Diderot's Encyclopedia of Trades and Industries (~1730) and Agricola's deRe Metalica (~1500). For modern descriptions of charcoal making see Eric Sloane's A Reverence for Wood, A Museum of Early American Tools and Diary of an Early American Boy, Noah Blake.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 04:16:44 GMT


I need a propane forge to easily heat about 50 6" x 1/4" square stock pieces. Could you reccomend a forge company, design, and estimated price for this. I would really appreciate it.

Yours in the Fire

Rob "SmithinScout" Hogg
SmithinScout  <brokenfootforge at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 15:01:10 GMT

Guru, I recall a question some months ago that related to removing an steel flywheel from a steel shaft. You gave the typical expansion of steel when it is heated. I couldn't find the question in the archive so I need to know how much steel expands per degree of heat applied. Thanks as always.

Paul Parenica  <not available> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 15:21:39 GMT

Expansion of steel: Seven millionths per inch per degree F.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 16:00:39 GMT

PAUL: The chop saw you mentioned cuts ten times better than an abrasive chop saw...faster, smoother and much more accurate...I was impressed. They state the blade is good for 2000 cuts (I've forgotten what size stock this test was made on) before resharpening and then is good for another 1000 cuts before replacement. I tested it on a piece of 3" round stock, zipped right through it.
Ken - Tuesday, 06/27/00 16:33:49 GMT

Whoops, Coef expansion steel = 0.0000063 in/in/°F
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 17:25:53 GMT


See the product review on the NC Whisper Baby. It's big enough to handle what you describe, and one of the best "bang for the buck" deals on the market. Bruce Wallace can get it for you.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 17:30:09 GMT

Scout: Jim is right. I've got that little forge and its a handy-dandy tool. You could probably get away with hauling it to school. It can be carried with one hand while you carry the the propane cylinder in the other. Very portable and uses very little gas.

NC-TOOL on-line catalog Prices are posted, drop us a line.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 19:59:35 GMT

harry maxwell  <max at maxwell65.freeserve.co.uk> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 20:07:07 GMT

hi guru could you please find me a firm who i could bye a device for making scrolls i am a coded pipe welder from scotland and have taking up wrought iron work as a hobbie at the moment i am using a plate with a scrool welded to it i put the flat bar in it and pull it round to form the scrool but it is taking far to long i am just looking for the basic scrooler not to exspensive as it is only a hobbie yours mr h maxwell.
harry maxwell  <max at maxwell65.freeserve.co.uk> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 20:19:59 GMT

Scroller: Harry, See my response after your first post (look UP)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 20:53:43 GMT

i guess i would have alot of questions concerning blacksmithing. i am from kingston ontario, can. and i am interested in blacksmithing as a hobbie thing.... can you send me some links about tools, skills classes etc on the incredable art of smithing.. thank - you.
andrew wilson  <awilson at kingston.net> - Tuesday, 06/27/00 22:04:29 GMT

Links and Sources: Andrew, Seek no further. Start on our home page www.anvilfire.com/ or try the site map (both on the menu to the left).

Our links pages have links to practicaly every blacksmithing site on the net. The 21st Century page has articles on all sorts of subjects. The iForge page has over a year's worth of weekly demos (step by step instructions) from of Wednesday night sessions in the Slack-Tub Pub. The Pub is the only active blacksmithing chat on the net. There is always a smith or two there in the evenings. If you are not a "chat" type person we have the Virtual Hammer-In a free-for all bulletin board where you may post messages, buy sell or trade.

Then we have our specialized pages, the NEWS, Book Shelf, Plans and the Power Hammer Page. And, of course you have found the guru page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 00:40:09 GMT

I was wondering why I haven't seen muriatic acid recommended more often for scale removal. It also deforms
Also, I use my garden sprayer on my coal to keep the fire contained and I guess it also helps in the conversion of coal to coke. It's very accurate and kinda fun to stand back about 5 feet, point and squirt. I really "pour" it on with no adverse affects.
question: I like making tenons on my band saw. Is the fastest cutting blade the one with the fewest teeth per inch? Would 10 work on 1"x1" mild steel? and finally, my
supplier offers straight and wavy tooth patterns. What's best for rough work? Can you suggest a better way to do tenons, this is a case where better is faster as long as it is dimensionally consistant within 1/16 and centered in the bar. I have trouble doing that hot.
Thanks very much for your help past and present,
l.sundstrom, m.i.smithing? - Wednesday, 06/28/00 12:46:53 GMT


One sneaky way of doing VERY accurate tenons is to center punch the bar, drill it and tap it, screw in a shouldered hex head bolt, and cut the head off. Voila! 1 tenon. If you set it up to use your drill press "off the table", with a floor mounted vise, this works very well.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 14:38:05 GMT

Muratic Acid: Larry, I generally don't recommend acids for cleaning because what is left over is generaly acidic waste or soluable metal salts. Even something benign like vinegar used to remove zinc galvanizing or to remove oxides from brass becomes some really nasty stuff to dispose of. We are talking a very small amount of waste acid or metalic salts but its still something to think about. Neutralizing the acid does not make the disolved metals disappear.

Water: Yes it is used to control our forge fires but care must be taken with forges that have cast iron parts. Excess water leaches suflphur from the coal and rapidly rusts out forge pans and firepots. Use of the sprayer is a good idea since it actually helps limit the amount of water. Water doesn't help make coke but it does limit the amount of coal and coke burnt uncontrolably.

Tennons: THE fastest method of producing accurate tennons is with a lathe. A friend of mine had to make some 5,000+ pickets with tennons on both ends. He also needed semi-skilled helpers to make them. I told him to machine them. "No, too slow", he said.

So, I chucked a 3/4" square bar in an old 19th century 14" lathe he had that just happened to have. It had a 4 jaw scroll chuck (works like a 3 jaw) so it was easy to chuck the square bar. I removed and sharpened the cutter, then set it 1/2" dia. by faceing the end of the bar and a moment of trial and error. THEN cut a 3" long tennon in one pass taking about 15 to 20 SECONDS! It took about 20 minutes to cut the first tennon. Then I reversed the bar and made a 1" long 1/2" diameter tennon. Whole opperation took less than a minute one setup.

Later he had to do the same on a bunch of pickets with decorative elements in the center and some with bent ends. Neither would fit through the lathe spindle. "What now?"

A box tool. This is a cutter holder commonly used on screw machines in the turret or tail stock. However, they work just as well on the spindle clamped in the chuck or bolted to a face plate. The pickets were clamped in a vise on the lathe carriage. Short pickets can be machined by this method using a drill press.

Forging tennons under a power hammer using a clapper tool is relatively fast. Forging them by hand takes practice and both forging methods should be faster than sawing.

Saw Blades: Wavy blades are a cheap substitution for blades with set teeth. Coarser blades generally cut faster. To keep from "striping" teeth off the blades you always need 3 or more teeth on the work. Therefore sawing thin materials requires fine teeth.

For band saws they make a blade with variable pitch that I get very good service out of. After much arrgrevation with cheap blades I now only use the top quality blades in my band saws because they are actually cheaper to use. For metal cutting this means one of the High Speed Steel bi-metal blades with varible pitch teeth. For wood cutting I use skip tooth raker blades. Since my wood working saw runs at 5,000 fpm no metal is cut on it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 15:06:05 GMT

Thanks Guys (Guru and Sneaky "T") for your answer on tenons. I've used the same acid for about two years, kept in a plastic trash can, so I haven't had to dispose of it. However, since I'm not a business...no OSHA. Thanks for the warning.
Back to tenons...I was thinking of square or rectangular ones with a good crisp shoulder. Are they traditionally round? do they twist if round? I like both ideas but I have been operating under the notion (false?) that square was stronger. I don't have a lathe or a cutter holder. I think that a clapper is a bottom and top fuller connected by a flat spring. To get a 3/4"x3/4" tenon out of a 1"x1" bar I think I would need a pretty stable anvil device perhaps with a slide guide, ideally one that would enable me to use a two hand hammer. Any more ideas.
Thanks for the info on blades. I'll order one based on that information, sounds like I could use a really big tooth for 1" stock, 10/inch would cut down to 3/8 so it would easily meet the criteria you mention to keep from stripping teeth.
Thanks very much for the help,
l.sundstrom, m.i.smithing? - Wednesday, 06/28/00 16:24:51 GMT

Larry: In open die or hand work clapper dies are generaly used for sizing and finishing, the initial forging done with flat dies or by hand. They simply replace upper and lower "set" tools where the bottom fits the hardy hole and the top is hand held with a long handle. However, it IS possible under a power hammer to forge a tennon complete in dies if the dies are well radiused and slightly oval so that flash and folds do not form. Square tennons would be forged with flat dies and simple stop or spacer bars to control the die space.

If you are forging 1" bar you do need large anvils and benches for stability. It is also time to look for help (either human OR mechanical). You can work this big stuff by hand alone but it is a bear of a job.

Generaly tightly riveted round tennons do not rotate and are plenty strong. We reserve punching square holes for places where square bars penetrate a flat bar. It is also easy to use a countersink in a round hole and then rivet flush. This works very well on top rail making a near invisible joint when finished a little with a file.

Many make the argument that a forged tennon is stronger than a machined tennon. This is only true if the tennon has a significant corner radius. If a sharp corner is forged the grain of the metal is pinched in the corner and weaker than normal. A machined shoulder is stronger than a sharp corner forged shoulder.

Square and rectangular tennons do work well on frames and heavy stock. Largely the difference between square and round is a matter of style of personal preference. Often both are combined in the same piece.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 17:00:09 GMT

I am trying to learn blacksmithing, I have taken one independant class of basic blacksmithing and I would like to make a career in this field. I live near Seattle, WA USA are there any schools around here that teach it?
Dan L.  <savagemcl at wa.freei.net> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 17:00:24 GMT

BILL  <BBODDE at PRODIGY.NET> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 17:35:08 GMT

Schools: Dan, the ABANA page has the best list of schools. Also check our ABANA-Chapter.com page and find your closest group. These folks will be able to help you more than any other.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 19:21:46 GMT

CASEHARDENING: Bill, There are two methods of case hardening. True carbon absorption case hardening and nitriding or salt bath hardening.

Regular casehardening is done by packing the low carbon iron or steel in charcoal, sealing it from air, then heating to a red heat where the carbon is absorbed into the surface of the iron. This can be hardened imediately or later. It is most common on small finished parts to go straight from the case hardening container into the water quench. Small finished gun, clock and machine parts were treated this way. Special containers are made to caseharden parts but there are other options.

One method is to wrap the charcoal and the part with old leather, then aluminium foil and then clay. When the clay is thougoughly dry its put into a wood stove with a good hot fire. After an hour or so at full heat the heated mass is pulled out of the fire and broken open in a water quench. Length of time spent in the fire is determined by the size of the part and the required depth of the hard surface.

Another method is to use a graphite crucible, pack the part in ground charcoal, seal the lid on the crucible with clay and then fire it as above in a wood fire, coal or gas forge.

Hardening salts come in a wide variety. The most commonly used by industry is cynanide salts. Parts are cooked in pots full of metled salts. For small shop use there is a product called "Casinit" sold by various sources. The part is heated with a torch, dipped in the Casinit powder and then the melted salts heated with the torch some more and more Casinit is added. The part is quenched after a prescribed time of heating the salts.

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and most gunsmithing books have instructions for casehardening.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 19:50:25 GMT

Since you are near Seattle, you are near a fairly active area for smiths. A lot of the smiths in your area frequent the Slack-Tub-Pub. Also you could contact the NWBA
BTW If you are down near Portland let me know as I live near there.

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 06/28/00 22:11:16 GMT

I am building my junk yard hammer and have completed all the parts.It is a shock absober type and I have noticed that all hammers of this type have the ram descending below the anvil ;wich sets the shock at an angle.I have made mine so that the ram is flush with the anvil.Is it a problem and why?
thank you very much!!
antoine  <mrvixit at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 00:59:30 GMT

Howdy Guru!:
I was wondering what the temperature range is between critical temperature and melting point for mild steel and tool steel?
FP  <fpcol at tx.freei.net> - Thursday, 06/29/00 01:17:06 GMT

I have a 990 Tiger Forge Blower. I was wondering when these things were made. Could you help me out please?
Darrel Holt  <bphikenhunt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 02:08:32 GMT


For further information on the charcoal industry in America, check out the National Park Service website for Catoctin Park at: http://www.nps.gov/cato/charcoal.htm . The other trick is the use of a whisk (small broom) to sprinkle water on it to keep the fire controlled, as opposed to a sprinkler or ladle. It takes a surprising amount of water, but you have to distribute it properly so that you don't drown the fire or get a soggy mess.

Back from Baltimore Harbor. Some beautiful square riggers in town.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Come row with us: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Thursday, 06/29/00 02:13:43 GMT

Hammer: Antoine, I'd need a better word picture or a drawing to understand the question.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 02:45:07 GMT

Steel Specs: FP, Mild steel is easy even though its sort of a nebulus term. But tool steels vary a great deal. As the carbon increases the A3, A4 points and melting temperature drop dramaticaly. But then at .85% and up carbon the A3 and A4 spike back up. Melting temperature declines constantly through steel becoming cast iron.

THEN there are alloy steels and all bets are OFF. The general rules apply but each steel has its own particularities.

From 0% carbon to .85%

Melt 2800°F - 2625°F
A4 1675°F - 1760°F Annealing and Normalizing
A3 1350°F - 1400°F Upper transformation
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 03:06:45 GMT

Tiger Blower: Darrel, Never heard of them.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 03:08:24 GMT

RICK  <RIGGPA at AOL.COM> - Thursday, 06/29/00 05:02:22 GMT

I hate to say it, but I'm about to plunk down the cash for one of those ubiquitous Asian 4x6 horiz / vert bandsaws.
Grizzly has them for $179.95, Harbor Frieght for $139.95 a $40 difference. One source told me that one is Chinese, the other Taiwanese. My question is what (if anything) is the difference? Politics aside, what qualities differ in the saws carried by these two companies. Anybody have any anecdotal experience with either company?
thanks, Riclieb
Riclieb  <riclieb at aol.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 06:02:50 GMT


I had one of the Harbor Freight ones. I eventually took an 8 pound sledge to it. I'll never have another one.

Enough said?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 06:15:15 GMT

Rust: Rick, Chlorox bleach. Use outdoors, be very carefull and wear eye/skin protection. Never mix bleach with other chemicals or use in non-enameled or SS containers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 12:46:10 GMT


I have had one of those el-cheapo bandsaws for 15 years. They are not that bad if you use bi-metal blades with them. My main complaint with them is the angle adjustment on the vice. Most people only cut 90, 60, 45, and 30 degree angles, maybe only 90 and 45. They could have just put threaded holes in the base instead of giving you "unlimited" adjustment.

They all look like they were made by the same company. I would say that they are a disposable tool for the most part.
Phil  <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Thursday, 06/29/00 13:13:30 GMT

Small Bandsaws: Back in the 70's I purchased a very used Ridgid 4"x6" horzontal - vertical bandsaw from another blacksmith. This is the original saw that is now copied by many others. Ridgid no longer sells it.

It originaly sold for $600 in 1970. I paid $300. Then proceeded to put another $100 worth of bearings in it. Once I started using top quality $15 blades rather than the plain carbon steel $5 blades it became a very productive tool. I also built a set of roller stock stands for it. I've cut tons of steel with it. It is NOT suitable for cutting curves. None of these saws are.

In 1979 we needed a saw for our family business. We purchased what LOOKED like the same saw from Sears for $700. It was NOT the same saw. It DID have the same saw frame casting and large guide bearings. However, the base was replaced with pressed steel as were several brackets. This made it too flexible to keep adjusted to cut square, the shut off switch worked intermitently and its had at least 3 motors put on it. Several poorly made handles have also broken off. However, THIS saw was 10 times better than the cheapo saws being imported at half the price at the time.

The cheap saws use small diameter cam rollers rather than the larger ball bearing quides of the original. They are often not adjustable. There may be no blade tracking adjustment. Bases are sheet metal rather than the cast iron or even pressed plate. These are a class of "tool" that often doesn't work at the factory much less for the consumer.

I've seen many cheap imported drills and saws. On one lathe from South America and a drill press from Southeast Asia the motor couldn't be adjusted so the belt lined up or could be tensioned. Both had to have significant expensive user modifications to work. The belt guards also had to be replaced on both machines because one the motors were in the right place the guards wouldn't fit. Each machine cost nearly $2,000 and never worked the way they were designed and built.

Like Paw-Paw's saw neither worked from the factory and none of these tools were returned to the importer or factory. The junk machinery is still made and imported because stupid Americans with more money than sense keep buying them and NOT returning them.

The Ridgid saw I described above would cost about $1,500 dollars today if made in the U.S and about $500 if imported.

There are some very good tools made overseas but this particular tool is sold (only in the US) assuming that stupid Americans will buy anything and not return it. As long as people accept junk that doesn't work the importers will keep bringing it in.

If you are going to purchase NEW imported tools, buy them from a reputable tool dealer and have the one you are buying demonstrated. Then, if it fails to hold up RETURN it!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 13:50:22 GMT

Look alike saws: Phil mentions that they may all be made by the same company. They are not. Small photos of my Ridgid, the Sears and any import will all look identical. They are supposed to. They are copies.

Some of the imports have cam rollers as I mentioned but some have nylon wheels on shafts the LOOK like the can rollers. Quality control is non-existant on many of these machines. One may work and the next not have enough adjustment to keep the blade on.

I agree with Phil's complaint about the vise. Once mine is squared up I never want to move it. The other problem is that the squareness of the cut is determined largely by the alignment of the stock stands. If you change the vise angle the stock stands will no longer be properly aligned. I've seen a saw (don't know the manufacturer) that the vise is stationary but the saw frame is adjustable for angle cuts. A nice design.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 14:09:48 GMT

I just acquired an old, frozen power hammer. On the side of what appears to be the clutch housing are the words KERR HARD IOWA. I need all the information and pictures available. Can you head me in the right direction?
Tommy  <tommy at tca.net> - Thursday, 06/29/00 14:18:11 GMT

guru I reed your advice or case harding and I wanted to add my 2 cents worth. cynanide salts work very well when done corectly but if done incorectly severe ingeries or death can be the result, onely some one traned to work with it should cynanide gas is deadly even in very small amounts and at serten temp the melted powder is expolsve when it comes in contact with water. I leard a small amount about this in tech scholl but the state would not let the students use cynanide after one of them in the 80's killed him self and put half his class in the hosptal when he left water in a cyanided part and it expoled in a 2nd hot dip.sorry to sound like I am trying to scare you. MP
MParkinson  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 15:31:54 GMT

Cynanide: Thanks for adding the warnings to my brief mention of the process. Yes, this is terribly dangerous stuff. The gas IS the same as used for executions. Generaly it is reserved as an industrial process.

Kerrihard: Tommy, there are quite a few of these around but like most of the mechanical hammer manufacturers they are long gone. Freund's book Pounding out the Profits has a little information and the cover is from a Kerrihard poster. See our Bookshelf reviews page (off home page).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 15:59:24 GMT

BILL  <BBODDE at PRODIGY.NET> - Thursday, 06/29/00 16:37:00 GMT

Sir, the maintenance department where i work couldn't get the blades to stay on the Rigid belt saw they had in their shop so they put it on the auction list as a give away. I brought it home, pulled up a chair and watched it run. It just needed adjusting at the blade guides and has been working great ever since. If i needed a part where would I look? I was told that they couldn't get bearings for it but I suspect that they just didn't look hard enough.
I don't mind the variableness of the vice but maybe that is because I don't work as accurate as you fellows, I just love the thing for taking the place of my Sawsall.
Thanks, Larry
Larry sundstrom, m.i.smithing?? - Thursday, 06/29/00 16:53:42 GMT

Chinese and Taiwanese Power Tools: my 2 cents...
I have worked in China and Taiwan. Buying or building and then equipping manufacturing plants. Generally speaking, Taiwanese tools are superior to Chinese. Taiwanese make tools copied from US or European designs. Often because the foreign manufacturers are looking for lower cost manufacturing. Taiwanese laborers are typically more highly educated than Chinese. Chinese manufacturers frequently copy the Taiwanese equipment, so there is another layer of removal from the original design and specifications.

US and European manufacturers are continuing to move manufacturing to China. Chinese manufacturing continues to improve and will displace many other low labor markets as time goes on. Then we'll see a shift to India and Africa. I enjoyed working with the Chinese and Taiwanese, much more than working with the Mexicans, but the travel and time away from my family were a killer. The Chinese will get there eventually. They are hard workers and are VERY motivated. Much of the labor comes to the cities from farms because they or their kids are starving. That is motivation! The average rural Chinese income 4 years ago was less than US$400 per year. People that make $16 per hour in the US putting screws in car doors on an assembly line had better be educating their kids so they can get better jobs.

Back to the topic... Sorry....

I will not waste my time with either Chinese or Taiwanese tools at this point unless I can do as Guru suggests.... See a demo of the tool you are interested in and if it is OK, BUY THAT EXACT TOOL OFF THE FLOOR! Do not assume that just because one tool is OK that the rest will be the same. Inconsistency in Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturing is legendary. To get good valves to use in piping systems, we hired and trained a chinese engineer to inspect the components and assembly of every single valve from a top US manufacturers Chinese valve palnt. 100% inspection. That is how it's done successfully.

And don't assume that a good american manufacturer will sell a good tool made in Taiwan either. I tried to buy a Powermatic drill press that was made in Taiwan. I tried three of them before I gave up and bought another brand.

Have fun!
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.comnospam> - Thursday, 06/29/00 17:09:53 GMT

Ridge Tools: Larry, I got my replacement guide bearings from the factory but that was quite a few years ago (try link at left). The Sears saw had the exact bearings. At the time I tried to get them from my power transmission supplier but they were a special size bearing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 17:39:04 GMT

Darrel Holt:

I've seen the Tiger blowers before. I am pretty sure they were made by Cannedy Otto. They look identical to the Western Chief.

El-Cheapo saws:

You get what you pay for. Since mine is older, the roller guides are steel with ball bearings. I agree about the sheet metal stand. I got rid of mine and built one out of 1.5" box tubing and put wheels on it.

With regard to where tools come from, you just can't trust anyone anymore. My 20 year old drill press had a good deal of head wobble, so I went out and bought a brand new delta. The motor crapped out after 4 months. The guy that fixed it said "what do you expect? it was made in China!"
Phil  <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Thursday, 06/29/00 18:38:47 GMT

hello hello!!
Sorry I wasn't clear. Let's try this again.On the setting I have planned,the finished hammer should look like this, at rest:the exentric at the top and going down in a straight vertical line the shock, and then the ram. The ram will be barely touching the anvil.
Now,on the pictures of homemade hammers I have seen on this site,all these hammer's ram seem to go below the level of the anvil,witch place the shock at an angle from the vertical(to the left or the rigth)
So,will the fact that the parts on my hammer(shock and ram) are all lined up (caused by the ram being a few millimeters off the anvil)can cause any problem;or should I set the ram to go below the level of the anvil.
I hope this is better,maybeI should have brought offerings!!
thank you!
antoine   <mrvixit at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 22:52:55 GMT

Adjustments: Antoine, Originaly I planned to have the shock fully extended when the crank pin was UP so that it could not possibly be over extended in either direction. However, this plan did not work as the stroke of the machine would be very limited. SO, to prevent hammering the shock internals the die is set just a little higher than the shock being fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. On lifting the ram slowly the shock "tops out" but this condition does not continue once the speed picks up.

In case you missed our notes about the hammer immediately after the 1998 conference (which I have failed to find time to compile). The maximum RPM of the shock absorber hammer needs to be limited to around 140-160 RPM otherwise the ram floats. The operation is different than most hammers as the machine starts in the closed die position and hits a very hard first blow then is much softer. Once you get used to that first blow the hammer runs smoothly.

The two advantages of the shock absorber hammer are, ease of construction and automatic compensation for tool/work height.

The disadvantage is that there is no increase in ram velocity as there is in toggle linkage or bow spring design hammers. IE, they don't hit very hard for the ram capacity.

However, ANY hammer is better than no hammer. The first afternoon we tested the EC-JYH it was rather dissapointing. . . But when we were done we had a stack of points forged in 1" square stock. Forging 1" square by hand is a bear of a job.

Are you hauling a JYH to Flagstaff? Please let us know!
Top prize is now a 152# Peddinghaus anvil
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 06/29/00 23:29:08 GMT

thank's a for lot for the informations.You said that the first blow is very hard,would it cause problem for welding a damascus billet or should I make the first weld by hand and keep the hammer for drawing out?
Also,could a coil spring be used(from a motorcycle for instance)?
thank you.
antoine  <mrvixit at hotmail.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 00:27:43 GMT

How do I post a coal supplier on the shuttle. Monger Coal and Oil supplies to all us Shenandoah Valley smiths and they are real nice people. I've been told it's good coal but I haven't used any other recently to compare it by. If burning white hot, making very little clinker, and stayin' lit all night in the forge are signs of good coal, then I guess it sure qualifies. They will ship it, sell it by the bag or ton. A 40 lb. bag sells for just over $4.00. And if that ain't enough you can even get a spec sheet on it just for asking. I would like to see these good valley people folks get listed in the registry of fine coal dealers.
l.s.sundstrom,m.i.smithing? - Friday, 06/30/00 01:27:11 GMT

please scratch out either
l.sundstrom,m.i.smithing - Friday, 06/30/00 01:32:21 GMT

people or folks in my last post.
l.sundstrom - Friday, 06/30/00 01:34:00 GMT

Cheap Saws,

I have to agree with much that has been said about cheap saws by others.

But Jock,

The junk machinery is still made and imported because stupid Americans with more money than sense keep buying them and NOT returning them.

bites a little close to the bone! (grin)

Of course the REASON it does is because it's true.

The first saw I had (mentioned above in my first message) was made in the Republic of China. I don't know what all was wrong with it, BUT I had to make parts for it the day it came in. It NEVER was willing to keep a blade in place. Didn't matter whether it was a carbon blade, or a bi-metal, it was rare that I could could a piece of 1" mild steel without the blade jumping off at LEAST once.

The one I have now was made in Taiwan. Bought it used from another smith. Works fine. Carbon blades last as well as bi-metal do, so I use the cheapo's.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 01:51:30 GMT

I have an old USHER anvil. Is this a good name or not? The anvil face is damaged but it is usable and flat over most of the face. The horn is undamaged, and it weighs about 200#. There is an LIII cast into the other end of the base on one side of the bolt hole and III cast on the other side. What do those mean?
pete  <sebergerfarm at alltel.net> - Friday, 06/30/00 02:51:54 GMT


I can't find any listing at all for an USHER anvil. Might there be some missing letters?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 03:21:19 GMT

Pete. I bet you have a FISHER anvil they are the only ones I can think of that has boltholes in the base. Not a bad anvil but not the top of the line IMHO.
kid  <n/a> - Friday, 06/30/00 03:48:00 GMT

Anvil: Kid has the best guess. Fisher anvils had an eagle cast on one side. They are often called Fisher-Eagle anvils. Fisher was the first large scale manufacturer of anvils in America. They were made by a pattent process where a steel face and horn surface are welded to a cast iron body "in the mold". Folks either love them or hate them. They always sold for less than forged anvils.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 05:09:50 GMT

My sincere appologies Jim But "we" the American public do make stupid purchases and not return them.

I've done it. Not often with metal working tools but the iOmega Buzz I bought last year should have been sent back after I spent two weeks (and hundreds of e-mails) trying to make it work. Even reputable companies occasionaly sell junk. They get away with it because we hate to admit defeat or as in my case the work of uninstalling the hardware and packing it back up would take time and effort that added insult to injury. Perhaps the fact that iOmega doesn't sell the Buzz anymore says something.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 05:40:33 GMT

I must defend the honor of little "Rong Foo" A Taiwanese 4" horizontal bandsaw I bought for $135 . It is still doing fine after more than 20 years of abuse and tons of nasty, rusty, crusty steel. It long ago passed 200,000 miles .
Admittedly it has taken some fooling with and it burned out a motor when something got in and jammed it up. But I used it today and yesterday too. Most of the problems were easily fixed. The brand really is Rong Foo and I'd buy another. My only real complaint is that it is too small.
Pete F - Friday, 06/30/00 07:05:37 GMT


A 152 pound Peddinghaus? What happened to it?
Phil  <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Friday, 06/30/00 11:15:38 GMT

Bad Anvil Memory: It IS a #9 165 lb - Sorry
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 13:18:36 GMT


No need to apologize,, I wasn't offended. As I said, there was much truth in the comment.

I never thought of a Fisher. Guess the "U" distracted me. Probably is a Fisher. Nice spotting, Kid!

And finally, the Taiwan saw that I'm currently building is a "Well Built" and it really is.

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 13:24:44 GMT

Not building, the Taiwan saw that I'm currently USING is a "Well Built".

Grr!! and a spell checker wouldn't have caught that!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 13:26:21 GMT

I am new to forging. Could you provide me with a few basic references? Also, I am interested in the acoustic properties of forged materials. Is there any info. out ther e on this topic?

Thank you,

Michael  <mcdonald33 at fuse.net> - Friday, 06/30/00 13:39:01 GMT


About the Peddinghaus, that's all right. I figured you may have mistakenly hit it when you were busting up your el-cheapo bandsaw with the 8# sledge ;-(
Phil   <rosche at dogbert.aticorp.org> - Friday, 06/30/00 14:04:17 GMT

I had an el cheap-o band saw made for Costal tool that was my grandfathers for 15 years cantankerous (like my gramps) but it worked after moveing it for the 3rd time it would not cut right, turns out the casting cracked. It was old and not very good so I got a new one I ordered the 185 harbor frieght deal what a nice saw it cut "right" with no changes the machine still works well my only complant is that the motor is NOT the 1 hp that it is marked as.
MParkinson  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 14:24:59 GMT

Accoustic Properties: Michael, you have hit on one of the great black holes of knowledge. Accoustics as applied to musical instruments is one of the most poorly documented subjects there is. I spent a year researching the construction of musical instruments and the lack of published information is realy surprising.

To top it off the most commonly found and refered to book on the acoustics of music is full of bunk. It looks very scholarly until you try to use the math provided. Mixed constants (dimensionless numbers) are refered to but not defined in any way. Steps in formulas are left out. . . I figured the author was repeating someone else's work that he didn't understand.

I did find a formula that works for tuning forks. Its been a while but it worked fairly well and I might be able to dig out the program I wrote using it. I don't think it considered the metal hardness.

Hardness has a definite effect. Triangles that are quenched to harden the corners ring much better than those that are not.

See our Getting Started article for basic reference info.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 16:38:21 GMT

You're right, it is a fisher, closer inspection of the name reveals the cross members on the first letter. However, there is no eagle that I can discern anywhere, but there is a 1906, presumably the date, cast under the end opposite the horn. the hard steel face looks to be about a half inch thick, but the horn does not look like it has any hard steel on/in it, only whatever metal the base is cast of. Thanks for the information.
pete  <sebergerfarm at alltel.net> - Friday, 06/30/00 20:06:02 GMT

Mr. Guru,
We are both European Welding Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer and Nondestructive Testing Specialists. We are conducting some regular inspections on pressure vessels, boilers, power plant equipments and line pipe used for oil and natural gas transmission and distribution. We are inspectors of "Manufacturing of Hellical Seam Submerged Arc Welded Pipes according to API-5L". The preliminery material which is used as the coil is X-65. During our Visual Inspection we encountered some defects close to the weld seam, which when visually inspected seem like tiny cracks on the surface. However they are like surface lamination which are not exactly lamination since they are layers extending to the surface in an angle. These defects sometimes appear at the edges of the coil, approxiametely 3 to 4 mm's away from the weld seam. But sometimes they extend to the Heat Affected Zone and the edge of the weld seam. Since these defects are not visible before the SAW process we are unable to detect them during Incoming Material Control. The pipe manufacturer insists on the fact that the cause of these defects depend on the coil manufacturing process. We would like you to give us information and cause of these defects as well as their level of importance. I wonder weather the forementioned defects can cause weakness of welding as well as welded pipe, because these pipes will work under the pressure of approxiametely 70 barg. Please be informed that if the defects originate from coil manufacturing process, this means that they are placed at the edges of the coil. Your immediate response shall be appreciated. Thank you very much for your consideration in advance.
Mehmet and Esin
Esin Tunalý  <esin.tunali at veezy.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 19:43:14 GMT

Cracks: Esin, This problem is way beyond my area of expertise. It does sound like a materials problem. Either in chemistry or handling. Perhaps excessive grain growth from holding too long at high temperature before rolling.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 20:39:15 GMT

Living in Boise Idaho and starting blacksmithing I have no idea where to purchase coal. Can you point me a direction where I can find this. Thank you

Mike Cook
mike Cook  <mikey__c at hotmail.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 20:44:06 GMT

Eagle Anvil: Pete, Some of those other characters may be part of Fisher-Norris the full name of the company.

The horn on early Fishers had a steel tip and a top bar attaching the tip to the face. Because of the grinding and finishing of the horn anvils in good condition show no seam.

On later Fishers the horn is solid steel.

Coal: Mike, Try the Coal Scuttle from our main page. Then look up your local ABANA-Chapter. The folks there will be able to advise you. Occasionaly the chapters buy good coal in bulk and then resell it to members.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 06/30/00 21:20:11 GMT

Anyone looking for work? Here it is.

Hero Props in Los Angeles is looking for a select umber of blacksmiths with portable forges or shops based in the L.A. area to create very basic primitive weapons (spears, halbards, berdicche, arrow heads, blades, ect.) Items are for a major upcoming feature film based loosely in the dark to middle ages. Please E-Mail PHOTOS and resume to Heroprops at aol.com as soon as possible, or call our offices at 213-534-3659 to schedule an appointment. This is an incredible opportunity to showcase your work and establish an industry relationship.
Hero Props  <heroprops at aol.co> - Friday, 06/30/00 22:49:11 GMT

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