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 23 - 30, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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I recently found a pair of old metal childrens cribs and I want to turn one into a sort of day bed - longer than the original crib and with no back. That is, shaped like: I____I Two questions: Can a detachable (have to be able to take furniture up small staircase)base/cross bars can hold it firmly enough to have no back? How do I find a craftsperson in the Washington, DC area who can help with this project? I know what I want the end result to be but am not able or wantign to do it myself. Please send any referrals to deborah@deborahknuckey.com

   Deborah - Saturday, 06/22/02 22:47:17 GMT

A lot of those old cribs held themselves together by means of vertically tapered cast iron tenons on the mattress frame that dropped into correspondingly tapered cast iron mortices on the vertical pipes in the end frames. The mortices were just a friction fit, cast in place on the pipes. (I recently repaired a similar set up on a double bed. Our kids used an antique crib that had been in our family for decades when they were babies.) So if it's to hold grownups, you better have some milk crate-sized blocks concealed underneath the mattress frame to help hold the weight. Otherwise the tenons might crack and/or the mortises crack as well and maybe slide, too, under the weight. The original sliding side rails did nothing one way or the other to support the mattress, so taking them off won't matter. Is Gichner's Iron Works still in business on East Capitol Street?
   miles undercut - Sunday, 06/23/02 01:38:34 GMT

There's something called Gichner-Coastal Iron Works in Beltsville, MD - I'll give them a call. probably the same people. I'm thinking that maybe the center piece needs to be a self supporting bench and then the two sides join to it, with their only structural role being to keep the side cushions on - means the legs would be doubled at each corner, but perhaps they cold do it so it looks OK. Thanks for your input.
   Deborah - Sunday, 06/23/02 01:51:33 GMT

Hi from Australia thank you all for your promp answers to my message. I will keep you informed of the out come. My brothers are into armour and would like to make some swords. I am sending them your web site. Thanks a Lot Adam Wingett.
   Adam Wingett - Sunday, 06/23/02 07:04:21 GMT

I share the frustation at the casual use of terms such as "wrought iron" but as has been mentioned, the language is evolving. I have a copy of all four volumes of "Practical Blacksmithing" first published in 1899. In this book, "hardening" is the process of heating the metal. "Tempering" is the process of quenching. "Drawing" is the process of tempering. Clearly this also speaks to the general lack of understanding of metallurgy in that day when the only metallurgists were the smiths themselves. I am far more unhappy with those who deliberately mislead the un-informed with statements like "each blade is aligned with the magnetic north to enhance the molecular structure during quenching". Pure Rubbish. The steel is non-magnetic when heated for quenching and is not affected by the earths magnetic field. Additionally, metal has no molecules. It has crystal latices made up of regular rows of atoms bonded by metallic bonds. Bend the language if you must but don't "diss me" with pseudo-science!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/23/02 15:00:24 GMT

Ok, I vented my spleen and forgot to ask my question. After working a piece, I cool it, wire brush it and re-heat it to about 1000F to re-establish a uniform oxide or patina. I let this cool until I can apply the beescake without smoking it off. Question: Is 1000F hot enough or too hot for this? It is purely cosmetic but I want the oxide to be fine, tight and uniform when I wax it.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/23/02 15:05:00 GMT

Molecules Quenchcrack, all common matter as we know it is made up of molecules which are one or more atoms of one or more elements. The only Earth bound exceptions are radioactive particles and plasma and both revert to (bind to) atoms and become part of molecules sooner rather than later. Crystals are made of collections of molecules that align themselves according to shape and atomic bond of the molecules.

But you are right about the magnetic hocus pocus. The ABSOLUTE worst are the "living steel" guys that claim that their energy is absorbed into the steel somehow making it better.

Metalurgy has come a long way. As recently as the early 1900's the failure of a part was thought to has been the result of "crystalization" because broken parts showed a crystaline surface. . .

Wax can be applied cold if it has some solvent in it (that's what makes a paste-wax a paste). The end result is the same.

If you are burning the wax to blacken the finish you are converting some of the wax to carbon black (or adding soot from the flame) and have been sucked into the voodoo of becoming an amature paint forumlator. Some mixtures go as far as adding Japan dryer (a cobalt compound) to the oil/wax mix. THIS IT PAINT! So why not use REAL paint formulated by professionals?
   - guru - Sunday, 06/23/02 15:46:02 GMT


Besides Gichners there is a large group of blacksmiths in your area. The Blacksmiths of the Potomac (BGop), the Mid-Atlantic Smiths, The Northern Neck Blacksmiths Association and Central Virginia Blacksmiths Guild (CVBG). All are listed on our ABANA-Chapter.com website.

There are many craftsfolk in these groups both amature and professional. Many practice more than one craft.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/23/02 15:56:28 GMT

Umm, donīt now if i dare, but the magnetic north does affect metal. One way of dating old iron rich slag is to record the alignment of the iron "needles" in the slag and compare that to the magnetic north of today (the north-pole moves all the time). A friend of mine have used the method in a professional context, so I hope it isnīt hocus pocus.
   - Olle Andersson - Sunday, 06/23/02 19:09:51 GMT

Guru, I must politely disagree. A molecule is, by definition, atoms bonded with co-valent bonds. These atoms are characterized by sharing their electrons in the valence shell (hence, co-valent). These electrons orbit only within the shells of the atoms to which they are bonded, although one atom may be bonded to several other atoms. Metals are bonded by metallic bonds which are characterized by wide-spread sharing of electrons. It is the movement of the electrons in a "cloud" that makes metals electrically conductive. Metallic structures are composed of atoms, not molecules, in regular, repeating structures called crystals(Body Center Cubic, Hexagonal Close Packed, Body Center Tetragonal, etc.) Molecular structures cannot conduct electricity due the the nature of co-valent bonds. A third type of bond is the ionic bond,as is found in compounds like table salt. Depending on the state of the compound, it may or may not conduct electricity. Radioactive particles are neither fish nor fowl: they are sub-atomic particles, not atoms. Plasma is a unique state of nature. It is the result of stripping away one or more of the valence electrons, leaving the remaining atom positively or negatively charged, depending on the element and the number of protons in the nucleus. Ok, so much for Chemistry 101. I am not trying to burn on the wax, I just find that a thorough wire brushing down to bright metal followed by a lower heat gives a nice, even finish. I apply the wax AFTER this has cooled to PREVENT the wax from burning. I wondered if there was an accepted practice like this that others have used succesfully and at what temperature the re-oxidation was done.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/23/02 19:24:56 GMT

Olle, the methodology you refer to is quite sound scientifically. Only when iron transforms from ferrite to austenite does it become non-magnetic and this happens at about 1470F. When it cools, it becomes magnetic again and will, over time, establish magnetic polarity that is aligned with the earths' magnetic field. Down here in the Texas Oil Patch, a lot of pipe yards make sure that they stack their pipe east-west to prevent magnetizing it by the earths magnetic field. Magnetic pipe will screw up a well logging operation. I'm not quite sure if this is a real phenomenon or if someone got a load of pipe handled by a magnetic crane and couldn't figure out why the pipe ends kept stopping his watch!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/23/02 19:32:26 GMT

You got me on the molecule/chemistry. So much for my out of school metalurgy. .

I'd bet on a magnetic crane or even a lightening strike magnetizing the pipe. I think the dating of metals by the amount they have magnetized is big picture stuff, multiple centuries or parts of a millenia. . But we are always getting better at these things.

Now the big question is what unearthly force caused the Earth's magnetic poles to swap 200,000 years ago? Imagine what THAT would do to modern technology if we survived.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/23/02 20:22:53 GMT

Wax on steel. Most smiths I know that wax or lacquer forged steel use a soft enough wire brush that only the loose scale is removed and the remaining tight scale is polished slightly.

I use an .0104" stainless wire at 6" diameter running 1800 RPM. This removes rust and loose scale but has little effect on tight scale. Coarser wire or a faster speed will actually cut the steel leaving bright metal. The option is to hand brush the parts. This rarely creates enough force or velocity to cut.

There is a school of thought that says that scale protects steel and should be left on. However, this only works in patches since scale is brittle and will not remain intact if the part is flexed. When the scale flakes off it ususaly takes the finish with it or creates loose places in paint.

We all do it on small work but scale is an unpredictable finish not worth putting a lot of thought into. Wax rubs or wears off, insects and mice eat it. .
   - guru - Sunday, 06/23/02 20:45:07 GMT

More on waxes. . I've used a beeswax and turpentine mixture as a paste. The problem with beeswax is that it remains sticky and dust collects on it. I've also watched bees strip it off. Bees love to find beeswax. It is much more efficient to steal it than to make it.

I've recently used Bowling Alley wax. However, I find that it makes a very thin finish that is not as hard as I would like. However, it IS quick and easy. The Kaynes sell two types that I am not familiar with that may be better.

Liquid floor wax has been recommended but I have never used it. However, we used to use it for a finish for patterns when making ceramic molds and to keep plaster from sticking to plaster. It makes a very hard shiney finish that can be hand polished if you want.

On small items that are going to be maintained by the user and sold quickly wax finishes work well. However, items that are going to see any kind of condensing humidity or are going to set for a long while without attention, either by the customer OR in inventory then a better finish is needed.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/23/02 21:26:59 GMT

I've read about dating the remains of fires that happened to contain ferrous metal by recording the direction of the magnetic field, as Olle described (I've heard it called archaeomagnetism. Always assumed that the metal took the earth's magnetic field on cooling, but it think archaeomagnetism is often used on sites old enough that a couple centuries either way might not matter. Or the dates could just be wrong -- I've read that 50% of radiocarbon dates are never published because they didn't match what the archaeologist expected to find.
   - Mike B - Monday, 06/24/02 00:02:21 GMT

Hello Mr. Dempsey. I have acquired a sculpture 27 feet long by 12 feet high, of the state of Kentucky. It is in 6 pieces, including a seven food circle near the middle. I have been told a Jack (sp) Dempsey created it in the 60's. Do you know anything about this piece? Thank you. Hal
   hal blankenship - Monday, 06/24/02 00:29:23 GMT


Thank you so much for the info. on copper patination it was very helpful. I was able to find a book on copper patination and coloring. Unfortunately most of the chemicals sugested are hard to come by. I am wondering if you know where I could find a commercially avaliable degreaser and non-ammoniated emulsion cleaner. I need these things to prepare the copper for the patination process. I also need to find a pestle and mortar so I can mix the other chemicals together to form a paste for patination. Some of the chemicals suggested are cooper acetate, copper sulfate, ammonium chloride, and acetic acid. I am sure I could find these at a chemical supply store, do you think they are too dangerous to work with?
   - Candice - Monday, 06/24/02 01:13:59 GMT

Jock -

I read something the other day in Discover or Scientific American that said the Earth is way overdue for another magnetic pole-swap. The author went on to say that there were signs that this swap is possibly going to happen fairly soon. He didn't say whether that "soon" was in human terms or geological terms, however. :-)

Fortunately, astral navigation doesn't depend much on compasses. The other thing to think about is that, if the poles change, then the East Coast will suddenly become the West Coast. Now THAT'S a sobering thought! :-)
   - vicopper - Monday, 06/24/02 01:21:51 GMT

Candace -

Acetic acid is extremely dangerous to work with, since it is a powerful solvent for organic fats...the kind in your skin. You need to wear appropriate acid-proof gloves and face-shield as well as a plastic or rubber apron. If the formula(s) call for diluted acetic acid, I would suggest you try to obtain it already diluted, rather than getting glacial acetic acid which is dangerous because of its strength. A 6% solution of acetic acid in water is common white vinegar, by the way. So you can see that it is no problem diluted, but dangerous concentrated. When mixing acid and water, ALWAYS add the acid to the water. Never add water to acid, as this can liberate a lot of heat very quickly, resulting in a steam explosion that splatters hot acid all over. The book on patination techniques should address any necessary safety concerns regarding the chemicals used.
   - vicopper - Monday, 06/24/02 01:33:29 GMT

Kentucky Sculpture: Hal, Sorry, I don't have a clue. My Father, Grandfather and myself are a Kentucky natives. My Great Grandfather lived in KY but was born in Ironton, Ohio. I know the Northern, Ky phone books have as many Dempseys as most have Smiths. I also know a great deal of my family genealogy but there were several groups we lost track of around the time of the Civil War. I suspect that a few account for many of the Dempsey's in that area. But I do not know of any Jacks in the family.

Good luck with your search.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 01:39:26 GMT

Degreaser: Candice, an automotive supply store is your best bet. Brake parts cleaner (one brand is called Brakeclean) and carburettor cleaner will strip of all oils. They are highly volatile and the label will state "for proffesional use only". These are not supposed to be sold to the general public any more but I'm sure if you walk in and say, "I need two cans of Brakeclean", like you know what you are doing no one will question you. Read the warnings and work outdoors. They will take the oil out of your skin as well AND may disolve some types of rubber gloves.

Nail polish remover is another nasty solvent. Read the label.

All the chemicals you listed were in my childhood chemistry set in little 2 oz. jars. Ammonium Chloride makes smoke when you heat it, copper sulphate plates clean steel by dipping it. Copper Sulphate is sold in bulk for some commercial construction purpose but I can't remember what. .

Hydrochloric acid )dilute) is sold at contruction suppliers as "muratic acid". Some professional drain uncloggers contain sulphuric acid. Automotive batteries have a strong solution of sulphuric acid and will have much of the lead and antimony disolved in it that blackens copper.

Lye crystals sold as drain cleaner in many many American grocery stores is sodium hydroxide or sodium hydrate.

Baking soda (not powder) is sodium carbonate and used to neutralize acids. Watch out for the foam. . .

Chlorox bleach is calcium chloride hypchlorite, I think. Check the label. Its nasty and does a job on metal. Next to it in the grocery you will find borax and water softener (sodium silicate).

We are surrounded by readily available chemicals if you look.

AND Would you believe you local pharmacist can order most of the chemicals you need.

There are on-line school and lab suppliers that will sell you a mortar and pestal but you should be able to find something suitible in the kitchen (or somewhere that sells kitchen supplies). Use heavy ceramic or glass, no metal. Plastic works.

McGraw-Hill and others sell Materials Handbooks that list many chemicals and their common uses. Any adult encylopedia like Britanica is a good source of similar information. Look up every chemical on your list and find out what they are used for.

Remember all the boogyman headlines about the Internet being a source about bomb building? Try your elementary school encylopedia. . more technical info there than on the net!
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 02:17:25 GMT

OBTW, the vinegar (acetic acid) VIcopper suggested DOES eat metal. It will strip galvanizing off hardware and remove lite rust. I can never find any in the house because its so handy. . . Don't put you hands in it after treating metal. Now you have soluable metal salts that will penetrate the skin and can cause heavy metal poisioning. .

Hydrogen peroxide is also another that is sold prediluted for home use but is strong enough to bleach your hair and make rust ASAP. . .

Are we having fun yet?
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 02:22:58 GMT

Vicopper // Vinegar // Acetic acid
Common vinegar is a 3-6% solution of acetic acid in water. Vinegar is usually sold as a 3% solution of acetic acid in 97% water. Pickling vinegar is a 4% solution, of the same constituents. Both of these products are available at the local supermarket.
More concentrated acetic acid-water solutions are sold by chemical supply houses or chamical industrial suppliers.
Glacial acetic acid is the most concentrated form of the acid and is better than 99.5% acetic acid. Concentrated acetic acid, both neat or in a highly concentrated solution, with water, is painfully corrosive. It can cause serious skin burns and can also damage the lung and airway passages if inhaled.
The acid will attack organic substances like grease but it is not a great grease solvent. The Guru is correct about using common degreasing products. They can contain any number of non-polar hydrocarbons or mixtures of them. These hydrocarbon degreasers are of two main types. Straight chain hydrocarbons such as benzine, diethyl ether (common ether), acetone, methyl ethyl ketone etc., or they can be cyclic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, xylene etc.
All of these hydrocarcarbon solvents and any generic degreaser solutions should be used with rubber gloves, that say they are solvent resistant on the packaging label. Walmart, for example, carries all manner of rubber gloves including solvent and/or acid resistant gloves. I strongly suggest that the user work outdoors and upwind of the stuff or wear a chemically protective respirator(that is a mask with chemical cartridges attached.. Again, read the label on the respirator cartridges, they come in many types.
One more safety point is useful to know. Glacial acetic acid (the straight chemical) freezes at the relatively high temperature of 61 degrees F. (= 17 degrees C.) When it freezes it EXPANDS (like water) and could break the container, making a real corrosive mess.
Vinegar is a catylist in the rusting of iron in water.It speeds up the reaction but does not take part in the chemical oxidation of iron.
Acetone is an excellent drgreaser and can be bought at large hardware stores. Nail polish remover has lots of acetone in it as well as other chemicals such as xylene and a very nasty perfume. (use it in a pinch but straight acetone works better and faster.
Regards to all.
   slag - Monday, 06/24/02 03:27:26 GMT

I'm looking for a "strait o flex" any idea where I can find one ?
   Brian - Monday, 06/24/02 03:30:45 GMT

copper sulfate is used to degunk sewer lines. but it can screw up the poor little bacteria in your septic tank, so beware. gets damned hot, too, so watch out if your lines are PVC.
   miles undercut - Monday, 06/24/02 03:53:25 GMT

Candice-- ammonium chloride-- sal ammoniac-- is obtainable from Bryant Labs in California. As are many other goodies. You could also use Sparex, a mild acid available in powder form at your local jewelry-making supply boutique. But, isn't all this fretting about degreasing this a bit much? How about just steel-woolling the copper to get those nasty oxides off and then pouring some Pepsi on it, and watching as those serendipitous variegations blossom?
   miles undercut - Monday, 06/24/02 04:29:28 GMT

Deborah-- Another possibility: Bill Gichner, grand old man of American smithing, whose family operated the ironworks of that name in Washington for many years, is reachable through Iron Age Antiques in Ocean View, Delaware. He knows many smiths all over the country, including the D.C. area, who might be of help.
   miles undercut - Monday, 06/24/02 04:35:43 GMT

Brian, In what context is this thing you are looking for used?
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 06:04:52 GMT

"serendipitous variegations blossom" Wow Miles!
A note on steel wool...it often comes with a light coating of oil to keep it from rusting immediately ( lotsa surface area). This can drive you nuts if you are preping something that needs to be oil free.
Copper sulfate...be sure to keep it out of the waters..It kills fishes way too well.
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/24/02 06:59:59 GMT

Copper Sulfate /// Nasty Poison
The major, non chemistry use of copper sulfate, in the 1800's was as a rat/mouse poison. It also was a major constituent of bordet mixture that killed damping off fungus in the vineyards in France. What I am trying to say is, copper sulfate is poisonous to people, other animals, including fish, and micro-organisms. (including bacteria, fungi, protozoa etc. etc.). Copper sheeting was used to kill off barnacles, marine woodworms.... on the bottoms of British wooden warships.
So please don't dump the stuff in bodies of water, (even a little bit or the fish will soon be surfacing belly up), also landfills, your kid's cornflakes etc. etc.
The stuff is big time hazardous material.
Regards from muggy, hot Montreal.
   slag - Monday, 06/24/02 07:54:24 GMT

Guru, please forgive me if I came off sounding like a pompous *ss with all that stuff about chemistry. Yep, I confess, I am a metallugical engineer but an absolute novice smith. I come here to learn from master smiths like yourself because this is knowledge that isn't taught in most universities. I remain thoroughly impressed with the wealth of practical metalworking technology that is regulary shared in this forum and offer a sincere thanks for this website. Put a 21st century metallurgist in the 18th century, and he will either starve or end up mucking out stables. Put a 18th century smith in the 21st century and he will likey make a good living! Any fool who believes that space aliens were responsible for building the ancient wonders has never been in a working blacksmith shop!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 06/24/02 13:48:51 GMT

Jock,et al, I recently got a request to reproduce 20 Civil War swords (supposedly for a TV production). The client sent me 2 original pieces and said that....'I might want to take them apart...' I know ,as a collector, that this will virtually destroy their value. Is it advisable to get a release of liability so I don't end up working for free after the order is delivered? Hot and wet in MN. Brian
   BRIAN ROGNHOLT - Monday, 06/24/02 14:14:56 GMT

Wax/paint/oil finishes
A quick finish that seems to hold up fairly well is tung oil. I know its intended use is for wood on boats but I used it on my work bench and put some on a piece of mild steel to see what it would look like. I left it out in the sun and rain and after a couple of months, so far so good. It dries hard and has a satin finish. I also used the tung oil soaked rag from the work bench project to clean up the not working surfaces of my post vice... It looks great!
   Rob Costello - Monday, 06/24/02 14:52:48 GMT

guru, thanks for the advise. ill have the machinist get on it. i like the build up suggestion. if you think it would be of interest, i can take some pics of it. give instructions on how to post it; i am not 'putor savy. thanks again...
   - rugg - Monday, 06/24/02 15:06:16 GMT

You mean your local working blacksmith shop doesn't have space aliens in it????

Lot's of metallurgical work going on in the 18th century; in fact is was around 1789 that the finally figured out that carbon was what turned iron into steel. "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" might me an interesting read for you QC if you are interested in historical backgrouynd of the craft. (Also "The Mastery and Use of Fire in Antiquity" for lots oif good info on use of biomass fuels and how bloomery furnaces actually worked.)

Thomas---my kids claim *I'm* a space alien!
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 06/24/02 16:15:15 GMT

Brian, I would at least be sure to have their instructions to "take them apart" in writing. Yes, this kind of thing DOES destroy much collector's value.

I'd also want to be sure that the samples are not on loan from a collector and don't actually belong to the folks that gave them to you. This would cause more trouble than anything. The collector would likely go around the middle man and come after you.

On the other hand, the "originals" they gave you may be reproductions themselves. This kind of stuff has been reproduced a LOT and for many years. Look at all those Westerns filmed in the 1940's. . . Then there is the fact that there were many thousands of these things made and the collector's value may not be that high. The cost or price of these things is relative. For someone spending hundreds of thousands or a million dollars on a production a few hundred dollars for samples may be inconsequential.

Nice job. Take lots of pictures!
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 16:42:02 GMT

Thomas,not sure about aliens in my shop...the dog next door appears to be from Mars, though. It is said that metallurgy is the oldest of crafts and youngest of sciences and that appears to be quite true. I agree with the Guru that we'd all be better off if some hucksters would quit trying to infuse the craft with New Age Mysticism and concede that iron, next to family and faith, is one of God's greatest gifts to humankind. After thousands of years of putting the stuff to work for us, we are still learning new and incredible things about it.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 06/24/02 16:48:22 GMT


Take a look at CSI. (link at the bottom of the page) For you, membership could be considered a professional membership for tax purposes.

Jock, we need some kind of members list, available to members only. Maybe just a list of names?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 06/24/02 17:23:37 GMT

I have found a second hand Beche air hammer, the weight of the hammer head looks to be around 150 kg. Before I make an offer I would like to get some more info. I need to know if the Beche company still exist, and what their adress (email/website/ snailmail) is so I can get some technical info. The hammer needs a control arm and a motor (the visible problems, I will only be able to tell if it is worth my while if I get full specs.)
   Tiaan - Monday, 06/24/02 17:33:23 GMT

Space Aliens: Now. . there HAVE been times when I REALLY wished I had telekinetic powers and have seriously tried to levitate heavy objects. . . machine tools, large castings. Had whole crews try to think a move rather than pull on chains, pry with bars. . . We are not talking about being lazy, but being TIRED from moving many tons of parts and machinery and that last piece just being one piece too much. We were desperate.

Those that think space aliens created the pyramids or taught man technology just don't know enough about anything, much less the intelligence of mankind. People of the stone age were just as bright and intelligent, thoughtful and artistic as anyone living today. They had language, technology and understood nature much more intimately than people today. What they did not have is the thousands of years of accumulated learning experiances handed down to them in writing.

Today we use mathematics developed over two thousand years ago that has not been improved or found to have faults. We learn from literature almost as old. The writen word has given us the ability to take advantage of a far distant past and the accumulated knowledge of mankind since its invention. Without the written word mankind would not have advanced beyond the stone age.

Those that believe in Pyramids preserving things and rock crystals having powers have wasted their gift of literacy if they read at all. The fact that we still have any illiteracy at all in developed nations is our greatest sin. The fact that we need volunteer reading instructors to teach illiterate adults in America is a major failure of our education and social systems.

Reading and writing and learning to find the truth in what we read is what advances mankind.

AND, as I have often written before, we will not have a chance of meeting (or perhaps becoming) those space aliens, until we develope a true science of metalurgy that can predict the result of creating an alloy. Once this is done we will be able to create low cost super-conductors, the strongest and lightest alloys, lightweight radiation shielding and advance technology to where long distance space travel is within our realm of possibilities.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 17:50:36 GMT

Adjusting a gas forge.


I have seen several refferences to proprely adjusting a gas forge. How do you know if you have it right?
   Chris - Monday, 06/24/02 18:13:43 GMT

If you think that aliens built the pyramids, take a look at what Ed Leedskalnin did in Flordia...


BTW he found out how to build this by studying books about ancient Egypt.
   Chris - Monday, 06/24/02 18:23:37 GMT

Beché Hammers: Tiaan, I've got bad news and worst news.

Beché used to be in business with Chambersburg (some sort of marketing aggreement I think) until a few years ago. Then Beché was bought out by a Spanish company that makes hydraulic presses and machinery. I think they bought Beché to absorb their market and bury the company. However, this is just my take on what I see on the Internet.

Originaly Nazel made Beché hammers and then Beché started designing their own. Many old Beché hammers ARE Nazels. There are only remants of Nazel left and Bruce Wallace has that. Chambersburg was sold off in pieces this spring.

The worse news. That motor was probably a low speed special. It was not unusual for these machines to use 1200, 900 and 600 RPM motors (60 Hz values).

However, many of the Beché hammers used the Chambersburg gear reduction design and ran standard speed motors. The down side of this is that the gearing was a weak point and VERY expensive to replace. The hammers with a direct drive (pulley or sheive on the crank shaft) are much more durable.

The Chinese hammers are communist block knock-offs of the Beché, derived from Chambersburg, derived from Nazel. . .

The GOOD news is that there is some literature floating around and I happen to have some curtesy a friend in Norway via anvilfire. But it is late model Beché literature that may not apply to your hammer. AND the chart I have lists 1450 RPM motors for all late models.

SO, like always, take pictures and measure everything. I might be able to help.

If it is a late model hammer the ram weights and model numbers are:
  • L1, 40kg (88#), 5.5kW
  • L2, 65kg (143#), 7.5 kW
  • L3, 100kg (220#), 15kW
  • L4, 150kg (330#), 18.5kW
  • L5, 200kg (440#), 22kW
  • L6, 300kg (660#), 30kW
  • L7, 400kg (880#), 45kW
  • L8, 500kg (1100#), 55kW
  • L9, 750kg (1650#), 75kW
  • L10, 1000kg (2205#), 90kW
  • L11, 1500kg (3307#), 132kW
  • L12, 2000kg (4410#), 160kw
The L12 is the one in the poster on our Power hammer Page.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 18:29:43 GMT

Adjusting Gas forges Chris, it depends on the type of burner. However, gas forges tend to like to burn lean resulting in a lot of scaling.

On blower burners when the forge is at optimum it roars to the point were everything in the shop shakes. You back off the gas a little (lean) from that point.

On atmospheric burners you adjust the gas until you get a little clear flame coming out the vent in the door. Usualy if you can see the flame in daylight it is running too rich. Generaly these do not roar the same as blower type burners. If they do you should be able to adjust by ear.

On both type forges there are burners that let you adjust both the air and the gas pressure. This complicates things The capacity of a gas burner(s) must be matched exactly to the capacity of the forge volume. Increasing the air increases the volume capacity. OR if you are using natural gas at a fixed pressure it may be the only way to adjust the mixture.

Idealy a forge runs a little rich to avoid burning the metal and producing excess scale. Coal forges do this naturaly and oil forges also do it well. However gas forges do not like to operate rich and you end up with excess flame coming from the vents. So gas forges tend to run lean. Small gas forges are adjusted with the door(s) closed and only the standard vents open.

If the forge is too lean the flame tends to go out or pop back into the burner. So, you adjust to rich, then back off a little.

Note that every forge and furnace has slightly different operating characteristics (even among one brand) and you have to adjust according to what works best.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 18:49:39 GMT

Adjusting Gas forges

So basicly, play with it... right?

   Chris - Monday, 06/24/02 19:45:22 GMT

Guru, thanks. The hammer has a date on it, 1974. It also has a large pully on the back, so I do not think it is a direct drive. I will have a look at it again and take my digicam along, but the L4 label seems to ring a bell. Maybe I'll buy it as a display piece to place in front of my shop! Another problem is that the anvil seems to missing, making the hammer useless unless I can find it. As the local saying goes, " 'n Boer maak 'n plan" (a farmer makes a plan / there is a solution somewhere out there)

About the side blast forge I asked about: I have assembled the water tank, base and pan. Next step is to fit the tuyeres and make the sliding valves. Luckily a friend owns a plasma cutter to cut the holes for the tuyeres...
   Tiaan - Monday, 06/24/02 19:59:51 GMT

About those seredipitous variegations, will generic soda from the supermarket work? Also, can it be diet?
   - adam - Monday, 06/24/02 21:46:09 GMT

Bees stealing beeswax: Isn't that a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I mean where did the wax come from in the first place ?

   - adam - Monday, 06/24/02 21:51:36 GMT

Whoops. . Tiaan, what I meant by "direct drive" is that there are no gears between the pulley and crank shaft. The machines without gears had much larger pulleys than those with gears. However, Chambersburgs had no pulley and had double reduction gearing (real "direct" drive"). 1974 would be a fairly recent hammer.

Missing anvil. . Thats how I got 2 big steam hammers in a trade for one Little Giant. They were missing the anvils. I have the material to make mine but its still a BIG job. The one piece of the anvil sitting in my shop is an 18" dia. and 32" long. It weighs a long tonne. The other piece is 48" dia. and 8" thick and weighs 2 tons. I need to get 5" sawed off the 18" round. . . This is for an old 350# steam hammer which is about the same ram weight as your L4.

The second of the two hammers was a 750# hammer. A friend just happened to have a 750# Chambersburg that didn't run. But the anvil fit under the Niles-Bement.
750# anvil (c) anvilfire.com
Bruce Wallace with Josh Greenwood next to 12,000 pound anvil for a 750 pound air hammer!

Volume 7, anvilfire NEWS
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 21:56:45 GMT


I'm not sure what all is in the soda from the supermarket, but I do know that for years I showed my customer's how Coke would almost dissolve a 16d nail overnight, and how it WOULD dissolve a human tooth in the same period of time. Of course since I was a route salesman for Pepsi, I somehow forgot to mention that Pepsi did the same things. (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 06/24/02 21:58:56 GMT


Why saw the 5" off? Can't you just set the anvil deeper?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 06/24/02 22:00:35 GMT

. . . stealing beeswax :). . .

No, none of that nambi-pambi sissy diet soda, must be the "real thing".

Adjusting any flame from a bunsen burner or an oxy-acetylene torch to a gas forge IS trial and error. But there IS a logic to it. If you don't understand the logic, yes, you are just playing with it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 22:02:45 GMT

Is anyone out there familiar with gas welding aluminum?
I've never seen it done. The only aluminum welding I've ever done is mig, and I would like to know more about gas welding it. Thanks in advance, Kevin
   Kevin - Monday, 06/24/02 22:58:23 GMT

I have a recipe for a hot punch lube that uses graphite. Can there be any advantage in graphite over say powdered coal or charcoal ? Seeing as the workpiece is at about 1500F?
   - adam - Monday, 06/24/02 23:07:07 GMT

Adam, it depends on what else is in the recipe. Powdered coal liquifies and burns (smokes) off cooling the punch while lubricating it. Grease does a similar thing except that it gases off at lower temperatures and is perhaps not as good a high temperature lubricant.
   - guru - Monday, 06/24/02 23:20:18 GMT

For what it's worth, natural gas fires hottest at a ratio of 10 to 1. that is, 10 parts air and 1 part methane. Go above that ratio, and you get lots of scale and reduced heating. Go below it and you get carbon monoxide and reduced heating. If you can't determine when the burner is on ratio, I think I would err on the part of being lean, that is, too much air. You can determine, with great precision, the exact air/fuel ratio by using a manometer tube to compare the pressures in the air line and fuel line. However, you must be certain that the manommeter is precisely aligned with magnetic north, the moon is in quarter phase, venus is in the house of the rising sun, and you are truely one with your forge. Awww, to heck with it, just run it lean......
   quenchcrack - Monday, 06/24/02 23:34:55 GMT

I need to build a buffer. I've got a 3/4 hp motor, 3450 rpms. It has a 5/8 inch keyed shaft. I understand that most buffing wheels are screwed on with a reverse thread. So where would I find an adapter to fit this shaft, and what would I call it? Or is there another way? On another note, I'm working on a sizing jig for the tomahawk drift that I need to make, cause I can't find one. What I did was take my hawk handle and trace it on a piece if 1/2 inch plate. Then took a diamond scribe and made a slightly smaller line in from the pattern edge. Then drilled along this line. Now I will have to grind with my dremel and file to fit my handle properly. THEN, I get to shape my drift to fit. Woulda been easier to buy one!

   Bob Harasim - Tuesday, 06/25/02 00:43:46 GMT

   Pete - Tuesday, 06/25/02 01:20:58 GMT

Guru, I am an aspiring beginner blacksmith putting the tools together for a shop. I've recently acquired what seems to be an old industrial gas forge with the markings OGDEN R. ADAMS MACHINERY ROCHESTER NY from the STEWART BLAST FURNACE SIZE 2 8 TYPE OVEN SERIAL # 9926 FUEL MFD GAS MADE BY CHICAGO FLEXIBLE SHAFT CO. CHICAGO USA. It has some sort of pre-mixing chamber between the legs under forge. Chamber has 2 openings on the top. The one in front rises vertically to T fitting- top of T has some sort of pressure relief valve. Running horizontally out of T fitting-another 5 inch length of pipe to 90 running vertically down to shut-off valve. Then another fitting has 3 more openings. Rear fitting on top of chamber rises to 90 the stops. One opening on side of chamber comes out horizontally then 90's up to shut-off valve then to T fitting, side of T fitting runs horizontally out and is cut off. Top of T fitting is piped to the side burners on the forge. So, there are only 3 openings into or out of chamber, but many openings in pipe network. Like as if it were part of a larger shop piping system. Where do I hook up the gas and air?
   Pete - Tuesday, 06/25/02 01:38:56 GMT

AFTERTHOUGHT: Does anybody else know anything more about the STEWART BLAST FURNACE? It weighs in the neighborhood of 600 lbs. or more, firebrick encased in cast iron with 2 holes in rear to accept long bars. What type of burners? Do they need adjustments? What air pressure? Etc...
   Pete - Tuesday, 06/25/02 01:59:34 GMT

Buffer: Bob, its called a threaded mandrel adaptor. Most are made of cast zinc with a threaded shaft. LH thread for the left side of a motor and RH for the right hand side. Most are 1/2"-20 NF. On-line your best bet would be McMaster-Carr.

Your handle drift needs to be what ever size your handle will be. The possibilities are infinite and depend on your design.

You will burn up your Dremel LONG before you even shape one side of your tomahawk. This is a job for something with about a thousand times the power of your dremel. A big 3HP vertical belt sander would do the job. But it would be easier to build a forge and do the job right. See our plans page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 02:09:01 GMT

STEWART BLAST Pete, Never heard of it. There have been hundreds of manufacturers come and go that made this type thing.

It sounds like a pretty standard industrial gas forge. These typicaly ran on Natural gas and compressed air. You can run it on propane but it will take a large (150# up) tank to feed smoething this size. The compressed air is a problem. It takes a huge amount and a small (20 HP or less) air compressor will have a hard time keeping up. It is best to convert to a little squirel cage blower or a forge blower.

The plumbing does sound like it it missing parts and as you sumized it probably was plumbed into a large shop air system as well as natural gas lines.

Yes it would require adjusting. Typicaly this type furnace just had two valves, one for the air, one for the gas. Old shop manuals describe the lighting and adjusting process but it is sinilar to the above or any torch. The fun part it the lighting instructions that go like this:

Light an oil soaked rag and throw into the forge. Then crack the air valve followed by the gas valve. Adjust to a neutral flame.

What they don't warn you about is the fire ball of a partialy burnt oil soaked rag that is going to fly out of the furnace and chase you around the shop. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 02:28:51 GMT

Bob, this task you describe is why God in Her infinite wisdom gave smithkind the oxy-acetylene torch. You can cut the template you describe with it-- or you can short-circuit that process and just go ahead and cut the eye in the tomahawk with it.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 06/25/02 03:07:42 GMT

They used to gas weld Aluminum as a standard practice. It requires a nasty flux ( anti-borax co) and a lot of practice. it is very "fast", which is to say that the working temp. range is narrow and there is no visible color change to tell you if it is comming now or later. Because Al conducts heat quickly, the puddle grows alarmingly fast.
Clean all oxide off with a stainless wire brush just before welding. No grease or oil. Back up the joint if possible cause it tends to collapse. Stir the puddle aggressively to break up the oxide surface, reducing flame held vertically over weld to try to shield it from oxy. Use low pressures and try to keep the flame velosity low and quiet.
It's not a popular way to do it anymore for a reason(s).
That you want to indicates that you are as much a fool as I am and that you are in a lot of trouble.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 06/25/02 06:02:19 GMT

I have recently aquired an old post drill that I am refurbishing. It is a Blower & Forge, Kitchener, No 612. It would be appreciated if you could shed some light on about when this drill was manufactured.
   Dave Taylor - Tuesday, 06/25/02 06:09:07 GMT

I'd run a gas forge rich instead of lean. Lean eats up your work with scale---especially if you have a bunch in there so they sit for a while as you cycle through them!

You should already have good ventilation if you are using *ANY* type of forge so the CO should not be a problem. If you don't ventilate properly you should be out of the gene pool anyway so don't blame us when you undergo "evolution in action"

Note that the forge will change over time as it heats up and the tank cools off.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 06/25/02 13:26:42 GMT

Bob, You need to forge your tomahawk drift with a taper from one end to the other, that way you can open the socket as needed. The drift acts as a wedge.
   - Robert - Tuesday, 06/25/02 13:37:33 GMT

Thanks Jock. The client agreed to my release requirement and was unaware that disassembly impacted value. Kind of like refinishing and sawing the legs off your Gustav Stickley. Swords came apart easily but it broke my heart. Brian
   Brian Rognholt - Tuesday, 06/25/02 15:51:55 GMT

Old Post Drill: Dave, I've heard of Kitchener but I've never seen a catalog and suspect they were a small lesser known manufacturer. The probability is that it was made between 1880 and 1920. This was the hey-day of the hand cranked blacksmith equipment and when the majority of Buffalos, Champions and Canedy-Ottos were made.

It is also most likely that it has a 1/2" bore and set screw to hold the bits. Old fashioned "blacksmith bits" were made down to 1/16" with 1/2" straight shanks. These are no longer made. If you are going to use the drill (they are a great drilling machine), then you are best off to fit it with a 0-1/2" Jacobs Chuck. 1/2" shanks are available.

The other option, if you have a lathe is to drill pieces of 1/2" CF bar stock for each size bit and cross drill and tap for a small set screw. The holes should be drilled about 1/4" short of the depth of the un-fluted shank on each bit. Bits should have a flat ground for the set screw and the adaptor a flat for the spindle set screw. Once installed these are relatively permanent so plan on dedicating the bit to this purpose. For most work you only need a few sizes, 3/16" up in 1/16" increments.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 16:05:24 GMT

Brian, Glad you got that sorted out. I feel the same way about very old anvils that someone thinks must be "perfect" and then welds, grinds or machines the entire face.

Recently I have worked a bit using an old colonial anvil that is so worn there are places worn through the face. This is not the worst anvil I have seen but it is close. The quality of the surfaces of the finished work does not reflect the condition of the anvil. I suppose it might if I were using flatters on large pieces but on average size work there appears to be no defects. The 1/4" sway in face makes it easier to straighten work.

I could weld up the face and even replace the horn (its broken off). In the end I could have a very nice fifth foot 140# colonial anvil. But it would have no character and it would no longer display the story of its life as a (probable) hand me down to generations of poor Southern sharecroppers who wore it out shoeing their mules and repointing their plows.

I could probably sell the repaired anvil for a hundred times more than the $5 I gave for it. But what would the purchaser be getting? Certainly not the museum piece they thought they were buying. And the problem IS, that there are many of these out there.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 16:35:22 GMT

My 14 year old son just started a summer blacksmithing course. We are trying to find a forge for him to continue on after his summer course. Do you have a list of suppliers of forges and where they can be purchased? Thanks for your help.
   Sue - Tuesday, 06/25/02 16:55:05 GMT

Sue, It depends on the type of forge you are looking for. Coal forges are heavy and expensive. Most newbies build their own from something like our brake drum forge on the plans page. Using new parts and a little scrounging it can be done for less than $50. You will want someone with electrical experiance to supervise wiring a blower.

Gas forges are more common today due to the fact that they are clean and convienient. Small ones run on the same propane bottles as a gas grill. Several of our advertisers sell gas forges. See the links on the drop down menu.

Kayne and Son sell Forgemaster.

Wallace Metal Work sells NC-TOOL

Bullhammer sells their own line but these are large commercial forges.

Kayne and Son also sell firepots and blowers for anyone wishing to build a coal forge.

Wallace Metal Work also sells used equipment and often has coal forges.

The small gas forges are easy to use but I would supervise the hook up of the fuel lines and be sure your son has proper safety instruction on its use.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 17:11:57 GMT

Thomas, Personally, I don't like to put "too many irons in the fire" because it does tend to scale them up. Running rich may be an OK practice for an experienced smith but I hate to see a possibly dangerous practice recommended to inexperienced folks. Yes, the shop should be well ventilated. However, some young buck may be just too excited about getting something hot to make sure the windows are open. I'm sure you did not really mean to suggest that one could tell his folks that if he was so stupid as to fire a gas forge without proper ventilation, he deserved to die. Safety is one thing we should strongly stress in this forum because of the many students that visit here. I work in a steel mill and EVERY staff meeting begins with a brief safey topic, accident cases are the first thing we review, every incident, even just minor first aid cases, are investigated. Employees are councelled on safe practices after every incident. We have one of the the lowest accident rates in our industry and have not had a fatality in 40 years. Safety is no accident!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/25/02 17:36:53 GMT

Beche air hammer

Now that I know what to look for I went to the junkyard again. It has an approx. 3' dia drive wheel at the back. I am able to turn the wheel about thirty degrees in both directions by hand then it feels like I am pushing against a weight. It does not feel like there is a gear drive in there as the movement is very smooth. It is definitely a L5. The anvil is definitly missing. The owner wants the same he charges for all scrap steel: R1/kg (Approx $0.098/kg) A 200kg Massey weighs about 7500kg. (Phoned a friend who owns one)

The advice he gave me was to pay for it and let it stand where it is until I get my own place (I am renting a workshop at this stage) as the crane hire, truck hire, reinforced foundation and anvil will cost almost double the price of the hammer, and that does not include the labour to strip and service and mount.

I took some pictures and will email them to you if you want to have a look.


I also had a look at a hammer made in Glasgow by a company named Ross (if I remember correctly, a problem when the only thing I concentrate on is the next step waiting in my workshop!) It is in pieces and doesn't have a motor. I think it runs of a steam or air line, like the hammers I saw as a child at the blacksmith's shop in my home town. My father called them "Steam hammers" by in all probability they ran off compressed air. They got air/steam from the mine's powerstation or compressor.

I think it is for sale, the owner was out of town. I think one would need a huge compressor to run that one!
   Tiaan - Tuesday, 06/25/02 17:42:28 GMT

I work for a importer, and a customer of mine is refering to a material known as "SUM-24", the nearest of which I find is JIS SUM 24 L, a Japanese spec for 12L14 Steel. Problem is, my contact says that it is a special type of Aluminum (Aluminium depending on where you live) used for casting. The parts involved are pins, that are to be "Hard Chrome Plated."

Any ideas?

Thank you in advance.

   yzedf - Tuesday, 06/25/02 18:18:52 GMT

Dear QC working with 1500 degF steel is a "possibly dangerous practice" I can't recommend that you do it. BTW driving is a known dangerous practice--better avoid it too.
Perhaps it would be better to allow folks to make their own choices by providing the information both ways and including safety information as well.

I mentioned the need for good ventilation in my post; if a person cannot take responsibility for their own safety why would you be suggesting a gas forge at all---many more dangers working with a liquid or gaseous fuel than with a solid fuel.

I tune my gas forges in two ways: 1 adjust fuel to the region I know is about right, then adjust air until the refractory impacted by the burning gasses is the brightest this should result in a lean burn. 2: as above but I back off the air a bit to produce a slight plume out the forge door.

Since I started smithing through knifemaking decarburization is something I am very aware of and gas forges will often tend toward a lean burn especially aspirated ones.

Myself I try to teach my kids skills for living dangerously; they climb trees, build fires, use power tools and even are learning to forge---both of my daughters! Yes I would be distraught if anything happened to them; but how distraught would I be if they lived their lives never *living*.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 06/25/02 18:59:56 GMT

An equipment question:

Through the generosity of a friend I recently received a wood lathe, and have now mounted it on a custom build table. (In time for Camp Fenby!) Unfortunately I will have to store it an a barn by the forge, for three reasons:

1) Not enough room at the house and the basement is between the swamp and the river, so it's almost always WET.

2) Not enough room in the forge.

3) Envision the possibilities of a forge full of wood chips and turnings. Can you say "conflagration"?

Security will be by heavy chains, but this being a tobacco barn, there is all sorts of climate passing through. The floor is dirt, but generally dry.

So, the base question is what type of covering should go over the lathe to protect it? Plastic? Canvas? Old bed sheet? Does it need vents?

Given some of your forges that I've seen in person or in pictures, some are even draftier than a tobacco barn, so I know some of you have faced this challenge before. What sort of solutions have you tried and what have been the results.

Hot and humid on the banks of the Potomac. (Keeps our joints loose and our skins supple.)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps .gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 06/25/02 19:21:44 GMT

Bruce, Do not use plastic covering for items setting on earthen floors, rising humidity condenses under the plastic.

Clean and oil well after use with WD-40 then cover with a cloth cover. I use an old fender cover on my small lathe and it is next to an open window on the mill pond. You've seen it. Yes an old sheet should work. The covering in this case keeps dust, dirt, insects and bird droppings off the machinery.

NOTE: I have never had trouble with WD-40, however there are other products such a Liquid Wrench that evaporate and leave an acid residue that was part of the rust-busting process. Part of the WD-40 evaporates but it leaves behind a thin protective oil.

I've had folks warn me about WD-40 but they must have confused some other product (such as Liquid Wrench).

For long term storage in unsheltered conditions, CRC makes a product labeled "heavy duty corrosion inhibitor". They also make a heavier produce that is similar to cosmoline. Both eventualy dry leaving a gummy film that requires solvent to remove. For short periods the stuff remains liquid and you can opperate the machine. But after drying it must be stripped to use the equipment. In this case "long term" should be considered moth-balling for the long haul, not for a season.

A little oil and a simple cover in your dry barn is enough. I should cover more of my machinery but I have not taken time to get the covers. They are also a fire hazzard anywhere you do welding or grinding. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 19:44:40 GMT

Thomas, I would not recommend anyone do anything like smithing. If they choose to engage in smithing, driving, tree climbing or what ever, I suggest they learn to do it safely. I find that the people who are injured in our shop are often the veterans who knew the right way and took a short cut. I think any reasonable adult will see the need to take responsiblity for their actions, but, regretably, many would rather just sue someone. I don't know how responsible a teenager with no experience might be around gassers. All I am suggesting is that we tell them the dangers and the safe way to do it. If they proceed to asphyxiate themselves or launch their garage into low earth orbit, at least the attorneys cannot serve papers on the guru! Finally, while very few coal fires blow up, the products of combustion are much the same and an improperly made coal fire can asphyxiate you, too, if improperly ventilated.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/25/02 21:24:31 GMT

Forgot to mention another great little book. Its called "The Metals Black Book" published by Casti Publishing Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I think the website is www.casti.com. The book sells for about $50 but it has a tremendous amount of information on carbon, alloy, stainless and tool steels. It also cross references foreign steel designations, weld rods, has a section on basic metallurgy and conversion charts. If you can swing the price, it's a great reference book.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/25/02 21:39:13 GMT

My mistake, it's www.casti-publishing.com/. The website has a lot of good poop, too.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/25/02 21:41:19 GMT

Young Adults and Gas Forges: Old fashined gas stoves without fancy electric igniters or even the nifty little piezo ignigers found on modern forges were the standard for about 150 years and was all that was available until I was an adult. To cook, you had to light a match, turn on the gas and light the burner. Ovens had pilot lights but they often went out. Then there were the Servel gas refridgerators that were once more popular than electric and infinitely more efficient.

When my mother was 3 years old, she baked a cake for my Grandmother's birthday. She did this in the wee hours before my Grandmother was up. The gas stove she cooked it in was one of those old fashioned things with exposed nickle plated plumbing and ceramic handles on the valves. There was no pilot light in the oven. It was lit with a match. My mother at age 3 did this alone.

The hazards of an explosion or fire are no different between an old gas stove and a small gas forge. One gets hotter than the other but the dangers are the same.

When worked with a group of Boy Scouts this spring, who I will guess were 12 to 14, they all acted very responsibly with the gas forge. I'm sure if they had been taught how to setup and use it they all would have done very well.

I know several young people that had their own gas forges at age 14 - 15.

When my son was less than a teenager I taught him the safety rules of oxy-acetylene equipment. I'm sure he has forgotten by now since he never used the equipment much. But he was taught.

I would rather work with kids and young adults than with older adults that think they already know what they are doing and that the safety rules do not apply to them.

OBTW - Those that have measured the gases say that coal forges generate a great deal of carbon monoxide that fills the shop air even when the forge venting seems to working perfectly and there appears to be no smoke in the shop.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/25/02 22:19:13 GMT

Guru, I don't think there is any real argument here, only slightly different perspectives. The upshot is what ever you do, do it with due diligence. The fact that you and Thomas both are teaching kids how to deal with dangerous situations safely is the message for all of the younger people to hear. Learn under the supervision of an experienced adult. The lessons learned will serve for a lifetime. By the way, when I went to the Casti Site, mentioned previously, the Black Book is available in a "lite" version in .pdf format FOR FREE! I highly recommend checking it out.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/25/02 22:55:06 GMT

Coca-Cola /// Polishing/Dissolving Brass Buttons
The acid used in Coca-Cola and also Pepsi-cola is dilute phosphoric acid. It is in a dilute solution in those soft drinks and it is, or used to be listed on the label as an ingredient. I'm guessing that it contributes something to the cola's taste. the acid ingredient is essentially harmless unless the consumer holds it in his/her mouth for many hours or preferably a week. (they might get hungry though). If that's done then the cola might cause some damage to tooth enamel.It would be more effective if the cola, held in the mouth, could be replenished from time to time during that week. Our mouths are somewhat alkaline and that alkalinity would have a tendency to neutralize the mild phosphoric acid also the acid would be used up attacking the tooth enamel.
Concentrated phosphoric acid is another matter but fear not, we won't find it in cola soft drinks any time soon.
Phosphoric acid is the active ingredient in many rust removal products.
On second thought skip the experiment, as dentists are expensive and enjoy the cola, swallow it before it goes flat.
Regards to the Gang.
   slag - Wednesday, 06/26/02 00:06:51 GMT

I am new to the art of blacksmithing and would like to learn this new skill as I am all ready a skilled sheet metal worker. Where can I find drawings/plans and the like for making my own forge and tools in more detail than the "brake drum forge" (a good forge but I need more information on it or possibly a brick built forge?) Thanks.
   Pete Green (England!) - Wednesday, 06/26/02 00:54:50 GMT

Where can metal (steel) weight be found?
   - Bubba Dumplin - Wednesday, 06/26/02 02:02:00 GMT


Betcha that 7500kg is WITH the missing anvil! Probably more like half that.
   - grant - Wednesday, 06/26/02 02:02:28 GMT

Indeed, do try to take time to be safe. Here at Entropy Research, for example, we ALWAYS dilute soft drinks with plenty of vodka, just in case, to kill any pesky bacteria and to lessen the toxicity. And while we believe kids need adventure to test themselves and thus gain self-confidence and self-esteem, we think those adventures ideally ought to be non-fatal if at all possible. Toward that end, we teach them guns don't kill people, bullets kill people, and thus to make sure guns are empty before being handed around for admiring, not to run with scissors, etc. And never, ever get under a piece of steel. Get a laborer to do it.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 06/26/02 02:50:15 GMT

I'm wondering about sandblasting and painting metal. Is it better(cheaper) to get a sandblaster and blast yourself, or have a shop do it? Does anyone have experience with the cheap sandblasters and sprayers in catalogs like Northern Tools? Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Wednesday, 06/26/02 03:14:42 GMT


I have a nice little 50 lb horseshoers anvil and a suitable pile stub to mount it on. How tightly should I work at securing it to the stump? Or should I leave a bit of "Give" to the mount?
   terrydemtp - Wednesday, 06/26/02 03:15:11 GMT

Somewhere I read the following story a couple of years back. (I thought it was posted by Jock or Grant, but a search of several archives provided no results.)

A skydiver is plummeting to earth, desperately trying to get his parachute to open. On his way down he meets a blacksmith ascending into the sky at a great rate of speed.

"Do you know anything about parachutes?" he yells to the blacksmith.

"No;" replies the blacksmith as he passes by, "do you know anything about gas forges?"
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/26/02 03:19:43 GMT

2 quickies for you guru....

1> To join CSI do I need to consider myself an active and experienced smith? or is great appreciation for what anvilfire provides enough?

2> Are credit cards the only payment accepted for this? (please say no)

Oh... and a third... did you ever get the safety glasses in? as long as I'm contemplating throwing money in thy general vicinity.
   mattmaus - Wednesday, 06/26/02 03:38:40 GMT


I've got one of the cheap siphon sandblasters from Harbor Freight. Had it about 15 years now. Works good, just make sure you have plenty of air for it. It's cheaper for me to do my own sandblasing and painting than to have a shop do it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 06/26/02 04:03:53 GMT

I just got a great old Canedy Otto 21" drill press. This is the real deal, 8" of quill movement, auto downfeed, and lots of torque at low speed for those big holes. I'm thrilled to have it and I've allready used it a lot in the few weeks I've owned it but I've snapped a few smallish drills with it. I suspect its because it has too much play in it and the small drills can't take it.

Should I just figure that's life and only use it for things bigger than 1/2" or can I fix it? Will the slop be in the quill or also in the spline that drives it? If it is in the spline, I assume I can't fix it.

   Philippe Habib - Wednesday, 06/26/02 04:06:15 GMT

I have a champion post drill and an Indian Chief leg vise, and was wondering what would be the best paint to repaint them (hopefully keeping them from rusting again).
   Sean - Wednesday, 06/26/02 04:29:50 GMT

Mattmaus, All are invited to help support anvilfire. And We probably need to make that clear.

We accept credit cards as a convienience, will take checks or cash. Checks from non-US banks need to be in US funds. The mailing address is on the order form.

Yes the safety glasses are in. I've been trying to find time to photograph them. Worked a while at the forge with the #2 shades and wore them as sun glasses one day and they seem to be very convienient.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 04:51:54 GMT

Breaking small Drills: Philippe, I've got several of the same type machine (see the iForge demo #121). I routinely bury 3/16" drill bits in 1-1/2" of stainless steel (over and over). The oldest machine I've got is worn quite a lot and the spindle very loose. But this has little effect on drill breakage and is the one I drill stainless on.

1) Dull or chiped drills make an undersize hole that grabs the bit and causes them to break. Always check for chipped corners before starting.

2) Step drilling (small, medium, larger) holes chips drill bit corners. This is caused by the ease of feeding where there is already a hole. The bit feeds too fast overloading the corners. The bit either chips or breaks.

3) When the drill breaks through you need to hold back as the bit tries to self feed too fast at that point. This requires practice and a feel for the work. Feed mechanisms typicaly have considerable back lash (play) that you need to compenstate for at this point by lifting the feed lever a little just as the bit starts to break through.

4) The auto feed is for boring or step drilling, not small or even standard drills unless the size/speed/feed are perfect. Many bits do not fit the feed rates and none of the small bits do. The rack and pinion feed with long handle is known as a "sensitive drill" mechanism. It works by operator feel.

5) Work that is not properly supported will pinch a drill and break it every time. When you drill a hole in a bar you weaken the bar at that point. If the bar is not supported very near the hole then it deflects from the drill pressure, pinches the bit at the top of the hole and the bit breaks. One of the best ways to support work is on a pice of scrap wood. I almost always put wood under work clamped in a drill press vise to support the steel as well as protect the vise and bit.

6) On these heavy machines even small work need to be clamped to prevent rotation or lifting on the bit when it breaks through. A drill press vise is most convienient but sometimes clamping furniture is faster for prodution work.

I almost always clamp work. When I do not it is usualy thin work and a small bit. Starting out I would reccomend clamping all work.

7) Chips must be cleared from deep holes by lifting the bit out of the work every so often. Take this opportunity to lubricate the bit and the work. I use WD-40 when I am in a hurry and a 20W oil/kerosene 50/50 mix when production drilling.

Clearing too often is a waste of time and creates more opportunities for chips to get under the bit and stop the cutting. The bit often needs to be lifted clear of the hole and returned a couple times to remove the chip. You can tell from the lack of movement at high feed pressure that a chip is under the bit.

8) Sufficient feed pressure to make a good chip is required to prevent overheating the bit. On large holes (3/4" and up) a small pilot hole should be drilled the size of the "dead center" on the bit. I use 3/16" for bits up to 1-1/4". This is different than step drilling. All you ae doing is removing the area that the chisle end of the bit must push out of the way rather than cuttiing. This reduces the feed preassure a great deal.

9) When boring or step drilling use the automatic feeds. Step drilling with the auto-feed prevents the bit from self feeding or being "sucked in".

Hope one of these helps.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 05:31:25 GMT

Machine paint: Sean, many surfaces on these devices must be left bare and kept oiled to prevent rust. There is nothing worse than surfaces that were intended to be bare covered with a coat of paint.

On the drill this includes, the column, the top of the table, the spindle (gears and bearings), the ratchet surface of the feed wheel, the cam surface of the feed gear and the feed shaft (if it has one). Traditionaly machined surfaces of handwheels are not painted. About all that gets painted is the frame and flywheel plus the non-contact parts of the gears. Any common machinery enamel will do. Traditional colors were black or red. Wood handles are best left bare or oiled with a little linseed oil. I put a red with black pin striped finish on the drill on my portable forge. It was brushed on over rust and after 25 years it still looks OK.

When the vise was new it MIGHT have had a thin coat of black Japan (a lacquer). Some folks paint these vises, I prefer to just oil the rust prodducing a browned finish. The screw needs to be greased and the lower box joint oiled. The handle is always bare and needs oil to prevent rust. I have occasionaly given leg vises a dusting of flat black paint (as well as the oil). These get a lot of hot work done in them and most paint burns. Oiling also is rough on a pretty paint job so an oiled rust brown finish is perfect.

If the vise has been stripped and cleaned to a bright finish then someone wasted a lot of time. I've seen a lot of this on ebay items. . . You may want to start with a thin primer coat first in that case.

These are practical finishes. If you are finishing for a show place then do what you please. Most repaint jobs on old equipment is much fancier than when it was new. Painted surfaces on machinery kept indoors rarely rusts. What happens to old blacksmith equipment is it gets tossed on the ground in a heap next to a barn and forgotten. Or if its IN the barn is is often underfoot and badley treated. If it had been in any type of shop other than an open air shop at the beach the equipment would have some of its original paint and only the unpainted surfaces would be rusted.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 05:58:30 GMT

Mounting small anvil: Terry, I prefer two blocks of wood cut to fit between the feet on the sides of the anvil. These are bolted to the block with lag bolts. These "D" shaped pieces keep the anvil from moving and are very convienient to just lift the anvil from between.

Some folks bolt their anvils down or anchor them with heavy "L" shaped spikes driven into the stump. I have a Hay-Budden that has two mounting holes in the base (under the horn and heal) that LOOK factory. But someone may have added the holes.

I've seen anvils held down with steel straps made from flat bar bolted to the base and criss crossing on the front and back of the stand. I have also heard of folks bedding their anvils into grout or lead. Heavy cast iron stands were made that fit the base on the anvil. Most of these had no bolts or clamps. AND a few folks just forge a couple spikes (big nails) and drive them into the stand around the anvil.

In Europe a popular stand is a hollow container filled with coal ashes or sand. The anvil just sits in the sand and is adjusted as needed. Its not bolted down but the edges of the container usualy extend about 2" above the sand.

There is no "right" way, except *MY* way ;) What is important is to keep it from falling off the stand and hurting you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:12:37 GMT

Sandblasting: It depends on your location and the type work you do.

Sandblasting sand is considered hazardous waste (due to lead and chemicals from paint, lead in the rust). If you have fussy neighbors it can mean big trouble. The sand also gets everywhere. The more you do the more is spreads. It is hard on machinery and equipment. It tends to end up getting in the air compressor and wearing it out rapidly. On large jobs the sand is recycled which means a booth with a concrete floor. You also need a supplied air protective hood and the special compressor that goes with it.

If the work is large such as archetictural work you need a huge air compressor and the work goes VERY slow. It is NOT like spray painting. The blast area is an inch or less in diameter and the travel speed is about an inch a second. Having a commercial outfit do it might sound expensive until you try it yourself.

For small work and the occasional odd job a little do-it-yourself unit is OK but forget it on big jobs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:25:12 GMT

Old Post Drill: As far I can ascertain, it was made by Buffalo Forge who had a company called Canadian Blower & Forge who operated out of Kitchener Ontario, hence the word Kitchener on the frame. I believe Kitchener used to be called Berlin but the name was changed in 1916 as Berlin was not a great name during the Great War. I assume then that it is post 1916. It does have a 1/2" bore with a set screw. The automatic feed system is missing the ratchet and I was hoping to fix it if I could get a picture of one. The model number is 612.
   Dave Taylor - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:27:51 GMT

Tiaan and Grant, According to the literature I have the 4L, 150kg Beche' hammer weighs 4350kg. The hammer weighs 2500kg (5512#) and the anvil (Schabotte) 1850kg (4079#). About the same as a Nazel 3B. There is much more on the chart but my German is not too good. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:36:06 GMT

Ah. . . there is a page in English. I'll have to convert it to HTML sometime.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:38:47 GMT

Buffalo Feed Lever: Dave, there are a few pictures on the 21st Century page and our Buffalo Forge catalog CD review has a picture. This is an earlier catalog but it had many types of drills.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:49:09 GMT

WEIGHT Steel: Bubba, Try this Mass3j
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 06:53:26 GMT

does anyone know anything about a tool called a strait-o-flex ? is there a similar product made today ?
   Brian Plaster - Wednesday, 06/26/02 11:43:06 GMT

Thanks for the Mass3j.
   - Bubba Dumplin - Wednesday, 06/26/02 11:53:36 GMT

Canedy-Otto monster post drill-- I have one. Love it. It just takes care and getting used to, is all. A learning experience. Sandblasting-- fyi, beware it leaves the metal with a toothy finish, minute pocks that hold onto whatever patinating agent you might use. No problem with paint, but makes it damn near impossible to rinse-- essential part of the process-- a surface treated with Presto Black, for example, free of the orangey rind, especially in corners. Can make for a finishing nightmare.
   miles undercut - Wednesday, 06/26/02 14:36:29 GMT

Bruce; I think I heard that joke told about a scuba diver and a Drakker captain...

Avoidance of responsibility is something we all will suffer for. Growing up it was expected that we would break bones and suffer the common "childhood" diseases. Now we are trying to prevent such "learning experiences". Liability is always quoted as one of the reasons that middle/high school metal shop was dropped and even wood shop has been watered down---I saw an exhibit of simple wooden kits assembled as the output of a local school. About right for third graders; but not for seniors in highschool!

How this affects smithing is that we get people who are interested but have *NO* manual skills whatsoever. No appreciation of things like my statement that a buffer lives to mangle it's user. And it's always someone elses fault if *they* do something dumb. They should not be expected to use common sense---anvils are heavy, glowing metal is *hot*, rotating machinery has no morals. Other people should look out for them and take care of them and they should be shielded from *possibly* dangerous activities.

I don't want to be protected for my own good and it is *NOT* the role of government (local, state, national or international) to act as a nanny.

Sorry for the rant; I gotta move out of the city and get some land around me!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 06/26/02 16:24:55 GMT

Thomas, good rant. I'll add to it.

When I did the Boy Scout merit badge workshop there were a few that you tell DO THINGS. Build a tree house, use an axe. . something! They had no trouble with the simple forging excersizes. But there were a few that you could tell had never held a tool of any sort in their life. In the past this was typical of women and a few men in our society. But today it is becoming the vast majority. It is amazing how many folks don't know a screw from a nut much less what right hand threads are.

In the good old days (1950's through 70's) when we had REAL metal shops and woodworking shops in schools life was indeed different. And even though the girls were not allowed in the shop classes they DID have "home economics" which exposed them to machinery such as sewing machines, stoves, mixers and so on. They were instructed in tool use but differently from the boys. But at least they were taught SOMETHING. Today most schools have closed their shops or converted them to "technology centers" which have nothing we didn't used to have in general science and physics classes. Very little real tool usesage af any sort is taught in our schools today.
When you move into the country be sure YOU own the land around you. We moved into a very rural area. Nice and secluded 25 years ago. But the farm next door sold and now we live at the end of a subdivision. In another 20 I expect the same on the hilltop overlooking our place. There are many of us that don't feel we are far enough out unless we can take a leak in the front yard without fear of having a neighbor report us for indecent exposure. Heck, this time of year I'd like to do without clothes at all except when I need some protection in the shop!
Only one day left on the iForge item on the Auction page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 17:10:40 GMT

another thought on post-drill / broken drill bits... i've seen a few post drills mounted to warped lumber, that throws the table out of true with the spindle. I mounted mine on a 4" channel iron, slotted the bottom holes, still had to tweak hard to get the spindle running within .010"
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 06/26/02 17:44:22 GMT

Thanks for the replies. Does anybody know where I can find educational materials on fence-railing construction? Thanks
   - kevin - Wednesday, 06/26/02 18:24:23 GMT

Gas welding aluminum...has anyone else looked at www.tinmantech.com? I have no knowledge other than having seen their ad in a magazine, visited the website and thought it was interesting. Thought about ordering a video or two, but not real seriously. I think I may have seen their display at an airshow - back before I was interested in doing anything beyond the simple cutting and brazing mild steel...

   Steve A - Wednesday, 06/26/02 18:51:30 GMT


What is the recommended material for fireplace screens? McMaster Carr has quite a number of versions of expanded steel, and I was looking for a recommendation on opening size and thickness.


   Jim - Wednesday, 06/26/02 19:54:18 GMT

Steve, if you look at their Q&A they are talking about welding aluminium sheet metal and thin stock. If you are interested in sheet metal welding and forming it is a very good site. I suspect their videos are worth while on the subject. Lots of good info on English Wheels. I should have a link to them. .

I used to do some auto body work but not this class. We hammered close and then used lots of bondo. .

I did notice the "Tin man" says the same thing about the miracle low temperature aluminium "welding" rods sold on TV and other places. Except he was a little nicer about it than I am. They are a zinc alloy brazing rod and the joint is NOT welded. It is brazed or soldered (not welded or braze welded).
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/26/02 20:25:21 GMT

I need to figure out how to bend 1 1/2 x 1/4" flat bar the hard way. We are experienced metal fabricators and I want to try to build a spiral stair case hand rail. Want to bend a 5 1/2" diameter helix.


   - Rustin - Wednesday, 06/26/02 21:19:05 GMT

Re: sandblasting/sandblasters. the smaller siphon feed units do an OK, although slow, job on small work. If you are cleaning anything over a few square feet definately consider a pressure feed unit. TIP Tools & Equiptment www.tptools.com sells light commercial units at reasonable cost. Be sure your compressor can supply approx 15 CFM @ 80 psi. As far as surface finish goes that is controllable with grit (sand) grade. Four 0000 sand will leave a surface that will nicely take paint. Definately blast outside and do wear both a blast hood and a GOOD particle filter mask. When I built my shop I put an air chuck through an outside wall just for sand blasting and rough paint spraying. One of the best things I did......Bob.
   bbeck - Wednesday, 06/26/02 22:17:44 GMT

Happy Birthday to the Guru!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 06/26/02 22:47:15 GMT

RE: Liability. It is a regretable situation that in America, we graduate 10 lawyers for every engineer. Most safty warnings are intended to limit the sellers liability not prevent your early demise. When you can collect millions of dollars by dumping hot coffee on your crotch, the concept of "right vs wrong" has become blurred. I live in Texas, one of the most independant-minded states I have ever inhabited. I doubt if Crocket, Bowie, and the rest of them checked out the warranty on the hinges on the back door to the Alamo before they signed up. Make no mistakes about what I meant about safety. It just makes sense to try to prevent needless suffering. It's just that I hate to see innocent, even if somewhat stupid, people suffer.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/26/02 23:39:21 GMT

RE: Sandblaster. Oops, TIP Tools no longer sells pressure sand blasters. The line is now sold direct by the manufacturer, Truman's Inc. 888-533-2693. They are excellant units...Bob.
   bbeck - Wednesday, 06/26/02 23:57:57 GMT

I have seen stock advertise with a tree bark or a vine type look. Where can I find info on how to do these types of techniques?
   chris - Thursday, 06/27/02 02:16:06 GMT

This is going to seem terribly vague but I need a bit of guidance. I am haveing a bit of a "changing horses in mid-stream" type of dilemma. Until recently I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career and I chose some things that weren't right for me. Now I feel like I want to do something with metalworking, fabricating, engineering, metalurgy, smithing all rolled into one. Something where I can use my analytical and troubleshooting abilities, where I have the freedom to think of solutions and the resources to apply them. I need a job where others rely on me for a specialized skill and where I am not just another monkey in an assembly line (been that for too long, no offense to monkeys, apes, orangutangs or persons in the employ of manual labor driven assembly operations). Now, I think the name for this wonder-job is Engineer. Say it with me kids...En-gi-neer!! Hooray. Problem is I am not a good math student. I am a fast learner and have an eye for whats square and level so I think I would be a good candidate after learning the requisite math. If not there is always the new Outback that is opening up around here. Any ideas as to where I should look to get an idea of what jobs are available like that?
Please help,
Drowning in monkey-poo
   Rooster - Thursday, 06/27/02 02:36:07 GMT

Happy Birthday Mr Guru.. Have a good one...
   Barney - Thursday, 06/27/02 02:40:02 GMT

Happy Birthday Guru. May you live to a ripe old age.
   chris - Thursday, 06/27/02 03:57:12 GMT

Happy birthday, Guru! :)
   Bryan - Thursday, 06/27/02 05:40:38 GMT

Tree Bark: Chris, First you find a petrified tree. . .

OK, serious. See the Kayne and Son catalog (website). They have a bunch of texturing dies made by Grant (OffCenter Tools). Yeah, your going to need a power hammer.

You can also make your own dies. Use a hard rod to weld tracks in a round die (preferably the top and bottom 90° only. Grind off the crown of the bead and viola' you have bark texture. But Grant has nice proven dies including some for bamboo. Check it out.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 06:30:29 GMT

Rooster, How about "Self Employed Person in Archaic Profession" (blacksmith). Has all the challanges you listed plus the frustration of being a starving artist. But it make life an adventure.

Few engineers get to do it all. We live in an age of specialists. Most get pigeon holed in the one thing they seem to be proficient at. And that often means being locked in a small cubical until retirement.

Field engineers are the closest to what you are looking for. But this usualy means constant travel and working in high pressure environments. The nuclear industry LOVES a field service whore. . ah ENGINEER. . Anyone willing to spend 99% of their life on the road poking around in nuclear reactors (or the miles of associated pipes) has job security. Many of these folks are high paid plumbers or mechanics with engineering degrees.

Engineering courses are very heavy on math (lots of Calculus, statistics. . .). I'm fairly good at math because I USE it, both for design projects as well as computer programming (see link to Mass3j above). But I've never known enough math to pass engineering courses. And I am a lousy student. If the instructor couldn't show a practical application then I'd be snoozing or doodling. . . I confronted a geometry teacher by refusing to "go backward" after years of having "new math" books with current copyright dates to using a 1934 geometry text. I think that if she had of countered with "Its not 1934 math, its Euclid's Elements from 300 BC math! I would have had some respect for her. . I never knew a math teacher that knew WHY we used 360 degrees in a circle.

The odd thing is that when I did field service work I often ended up doing most of the "need it now" calculations when I was surrounded by folks who managed to pass those courses but were never confident enough to apply what they supposedly learned. I spent a few extra years in advanced "new math" algebra courses but never got into functions or calculus. However, being able to APPLY simple algebra to reducing and rearranging formulae is the key to being able to handle the higher math. Even though I didn't have the higher math in school the extra depth in algebra has been a life long advantage. But it wouldn't get me past examins in higher math. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 07:21:07 GMT

Sirs, Could you tell me the most practical way to case harden a set of dies. I just completed a set for my little "blacksmith's helper". I have been told that that "soaking" the part in a carbon rich compound at the transformation stage will produce the best results. If this is done in the forge, what compound should I use? What should I use for the container and does it have to be sealed tite. Thank you in advance for any info!
   Keith - Thursday, 06/27/02 07:52:58 GMT

Do you know of any blacksmiths/bladesmiths in the area of Hill AFB in Utah. It is located about 10 min from Ogden Utah. I would like to continue in the craft after taking a beginning course here in keflavik Iceland with a Jacob Beimler. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

SSgt Chris Huntsinger
   chris huntsinger - Thursday, 06/27/02 07:59:27 GMT

Rooster, I am a metallurgical engineer who is also a lousy mathematician. I passed my requisite calculus courses but just barely. Curiously enough, I have not used Calculus since I graduated 30 years ago! Algebra is a far more useful tool if you are working in a practical field. I work in a steel mill and get involved in just about everything you can do to steel: melting, casting, rolling, welding, heat treating, threading, coating, testing, inspecting, etc. This is not theoretical stuff, but "get me an answer now before the next slab drops out of the furnace" type stuff. In-your-head, on-our-feet, up-to-your-butt-in-alligators work. It is fascinating work and I would encourage you to check it out if this is where your interest lies. If you would like the names of some colleges that offer degrees in Metallurgy, leave a post here with your e-mail and will send it to you.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/27/02 12:35:27 GMT

Hi There

I've had a bit of a look through the archives trying to find links to plans for building a tredle hammer.

I've been making amour for a few years now but find that my arm's not able to keep up with the amount of dishing I'd like to be doing.

I figure a tredle hammer of some sort would be the solution to my problem.

I can weld (arc and oxy) and have enough electrical experience to wire up a motor.

Can you guys point me in the right direction.

Much appreciated.

Gerard Tops

P.S. I live in Australia, just so's you know where I'm comming from.

Thanks Again

   Gerard Tops - Thursday, 06/27/02 13:57:28 GMT

Dies & Case Hardening: Keith,

1) Most dies and tools that are pounded on need to be some type of hardenable steel, not just have a thin case hardening. A surface case will just crack and cause problems.

2) Case hardening depends on the type of steel. Normally alloy steels do not take case hardening well. You need to know the type of steel you used and check to see if it is case hardenable. Mild steel is case hardenable.

3) Industry case hardens in ammonia atmospheres or salt pots. For small items a product called "Kasenit" is used. The old Kasinit had potassium cynaide in it (thats what the "K" stands for) and was very toxic. The new product does not.

4) Time held at temperature is critical. The typical flame applied Kasinit job creates a surface less than a thousandths of an inch thick. All it does is produce a scratch resistant surface. Maximum depth of about .032# (.8mm) takes 4 hours.

See our FAQ on case hardening.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 14:00:43 GMT

Happy Birthday Guru! May the fires continue to burn bright.
   Escher - Thursday, 06/27/02 14:45:36 GMT

on anvilfire there are various and sundry pages that can help you with most metal working items, including chapters.
But to make it easier here is a link to a chapter (ABANA) in Utah.
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/27/02 14:53:41 GMT

Armor Gerard, I suspect that doing that type of work on a treadle hammer will rapidly wear out your knees.

For sheet metal work they make three types of machine adaptable to armor. One is a special deep throat small power hammer (see Peddingell hammers, on our Power hammer Page), the other is an English Wheel (see www.tinmantech.com).

The English wheel can be manual or powered. They are used on sheet as thin as aircraft body work and were commonly used to produce auto body parts in the early days. But they have also been adapted to heavy plate by custom boat builders. I do not know if anyone has adopted one to armor work but I think it would work well for many (not all) tasks.

The small mechanical hammers like the Peddingell are being replaced by air hammers. A "C" frame is constructed and a socket or sleeve provided for a standard air hammer. These are available from little palm held models to big two handed models. See our ABANA 2000 News coverage (Vol. 21, page 9, figures 8-10). To adjust the force weights are added to the floating hammer. A pretty slick design and all the complicated stuff is in the commercial hammer.

Then. . there is an industrial machine used in large heavy production called a "Pullmax". These do the same except are hydraulic and do not hit, these squeeze very hard repeatedly. The HUGE advantage is that they are very quiet. I've seen both hot and cold work done on these. Hot you can work heavy plate (3/16" or 5mm). Some had throat depths of five feet.

ABANA and Jere Kirkpatrick (Valley Forge and Welding) sell plans for treadle hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 15:40:04 GMT

The Camp Fenby schedule is firming up as more instructors report in. Lots of forging and a number of visiting smiths, not to mention other crafts and all sorts of wonderful information on Vikings and longships from our members who will be back from the training voyages in Denmark.

Latest updates (site under construction but improving on an hourly basis):

Previous accounts of Camp Fenby can be found on the Anvilfire News.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/27/02 15:55:33 GMT

2 questions

Has anyone see the grill Dr. Lee is standing in front of on the Larry King Show?

Does any one have any helpful hints on making quatrefoils.
Do we have a iForge on the subject. How's the forth weld made?

   L. Sundstrom - Thursday, 06/27/02 16:21:16 GMT

Casting Experiment. . . :) Yahoo Groups???

Who's Larry King? :) . . Actually, without cable all I get is about 1-1/2 of the three networks. . sometime. The joys of living in the boonies.

Quatrefoils are generaly collared. Those surrounding a vertical bar have six welds or four collars, those in a cross have 8 welds. . As a loose item the fourth weld should be the easiest and the first and second hardest. . . I'm not sure what you are making. .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 16:39:49 GMT

Guru, Do the touchmarks applied to works of art (or anything else) offer copyright protection? Is there any legal recourse if someone begins to counterfeit a touchmark?
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/27/02 16:42:16 GMT

I too am a metallurgical engineer, although I am at the begining of my career-just had my one year anviersary with my first employer out of college. I am currently in a job like the one quenchcrack desribed-lots of data analysis and desk time. I don't use any of the math I had to learn is school in this job, although a few of my cooworkers with PhDs may. There is indeed a huge variety of things to do in engineering and I firmly believe that metallurgy is one of the most interesting fields to get into. When it comes to engineering, the more experiernces you have, the better off you will be. I am in 2 yr training program that includes time at a reaserch facility, time in a production met lab, time in manufacturing plants, and possibly time in the steel mill. I am looking forward to these different things, but the time spent at the research center is valuable in its own right.

You have what sounds like my dream job:) I'd been interested in knowing where you work if you don't mind sharing offline. It may be near me-Canton OH.
   Patrick - Thursday, 06/27/02 17:05:06 GMT

Touchmarks Basicly no. However, copyright DOES apply to sculpture. You would have to get a trademark on your touchmark to give it legal weight in the U.S.

Engineering Math: I learned most of mine "on the job" as well as doing my computer programming (self taught). Many concepts in calculus make little sense until you start writing computer programs and then summation has real useful meaning. Matrix math is extremely powerful but I do not fully understand it. I HAVE hacked other folks matrix math computer code for the cubic spline to create some nifty curve generation routines. . . But I don't have that comfortable inate sense of why it works. Knowing why always gives me a comfortable feeling.

Most of my current math usage comes from MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK. The various trig methods and solutions of triangles are easy to look up there. . One of the reasons everyone should have a copy. However, the things I don't like are formulae that are reduced algebraicly so far from their basis that the how and why are impossible to understand. Many engineering forumlae are this way. They are fast but don't teach much.

While writing mass properties routines for polygons I eventualy found small common blocks of code that applied to all shapes and could be used interchangably. The code is longer per item but universal for all. Math for computer programming has different needs than for other frames of reference.

What I missed in math classes was the history and hows and whys like you learned in science. 360 degrees being based on a faulty calendar, religion and base 60 makes sense and is something that answers those nagging "whys ?". Our method of marking time comes from those same ancient Summerians.

One of the nifty rules I missed in geometry class is the law of sines. With good algebraic skills you can derive pages of formulae (such as those I use from MACHINERY'S).

sine(a)/a = sine(b)/b = sine(c)/c

Another that is rarely mentioned is that the Pathagoreum formula for right triangles can also be applied to three dimensional space (probably works with the fourth dimension, time too. . .).

A = SQR(x2 + y2 + z2)

This is a handy one for blacksmiths that need to know the diagonal distance in a three dimensional layout. I use it to calculate the center of gravity of a colection of objects.

Now. . . The thing about this kind of math is that it can be taught to elementary school students who are just learning multiplication. Make it intresting so they know there is an application and the will WANT to learn more. If you can teach 7-8 year olds chess (I have, to a whole classroom), you could teach algebra to the same students. It is much easier when they (we) are this age.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 17:24:06 GMT

Larry King is a CNN talk show host. Dr. Lee is a Forensnic Scientist he interveiws pretty often and lately he has been standing in front of a very nice window grill. It is composed of joined quatrefoils. The quatrefoils I am asking about look like four leaf clovers. there are four welds holding the inward pointing joints together. There is often further detail to these ends which require really good forge welds. The fourth weld occurs inside the clover. These elements are the joined together to make a grill. I think they are very difficult to make and was wondering if anyone has done enough of them to get comfortable making them and could share some of their insights.
Sorry if I am using the wrong term for these things.
   L. Sundstrom - Thursday, 06/27/02 17:37:03 GMT

Patrick, Unless I miss my guess, you work for a little outfit call TIMKEN. Marvelous place to work, I have visited the mill many times. Great people, very professional. I am in the rolling hills of East Texas, Lone Star to be exact. We make oil country tubulars and DOM tube. Learn all you can where you are, there are too few companies that can afford to hire new grads and actually give them time to learn. Most are just thrown into the fire and get hammered cold!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/27/02 18:12:27 GMT

Yes, the Pythagorean theorem applies in four dimensions, and the book implies that it goes on up as high as you'd like to theoretically go. "The book" is a Dover reprint of something...can't remember the title right now. I'm in kind of a mathematical renaissance, 15 years out of college, where I'm learning all kinds of interesting things and actually using quite a bit of it, both on the job and home projects. I've always read a little physics for fun, but now it's a little more fun, and I'm reading math too. Linear algebra (matrices) coming up next. I managed to get through school without that, and have always kind of missed it. Lest anyone complain too much about the geekiness, I also weld, cut, pound metal, work wood, put up buildings... I think school was profitable and interesting for me because I had enough experiences to put the math and science in some sort of context. The context is sorely lacking in much of academia.

And a strong second for the importance of algebra. All the "higher" stuff I've ever seen is still lots of algebra. When you use calculus, it's one step of integration, for example, surrounded by volumes of algebra to first make the integration as easy as possible and then reduce the answer to a meaningful form.

That setting up the problem is very important. Story problems are critical but much maligned. Any computer can be taught to work pages and pages of prearranged problems. The intelligence is in picking out the meaningful information from a real-world statement of a problem so you can express it mathematically and find the answer. Even better to gain enough experience to know the answer without grinding out the math.

Seems like many of the books I learned from had little historical vignettes. We never covered them in class, but I sure had a lot of fun reading those little sidebars to learn the history.

Hope this wasn't too much too far afield.

   Steve A - Thursday, 06/27/02 18:18:02 GMT


Happ Birthday!

What is the recommended material for fireplace screens? McMaster Carr has quite a number of versions of expanded steel, and I was looking for a recommendation on opening size and thickness.

   Jim - Thursday, 06/27/02 19:18:39 GMT

Beche Air hammer.

Guru, thanks for the advice. If a L4 weighs 2500 then the L5 will weigh 2500/150x200 = 3333kgs and the anvil will weigh 1850/150x200 = 2466kgs? The weight of the hammer isn't the problem, I need to start searching for a big enough piece for the anvil! Somewhere I have a steel density figure on a chart, will look it up to see how many cu.m I need to find!

And a happy birthday from South Africa to you!
   Tiaan - Thursday, 06/27/02 19:44:27 GMT

Fire Screens: Jim, Sorry I missed your question earlier. I don't have a real good answer for this one. I have used 3/8" x 3/16" (diamond) flat for fire screens. I special ordered a bunch early on and still have most of it. . . somewhere. You can use a finer woven wire with about 1/8" openings. Note that the screen is sold by pitch and wire size. You can have ZERO opening if the wire is too big for the pitch. The opening equals the pitch minus one wire diameter.

I have poked around looking for a "standard" for fire screen material but have had no luck.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 19:56:20 GMT

Anvil: Tiaan, see Mass3j. I haven't setup the "mass known" routine yet but you can itterate from whats there. My mass known routine takes mass in pounds grams or kilograms, lists materials to select, then asks for a diameter or length. It then returns the other dimension as well as volume and the dimensions of a cube and sphere the same volume.

OR you can do the same by
  1. calculate the volume needed (mass/density)
  2. Calculate the area of a round that will fit in the frame. (PIr^2)
  3. divide the volume by the area and the result is length needed. (V/A)
The density of carbon steel is 7.85 gcm3 or .2835 lb/cuin. L5 anvil block = 3000kg (6614#). But that is only a 10:1 anvil/tup ratio. 15:1 is common and considered most efficient and 20:1 is heavy duty and transmits the least vibration.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/27/02 20:14:46 GMT

I am looking at starting a website where i will be selling lighting fixtures. I was wondering if anyone who has been through it could could give me some helpful hints. I have'nt the first clue on where to begin.
   Diablo Forge - Thursday, 06/27/02 22:45:24 GMT

A mathematician and a blacksmith were asked to participate in an experiment. They were placed against the wall in a room and on the opposite side of the room was a beautiful young lady. They were told they could kiss the young lady by just crossing the room. The only condition was that they had to move 1/2 way across the room and stop. Then move 1/2 of the remaining distance and stop and so forth. The mathematician threw up his hands and left, saying it was theoretically impossible to ever completely cross the room. The blacksmith began immediately, stating simply that he could get close enough.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/27/02 23:17:36 GMT

I am thinking about making a web page to sell my ironwork for garden and home. I would appreciate any advice as to how, what and where to go about getting on the web. What are the pros and cons? Are there websites that will sell one's wares for them? Any help or places to find help would be appreciated. Thanks, Betsy
   Betsy - Friday, 06/28/02 02:02:54 GMT

keith, curious. what type of tool steel did you use to make the dies for the "smithing magician/helper"? was the stock you purchased annealed? did you heat treat it yourself? have you tried them out yet?? appreciate you sharing your experience....
   - rugg - Friday, 06/28/02 02:28:23 GMT

Website: Diablo Forge, Betsy,

I've been intending to write an article on websites for craftspeople for a long time and haven't done it. This will be just some of the basics dos and don'ts. First let me tell you that I review and look at all the web sites on our link lists and our web-rings and I am also the Blacksmithing Editor for the DMOZ directory. I see a LOT of web sites! Most are pretty bad. AND I also know what it is like to start at the amature level of web developement and now do professional web development for other people.
  • Always register your own URL.

  • NEVER use free hosting with pop-ups or banners

  • NEVER "do-it-yourself"

  • Never use an amature web developer. There is more going on behind what you see that what is visible. Things that get your site properly indexed or that can get your site flushed down the digital toilet.

  • Be sure to support as many browsers as possible. This is complicated. Most editors only create Microsoft IE compatible web sites and say screw the rest of the world. Can you afford to raise your middle finger to possible customers?? If your page crashes Netscape 4.0 when I come visiting you will not get a link from ME or via DMOZ.

  • NEVER use Microsoft FrontPage to develope a web site (same reason as above) PLUS it makes code that is impossible to maintain. If it is all your web developer uses get someone else.

  • Always use professional photographs of your work.

  • Don't forget your name address and phone number!

  • NEVER use fancy animated Flash splash pages. It wastes everyones time, sucks your pocketbook dry and does nothing except annoy website reviewers such as myself.

  • Same goes for sound files.

  • Beautiful and artistic is good only if it works the same in multiple browsers and does not take too long to load. Clear your cache and load your website from scratch. If folks are waiting for over 10 seconds to see something with a 56K modem running 30K bps then they are not going to wait.

  • Tell any web developer that your site MUST be tested under the most common older browsers (back to at least 4.0 in IE and NS) or you will not pay. This includes Javascript, JAVA and CSS, not just the HTML.

  • Always be sure images are sized the same as they display on the web.

  • NEVER use "Link Exchange" or cover your pages with off-site icons in the hope of getting traffic.

  • Never have anyone submit your site to "hundreds of thousands" of search engines. There are only a handful that count. The rest are SPAM engines that sell YOUR e-mail address and or harvest and addresses from your web-site.

  • It takes up to a year to get properly indexed on the search engines. If you botch it the first time because you don't have the proper TITLEs and META tags with Keywords and Description, you may wait another 6 months (those things I said you don't see). AND botched META tags may stay in the search engines forever.

  • If you use a "Frames" page like anvilfire then there are very important things that must be done in regards to META tags and indexing. The "How-to"s and rights and wrongs are not in any book. Most web developers (Even the high dollar ones) don't have a clue. They expect you to hire a specialist to do this as part of your web promotion.

  • AND last but not least, your web pages should ALWAYS fit in a 640 pixel wide space and NEVER force horizontal scroll bars. If I have to pan over to see something on your over sized page, I am not going to look. Making pages oversized is techno snobbery and you will be hated for it. There ARE times to break this rule but they are far and few between. Announcing "this page is best viewed at 600x800" is saying "F-you" to busy clients that may be browsing the web in a reduced window even though they have a top of the line high res monitor. The same goes for "This page best viewed with IE".
Web sites do not advertise themselves. Search engines are only part of a web stratagy. Links on major sites help. You also need to advertise your URL in print, direct mail, put it on your business card, stationary, brocheurs. . . You have to advertise in the right magazines$$$$ (be sure your URL is in your ad). Having a web-site is not a cure-all to doing business and you may starve if you depend on it no matter how good your work is. It is one of many tools to help sell your work. Today there are thousands of blacksmiths sites and hundreds of millions of web-sites. Yours will be a needle in a haystack.

There are also tens of thousands of rip-off artists in the web business. They will promise you cheap web hosting or a low cost web-site and in the end you get nothing for your money. An amature web-mill generates a web page using a form and then hosts it on a virtual hosting system with no indexable URL where nobody in the world will ever find it. . . Meanwhile your name and address have been sold to SPAMMERs, telephone solicitors and junk mailers. . .

If you hear about IT (anything) via SPAM then it is bad, it is a rip off, the people behind the offer are theives. Not sometimes, ALL the time. Because of the anonymity of the web it has attracted every pediphile, thief, con artist and scammer on the planet. Many are in the business of crooked URL registration and web development including on-line shopping and credit cards.

Web development is not cheap. It starts with drop dead gorgeous professional photos of your work. If you don't already have these for your portfolio and other advertisement then you don't have any business getting a web site. The quality starts with the photos and no matter how good your web developer is they can't make gold out of caw dung. I've built several web-sites for folks that spent a LOT of money and what I usualy get is cow dung for photos. It is very difficult to build a site with bad source material.

You also need to write your own copy OR hire a copy writer. Your web developer should not have to read your mind. Writing copy for the web is different than for other media. Not only do you need to get your message across to the customer but the copy must be search engine friendly. It must have the key words in it that you want OR that your possible customer base will use to find you. Often these are NOT the words you want to use in your copy. SO, a tallented word smith is needed. People like graphics and photos and a pretty web site. But search engines do not see images they only see text and the words you feed them. So, copy for the web is different for the web, as it is different for print and different for audio. . . .

These words must also be in the right place on your web site. IF the first thing on your site is an image and the ALT tag says "Logo copyright Joes Studio", you will be indexed under logo, copyright, joe, studio. If the first thing on your frames NOFRAMEs code is "Whoops! Sorry this website requires frames." then you will be indexed under "whoops, sorry, website". And THAT is what you have, a sorry web-site. Whoops. . . There are many $10,000 and up commercial sites out there that have these mistakes. But they can afford these screw-ups when they are going to flood radio, TV and print with their advertising AND their URL. . . But if you can't afford that, then the pages MUST be right and you must be willing to wait. . .

I think every artist and craftsperson should have a web site. But remember that it is a portfolio that people used to seeing nothing but the best are going to compare it to. There are some wonderful, drop dead gorgeous web sites out there. But the majority are cow pies or road kill on the information highway.

We host web sites on our server for reasonable rates and can register URLs for you. I also develop web sites but I admit to NOT being graphicly creative. But I DO know how the technical behind the scenes stuff should work. I also know how web indexing and getting found on the web works. Few developers do. Let me know if I can help. But I cannot afford to work for free. I already do too much of that. Six years web experiance on top of 10 years programming experiance have to be worth something. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 02:30:01 GMT

Doing it Yourself (Web dev):

Yep, I KNOW you are going to ignore my advise above no matter how dearly it cost me to learn it. You are a blacksmith and you are hard headed and DO EVERYTHING yourself. So a little help.
  • You will need a URL (web name). The shorter the better. Not all names are available and it takes time and imagination to come up with a good one.
  • Arrange for webspace (no banners or ads) and let the ISP register the URL in YOUR name. See our iForge.cc hosting page about some of this.
  • You will need FTP access and an FTP program. I use WS-FTP.
  • You MUST learn HTML. Using a WYSIWYG editor hides the code from you and you learn nothing.
  • WYSIWYG editors such as MS FrontPage also create horendous code. If you put your cursor on a tag and insert something else you end up with a broken tag and screwed up HTML. They also use formatting systems that NOBODY can hand edit so when you screw up you have to start from scratch.
  • I use an editor called Hippie98. It is very non-technical and does a good job. But you MUST learn HTML
  • As an add-on to Hippie you can get CSE HTML Validator. DO IT and use it often. Search engines "score" pages on HTML mistakes. If you have enough mistakes you may get dropped from the index. See our ABANA-Chapter.com "Webmaster Welcome" for more info.
  • Dreamweaver is a very good HTML editor but it is VERY technical and has a LONG learning curve. Its too much for me.
  • TEST your pages in multiple browsers. This MUST be done. See the reasons in the post above.
  • Digital photos generally work better on the web than those scanned from prints. Taking good photos is an art and takes time and preparation as well as good equipment. Some digital cameras use too much compression on images and they cannot be fixed.
  • Learning how to edit images is a big part of creating a web page. Every image you see on these pages has anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours work in them. That does not include graphics created from scratch. Top end image editors have a long difficult learning curve. Images processed for the web are different than for other places. See the anvilfire NEWS volume 26, page 11, bottom, for an example of editing photos for the web with explaination.
  • Unless you have a VERY good monitor with good color balance you are wasting your time trying to edit and adjust photos.
  • Web images are never "high-res". A 640x480 image is HUGE on the web. Most images are much smaller and MUST be resized for the web. Not resizing them wastes the users time waiting for them to load.
  • Web images always use some type of compression so they load faster. Image editors usualy have settings for the amount of compression. 75-80% is good and does not effect the visual quality of the image. Properly processed images can be 50% smaller than those that are not.
  • Commercial web-sites and most web developers generaly hire computer graphic artists to create graphics and edit images. It IS an art.
  • Besides a digital camera you will need a scanner. Generaly the lowest resolution cheapest scanner you can get is good enough for the web. However, you MUST learn to use the software as well as understand DPI vs screen resolution and how to adjust lighting contrast and color balance. Where a digital camera image can be fixed, scanned prints can rarely be fixed. The information to adjust the photo was in the NEGATIVE and is not in the print. Use a good professional developer to handle film. I prefer Kodak for all color film and I prefer to make my own B&W prints (yes, I can do THAT too . . .).

That is a start. . . You will need several pieces of hardware and software as well as learning to use them ALL. And THAT is the important part. After doing this full time 12 hours a day for 5 years I am still learning a LOT about the simple tools I use. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 04:00:19 GMT

The steel sales place that I deal with did not have a good tool steel in the size I wanted, so I went back to the shop and started cutting up some mild steel plate 3/4" thick. I wanted to make a die that will put a long taper 1/4" sq rod ends to a point. This is not an easy shape to "hot work" or press into two blocks of steel with out power hammer or press. I have quite a bit of experience with inleting wood from being a licensed gunsmith for 8 years, so I grabed my trusty dremmel tool, reshaped a small grinding stone bit, and went to work on the little blocks of steel. Thay came out nicer than I thought they would. I have not tried them out yet. I will try them just enough to make small adjustments, but I would like to some how case harden them before putting them through the paces. If you would like photos of these little dies, I would be happy to email some to you.
   Keith - Friday, 06/28/02 06:09:21 GMT

If enyone is interested, I just started my "shop" web site and found a developer that is great to work with. As of last Wednesday It's up and running I have alot of work to do yet, but my developer is showing me how to build and maintain my site, with a shopping cart system and all. It is alot easier than I thought it would be. I hope I am not over stepping the bounds here, but if you would like to stop by "my place" it WAS douglasforge.com (now with link trap)
   Keith - Friday, 06/28/02 06:27:34 GMT

Absolutely GREAT info on websites! Thanks!
   Keith - Friday, 06/28/02 06:45:44 GMT

The smithing magician is a hot work tool and mild steel will get by pretty well...you might " superquench" it to add effective die life.....( die/life, Hmmm)
oopsie, ummm,Keith...my guess is that you will have to draw those long tapers and that your dies won't do it...but with practice you can get pretty fast. With stock that small it is possible to use the heat-of-impact to maintain forging temperature sufficient to do those tapers in just a couple of heats..unless the tips have to be really tiny. 1/4" is a convenient size to do by hand...even dinky forging is some work though...but you knew that.
   - Pete F - Friday, 06/28/02 08:24:19 GMT

Pete F,
Thanks for the input...die/life, ummm... I think.;) Most of the work I do now is with small stock, until I get a power hammer. The bigger stuff is just to hard on the joints.
   Keith - Friday, 06/28/02 09:07:42 GMT

I have been an artist blacksmith for about 8 years in New Zealand and I do it as a hobby. I would like to know how to make coke for my forge.I am interested in making coke because coal gives off to much smoke and is too hard to get a consistant heat.
   Alf - Friday, 06/28/02 11:04:03 GMT

Oh, and a felicitous enjoyment of your natal anniversary just 1/14th of a fortnight past.

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/28/02 13:08:34 GMT

Web Site NO-NO's and Anti-SPAM

I forgot to mention font useage. Fonts are local to individual machines. Every user has a different collection. I have all the standard Windows98 fonts plus about 300 others. Keith selected fonts were not in my collection so I don't see his page the he does. If you want to use fancy fonts for titles you must convert to a graphic. If the title is important text it can be reflected in an ALT tag (something every image should have). This is a common amature mistake.

NOTE: Different versions of Windirt have different font collections. Not too long ago I did a "Windows update" trying to get needed drivers for a video application. The MS site forced more fonts onto my system than it could support and crashed to font system. This meant I could not see ANY text! To recover I had to use a third party font collection editor working in the blind and manualy edit out the extra fonts guessing at font names I did not recognize. . . . This was the first and LAST time I every use Microsoft's on-line updating system. . .

You can also save yourself SPAM grief by converting your "mailto:" links to a Javascript that hides your e-mail address from spam harvesters. OR to a form that sends you mail. Formmail CGI programs vary but can be edited such that your e-mail address is not in the HTML. To use forms you will need to ask your ISP to setup the CGI OR have CGI access and the skills to install and edit the CGI Perl programs.

Do this from the first and you will be VERY glad you did. We are now doing this retroactively and it is a HUGE job. It won't help MY situation much because I am already on dozens of SPAM lists distributed on CD's Internationaly. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 15:35:45 GMT

Dies to make tapers on 1/4" stock???? This is a one heat job that is one of the most pleasurable forging jobs there is. If it is hurting you then you are using too big a hammer. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 15:37:49 GMT

Armour; I've had friends using home built english wheels for making armour for over twenty years (first one I saw was in '78 or '79) They're great for large items like breast plates but I haven't seen any good for small deep dishes like elbow cops.

I have seen the air "hammers" adapted for armour work and was very impressed with speed and smoothness of their work. Most of armourwork is not heavy hitting as much as repetition, the treadle hammer has too long a cycle time for that and air hammer at 120 beats a minute works better.

QuenchCrack; at my school the mathematicians knew that that infinite sum converged to 1; it was the philosphers who were clueless and the engineers didn't care as they knew they could get close enough. (In my numerical methods CS class we had some people who had trouble internalizing that we didn't really care *what* the "true" answer was as long as we could get as close to it as we needed...)

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 06/28/02 15:47:12 GMT

COKE and SMOKE: Hmmmm, sounds like. . .

Alf, To make coke the coal is cooked to drive off the volatiles, sort of like making charcoal. The volatiles are what makes the smoke.

In commercial coking ovens the volatiles are captured, cooled and used to produce a variety of products including coal oil, coal tar and producer gas all of which can be further proccesed into useful chemical products. Otherwise all this goes into the air.

It is possible to burn off much of this to reduce the smoke but it requires heating and possibly adding fuel gas to the mix to assure it combusts cleanly. However there is also water in the mix that hampers this and produces an acid steam as part of the "smoke".

If smoke is a problem you need to convert to charcoal or propane. Charcoal making is smoky but most folks don't complain about a little wood smoke.
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 15:49:34 GMT

We hot forge forging quality brass(Cu 59%, Pb1.8% and remaining Zn). The hot forged microstructre would resemble that of annealed microstructure or would it be fine grained one as any other forged structure ?

For further operations should such hot forged component be annealed again ?
Thank you
   S.R.Srinivasan - Friday, 06/28/02 16:49:50 GMT

Thomas, converged upon asymtotically but never meeting? That old joke is very pliable and can be reconfigured to an endless variety of subjects depending on the context. The best professor I had in college was a practicing engineer (and a Ph.D) for the TVA. He reduced all engineering problem solving to 2 questions: What do I need and what do I have? I have remembered that, along with the aforementioned joke, which he told us, for 30 years. However, I did enjoy the parachute/gas forge joke! After a few years, the theory seems to evaporate, leaving a distilate of the really practical stuff that you use all the time. Every now and then, something from the past bubbles up like a methane in a tar pit and you wonder "did I just make that up or was that the result of a long unused synaps firing out of boredom? For an example of this phenomenon, see my recent treatise on atomic bonding posted several days ago....methane gas in a tar pit....
   quenchcrack - Friday, 06/28/02 17:13:23 GMT

Web Page Width

Many of you might think I break the 640 pixel width rule. But I do not except when little extras creep in like the addition of a wider than normal menu item. These I try to correct ASAP. We DO have a problem with the International Glossary tables but I know about it and plan to fix it. . . just haven't figured out how.

Some of our pages are fixed width like our news pages. Others such as our forums use dynamic resizing. When viewed at 640 wide everything moves in. In a larger window the frameset expands and the table containing the forum text widens to fit. This is the high-tech end of HTML design and it does not always make the nicest looking pages. It is a compromise. HOWEVER, it supports the greatest number of users in a way most web developers do not.

Some HTML elements do not resize. The input boxes for our forums have the width set by columns of characters and is not scalable. This is a very odd thing in HTML and produces different results in various browsers AND changes if the user has a non-default font setup in their browser. But it is one of the many frustrating limits in HTML.

Non-scalability and supporting the 640 pixel width is the reason the input box on the guru page is so narrow. This page also supports the 480 height of a 640 x 480 monitor. It also does that dynamicaly as well.

The one page I have developed that breaks the 640 rule is our Mass3j calculator. It needs an 800 width to display properly. HOWEVER, it uses dynamic resizing so that it looks right at almost any width greater OR smaller than the startup 800 width. It also has a VERY unusual feature of dynamicaly resizing the the banner graphic. When the Mass3j window is resized smaller than normal the banner shrinks in width and remains centered. When enlarged the banner expands to a maximum of its standard width. This uses some very sophisticated undocumented HTML and no Javascript. It works in both Netscape and IE (all versions I have tested in).

Double Tagging: Is used to support more than one browser and is well know by the best web developers and ignored by the "I love Microsnot" crowd. Simple commands like border width are different in Netscape and IE as well as having slightly different results.

Like interchangable fonts (they are also double tagged) there is no list that I can find that lists the items that need double tagging. It is one you learn from experiance. And the list grows as the HTML standard changes and new versions of browsers appear. Some code validators such as CSE HTML Validator point out possible needed double tags.

There are some very good on-line HTML and Javascript tutorials. I still occasionaly refer to them. See the "Docs" page on our much neglected i.Forge.cc web hosting page for a list of sites and tools.

   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 17:17:01 GMT

Metal Guru!

Have you found time to look into my question that I posted earlier this week? (about forge designs) If not then there is no rush I just wanted to check that you got it!!

Cheers and beers!!

   Pete (England!) - Friday, 06/28/02 21:04:44 GMT

Thanks for that. Is it possible to construct a coke maker from an old steel drum.Or would it have to be a brick oven?Do you know of a method for me to use in my backyard?
   Alf - Friday, 06/28/02 22:53:51 GMT


(Hello fellow Englishman!) I don't know how "professional" you want your forge, but I got somewhat discouraged when reading about large brick-built monsters - way beyond my space, means, spare-time etc.

However, when I read "The Complete Modern Blacksmith" (Weygers), I realised that I could build a forge from junk.

My forge is a sheet metal box, with a sturdy pipe running the length of it. The pipe has holes drilled along the top
to act as a tuyere. One end is blocked up, you can use a hairdryer, etc to supply the air at the other. The box is cut away in a "V" at both ends, so you can get long bars
in, and to prevent the sheet metal burning up, it is filled with a clay/sand mix. I burn charcoal in it.

It is a version of Tim Lively's "Washtub Forge" (www.livelyknives.com I think). Take a look there, it'll make more sense than my ramblings. (It's been a long day!)

Why don't you knock yourself one of these (or similar) together whilst planning something more sophisticated? That way you can get going in a weekend.


   minglis - Friday, 06/28/02 23:23:50 GMT

Alf, MAKING COKE MAKES SMOKE! The volatiles ARE SMOKE. More than when you burn the coal. That was the point of my post. What are you going to do with the smoke?????

Industry pumps it, condenses it, fractures it. . . and uses it. You can't do that on a low tech buget.
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 23:29:25 GMT

Pete, sorry I didn't get back to you. There are forges and their are forges. I don't like the little holes in the pipe type. Spreads the fire out too much and clogs too easily.

A common table top forge is just a steel table type bench made of steel plate 1/4" (7mm) thick and two feet by three feet with a hole about 1/3 from the end and a tuyere like our brake drum forge. A 1" (25mm) edge will help keep the coal from falling off. Make the legs of pipe, angle, channel, tube. . anything you want.

A little fancier and more expensive is the same forge with a hole torched in the plate to fit a commercial bottom blown fire pot and tuyere. Drill holes in both to suit.

Both the above can use the side draft hood I show on our plans page.

In Britian side draft water cooled forges are common and tuyere parts are still sold including hand crank blowers. Forge dimensions will come with the tuyere and plans for a few pounds more.

Forge design depends somewhat on the fuel used. I know coal breeze is commonly used in Britian and I've never known anyone here to use it. Some folks burn coke and anthracite which along with charcoal take a deep fire bed. These fuels will not work with the table top forge and will not perform as good a bituminous coal in the comercial fire pot. Neither is acceptable for burning breeze as far as I know.

So, having a "forge plan" is more difficult than it seems. I could have a set of plans that would suit most American smiths that burn high grade bituminous coal, but they might not be suitable to you.

The BEST thing to do is visit other local shops and see what they are using and ask about availability of fuel. If you get there early in the AM before they start their fire you may see the clean forge and understand how it is built.

Eventualy we will have plans for the various fuels mentioned. Or a general article. But one plan doesn't suit all.
   - guru - Friday, 06/28/02 23:48:15 GMT

guru, easy one: i have easy access locally to 1018 CR stock. i dont have alot of experience with this material. from what i have read, it will work well for forging, including forge welding. i did also read that the difference between 1018 CR and 1020 HR was that the content of manganese is higher in the 1018 making it more useful for carburizing indications. would this lead to more difficulty when forge welding (more scale problems) vs 1020? what is your material of choice for "traditional" forging techniques? you answered some questions related to this topic prior; i didnt forget the info!

keith, thanks for the response. i plan on making dies for a "magician" in the future, but i will use tool steel (something like H13 so that i can treat it myself). i believe that the material supplied is already annealed and ready to shape/machine; i certainly am not equipped to do that. i am a little confused on why you need to draw out 1/4" square for any significant length. a 3 foot gradual taper to a point? i am curious, what are you making?? i think you will beat up mild steel dies pretty fast even if you are only using them on 1/4" stock, case hardened or not. what does the guru think? another curiosity for me is: using a dremmel steel cutting bit on annealed tool steel; would this work well? would you burn up the motor on one die?? i would like to see your pics. i dont trust my e-mail server right now. i seem to get things put into my drive every time i use it. (microsoft intrusion). i will change e-mails soon.. thanks for the response..
   - rugg - Friday, 06/28/02 23:54:45 GMT

Rustin-- First build a stout jig-- cylinder section the same radius and rise as a short length of the rail you're bending. Weld two L-shaped pins, with a hook on the first/lowest one, to the cylinder at the same rise as the stairway. (Need this to keep the rail horizontal on the flat while it rises.) Heat the stock to bright red, low yellow, maybe a foot or 16 inches or so at a time, and bend. You can do maybe 8 feet at a time, then butt weld the sections to get entire length together.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/29/02 00:14:11 GMT

The forge/melting pot project is way behind schedule. Been too hot and humid to work in the shop. . .

I cut the propane tank today. Three cuts, vent hole around where the valve was, the top end bell at the end of the radius for the door/lid, and the bottom around the base ring that lets the cylinder stand vertical.

First disappointment, there is an overlap that is not flush (sticks in about 1/2" where the center is joined). My plan was to cut a board to fit in the 12" diameter to support the bottom form and pour/fill the refractory for the bottom from the hole cut in the bottom. The reason for this was to be able to have a form in place for the burner inlet coming in from the side and to be able to work the refractory around it and into the tube surrounding it. . Now what was going to be a simple piece of plywood must be three pieces held to the form by screws so it can be gotten in and out.

The refractory is going to be placed in two steps. The bottom bowl first, then the forms removed. Then 1" Kaowool will line the middle section. This is only 4-1/2" wide but will reduce the amount of refractory in the middle by a considerable amount. It is heavy as well as not being nearly as good an insulator as the Kaowool. This reduces the refractory wall to 1" to 1-1/2". The refractory will be placed from the top and form a flange over the Kaowool at the top/front so it supports itself. The cover/door will be done similarly with a ring of Kaowool.

Where the bottom was cut out of the cylinder will be replaced with a pad of Kaowool there too. Yeah, its all kind of complicated but I want to be able to be able to pick up the thing and move it.

I also found a valve and fittings for the T-Rex burner I need to test. Lit right off nicely. The forge/melter is going be such that the burner slips right out and I can either use it in another device OR test a different burner. The object is to compare a common home built burner with the T-Rex. To do the neccessary testing I need build two test furnaces and repair a set of scales I have so I can record the fuel consummed. This is all been delayed much too long. I will also be testing some refractory mixes and additions.

Going to be a long weekend. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/29/02 01:07:17 GMT

i am looking for recomendations on who makes a good 4.5 or 5 inch angle grinder. i tested a milwaukee 4.5 inch magnum grinder and it sounded like a coffee can full of rocks.. this was new from a local home center.. i tend to think this was a defective grinder as i have a milwaukee 6066 that runs great (about 10 years old)..
any thought form anbody will help

thank you ralph

   ralph - Saturday, 06/29/02 02:39:54 GMT


I've got a DeWalt that has been used heavily for three years now and is still in good shape.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 06/29/02 02:50:55 GMT

Ralph, I have two old Black & Decker Wildcats that are great grinders. However, they are no longer made and DeWalt now makes the line. I think DeWalt bought out B&D. I also have a lot of Milwaukee tools. Their drills WERE great, but their saws were not well designed. Now that they have gone into the consumer market (You can also buy them "where America shops") they hve cheapened the product. I think both manufacturers may have moved the manufacturing overseas. If that is true then you have to go to the German or Japanese tools. Both are well made. But if it says made "elsewhere" then the quality may be dubious.

Years ago I bought a "where America shops" brand grinder. The armature failed so I returned it. A short time later the replacement had a piece of the glued on commutator contact fly off (good motors have solid blocks). I got a replacement. A month later the router I bought from the same place did the same thing. I got a replacement for it. Shortly after THAT the gear box in the replacement grinder stripped out. . . The three grinders were not abused and they never put enough wear on the original wheel that you could tell. I stopped buying at "where America shops". I bought a Black & Decker Wildcat from my welding supplier. It ate up the old wheel off the dead grinder and several others. Then I loaned it to our family business where it went through several CASES of 7-1/2" wheels. I bought another to have in my home shop and IT got loaned to the family business and miles of use put on IT. So now I have the two old and very durable grinders.

Many manufactures make a "consumer" quality line and a professional quality line. Black & Decker did at one time. The "consumer" lines, like the "where America shops" lines are designed to hang on the wall and look pretty. Their "lifetime" carefully calculated to be a few hours use. There are certain things that engineers can predict the life of very well. Gears, bearings, brushes. Generaly when these fail in a product it is by design. The product's life has expired. This is called "planned obsolescence" but it is actualy design life. Everything from auto tires to light bulbs have a calculated life. Some products can be made to last alsmost forever by increasing the cost by pennies. But manufacturers want your repeat business.

Generaly proffesional tools are designed to have the longest life possible. Otherwise they might not even outlast their 30 day warantee, which is all they give tools used in commercial service. But they assume that the tool may be in hard daily use almost every day. This is way beyond the engineered life of "consumer" products. .

It pays to TRY to buy the best you can get.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/29/02 03:56:06 GMT

Ralph, I just a month or so ago got a Milwaukee somethingorother, and find it heavier, harder and more tiring to hold than the Makita it replaced such as I've been using for the last 10 years or so. And I have big hands. Also, I wasn't looking and came home with an oddball arbor size, 3/4 I think. (It's out in the shop and I'm in the house.) The 5/8 inch disks I loaded up on before I dropped the Makita will fit, but the threads have just barely enough reach to catch the weird nut that requires a peculiar spanner to get it off. Brushes seem to be inaccessible by mortal hands. Beware the Makita: they're tough and longlived as hell in normal use, but when dropped their innards are extremely fragile, mounted as some of them are on a flimsy plastic web, and their snotty repair shop charges as much for an autopsy and fix-up as a new grinder.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/29/02 04:07:06 GMT


I've burned up Milwaukee, DeWalt, Porter Cable and Makita grinders, all with about the same service life. Some burned out bearings, some had commutator bars disintegrate, one had the brush holder fall apart. I've gotten about the same life out of the $20-40 cheapos from Harbor Freight. Now I just buy three of the HF ones when they have them for $20, and they last even longer because I ste them up with different grits, flap wheels, etc. Saves time by not having to stop and change discs and also saves the tools by allowing them to cool off more frequently. When one of the cheapo grinders craps out, it doesn't annoy me nearly as much as when a $150 name-brand tool dies, either. If you buy three of the smae model at one time, then you also have a possible stock of repair parts for the last two after the first one gives up.

On a side note, I've noticed that the cords on the cheapies seem to last much better than the cords on the high-dollar jobs. Before I toss out a tool that has been scrapped, I salvage the cord, brushes, brush caps, switch, etc. Many of them are interchangeable with others across brand lines.
   - vicopper - Saturday, 06/29/02 04:11:21 GMT

I heartily second Jock re the Wildcat. Bought one 2nd hand in a pawnshop and have used it for many years, great machine. But it's a biggie, a heavy, hairy, muy powerful 9-inch angle grinder built for pipeline work, and it is just waiting to tear your bowels out if you give it the least little chance.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/29/02 04:15:35 GMT

More re Milwaukee-- Just looked, and it's a 7/8 hole this particular grinder wants. They make one that accepts a 5/8. Also, the grinder features a peculiar little flipper on its belly that has to be depressed or it won't work. I wonder how long that will last-- and what will happen when it disappears. I've bought a 1-ton chain hoist and crane trolley, a chop saw and this grinder from these guys in the last few years and have no real complaints... yet. Except about calling this stuff Milwaukee when it's non-US.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 06/29/02 04:50:21 GMT

Looking for hand blower plans anyone know where to locate some ?
All help is welcome Thanks in advance.
   larry - Saturday, 06/29/02 05:04:28 GMT

Angle Grinders
After burning up two cheap grinders bought from "factory outlet" stores I gave in and bought a Metabo. I love it. It's lite, has a comfortable feel, easy to control, and I was told the motor was "sealed" to keep grinding dust out.
   Keith - Saturday, 06/29/02 05:14:19 GMT

I make alot of the basic stuff , ya know, hooks & hangers (make great gifts). I just get board of drawing out tapers for the scroll ends. I know drawing out tapers is basic stuff and should be injoyable, but after a few doz I start to wish that i was working on something alse, like some decorative hinges or experimenting with different leaf designs, etc,etc. Certainly no lack of new projects we all want to do in the shop.
I made the dies from mild steel only because that's what I had on hand at the shop that afternoon. I'll make any adjustments as needed and later grind out a new set from tool steel (if needed).
Dremmel tool - I'm not using a steel bit (thay are for wood,plastic,etc) I'm using a gringing stone bit that I have reshaped (as needed) to grind out the dies.
I guess the term "long taper" could be subjective. I should have stated slightly longer than similar dies that I have seen offered by Centaur Forge Ltd. The taper dies offered by Centaur Forge look like thay may be great for making spade ends or leaf designs, but I like to use slightly longer tapers when I make scroll ends. Beside all of this, I enjoy making my own tools and even when a piece does not come out the way I want it to, it's still always a great learning experience.
"...no such thing as a falure, only learning experiences"-Ben Franklin.
Hope this helps!

P.S. you can never have to many quotes of inspiration hanging about the shop...and you can quote me on that ;)
   Keith - Saturday, 06/29/02 07:11:51 GMT

I bought 2 of the Milwaukee grinders and had to send them both back within a month. They " fixed them" sorta..the first time, but they were still noisy but powerful. One of them jammed in some work and snapped the motor shaft. They were advertised as " guaranteed for life" so i sent it back as I needed it working. They sent me a bill for about the replacement cost! I objected and they sent me a bunch of nice-nice words but no grinder. It didn't have very many hours on it...despite letters it has been months and still no grinder. Milwaukee used to be a good company..won't make that mistake again.
The Dewalt that replaces it is quieter and trouble free thus far but the fat body is awkward to hold after a couple of hours.
Makitas are widely used but are a bit underpowered ( or were) and the switches keep croaking.
The Chinese cheapies die promptly under load, or sooner.
I have a Shinco that i got 25 odd years ago that has never faltered but don't know where to get another.
Try to get one with a 5/8 arbor , it fits more stuff.
Metabo has a good rep but are expensive...probably what I'll try next.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 06/29/02 07:35:06 GMT

I have a Makita 4 1/2 that I love two years old and going strong. get the highest AMP rateing you can find ..mine is 16 amps, and I had to have it ordered for me. the higher amp models are more of an indestral tool and have more power.. I also so have a dewalt 7" that I HATE it is one of the "consumer models" in fact it is rated for a LOWER amps than the Makita
I only got it becouse I needed it and couldn't wait (on a Sat.) hasn't died yet but it don't see much use. I do like those cheep Harbor Freight grinders for sanding I got two of them one I leave set up with a wire cup and the other with a sanding back up pad .. not realy enough power to grind with but plenty for sanding.
   MP - Saturday, 06/29/02 08:27:29 GMT

Any plans of testing the mini T-rex? I have one T-rex that I use in my home built forge, works great, no problems welding. I just thought that two smaller burners would give me a more even heat. I think two full size T-rex burners would be over-kill in my little gas forge.
   Keith - Saturday, 06/29/02 09:08:55 GMT

Testing and R&D: These are expensive and time consuming to do. The current projects are combined R&D. Build some forges and test burners. When I am done, I will not only have evaluated burners but have a hotter forge than my Whisper Baby and one more efficient than my big blower forge. Subjects for various articles.

The test setup includes high temperature metering using a thermocouple (I have that but the forge will need a thermowell built in), and a scale to weigh the propane as it is consumed. I have two Fairbanks scales but the smaller more accurate one (1/2 pound increments) needs repairs. The big one goes to 1,000 pounds and is hard to read even pounds. I also have access to a temperature gauge with a probe designed to dip in liquid metal. I have to check the range but I may have to melt low temperature stuff like zinc to use it. But heating a given quantity of metal to melt and checking the temperature at equal times is a very accurate performance testing method.

Then. . . you have to burn X$ of fuel to test. . . I'll have to replace my OLD STYLE propane cylinders in the process.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/29/02 13:35:38 GMT

Hi. I have a couple of antique spelter items that I would like repaired but I have had no success in locating anyone who is able to do this in the Los Angeles area. I would even be willing to mail the items to have them repaired if necessary. Do you have any resources that you could recommend?

   Steve Buckley - Saturday, 06/29/02 15:57:33 GMT

Dear Guru and friends,

I have a (possibly) helpful tip for coiling rod stock, and a dumb question. Iíll start with the tip in the hopes it will make my question seem less dumb.

I needed to coil about 20 feet of 1/4 rod stock, and donít have a lot of room to swing the stock around. I took a length of pipe with a suitable I.D. and welded a tab across one end. The tab had a 1/2 inch square hole, into which I could place an old ratchet wrench. The ratchet is clamped in my vise, and the other end of the pipe supported by a ĎVí rest. I drilled a 1/4 inch hole in the pipe to fit the stock at the end.

To use, I heated the end of the stock, put it in the hole and bent it over, securing the rod to the pipe. Then, I just heated the stock with an oxy-acetylene torch and wrapped it around the pipe. When the stock end hit the floor, I just lifted it a bit. The ratchet allowed the pipe to rotate backwards without uncoiling the stock, and locked it in place for the next bend. It was fast and neat. I hope this idea is of some use to someone out there.

My dumb question is, how do you anneal copper? I want to hammer out a custom basin for a bird-bath/sculpture. All the local metal suppliers only sell Ďhardí copper. Will it
anneal as itís worked, or do I have to heat it and cool slowly? Iíve tried the FAQís, and browsed through Machineryís Handbook, but Iím probably missing the information. Any help appreciated.

Thanks for the great site!


   Lex - Saturday, 06/29/02 16:37:32 GMT

Lex, You didn't look in the heat treating FAQ. Heat the copper to a LOW red in LOW light. Quench in water. It hardens as it is worked. Most plate is sold "hard" from the rolling process which work hardens the plate.

Ratchet is a good idea. Lots of machines use over running clutches for the same purpose.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/29/02 17:55:53 GMT

Selter Repair: Steve, you can search our archives for the whys but the only safe way to repair your sculptures is with glue (epoxy) and touchup paint.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/29/02 17:58:59 GMT

Guru and Matthew,

Thanks for the information I will take heed to all advice I can get and that book (The Blacksmiths Bible!) the complete modern blacksmith is certainly on my "to buy list"! So thanks once more and Matthew I was thinking of using an Austin Mini Heater Fan for my blower! let me know what you think!

Speak to you all soon maybe in the PUB!

   Pete (England!) - Saturday, 06/29/02 21:56:13 GMT

I just purchased a leg vise to add to my shop. What is the correct way to mount the vise (5 inch jaws wt 80 lb + -)
   Larry Garner - Saturday, 06/29/02 23:19:56 GMT

I am only going to say this once, and PLEASE do NOT tease me about it. I am NOT a happy camper.

If you have a web site, please send me your URL. In the process of loading Earthlink, my entire book mark file got wiped out. Over 300 entries went into the big bit bucket in the sky.

This is the third time in less than a year, and I am very angry about it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 06/30/02 02:49:44 GMT

Guru, Well, the craft fair went well, I sold alot of stuff and got several definite orders and some I'll call you with measurements - who knows how many of those will pan out but at least it's a start. I did the zinc, primer, top coat thing on some of my plant stands, hose holders etc.. but I was alittle disappointed because they all chipped very easily, right down to the bare metal. I'm sure I must have done something wrong and I'd like to figure it out so I can use this process in the future. I used the zinc-it, auto motive red oxide primer and a laquer flat black top coat. Help!
   - Wendy - Sunday, 06/30/02 03:12:26 GMT

Wendy, no paint sticks properly unless the metal is clean and has "tooth". This is achieved by sandblasting or chemical cleaning with an etch. Wire brushing is OK but it often leaves graphite of powdered scale residue that paint can not stick to. Generaly when paint chips easily it is due to improper surface preparation.

How paint is applied makes a difference. Neither the zinc nor the primer are very strong and must be applied relatively thinly. When spray painting if you do not apply WET the paint does not bond to itself and is much weaker thus chips. The instructions on most spray paint cans are wrong. Proper spraying distance is 4 to 8 inches maximum. If you use the recommended 16 to 18" you get a dry unbonded finish or waste most of the paint as over spray. To work close requires practice. You start moving parallel to the work before pressing the button or pulling the trigger on a spray gun, apply paint and release while still moving. The straight line parallel motion takes practice and trigger scync takes practice. You adjust the speed you move according to how the application spot looks. Most people make random swirly motions that waste paint and make a mess while spraying from too great a distance.

Inventory that is going to boxed or handled loose and not seperated WILL get chipped. Paint directly over clean tight scale is best. But it does not prevent rust very long. But this is what most folks use. Wax finishes over scale are also APPEAR durable because there is nothing to chip. However wax finishes rust faster than improperly applied paint.

When I was doing craft shows I used paint applied by rubbing on with a rag. Very messy but made a nice flat finish that could be touched up. Any inventory that was taken to another show was repainted or touched up as needed and it almost always needed it. We are talking about heavy STEEL items with lots of square relatively sharp corners. No paint is a hard as the steel. Stuff that gets boxed or piled together gets chiped. Even tight scale gets worn through from vibration on the road if stock is stacked together. You either touchup the paint of pack very carefully.

Eventualy everyone finds their way. However, the three coat four step finish is probably over kill for craft show items.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 04:17:10 GMT

Mounting Vises: Larry, The vise is one of the most used tools in any shop and most smiths will tell you that their leg vise may be more important than their anvil. I for one believe you cannot have enough Vises (or vices).

To be the most usefull in a blacksmith shop a leg vise need to be an immovable object. That means anchoring it so that you can't move it with an eight foot lever. There are many ways to do this.

If attached to a bench as is common the bench must be sturdy and well anchored. I have a big 130# chipping vise on a wooden work bench. To make it sturdy I made a steel wall flange about 1 foot square with a piece of heavy angle extending from it that goes under the bench and one of the vise mounting bolts goes through it. THEN the bench is anchored to the wall at the far corner (away from the vise) as well as to the floor. The wall will come down before the vise moves.

Another way is to mount it to a VERY heavy bench. Although they clutter a weld platten a vise anchored to one of these one ton benches is pretty secure.

Many smiths either set a post deep in the ground and and attache the vise to that OR they fabricate a stand from a length of 4 or 6 inch iron pipe and a piece of plate to bolt to the floor. IF you make the plate so that you are standing on it while you work they you cannot move the vise! However, most folks use something smaller and anchor to the floor with bolts. If you are setting anchors in concrete be sure to use 1/2" or bigger anchor bolts.

Any time the vise is set on an earth floor be sure to provide something for the foot to rest on. Pounding on the vise will quickly drive it into the ground. I drove mine through an asphalt drive during a weekend craft show while doing light work! On earth floors you can use a steel plate. Often when anchored to a post, a second post was set into the ground and cut off flush to the ground. Then a large washer was set on the post and the spike on the vise set into that.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 04:35:22 GMT

I am just starting in the wonderful world of armour making. I read the articles about coal -vs- charcoal, and was wondering about your veiw on anthracite. I know it is a form of coal, but would the sulfur content mess up the metal i am heating to a point of it not being worth working ? I know it burns cleaner than anything else i have used in my coal burner at camp, and was just wondering if it would heat hot enough( it gets mighty toasty at camp) and what the benefits, or draw-backs would be.


   Jerry T - Sunday, 06/30/02 05:10:26 GMT

Ntech /// Glenn /// cannot e-mail you a reply.
I have the answer to your question. Tried 2 X to e-mail you, both bounced.
Get in touch, please, SLAG.
   slag - Sunday, 06/30/02 06:45:58 GMT

I read a response from you about creating an aged look for metal sheeting. My very specific question is this: I recently installed a galvanized steel roof, and my wife wants to know how to speed up the dulling or aging process. The new shine is just too much. We want that aged look.

Thank you,

   glen - Sunday, 06/30/02 06:52:29 GMT

If you are forging brass with a significant lead content ( Pb 1.8%), That may be messing with your grain structure at forging heat.
Good Guru; My gas guy ( he's got gas) said that the new fed gas regulations make a specific exception on the new tank valves for,,,taa-daa..."welding"...and we are close enough to get by.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 06/30/02 07:02:07 GMT


Could you get him to get you a copy of that exception, or at least the page numbers, etc.?
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 06/30/02 11:39:46 GMT

Just the information I was looking for. For now I will have just the one vice and will locate another when I can afford one.
   Larry Garner - Sunday, 06/30/02 12:49:56 GMT

A question for the general population: How many of you make your own tongs and if you make them, do you use the "easy twist" method or forge them off-set? I started using the easy twist and found they are also easy un-twist with heavier stock. I spent about 4 hours (I did mention I was a novice, didn't I) re-heating, forging, grinding, swearing, etc., but did get a useable set of heavy tongs. After the ordeal, I wondered if it is possible to make a good set of heavy (1/2" SQ) tongs without all the re-heats, grinding and fine adjustments.
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 13:32:01 GMT

I forgot to mention that at this point, I have no hardies, no leg vise, no fullers or flatters or punches. When I get good enough to make decent tongs, maybe I can sell some trinkets at craft shows and buy the other tools!
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 13:35:32 GMT

Tongs: QC, The best tong maker I have ever seen was Peter Ross, the Williamsburg blacksmith. Using nothing except his (large) hammer to shape the steel he produces beautiful standard offset joint tongs. The only other tool he used was a punch to make the rivet hole.

The last time I saw him do it there was no small stock for the rivet so he forged it out of a piece of 3/4" square, in one heat. The finished rivet had full round heads without the use of a header. The entire pair of tongs including drawing out the reins by hand and making a rivet from oversized stock took about 20 minutes to half an hour. Peter is VERY good.

And. . . the point is, that as your forging skills improve (practice, practice, practice) the metal seems to move faster and stay hot longer. But to make steel move effortlesly like you see it do when the pros demonstrate you have to work in the forge almost every day. Otherwise you just need more patience.

If you are careful not to fuller too deep on the twist tongs they are very strong. The small ones I made for making hooks in 1/4" stock hold up very well. However, recently I got them too hot several times and they bent. . . We had three people working out of the same coal forge and I was leaving the tongs attached to the little short piece of steel lest it end up in the tuyere. . . The general rule is you NEVER leave tongs attached to work. But we all break that rule on occasion.

One of my favorite pairs of tongs have a side offset. They were the second pair of tongs I every made. There were also my first power hammer work. They have a simple side by side joint and bent offsets. They work great and are very handy.

Look at how Grant Sarver's OffCenter brand tongs are made (Kayne and Son page). Most do not have the offset joint we think of as "standard" and they are very strong

I think Grant said he makes his tongs out of 1040 carbon steel. High enough carbon to be much stronger than mild steel or wrought. Low enough not to be too brittle (unless you quench them from a red heat). It allows him to make what look like very light tongs. However, tongs have been made of wrought for millenia and mild steel for over a century and they work fine. You just have to make them heavier when made of weaker material.

Practice, practice. .

Generaly you do not need flatters, EVER, unless you are doing very heavy work and need a fine finish. Flatters were most often used to clean up after sledge work and a sledge (and helpers) were used with the flatter.

Fullers are handly but the corner of the anvil will do (unless too sharp), the horn also works and so does the pien of your hammer.

I prefer a hacksaw over a hardy but most smiths consider a hardy indespensible. You also do not need a vise to use a hardy but a vice becomes indespensible if you use a saw. . .

Punches are too easy to make. Good hot work tool steel is best but spring steel works fine. Old flea market chisles, pry bars, almost any tool of any kind is good tool steel for making punches and drifts.

We all love to have lots of tools but in smithing you can get away with having very few and most can be made as needed.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 15:11:10 GMT

Exception to Propane Cylinder change: Pete, I read the rules and there were no exceptions EXCEPT by size of cylinder. If you have cylinders over 40 pounds capacity then they can still use the old valves. Most of the tall propane tanks used by welding suppliers are 100 pound or so.

For ALL the small cylinders there is no exception. If there was then you could still get the small propane cylinders refilled at welding suppliers.

I'll double check with my welding supplier in the morning. It would be nice if they would refill my 40# cylinders but when I asked about the change in the past they said no. I suspect that if anyone is refilling the old style cylinder then they are breaking the law. Easy money does that to folks. . .

   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 15:22:40 GMT


I am considering taking a blacksmithing class (making an entrance with Micheal Saari) at touchstone in PA. Has anybody taken any classes at Touchstone, or heard anything about them?

I was looking at John C Cambell and Penland, but Cambell is a long way to drive, and all the Penland classes are full. Touchstone is only 3 hours away.....

   Jim - Sunday, 06/30/02 15:26:46 GMT

Galvanized Roof: Glen, You are pretty much stuck with it once installed. I'm sure the folks that sold you the galvanized told you that it had to age before painting it. Paint will just flake off if you paint it. Depending on where you are (rain acidity) that may take 10 years.

It is possible to "age" galvanized using muratic acid. But this is not recommended on a installed roof. The excess will run down the roof and into you gutters if you have them and then where every run off goes. It will also damage aluminium gutters.

The whole point of a galvanized roof covering is to last a long time and not need maintenance for a long time. The roof I put on my shop in 1987 has just turned "flat". For the first five years it WAS brilliant and reflected sun into our house like a mirror. The roof doesn't need painting yet but it will in maybe another 10 years. It will then be almost 25 years old. That is a long time to go without maintenance. Left unpainted it will probably last another 20-30 years without leaking. That is a 50 year life without any maintenance. The tin roof on our old Mill is 90 years old and has only been painted twice. The last time was 30 years ago and it needs it now. Tin (plated steel) is by far the best roof to put on any building. Besides being low maintenance it is also fire proof.

Artificially aging the galvanize will take away 15 years of its life.

NOTE: There ARE etching primers for use directly on zinc and aluminium. But this means painting your roof twice, once with the primer and then with a top coat.

In the future consider the tin (steel sheet) made for steel buildings. It is phosphated and then painted with a long lasting finish that comes in a wide variety of colors.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 17:18:29 GMT

Anthracite JT, Anthracite is used by many smiths when they cannot get bituminous coal or the anthracite happens to be a local product. Anthracite is more difficult to start and keep going than bituminous. In your coal fireplace there is a constant draft to keep the fire burning. You do not want to try to keep a constant draft going with a bellows or hand crank blower.

Anthracite is known as "hard coal" it has almost no volatiles in it compared to bituminous and it is compressed much more making it hard. Thus it does not coke. The lack of volitiles is what makes it hard to keep burning. The high heat it burn also means you need a deeper fire pot or fire bed than for bituminous coal. Otherwise is is good fuel.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 17:30:37 GMT

Guru, thanks for the insight. I was afraid you were going to say I needed $500 worth of tools just to get started. I made another set of tongs today out of 1/4" x 3/4" strip and used the twist method. I needed something to hold 1/4" round stock and these seem to do well. Forging the 1/4" groove was a lesson in frustration but I got it done. Looking at my earlier efforts, I think the big problem was making the jaws too long. What I have is more pick-up tongs than I have things to pick up! I did stop by my local pawn shop and pick up some rusty round files that should be good for punches after a bit of work. BTW, I tried making a dragon using the Bill Epps tutorial on iForge. I am convinced that Bill has sold his soul to the Devil!
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 18:39:53 GMT

QuenchCrack, Re: Tongs. I like Jack Andrews method of making tongs (except for the upsetting which I beleive is a cruel hoax) which he describes in his book "New Edge of the
Anvil". BTW here in Pennsylvania there is no shortage of old tongs to be found in antique shops, yard sales, farm auctions , etc. Usually for about $8 to $12. I've bought some if they are unusually nice but it's more fun to make your own and then you won't mind modifying them to fit the job at hand.....Bob.
   bbeck - Sunday, 06/30/02 21:25:45 GMT

QC, Forging groove in tongs. Don't. Finish the tongs, heat the jaws to a red/orange and pick up a short piece of stock you want them to fit. Put on anvil and give the haws a wack. Note that the side on the anvil will cool fastest and not make as deep a groove. Quench the short piece of stock (else you WILL try to pick it up bare handed and put back in the tongs).

Then take another heat on the jaw needing more depth (put that one downward in the fire) and repeat until you have an nice even pair of grooves. You do not want to completely surround the stock or you cannot grip it properly. Do not thin the jaws too much

Take a final heat on the jaws and riveted joint. Grip a the piece of stock to fit, then in a vise OR another pair of tongs hold the jaws shut on the piece. Then open the reins to a comfortable fit while keeping them clamped on the work/test piece.

Making the groove and adjusting the fit should only take two or three moderate heats. This type adjustment and refiting are a common thing to do to almost all tongs as you work.

You can also hold the tongs down on the anvil using the face of your hammer and then spread the reins one at a time. I prefer doing it in the vise, but you said you don't have one.

There is absolutely NO reason for tongs that fit badly. The only time you do not adjust tongs to fit is if you are working in someone else's shop. Ask first, they may already have a pair that fits OR may be picky about folks changing their tools. I know *I* am. . .

You can also use the rounded pien of a second straight pien hammer as a fuller for making the tongs and fullering the groove you wanted to make.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/30/02 21:47:21 GMT

Now you see it, now you don't dept.: a while back here I was bitching about my tools being labeled Milwaukee when actually they are from Taiwan. I was mistaken: my new Milwaukee grinder says it was made in the U.S.A. It's my Milwaukee chop saw that hails from Taiwan. And it's my Milwaukee chain hoist that was born in Japan. So sollee.
   miles undercut - Sunday, 06/30/02 23:07:41 GMT

Just a note on tongs. I was a Farrier for 23 years and the only tongs I had were to hold shoes which are essentially the same dimension. After retiring and starting a Blacksmithing business I realized that there needs to be a tong for every size stock when using a power hammer. Otherwise you have NO control. It is a great lesson to make your own tongs, and you know what you have when you are done. I have a great design that was passed down to me from Jim Austin who had it passed along to him ......thats the way we learn. I'm happy to pass it along on the iforge one of these days (when I get a little time) On my way to Switzerland tomorrow! Will try to report any interesting things I come across while in Eurpoe. Am bringing the digital camera.... Tim
   Tim Cisneros - Sunday, 06/30/02 23:15:55 GMT

Thanks for all the comments. I did discover that smacking the tong jaws over a 1/4" rod gave me the groove I needed...after trying to make a v-groove over the edge of the anvil. No amount of book reading will ever take the place of hammer time! Now, if I just hadn't run out of propane once I finished the tongs.....
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 23:29:33 GMT

I re-read your comments, Guru, and actually I have VSO...a vise shaped object purchased at my local purveyor of Chinese made almost-tools. I am always amazed at how this Chinese-made stuff looks so realistic! Why, I was fooled into buying the VSO 'cuz I thought it was a real vise! VELLY CREAVER! Seems as though they forgot to harden the cams that lock it into place so after a few months it will barely stay in one position. Unless you plan to hammer your purchase into something else altogether, don't buy this junk. Chinese-made tools are just so much industrial "wax fruit".
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 23:37:14 GMT

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