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 1 - 7, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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QC - The company that uses the ploy to hire HS kids as engineers don't capitilize the word in the job description and pay minimum wage. It may irk a real Engineer to have some fuzzy faced kid call himself one but we all know what's going on.
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 06/01/03 00:40:33 GMT

. . . . as to the issue of self taught vs. the degree mill, even though the self taught probably has a lock on most of the technical stuff in his/her area he/she lacks the breadth and depth of incidental knowledge (theoretically) gained at a degree graning institution. It's often the Engineers ability to side step into another field of knowledge and bring that wisdom to bear on a problem that makes him/her valuable to a company and worth the title Engineer.
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 06/01/03 00:48:52 GMT

I am quoting my first fence job. How much per 8 foot panel would you charge? per garden gate? per double gate? How much for painting and installation? Thanks for your help.
   - chucky - Sunday, 06/01/03 00:50:56 GMT

. . . and as long as we are on the topic of education and HS kids, I noted on the news tonight a 13 year old kid just graduated form some College in Tennesee (I think)took every honor and is now embarked on a Ph.D program somewhere where he will get four Doctorates simultaniously (SP). He was recently nominated (for the third time) for the Nobel too. Somtimes the good just float to the top
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 06/01/03 00:54:55 GMT

Blacksmithing year zero: Blacksmithing in practise probably changed very little in the first three thousand years of its existance. If you really want to know about the tools actually used at the time, you could look to the finds from Pompeii and Herculanium. They were destroyed only a generation later.
   Myke - Sunday, 06/01/03 02:46:46 GMT

Education: I was looking into the community education bits to find out about welding classes and came across a strange and frightening piece of information. Summer school in Duval County, Florida, has been canceled this summer DUE TO LACK OF FUNDS!!!!!!!

ARGH. We had a work study student at my last job that was gratuating in hte top 10% of her class and not only could she not do basic math (multiplication & division) she didn't know how to use the calculator to do the math for her! She said she got the top grade on the math final, 47%, and the teacher curved the grades, bringing it to 97%! Don't even ask me about any of her other classes.

I don't blame the parents, if I had a child bringing home A's and B's, I wouldn't be worried. I don't blame her (much) for not complaining, most students have no clue what scool work has to do with Real Life. (If we expected children to make mature decisions, we'd let them vote.) 6 months after working at the construction company (receptionist) she realized what kind of a mistake she'd made, and the project managers and Engineers were tutoring her in math, etc. She is an intelegent girl, a little flakey, but intelegent.

I know teachers have a hard job, overworked, and underpaid. But I think several in her shcool are burnt out. They've given up, lost what ever spark made them go into teaching in the first place. I can sympathise, to a degree. I still say those teachers need to be purged from the school systems to try to reduce the damage they are doing to our future.
   Monica - Sunday, 06/01/03 14:45:36 GMT


Depends on you you define Generation, Pompeii and Herculanium were destroyed in August of 79 AD (or CE, if you prefer)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/01/03 16:42:02 GMT

American Education: Much of what is currently broken in the American educational system is the curicula, materials (text books) and the decision making system of what should be in the system.

Look close at modern HS text books. They are FAT with photos, stories and trivia that are mostly irrelvelent. An algebra book that is a guide to teaching first year geometry has NOTHING different in it from a 1940's book on the same subject and level. However, the modern version is at least 4 to 5 times the bulk of the old book. A first year college calculus book is 10 times bigger than its 60 year old counter part (I have a collection from both eras - this is not my imagination).

The same is true of books of all subjects in American schools. Besides the fact that the students and teachers must wade through all this triva and tripe the bookes WEIGH a TON! I used to be that you could carry all your HS text books at one time under your arm. Today there is a huge industry making big heavy duty (expensive) back packs for children to carry this overburden of junk.

In an effort to make subjects more interesting and relevant we are drowning kids in a sea of poorly researched, poorly written pop-culture and hiding the subject.

AND nowhere in any of these books will you find key facts such as the origin of the 360° circle. Or that the geometry we teach today is essentialy the same Euclid's Geometry that has been around since 300 BC. I had a Geometry teacher that didn't know it. . .

Not too many people know that the great science fiction author Issac Asimov also wrote science text books. Like all of his writing they are clear and consise. They present all of the relevant facts and have well written explainations. He wrote the kind of texts that belong in schools at all levels.

Archive with post on Degrees in a Circle

Then there are the do-gooder, touchy feely "understand yourself" courses that have filtered down to the HS level. I suspect that some of these have had the reverse effect of what is intended and has spawned some of the new school violence. Pressuring teenagers to talk about inner feelings in public or writing about them for a grade is an invasion of privacy that can be traumatic and is just as violent an act as bullying or rape.

THEN there is the more insidious PC and religious agendas that have crept into our text books. Read a chapter from a HS literature edition of Mark Twain's "A Conneticut Yankee in King Authur's Court" and compare it to the the REAL work. The American High School versions have had all references to the religious witch hunts and anti-science attitude of the church at the time REMOVED. This is a significant theme and key part of the plot. Yet is has all been removed. What is being taught IS NOT Mark Twain but the work of a hack editor and a PC commitee.

And the last and worst assualt on public education was launched here in Virginia and is supported by President Bush (a REAL educational genious, ha!). The Virginal "Standards of Learing" (AKA, S--- Out of Luck, or Standards of Laughter by Virginia teachers) has created a situation where then NORM is now teaching to the test.

A few decades ago teachers and college instructors were commonly fired for teaching to the test. It was considered immoral, cheating and a BAD way to teach. Years ago in Virgina when they originaly enacted pay for performance, Principals started to pressure teachers to teaching to the test and provided questions and answers to the standardized tests. Although individual teachers could gain little under the system, Principals had significant financial motives. This created a huge controversy as school systems were CHEATING and the pay for performance system was dropped.

THEN a few years later someone in the religious right come up with the "standards of learning" idea and we had a govenor that packed the standards writing committee with far right religious fanatics. Good Southern Babtists all. After years of work the resulting document was submited for the review of a less right wing governor who by law had to enact them. The standards were so full of inflamatory religious teaching that the entire thing had to be rewritten. In the rewrite (a huge job) some of the deceptively slanted material stayed in the standards. They were also FULL of errors due to the hasty rewrite and much of the subject matter is still considered inapporpriate for the levels it is applied to.

The SOLs were such a mess that they were impossible to teach and there ARE NO text books to support them. The result became a constant process of teaching to the test. t Virginia schools now teach the very narrow subject matter of the facts on the test.

Nationaly this has been controversial because teaching to the test is still considered cheating by many educators. It is also in complete opposition to the system of a liberal education (a narrow range of facts rather than broad coverage of a subject). The contoversy was significant enough that President Bush mentioned teaching to the test in his inaugral speach saying, "I don't see anything wrong with teaching to the test".

The point of not teaching to the test is to make students study the entire subject (a chapter or section at a time) to prepare for a test. The test is then just on a sample of what the student has learned. The student then has a much broader education than what they are tested on.

How many times have you heard of students caught cheating by getting access to a copy of a test (with or without answers), where they were then expelled from school OR failed the course in question? Many times. It is cheating and most people know that. Teaching to the test is exactly the same and it does not expose students to the broader subject. This is a moral distinction that our current president does not understand. In the end all teaching to the test does is make things look good on paper.

What burns out teachers faster than anything else is the overburden of government paperwork and inteferrence into what used to be their personal space, their clasroom. Pay for performance crossed with teaching to the test (something most teachers KNOW is cheating) adds needlessly to the pressure.

In the past our American education system has had some problems but it has always generated imaginative inventive thinkers. It had produced the kind of thinkers that has kept America at the forefront of technology. It has attracted students from the world over. But bowing to the pressure of producing high average test scores by teaching to the test will ruin the system as well as degrade the value of an American education.

The problems of American education system have been cumulative. They can be fixed. But they must be fixed by not adding to the problem.

   - guru - Sunday, 06/01/03 17:53:39 GMT

guru... I was curious on the equivalent of 1 troy ounce to 1 standard ounce. is it equal and the troy pound just weigh a normal 12 ounces..... or does one troy ounce weight morethan a normal ounce? thank fr your time
   - hammerfall - Sunday, 06/01/03 17:54:36 GMT

Has anyone had any experience with the Smithing Magician III kit from the good folks at the Blacksmith's Journal? Also any feedback on the various tool steel dies available as accessories for this kit. Thank you.
   Ellen - Sunday, 06/01/03 18:09:01 GMT

Basically what the guru is saying is that we as a nation desperately need to get back to the three R's, Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic.

Of the three, the most important IMNAAHO (In My Not At All Humble Opinion) educational skill is reading.

Pardon the bluntness, but if you can't read, you can't learn crap!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/01/03 18:09:28 GMT

Ounces: Hammerfal, Avoirdupois (English - commercial) ounces are 1/16 of an pound. Troy or Apothecarie ounces are 1/12 of a Troy pound. The ratio between the two are:

.91146 Troy or Apothecarie ounce = 1 Avoirdupois ounce

Above Corrected from original post. I thought my Mass2 program had an error. . . VIc put me back on track.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/01/03 18:19:41 GMT

Troy v. Avoirdupois:

I think the problem in Mass 2 may not be a problem after all, Jock. A troy ounce is 31.103 grams. (Units of mass are always better to deal with). An avoir ounce is 28.349 grams.

A Troy ounce is 1/12 of a Troy pound. An Avoirdupois ounce is 1/16 of an avoirdupois pound. BUT...a Troy pound and an Avoirdupois pound are NOT equal. A Troy pound weighs 373.236 grams, while an Avoirdupois pound weighs 453.584 grams. Ya cain't mix apples and oranges! Thus, the Mass2 calculator is correct. Your only error Jock, was in thinking that you had erred.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/02/03 01:33:31 GMT

I spent most of my pre-college days in Illinois. I'm an army brat, so that's not all, just most, and that's where I spent my high school. I have never been taught to a test, be it the AP tests in those classes, or SAT, or Iowa test of basic skills. It boggles the mind.

I was also not taught in the current "PC feel good" environment. "Classroom Conduct" in some of our receptionist's classes counted as much as 50%. In one of her math classes "If you don't cause trouble you get at least a C. I could put my head down and sleep and that was not disruptive, so I could sleep through the class and pass," to quote her.

It used to be that good conduct was expected, and the grades were based off of actual proficiency in the subject matter.

At the same time, in Illinois, gym class was mandatory daily (in addition to recess), so you didn't have young children caged up in classrooms for 8 hours, without a chance to run off some of their boundless energy. From what I've seen in Florida, recess is an every other day thing in elementary school. Gym is nonexistent (but oh horror, our children on average are overweight). Get a normal high spirited 12 year old in that setting and "oh my, he's ADHD. Medicate him!" (Ok, ADHD exists. I have it. I LEAENED TO COPE because I was not medicated. EXTREME cases are/may be another story, but too many get pills shoved at them.)

I have friends that are teachers that blame parental non-involvement. When both parents working became just about mandatory, she feels, is when the downslide in education started. When sending a note home saying "Little Billy/Mary was very disruptive." quit being effective at getting parents to chastise their children, teachers lost control in the classroom.

For the record, Jock, those add-ins are what kept me from going completely nuts, when I "got it" the first day a topic was taught, and had to wait 3-4 days for the rest of the class to catch up. My better teachers didn't teach the extra stuff, but did encourage us to read through if we'd finished our homework. No, there was no gifted class in some of the schools, they were too small. The teacher used the filler to broaden the education of those of us that were quicker learners, while still teaching the basics to the slower ones. Of course, I can see a teacher trying to teach all of it getting in severe trouble with info-overload on 80% of the class.
   Monica - Sunday, 06/01/03 19:25:51 GMT

Bidding Jobs: Chucky, Sorry we did not get to your question ASAP.

Most smiths bid railings and such by the running unit. Currently $200 to $300/foot is common in the US and often does not include a first class paint job. A lot depends on complexity and these numbers are based on experiance with a specific construction method. Per unit rates can be double or tripple the common rates if the job is highly artistic.

On new or odd jobs I bid by breaking the entire job down into steps and parts. I assign a time to every item in detail then multiply by an hourly rate. Some things I flat rate. A trip to town to pickup materials used to be $100. The trip to deliver the work was also $100. So, you haven't MADE anything and the minimum the job will cost is $200.

I look at every little aspect of the job and list it. Example.
  • Make materials list (part of bid process)
  • Get quote on materials.
  • Get quote on sandblasting (or other services).
  • Pick up materials (included unloading)
  • Cut stock (list number of pieces and dimensions).
  • Forge piece A (X times if multiples)
  • Setup drillpress (find drill bits, setup clamps)
  • Drill piece A (X times if multiples)
  • Clean and debur piece A.
  • Repeat steps for all parts (B, C, D).
  • Trial fit and adjust
  • Assemble (list fastener methods and quantity).
  • Move to sand blaster.
  • Pickup from sandblaster.
  • Paint (3 layer process).
  • Deliver
  • Install (break down steps).
After making the detailed list I give step a REAL honest time. Some things can be seconds, some can be hours. Then I multiply and add it all up. In the process I may see missing steps so they are added and the whole revised. Last I multiply by my hourly rate.

I have had good sucess with this method. But you do not want to gloss over details. Everything takes time. When you make that materials list be sure things like saw blades, sandpaper, grinding disks or a needed file are included. An extra trip to the store can kill a day or half at the least.

You may also want to use this method and then round to whole days.

If the job is something you have never done before then to be sure to not lose money you need to pad it somewhat. The problem with padding is that if it is a competitive bid you may not get the job. On the other hand, if it is something you have never done before you may want to take a lower rate to get the job and the experiance.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/01/03 19:40:13 GMT

I can empathize with Monica's remarks reference ADHD. It turns out that I'm mildly ADD. Like Monica, I learned to cope. And bouncing from school to school as another army brat actually helped with that. The worst thing that happened to me was staying in one school for almost all of my high school. I skated through most of my classes by reading the text book three times a year. Worked every morning before school delivering 300 news papers with another guy. Every afternoon after school in a drug store. Spent most weekends in hormone overdrive with one or another of a couple of young ladies. Still didn't have enough to do.

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/01/03 20:23:33 GMT

Ellen, I saw the kit at the Dallas Ironfest this weekend. It was well made and well finished. My only complaint would be that they give you a piece of 1018, machined flat on both ends, for your "included" tooling. To purchase the rest of the tooling will cost you 2-3 times (if you go for the S7 instead of the 1018) what you paid for the fixture ($48 for the kit at the show). Quite honestly, I think you could weld up something that would be cheaper, more flexible as the to tooling needed, and would accommodate a greater variety of sizes and shapes. However, that is just my observation of the kit, I have never used one.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/01/03 22:47:57 GMT

Cast VS Forged Anvils: Got into a heated discussion with the gentlemen from Kayne and Son at the Dallas IronFest this weekend. Of course, he nearly blew a head pipe when he found out I was using a cast steel anvil, and a crummy Russian one at that. Intuitively, I think most of us would choose a forged anvil. Why? Strength? Toughness? I won't argue that but think about this. The forging was made from a bar of steel. The bar was rolled from a casting, eg, an ingot or a strand cast billet. It is the hot working of the steel casting that breaks up the ingot structure, homoginizing the microstructure. However, if one used an 12" billet and rolled an 8" bar and forged it down to a 6" cross section, the total reduction would be 2:1. That's not very good. To get what is considered proper reduction (6:1), the ingot or billet would be about 36". I am skeptical that the anvil makers used a bar made from that big of an ingot or billet. In other words, maybe the forging is not that much of an improvement over the casting. He mentioned that the casting would have defects. It might, depending on the foundry practice. The forging could also have defects. The bar or the billet might have defects. I'd like the opinions of Guru, PPW, Frank, Grant and anyone else who wants to wade in on this issue.
BTW: I don't plan to keep "The Toad" any longer than I have to. I will upgrade to a proper anvil but will it be cast or forged?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/01/03 23:36:28 GMT

Y0K smithing; last time I remember looking at that era they were *not* quench hardening steel but they did seem to realize that some "irons" were harder and tougher than others (due to increased carbon content or *other* hardening elements---Phosphorus is one)

   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 06/01/03 23:58:21 GMT


I love my little 100# PW, but the sides and base are too soft to use as forging surfaces. A cast steel anvil, properly hardened, can be made in the Haberman style, or the Hoffi style, and have many more useable surfaces than just the top face. I'd go for the cast anvil, myself.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/02/03 01:36:32 GMT

Quenchcrack. Anvils, cast & forged. I'm just prejudiced and old fashioned. When I started shoeing, I was able to buy a 158 Hay-Budden farrier's pattern right away, and I schlepped it for years in and out of the rig. The shoeing school instructor, Charles Dickinson, in Oregon, had about a 200 pound HB, which I coveted. So now at the school, I have 4 Hay-Buds, 2 Trentons, 1 Peter Wright, and 1 Armitage.
I just started collecting and trading from the early 1960s on. I thought the early and later Swedish cast steel anvils were pretty good, and some of the new cast steel ones are ohkay. And I think the pyramidal horn is an improvement over the London pattern heel. I just have a soft spot in my heart for the old, "karmic", forged anvils that I have gathered over the years. When I need the pyramidal horn, I just reach for my bickern. In addition, I sorta' wish I had been a fly on the wall, so to speak, to see the early anvil forging methodology and the forge welding processes.

Ellen, I have not used the Magician, but it is neat looking. I am thinking one of the major uses should be for tenon making, and if a guy wanted to make a long tenon, he/she'd probably need more thickness to the dies from before to behind. So I intend to fab my own, reference the above information.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/02/03 02:44:49 GMT

Quenchcrack. Anvils, cast & forged. I'm just prejudiced and old fashioned. When I started shoeing, I was able to buy a 158 Hay-Budden farrier's pattern right away, and I schlepped it for years in and out of the rig. The shoeing school instructor, Charles Dickinson, in Oregon, had about a 200 pound HB, which I coveted. So now at the school, I have 4 Hay-Buds, 2 Trentons, 1 Peter Wright, and 1 Armitage.
I just started collecting and trading from the early 1960s on. I thought the early and later Swedish cast steel anvils were pretty good, and some of the new cast steel ones are ohkay. And I think the pyramidal horn is an improvement over the London pattern heel. I just have a soft spot in my heart for the old, "karmic", forged anvils that I have gathered over the years. When I need the pyramidal horn, I just reach for my bickern. In addition, I sorta' wish I had been a fly on the wall, so to speak, to see the early anvil forging methodology and the forge welding processes.

Ellen, I have not used the Magician, but it is neat looking. I am thinking one of the major uses should be for tenon making, and if a guy wanted to make a long tenon, he/she'd probably need more thickness to the dies from before to behind. So I intend to fab my own, reference the above information.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/02/03 02:48:39 GMT


I've never used a cast steel anvil, so I really can't make a comparision. But I love the wrought iron anvils that I've got. I think it's at least possible that the older wrought iron anvils are made better from a quality point of view than either forged or cast anvils made today. So I'll stick with what I've got.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/02/03 03:12:58 GMT

The Failure of Society:

It was about 4:00 a.m. and I stood staring at the 20' diameter pile of smoldering ashes, on occasion a flame or two reached a few feet towards the sky. Just hours ago it was a pile of brush and logs stretching twice as tall as a man out of the 8' deep pit. During the blaze my senses had surrendered to the fire. It's flames erupting from the thick smoke, throwing an endless supply of heat in all percievable directions. This was the reality. . . at that moment the only reality.

Later, after all of the juvenile of mind had departed, we were looking at the surrealistic aftermath and discussing the various factors which were upseting the delicate balance which had kept our civilization in a relitively stable society for so many years. This seemed to be a fitting subject after witnessing such a violent conversion of solid structure to a pile of fluff.

The most recent of events that caused the most substantial damage to the society's structure was the industrial revolution. Although this shift of work load from muscle, wind or water power to that of steam "freeded" the people to reach further in their lives, both physically and physchologicly, it also stole the personal satisfaction of creating an object with ones own physical might and tenacity. The simplicity, monotanous or not, of the daily life had been moved to a machine.

Now, instead of planing for the change of seasons with daily toil or the barder of your skill for anothers. We obtain allotments of specific worth for our time spent in toil. This specific worth is not measured against another mans, no, it's measured against a machines, or a childs time 2,000 miles away.

Does this suggest that a reversion needs to occur from our current technology? Would the destruction of everything except sticks and stones solve the problems?

No, we are still the same people as 20,000 years ago. We just need to start remembering what being a person is all about. Not, being agonized for the 30 seconds it takes for the microwave to re-heat our coffee, but being enthralled with the past, present and future of our loved ones.

Yet, there is a crevice forming between our antiquity and our future. Worse yet, it is becoming a canyon.

I personaly believe that if we pulled our most valuable resources out of hiding from our concentration camps. . . er. . . nursing homes and urged them to speek to the children that are in the "learning institutions" that our money funds. The children would actualy have a resource of wisdom from which to obtain experiences and ideals.

A childs grey matter is a sponge, if it floats in puke, such as we allow to be produced by the pop culture and the overbearing media, then that is what it shall feed upon. Now if there is a vesel that can suspend that sponge and feed it strength and wisdom. The sponge will become full and eventually transform into a beem of light that is capable of reducing the puke to a dried up cake that breaks apart and gets pulled away by the wind.

When I was in highschool(I graduated in 1998) I was standing in the lunch hall, applying some musturd to some of my food. I made a referance to Hitler and some of his evil doings in something I was talking about. The kid beside me whose name I did not know, looked at me in bewilderment and asked who Hitler was! I laughed and asked if he was serious, HE WAS!

Now whose fault is it? We must be able to point fingers! It is my belief that everyone reading this is at fault, along with the writer! Every time you see something that you know isn't right and do nothing, no matter the resistance, you have failed. Every time there is a law being passed that the government officials say is being done in your name and you don't aprove of it, but do nothing, you have failed.

Here, I must admit my hypocrisy. For I have never writen my senator, I have never asked for a law to be enacted or taken away nor have I cared enough.

It was staring at those ashes that made me realize how little one can do after the flames had hit the point of no return. As a society we are still far from that point of no return. As Americans, we still have the chance to take back control of the state in which we live from the federal government and thus begin again to make our rules.

How do we take back control of our states? By letting the people in charge of it know that we won't tolerate ANY of their deviance from our wishes. Remember that is SUPPOSED to be their purpose! If they are no longer serving their purpose then they simply arn't needed!

Take all of the cigerette tax's being enacted to "protect the smokers". I have known NO ONE that has quite from the tax, add campaign or other media/government(OUR MONEY!) implemented procedure to stop people from smoking. The most effective procedure that I have witnessed was some kids meeting a man who smoked through a tube in his throught. Almost all of those kids quit smoking and stayed quit.

The bottem line is that each individual makes up the society and the only thing wrong with it is what we havn't fixed.

Caleb Ramsby

P.S. On the blacksmithing note, we are going to be digging a ditch from the 20' diameter 8' deep pit back a ways and bury a big pipe. Then hook up a large centrifugal fan that is laying around to the pipe and have a very large forced air induction fire! This is for the fourth of July, Independance Day!
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 06/02/03 06:50:11 GMT

I've made 2 different variations of the smithing Magician for my own use, based on available tool steel..one fits a certain size jackhammer bit , the other fits scraper blade sections.
It would have been much cheaper to have bought a kit. Please not that it's possible to weld a tool steel working face on a mild steel blank...If I had it to do again, I'd probably build one...sigh
One can make all kinds of interesting dies for these things and I recently added a spring that helps too.

see, you barely noticed.
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/02/03 07:22:52 GMT

Sorry if this question is already posted in your FAQ, i've been searching the web for answers to various subjects for i think 3-4 hours now, anyway my question is what's the proper fuel to use for heating steel?
thanks for the help, -S
   Spe - Monday, 06/02/03 07:46:49 GMT

When I was in highschool(I graduated in 1998) I was standing in the lunch hall, applying some musturd to some of my food. I made a referance to Hitler and some of his evil doings in something I was talking about. The kid beside me whose name I did not know, looked at me in bewilderment and asked who Hitler was! I laughed and asked if he was serious, HE WAS!

In my opinion, that is as terrifying if not more terrifying than the Holocaust. I say this as a scholar and an ethnic Russian Jew.

Spe: Heating steel for what purpose? If you're referring to forging, you should be dragged behind a horse for your obvious lies; if for some other purpose, glad you could join us on the forum, and we'll be happy to help if you could be more specific! (grin)

School's almost out in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 06/02/03 09:12:36 GMT

Er, there were supposed to be ""s around the quote from Caleb Ramsby's post (the first paragraph of my post). Sorry.
   T. Gold - Monday, 06/02/03 09:14:28 GMT

Please see above the Top Post: "blacksmithing and general metalworking". Pronouncements can be in the Hammer-In Forum. Thanks.

My daughter gave me a good, old book for Fathers' Day: "English Metal Work", William Twopeny, Archibald Constable & Co., London, 1904. It contains 93 drawings of lead work, cast iron, and mostly wrought iron. Hinges, latches, knockers, handles, etc. A few measurements are given. The author died in 1873, and in 1874, his brother gave the drawings to the British Museum.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/02/03 12:48:28 GMT

Caleb R - while your comments above aren't much about Blacksmithing (but a lot about your views) I enjoyed discovering that a young man four years departed from high school could write such a cogent and coherent opinion just because he wished to. Well done young man.
   Jerry Crawford - Monday, 06/02/03 13:12:48 GMT

I have in the past month taken much from the good folks here, thanks.

here is something on spring making that I found that may be of intrest to others: http://home.earthlink.net/~bazillion/intro.html
   habu - Monday, 06/02/03 13:17:11 GMT

T. Gold,

For the last couple of days, I've done some reading about Dachau, and several of the other camps. The information is available on the web, but the kids don't know to look for it. I agree that it's terrifying.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/02/03 13:18:54 GMT


Ellen, I have some pictures in my Yahoo user gallery folder of the guillotine tools which I recently made. (myself and a friend made six for ourselves and some smithing friends) It seems to work well and is fairly easy to build. It does require a milling machine for the two guide slots but you can usually barter that kind of thing if you don't have the tool. Vicopper also has pictures of a different design which is welded together in his folder. I looked at the smithing magician but wanted more flexibilty than their design. With that design you can really only work narrow pieces straight into the tool. Both Vicopper's and my designs allow you to work across the tool also- think about making an incised design along a disc or square plate. Since my tool has an open throat I can weld larger tooling to the upper unit and still fit in the guides. In the SM your tools can only be the size of the guide opening.

I have sent CAD drawings of my unit to Zero and Paw Paw and would be glad to send them to you also if you would like.
   SGensh - Monday, 06/02/03 13:42:54 GMT

Troy and Avoirdupois ERROR: VI, Thanks. . . that is what I get for trying to rethink something I was focused on 10 years ago. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 14:02:55 GMT

Fuel for Heating Steel: Spe, When I started anvilfire I decided not to cover the most basic of basics because those subjects are VERY well covered in the books we recommend in our Getting Started article. However, we have been slowly covering much of the basics through Q&A.

Your question is a little nebulous. Heating steel for what purpose?

For forging, any fuel that gets the work hot enough economicaly is used. The most traditional fuel is charcoal (real charcoal not briquetts). The most efficient modern fuel (modern being the last 300-500 years) is coal. Soft high grade bituminous is best but other grades work. The cleanest modern fuel is gas, either natural gas or propane. Due to the fact that propane is available in portable cylinders it is rapidly becoming a very coomon forge fuel world wide. Heating oil or kerosene can also be used. The prefered fuel by most blacksmiths IF they can get it AND IF they are allowed to burn it is bituminous coal. Many places frown on coal smoke so we are forced to use gas.

All the fuels above require a forced air source to get hot enough and a properly designed forge to contain the fire. The solid fuels can use a primitive forge and any type of air supply. Everything from a skin over a pit, to bellows or a blower (either hand crank or electric) can be used. Gas and oil require special refractory lined forges and burners designed for the specific fuel. Gas forges can have venturi or blower burners but all oil forges require a blower.

For gas welding and general heating an oxygen-fuel torch such as oxy-acetylene or oxy-propane can be used. However oxy-fuel heat is expensive and even though it CAN be used for forging it is not very efficient. Oxy-fuel torches are used for welding, brazing and cutting.

Note that you can weld steel with coal and charcoal but it is a different kind of weld than gas.

For hardening and tempering every type of fuel is used including electricity. It just depends on your situation and needs. Electric furnaces are generaly only used commercialy for heat treating BUT a common household electric stove top is handy for tempering and temper coloring.

Electricity is also used to power an arc welder or induction melting furnace.

Solar energy was used in the 19th century to melt platinium. This requires MUCH higher temperatures than steel.

The most economical and flexible fuel for doing small forging is coal, followed closely by charcoal.

The most economical way to cut heavy steel plate is with an oxy-fuel torch.

The most economical way to stick two pieces of steel together is with an arc welder.
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 14:03:06 GMT

Forgot to mention, most blacksmiths use all three types of fuel. In traditional joinery you do not use an arc welder. BUT arc welders and oxy-fuel torches are essential tools in a commercial shop. They may or may not be used directly in the blacksmithing but they are always needed and most efficient for making tools and equipemnt as well as repairs of all types.
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 14:09:46 GMT

Magician/Guillotine Grant Sarver makes a nice heavy machined unit that is sold ready to use by Kayne and Son.
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 14:11:05 GMT

I am some what new to Smithing and I was wondering if anyone would be able to give me some tips, I am bulding a new shop/I need more room
   - Toby Lacey - Monday, 06/02/03 14:46:16 GMT

Guru, Ellen, et al; how about a url to a Magician/Guillotine site so I can understand what you folks are talking about.
   Jerry Crawford - Monday, 06/02/03 14:55:55 GMT

Forged vs. Cast Anvils: First, forged IS better and more durable. Cast anvils are quite servicable and currently my big anvil is a Swedish cast anvil as was my first little 100 pound anvil. But I also have and have had several old Hay-Buddens and Mouse hole anvils that were heavily abused and though the DID have some chipped edges it was never as sever as the cast anvils.

My observations of cast anvils are that the edges chip easier. Both of my Swedish anvils have chips that extended well into the body. I have also seen cast anvils where sand inclusions under the face resulted in holes or depressions in the face.

Forged steel generally does not crack or chip as easily as cast steel of the same hardness. For this reason cast anvils need to be slightly softer and the edges need to be radiused more. Much of the edge radiusing on my cast anvils is the result of cleaning up chipped edges.

Forgings made from heavy rolled plate or billets CAN have cold shuts deep in the steel but almost never have the kind of inclusions that castings can have. If there are inclusions in the original cast billet then they are closed by the rolling and forging process.

To expose a fault in a billet you do not have to reduce it 6:1. In a simple 2:1 reduction a serious fault when forging at less than a welding heat usualy results in a broken forging. And even though the main body of an anvil may not be reduced 6:1 the horn and heal (which are highly stressed in use) certainly are.

The OLD anvils with a forge welded on face probably had the best conditioned steel. It was rolled or forged flat then forged to shape to forge weld it to the soft iron body. In use the soft iron helps prevent cracking. However, some of the old soft iron bodies were built from scrap wrought iron and had many bad welds as can be seen from examples that have been broken.

Modern cast steel anvils are usualy cast in petro-bond sand or green sand with a wash on the surface. Both methods reduce the possibility of sand inclusions. The best method is petro-bond WITH a surface wash. This results in a clean casting as well as a very nice surface.

Modern cast steel anvils (at least in the US) are made of deep hardening alloy steels of a grade that is probably better than most forged anvils past or present. Properly heat treated they are a very nice anvil.

My biggest complaint about most of the newer cast steel anvils that are available is the poor pattern making. Forged anvils are limited to an extent by the manufacturing process. You CAN make virtually any shape or design, but it often adds expensive secondary or multi step dies. Castings on the other hand can be of any shape you want within reason. Attractive well designed feet, chamfers or decoration cost almost nothing. But the majority of cast anvils have oversized fillets and dumpy shapes. Often the design was dictated by a patternmaker that had no eye for style and obviously no experiance in blacksmithing. Some VERY classy looking anvils could be being made today but they are not. I think there is a market for drop dead gorgeous tools and it is not being fulfilled.

   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 15:19:42 GMT

I have reveiwed the list of anvil brands under different website including "blackiron" and "flash.net/~dwwilson/ntba/anvnm" but did not find the name of "MILNE". What can you tell be about the MILNE brand? The name or letters MILNE is about one inch in height itched on the side under the face of the anvil. The estimated age is over one-hundred years. The owner said the anvil was owned by the grandfather.
   glenn - Monday, 06/02/03 15:20:03 GMT

"Note that you can weld steel with coal and charcoal but it is a different kind of weld than gas."

Jock, are you diferentiating from torch vs forge welds? Or, is the forge weld from a propane forge different than a forge weld from a coal/charcoal forge. It was my understanding that if you got your propane forge up to welding tempreatures, the forge weld would be essentially identical to a forge weld done in coal (assuming the metal was kept clean from inclusions from the fire).
   Monica - Monday, 06/02/03 15:36:43 GMT

Monica, I meant the difference between gas torch (autogenous) and forge welding.
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 16:02:43 GMT

Is there anyone exp. in jyh construction,Im 3/4 done with mine its patterned after dusty. Im looking for a smith in western washington who wouldnt mind coming out for a visit. Im also looking for 1 foot of 6'dia. round in 1018 or 4140..
   robert - Monday, 06/02/03 16:04:02 GMT

email me @ robertm@whidbey.com if you can help..thanks
   robert - Monday, 06/02/03 16:35:38 GMT

Hi all, has anyone here ever forged a can opener? I've been trying to make one since a few weeks ago a collegue came to me with a severely abused knife, which, it turned out, she had used to open a can of beans.
   matthijs - Monday, 06/02/03 16:46:18 GMT

sorry, that should have been colleague instead of collegue.
(english is not my first language)
   matthijs - Monday, 06/02/03 16:52:52 GMT

Anvils-Cast and Forged

QC-WhenI worked at Timken, I learned a bit about steel making and ingot size etc. In the Timken mills billets are either 11 x14 (stand cast) or about 28 x28 (ingot cast). Timken supplies bar up to 12" diameter and the larger bar is made from the ingot cast material to make sure a 6:1 reduction is achieved. What size the forging company uses is entirely up to them, but I would assume that they will choose the size that is easiest to get a finished product from. But keep in mind that the forging copanies are aware of good practice/ reduction ratios etc, so they will probably try and maintain that 6:1 ratio whenever possible.

As to the relative merits of cast vs forged, I am inclind to believe that is is POSSIBLE to make anvils of equivalent quality from both methods. It all comes down to the quality control practices in place at a given manufacturer. Inclusions of a size that will contribute to early anvil failure are most likly to occur in a cast anvil, but if proper casting technique is used, this won't be a problem. If you are comparing the quality of a modern cast anvil with an old (wrought iron) anvil, I think over all quality would be better in the casting due to advances in material processing. I think the best thing to do is reseach the available anvils and see what people like about the different brands available. Aside from doing your own supplier audit, that is about the only way you can compare them.

My personal experience is will old wrought iron anvils (PW and HB) and a Fisher and Vulcan. The only noticeable difference was in reboud. The cast iron anvils had less than the wrought iron ones. But, good work can be done on them all. I would say that more important than cast vs forged would be condtion of the face-chipped, nicked, dinged, settled, soft etc. If buying new this is not a problem. I would think that if you are buyng a new anvil, the noticable differences are going to be in things like face hardness, and that is controlled by temper, not manufacturing method.

I hope this helps.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 06/02/03 17:01:52 GMT

I just looked at Grant's Guillotine tool on the Kayne website. I guess I could have saved myself the trouble of making my own. Same idea- different details.
   SGensh - Monday, 06/02/03 17:34:36 GMT

Guru, Ray Bradbury has some interesting notes in my editions of Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 about the development of lit textbooks. Turns out there's a reason I never read any of his stuff in school - he refuses to let the hacks rework his prose. I say, good for him!

My teachers did not teach to the test. In college they even sprung stuff that I don't believe had ever been "formally" covered. I guess we were supposed to be able to figure it out. On the whole, yeah, the good ones figured it out. Even so I went nuts for years in school. Every year for many years it was the same thing. Started with addition, then subtraction, then... And I'm thinking there must be more than this. Algebra, when it finally arrived was like food for the starving. Many of my classmates didn't feel quite the same way...

   Steve A - Monday, 06/02/03 18:28:30 GMT

Guru "the majority of cast anvils have oversized fillets and dumpy shapes. Often the design was dictated by a patternmaker that had no eye for style and obviously no experiance in blacksmithing. Some VERY classy looking anvils could be being made today but they are not. I think there is a market for drop dead gorgeous tools and it is not being fulfilled."

Guru, I know of two tool makers, one here in New England, Lee Neilson, and another in the UK who conduct a very nice business filling this niche, that of high end hand tools for collectors and users. They think nothing of charging $300 - $2000 for a high end, beautifully designed and made wood plane. And they get it! I argee the market is there but the product MUST incorporate all the eliments of good design and use - an anvil with fretwork on the feet is just a silly looking anvil unless that design has a practical use (form follows function...then art can follow form)

   Jerry Crawford - Monday, 06/02/03 18:39:29 GMT

not to beat a dead subject but....
my lady friend is a teacher in a school for kids with problems. all of her students have some sort of wirering problem, ADD, dislexieia (sp?) one or two have ashberer (sp?) syndrom (mild form of autusem) sever learning disabiltys,etc. all have behvure problems... that is why they are at the school. the majority of the parents care for the kids and do try to do what is best for them, but are still BAD parents if there kid was "normal" they would most likely never have a problem but as it stands.... most use the TV for a babysiter, don't set limits for the kids and keep them,they don't take the time to DO things with there child.
I have some of the same problems as her kids I learned to cope becouse I was blessed with good parents. my parents took me everywere as a child, to fairs to the zoo to the Met not just once in year but ALL the time and they taked to me helped me to like learning new things this of course made me HATE school were I was tought to the test and forced to learn facts that had no bearing on the subject at hand. most of what I know I learned on my own from reading studying and exparamenting. most of what I learned in school was watered down to the point that it was wrong.

my girlfriend is trying to do in her class what should have been done at home trying to make a differace in these kids lives in only 5-6 hours of the're day. One suject I would love to see tought at schools would be child care I don't meen how to keep a kids bottom clean or how to patchup a scraped knee, but how to help a child become an adult how to help them learn, to help them find what they are good at and love to do, to find a path in life that can make them happy. I see all kinds of teens that haven't got a bit of hope that they can make something of them self they end up on drugs droped out and looking for a good time. they seem to have no hope.
and I think that that is the bigest problem ... no hope.
   MP - Monday, 06/02/03 19:41:53 GMT

Jerry, sorry, I was referring to Caleb's "Failure of Society" and gave credit wrongly.

Sgensh, your pix of your work are nice, and your Magician is awewome!

Rich, I like your magician, too, looks like it might be a tad easier to make, does it work well for you?
   Ellen - Monday, 06/02/03 21:49:46 GMT

make that "awesome", please.
   Ellen - Monday, 06/02/03 21:52:08 GMT

Heres a little different take on the smithing magician. I`ve been wanting to build a bigger one (if needed?) to make the shanks for hardie tools, kinda like making a tenon. Example....1 1/4" square bar stock needs to fit a 1" hardie hole and the shank needs to be about 3" long. Would you want the tooling to be 3"x3" wide? Any ideas or different views on this? I thought it would work better than forging close then driving the shank into the hardie hole. Also what about the thought of bigger tooling resisting a blow from a 6 or 8lb sledge?
   - Robert-ironworker - Monday, 06/02/03 22:21:03 GMT

Can Openers>

Matthijs, this is probably not the answer you were looking for, but may I suggest a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife?

It has an excellent can opener, along with knife blade and other tools.

Yeah, I know. Its not blacksmithing information. But it is a good product recommendation.
   - taylor - Monday, 06/02/03 22:39:03 GMT

Hornless Colonial Anvil photo (c) Jock DempseyClassy Anvils: Jerry, I'm not talking about decoration but good clean sculptural design. Most of the old anvils had it and the better cast anvils copied those styles. There are some beautiful European anvil patterns such as the Austrian pattern illustrated in Otto Schmirler's book. One importer has a similar anvil made that COULD be an exact duplicate or BETTER but the pattern is a botched mess and the hardy hole is in the wrong place.

Steve Fienstien from Euroanvils is planning a mock Colonial anvil for demonstrators. It could be a beautiful anvil, but it could also be a dog. I'll wait and see.

Early anvils like those shown here have a very organic shape. Every side was curved in every direction and there was art in their proportions. Making a pattern for an anvil like this is not hard but it IS sculptural. You can't just cut it out with a band saw and glue it to a board.
18th Century anvil drawing (c) Jock Dempsey
There are also some great old anvil designs with bas-relief panels, faces and such that would be great to bring back.

Form follows function makes some pretty ugly tools. Anvils do not need fillets or curves on the sides but they have them for artistic reasons. Those hand made wood planes you spoke of have some very subtle curves and very old design lines that are not necessary but make the tool pleasing to the eye. Most of the lines and features on blacksmith's and old pattern vises are unnecessary but they make for a much nicer looking tool than the simplified modern shapes.

When the art is a neglegible part of making the tool PLEASE give me the art!
   - guru - Monday, 06/02/03 22:57:24 GMT

Forged Vs Cast Anvils: I guess the real question is this: Is it worth $7 per pound for a forged anvil when you can buy a cast anvil for about $3 per pound? If you are a hobbyist, I have to think the cast is a better buy.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/02/03 22:57:26 GMT

Those subtle lines on some hand tools that may seem to have no function other than embellishment quite often are a concious design item by the maker because without it the tool feels or functions differently than with it. And that feel makes the difference to the hand of the craftsman. An example might be a tapered octagon handle on a German chisel; it feels comfortable in the hand and the flats serve to control the chisel with sweaty hands. They serve also to prevent the tool from rolling off a bench onto the floor and !@#$'ing up an edge you have spent hours honing.

Studying the footprint of the anvil aboue I can see the hand of a maker figuring out how to make an anvil of a certain mass and stability using less iron.

Pop-up's: This site is pretty hard for me to use. About every thirty seconds i see a flash of light (like a flash bulb going off) and my Zone Alarm kicks in preventing me from continuing to type untill I release the hounds. Is there some kind of way to shut down the "Slack-tub Pub Empty" spot on the page so I don't have to put up with this???
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 06/03/03 00:06:05 GMT

Trying to get started.I bought a champion 400 blower that I need to replace the worm gear bearings on.Can anyone advise me on the best way to extract them? Do I completely dissamble???

   Les - Tuesday, 06/03/03 02:55:03 GMT

I have been making damascus the hard way and decided to buy a power hammer if I could find one for a reasonable price. I don't do enough to justify a nice Little Giant so when I found this hammer at the Grapevine Iron Fest I was very pleased. I was told it was made by possibly "Star" - but I have not found any information on that company so I am assuming they are no longer in business. The hammer doesn't have any marks on the frame and I was told by the person that had it for sale it was possibly a proto-type. It seams to run good. I haven't ancored it down yet so I don't want to run it until I do. Any info would be helpfull!!!
   Ben - Tuesday, 06/03/03 03:03:40 GMT

Guru et all: I am looking for advice. I have been beating iron for about two years now, using an old portable forge. I am moving in a few months, and I want to build a more permanent brick forge to burn charcoal. Is there any special consideration as far as firebox depth/width? Will a normal coal tweer still work well for charcoal? Thanks.
   Myke - Tuesday, 06/03/03 03:28:15 GMT

Hi Guru, I kanow you are a busy man,but could you pleasssse post a new chapter of the Revolutionary Blacksmith. I'm past withdrawal I'm headed for depression. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Tuesday, 06/03/03 04:06:22 GMT

sorry that should be "know".JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Tuesday, 06/03/03 04:07:33 GMT

taylor: I considered that, and in fact I got myself one of those tiny collapsible can openers from a survival store, but it would be more fun if i could forge one. It is for a medieval setting (around 1350) so there shouldn't be any cans around anyway (they started appearing around 1800 as far as I know). but still, forging one would be nice
   matthijs - Tuesday, 06/03/03 07:58:35 GMT

Myke: How about this one: www.archeon.nl/images/smid.jpg
Sorry, its not a very clear picture. the working surface is flat, 1 meter square, with a round iron plate with 7 holes in the middle for a tuyere. I can get you more dimensions etc if you're interested.


Oh, BTW, how's that for a beautiful, yet functional anvil?
   matthijs - Tuesday, 06/03/03 08:10:05 GMT

You can burn charcoal in a coal forge but it is not optimized for it. For charcoal you generally want a much deeper fire and need less air than for coal.

When I use charcoal in my coal forge I build up the sides of the forgepot with fire brick to get a deeper fire and crank slower or pump slower depending on my air source.

Medieval forges using charcoal tended to be side blown.

There is a picture of a charcoal forge in Weygers "The Complete Modern Blacksmith"

Remember that 1: charcoal throws out more heat on the smith, 2: more sparks, 3: doesn't go out when you stop pusing air into it

It is very clean burning, gets very hot and is considered to burn at a pound for pound ratio for coal *except* the density of coal is much greater so you will neen a lot more volume of charcoal compared to coal.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 06/03/03 14:16:19 GMT

Where I live I use charcoal in the summer monthes.. It smells like a large Bar B Que.. I don't use it at night. It makes the stack look like the 4th of July. Even with the spark arrester on it. I save my coal for winter when no one outside and when I am travelling to different Demo location. Coal hard to find here... Also when I go into the house the Misses doesn't say nasties to me because I don't stink as bad.. Anyway must move on....
   Barney - Tuesday, 06/03/03 14:46:40 GMT

ben,lets see a pict. of your star power hammer,theres quite a bit of info on Star in "pounding out the profits" by Doug Freund. I was surprised nobody had an answer to my post from yesterday regarding some scrap 1018 in 6" round or an aswer to the junk yard power hammer question. Weird????
   Robert m - Tuesday, 06/03/03 16:01:06 GMT

Robert, Why weird? You asked for someone to contact you about a visit. Apparently there were no takers. You asked about a foot of very hard to come by material. Also no surprise.

Currently I have two lengths of 8" round and one 18" and no way to cut them. The small stuff is not too big a problem getting cut but the big piece already cost someone $200 to have cut and on one cut they broke a blade that probably cost more than they charged for cutting. . .

Both the above were very dear to come by.

A few words of advise, when looking for big stock take what you can get. The odds of someone knowing the alloy are pretty low. What you want is STEEL. I've seen big rounds in everything from A2 to wrought iron. I would not have quibbled about either and I'm still kicking myself for not getting that piece of 10" dia A2. Mater of fact, what you want is IRON. Even CI would do for a hammer ram. You would just have to drill and tap your connections to it. AND why round? Heavy plate is just as common as heavy shaft.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/03/03 16:53:33 GMT

more on education...the problem as I see it is that too many folks seem to think that public school is *all* that they have to do to raise a kid into a successful adult. The common thread in all the earlier posts is the difference that parents or other adults have made to an individual's development. Homeschooling takes this a step farther. Just like learning blacksmithing, there is only so much that books can do, although the flip side of that is that not paying attention to what is in books also has drawbacks. I've taught in public school and at the college/university level, and could go on for hours about systemic problems I have encountered, but I'd rather read about metal (no slight to anyone meant by this). The best we can all do is to get out there and teach someone, blacksmithing or whatever, and model by example what a sucessful adult human is.
   - mstu - Tuesday, 06/03/03 17:19:48 GMT


I'm going to back you on the amount that books can do. They can do a lot, and they are vital, but life experience counts for a tremendous amount too.

But the greatest gift that anyone ever gave me was the uncle who started teaching me to read when I was three years old. By the time I was five, I was reading the Charleston WV Daily Mail (newspaper) for fun.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/03/03 17:40:43 GMT

Robert M:

If you take Jock's advise and go with CI, you can get 6" round in 1' chunks from McMaster-Carr. They sell both Gray and Ductile CI (I'd go with the ductile) for $125 ea.

CI is weighs less than steel, so you'd lose about 8-1/2 pounds of ram weight (CI vs. Steel).

There... Now you've had TWO answers! ;-)
   Zero - Tuesday, 06/03/03 17:42:35 GMT

Zone Alarm? Flash of light? Don't know what that talking about. Sounds like it is caused by some anti-banner software or misbeahving anti-popup software. The refresh on the pub status s NOT a "pop-up" and is legaly within the confines of the page. If you have software that alerts on it then the software is brain dead or improperly configured.

Anti-popup software should only alert on new windows being automaticaly displayed. We do not do that and never will. In fact we no longer link to sites that use pop ups or accept them to our webrings.

The banners go a long way toward paying for this site and originally were going to be the ONLY thing that supported this site. If you are running anti-banner software then tough. Many of the CSI member pages do not have banners (I need to work on more). They have paid for the right not to have banners. But the normal member pages still have the pub-status window.

The costs of running this site annualy are equivalent to a good income. Then there is the matter of MY time which has largely been uncompensated for 5 years. THIS year I might make an income. But its not all coming directly from anvilfire which I work at over 10 hours a day. . . anvilfire has been hugely successful, but not financialy so. Think about it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/03/03 17:42:58 GMT

Champion Blower Bearings: Les, To the best of my knowledge they were custom bearings made by Champion and are not standard bearings. In some cases folks have replaced the balls and said they put in new bearings. . . The balls are only PART of the bearing. Usualy if the balls are worn out the races are also damaged. ALSO, if the bearings are really worn out and the blower was used while they were wearing out then the gears are also probably worn out.

No good news.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/03/03 17:54:09 GMT

hello, i wanted to know what materials i need to forge a sword,and if theres any tips u can give me on sharpining a sword
thnk you...richard
   richard blum - Tuesday, 06/03/03 18:28:49 GMT

Classy Anvils: matthijs, THAT is a nice old anvil! I made your link hot so it would be easy for folks to look.

It is also one of those anvils that most Americans would not recognize as an "anvil".

Years ago I asked Richard Postman about a book on European anvils. His reply was that there were too many little manufacturers and no clear way of tracing the origin of most old European anvils. If you are interested in the history of specific anvils this makes sense. However, I think a book with a collection of images of old European anvils would still be a wonderful thing. Even without knowing their maker there would still be enough information to write something about each one. Where found, approximate age and size.

18th century Jewelers anvil photo (c) Jock Dempsey18th Century Jeweler's Anvil: This little cutey is from a friend's collection. Every surface was finely finished with files and scrapers. There is a very small punching hole (about 1/32") that tapers to a larger size on the bottom so that punchings would fall through. The only other place I have seen one of these is in an old 18th century catalog of watch and clockmaker's tools. Modern versions are similar but are heavily polished instead of finely finished.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/03/03 18:53:18 GMT

Guru - I wasn't trying to pick a fight or critize your site - I was hoping you could tell me if there was anything that might account for the flashbulb effect I'm getting off of the anvil strike at the top of the page or why the "Slack tub..." text winks at me now and then. I'll work on it
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 06/03/03 20:07:47 GMT

Thanks to all of those who voiced admiration of my short essay on the pitfalls of society. I will copy and send it to the local newspaper, they may be interisted in publishing it.

As for the education system. I was in private Christian schools until the fourth grade. At which time I was studying algebra, geometry and the calculus with my brother, who is eight years the elder. At that time I switched to homeschooling until the tenth grade. From the tenth grade until graduation from highschool I was admited to a local public school. I must say that the time in which I recieved the most advantageous education was in the homeschooling.

Oddly enough I failed senior english class because of a lack of homework and class particapation. I spent many classes reading Farenheit 451 over and over. How I got the needed english credit was in a class that was the first of it's kind in the country and the last, for it only lasted that one year. It was a multi facated class that combined the creation of the class yearbook, a school website and a video news show that was made by the students and to be aired in place of a nation wide broadcast shown during school.

I think that less homework and more trips to places where the knowledge that is to be acquired from school is applied, would give the students more time to get involved in after school activities and show them how the field(s) they have chosen require them to have a practical yet technical knowledge of whatever processes required.

Back to blacksmithing. My dream anvil is a 4" by 4" square chunk of steel about 7' long. This would be set in a substantial chunk of concrete which would stabalize it. I would most likely have to apply hardfacing rod to the 4" square surface on top. It would be called the mini monolith.grin For a scrolling tool, I would weld on a square protrusion from the side of the mini monolith which would be so constructed that a variety of diameter pieces of steel could be help by it. This would give one a continous diameter to use as a backup instead of the varying diameter that is common on an english anvil. I believe this would be very advantageous.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 06/03/03 20:12:54 GMT

Caleb, FWIW, if you were my son, friend, neighbor, I'd counsel you to consider the anvil design a bit further. Bedding that thing in concrete 5 feet in the ground sounds lovely but it also seems awfully permenent to me and at your age you are going to relocate at least seven times in your liftime. If your set to make your own anvil aim your sights on something a bit more moveable.
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 06/03/03 20:40:34 GMT


I've found that the Magician I made works very well for me, providing that I keep it from getting rusty. That isn't easy in an island climate, but a good coating of grease does the trick. It was actually very easy to make, and required no machine work. Anything that looks like it might have been machined is really just cleaned up with a flap disc on a side grinder. The "spring" is mild steel, no heattreating, likje the rest of it. If I had easy access to some tool steel, I would have used that for the dies, but the A-36 is actually holding up very well.

The only "difficult" part of the construction was bending and shaping the 'C' frame from 1/2 x 2 bar stock. It would have been easier to hack out the shape with a cutting torch, but I wanted the contour of a forged piece just to please my own eye.

Anvils? I want the 450# PW that a guy here on the island has and doesn't even use. Beautiful condition, too. I'm almost ready to shove $1500 at him and beg for it. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/03/03 22:21:32 GMT

Jock, not to nag, but I'm really, really, missing the next installment of the The Revolutionary Blacksmith. Thanks!
   Ellen - Tuesday, 06/03/03 22:22:07 GMT

Hi, I was curious about how to get those terrible colors out of heated sheet metal. I was going to try sanding but I havent gotten oround to it. Any suggestions.
   - Patrick - Wednesday, 06/04/03 00:27:17 GMT

Thank you Matthijs and Thomas, My tenetive plans call for a fire box: 18in by 18in parabola out of fire clay. Fed from the side at about an inch from the bottom with an inch and a quarter black pipe. The great bellows will be 65in by 36in with a spread of about 36in fully inflated.
   Myke - Wednesday, 06/04/03 00:53:16 GMT


Get the sand paper out, or else sand blast it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/04/03 00:59:51 GMT

guru,and others
thank for the advise. I wanted round stock because I started making my upper and lower dies and die plates from 6" round waste pipe cutout from the shipyard over hear. I have access to so "steel" its cr1018 10' The scrap yard cant cut it and I cant really carry it in my chevy s 10 . Good price @ 20 cents per lb. I can get it cut to specs at scagit river steel for 60 cents per pound so thats about 60 dollars. Im cheap and was looking for a deal. Plus its a junk yard hammer I didnt want new stuff on it except the motor. As for the shop visit I had a wise smithy friend come by(he has no jyh exposure) He saw my hammer and was scared he is certain i will kill myself. I dont get it,looks safe to me...I was hoping to have someone knowlagable in jyh to reasure me. Ive heard that in japan most of the power hammers are shop built,heck Ive seen some 100# ones with bungees as the toggle spring....The search goes on....
   Robert M - Wednesday, 06/04/03 01:14:00 GMT

Dream Anvils: Yep, Caleb's idea is much too permanent and would require a back hoe with breaker to remove and move. Very expensive for a 381 pound piece of steel. Stepped cones have been made but have the huge disadvantage that each step is a range of sizes that you do not have. As a horn it would be worse.

Ancient anvils in permanent shops had huge oak logs set deep in the ground and the anvil rested upon this OR as is common with old European anvils it had a shank (stake) set into this heavy "stump". Very solid and IF you did move all you were leaving behind was a tree stump. . .

Early anvils were most often hornless (like the one above) as the horn is a rather late invention for making shoes. Every shop had stake anvils which were nothing BUT horn, normaly one round and one square. These long slender horns are much better than the short London pattern horn for many
uses. The modern London, American and European pattern anvils are a sort of multi-tool design that combines many features and must compromise on some. Specialty anvils such as farrier's anvils exagerate the horn and often have specialized features that get in the way of other smiths. Prior to these all-in-one designs shops had many anvils if they could afford them.

On the other hand. . You could scale up that little jewelers anvil above to about 4 feet long, 500 pounds and have a VERY servicable general shop anvil. The transition from large face to narrow would satisfy folks on both the wide and narrow face debate. . .

I have designed numerous fantasy anvils over the years. One is made integral with a solid steel base made to look like a crystaline rock thrust with inclusions of quartz shaped crystals made of polished stainless and brass. One side has a series of stepped 3" hexes (like the basalt Giants Causway) that can be used as upsetting blocks. The anvil itself is a double horned type that would be about 400 pounds if it were not attached to a 2,000 pound base. The whole would be decorated with either carved steel dragons or Greek goddess type figures between the crystaline constructions. An anvil of the gods. . . Total weight: ~ 2,400 - 2,500 pounds. Size: large but not unweildly. I'm not crazy about running around a 6 foot long anvil. . .

Just a little project for a retired smith with nothing better to do. . .

I also have a design for a fabricated "Ancient European" type that is a tall thing with short horns and a wide rectangular face. It has a very early well developed look but is totaly original. Comes in at around 500 pounds. It was designed as Ren-faire demonstration shop anvil. An ancient-fantasy thing but can be fabricated economicaly.

If anyone is interested all that is needed is money and one of these creations COULD BE yours.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 01:17:36 GMT

Thank you guru.
   - Patrick - Wednesday, 06/04/03 01:19:22 GMT

Flashing: Jerry, the pub status window refreshes every 60 seconds. The banner refresh varies from page to page as there are several systems but most refresh at 60 second intervals.

JYH Parts: Robert, finding very heavy chunks of usable steel that are not too long or too short is real luck. OR takes a lot of patience. It is also the kind of thing you need a bigger truck or a trailer to haul away. Luck favors the foolish. . or something like that.

Sword Materials and Shaping: Richard, start at the begining and read a book or three. Start with Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing and then some specialized books on blade making. See our Getting Started Article and book review page for examples.

Blade making is generaly by two basic methods, forging and stock removal. Stock removal is generaly done by sawing and grinding. It requires LOTS of grinding equipment. Forged blades also need grinding and often the same grinders are used as for stock removal. The choice of steel is up to the maker and depends on what you want the blade for. If is is to be a wall-hanger then it can be made of anything you can find. Mild steel is easier to work than good blade steel. Stainless doesn't rust and shines up REAL pretty but the common stuff doesn't harden. Still makes good wall hangers and movie swords. Serious steels need lots of study. Once you know about them you will probably know what kind to make what you want. Study first.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 01:38:32 GMT

Richard, you might look at the Armory section here on Anvilfire, there is an article on swordmaking which will give you a good idea of what is involved. It is by Bruce "Atli" Blackistone.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 06/04/03 02:08:10 GMT

Robert M

I bulit a JYH from the Dusty Plans. It has a 33# hammer made from a two way pump piston from the oil feilds. It is about 3"s in dia and 18"s long. The anvil was a piece of heavy gauge pipe 3/4" walls and I inserted the rest of the piston in it and filled the void with solid square that fit. It works real good I can work 1 1/2" dia material with it, but not as quickly as 50# LG. I have made two hammers out of 2" round stock that I squared up and tapered for a fuller on the 45 degree. I also helped build a Dusty copy for a blacksmith friend and his has a 66# hammer. It uses a two horse power 220 motor. I have a 1 hp on mine because I had it. Follow the plans and make sure your welding is good, and the bracing is solid, and over engineered. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 06/04/03 04:12:55 GMT

Robert, by the way I can get one sroke or a couple. Max is around 160 to 180 beats per minute. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Wednesday, 06/04/03 04:15:47 GMT

Caleb Ramsby (re: earlier post about schools):

Ever heard of "Charter Schools"? They're schools that, instead of making kids read books and do reports on, say, banks, would take the kids to a bank every day for a week or two to learn. Great idea IMO, almost Greek in its simplicity and wisdom.

Obligatory blacksmithing content:
Dressed my two hammers yesterday. Dang if them drum sanders don't just eat metal, and leave a clean fine finish to boot! With 220grit, I got something that would usually take me 600-1000grit by hand... with 600, I got something I could pretty much see my face in. I took the nail ridges (gag) out of my 2.5lb sledge and cleaned up the grinding marks on my 12oz ball peen, and smoothed the corners of both. For those who may not want to build their own belt sander, building a drum sander may be the next best thing (though you will most likely have to purchase the drum).

I, too, have a little old jeweler's anvil... I always wondered how one would find the punching hole when punching on one, as small as they are.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 06/04/03 09:32:50 GMT

Guru, In an effort to provide some useable horn to my Russian anvil, I recently purchased a bick from Kayne and Son. It has a 25mm shank. As you recall, the Russian anvil has a 28mm hardy hole. This leaves my bick with a rather sloppy fit. I am not certain I can find square tube with a 28mm flat and a wall thin enough to fit between the bick and the hardy hole. Since I plan to replace the Russian anvil at the first opportunity with a better one, one with a standard hardy hole, is there a convenient way to shim or sleave the bick shank without permanent modification?
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/04/03 12:11:10 GMT


Take a piece of angle irong longer than the length of the hardy hole. Split it for a 1/2" on one end and fold the two tabs out away from the side of the angle. With the angle iron sitting in the hardy hole, the two tabs will lay on top of the anvil and keep this half sleeve in place. That should steady up your bick and be easy to put in and take out.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/04/03 12:54:30 GMT

Auxilliary Horn QC, Shim one or two sides only. . Most aux horns are for very light work and rounding like a floor cone.

Option, attach a fence post to a nearby bench, drill a 1" hole in the end and force the small cone into it as a permanent fixture. You may want to band or wire bind the end of the post first.

A metalic option is to make a stake plate that accepts the size tooling you have and mount it on a bench or stand.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 14:21:17 GMT

I'm considering whether to make or buy a cone mandrel.
The Laurel Foundry cones seem pretty reasonable but I was wondering if you know of any other manufacturers. Are there any disadvantages to having a tong slot ? This is the only type I have used, it seems like it would be a big disadvantage not having one. Also, I notice that Laurel has a machined cone. Does anyone really need that kind of accuracy in this tool ?
Thank You

- Chris
   chris smith - Wednesday, 06/04/03 14:51:46 GMT

trhnx guru & thank you ellen

   richard blum - Wednesday, 06/04/03 15:03:40 GMT

Bleeding heart forge.....Thanks I dont actually have the plans,I called the guy who sells them and he said the plans didnt show much but were more conseptual, I just kinda built it as I went along, I bought a mig welder just for this project and it turned out to not have enough juice to get proper penetration, its a 105 amp only cost 500 I havent tried with sheilding gas yet. As for my anvil cap and hammer head I guess I'll have to just splurge for new steel cut to my specs,oh well. Im sure it will pound out the damascus great, and a press is in the near future...:-)
   Robert - Wednesday, 06/04/03 15:31:11 GMT

dear guru, i have just finished my first damascus, made out of cable wire, 60 cables of 1/4. the welding process was ok but the material is too soft and i cannot harden it.
carbon loss during the welding process? thanks, rod from rio de janeiro.
   rodrigo damatta - Wednesday, 06/04/03 15:51:04 GMT

Hello, do you remember the old explosive wedges that were used in the '40's and '50's to split wood...you know, before log splitters? They would still be a good tool to split great big wood that's too big to handle and was wondering where I could get one or if a blacksmith still had a drawing of how to make one.(I have some 60" dia. red oak to split), thanks, Greg.
   Greg - Wednesday, 06/04/03 16:06:48 GMT

GURU - FWIW, my typing problem stem's from the various (Pieh, Traditional Metalsmith, Centaur Forge, et al) legitimate banners that drop onto the site from time to time and my ZA objects to these when it's turned on thinking they are SPAM. Now that I understand what's going on I can make changes and continue to lurk around here to learn stuff.

BTW, I picked up a very nice free piece of 4 X 6 iron bar yesterday 6" long for a bench anvil. I welded on a handle making it easy to pick up and am now about to set aside my 18" section of rail which about gave me a hernia every time I had to drag it out from under the bench. Life is good.
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 06/04/03 16:26:20 GMT

Cones and Mandrels: Chris, I think almost everyone that sells cone mandrels is selling Laurel foundry's. However, the Kaynes have several types and sizes.

Greenwood Cone Collection photo (c) Jock Dempsey Greenwood Cone Collection: Cone mandrels have come in a great number of sizes and styles. Most are hollow but the big one on the left with the eye-bolt in the top is solid and weighs about a ton.

All the small cones I have seen did not have slots. The old ones were designed to fit in a socket in a large floor cone which had a slot starting below the socket for the removable section. My floor cone does not have a slot and works fine. I've seen more cones without slots than with. Some cones had a flat instead of a slot.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 17:09:51 GMT

Cable Damascus: Rodrigo, Not all cable is created alike. Some is low carbon steel and some is medium carbon steel. Test an individual piece of the original wire before making laminated blades.

You could mix other steel wire with the cable to add hardness. Music wire (guitar, piano, harp strings) is high carbon steel, usualy SAE1095. However, the wrap on wrapped stings may be soft iron, brass or stainless.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 17:21:06 GMT

Guru and PPW, thanks, I plan to use the bick to do tight radius bends and even though it is heat treated 4140, I don't plan on using it for heavy work. PPW, I only have about 1 mm clearance but it is enough to let the bick flop to one side. Maybe I can forge the angle iron thinner. I will try that ( don't you just hate it when your bick is floppy?). I also like the idea of a post or stake plate. Could I just hold it in my vise? I did finally acquire a proper leg vise and light hammering shouldn't bother it.
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/04/03 18:17:00 GMT

I need to know as much as possable about the chemistry of blacksmithing for a paper I am writing cor Chem class. Any advise or knowlage to share?
Much thanks,
   Chris - Wednesday, 06/04/03 18:19:09 GMT

Caleb, a guy at Batson blade symposium was selling something very close to that, but much more portable. About 6x6x12 blocks of 4130, or about that size and something like that alloy. You could get the blocks, or he had two blocks welded end to end, top ground and hardened, with a stand. Whole package came to about 260 lbs, if I remember right.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 06/04/03 18:20:49 GMT


can you make a small drive wedge to go along side that would come out when you took the bick out of the hardy hole?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/04/03 18:32:07 GMT

I am a bigenners smith and I have done a awfull lot of research, but made two knife's and a spear point. I had a Railroad track, but lost it and now I'm loking for a alternative anvil. Is it the best to start with an thick piece of metal etc. or a anvil? I've read not to begin with a anvil because in one's inexperience you'll only damage it. I've looked at anvils , but because of South Africa's low currency everything is very expensive. I went to a scrap yard, but with only a bit of luck, I found a very ald anvil (probaply the one's they used in the 1500 or someting) looks like a square block with no hardy hole horn or anything, just two roundish dents. It is in quite a state for it has angle grindings hard blows etc. and is very uneaven on it's face. Now i've read that one could fix this with I special kind of welding rod, could you please give me the name or specifications of these rods? If you would could you please tell me how to re-do the anvils face? Weld it and then Grind it even or should I weld it on so good that it is even? I am quite handy, but can't weld or so, so making a anvil is going to be quite hard. I also don't no if it is really going to be worth fixing this scrapyard anvil or if I should use it as it is, till I find something else.

Thank you very much for your help I appreciate your trouble

Rudopolf Meijering
   Rudolf Meijering - Wednesday, 06/04/03 19:01:26 GMT

Chris; you're asking for several thousand pages of info; can you narrow it down a bit? Alloying, allotropic phase transformations, what happens during hardening/normalizing/annealing, carbide formation, changes in crystal size, carburization/decarburization, sulfur contamination, forge welding (cite: _Solid Phase Welding of Metals_, Tylecote). Just what goes on during the
thermal cycling of wootz could be a good monograph.

Rudopolf: a big hunk of steel *IS* an anvil---just one that is not shaped like the london pattern ones; but that pattern only came around several thousand years after folk started pounding iron so I guess the other shapes do/did work. My advice is: get something cheap to start and keep your eyes open for a "real" anvil on the cheap afterwards---or even a better "improvised" anvil.

Large hornless anvils are often called sawyers anvils as they were sometimes used to tune the large old circular saw blades. They really look a lot like the anvils japanese katanas are forged on, (folks generally consider the katana to be well forged so the lack of horns doesn't seem to be a hinderance...)

Start learning *now* and accrue tools as the need and cash allow.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 06/04/03 20:28:10 GMT

PPW, The bick has a forged upset collar right above the hardy shank and it completely covers the hardy hole. I will probably just mount it in my leg vise for now.

Rudolf Meijering: I wish you were closer, my friend. I have a block of 4130 6"x4"x12" that I would gladly give you for your first anvil. It weighs 102#. However, shipping it to SA would cost more than a new anvil down there. We are blessed in this country with a surplus of industrial cast-offs and I have enjoyed "scrounging" for stuff and making it work. One of the hallmarks of the blacksmith is the ability to make something from nothing. I can sympathise with you, though, when you have limited resources from which to "scrounge". We wish you great success. Please come back here often and let us know how you are doing.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:04:09 GMT

Why not put a 90 degree bend in a piece of sheet metal and use that instead of the angle PPW suggested? My original thought was that you could use 16 or 18 gauge surrounding the bick on all 4 sides, but your 1mm clearance comment threw me (28 - 25 = 3).
   Mike B - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:13:00 GMT

OOPS -- posted before I saw QC's last post.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:14:52 GMT

Guru and Jerry,

Come on now, a back hoe with a breaker! Guru, I think you have been infused with the industrial industry for a little too long. A simple tripod with a pully system could pull that chunk of steel with concrete without a problem. As for breaking the concrete, a simple sledge hammer and a strong back will break that stuff up in no time(I have been doing stuff like that since I was 8 years old). Now if one didn't have the time, capacity or tenacity to do so themselves then you would be correct.

As for the horn a simple stake as you stated would also work just fine. I mainly use the horn on my 100 lb. Vulcan for making scrolls and not as a forming tool.

T. Gold,

I had never heard of the "Charter Schools". They sound like a very good idea. If there were more places like that our teaching systems would be producing much more productive and balanced people.


You might try using a few small scraps of leather as shims. Mabey some cuttings off of old welding gloves or such. The best option would be the priorly stated dedicated post, this reduces greatly the time required to set-up the horn.


Sounds like a good product. He must have made a heavy duty stand.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:21:43 GMT

has any body ever heard of a union called boilermaker-blacksmith national union.. a machinest died here and that is the union he belonged to
   hotforge101 - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:26:55 GMT

Chemistry of Blacksmithing: Chris, That IS too broad of a subject to write a meaningful report on unless you redefine it.

You would have the chemistry (metalurgy) of steel and all its various crystal structures, Then there would be the chemistry of the fire (fuel dependent) and how it reacts with the metal as well as how the smith interacts with changes in the chemistry of the fuel. Coal is the most common fuel and is VERY complicated being an organic substance. It passes through various phases as it burns changing the chemistry of the fire. AND these pahses do not happen evenly throughout the fire so there are multiple processes going on that are proportionately critical but poorly defined.

Some chemical metalurgical terms: nitriding, speroidizing, carburizing, austentite, martensite, eutectoid, pearlite, cementite, ferrite, transformation range. . . Almost every piece of steel a smith works goes through these processes and stages, often in just a few seconds. . .

The most critical interaction to the smith is that of the atmosphere in the fire and how it reacts with the steel. Steel can absorb or lose carbon and it can oxidize to the point of being useless. The amount of oxidation is critical when forge welding is to be performed. The fire must be balanced where it is nearly its hotest but still has excessive carbon in the atmosphere. Welding is done with and without welding flux. The most common flux is borax and it goes through various changes since it is naturaly a super hydrated crystal (10 H2O) that dehydrates in use. However there are other fluxes used in blacksmithing including flourspar (calcium flouride) which is very aggressive AND in the form used reacts with organics.

Then there is exhust chemisty. All coal has some sulfur so it produces some complex compounds in its soot and ash. The EPA and neighbors are concerned about what goes in the air and on the ground and the smith is concerned about absorption into the steel, corrosion in the forge and stack. Other fuels also have exhust and ash problems including everything from radon to lead.

There is the chemistry of natural oxidation (rust) and how it is effected by scale, flux and fuel deposits. THEN there are the methods to prevent rust, the use of sacrificial metals in paint and the chemistry of the paint (pigments, oils and diers). Many smiths make their own finishes (something I advise they NOT do). Huge chemical industries employing millions (including tens of thousands of chemists) are based on this one subject.

Blacksmiths also use chemicals to finish steel. Blueing (like gun bluing), browning and rust finishes and ways to preserve them. Prior to finishing steel needs to be descaled. Sometimes this is done via sandblasting but is now often done via chemical cleaning. Whole books have been written on chemical finishing of metals.

Ah . . did I mention that blacksmiths work with a wide range of metals besides steel? Copper, brass, bronze, aluminium and alloys such as stainless to mention a few?

When heat treating it is common to use salt baths made up of various salts (common salt, potasium salts, heavy metal salts) with different melting points and different reactions with the metal. Cyanide salts were commonly used and were considered fairly safe unless it cam in contact with an acidic substance (why and what the reaction?).

Then there are the biological reactions to the fumes and dust from metals, oils and solvents. Arc welding smoke varries with the rod type. Grinding wheels are bonded with mostly inert ceramics but also some not so inert substances as well as containing glass fibres. . . What ARE we breathing?

AH. . and in primitive smithing the smith actualy reduces the iron from the ore (making his own metal). Different ores require different fluxes and atmospheres. . . Carbon monoxide is an important substance in this process.

Walk into any commercial blacksmith shop and you will find about 50% of the periodic table of elements (including quite a few of the rare earths). Hydrogen, Lithium, oxygen, argon, helium, beryilium, iodine, boron, flourine, carbon, sulfur, calcium, potasium . . . chromium, nickle, bismuth, tin, tungsten, titanium, copper, zinc, iron, lead, cadnium, vanadium. . . In my shop you will even find gold, silver, zirconium . .

Don't ever pick a subject you know little about to write a paper on because it APPEARS simple. Blacksmithing is part of ALL metalurgy and touches on a great deal of chemical science. Even a broad review of the subject with no specific reactions or formulae could takes weeks of research and writing.

Go back to your instructor and ask if you can more closely redefine you subject. Choose wisely.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:39:08 GMT


In addition to the public schools, and private church schools, we also have Charter schools in the area. As a result, public school registrations are actually falling a little bit, and standards are going up a little bit. There may be hope for the future yet, but I wouldn't bet on it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:40:22 GMT

Hi All,

Spur making question:
If I decide to cast a set of spurs would it be easier to cast them in this segemented style: http://home.armourarchive.org/members/ewan/Pictures/Spurs7.jpg
Or cast them in a single piece?
   - Tony - C - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:43:27 GMT

MikeB. 28-25 = 3 but divided between 2 opposing sides = 1.5mm on each side. Allowing .5 mm clearance for easy insertion and removal.

Guru: See, when I got my degree, metallurgy was a lot simpler. Only 4 elements to worry about : air, earth, water and fire. Really simplifies the chemistry part.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/04/03 21:55:42 GMT

Concrete in Hole: Caleb. . . You ever see how REAL blacksmiths put in concrete? My shop floor has 3/4" and 1/2" rebar alternating in two directions, AND wire mesh over that. The entry footer has a large peice of I beam in it and the door frame anchors are welded to it. The hammer foundations are in steel lined pits and are also full of welded rebar. They are bigger at the bottom than at the hole in the floor. . . It is all 6 bag mix. To remove them by hand would take long weeks with drill, wedges and a sledge plus a cutting torch. . .

You don't want to mess with something I installed to last.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 22:14:14 GMT

Numerous Parts: Tony C, One advantage of casting is that you can reduce the number of necessary parts to as few as possible (usualy one). The example you show is probably that way for adjustment or a one-size-fits-all. Each spur has two hand fitted joints (four mating sides each). That is a lot of filing and fitting.

Even when the mold making is complicated by the casting combining parts you are usualy better off with less parts.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/04/03 22:21:14 GMT

Jock builds the same way I do. I always over-build by at least a factor of 1.5 to 1. Has caused me trouble a couple of times when I wanted to take something out, but nothing I've built has ever fallen down.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/04/03 22:34:09 GMT

Guru and Paw Paw,

For my aplication of a breakable concrete base for an outdoor anvil, I would design it with it's destruction in mind. The keen part would be that the rebar could be welded directly to the steel post!

When I was a kid I helped my father in his side construction buisness. We built outdoor decks, rebuilt inside walls and made outdoor cement block, brick and wood retaining walls.

Although the buisness consisted of him, my two older brothers and I, he gave a 10 to 20 year gurantee on ALL of his work. He only had to go back and re-do a job once in 8 years. This was because the people we had made a sidewalk for had taken the plastic covering off of it, one day after it was poured, so it didn't cure properly and began developing minute cracks. The general moto was to build something so that it would hold an elephant. . . and that was literal. He learned all of this from my grandfather, who had built along with his multi level house and three story garage, about 8 buildings on his property to store materials and use as dedicated working areas. I come from a long line of over-engineers and that line won't stop with me.grin

I can see that you two also have the same mentality that I do. I am willing to wager that the Guru's shop is constructed to a greater strength than required by modern industrial standards!grin I wouldn't try to bust up your shop by hand. . . unless of course that hand held a stick of dynamite.grin Even then it would probably take a few booms!

This brings us to a point of interist. I don't recall seeing any photos of the interior of your shop on your website Guru. I think that it would be of great interist to many people to see what a properly laid out and constructed blacksmith/machine shop looks like.

Mabey if all of us infatuated with this site and it's benefits could devise a contrivance that gave the Guru a 36 hour day, then he would have more time to slave away for us, or more people could just join CSI, THIS MEANS YOU!

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 06/04/03 23:08:11 GMT

Rusty/Dusty Hammers:

I've been cosidering building a power hammer and the Rusty caught my eye. It's got a low profile and a small footprint, both necessary in my shop. The Dusty looks, from the pictures, to have a bigger footprint than Rusty, and Super Rusty even bigger.

Since pictures can be deceiving, has anyone here been able to compare them in person? It looks like the leaf-spring would be the limiting factor, as the rest is motor/linkage placement.

Thanks, JWG for posting your description of Dusty. Anyone have any comments on the performance of the others? Also, how are the plans themselves? My bigest problem is I don't have much experience in machinery, so I wouldn't know what kinds of things (like bearings, guide material,...) are available. I need some pretty specific examples.


   - Marc - Thursday, 06/05/03 00:23:43 GMT

QC --
Hope I didn't sound snooty. PPW's angle suggestion had me thinking about all the slop being on one side and I guess that confused me.

   - Mike B - Thursday, 06/05/03 01:15:05 GMT

Mike, I finally understood what you meant. Push the bick to one corner and all the slop is on one side. My bad.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/05/03 01:46:01 GMT

Mike and QC,

That's one of the problems with this method of communication. It so darned two dimensional that it's easy to mis-understand each other. Fortunately the group that inhabits the Guru's Den is a fairly polite bunch of people and take the time to explain and try to understand each other.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/05/03 02:46:12 GMT

Hey, Hotforge, Howya doin'? The full name of the Boilermakers' Union is the "International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers". I belonged to that union back in the '70s when I worked at the American Shipbuilding yard in Toledo, Ohio as a Shipfitter. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 06/05/03 06:28:48 GMT

Good Guru;
Your mental anvils sound wonderful.
Just put a nice flat rock at the bottom of the hole and put your 7' mini-monolith ( isn't a monolith a big stone?) in, fill in with tamped sand or gravel so you can recover it when you flee. Buried that deep it'll be fine.
Patrik;....flap disk
Greg; 60" red oak is lumber, not firewood IMO
Chris; LOL...break down and do a little actual research first please.
Rudolph; The very old anvil could easily be a valuable piece with historical value except for the angle grindings..I'd advise getting it and doing as light a grind as possible to level out a few square inches to work on, maybe not even that...perhaps you can gently hammer out some of those dings and flaws with a slightly rounded hammer face ( wear a face shield). Welding on an anvil is an absolute last resort as many have been ruined that way..it is a highly technical weld.
Hi QC...a leg vise should tolerate all kinds of hammering, you might get a piece of angle like PPW suggested and heat it to fit it in hot.
Tony C; isn't it close to impolite to ask blacksmiths how to cast something that was traditionally forged?
It's OK though, most of us won't pout..much
   - Pete F - Thursday, 06/05/03 07:59:39 GMT

Chris Smith, Roger Lorance sells a cone mandrel about 2 feet tall with slot, and a square shank extending from the bottom. I don't think Roger wants to be "computer hip", so you might contact him at RR 2, Canton, Illinois 61520.
   - Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/05/03 12:00:44 GMT

Can you please tell me all of the features a drill Bit? If not, than can you at least tell the name and author of the book in which I can gain this information?
   - Chris - Thursday, 06/05/03 13:02:57 GMT

Drill Parts: Chis, many books have the parts of a drill bit. I could tell you most of the parts off the top of my head but this sounds like your homework.

Machinery's Handbook by Industrial Press has this information and is a very common reference and SHOULD be available in most public libraries. See our book review page for details. Almost any other book on machine work or machinist's reference will also have the information. If you find the section on the library shelves with books on machine work there should be several.

Metalwork Technology and Practice is a common text book used in machine courses and it has all the details of a drill bit (probably from machinery's 50 years ago). Any technical school library will have this one.

Note that what you are looking for is the parts of a SPECIFIC type of drill bit. There are many types with different parts. I suspect you are looking for the parts of a metalworking twist drill. But there are also gun drills, auger bits, reversing drill bits, rock drills and patent well drills. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 14:05:43 GMT

Post (solid box) Vises and Hammering: QC as Pete pointed out a post vise is built to withstand a lot of hammering. I used to demonstrate the strenght of my post vise by giving it a sharp wack verticaly on the closed jaws with my forging hammer. BUT being a smith I can hit hard enough to make a good noise but not so hard as to do damage. . . But his was also a hard enough wack to break the jaws off a similar jaw size CI machinist's vise. This was a little 30 pound vise on my trailer shop that Paw-Paw still uses and can attest that it is in perfect condition.

On the other hand I have seen TWO monster 250 pound blacksmith's vises with the jaws broken off! The animals that did this should have been shot. You would have had to have been swinging a REALLY large sledge overhead and trying to do damage to break one of these wonderful tools. I suspect these were the kind of creatins that go around kicking doors off public restroom stalls. . .

But back to the point. Blacksmith's vises are the only vise designed to be pounded on daily. Even the big chipping vises (HD machinist's vises without swivel base) of much heavier construction are not designed for the kind of use that a smaller blacksmith's vise can take.

Old solid box leg vises are all forged of wrought iron or mild steel and have hardened steel jaws forge welded in place. Modern versions are made with alloy steel parts that should have the integral jaws hardened. The leg design transfers load to the floor giving it a sturdyness that a bench mounted vise does not normally have. The hinged jaw takes ALL tangental load off the screw assembly. Outboard jaw load goes through a large pin that if damaged can be easily replaced. When you damage the slide on a common vise you have usualy wrecked the tool.

Blacksmith's vises should not have teeth in the jaws or should have very fine shallow teeth. NEW these tools had lightly cut grooves but most have been long worn down. I would grind off any remaining teeth to prevent marring work. I have seen at least one vise where some idiot cut out the old jaws and tried to weld in heavy toothed replacement jaws for a modern machinists vise. . . a botched job that ruined the vise (needed a LOT of repairs).

In fact, I do not like sharp teeth in my machinist vises either. Many folks use soft copper jaw covers to prevent marring work and never remove them. I see no point in it. Smooth jaws grip well enough and do not tear up what they are holding.

Blacksmiths vises are wonderful tools and the old ones currently are way under priced. Kayne and Son carries a good economicaly priced NEW vise but they do not have the style of the old vises. Centaur and Pieh Tool carry an English made version that SORT of looks like the old vises but still does not have the class. Both these vises are good sturdy tools. They just don't have the classy looks of the old vises. Note that there are also some forged steel machineist's vises still manufactured. Both classes of forged vises are VERY good tools and there is a good reason for their higher prices. These are tools designed to last forever.

QC, To hold a vertical shank tool tightly in your vise take a pair of angle irons and weld two vertical strips of bar to each that fit the shank so it cannot rotate side to side. This is just a loose fixture that you set in the vise with the square shanked tool and clamp together. Note that you will probably need to grind out the radius in the corner of the angles so that they set flat on the vise jaw. The pair can also be connected by a flat spring so they stay together. A more sophisticated style of this tool is matching V-blocks with shoulders to fit the vise jaws.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 14:56:22 GMT

IBBW: Many years ago (when I was much younger) I was doing a blacksmithing demo when four fellows wearing IBBW hats became part of my audiance. They stayed quite a while and didn't say much. The anvil and "blacksmiths Union" showed clearly on their hats. Boy did I think *I* was in trouble. I was blacksmithing in Union territory and not a member of the Union. . . Turns out they were just currious like a lot of folks and we had a good talk. But it set me back on my heals for a moment. . .

Shims QC, that is what I meant too ;) A bent piece of brass or aluminium would work fine. A lot less trouble to fit on half the part than to have a full bushing.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 15:04:56 GMT

How would you go about making a metal lamp shade for a desk lamp?
   Amateur - Thursday, 06/05/03 16:57:53 GMT

I am just building a small forge and am planning on making some metal raising hammers and some anticlastic stakes. I would appreciate recommendations on steel spec to buy for these small projects. I have a kiln and could use that for final tempering as I do not think being a complete novice that I could successfully temper using the forge.
Thanks Alan
   alank111 - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:10:19 GMT

Has anyone seen a foot operated setup for a oxy/acetylene torch, for when your doing small or delicate work so that you don't have to keep the torch running all the time.
   Vince - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:12:39 GMT

Metal lamp shades are a little opaque. . . Wind covers for candles called "luminairs" are made from a thin metal shell with holes punched in it in various patterns like the air holes in the tin of a pie safe. A sharp metal punch made from a nail is used and the tin is supported on a piece of soft wood (usualy pine or poplar).

A common craft project is making these out of large tin cans. All you need is the can, a large nail, a hammer and a piece of wood (2 x 4). The wood is clamped to a heavy table of bench overhanging the edge, the can supported on that and you punch away. It helps to draw your patterns first with a felt tip marker like a "Sharpie".

To make something larger you will need sheet metal, shears, a way to bend it to your needs and an assembly method (crimping, riveting, soldering). Start with a design and go from there.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:14:22 GMT

Gas-Saver Economizer: Vince, there is a commonly available oxy-fuel valve system called a Gas-Saver or Economizer. It has a lever that you hang or rest the torch on that turns off both gases. It also has a little pilot flame that you wave the torch past when you pick it up to relight the flame. Current list price is $135 (same as 15 years ago). My local supplier says he has one in stock.

I've used my economizer valve mostly for handling a rosebud. My little brazing torch is setup with a bracket that I can hang it on and leave lit. But rosebuds are noisey, dangerous AND eat a lot of fuel. There is never a safe place to park one. If I were doing a lot of brazing or torch work today I would probably setup my economizer valve for that purpose. But it takes saving quite a bit of gas to pay for one of these valves and unless you are using a small torch every day it doesn't pay. However, running out of fuel and the cost of going to get a refill has costs too.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:29:12 GMT

Hammer Steels: Alank111, Smiths make hammers out of a variety of steels. 4140 and 4150 are commonly used but smiths also use S7 and other tools steels. Hammers and stakes for non-ferrous work are often left soft enough to dress with a file. They also polish easily when a little soft. Tools for working steel are usualy harder but can still be cut with a file - just not very easily.

4140-50 is oil hardening (water in heavy sections). S7 is air hardening in small pieces which means you don't have to worry about a quench. But 4140-50 is much more forgiving to heat and forge. Air hardening steels still need to be tempered.

A kiln with temperature controls is nice for tempering but without is no easier to use than a forge.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:39:48 GMT

I am thinking of using sheet metal but won't it get too hot after a while (even for a low wattage or voltage bulb)? Health and safety measures? Any special coating?
   Amateur - Thursday, 06/05/03 17:41:39 GMT

"Has anyone seen a foot operated setup for a oxy/acetylene torch, for when your doing small or delicate work so that you don't have to keep the torch running all the time."

Vince - If what your working on will fit into a 1 1/2" hole in diameter I know of a very small forge like deal using a hand held MAP and a soft fire brick of the type used to line fire places. I've seen it used and saw the fellow bring small pieces almost up to weld temp. It's a piece of Firebrick with two holes drilled though; one the long axis of the brick and the other tangentally through the brick face intersecting the long hole at the mid point of the brick. The torch is pointed into the facing hole and the work piece is laid into hte long hole. The brick containes the heat and focuses it in a very small space internally. Quite a neat set-up. If you anywhere around Friendship Indiana this week at the NMLRA spring shoot you should be able to see one being used - someone there will have a few for sale. Last year they were getting $10 for them. All you have to do is create some kind of riggy-diggy to hole the torch and brick in place and your in business.
   Jerry Crawford - Thursday, 06/05/03 18:18:12 GMT

Hammer and stake steels continued: I live on Long Island, the suburbs, just outside NY city. My neighbors will have a fit when they see me wheeling the forge and my anvil out in the garden :-). The forge will have a 12' pipe chimney stack. I will have to find a source of small quantities of 4140, e-bay has some if all else fails. The kiln does have a good thermocouple temperature control and the texts will have the specs for tempering. However since I shall be raising copper and silver I will follow your recommendation and keep it softish so that it can be touched up and polished esier. Any recomendations on 4140 small quantity suppliers?
Thanks Alan
   alank111 - Thursday, 06/05/03 18:33:47 GMT

did you look in in the anvilfire store? He has some in there
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/05/03 19:18:22 GMT

I am a tool maker for a co. in tex. I have a gauling problem in a die. I have inserted the die w/ 959 bearing bronze. The 959 is supposed to be heat treatable. Can you tell me how to heat treat a 959 bronze? I need to go as hard as I can w/ it and still have some shock.
   Kelly - Thursday, 06/05/03 19:57:21 GMT

Lamp Shade Amateur, How hot the metal surround gets is determined by the wattage and the distance from the bulb. Even a low watt bulb will heat something to the point is can burn flesh. Look at how lamps are built and go with the norm.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 20:59:41 GMT

alank111, The Kaynes used to live in Smithtown out on Long Island at the end of a suburban Cul de Sac. He had a forge in his garage with a stack going through the roof. Enough places still burn coal up there that nobody noticed.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/05/03 21:38:08 GMT

If you're using a *small* torch with good hand valves and your intention is to economize on gas, you can do what I usually do. I like to keep a candle or small oil lamp lit on the bench or wherever I'm working; when I'm not using the torch I shut it off, and when I'm ready to work I relight from the candle. Don't know if this is quite your thing, but it's simpler and cheaper than a pilot light if you happen to find something that will work as a foot valve.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 06/05/03 22:46:46 GMT

Kelly, maybe my book is out of date but I do not find a 959 alloy. I did find a 955 Aluminum Bronze. For 955, heat to 1575F, water quench, temper 2 hrs at 1200F for a hardness of 217-234 BHN. I am not sure how hard it will be as-quenched but presumeably a lower tempering temperature could get you a higher hardness. And just as a point of interest, this bronze hardens by a martensitic transformation, just like steel does.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 06/06/03 00:33:29 GMT

Hello, I am just trying to get started as a blacksmith, just bought this tiniest anvil from a discount store. My question is this, where can I find a good set of comprehensive instructions on how to build a gas forge? I am already planning on buying an oxy-acetelyne welding set up and from what I have heard, it is fairly easy to attach a rosebud tip to the welding torch, make a forge with cheap materials like a blow dryer, fire bricks and such and make my own butane gas forge. I am a bit hesitant, not knowing exactly what I need or exactly the best way to build it. If you know of any books with good instructions, I'd be mighty greatful to you. thanks, thea
   thea - Friday, 06/06/03 00:47:03 GMT


For many of my raising hammers, I have used scrap axles (car or truck, depending on the size wanted). I harden them in water. Never had a bad hammer yet. I believe some axle steel is 4140; some may be a "simple" carbon steel like 1050.
   - Eric T - Friday, 06/06/03 02:41:01 GMT

Amateur - For lampshades try tinplate - it's tinplated steel, very smooth because it's all done electrolytically, not hot dipped. With a reasonable space between bulb and shade and an open top it shouldn't get too hot. Tinplate is used extensively to make candle lanterns for French and Indian War and Revolutionary War reenactors. The candle lanterns often have enclosed conical tops with holes punched in them and with exposure to the heat and weather the tin wears away and they eventually rust (2 to 3 years of use before rusting begins when I'm keeping a heavy reenactment schedule). Because of the conical top, limited venting, and open flame the tops get too hot to touch. The sides usually aren't too bad for temperature and they're only about 4 inches away from the candle flame. I'd guess that for a lamp shade the distance would be 6" or better and with an open top shouldn't get nearly as hot because you'd only get heat transfer by radiation rather than by both convection and radiation as with a candle lantern.

Also the tin oxidizes to a matt grey finish. Tin plate starts out very shiny as purchased. Environmentally tin is a pretty friendly metal - one use is to line copper cooking pans so that you don't get verdigris in them and poison yourself. To get a nice grey patina, you might need to treat it with something. If you want to talk to a tinsmith about your project, try going to a large French & Indian War or Revolutionary War reenactment that has a number of crafts people and sutlers at it. The largest regular F&I reenactment I'm aware of is at Ft. Niagara in upstate New York over July 4th weekend. It ususally has about 700+ reenactors, crafts people and sutler present. Numbers might start to come up, since we're getting close to the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the war - 1754 in Western PA at Fort Necessity near Uniontown, Pa.
   Gavain - Friday, 06/06/03 04:32:25 GMT

Chris Smith & All. I recant regarding the measurements of the Roger Lorance mandrel. It is 13" tall not counting the shank and has about a 5" diameter base.

Amateur. I laid out some square lamp shades by experimenting with poster board and bending it until I got what I wanted. I painted the inside with cream colored enamel. The seams were overlapped and riveted. I used 16 ga sheet and punched decorative zigzag patterns in the metal.
The harp connection/frame was oxy welded at the top opening.

A friend made a good looking circular frame of 3/16" x 1/2". To get the conical shape on the circular pieces, top and bottom, you first bend a length the hard way [on edge] into a semicircle, then bend on the flat, leveling up as you go. This takes a bit of calculating to obtain the correct angles.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/06/03 04:40:22 GMT

Yeah Vince. I made one about 11 years ago 'cause G Dixon said it couldnt be done..adolescent motivation to be sure...But I found i used it all the time. Took a whole to work out a design that lasted. I demoed It a few times for the CBA and most of the smiths who saw it cracked up.
Basically it uses a " gas saver" valve ( about #120 at your welding supply, different brands.
My pop-up torch is unnecessarily complex however.
Simply set upo the gas saver with a foot pedal linked to the actuating lever of the valves. Then adjust the fuel gas side valve so that it doesn't quite close and acts like a pilot light and you are cooking.
In the 40s, National made an aircraft size torch with an extra lever on the butt that acted like a "gas-saver" but I've never found one for sale.
You now owe the Guru a nickle and me, 3 cents.
I wonder if kelly wouldn't be best off making the bushing oversized and work hardening the piece before turning to size but after heat treating?
Look for the Guru's "Plans" page for a cheap, simple, effective gas forge setup. To get fancier, look on the links page for Ron Reil's site.
Be very careful with your rosebud...they are very handy but use up a lot of expensive gas and will explode if improperly handled. Be careful of overheating the tip.
An air-propane torch ( weedburner) can sometimes be used for a quick and dirty burner for a forge but it's both limited in capacity and inefficient.
I think insulating kaowool is available in modest quantities thru the Anvilfire store here. Otherwise you have to buy a whole expensive box of the stuff.
The other route is, as you mention, firebricks..you will want the high-alumina, light weight, soft firebricks for the top and walls of your forge or it will take a long time to get up to heat.
When you buy your torch, get one of the biggest, most common brands so you can get parts easily later.
The Harbor Fright cast STEEL 100# anvil is probably the best deal around for a beginner unless you can get a good used ( old) one ( preferable). Any massive chunk of steel with a flat spot will do just fine really..skip the cast iron ones.
See the good Guru's "getting started" pages.
   - Pete F - Friday, 06/06/03 06:53:56 GMT

im 15 no job no money, and i want to start learning blacksmithing. See im reading this book (the art of blacksmithing) by Alex Bealer, and it hasn't been very informative about where to get an anvil and build a forge.i was wondering if i could get some info here. can you help me?
   - Pheonix - Friday, 06/06/03 06:54:21 GMT

I picked up an old anvil the other day. Can't quite read the name of it. I can make out HAN and 118. Can anyone tell what the name is?
   TerryR - Friday, 06/06/03 07:45:53 GMT

I have a sketch and a partially completed assembly of the gas saver stand you described. It uses the valve Guru described and sits on a stand with a foot pedal. I haven't completed mine because I'm toying with the design of the stand. I would like to add the option of being able to latch or not latch in the on position the foot pedal that lifts the torch. Also a spark ignitor instead of the standing pilot would be nice. Note that there are two manufacturers of the valve itself, Weldit and Esab. A friend of mine that has used both prefers the Esab valve but I bought a Weldit Gas Saver because they show up on ebay for about half price. I emailed a rep at Esab a few times to figure out that the only difference between their propane and acetylene valves is the pilot assembly. I'm probably going to do as Guru mentioned and keep a rosebud on mine and setup a dedicated oxy\propane cart.
I can email you a picture and a scan of the sketch if you send me your address.

Guru\Frank Turley - Thanks for the cone mandrel info.

- chris
   Chris S - Friday, 06/06/03 12:26:30 GMT

Terry R.,

That's not enough info to do us much good in identifying it for you. If you will scrub down the side with a scotch brite pade, and do a rubbing you may see more.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/06/03 13:18:37 GMT

Building gas forges: Thea, Go to the Ron Reil burner site and study EVERYTHING. Then come back here and ask about anything you don't understand. We sell some of the harder to find materials (Kaowool and ITC products) in our store. We sell kaowool by the foot OR carton so you don't need to buy a large minimum.

We have an article about gas forges on our plans page that has links to other articles and to the Ron Reil site.

That tiny anvil you bought may need to be replaced before you make a large investment in other tools. The typical discount store anvil is an ASO (Anvil Shapped Object) that is probably soft crumbly cast iron. You will find out soon enough. Real anvils are made out of hardened tool steel.
   - guru - Friday, 06/06/03 14:21:13 GMT

Vise Repair,
Ok, so far I've taken my own advice on anvil repair (do nothing you can't undo) and applyed it to an old leg vise (meaning I've done nothing). I have a 75 pound pw vise that over the years has been over tightened so that the jaws now meet in a V. What would be the least harmful way to repair this?
For most stuff it still grabs ok but when pounding on it I find I have to over tighten the jaws to get it to grab. I've pretty well decided to grind the jaws paralell rather than straitening under a press, but grinding is something I can't undo.
   JimG - Friday, 06/06/03 14:47:38 GMT

NO MONEY: Pheonix, read our anvil series and other posts from this week. No job and no money usualy means no transportation and that can limit you to what you find in your backyard. Anvils are heavy (usefull ones start at 70 pounds and average small ones are 125 pounds). There are alternatives but they are usualy not free and heavy is heavy. Many folks scrounge together a blacksmith shop from flea market tools, scrap, roadside stumps. . . but scrounging has significant costs even if money is not spent. A vehical, insurance and FUEL can go a long way. But I suppose if you live in a major metropolitian area and are persistant you could haul home what you need in a little red wagon. . . DON'T laugh, one of our Swedish corespondants hauls his entire stock of tools on a wagon pulled by his bicycle. His shop had been broken into several times and everything portable (including anvils) stolen. So he hauls it every day with his only means of transportation.

Bealer not informative about where to get a forge? Have you STUDIED the book? A forge can be made with your bare hands and an animal hide (or modern equivalent). One inventive fellow in Finland made his bellows from a 5 gallon plastic bucket, some plastic sheeting and duck tape. . . The best REAL WORKING McGiverism I have ever seen! And it is within YOUR budget.

Blacksmithing can be the ultimate survivalist skill but you have to STUDY and then know how to THINK. However, many folks are not up to this kind of challenge nor are satisfied with the results.
   - guru - Friday, 06/06/03 14:47:59 GMT

VISE Straightening: Jim, it depends on where the jaws are bent. However, from over tightening it is probably at the eye on both pieces. You could take both pieces and straighten them in a press. I've had a number of mangled leg vises that had bent handles, legs, upper bodies. . . and striaghtened most of the problems cold on the anvil. But these were 30 and 50 pound vises. The bigger the vise the more difficult to straighten.

To straighten the bend at the eyes on the anvil you will probably need a helper to hold the parts. Support them with a small bar under the drip ledge and as far down the leg as your anvil allows. Then put a piece of heavy plate or bar across the eye and strike there. The soft wrought will bend surprisingly easy.

IF the bend is between the eye and the top of the jaw it is a little more difficult to straighten. This can be done in a press between fixed supports OR over the corner of the anvil (tough to do). If there is a lot of bent in the jaws then you may want to heat them in the forge to do the straightening and then reharden the jaws.

When new the jaws of a leg vise touch at the top and are parallel when gripping something 1/2" or so in size. I suspect that the bigger the vise the larger the parallel distance. Everything in proportion. When the jaws are properly radiused top and bottom they tend to grip better across a wider range. They also mar the work less. I like soft radiuses and smooth surfaces on my vise jaws.

The worse thing that could happen is the wrought crack from cold bending. Then you could weld up the crack and refinish. Remember that the jaws are hardened steel inserts (about 3/8" thick but sometimes half the upper jaw) forge welded into the frame. You do not want to overheat them unless you are planning on rehardening and tempering.

A little light grinding will not hurt but I think you are wise not to try to correct the entire problem by grinding. I often dress out gouges, chisle marks and clean off sputter balls from the used vises I pickup. My most recent find had forging burrs all over from where flash had been poorly cleaned up. I had to finish the job the factory started because the sharp places were hazardous.

I prefer doing critical straightening in a hydraulic press. It is slow and easy to control. You can push a little and then let off watching the spring-back until you push just far enough to do the job. A 10 ton press can do the job but a 20 is better.
   - guru - Friday, 06/06/03 15:28:27 GMT

Phoenix - I know you're too young to drive, but if your parents are supportive, you can try to find out if there's a local blacksmith group in your area. Check out the ABANA link.

Not only can this give you a mentor, but occasionally, some organizations get together and have forge building sessions. It may not be free, but inexpensive is possible.

No cash is hard to do. Even if you get a forge free, you still need fuel, tools, and metal to work. You may be able to scrounge up the tools and metal, but Coal or propane aren't things you can readilly find on the roadside. A little goes a long way, but you still have to make the initial purchase.
   Monica - Friday, 06/06/03 15:56:07 GMT

Vise Straightening
Thanks Guru, the vise is bent on both peices and bent at the eye. I will try it cold on the anvil with a helper.
   JimG - Friday, 06/06/03 17:36:56 GMT

jumping in and agreeing with Guru and Monica.
I think there are active smithing groups in every state and probably in every Provience in Canada.
I know we had/have several young folks come in to Fort Vancouver to be volunteer smiths. It worked good for the FOrt ( a National Historic site of the Park Service) as it gave use more volunteers to help, and it helped them as it gave a place to learn and work and no out of pocket cost other than getting there.
So What state/proveince are you in?
   Ralph - Friday, 06/06/03 20:19:58 GMT

Jim G., I have straightened several vises one of them with a 6" jaw. Somebody must have run over it. I do it hot by first straightening the long-leg portion and clamping it vertically in another leg vise. I work on the movable jaw/leg keeping the beam-bolt handy. When I think I have something workable, I place the short leg and run the bolt through quickly. The tricky thing is to get the jaws meeting, yes. But make sure there are no twists anywhere.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/06/03 20:53:27 GMT


There is no need for money to get a blacksmithing setup going. The forge can be as simple as an old washtup with dirt packed in it making a sloped pit to hold the fire and a pipe coming in from the side to admit air into the fire. Heck, you don't even need a washtup, just make a packed mound of dirt with a good sized place in the center to hold the fire and a pipe coming in from the side.

There are basically two ways to move air into the fire to get it hotter. One is to propell the air with a fan, I have used a boxfan with a cardboard and duct tape constructed convergance cone to a 4" square tunnel to feed the air into an outdoor wood stove. This wasn't for forging purposes, but it could be used as so. The best fan is the centrifugal fans, like are used for oil furnaces for home heating.

Then there is the positive displacement movement of air, such as a piston or bellows. This can be done with anything that is of a good size and can utilize two one way valves to get the air in and out.

For a while I split some oak logs into 2" by 2" bolts and cut then with a hand saw into 2" cubes and used these as fuel. It took almost as lond to prepare the fuel as it did to use it, but it was a start. After they had turned into charcoal in the fire, they worked very well and the logs were free(more stuff sitting around outside). If you are wandering around and see someone cutting up some wood or chiping up some branchs, then consider asking them if they would mind you helping them out if you could have some of the wood to use. They may even drive it to your home for you.

For the scrap steel, just keep your eyes open, the stuff is EVERYWHERE.

As stated above "anvils" can be found almost everywhere. Don't get stuck in the thought that an anvil MUST have a horn, hardy and pritchel holes to work. It does not.

Above all else remember that this is all hard work and is very dangerous, even if all precautions are taken.

I must agree with the others and say that, although not essential, it is helpfull to find a local orginization that has people that are willing to share knowledge and lend a helping hand.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Friday, 06/06/03 21:30:50 GMT

Advise text on TIG welding, top three picks.
once, t powers rec a book when i asked about forge welding temps, " solid phase fusion". thanks for the rec. mr powers, you coined the phrase "anvil harem" didnt you?? i have a new concubine comming soon....

why TIG?? i dont think that i will ever be able to forge weld branching scrolls without throwing hammers. the technique is difficult enough. this is not to say that i will not make lots of attempts at forging a one sided upset away from the ends for angles. using TIG without a filler rod on pieces properly prepared then hammering the joint should look very clean. clean, not claiming to be forge welded...


mr caleb, post some some pix of forged pieces. i would like to see what that set up of yours puts out!
   rugg - Friday, 06/06/03 22:27:19 GMT

Rugg, I believe Patrick coined that phrase when he was suffering "anvil envy" and used it where I might have used "stack" (stack your anvils starting with the largest on the floor and then by decreasing size, height is the reference number; extra points if it takes 4 or more people to move the first one into place) Sometimes I mention GAW Gross Anvil Weight as in "I'm trying to increase my GAW; but keep the number of them the same"

So tell us of the new addition to the harem? Nice and Heavy? Good Curves? Well Bred? Did you barter for her?

Patrick and I am still looking for work; he's a metallurgist and I'm a bit herder so if you think your neighborhood is "iron poor" getting either one of us to move there will help quite a bit with *that*.

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 06/07/03 00:55:51 GMT

Pheonix...Echoing the same thing Caleb said. It dosent take much money to get started if you use your imagination. My first forge was an old wood burning stove lined with a few firebrick scraped from a paper mill. I used a leaf blower, shop vac and my wifes hair dryer for forced air. I burnt up a few pieces of steel with the leaf blower and shop vac. A 4"thick by 20" diameter gear from a crane or shrimp boat was my anvil. I used this set up for about a year before I began to gather proper tools. During that time I got a lot of practice forging blades from RR spikes. The coal I used was picked up off the side of RR tracks leading to one of the paper mills. I could gather about a sheet rock bucket full in about 30-45 minutes. It wasnt good coal, but it was coal and worked for me while I was learning, and 10 years latter I am still learning. If you have desire and a little imagination you will make it happen. Be patient, keep reading books on blacksmithing and hang in there.
   R Guess - Saturday, 06/07/03 00:59:37 GMT

TIG: Rugg, If you think forge welding is picky TIG is just as bad. On iron-steel it is not much different than gas welding (without the control) and a whole lot more expensive. If you are going to use electric welding on steel just use plain old E6013 rods and pay attention to cleaning up the flux. It is cheaper, easier and works just as well or better. The next step up is MIG but unless the flux clean up is costing you money then MIG is a a big expense. The advantage to welding with an oxy-fuel torch is that manipulating the torch is a skill that applies to brazing and silver soldering. Practice one and you get better at the other. TIG has no comparison to MIG or stick. However, manipulating the filler rod IS very similar to gas welding and brazing.

   - guru - Saturday, 06/07/03 01:06:34 GMT

Gross Anvil Weight: My friend in Petersburg, VA has gone way beyond GAW when he started buying huge machine tools (13 foot turret lathes and 3000 pound hammers). We call his place the Petersburg magnetic anomaly. There is so much iron there that it must effect aircraft navigation.

My "harem" was once at eight or ten and consisted of many races including a young German. But now it is down to five if you include the two antiques and the $15 Eagle. There are only two real workers. Do stake anvils count? Add two. On the other hand I have steel for a 6,000 pound power hammer anvil plus another 1,500 pounds for smaller air hammers. . . I've stopped increasing the harem and now focus on other things. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/07/03 01:25:27 GMT

Comments and questions:
I had to repair a post vice with a stipped out "nut" on the acme threads. I went to a machime shop where they located the nut in a catalog, it was $40, too much for me at the time. As I was leaving, the guy gave me a 1/8 x 1/8" x 8' piece of steel, said he never used it, had serious doubts that I'd be able to use it.
I clamped one end of it in the begining of the threads of the "bolt" part. (they were still good). I carefully wrapped the steel around the threads, 'till it was at the other end, clamped it again, then welded strips of steel outside the mess to hold it all together. It was difficult because the 1/8" stuff kept twisting on me, and if you look down in there it's ugly, but it still works.
One of my best places to get steel is the recycling place. They buy only non-ferrous metals, but somebody's always bringing in some steel for whatever reason. They put it in a dumpster outside, right where I'm frequently driving by. So I pick out what I want, take it inside, where they sell it to me for 13 cents lb. Can be had cheaper elsewhere, but the convenience is worth it. Ive done it so many times that now they let me stack it against the side of the building and come back later if I'm low on funds.
How high carbon is a R.R. spike?
In the most recent issue of Signcraft magazine, there are some beautiful sign hanging brackets. They appear to be about 3'4" x 3/4" steel, curved into some great scrolls. the thing is, there are more than one scroll, they intersect where one curve crosses over another. Hard to explain, but it looked quite difficult to weld. Could these have been cut with a plasma cutter? I know zilch about said tool. Never seen one, never used one.
Thanks for any help, Jim D.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 06/07/03 04:42:44 GMT

GAW.... if you feed them LOTS of candy do they put on a bit around the middle? for that matter what do they like to eat?
   MP - Saturday, 06/07/03 06:11:03 GMT

LOL - Anvil harem. I'm up to three, much improved over a year or two ago. Does that make me a minor anvil sultan? There's the chunky young Russian, the battered old warhorse (Vulcan) and "princess," the near-flawless 150 lb Trenton.
Still kicking myself over missing on the one I would call "beefeater," 250 pounds, smooth face, no name but a sweet voice.
Well, more fish in the sea....
   Two Swords - Saturday, 06/07/03 07:26:05 GMT

More uses for ASO's
Several months ago I found a 5' x 8', 1" thick welding table sitting in the scrap yard. It weighed in at 2080 lbs and cost me a whopping $225. I was so excited I could hardly get home fast enough to get my trailer.
After getting the table home I took the bucket off my skid loader and chained the table and lift arm of the loader together to lift the table so that the trailer could be driven out from under it. The table was a bit over the tipping weight of the loader with the lift up this high because the loaders back wheels were beginning to leave the ground. So I set the table back down
and retreived 125 Lb ASO from the shop and set it on the back of the loader. It was just enough to keep the back wheels down while I lowered the table to a safe height for transport to the shop. :)
- C
   Chris S - Saturday, 06/07/03 13:55:40 GMT

ASO = Counter Weight, Good one Chris! I had to balance a portable scaffold once and use a couple swage blocks. . but if I'd owned an ASO it would have been MUCH better for the job ;)
   - guru - Saturday, 06/07/03 20:44:26 GMT

Anvil Transport
Not having your own method of transportation is a definite drawback to the would be blacksmith, but it should be seen as an opportunty to be creative (and build up the back muscles). My fist anvil was 50 lb chunk of scap that I found at the university. For a while a carried it in an old back pack, but when my welder friend got done with it, it was up to 100 lbs and that was a bit much. There were countless times when I could be found with a load of steel, Ti, etc over my shoulder walking back to my room. And when one of the campus machine shops did some work on anvil for me, I just borrowed the 2 wheel cart ard away I went. For these methods to work, you have to overcome your reluctance to do things based on what other people will think of you. An alternative is to find a fried with a car or truck to help you move stuff. At school, Thomas did this a lot for me before I had my own wheels.

Steel Question
Is anyone out there familiar with the trade name "Stress proof" steel? A friend asked me about it, in particular how to heat treat it. I think this is a prehardened and tempered form of 4140, but I don't know, and I don't know the hardness range either. I sure would appreciate any info you guys have on this stuff.

Patrick Nowak
   Patrick - Saturday, 06/07/03 21:12:55 GMT

Patrick: I have not seen that name in a while. For some reason, I thought it was a product of either Republic Alloy Steels or Armco Steel. Both of these companies are now gone or under new ownership. I think you are correct about it being 4140, probably Q&T to 285-341 BHN, which is the normal range for pre-hard. I think they were also cold drawn or cold finished. The compressive stresses from the cold working gave it added fatigue resistance and it probably found a lot of use in rotating shaft material.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/07/03 21:50:01 GMT

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