WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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 17 - 22, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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Be real careful about attachments to the head of your treadle hammer..there is a tremendous amount of shock repeated each impact that will fatigue and eventually break suprisingly stout features. bolts tend to work loose, cotter pins wander off. When pieces cut loose they may come flying at your face...you probably don't want that.
I sure use my TH a lot and am pleased to have my right arm returned for other uses....congrats on your new machine. I thought that building the TH would be it...I was wrong. It's the tooling that takes the time.
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/17/02 05:37:37 GMT

Fencepost update:

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice about my use of the cutting torch to remove fenceposts. The fence is now gone, and I did it without setting anything on fire or blowing myself up. :-)

Also, I picked up another anvil this weekend. It's a 240+ lb Hay Budden with an absolutely flat face and good edges. It rings like a bell and has good rebound. I paid less than $1.50 per pound for it... think that is an OK deal? You can see a photo of it here:


Thanks again for the advice on the cutting torch. It made the fence removal job much easier.

   - Marcus - Monday, 06/17/02 12:43:24 GMT


An OK deal?

Heck yes! A very good deal from the looks of the anvil! You might want to take up stealing as a way of life! (teasing grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 06/17/02 13:35:50 GMT

I just purchased a 128lb anvil. I'm trying to identify the manufacturer, but the only thing I can decifer is the weight (1 0 16) and a stamp of a sitting or floating duck. Hope you can give me some info on it.

Thanks, Gary
   Gary Gray - Monday, 06/17/02 14:09:52 GMT

Camp Fenby, July 4-7

Just posted further details in the Virtual Hammer-In.

Question on the use of copper as a ground for oil painting: I noticed that most were small, but given the expansion and dinging problems, the paintings themselves certainly seem to hold up within the size limitiations.

Gas BBQs: I have found them useful for blueing large objects, like helms. (Can't fit a helm into a toaster oven, and the wife doesn't want it in her bake oven!)

Blue skies over the banks of the Potomac. Got the ship bottom painted Saturday and launched yesterday. Maybe I can get some blacksmithing done!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/17/02 14:23:07 GMT

Gary, IF the bird is a swan, Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America, says it was probably made in the Leeds area of England, possibly by Kurtstall Forge. The swan was a symbol of the area. Richard says he would be intrested in seeing a photo of the anvil and all the markings.

You might try cleaning the anvil with a wire brush and then taking a rubbing of the markings. Note which side they are on.
   - guru - Monday, 06/17/02 16:06:32 GMT

Do you have a list of treadle hammer safety practices? I've been tasked to teach a treadle hammer do's and don'ts class at our guild for those unfamiliar with its operation. Our treadle hammer is very similar to the old style ABANA hammer. It does have a pedal height adjustment and removeable dies. We have flat and top and bottom fuller dies. Any help would be appreciated. If you have anything electronic, please email me.
   robcostello - Monday, 06/17/02 18:41:27 GMT

A follow-up to my earlier post regarding my new Hay Budden anvil:

I've seen folks mention a serial number on Hay Budden anvils. I didn't notice one, but I'd like to know where to look for it. Anyone know?

I know that I need to break down and buy Postman's book on the subject. Once I recover a bit from the anvil purchase I'll probably do that :-)

Also, are Hay Buddens generally marked with their weight? Again, I didn't notice a weight mark, but I'm going to grab some chalk and try a rubbing tonight.

Thanks again for all the help, guys.

   - Marcus - Monday, 06/17/02 18:52:39 GMT


On the foot, under the horn, normally.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 06/17/02 18:55:14 GMT

Hay-Budden: Made in de Bronx. Out of biz since about 1928. Two styles, old had forge welded steel face, late had all steel upper body welded at waist. Weight is often marked in pounds, not English hundred weight. One of the best anvils ever made.
   - guru - Monday, 06/17/02 21:51:37 GMT

Treadle Hammer Safety: Hmmmm Pete Fells is the expert on what NOT to do.

1) Keep hands out work area and OFF dies. Use tongs or handled tools. We have more reports of smashed fingers and hands from treadle hammers than power hammers. These things hit HARD and because they are not powered, people are less cautious about them.

2) Wear safety Glasses or face shield.

3) Put safety prop in place (under head or treadle) when changing tooling.

4) Inspect machine for loose parts before use (bolts and pins).
   - guru - Monday, 06/17/02 22:00:52 GMT

It is just after 6 PM and I just called about the tomahawk drifts. They are out of stock and looking for a new supplier. I've been looking for one for months, guess I'll have to make one.

   Bob Harasim - Monday, 06/17/02 22:20:25 GMT

Does anyone know details about "Anvil 2000" or the "World's Largest Anvil" shown at the ABANA conference?
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 00:29:26 GMT

I got it. Called THE "anvil guru". . . :)
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 00:57:58 GMT

Thomas Powers,

Contact me email please. Need to talk to you about something.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 06/18/02 01:07:40 GMT

Thanks for the advice on the drill press chuck. I think that I will try to drill and tap it. However after looking at it agian today I can't decide what type of drill bits it uses. Does it use the square shanked (like brace and bit) or the round ones (modern)? Or do they have to be a special round or square so that they stay centered in the hole?
   Daniel - Tuesday, 06/18/02 01:34:16 GMT

Daniel-- tempting as it may seem to track down a compatible set of olde tyme drill bits for your post drill, if you aim to actually use it (and the ancient beasts are indeed still eminently useable), you'd do yourself a huge favor to fit it up with a nice big fat Jacobs chuck and thus have access to the full panoply of bits offered today. A lot less tears when you bust one, too. Just imagine snapping a 9/16 oldie!
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 06/18/02 04:22:00 GMT

Candice: There are a couple people in CA using copper as a base, First one that comes to mind is Helen Shirk, I believe she said that she taught at a collage in San Diego (SP?)Helen lives in La Mesa CA. Helen often uses liver of sulfur for a black patina, then colours with Pentel (sp) pencil crayons, her work is beautiful, The other person would be Marilyn de Silva, of Pinole CA., Marilyn also teaches but I'm not sure where, I believe that she is able to use gesso and then paints. Both Marilyn and Helen have been published Metalsmith magazine, you should be able to find them in the library, fine arts section. You could also just do a google search they have tons of stuff on the web. Both women's work is exceptional.
   Daryl - Tuesday, 06/18/02 05:38:29 GMT

The route to recognition can be painful.
Rob C.;
One treadle hammer danger that often goes unrecognized is the power unleashed by a broken spring. In designing your hammer consider where the springs are located and what will happen when one breaks at one end or the other. I have slack loops of 3/16 cable as a back up on mine.
I also have a length of chain between the hammer head and the back support member.
It helps to keep your tools short. Hold them securely so they dont go flying if you cheat the angle too far.
None of these things kept me from lunching my thumb. Since then I've made a point of always hitting the same thumb and that's my rule of thumb for today.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 06/18/02 07:45:18 GMT

Daniel, Miles is right. The old hand crank machines (I assume that is what you have, you didn't say), used "blacksmith" bits. These were special 1/2" shank bits with a flat on them. They have not been made for many years. Unlike modern turned down shanks they were oversize up to 1/2". Rarely do you want to use a bit over 1/2" in these machines but if you do then the modern turned down shanks will work. However, you need to grind a set screw flat. Otherwise the set screw cuts up the shank and it will be stuck in the hole.

A good Jacobs chuck will cost you more than the original machine but will easily pay for itself. You may have to special order the arbor with 1/2" shank but they do make them. Be sure to get a 0 - 1/2" (0 - 13mm) chuck. They make chucks that start at more than zero and small bits like 1/16" or drill (wire) sizes don't work in them.

Occasionaly you can get a Jacobs chuck off a old dead electric drill. Most of these thread on. Open the chuck all the way and look inside for a socket head cap screw (Allen head screw). The screw is left handed to keep the chuck from backing off of reversing drills. The chuck will be threaded right hand ususaly 1/2" or 9/16" fine thread. You can make an arbor to fit from a bolt.

Look close at the jaws of old chucks. If there are flats on the part that grips then the jaws are worn out. Sometimes you can get by with a worn chuck but it is a pain. Usualy the jaws wear tapered and do not grip well. You can dismantle the chuck and replace the jaws but the replacements cost very nearly as much as the chuck and are hard to get.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 12:21:07 GMT


On an old chuck, with worn jaws as you describe, would it be possible to carefully sharpen the jaws with a file?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 06/18/02 13:43:35 GMT

Hay Budden update:

Ok, I tried to do rubbings on the Hay Budden I picked up last weekend to uncover the weight markings, and only had partial luck. The first number is definitely a two and the last number is positively a six, but the number in between could be a three, four, or five. There is a horizontal line that is evident and appears to be in the middle or top of the character, but I can't make out much else. I guess I'll just have to plop it down on a scale if I want to know for sure how much it weighs.

I also checked for a serial number and couldn't find one. I did notice a reasonably distinct "8" under the horn and next to the square hole that runs horizontally through the anvil. It looks like there might have been some other marking that preceded the "8", but I couldn't make it out. It almost looks like an upside-down triangle.

Any info would be appreciated.


   - Marcus - Tuesday, 06/18/02 14:27:47 GMT

Old Chuck: Jim you would most likely do more damage than good. It IS posible to stone the worn flats until they are the same with along the jaw AND all three jaws have the same width flat.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 16:18:29 GMT

I have a small forge with an attached hand crank blower. The blower is labeled Champion Forge and Blower Co. The forge had been left outside for years before I found it. The gear on the fan axle is very rusted and some teeth are partially missing. It makes a very loud noise when used. Do you have any idea where I can get a replacement gear?
   Gary Standke - Tuesday, 06/18/02 20:29:56 GMT

Gary, Unless you have a very odd champion blower that is a special made multi start worm gear. There are no replacements. The company has been out of business a long time. Sorry for the bad news.

Your only option on this blower is to remove the gear drive and replace it with a bearings and a belt drive.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 20:47:54 GMT


I will be working and selling my wares at an upcoming festival, and I was looking for suggestions on good methods to display blacksmithing work. I have just purchased a 10x10 EZ-Up booth, and am trying to figure out what I can build that will be light and easy to transport, but sturdy enough to show off my work and not fall over and crush customers.

We are using a long (2'x6') folding table to lay work on now, and it works pretty well, but there is a limit to how much I can display at one time.

Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome!!

   Jim - Tuesday, 06/18/02 20:50:08 GMT


Probably help if I methin what I have to display....

Mostly hook, wall and 's', candle holders, and a couple of fireplace tool sets.

Thanks again....

   Jim - Tuesday, 06/18/02 20:51:43 GMT


Last booth I had I built from scratch from paneling. . . Big deal moving and setting it up. Was required by the show. . never paid for itself.

I used to haul around a faux fireplace made of light wood. Needs depth and a "hearth" to prevent tipping over. Great way to display stuff folks are going to use around the fireplace. Mine got left in a craft shop that went out of business. . . Now days you can get faux brick and stone paneling. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/18/02 21:29:37 GMT


Would drawings of how to make the "egg crate" tables that I use be of value? They can be made of aluminum like mine, but 1/2" plywood works well. You can build two complete tables out of two sheets of plywood.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 06/18/02 21:50:33 GMT

Jim -

I spent a number of years as a sign shop owner building trade show displays for everything from craft fairs to displays build in semi-tractor trailers for Motorola at the COMDEX show. The range of things that can be used successfully is almost unlimited, but I can offer a few suggestions for reasonable do-it-yourself projects.

One relatively simple way to make a great backwall display is to get three or four hollow-core doors from someplace like Home Depot and then cover them with fabric such as burlap. The fabric can be adhered with contact cement much like formica work. If you have a router or table saw you can cut a 1/2" deep kerf all around the edge and stretch the fabric over the faces of the doors and tuck it inot the kerf with a putty knife. The doors are hinged together with loose-pin hinges [be a mensch and make your own :-)], so you can stack them easily for transport. If you pick the right fabric, you can use the hook part of Velcro tape to hang pictures and such on them. By all means, DO hang some pictures of your other work! You'd be surprised how many people don't really know the wide range of things a smith can make until you show them.

For pretty slick-looking stands and bases, look into a product called Sonotube. This is a waterproof cardboard tube used for forming concrete pilings. You can often get cut-off ends from big contractors. If travel space is at a premium, you can make easy knock-down bases using corrugated Fibreglass roofing panels covered with cheap thin carpet. Roll it into a tube and secure it with a couple of thumbscrews (make these, too).

Naturally, you will want to forge a nice tall hanger or two to use as a display rack for the little stuff. If you make it look like a pot rack and mount it to the top of your backwall, you might get a few potrack commissions out of it, too. And don't forget to hang up some kind of an attractive sign...from fifty feet away, not everyone can see those lil' hooks, but the sign will get 'em closer.

Feel free to contact me if you need any specifics I haven't given here.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/18/02 21:59:53 GMT

Jim-- About 10 years ago or so Steve and Cindy Long published a book-- You Can Make Money from Your Arts and Crafts-- that covers the craft fair problem from every angle. Tactics, strategy, how to lay out your booth, what position to try to get at the fair, security while traveling and during the fair, etc., etc. The book was highly reviewed by various craft publications. The Longs at the time were making and selling wooden toys, ONLY at fairs, no custom commissions, no galleries, and making a decent living at it.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 06/18/02 22:43:43 GMT

Miles, any way you could find out the title, ISBN number, or a possible source of that book?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 06/18/02 22:54:39 GMT

Jim -

I have a copy of the Long book. ISBN 0-037769-04-5, published by Mark Publishing, 5400 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066 1-800-622-7372. The book is still in print, I think. Generally, a pretty good book, full of motivational enthusiasm and a panoply of tips and techniques for selling at fairs. Good information and resources lists. One thing I did notice that they didn't cover was that most of the national indoor shows and tightly union-controlled and set-up of a booth must be done by union personnel and can easily cost several hundred dollars. It pays to check on those things ahead of time, rather than get an unpleasant surprise.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/19/02 01:06:05 GMT

I am planning on building a treadle hammer and am wondering about which of the many designs to choose. Any advice on which one to build?
   - Doug - Wednesday, 06/19/02 01:08:26 GMT

Doug, Generaly simple is better. Folks have gone nuts with fancy geometries and guide systems. Save that for your second machine.

The one thing that many of the plans call for is a lead filled head. DO NOT DO IT! There is absolutely NO reason for using lead in this application. Use a solid piece of steel or several welded together.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 01:59:17 GMT


If you're indoors with accese to power, don't forget good lighting. You need good light to bring out the details of the ironwork. It also makes the booth stand out. If you're outside, keep in mind where the sun will be for both lighting and comfort. Try various colors for table clothes. Light grey actually works very well, but some other colors may draw more attention. Different textures have their uses too. A long enough table cloth provides extra storage under the table, which is very convenient for re-stocking after a sale.

Don't forget comfortable chairs to sit on (you may be doing a LOT of sitting). i prefer the canvas and wood "captain's" or "director's" chairs. keep lots of cards handy to pass out to interested but not-buying-just-yet prospects.

Don't forget a photo portfolio of your previous work. If you don't have one, start one now! A very useful selling tool, and it will provide a sample of your capabilities for potential commissions.

Here's to a prosperous venture!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/19/02 03:40:20 GMT

Vicopper-- we are allowed to use the word panoply on this site only once each month. I used it already for June. Sorry.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 06/19/02 04:47:17 GMT

paw paw
yes you can but it is VERY difacult to do acceratly even with a serfise grinder.
a better idea is to drill the chuck for a larger sise bit (ie the smallest drill that will grab would be 1/16") this pulls the jaws back to SQ and allows the use of any bit larger than the drilled hole.
we did this a few time in school when the freshman had messed up the chucks on some of the lathes as the smallest drill that class used was a #7 (tap drill for 1/4"-20)
the only down sid of this is that the chuck can't have hardened jaws. (most lathe drill chucks I have used were soft not sure about the drill press chucks.)

craft fair displays
I have found that the one thing that is ... nessasary for a display is that it will not be damaged by rain... at some point it will rain on them!!! I use a tent that I made it hase a wood frame on to this I attach my sword racks (drywall screws) thest I made from furing strips and steel hooks. next I have a 4 panel set of lattice (from home depot) ech panel is 2 foot/ 6foot and are hinged together (the back is covered with fabric.) next to this in front of my blade racks is my table (still trying to find one that will last for me, and still be light enough) on my table is a glass fronted case for knifes. I made the knife case from a peice of plexi glass a poster frame some furing strips and a peice of 1/4 plywood, inside I wraped a peice of foam with fabric (good colors that seem to work well for me are blue, gray and green) at the other end of the table there is yet anouther sword rack. this one is welded togther out of 1/2 SQ with hooks to hold the blades I desiged it to fold down. the partion is great becouse it give you a space away from the customers to store stock grab a bit to eat, etc but at the same time makes a nice display for any thing that hange's from a wall. one last thing a nice carpet or throw rug is a good touch for the booth, don't keep it to clean though some folks will walk right around a clean rug.
hope that helps some
   MP - Wednesday, 06/19/02 07:15:16 GMT

i am 10 years old and doing a school project on blacksmith foundries and how rock is crushed in a machine so that they can look for gold. can you help me please.
   daniel grundy - Wednesday, 06/19/02 08:50:23 GMT

Looking to find a "tin smith" to train or apprentice under in the Pittsfield, MA / Albany,NY area. Can you give me any names, locations and phone #'s to call?
   Diane - Wednesday, 06/19/02 11:56:13 GMT

(For those of you who don't check "What's New" every morning):

Excellent coverage of the Mastermyr chest and extraordinary lock work on the News page from the ABANA conference. What a contrast between the basic tools and the employment of the most sophisticated techniques. It answered a lot of questions on the locksmithing.

Looking forward to further wonders. Thanks to Jock and his field reporters.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/19/02 12:34:46 GMT

what would be the best way for me to get a job as a blacksmith but to work with horses?
   - jason driver - Wednesday, 06/19/02 15:04:44 GMT


Badly need to talk to you voice. Email your way with my phone number, or please email me yours.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 06/19/02 15:04:48 GMT

Is that all I'm going to get on Dos and Don'ts and safety practices for Treadle Hammer operation? I figured with all the experts here, I'd get a little more, like rules of thumb for pedal heighth adjustment. Anybody got any prefered methods? Any good preventative/scheduled maintenance practices? Thanks to Guru and Pete for the responses!
   Rob Costello - Wednesday, 06/19/02 15:13:35 GMT

Thanks for all the advice on craft fair booths! I certainly have alot to think about now!

   JIM - Wednesday, 06/19/02 15:50:47 GMT

Guru, Heres something strange to look at on ebay, its a anvil-vise with lathe like wheels on it. What the heck was this tool used for? Item # 886848259
   - Robert - Wednesday, 06/19/02 16:04:18 GMT


I'd check your local community college. I live in colorado springs, CO, and we're reputed to be a "high tech" town, because we have Atmel, Intel, HP, Compaq and on and on roosted on the north end of town. There are TONS of tech schools and classes. But when I picked up the fall catalog for PPCC looking for weldiong classes I was surprised to find over a dozen farrier classes listed in there.
   mattmaus - Wednesday, 06/19/02 16:09:31 GMT

Rock Crusher: Daniel, In the old days rock was crushed by raising a huge cast iron weight up a tower and then droping it on a pile of ore. The "weight" was called the "ball" and mines were often rated by their ball size in tons.

Mules were often used to raise the ball. Water power and steam engines were also used.

Modern rock crushers are just BIG machines with very hard teeth that crush the rock. In modern mining the rock is reduced down to sand size particles. This is done with big metal rollers after the rock is crushed. These machines are powered by electric motors that may be 1,000 Horsepower or more.

Before modern times "hammer mills" were used. These were usualy water powered and raised and droped heavy iron bars called "hammers" on the broken stone over and over. These mills were used to make powder out of all kinds of substances.

After the rock is reduced to sand size then stong chemicals are used to disolve the metal from the rock. Then other chemicals are added to seperate the disolved metal. These processes produce very large quantities of hazardous waste. Many of these methods have been used for hundreds of years.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 16:26:58 GMT

eBay number no good. . could not find.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 16:51:54 GMT


Basic question:

When using the edge of the anvil as a fuller (like in the Norfolk latch iforge demo) I can get the first side done, but when I flip the piece over to work the other side I mangle the nice fuller I just built. I have tried to strike a bit behind the fuller (as shown in figure 5) But I still end up seriously deforming the original fuller.

I can get it to work pretty well using a spring fuller, but I want to be able to do it using the anvil corner.
Should I be freezing the first side before rotating? Should I just let it deform and adujust later in the process? Or am I doing something else wrong?


   JIM - Wednesday, 06/19/02 17:23:13 GMT

Guru, I rechecked the ebay item #886848259 and it popped right up. Hope you get a chance to see this tool. I`d like to have it just cause its neat. Thanks again for the Edwards Shear info.
   - Robert - Wednesday, 06/19/02 18:19:24 GMT

Came right up for me....

Not sure what this tool is, but I John Daniels has one he brings around. I keep thinking about buying it from him.....
   JIM - Wednesday, 06/19/02 19:05:21 GMT

Corner of anvil Jim, Its done with both the corner od the anvil and the corner of the hammer. Takes some practice to strike in a corner with the hammer. Hammer shape has something to do with it too. However, I always used hammers with a heavy chamfer or radius, no sharp corners.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 19:30:47 GMT

"All Categories 0 item found for 886848259 . . . ."

Maybe I don't squint right. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 19:34:45 GMT

   - Marcus - Wednesday, 06/19/02 20:13:45 GMT

hi, i'm a 40 yr old woodworker and primative archer and i am interested in makeing my own broadheads,hunting knives , and chisels and gouges. can i hand hammer stainless steel salvaged from an old pressure cooker,old chefs knife ,and an old resturant cooks table any suggestions would be helpful. i have been makeing my knifes and broadheads out of old table saw blade, cut out with a hacksaw and file. what do you think of table saw blade metal?and should i be heat treating them . thanks for the help this web site is great . stephen
   stephen owen - Wednesday, 06/19/02 21:09:56 GMT


I am looking to purchase used forming stakes, specifically, a blowhorn and a beakhorn, such as those made by Pexto/Roper-Whitney or Vaughan.

I have checked eBay off and on, without success.

Do you have any ideas where I can find these items ?

Steve K.
   Steve Kendall - Wednesday, 06/19/02 23:14:11 GMT

Odd tool on Ebay: This is a common "universal" or "combination" tool. It does everything but none well. I've never seen one with a saw or grinder arbor before, most have a drill in that position. This one probably does if you reverse the spindle. They are a flimsey excuse for a tool. The anvil and body is all cast iron so you don't want to do heavy pounding on it. The gearing and the position of the anvil make the vise practicaly useless. The mechanism is hand cranked but IS NOT self feeding like old hand crank drills which ARE useful tools.

It is a curiosity and collectors item. Let them have it!
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 23:29:13 GMT

Stakes: Steve, Large ones are difficult to find and most of the "classic" shapes are no longer manufactured. What IS available are set of small silversmiths and jewlers stakes. There were multiple sets on sale on eBay today.

Many of these are expensive enough when you find them that you can pay a blacksmith to custom make them and come out ahead. What type of work are you interested in doing?
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/19/02 23:33:15 GMT

Jim, Why go and try to do it the hard way? Use a spring fuller or a top and bottom fuller set or a 'smithing magician' type tool.
The trick on using the edge of the anvil is to have a hammer that the pein matches closely the radius of the anvil edge. Then hit the same spot each time with the pein.
Thos is one of those times that a diagonal pein hammer is worth its weight in gold.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 06/19/02 23:55:53 GMT

mattmaus,, i live in Woodland park,, glad to see someone close by,,, hell of a fire up here,, and close, but thanks the gods,, its raining tonight..lol playing in the flame whilst the woods are aflaming.. the road block to the forest is just on my property line, manditory evac, but i am not going,, gots to finish restoring the railings for the Woodland park cemetery before the fourth of july,, i built them 17 years ago and now doing the first restore.. truly an awesome job...
   anvil - Thursday, 06/20/02 03:25:55 GMT

Steve-- a humongous jewelry-making outfit in Manhattan named Metalliferous (sp?) sells tinsmithing stakes, has a shifting inventory of second hand stuff. Nice people. Check their ad in Metalsmith for phone, fax, website. Beware: a lot of those stakes are cast iron, thus cannot be smitten smartly lest they crack.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 06/20/02 03:43:17 GMT

MINORITY REPORT: I have a similar anvil-vise combo that I bought maybe 10 or 15 years ago and have never once used. Jock's absolutely right, the tool is utterly, totally, absolutely worthless, but just think how happy the guy was who dreamed it up! Think of his/her joy when the casting cooled and he/she assembled it and beheld it there on his/her (I am just feeling P.C. tonight, that's why) bench in all its nutty glory! Actually, come to think of it, the first one of these I ever saw was owned by an octogenarian ranch lady over in Arizona who'd started homesteading when she was a young bride. Howcum you got that, I asked her. "Because I need it," she snapped. Ask a silly question.... So, maybe... they ain't totally useless. Maybe.
   miles undercut - Thursday, 06/20/02 03:55:51 GMT

most saw blades should work, if you don't over heat them
they sould be fine with out heat treating (may want to re temper them) but if you do over heat them, heat the steel to nonmagnetic and quench in oil (most oils will work, I like peanut oil) then temper in the oven for 2+hours at 350-500 deg (I usely temper broad heads at 425) if in dout as to weather the materal will work cut a sample and harden it (heat to non magnetic and quench) then check with a file, if the steel regects the file then it should work fine (after tempering)
stainless is a pain to work and even more of a pain to heat treat. most stainless will not harden thus won't make very good arrow heads. most stainless can be forged. most of the resturant stainless I have come opon has been 303,304 or 314 none of these are hardenable (other than work hardening) and a a bear to work. hot or cold they seem like they don't move under the hammer.
   MP - Thursday, 06/20/02 04:01:28 GMT

Fletching: Stephen, Most stainless is too soft for edge tools and the hardenable stuff is pretty high tech to heat treat. Old chefs knife is probably pretty good stuff but if stainless the first comment applies. Saw blades are pretty good stuff but there is great variety.

Many things can be made by the stock removale method without heat treating IF the material is not overheating while cutting or grinding as long as you are safisfied with the current hardness. If the material is overheated by grinding or is heated to forge then is needs to be heat treated.

On the other hand a dead soft broad head arrow is absolutely deadly and won't break when it hits bone. So any grade of steel you are happy with should be just fine.

I was a couple days from going into competitive archery when I broke my left elbow. . . But before that, if I could see it, I could hit it. Had too many home made and cheap arrows disintegrate from column loading. . so stayed with aluminium. Light arrows have SO much flatter trajectory. :)
   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 04:03:24 GMT

I have been in the valve business for sometime and today I had a customer with a requirement for 316L forged valves who asked if we met the "Delta Ferrite" calculation.
If you can enlighten me on this, I would appreciate it.
Thank you
   Bill Wilson - Thursday, 06/20/02 04:15:17 GMT

guru is there a lot of diffrence between a 50lb.power hammer or a 50lb. air hammer.. nothing has ever been written on power hammers..tnx.. ed
   hot forge 101 - Thursday, 06/20/02 06:47:53 GMT

could you please tell me how much diffrence is there between an air hammer and a power hammer thank you ed
   hot forge 101 - Thursday, 06/20/02 07:21:58 GMT

Sheet Metal Arrowheads

Some of the arrowheads recovered at Little Bighorn and other Indian War sites were cut from sheet metal. The doctors and soldiers (and, I would assume, any Native Americans on the receiving end in inter-tribal warfare) hated the things because the tips would bend into hooks when they hit bone, making them difficult and painful to extract.

Sorry, I just can't resist an historical insight.

Visit your National Parks (Little Bighorn National Battlefield): www.nps.gov/libi/

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/20/02 13:05:35 GMT

Friend of mine found a saw blade from a mill. One of the big rip blades to split trees in half. Used a plasma cutter to cut it, told me that it was self cooling that way and wouldn't take out the hardness of the blade. Made some wicked nice skag axes out of it.

I would also asume that a modern saw blade would be a bit more resistant to loosing hardness from heat, because of the friction/heat created while sawing.

I've been told by a couple of sources that as a rule of thumb, if you're grinding/sharpening an edge and the metal is too hot to hold with your bare hands, then it's too hot to keep the heat treat. So if you're cutting it with a hacksaw and files then you shouldn't have to worry much about redoing the heat treat. You'll just need a lot of patience. :)
   mattmaus - Thursday, 06/20/02 13:19:00 GMT

If you cut steel with hacksaw and file it isnīt heat-treated anyway...
   - Olle Andersson - Thursday, 06/20/02 14:36:32 GMT

Heat treating. . Olle is sorta right. Its not hardened but it MIGHT be hardened and tempered to a soft temper. And we forget that annealing is one form of heat treating.

The last circular saw blade I cut up to make parts (scrapers) was hardened and tempered throughout. You could barely file it and we trashed several drill bits trying to drill it. It is also difficult to sharpen with a stone. This indicates that it is a very high alloy steel, maybe L9.

Flame cutting of any kind produces a heat effected zone in hardenable materials. The part that was heated to a red (the edge surface) will self quench and be hard as rock. The area just beyod that will have been reduced in temper. However, the speed of the cut and and width of heat efected area varies. We torch cut the above saw blade and ground the heat effected area off.

Too hot to hold. . . Nope. Too hot is only 140 to 180°F. Hot enough to sizzle spit is 220°F up. The lowest temperature that effects temper is about 350°F and most all steels are tempered to at least 400°F.

If you are grinding with a coarse aggressive wheel OR a blet that creates little heat you can do a LOT of grinding without effecting temper while constantly needing to quench the part because its too hot to hold. However, if you intend to keep the temper on a thin edge then you need a water cooling system that wets the wheel and the work.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 15:44:56 GMT

Power Hammers: Hotforge, we have discussed this many times in the past and I should probably put together a FAQ.

Mechanical vs. Pneumatic: Each has its advantages and disadvantages as well as different opperating characters. First, there are numerous styles of each machine.

Little giants typicaly have poor clutching unless in very good condition and do not have a stroke adjustment. Although they are very common they are NOT the best mechanical hammer. Bradleys and Fairbanks use the the more reliable slip belt clutch and both have stroke adjustments as well as height adjustments. They are also built much heavier than the Little Giant and its clones. What made Little Giants popular was that they were cheap and sold on credit.

Pneumatic (air) hammers come in self contained and standard models. The standard air hammer requires a seperate air (or steam) source. They run at varying speeds and force of blow according to control settings within their range. Self contained hammers have a built in compressor and are a more complicated mechanism. They also run a one fixed speed the ram matching the frequency of the compressor. Some people find this very comforting while others are frustrated that it doesn't go faster or slower according to the amount of throttle given.

In general mechanical hammers require less horsepower for a given size hammer than a pneumatic hammer.

Currently there are NO mechanical hammers being manufactured and parts availablility is hit or miss on those supported. It is easy to invest as much in an old used orphan mechanical hammer as what a new air hammer costs. None of the big commercial air hammer makers, such as Nazel or Chambersburg are making new machines or parts. However, Nazel parts can be gotten via special order. Chambersburg has pretty much been distributed to the winds. However, when found in good condition this machines are usualy a bargain considering what they would cost if still manufactured.

Small pneumatic hammers for blacksmiths ARE being manufactured in the U.S. and abroad. Kayne and Son build a commercial version of the do-it-yourself hammer that many folks build. The difference being the Kaynes have a great deal of experiance and support their product. Replacement parts are also available. You can build one for less but its very difficult to do the same job for what the Kaynes sell their ready to run machine for.

Bullhammer manufactures and sells the Bull in two sizes. The new Bull has a heavy frame and is also supported by the makers. Both the Bull and Kaynes Big Blue require a seperate air compressor.

Striker sells the imported Chinese hammers which are a decendant of the Nazel and Chambersburg that was once a communist block standard (like the AK-47). These are a heavy cast frame self contained hammer. Striker has done a lot to see that their prosuct is a good machine of the sort expected by the North American market.

Old, new, big, little, air, self-contained, mechanical. . . LOTS of choices. . . But, like anvils, ANY power hammer is better than NO power hammer and generaly the bigger the better!


   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 16:34:01 GMT

Doing it the hard way....


I have a smithing magician, and it does a great job on things like this, but I want to be able to fuller with the anvil edge anyway. It seems like it could be very handy, and certainly looks better if you are doing a demo or something....

I'm still in the learning stage, not the production stage, so I want to learn as many techniques as I possibly can. You never know when you may need them! If I needed to build 10 latchs all alike I would certainly go to a spring fuller or the magician.

Thanks for the hammer advice. I may need to build a diagonal peen hammer!

Tong question: Just got a couldple of sets of off-center tongs from Kayne, and noticed that the jaws on the heavy wolfjaw tongs don't seem to line up. The V in the upper jaw and the V in the lower don't match up at all. I was thinking I could just heat the tong and nudge it over, but the I remembered the Off Center uses an alloy steel of some sort. Are there any heat treating issues I need to worry about while adjusting these tongs?

   JIM - Thursday, 06/20/02 16:41:18 GMT

Delta Ferrite

Ferrite is one phase of iron and is usually found in annealled steels. This phase is very soft, hence we heat treat steels to get a different phase which is harder. Ferrite also exists at high temperatures, and in this form is called Delta Ferrite. As to a calculation for it, I don't have any experience with that. You should try and get more info from you customer.
   - Patrick - Thursday, 06/20/02 16:46:04 GMT

The "too hot to hold" was given to me as a guide line, mostly for grinding initial edges onto blades, where it is getting progressively thinner. I've had pretty good success with it; it works for me. But then again, with kids in the house (me and my goofy pals more so than the actual children) I havn't needed to edge/sharpen much. The slight grinding to give the edge the impression of sharpness is really more than anyone has call for on a broadsword.

On another note. I've been digging around on anvilfire and some other sites and can't really come up with the answer I'm looking for (which I probably won't get until I acheive the "try it and see" stage). I have in my hot little paws two separate texts with smithing information, in particular I'm looking at charts that say THIS color is about THAT hot. The texts have some variance between colors and temperature ranges (go figure... such a hard science temperature guessing by eye is) but BOTH book suggest that heat appropriate for forge welding is a white or dazzling white and in the range of 2600F to 2800F. One text lists white heat (but not white enough to weld) at 2350F while the other lists the same (white, but not welding white) at about 2550F. Both list yellow fairly close at either 2050F or 2150F. In the iForge demo on forge welding (#95) guru gives his advice for yellow, and includes Mr. Epps "color of melted butter", and states that white hot is too hot. The demo also includes a statement about reduced welding temperature for higher carbon steels (in regards to this, one of the texts I have has an original publication date of 1912, and could easily be refering to wrought iron in regards to welding temperature and NOT modern steels). The last time I fired up a forge was probably 5 years ago, but my memory of that tells me that sparking white didn't really do much but burn the snot out of my steel (and damage a pricey tatoo... should have had sleeves I guess). In the time period mentioned I had the good fortune to complete one forge weld with marginal success but can't for the life of me remember what color the steel was (more like "WOOHOO! I did it!" jump up and down). My concern stems from the fact that I've moved since then, and can not light ablaze my brake drum (I probably could, but don't feel like dealing with the neighbors whining, or calling the FD on me, or getting a ticket or charged with arson for starting a fire when were on an open fire ban etc. etc.). Thus... my next investment as my desire to smith and finances fall in line, will be a gas forge. I'm looking at the NC tool forges, and like the size, and design very much. Every distributor of these devices points out that they are "self regulating to 2350F" which according to 2 separate texts in my possesion is inssuficient heat for a forge weld AND contradicts information provided by 2 working smiths (guru and Bill Epps) with more experience than I'll ever get and who's insight and knowledge is and has been invaluable to me thus far.

I know you've probably been asked a billion times allready, but I've dug and dug and dug, and read and read and read, and I'm still left wondering "Which is right, and what's not?" so I sit here typing and feebly and humbly ask "help?"
   mattmaus - Thursday, 06/20/02 17:33:56 GMT

Where can i find the best blacksmithing school?
   dusty - Thursday, 06/20/02 18:28:05 GMT


The best blacksmithing school is at your anvil with your hammer. In other words, experience. That said, The Turley School of Blacksmithing, The John C. Campbell Folkschool and the Penland School of Crafts are all good.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 06/20/02 18:38:39 GMT

mattmaus we are all right.......
Now that said, it all sorta depends on what you are welding..... wrought iron needs to be just at a white heat to weld. High carbon will need a lower temp....
The method I use is this. after fluxing the piece(s) place back into forge. Once the metal and the flux looks like a pat of butter that is just starting to melt( you know all swirly etc) it is at weld temp. Works for mild steel and Hi carbon steels. Wrought, get it white and weld........
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/20/02 18:55:25 GMT

Dusty; what kind of blacksmithing do you want to do: industrial, ornamental, bladesmithing,...?

Does it matter what continent it's on; or is Europe, Africa, Asia, etc out of the picture?

"Best" requires more specification to establish the requirements (e.g. "whats the best vehicle?" are you going to the moon, trying to impress a shallow friend, carrying a cord of wood through a swamp...)

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/20/02 19:40:38 GMT

Now I would hate to have to carry a cord of wood thru a swamp.....
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/20/02 19:53:33 GMT

Hi, I've acquired an old Champion model 400 blower I plan to use with my coal forge. Problem is, the gearbox looks like it should have oil in it, as the ball bearings are noisy, however, 85 wt. gear oil just drips out around the fan shaft. I don't see any sort of seal, am I missing something? Would just a good packing with grease suffice? Help! Thank you.
   Al Ray - Thursday, 06/20/02 20:24:15 GMT

Stainless Valves: Bill, forget all the amature metalurgy. Ask the customer if there is a specific ASTM spec they want the valve material to meet. THEN ask the manufacturer if the valves meet that spec.

Does the customer want certification of meeting the spec? Then certs cost money. The supplier charges you, you charge the customer.

Asking if the steel is a particular non-technical spec is a non-question. As the middle man you have no choice other than to ask the supplier. If the supplier can't give you a straight answer then forget it. . .

Recently I have statements from overseas companies in Southeast Asia that claim ISO-9000 certification. I wonder who these people paid off or if they are just plain lying. I've seen documentation from one of these companies and the one thing that is true, is that there is no way they could have met the ISO-9000 documentation standard. . .

The point? Buyer beware.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 21:29:06 GMT

Visual Temperatures: ALL temperature references relative to heat color are only a rough approximation. You ability to judge temperature is limited by differences in abmient light. Heats up to 1500°F (816°C) are almost invisible in direct sunlight but will appear well into the orange in a dark shop. Heats 2,300°F (1260°C) will appear bright red in sunlight and white hot in the dark. . .

The "normal" blacksmith shop used to judge heat colors is a poorly illuminated place that is too dark for me to work.

Gas Forge Temperatures Forge manufactures are conservative in their claims so that they don't have forges returned. They give the "normal" temperature for propane burning in air. This is an open flame temperature that does not consider the internal pressure of the forge and the greater efficiency of the flame in the hot environment. Gas forges DO run hotter than the free air flame temperature.

That said. . not all gas forges are equal, nor is how each is adjusted. I have seen steel melted into a puddle in a multi burner NC-TOOL forge. But I have never burned a piece in my little single burner NC. But my big home built forge will boil ceramic clay and I've had unfluxed billets weld together setting in the forge. . .

The vast majority of laminated steel is made in atmospheric (non-blower) propane gas forges.

Also note what Ralph said about steel heating temperatures. The higher the carbon the lower the melting and welding temperature. Wrought needs the highest temperature. There is a 200°F difference between wrought and 90 point carbon steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 21:49:28 GMT

Blower Al, if the blower is noisy then there are a number of things that can be wrong.

1) The bearings are improperly adjusted
2) The gears are worn out
3) The bearings have been rusted.

Champion made their own bearings and the blower has adjustments on the shafts to adjust the backlash. They also made all the gears. There were no seals and this blower does not realy have an oil reservoir. It relied on being oiled daily or more often.

Harsh rumbling rock crusher sounds are worn gears. It it makes more noise going one way than the other it is probably worn gears.

But if it is just a general roar then this can also be the difference between the the output shaft bearings. The inner takes the thrust load when you crank one direction and the outer the other.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/20/02 22:11:24 GMT

hullo i'm a 16 year old guy.. umm me and my buddy were planing on making or getting hold of a forge and start doing blacksmithing, we plan on making swords and such but we are both beginners. I was just wanderin what the difficulty of making swords and daggers are.. and how much do u think it would cost for a general forge (to make or buy).. we both know how to wield.. so that isn't a question and we already have two hammers, stock, and lotz of other stuff needed.
   brett - Thursday, 06/20/02 22:15:50 GMT

I understand that visual temperatures are a guess and go process that takes years of practice. But it gives me a place to start.

Your extrapolation in the previous post didn't quite answer my question (or at least not to where I had my head wrapped around it fully), but when I coupled that with your Gas Facts FAQ it all clicked. The 2350F is what I can expect out of a propane torch or weed burner just blowin fire into the wind.

My limited understanding of the Venturi system is that the presurized propane moves fast enough to also suck a limited amount of oxygen out of the atmosphere, creating a potentialy hotter flame, and then with your gracious information, is held in a tight enclosed and insulated area creating a "fire" that is feasably MUCH hotter than propane alone would create, like if I were trying to forge out of my grill.

As I said, one of the texts I was looking at has an original publication date of 1912. My metalurgical history is as lacking, more so than any othe knowledge I have in this area, but based on the fact that the author makes it very clear that iron and steel are diferent, and has students welding steel tips on to iron implements suggests to me that the color chart is more suited to wrought iron rather than steel of any carbon content.

Thank you VERY much for your help.

Do you mind if I ask about how many hours you get out of a 20lb tank on the one burner?
   mattmaus - Thursday, 06/20/02 22:34:19 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am trying to identify a couple of blacksmithing tools in a painting. I have not been able to find any visual blacksmithing dictionaries online. Can you suggest one? Thanks.
   Lily - Thursday, 06/20/02 23:17:03 GMT

Hi, I am 43 years old and teach math. I am new to blacksmithing just purchased my anvil and am working on building my forge from a semi truck brake drum. I am getting into this because of my interest in swords and talked to a guy about it and he said heat-treating will warp a sword. He sends them out for heat treating. Isn't there a way to do this slowly in a metal box or something? Thanks in advance and you have a great web-site.
   Chesnut - Thursday, 06/20/02 23:44:36 GMT

Not be a smarty pants but some alloys temper in the 200-250deg range.
   MP - Friday, 06/21/02 00:42:39 GMT

Okay, after seeing the Whisper Baby forge in action with Jock Dempsey and Pat Fulcher, and reading Paw Paw's review, I've hoarded my cold, hard cash and ordered on from Bruce Wallace's place. (Hope I dropped enough good names here.) ;-)

So, the critical question: My wife bought me a small graphite cucible for Christmas. Anybody tried melting brass or bronze in one of these? Any problems? Any hints? Seems ideal for small amounts, so I'd love to give it a try.

Still burning dirt for the BIG STUFF.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/21/02 00:51:13 GMT


Sorry to hear they don't line up (shit happens). The tongs are 1045 steel, so that you CAN rework them easily if you want. With any tongs it's best to let them air cool.
   - grant - Off Center Prod. - Friday, 06/21/02 01:15:31 GMT


I'm assuming your question refers to the suitablity of the crucible for melting brass or bronze, since the NC-Tool forges all get plenty hot enough. The answer is yes, absolutely positively the graphite crucible will be just dandy for brass or bronze. Be sure you make a properly fitted set of tongs for handling it, as the graphite crucibles are a bit more fragile than the silicon carbide ones. And, of course, put a sheet of stainless steel or kiln shelf one the botton of the forge to avoid the problem of spilled borax flux eating the floor out, just like when forge welding. Check out the iForge demo on casting, it gives a bit more info. Any questions, feel free to email me if you like. Wish I could make it to the gathering, I'd show you in person.
   vicopper - Friday, 06/21/02 02:25:58 GMT

Bruce, it is hard to get some details but I am told that it is good to melt some borax in the crucible and coat the inside all over.

No problem melting brass or bronze in that crucible. But it pays to make proper tongs to fit first. I've melted brass in my big gas forge. The Whisper Baby is too small and the flame would impinge straight into the crucible. Rigging up a temporary melting furnace with some fire bricks is not hard.

How big is your crucible (inches)?
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 02:41:15 GMT

VI, we are all going to get together and come visit you in de-Islands. . . ;) If you gotta travel, why not some where NICE.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 02:45:46 GMT

Lily, I am working on a pictorial glossary to go with our other glossaries and have setup the framework (link). But it is a big project. . one of a dozen I have languishing.

Try to discribe the item. OR tell me the title of the painting, I may know of it.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 03:13:39 GMT

Brett and Co.,

New blacksmith forges can be bought for as little as $400 US and up to several thousand. They can be built for nothing if you are a good scrounger and really have iron in your blood. . . A REALLY nice forge can be built for a few hundred dollars using new parts and steel (or wood and bricks). You are not a true Jedi until you have learned to make your own light saber.

Anvils are more of a problem to scrounge than a forge. Any heavy block of steel will do but a good anvil makes the work much easier. They are a deceptively sophisticated tool. See our anvil series on our 21st Century page.

Making blades is not hard if you start small. A sword is nothing but a VERY large knife. It has all the same parts as a little chef's knife or a skinner. The difference is that swords are a LOT of work and requires considerable skill and experiance to handle. When you can make a truely fine small knife then you will know if you are ready (or still want) to make a sword. Start small.

The most important tool is the grey matter between your ears. There are MANY good books on bladesmithing. Invest in a few and STUDY them.

You will also need a MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK as a general reference. New, these are pricey but are very affordable on the on-line used book market.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 03:48:06 GMT

Lily-- It's not online as far as I know, but one book in particular probably will help you: Blacksmiths' and Farriers' Tools at Shelburne Museum, published by the museum, located in Shelburne, Vermont in 1966 and 1981. It is comprehensive, well illustrated, obtainable through inter-library loan.
   miles undercut - Friday, 06/21/02 04:21:44 GMT


Its not the heat treating that warps a piece of steel, it is how it is handled prior to AND during heat treating. You can induce stresses in a piece of steel by forging while it is too cool or straightening while unevenly heated. You can take a small piece of cold drawn steel and cut the surface off one side and create an easily visible arc due to the stress in the original surface. . . Warping happens.

And. . when it does, a few blows with the flat of the blade on the nearest oak tree is often required. . .

On a large object like a sword it IS a good idea to take it to a professional heat treater. Many bladesmiths take ALL their blades to a pro. Others do it all themselves. See my post above to Brett about starting small.

However, you need to consider,

A sword is a weapon designed, like a hand gun, to be used to kill another human being. If your intent is murder then there are much easier ways. Don't give me this "battle ready" BS either. . There are no wars being fought with swords. Besides, a dead soft sword can be just as leathal as fully hardened and tempered one.


If it is a wall hanger then it doesn't need to be hardened and tempered. It doesn't even have to be good steel. Wallhangers can be works of fine art or just simple decoration. In either case the hardness doesn't matter. Collectors are big on the exotic. Damascus steels, meteoric iron, gold and silver. . . they like hard and dangerous but would NEVER consider bashing a piece of armor with a fine collectable. . . so why was it hardened???? I do not know.

If it is for sword play like in the movies or the SCA then the sword wants to be soft so that it doesn't chip or shatter. It will also want to be VERY dull. If made of a hardenable alloy steel then there are specific recomendations or rules set by the sanctioning organization as to how soft a temper the blade should be and exactly how dull (a radius in fractions of an inch). Many movie swords are made of unhardenable stainless steel. It polishes up pretty and it doesn't rust. Any time you see light glinting off a sharp edge in the movies, the blade is a prop for that closeup only, and the glint is probably fake. . . Some movie swords have also been made of aluminium. It makes nice wall hangers and has the advantage of being light weight.

Think about it. Start small and work up.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 04:37:59 GMT

guru thank you for your input on the air and power hammer.... hotforge ed
   hot forge 101 - Friday, 06/21/02 05:37:20 GMT

HotForge, There is a lot more. . . I need to edit a FAQ but have a bunch of other work waiting.

Safety glasses came in. I think the #2 shades are going to work great. I wore a pair as sunglasses while driving yesterday and will test with forge today. Will setup sales page ASAP.

IDEAS. . Every hear anyone complain that they didn't need ANOTHER new idea? Too many back logged? Costing too much? Well that's me.

But last night I came up with a nifty one. I was thinking about building a little crucible furnace for Bruce's shindig on the 4th. I have a bunch of donated freon cylinders that would make a nice shell for a little one (BRUCE! How "small" is your crucible??). I'm going to line it with castable refractory I have on hand and use some Kaowool to insulate the door/cover.

The handles on these cylinders make nice legs to set them upside down. And, the cut off end can be used for a cover. The easiest thing is to hinge the door since this is a small unit and the cover is going to lined with light weight refractory.

WELL. . . I got looking at the thing. . . If legs are put on one side it can also be used as a small forge! The legs need to be positioned so the burner is a little above horizontal and the door hinge vertical. The little crucible furnace could do double duty as a small forge! All you have to do is roll it on its side!

Due to the limited depth and no "back door" this is not a great forge. But it DOES serve double duty and the only addition to do so is a couple pieces od bent bar for the legs. I have two small crucibles that should fit well in this size. . BRUCE???

Now I HAVE to build it ASAP. . so the refractory can cure enough to test fire before the 4th!

On other fronts yesterday was a good day. Besides the safety glasses coming in I also recieved two new books to review.

AND our server provider has also put a virus filter in place so I am no longer getting 50 to 60 Klez virus mails a day. It must be filtering other viruses too because I haven't gotten any of the other assorted viruses that get sent to me EVERY day. . . It makes life much nicer for me but I will be less likely to know when a new virus is about and less helpful to you folks. This filter applies to all the URL's and mail boxes we host.

Well. . . I have a ton of work to do today!
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 12:30:15 GMT

Well here I and the Guru will differ a bit---I think a sword is *NOT* just a large knife---though there are a lot of makers and companiess that make then that way! The difference is that in designing/making a good sword you have to take a lot more factors into account: flexability (heat treating and alloys), weight (distal tapers, fullers, tapers, etc---a typical sword from the viking period to the renaissance weighed about *1* kilo!!!), balance (weight distribution and handling---guard grip pommel) and a tricky one *never* seen in knives Harmonics (if there is a node at the grip the blade will stick to your hand like glue, if it's a peak you can't hold onto it with duct tape!)

Now I agree with the Guru that knifemaking is the way to start---because if you don't have the basics down on how to forge a blade and heat treat you are just wasting a *lot* of time trying to make a decent sword and the best design in the world is just vapourware if you can't make the metal do what you want! Knives are the learning items; if you goof making one you are out less time and money and you can learn faster with the shorter turn around.

You *MUST* get a copy of "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas as it does include information on swordmaking by a fellow who does it for a living.

If you can get to know some *real* swords and not the typical clunky reproductions sold (often several *times* heavier than the real ones as modern machinery doesn't like to deal with distal tapers on thin flexable items).

The swordforum has a special forum for bladesmiths; I'd suggest you read the archives on it and start lurking there.

BTW why do they make all those fancy engraved guns with holes in the barrels instead of just a solid rod? Perhaps because a gun that can't shoot is like a sword that can't cut---it's not a "real" one just a "replica".

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 06/21/02 13:17:42 GMT

Guru, I'm not trying to argue about swords.

I will admit that you have very valid points about why a sword doesn't need to be edged or hardened, etc. I agree with a lot of what you have to say. There is no real reason for it. And to add to it, GUNS have an advantage over a sword, I can take the shells out of a gun (if I want to make it really safe I can put a zip tie in the receiver, and buy a trigger lock) where as a sharp sword is ALWAYS "loaded". And I absolutely agree that it doesn't have to be any of those things to still hurt someone. Historicly speaking the bill hook was a very popular weapon for nobles to outfit mobs of commoners with. It was popular because it was CHEAP, usualy cast iron (and cast iron makes a crappy weapon compared to carbon steel). It was mounted on an 8 foot long oak or ash pole. The reality of things being if you hit a man, even an armored man, hard enough, and repeatedly enough with an 8 foot oak stick you're going to kill him. Similarly, in one of the world wars American troops were told that the little wooden matchboxes in their mess kits could be used as a weapon, just hold the end projecting from your fist a bit, and bash the bad guy in the temple. If you bash someone hard enough in the temple with your bare hand you'll probably cause serious pain, and suffering, and maybe even death.

But to shed some light on why a sword should be hardened or at least my thoughts on it. I can buy for about $50 some cheap indonesian import to hang on my wall, it would likely have cast fittings that would shatter or break in anything like combat, the blade has a 50/50 chance of being an appropriate steel, and it might be hardened and tempered but probably not to the appropriate toughness or springiness, and it makes a nice decoration. But, from the standpoint as a colector of SWORDS it's not really much of a sword. From the standpoint of a colector of PROPS it's pretty keen.

I've seen the pics you have posted of the musical instruments you make (and do a fine job from what I can see in the pictures). Some of them look pretty exotic, and I'd guess there's less than 10,000 people on the planet that might have any idea on how to start playing the thing. Someone wealthy or determined enough might comision one off of you and use it as a decoration. But from the standpoint of a master CRAFTSMAN, would you let it out of your shop if it just wouldn't tune right? The answer really comes down to money. What is your client paying you for? If they've payed you for a flashy looking but non functioning work, well, fine. If they pay you for one that really works even if you know that it's going to hang on the wall and collect dust, then that's what you make. From the perspective of a craftsman, it's hard to let garbage out of your shop, even if that's what you got paid for (is for me anyway). Part of that is reputation based everything you create reflects back on your skill. Part of it is that as a craftsman, *I* want to do everything as absolutely perfect as I'm able.

I'm babbling again. But those are my thoughts on it, basicly boiling down to, if I collect swords I want a sword and nothing less, if I make swords, I want to make swords and nothing less.

Once again, not wanting to argue, just playing a little devils advocate.
   mattmaus - Friday, 06/21/02 15:11:52 GMT

Ahh mattmaus; billhooks were not made from cast iron, (cast iron itself is rather a renaissance thing in Europe) they were wrought iron and if you were lucky had a steeled edge.

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 06/21/02 15:44:32 GMT

The point being, what little metal that particular weapon had was more of a "confidence builder" for the terrified peons who were ordered "go kill these highly trained, heavily armored, and well equiped professionals".

Another peasant weapon, frighteningly effective against knights... plain iron spike. No cutting edge to speak of, but just a sharp point,went through chainmail like it wasn't there.
   mattmaus - Friday, 06/21/02 15:57:25 GMT

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   Darryl Hammock - Friday, 06/21/02 15:59:50 GMT

I'm doing a railing on a 'raised' concrete slab, someone used brickwork and fill so they could get a six inch slab level with their front door. I'm replacing the existing ironwork, which was grouted into mountain dew cans, poured into the slab. The pop cans didn't have enough cubic mass to support the railing. So i had the core drilling guy go over the cans with 3 1/2" x5"deep holes. When we pulled the core from the outside corner, we found the slab had cracked diagonally, thru the popcan hole, making an 8" x8" right triangle. The slab has wire mesh reinforcing and i can't wiggle the triangle part. it would be a process to saw out and repour the corner, it has color powder, hard to blend. I was wondering if anyone has ever tried injecting a two part epoxy into the cracks. I heard on the news that's what the road dep't is doing to cracked bridges. We live in a very active freeze/thaw zone, i suspect snowmelt got into the pop can and froze,popping the corner. Thanks for any suggestions, Mike
   mike-hr - Friday, 06/21/02 16:17:24 GMT

Mike, the trick is getting the epoxy in there. . You may need to drill (yet another) hole that the nozzle on an industrial epoxy gun will fit and that intersects with the middle of the crack. Then when the epoxy is injected it will spread from the middle of the space between the two parts. Its really a job for someone that does this kind of stuff. . .

I have the epoxy gun and some (old epoxy) left over from a job. It it THE only way to anchor things in concrete. However, the color is black (I think that is all it comes in) and you now have some huge holes to fill.

The other "old: method that works great is poured lead fill. The lead is melted and poured around the picket. A short mold is used to create a raised flange on top of the concrete. After the lead cools it is hammered into a nice faceted pyramid shape to suit the ironwork. The hammering also tightens it in the hole. This can also be done flat and a decorative cover put over the hole. You can by castings for this or forge your own. HOWEVER, lead is verboten in many places and I only mention it as an historical method.

If the posts are near the edge of the masonry as is often the case, any picket or post that is not in a corner (or set VERY deep, or anchored at the top) should have an external brace going to the ground below OR a bracket made that attaches to the side of the wall and braces the post. This is especialy true where gates are concerned.

My mother-in-law has a nice new house with a brick porch and typical fabricated rails. The bottom post (newel post) broke the bricks out of the bottom step when someone leaned on the post. I explained that it needed braces set into concrete about a foot away from the porch. But it ended up getting patched by a brick layer. You know its going to break again. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 17:36:23 GMT

My friend in Alabama just bought an anvil for $20 that has a small flat-topped horn sticking out of on side in addition to the regular rounded horn on the end. It is marked William Foster with a crown above the name and a date that looks like 1840 or maybe 1846. Can you tell me anything about it and what the little horn on the side is for?? Thanks.
   Steve Jackson - Friday, 06/21/02 18:23:33 GMT

Itīs time to celebrate midsummers eve. Right now 10 million scandinavians are guzzling akvavit with flowers in their hair. Join the fun!
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 06/21/02 18:56:38 GMT

--Side blast forge tuyere position---

Hi Guru, me again with another problem: I am building a huge side blast forge. It will have two tuyeres, I will be using one 90% of the time, the other is for those jobs where one need a big fire and then some! The bottom of the forge as it is now is made of 1/4" thick steel plate. So is the water tank. My questions: how far apart should the centers of the tuyeres be? And, how high from the bottom plate? Will this distance be higher if I do not put a layer of firebricks in? How high above the bare plate and how high above a layer of firebricks?
Should I put in a layer of firebricks?

Thanks for your help.
   Tiaan Burger - Friday, 06/21/02 19:03:30 GMT

Guru- thanks for info on concrete cracks, found epoxy dude in yellow pages... I'm concerned about your epoxy anchoring comments. I've been using the expanding grout 'rockite' for five years or so. I don't really know why i use it other than it's pretty expensive, and it says you can mount iron work with it. If i change my plan and start anchoring with epoxy, is there a formula you use for hole diameter? the rockite wants half the thickness of iron void around perimeter, so 1 1/2" round stock means a three inch hole. thanks again, mike
   mike-hr - Friday, 06/21/02 20:09:55 GMT

Olle, we will! ;)

In a few weeks 250 - 300 million Americans will be celebrating Independence Day with explosives! Think about THAT!

Double Blast Spacing Tiaan, it depends somewhat on the fuel you are using and the tuyere size. But I would guess about 10" (250mm). Since the hot center of most forge fires is 8" to 10" you should get two hot spots with overlap in between that would be hotter than those zones are normally. That would make a long ovoid fire good for big work.

I would think the height above the bottom of the forge would be the same for brick or steel. It is the shape of the fire that is of concern, not the type or durability of the material. The higher the tuyere the more fuel you will need in the fire bed.

We rarely use side draft forges in the U.S. and I only know what I've seen in books. The British are keen on side drafts with water cooled tuyeres. In the U.S. we use uncooled bottom blown fire pots. I would guess that 4" (100mm) would be a minimum for a steel bottomed forge and 6" (150mm) pretty deep. However, old bellows blown brick forges had the tuyere opening either one brick above the bottom of the forge or on the bottom. In the U.S. it is common for folks to build a brick forge and put in a cast iron (bottom blown) firepot.

I think the U.S. preference for bottom blown forges came from the fact that the big manufacturers like Champion and Buffalo made them exclusively. Vaugans (The Baker House Group)of England still makes and sells water cooled side blast tuyeres.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 20:13:42 GMT

Guru, thanks. Alcosa also makes side blast forges. The main advantage of a side blast forge is that there is virtually no clinker builtup in front of the air blast as the clinker settles to the bottom, below the blast inlet. This makes the use of a clinker breaker unneccessary. This does not mean that you do not have to remove the clinker every now and then as it can still interfere with welding.

The sides of my forge are quite high, about 140 mm. If I put the center of the tuyere at 100mm from the bottom I will be sticking the steel in the center of the fire if the steel goes in horisontally.

The amount of fuel in the fire bed is of little concern as good quality coking coal is dirt cheap over here ($2.4 for 60 kg)!! I also use antracite at $3.5 for 50kg if the supplier is out of stock. It will take about half a bag just to fill the fire bed for the first time, thereafter it is just a matter of replacing what is consumed.

Another question: How do I make a valve to control the amount of air? I've used ball valves in the past but the local supplier only keeps small ones. I once saw a forge with a lever on the side, apparently connected to a sliding plate. I didn't make a full inspection at the time.
   Tiaan Burger - Friday, 06/21/02 20:29:14 GMT

On Ron Reil web page he has some pics and a commentary on buildinf a forge out of one of the freon tanks. (the bigger ones found at auto shops etc)
   Ralph - Friday, 06/21/02 20:30:44 GMT

Rockite and Epoxy: I've seen rockite hold up very well. However, we were using some on several hydro-power applications (anchoring bolts in rock) and it all washed out. . . Had to shut down, dismantle, clean up and replace with epoxy. A very expensive mistake. We never did figure out what went wrong.

Epoxy needs just enough space to get it in the hole and sets in about 20 minutes (less in the summer sun). I'd allow 3/8" (10mm) on a side (so you can get the nozzel in the hole) and 1/8" (3mm) on corners. Don't fill too many holes unless the parts are already in place. We had a crew installing rebar anchor pins in bedrock and they waited to start putting the pins in after they had filled all the holes with epoxy. . . Had to drill out several empty holes!

The epoxy is not cheap. In oversized holes you could mix in some small gravel as you filled the holes.

If the Rockite is working for you then don't worry about it. It is a LOT cheaper than epoxy. But the epoxy is stronger than most of the masonry or stone it is used in. In the one hole where you have broken concrete it would hold the concrete together better than Rockite.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 20:34:32 GMT


I am planning to purchase a jewler's saw frame and blades, and I was wondering if there is a guide to the blade size to material size. there seems to be quite a number of choices....

I would likely only be cutting sheet metal for fireplace shovels and such.


   Jim - Friday, 06/21/02 20:42:20 GMT

The freon tanks I had were pretty big but were too small for the forge/melter I want to build. But a 20# propane tank would be perfect and since they are being scraped by the millions I think I can find one. . . I'll have TWO 30# tanks in a few weeks. . . :(

Air valve: Tiaan, most are a simple gate valve. Two square pieces of plate with holes the size of the air pipe (the flanges) and a third rectangular plate that slides between the two. The two flanges are a little wider than the gate. The fits do not need to be very tight because you are dealing with a large volume of low pressure air. Loose fits don't get stuck either.

Lever handles on a pivot are used sometimes and plain push pull rods on others. I suspect you will want levers that extend from behind your forge. But if the valves are in the pipes leading to the tuyeres and in a convienient spot then all you need is a small handle to pull them in and out.

Yep. . something ELSE to fabricate.

The fellow that built the four forges on the AFC, Montgomery Forge demo trailer made them all from discarded hot water heater tanks. The forge was made from the rounded end bell of the tanks and the rest made from pieces of the sides of the tanks torched and flattened. This included the tuyeres, valves, pipe and flanges. The gate valves were under the forge and operated horizontaly. A short bar with a loop handle extended the control.

   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 20:53:37 GMT

Jim-- jeweler's saw is much too light, too slow, to cut shovels with. Get a bandsaw or a Beverley shear.
   miles undercut - Friday, 06/21/02 21:03:37 GMT

Guru, thanks again, I am forever in your debt! I read with interest the postings on running a crafts stall. How about digesting it into a FAQ page? Make it "Marketing" as 99% of us run into a dry spell every now and then.
   Tiaan Burger - Friday, 06/21/02 21:07:56 GMT

FAQ's . . I've got a bunch to do. But will have to wait until after I finish posting the ABANA edition of the NEWS. . . Still more to do!

Cutting shovels: Better yet, make them 16ga (.070") and have the supplier blank them for you. A warehouse with a big shear will beat doing it by hand any day. If you want non-rectangular shapes then get them flame cut.

Jewlers saws are good for small work and piercing. But you will likely break several blades doing the hearts in my spatula demo.

The fine widths are for very delicate work. For general use you want the heavier blades. TPI are determined by the stock to be cut. You want a minimum of three teeth per material thickness.
   - guru - Friday, 06/21/02 21:25:05 GMT

All right imagine if you will you've got a friend who lives in the UK, was raised in a farming community, and has foolishly agreed to go take a look at the many anvils he claims to know of in order to buy one for you. 1. Outside of forwarding him the 21st century articles on anvils, (Thanks Guru), what other advice would you give to him? 2. What makers would you specifically ask him to keep an eye out for? (i.e. I know Peddinghaus and Vaughn/Brooks are European in origin but what others are good names from the past. 3. While both he and I have some knowledge of shipping things to and from the UK does anyone else have experience regarding such things and care to give advice about shipping anvils halfway across the world?
   Lucky - Friday, 06/21/02 22:09:21 GMT

guru, et al; i am restoring an old post vise for use ASAP. the working surface of the jaws are being milled as the inserts were welded in and are damaged
1)what tool steel should i use for the working surface? H13 would be the easiest for me to heat treat. (i think )
2)would there be any advantage in using a dovetail joint vs screwing them into the the jaws??
much appreciation. thanks in advance..
   - rugg - Friday, 06/21/02 23:31:41 GMT

I have been trying to figure out how the spring ends on a full elliptic wagon spring were connected. I'm 49 years old and saw a lot of semielliptic springs on cars when I was growing up, but wagons are a little before my time. I know those car springs were bolted to the frame at one end and swung in a shackle at the other. None of the drawings or photos I have found show the detail of how the two spring stacks were connected at the ends. I have been unable even to find an old wagon in a farmyard or as a decor item on someone's front yard. I am a moderately skilled fabricator of metal, but this one has me stumped. Sure hope you can help
   Jim Schmidt - Friday, 06/21/02 23:58:18 GMT

Jim, I'm supposed to be aquiring a wagon that all the wood rotted away, it may have the info you are looking for. I'm planning to pick it up in a few weeks. Check out the book THE BLACKSMITH by Aldren Watson. It has an exploded view of a wagon, I dont have it in front of me, but that may contain what your after too. Sincerely- Scott
   wolfsmithy - Saturday, 06/22/02 00:30:54 GMT


Sorry, I've been on the run all day getting things ready for a trip to Ohio to address the crew for the Vest Rus Viking ships.

The crucible is the smallest (2.6 pound capacity for brass) from Centaur Forge. It's APROXIMATELY 2.5" wide by 3.5 inches high (or at least that's what holding my hands to the size and measuring tells me; it's at the forge and I'm wrapping up for the night and need to pack).

Does this mean you're coming? (...hope so...)

I have some of the old double size freon cans here, so if anyone wants to lug one off after you demonstrate the doings, they're available. I was contemplating turning one into one of those mini fireplaces (usually made of pottery) like you see in Santa Fe to keep the desert chill off. But guess what? We don't get that desert chill in tidewater Maryland! ;-)

Schedule for Camp Fenby will be updated early next week.

A lovely, if busy, day on the banks of the lower Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/22/02 01:30:38 GMT

Anvils in the UK: Lucky, unless your friend finds a truely marvelous one of a kind anvil shipping will be the killer. It will either be very high, OR it will take many months. Once in the U.S. you will have to pay port fees and land shipping to where ever you are. If you ship a container load then shipping is a bargain and often the sealand container can be delivered right up to YOUR loading dock. Cost point to point almost anywhere in the world FULL or empty is about $2,000. But that is still $100 per if you ship 20 anvils. To make it pay you have to ship 50 or more.

The anvil market in Great Britian and Europe is completely different than in the U.S. Popular English anvils that are very common HERE are non-existant THERE. The vast majority (many millions) of old anvils here came from Britian from makers that did not sell many in their local market.

What you will find in Britian and Europe is many old anvils without a makers name. They were bought from the local manufacture and EVERYONE knew who made it. Anvils for export were marked. In Europe there were no massivly productive makers like Mouse Hole Forge in England. Remember, during the great hey-day of the horse drawn era and industrial revolution "Britian rulled the waves" and had many captive colonial and post colonial markets to service. Europe did not. So their industry was much different and served local markets.

So what you will find in "the old world" in old used anvils are some truely gorgeous and unique antique anvils of mostly unknown origin. Big gracefully worn treasures are not uncommon. However, you MUST know what you are looking for AND be willing to pay to get it home.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 02:02:00 GMT

Old Leg or "Solid Box" Vise: Rugg, most leg vises were made by anvil manufacturers and were often a more porfitable part of their production. They were manufactured by the same methods using the samse materials, generaly wrought iron and crucible steel for the jaws. The jaw faces were forge welded into place.

Blacksmiths vises often came with fine hatching (not the coarse ugly teeth of modern vises). This hatching rapidly wore off and left the jaws smooth. For artistic blacksmithing, smooth is better. I even prefer the worn smooth jaws in my big chipping vises over new jaws that chew up work.

I would think the prefered method of repairing blacksmith vise jaws would be weld buildup with E7018 or E8018 rod and then careful hand grinding and dressing to look original.

Also remember that because the jaws are hinged they DO NOT close flush. The jaws should be parallel at about 1/2" to 1" depending on the size of the vise. This means that when closed the top edge of the jaws touch and not the bottom.

I also prefer gently radiused edges that are polished smooth. The radius helps the jaws fit the work over a wider range.

If you must weld in steel faces then use anything EXCEPT an exotic hard to weld and heat treat steel. A 60 point carbn spring steel wold be ideal. Weld deep and then dress as above. I would flame harden in place but not overly hard.

Remember that these old vises are like old anvils, they are rare antiques that will be treasured more in the future than they are now and you are just one of generations of owners. Like the Earth, we should use them wisely and be caretakers for the future.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 02:21:00 GMT

im rather new to blacksmithing, been reading about it for months, i just got my first forge, i got it after dark so i dont really have much information about it, tomorrow i will be looking it over closely for markings and other possible information.

one thing i do know about it is that the firepot is cast iron, and it appears that during its lifetime someone put out thier fire with water as there is a pretty good crack running through the bowl, i was wondering if there was any way to "weld" or braze cast iron? as to fix this and prolong the life of the forge.

any information would be greatly apreciated
Mike K
   Mike K - Saturday, 06/22/02 03:29:36 GMT

Hi from Australia, I have a lovely pair of (I think Spelter)statues and they have been painted with black house paint. My first question is how do I tell that they are spelter when I look under the bottom of the Statues they seen to be a brass colour the cir. of the Statues is about 1880. My second question is how to remove the paint and try to regain there patian. Also is it possible to repair a broken peice ( One of the ladies are carring a duck and it has broken of can this be repaired.) Hope to here from you soon. Adam Wingett.
   Adam Wingett - Saturday, 06/22/02 03:37:03 GMT

Adams-- This spelter you speak of... you mean brass? Pot metal? If these sculptures are truly lovely, then this is one of those cases for which God in Her infinite wisdom gave us paint remover and epoxy. The former (be quite sure, though, first that you are not wrecking their value in taking off whatever their years have colored them with) will strip those beauties down to the bone and the latter will set that duck right back where it belongs. And nobody will ever know. I won't tell if you don't. Messing around with a torch or letting somebody else try, with old castings just ain't worth the risk.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/22/02 04:43:24 GMT

Mike, Firepots get too hot and brass would melt out. It is possible to weld with Ni-Rod but you may cause more problems depending on the grade of iron.

Your best bet is to patch it with a little furnace clay and use as-is. When it finally gives up replacements (of some types) are available.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 05:33:12 GMT

Spelter: Adam, These type castings are zinc if they are "spelter". The broken place will be dark grey and if you scratch the inside near the break with a knife it will show bright silvery white. If not and the scratch looks gold or copper colored then it is a brass or bronze casting.

Period spelter castings were often brass plated and then patinated. If this is the case you need to be sure to use the most gentle of paint removers as the original finish is a great deal of the value of the piece. If you strip off the green then it is ruined.

Miles is right as usual, DO NOT let anyone try to weld or solder the piece. Clear epoxy glue will do. If there are voids then carefully fill with epoxy then paint the repair with artists acrylics. Done with care you can match the original finish.

Some of these pieces are valuable antiques and you may want to consult an expert before doing anything with it.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 05:43:31 GMT

Will the real wrought iron please stand up! Is it just me or has any one alse noticed how every peice of thin rod/wire, tack welded, machine bent, panted peice of garbage that our market is full of now is called "wrought iron". I'm I the only one that gets infuriated at the use of this term, and what the heck is is "hand wrought". It is not a Blacksmith term. It looks to me like another bit of language evolution. I'm sorry for going off on a tangent, but a hate to see the term "wrought iron" being used in such a manner as to change the meaning of it to describe "cheap disposable spice rack from china".
   KDB - Saturday, 06/22/02 06:45:31 GMT

And then you take a look at whatīs passed of as "hand made historic replicas" and you get REALLY mad!
   - Olle Andersson - Saturday, 06/22/02 08:55:34 GMT


One of the meanings of wrought is "worked". So "hand wrought" means "hand worked". Check the Oxforfd English Dictionary.

Do you have a problem with that?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 06/22/02 11:49:02 GMT

From Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

1 wrought \'rot\ past and past part of work
2 wrought adj [ME, fr. pp. of worken to work] (14c)
1 : worked into shape by artistry or effort carefully ~ essays 2 : elaborately embellished : ornamented
3 : processed for use : manufactured (~ silk)
4 : beaten into shape by tools : hammered _ used of metals
5 : deeply stirred : excited _ often used with up (gets easily upset over nothing)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 06/22/02 14:22:41 GMT

Language is an evolving thing. Wrought iron to folks today means stuff turned out by fab shops from stock material with arc welders and cold benders. But in fact wrought is past tense of wreak, the old word for work. Wrought iron is a specific type of iron, almost pure iron, obtained by beating-- working-- the living bejesus out of the bloom, the lump of ore that came out of the smelter after it was cooked. It ain't steel, not yet, because no or little carbon, and it's not cast iron. It's wrought iron and proud of it. Lovely, gorgeous stuff. No kin to the caca you rightly despise, KDR.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/22/02 15:13:05 GMT

Well, Miles the king of twisted English beat me to it. . .

English word confusion is nothing new. We have many words that sound and are spoken exactly alike AND were once spelled identicaly (or variably) until the great dictionarists tried to make sense of it all. Standard spelling in English is only a recent development. English also evolves and absorbs words from other languages to make things more complex.

Authors often invent new words sometimes without knowing it. The late great Issac Asimov invented the word "robotics" and a yet undeveloped science, Robo-Psychology. Robotics is now an important field of study as well as technology. Robo-Psychology will come into being shortly after the first true AI is created.

A few confusing English words.

there, their (many do not know the difference)
bare, bear (both an animal AND meaning to support)
bearing (containing, or a machine part to support a rotating shaft)
dye, die (to color, death and a tool??)
wrung, rung
mean, mean (to be "not nice", and a mathematical average)

In blacksmithing as friend of mine uses the phrase, "Upsetting is an upsetting experiance".

The list is long and confusing to children as well as many adults. However, due the small "glue words" English is considered more precise than many other languages and is prefered for contracts and legal documents by many. English also does not use subtle distinctions between worlds being feminine or masculine that are common in French and Spanish.

YES it IS madening to see bent and welded fabrications called "wrought iron" but the problem is worse than that. In the 1800's when elaborate cast iron was in vogue, archetictural cast iron was called "wrought iron" and this is still the case.

THEN we have the worst from within blacksmithing where "wrought iron" is a specific material as apposed to mild steel or carbon bearing iron. And in technical metalurgy a "wrought" metal is any that is processed by forging or rolling instead directly from casting. THIS usage makes "mild steel" wrought steel and since the product of the pure iron folks is processed by rolling or forging it is technicaly "wrought iron" even though it does not have the characteristic linear slag inclusions of what we call wrought iron.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 15:30:08 GMT

Oops! Stop the presses! That etymology I was spouting a while ago sounded so wonderful I thought just now that maybe I ought to just go check whether there was actually any truth in it. Sorry. Blush: I misspoke. Wreak is one word. Means inflict, punish. Wrought-- no connection that I can find in my Webster's 2nd Unabridged, my Bible when it comes to words, or The Oxford English Dictionary, ditto-- is another word altogether, past participle form of work. So the metallurgy is correct: wrought iron is worked iron. The etymology stinks forget it. I am deeply shocked. (Still, you know, I like my first account, linking wreak and wrought, better. Has a certain poetic symmetry to it, I think.)
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/22/02 17:07:54 GMT

Adam, Depending on the size of these statues the paint can be easily removed by boil them in water and baking soda. Much easier and cheaper and less harmful than paintstripper.
   - JimG - Saturday, 06/22/02 19:05:52 GMT

Words I have had folks call old wrought iron work "wrotten" or "rotten" iron. And when poorly maintained that is exactly what it is. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/22/02 20:27:47 GMT

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