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This is an archive of posts from June 8 - 16, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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Well, I've only been smithing for about a year and a half. I've got two home built forges, and a nice cast iron one I just recently purchased. Two anvils, a 84lb Mousehole for demos and a 150lb Haybudden. I've now got 3 vices, small, med, and large. I've gathered a slew of tongs, and my garage has enough scrap steel to trip everyone foolish enough to venture within. Man, this sure is fun hobby!
   Bob H - Sunday, 06/08/03 00:07:01 GMT


I recently bought an unusual shear. It looks like it was made to cut 1"round stock, but has trouble cutting 1/2" rounds. It has a round "gulletblade which is stationary and a circular cutting blade that is attached to a 5 foot handle for pleanty of leverage.
I wonder if the adjustment of space between the blades is critical? I think the Beverly shear is supposed to have some space between the blades. Maybe the blades wee too tight on my unusual shear? Any comments would be appreciated. Maybe this thing was not made for solid metal but for cable or something?? Any insights would be appreciated.

Don Agostine
   Don Agostine - Sunday, 06/08/03 00:43:39 GMT

Floppy Bick: Recall my recent post where I have a bick with a 1" shaft and my hardy hole is 1.125". At Paw-Paw's suggestion, I cut a 4" chunk of 1" angle iron, cut down 1/2" at the corner, forged the wings over so it won't fall down the hole, and hot fit the bick into it in the hardy hole. Works like a charm! Thanks, PPW! I got the old post vise mounted properly today too. Drilled 2 ea 3/8" holes about 1/2" from the end of a 2x6x 3/16" plate. Turned a 90 degree bend ( an "L") so the holes would take 2 lag screws into the leg of my workbench at floor level. Welded a 3/4" long piece of heavy tube onto the long part of the plate, bolted it to the bench, set the foot of the leg into the tube and tightened it all up. Solid as a rock.

Bob H: Yeah. This is fun!
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/08/03 01:20:26 GMT


Old methods still work, don't they? (grin) Tack weld the shim to the shank of the bick if you want to. Or you can leave it loose, you may need it with other hardy tools, too.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/08/03 01:28:32 GMT


Another stunt that works well is to take a piece of thin wall tubing, cut the four corners down, forge them out the same way as you did on the angle iron, and drop the four sided shim into the hardy hole. That keeps the tool centered in the hole, which is important for some tools. Using thin wall, and making a second piece out of thick wall makes a graduated set of hardy shims.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/08/03 01:53:31 GMT

PPW, I need to find some thin wall tube. The thinnest wall tube we make at work is .188" and that dog don't hunt. We do make some very heavy walled tube (1.5" x .250 wall or try 4" x .700" wall). Need to find something to do with that stuff.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/08/03 02:05:50 GMT

Hey Guys,
What kind of insurance does one get for architectural smithing like railing, lighting, etc... someone mentioned ACC, but 1k sounds like a lot of money. Thanks.
   - chucky - Sunday, 06/08/03 02:37:20 GMT

Allright, this one is going to take a bit of a setup. I have a strong interest in medieval history. While working in London for a few years, I would visit the British Museum on a regular basis. There was a clock from the late middle ages that fascinated me. I decided that I wanted to eventually make a reproduction of that clock using medieval techniques. Little did I know what I was getting into.

When I got back to the states, I decided to make a reproduction of the clock using wood rather than metal due to the fact that I had a woodworking shop and no metal experience. The first clock, although functional, had some problems. I made a second clock which can be seen at http://home.mindspring.com/~bomlin/images/clock1.jpg, http://home.mindspring.com/~bomlin/images/clock2.jpg,

After I proved the mechanics with the wooden version, I decided to attempt the clock using proper medieval techniques. Which led to my introduction to blacksmithing. I have been doing the blacksmithing for about a year now. I am not a pure beginner but I would not put myself outside of the beginner category yet.

In the past few weeks, I have begun to experiment with techniques I will need specific to making the clock gears. Now, the research I have done indicates that the gears were made by starting with a flat stock, curving it into a circle(fat part of the stock lying in the same plane as the gear unlike wagon wheels which had the fat part of the stock perpedicular to the plane). Spokes are then welded on, the gear is filed to a true circle and then teeth are cut.

My first attempt at a gear hasn't been very successful but it was a good learning experience. I would heat the flat stock(2" x 1/2") then lay it across the horn(wide part of stock perpedicular to the horn) and strike just past the horn to get the metal to curve down. I am aware that peening one side of the stock would also cause a curve but I found that it tended to thin the metal a bit too much. Anyway, my biggest problem is not getting a curve but that it is difficult to get a consistant curve.

I thought what was needed was some sort of form or template that could hammer the stock against to get a true circle. I had some woodcuts and paintings from the middle ages and just after that applied to clock making. I revisted those pictures and found something interesting in one called Horologia Ferrea. There is a shape near the forge and anvil that looks like it might be a form for making circles. The full picture is at http://home.mindspring.com/~bomlin/images/horologiaferrea.jpg and a closeup is at http://home.mindspring.com/~bomlin/images/horologiaferrea2.jpg

Is my guess correct? Is this possibly an item used for making it easier to do the curves perfectly? Or is it possibly some blacksmithing item that I don't know about.

So, my question is this(finally!!!)... Should I use some sort of form to help me make the circles perfect or should I try to do it freehand? If I should use a form, can I do it out of wood or would the wood burn too fast? I invite the gurus to give me their best guesses. Oh, and please do remember that I am using traditional techniques so no power tools!!! Oh, most of these gears will be 12" to 24" in diameter.

Sorry for the long post... Thank you very much for your responses.

Scott F. Brown
   Scott Brown - Sunday, 06/08/03 06:13:51 GMT

Okay, I should think things through a bit more(or stop posting at 2am). Could I make a wooden form then put a thin strip of metal(about 1/8") over the wood to protect it from the heat? Seems like that might work. Other suggestions on how to make a near perfect circle are still very welcome.

   Scott Brown - Sunday, 06/08/03 06:23:01 GMT

one of our regular(tho I have not seen in a while) pubber's is from Sweden. ORejan, carts ALL his stuff on a small bicycle trailer.
As you say, it take determination and ingenuity.
   Ralph - Sunday, 06/08/03 07:41:29 GMT

What is the best steel to use for swards or such chopping implements??
One option that i have heard is to twist spring steel and high carbon steel together then hammer it out.
   Karl - Sunday, 06/08/03 09:43:19 GMT

Karl, I am going to save our Guru some time and try to answer your question. If you are a beginner, learn the basics of smithing first. Bladesmithing is a specialization of blacksmithing and will draw on all the skills of the blacksmith and then some. First, if you are making a sword for display only (a wallhanger) use whatever you can find. If it is for actual use, you will find AISI 1070 to be functional. 5160 or 6150 is useable,too. Unless you have mastered forge welding, forget about twisting steel to make the blade. If you are already a master smith, concrete reinforcing cable is popular. You will also need a forge that can uniformly heat a long blade and a quench tub of similar dimensions. You must also figure out how to polish 2-3' of hardened steel to a mirror finish. I do not mean to discourage your interest in smithing but this forum gets a question about how to make a sword several times per week, usually from young men who are unaware of how difficult this task is. If you are genuinely interested in smithing, find a local blacksmith club, learn from the more experienced members, master the basics, and THEN consider making your sword. We look forward to learning of your progress.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/08/03 12:54:37 GMT

Where can I find worm gear bearings for a champion 400 forge blower?

   les - Sunday, 06/08/03 13:41:31 GMT

My father is a beginner at blacksmithing and he would like to obtain a genuine Antique Tin Blacksmithing Sign. Any ideas? Thanks!
   Karri Beckwith - Sunday, 06/08/03 14:24:06 GMT

I read the article on the Russian anvil. Except for being homely, the main problem seemed to be the soft or poorly heat treated face. Would it be possible to take a piece of 4140 and forge weld it to the russian face? Could it be done with 5 or 6 acetylene torches? I don't need an anvil, I'm more interested in the process.
   - Curtis - Sunday, 06/08/03 14:58:11 GMT

Curtis, I wrote the article on the Russian anvil and I will give you an update. The horn remains less than useful,even after more grinding and shaping, because it is so thick and blunt. However, it is useful for larger curves and you can get a scroll end started on it and finish it freehand on the anvil. I radiused the edges for about 1/3rd the distance from the cutting table to the hanging end, more to prevent chipping in this area. The face is indeed a bit soft and shows every errant blow of my hammer. For a beginner, this might be a good safety feature and prevent shrapnel from your hammer doing you harm. The face is in better condition than most of the old, vintage anvils I have seen (although if it lasts 100 years, it won't be). It does not leave noticable marks on the workpiece. The hardy hole is too big to fit most hardy tools and shims are needed. I still feel this is a good value for a beginner to learn on. As the Guru has said many times, it is obvious this anvil was designed without the benefit of input from a blacksmith. It was designed for ease of pattern making and casting. I plan to replace it as soon as I have the money but for now, it is a fairly functional anvil. I would not waste the time and money to try to weld a toolsteel face on it.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/08/03 15:17:14 GMT

Karri, check out eBay for old signs. When I do my occasional search for "blacksmith", "bloacksmithing", I run across these old signs.

   - Marc - Sunday, 06/08/03 16:06:32 GMT


Scott, I've never made a clock, but I would think that the simplest "medieval" techniques for producing a gear that large would be not much different than what are used today. A wooden palttern is made, then sand cast the gear in brass or bronze and hob the teeth by hand until finished.

If I was going to try to do it with steel, I'd first calculate the length of the stock needed to turn the ring just a bit undersize, then heat it and turn the rough ring over the big anvil until the ends could be welded. Remember that when you bend flat stock the "hard" way, the outside edge wil be markedly thinner than the inside, die to the stretching of the outside as opposed to the compressing of the inside. (Proper calculation of the total VOLUME of metal required for the ring allows you to make the ring undersize and then have it come out the correct size after it has been hammered to flat.) Once the ends are scarfed and welded, the ring can be trued up on a large cone mandrel or arc mandrel (i.e. saddle stake) until truly round. After that, flatten on the anvil and true on the cone until the ring is the proper thickness and diameter. Then chisel-cut the teeth, file, etc. The spokes would best be riveted in as welding them would distort the gear ring and there would be no place left to put the mandrel with the spokes in place.

I checked out your picture links and didn't see any cone mandrel, but that isn't definitive. I think the gears could havwe been either forged or cast during that time period. A simple form for truing up a circle can be a section of circle (arc) that is welded to a base that doesn't move much. Heavy flat bar, a section of appropriately sized broken gear or pulley, you get the idea.

   vicopper - Sunday, 06/08/03 16:13:22 GMT

Anvil Making: Curtis, If you are interested in the process of anvil making then you need to buy a copy of Anvils in America (we sell it on line). There are numerous ways of manufacturing anvils and there are quite a few details in the book as well as many pattents for process that were used and processes more imagined than useful. There is a complete photo series of anvil making as well as the Hay-Budden brochure on how they made anvils in the early 1900's.

No you probably could NOT weld a plate to an anvil using torches. Forge welding requires a controlled atmosphere to prevent burning the steel while heating it and big rosebuds are too hot and oxidizing.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/08/03 16:21:29 GMT

Guru, while I generally agree with you I would add two comments and then duck. 1) nit picky, but while pressuring teenagers to talk about inner feelings in public... may be traumatic it is not not violent. That doesn't make it OK and in most cases is a waste of valuable class time. 2) the problems you point out with teaching to the tests exist only if the school system is part of the test. The concept for the program is that the school systems were being tested. If the test is broad enough and if the details of it are not known to the school system then, like any other student preparing for a test, they must teach the breadth of the subject to be successful. Given the current political climate (party immaterial) there may not be much chance of the test answers remaining unknown until after the test.
   Racy - Sunday, 06/08/03 16:43:25 GMT

Medieval Clock Making: Scott, Pretty impressive project even in wood.

The detail item in horologiaferrea2 is: foreground - a "cage gear". background - a shovel and a pair of coal tongs. Not sure what you see.

First, do not under estimate the level of tooling available at the time or the jigs and fixtures available. In the mid 1700's (I know, much later than medieval), clock makers could BUY factory made lathes, dividing engines and gear cutting machines. The fact that these were available commercialy from instrument makers means that individuals had made such machines for themselves at a much earlier date. In fact, gear making was known to specialists at a very early date and one fine example of a planetary gear box exists that supposedly dates from Bronze Age Greece. However, involute (curved gear faces) were not part of the technology until the late 1700's.

Consider the fact that these fellows made gears, screws and escapements as well as the frames for their clocks, the "engines" to assist in this work were just an extension of the process.

SEE A Catalog of Tools for Watch And Clock Makers, By John Wyke of Liverpool (~1770), Published by The Henry Francis di Pont Winterthur Museum, EAIA, The University Press of Virginia, 1978. This catalog included lathes, brass and steel "turn benches", fusee engines, gear cutters, balance wheel engines as well as common tools such as drills, files, saws, hammers, anvils, compasses.

A skilled smith can forge a ring and then true it to a circle drawn with compass to within +/- 1/32" in a short time. A circle would be scribed on wood or metal. Sometimes a radius gauge would be cut from sheet metal. This is more than accurate enough prior to forge welding it to the spokes. After welding it will need to be trued again and probably not be as accurate due to the spokes constaining the rim. After welding and prior to machining the finished forging would be painstakenly filed and hand scraped flat and smooth. After hand finishing the hub would be fitted to a mandrel, dummy shaft OR the actual shaft and machined round. The precision surface would be used as a reference to cut the gear teeth.

In order to machine a part of this nature it could be rotated slowly on a shaft while a tool steel cutter was fed across the face by hand or via a simple screw mechanism.

The "lathe" would be no more than a simple framework to hold the part between centers or via its shaft and to hold the cutting tool. These were called a "turn bench". Most people would not recognize it as a "machine". Even today you can purchase simple hand turned tools to cut the wear ridge from automobile engine blocks and to reface valves that most people would not recognize as metal cutting machines. But these primitive special purpose hand turned tools produce round parts that are accurate to within +/-.0005" roundness.

If you look in front of the workbench in your image "horologiaferrea" there is what appears to be one of these machines, "engines" or "fuse engine" (But it could also be parts of a clockwork cooking jack). The item at the end of the bench loks like and might be a drive mandrel to support and turn a gear upon.

2" x 1/2" (50mm x 13mm) stock is pretty heavy material for a new smith to be working and it WILL be difficult. A large forge that can heat at least a foot at a time is very helpful. VIcopper mentioned a "cone mandrel". I do not know how far back these tools go but they are a simple hollow cone shape casting and were within the capability of early foundries. AND special truncated cones are made that because they are short and designed for a narrow range do not LOOK like a cone-mandrel. These were common in wheel wright shops where large hubs needed bands made but there was no use for the small end of a floor mandrel.

Rough rings are dropped over the cone and trued by tapping to fit. A heavy ring on edge can have its ID trued this way at the expense of the OD. The OD will need to be trued by hammering the sides to push the material back OUT that was flattened while truing the ID.

Rings of this nature are commonly rolled cold today and are much smoother and accurate. However, I do not believe rolls were available prior to the 1800's. On the other hand in a medieval shop such a ring could be cold bent around a mandrel using lots of leverage. A simple bending jig such as those shown on our 21st Century page under Benders 1 can be used a segment at a time to make smooth circular bends.

If you page UP to 6/4 17:09 you will see a collection of cones as well as a tire bender (a rolling machine that could make your rings cold).

There is a good chance that on large clocks the clockmaker went to a blacksmith who had the heavy forging skills to have the gear blanks forged and welded. Then the clockmaker would finish the gear and cut the teeth.

Large teeth would probably be sawed out of narrow gears and chisled out of the wider pinions. The Wyke catalog has a wide variety of saws from small jeweler' saws up to heavy hack saws that could be used for this purpose.

No matter what methods are used to forge the gears and cut the teeth MANY hours were spent with files and scrapers finishing and shaping these parts.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/08/03 18:38:50 GMT

...damn,guru, you've impressed me again with the bredth and depth of your knowledge. Good reading. And, you've given me a clue about looikng for tools formy own interest, flintlock making. I recently had an opportunity to handle some original 18th century gun makers tools and have an interest in making some of my own based on those patterns. I have some knowledge of the incredible detail and creativness of early European craftsmen (ever looked inside a pocket watch made 1600+)and the idea that at some point some creative merchant began marketing these tools is interesting to me. I need to find some old illustrated watch-coach-gun maker tool catalog's on the web.

Again, thanks
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 06/08/03 19:08:18 GMT

Teaching to the Test: Racy, The problem in Virginia is that the exact content of all the SOL tests are known to the teachers at all levels and they are instructed to teach those specific facts (largely to the exclusion of all others). The entire system is a cheat. AND it is being looked at as a national model and has the endorsment of our current president. . .

This is not the same as "standardized" tests such as SAT's or college boards produced by independent testing organizations where the specific questions are not known to the teachers OR administration AND the questions are randomized and changed year to year as well as having different batches to prevent cheating wihin schools. This type of testing although not perfect IS a way of testing a sampling of what the student should have learned. I do not like them or the fact that they are often socialy and racialy biased BUT they are not a cheat.

   - guru - Sunday, 06/08/03 19:16:46 GMT

clocks: scott, that one has been on my to-do list as well for a while now. If you have got some drawings of the construction, I'd be very interested. Some pictures from the original: http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/resources/image/large/ps352673.jpg and http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/compass/resources/image/large/ps343113.jpg (from thebritishmuseum.ac.uk > compass > search for cassiobury). The Guru's richt, most of the work in one of these is filing. files have been around since the iron age, and hacksaws at least since the viking era, so don't worry about them being not historically correct.
sorry for this incoherent post, I'm a bit tired)
   matthijs - Sunday, 06/08/03 20:07:01 GMT

I picked up a blower yesterday at an auction. It is Canadian made (C Field Toronto) and of the old cast iron type. It is floor mounted and run off a flat belt probably from a line shaft and has 'for cupula furnaces and forges' on the side of it. The shaft (horizontal) bearings have oil cups and drain cocks on them so it seems industral grade. The impeller has 8 blades and is 16 1/2" in diameter. The outlet is 4 1/2" diameter.
Does anyone have any idea what RPM blowers of this type and size were run at and what CFM they put out? I realize hard data is unlikely to be around and speculation/extrapolation from similar size Buffalo forge blowers more likely. I've found that allot of Canadian forging equipment was made identical or almost identical to the major US manufactures. Buffalo Forge even had a Canadian subsidiary so I don't doubt this blower has a US eqivilent.
I hope to use it for a propane forge and have a means of ducting it into my coal forge. I was the only bid at $10 or$7US for it. I picked up a 405# Peter Wright that has had the working face nicely redressed for $650 CDN or $450 US. A double horn 466# went for $575CDN or $400US.
   the Duck - Sunday, 06/08/03 21:34:03 GMT


Have you considered using heavy round stock, bending it (hot or cold), and flattening it on the anvil? I have a little experience flattening round stock, and it seems a lot easier than making flat bar arc around a cone mandrel.
   T. Gold - Sunday, 06/08/03 22:00:15 GMT

*Medieval* clock making; just a couple of points --- they were using Wrought Iron and Wrought Iron derived steels and they were *not* casting iron into cones. The picture, of course, is renaissance.

Now to step a bit farther afield "Mechanick Exercises" by Joseph Moxon (I have a reprint of the 1703 edition) gives detailed instructions on making a clockwork jack that uses no tools unknown to the medieval smith. . . . though for a larger gear I would probably rough out the gear teeth hot or cold cutting and file to final form.

RealWrought Iron forge welds very nicely and so it was a technique used a lot more often than we use it today---we go out of our way to avoid it, they preferentially used it!

Good Luck

   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 06/08/03 22:34:16 GMT

I am a complete new guy when it comes to metal working. I know some of the basics. but have completed none. I read the Complete Modern Blacksmith, but am still in shock. My question is when dishing a piece of sheet metal for armor recreation, what type off tool should I use for dishing? I have seen some who have used bowls...I have seen some who use a stake with a circular top that is rounded. What is the difference between these and where can they be obtained? Thank you for your help in advance.
   Doug Gabbard - Sunday, 06/08/03 23:47:11 GMT

Re: Clock.

Thanks for all of the responses guys. Now that it is not 2am and I'm a little more alert, maybe I can add a bit more...

The clock from the British Museum that originially inspired me is the Cassiobury Park Clock. One of several "Scallop-shell" marked clocks. Called this due to the mark of the clockmaker found on the clocks. To reaffirm some of the information mentioned already,
  • The clock gears were made out of wrought iron.
  • The sides of the teeth would have been cut with a hacksaw, then the material was probably popped out using a chisel.
  • The sides would have then been cleaned up using files.
  • All examined gears from the middle ages are wrought, not cast.
  • The "grain" of the wrought iron indicates that it was a straight piece of iron bent into a circle.
  • The parts were not machined.
  • I have confirmed this information with the British Museum.
The technique that I just described is also described in detail Mechanick Exercises when talking about a how to make a mechanical spit. This was already mentioned by Thomas. All of the techniques discussed in this work would produce the same results that have been found on all medival clocks that I'm aware of. The method for truing up the circles, as described in Mechanick Exercises involves spinning the circle on its axle and marking it with chalk. This shows what needs to be filed, cut, etc... to make the circle true.

Guru, when you were referring to the item at the end of the bench being a drive mandrel, is it the somewhat cross shaped item? If that is what you are referring to, I think that might be part of the escapement. Essentially, it serves the same purpose as the pendulum does in later clocks.

Back to the question I had about an item in the picture at http://home.mindspring.com/~bomlin/images/horologiaferrea2.jpg

It is immediately to the left of the horn of the anvil, and between the man inspecting the gear and the forge. It has somewhat of a mushroom shape. Guru, you said this was a "cage gear" or are you referring to something in front of the workbench? The mushroom shaped item is what I thought might be someway to make the true circle.

Oh, I have made one circle already. I use the term circle only in the broadest sense of the word. I did manage to bend the stock around and weld the ends together.

Anyway, thanks again to all for all the useful comments.
   Scott F. Brown - Monday, 06/09/03 00:45:39 GMT


That "mushroom" shape looks to me as though it is the back of a chair that the worker is sitting in. That may be only a case of projection on my part since I prefer to sit whenever I can.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/09/03 01:12:49 GMT

Hello all,
I am considering building a gas forge but have a question on the burners before I finalize my designs.

I would prefer to build it with atmospheric burners, but I am located somewhere between 4000 and 4200 feet above MSL and I am not sure high enough temps could be obtained with them at this altitude. Do you think that I might be able to pull it off with good results or should I plan on using a blower?

Thanks in advanced,
   Phoflame - Monday, 06/09/03 02:38:17 GMT

4000+ feet: Isn't that about the elevation that Hrisoulas is at? He makes a living doing pattern welding in a forge heated with an atmospheric burner. How high a temp do you need?

Armouring: most folks use a wooden stump with a slightly dished divot in it to dish into. I dish into:
  1. The cut off bottom of a pressurized gas tank, (O2, CO2, Argon, Ni, He, etc), I get them from a welding supply that tests tanks---the ones that fail they chop in two and discard.
  2. 4-6" dia punchouts from 5/8" plate, welded a shaft for the hardy hole and they work great.
  3. The "donut hitch" off of some *large* (military?) trailer---3"center hole, 6" total dia, (got some smaller ones that may have been lifting rings for heavy equipment--ground off anything that would keep it from resting flat on the anvil and welded a shaft for the hardy hole)
Getting a smoothly curved hammer face is very important---you want something that will not leave a ding that you then have to planish out later! May I commend to your attention
http://www.armourarchive.org/ and http://www.arador.com/ as good armouring sites---though most folks work cold there.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 06/09/03 03:20:23 GMT

Duck, it is my experience that most of the old blowers run at about 1700 RPM. I haven't read anything saying that, but have counted the strokes per minute of a lever acting blower, and also the turns per minute of a geared handle blower and multiply those numbers by the gear ratio to come up with this figure.
   Cap - Monday, 06/09/03 03:25:03 GMT


LOL, you are correct. With a fresh perspective, I think you are correct. That is a chair... Sometimes we see what we want.

   Scott Brown - Monday, 06/09/03 04:14:03 GMT

There are some bed frames made from sq tubing with a thin wall and some carbon content. The Storage places sometimes throw out piles of bed frames..good stiff stuff while light weight.

Duck, You win on the anvils. The blower is probably oversized so you can probably run it slow and quiet with an old washing machine motor.

Scott; I've a pile of rounds of different diameters..old brake drums, sections of well casing pipe etc.
To bent your gear blank, I'd heat the metal and clamp the round form in a vise and clamp the yellow hot metal to it and pull it around the circle. The more even the heat, the smoother the bend.
Another approach would be to use 2 parallel bars attached to a plate a few inches apart. Bridge the bars with the stock and strike between the bars, move forward a little and repeat.

Yet another way is to weld 2 closely parallel pieces of pipe (3" dia?) end-on to a solid upright so that they extend parallel to the ground, one above the other. Slide your gear stock between the pipes , near the upright. and push down on the free end of the stock till it bends jast a little at the pipes, scootch forward a little and repeat.
Avoid bending over cones and horns and other tapers as it makes trueing even more difficult.
If you want to bend hot stock over a wood form, soak the wood first( smells much better and the bent part will cool and stay put).
Consider riveting the spokes...easier to control.
As you can see, most blacksmithing problems have such a range of answers that it comes down to style often.

Doug; There are 2 main ways of making a dished shape.
  1. is stretching or sinking and any old solid stump will work fine,,you might even get by, by battering the depression as you work the metal. The dish is formed when the center area stretches while the edge remains the same.When the metal begins to work harden and stiffen up...stop and anneal it or it will crack.
  2. Aside from stretching there is shrinking or raising, sometimes called crowding. This is done with tools like the dome you mentioned. The metal is driven inwards so that the edge shrinks while the center remains the same. Don't let folds form. Avoid pinching the metal between the stake ( dome) and the hammer as this stretches it. In this practice, the largest supporting surface area contact is between the work and the stake while the hammer indents only a small area per overlapping blow.
Both sinking and raising are usually done in concentric circles..raising proceeds towards the edge, sinking moves in toward the center.
This is a real rude run down but I'll not apologize for being rude...and a Bronx cheer if you object .
Complements on your choice of the Weiger's book.I like it too, good attitude. Both the Guru here and Norm Larson ( see links) have more books on the subjects.
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/09/03 06:28:48 GMT

Ran across this...oooopsie!
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/09/03 07:18:26 GMT

Cadnium Pete, Thanks. Just another reason to avoid Cadnium. Looks like if it doesn't kill you quickly it may help kill you over a longer period.
   - guru - Monday, 06/09/03 13:33:43 GMT

I would like to get insurance for my blacksmithing business. I do some lighting and architectral stuff. Any suggestions, gurus?
   - Pongo - Monday, 06/09/03 14:36:43 GMT

I know that Ron Reil lives at about 3000 feet above sea level and with his atmospheric he can forge weld all day long.
   Ralph - Monday, 06/09/03 15:01:05 GMT


It's a problem that we've talked about before. So far, no one has any good answers.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/09/03 16:06:47 GMT

t powers, i have two on the way. one is a trenton @ 90#, no repairs, face looks good, sweet proportions, american. the second is a HB @187#, no repairs, hardy hole a little beat up, the "third style" (the shorter heal), very nice looking. no bartering. just what i was looking for. champ crank blower with the output and mounting flange as one unit, ie will mount to the input pipe to the pot (no stand necessary). i will have stands eventually for the anvils.

guru, i can gas weld fairly well. what attracts me to TIG is the concentration of heat and that there are cases where i wont need a filler pass. i have a MIG, but for "finer" needs, it is impracticle to change out the wire. i think TIG can be a little cleaner also. i am with you on changing priorities.

   rugg - Monday, 06/09/03 16:26:39 GMT

Pongo, You are probably going to have to talk to a couple of commercial insurance brokers to see if you can obtain the coverage yoou want. I changed my package from one insurer to another a few years ago and talked to several people before making a decision. The state in which you are located may affect what type of coverage you can or must obtain. I still feel like I am spending WAY too much on insurance but I don't have any choice given my product mix.

You don't say whether you are looking for just liability insurance or also want to insure your shop and tools against losses. Do you also want to fold your business vehicle insurance into a package? It all affects the cost and what works for one business isn't always right for another.

Be sure that you accurately describe what you make and what you do when you discuss this with a broker. If you mislead him to try and save money you may wind up with a policy which won't pay at all if you ever need it. None of us like to pay for insurance but at least get the best deal you can by shopping carefully. Don't let someone try and sell you a one size fits all package- if the broker isn't listening to what you want it's probably time to find another one.
   SGensh - Monday, 06/09/03 17:24:47 GMT

Some good news on the Anvil front

Just an encouraging note for those of you just starting out and looking for a deal on an anvil: About a year ago I bought a Hay Budden that was sold to me as weighing 240 pounds. I couldn't make out the weight markings, but knew that it was about the right size for an anvil of that weight, so I bought it. The face was absolutely flat, the edges were decent, and the ring/rebound were great. It had some light pitting and other minor things, but was quite serviceable as-is and could be made nearly perfect with some VERY light belt sanding. I paid $1.58 per pound (at the supposed weight) and was pretty happy to do so. I figured I got an OK deal, and several of the regulars here on Anvilfire agreed.

Once I got it home I cleaned it up a bit and tried to make out the weight. I could definitely see a "2", then some scratches and stuff, then a "6". I tried all the tricks: wire brushing, ScotchBrite pads, rubbings, etc., but I could never definitively make out the second number. I thought I saw a "2", making the anvil 226 pounds, but couldn't be sure. Heck, it could have even been a "0". I finally gave up and forgot about it, figuring that one day I would weigh the anvil and know for sure.

Anyway, I haven't been able to blacksmith much over the last few weeks, so Saturday Morning I decided to spray a coat of WD-40 over both my anvils to inhibit rust. While I was at it, I sprayed a pretty good bit in the area of the weight markings and gave it a quick once-over with my butcher block brush.

Last night I happened to walk past the anvil and noticed something new. I had to laugh at myself for missing the completely obvious. I had been thinking all along that I was looking at a marking that read "2 X 6". In reality, the 6 is the MIDDLE number. In the evening light I could see a "5" on the other side. I had spent so much time trying to make out a number in between the "2" and the "6" that I just never noticed the number on the far right.

My Hay budden apparently weighs 265 pounds. This revelation drove the cost of my anvil down to $1.43/pound, which I think is a superb price for one of the all-time great anvils.

So anyone who is still pining away for a good anvil, remember this: Your anvil is out there waiting for you. All you have to do is find it. Here's a picture of mine before I cleaned it up, looking much worse than it actually is:


   Marcus - Monday, 06/09/03 18:03:03 GMT

Clockmaking: Furniture in Old Engraving Scott, I discounted the chair immediately. Sorry. . I am used to studying old engravings and the stylized furniture often used when protraying scenes where the subject is NOT the furniture. The same with the architecture. It is both stylized and romanticized and may have nothing to do with the actual shop the artist studied.

I suspected that the cross shape part MIGHT have been part of a large escapement. I have not studied large old clock mechanisms but I spent my childhood disassembling and studying old alarm clocks and music boxes and recognize most of the basics. The same shape item is commonly used on primitive (and modern) lathes to support and drive work.

The "not machined" may not be a correct statement by the museum or misunderstood. What I call machined is more akin to guided scraping. Truer rounds can be made this way much faster than marking and filing. The tools to perform the task are the type of thing that due to being specialized AND not being recognizable for what they were are often overlooked.

Moxon writes about making gears using methods that clock makers of HIS TIME would have laughed at as being rude provincial methods. He was a generalist and did not write in depth about specialized trades.

The Hand Scraper is a tool that was used by all craftspeople up until modern times is also almost never mentioned in literature. Modern craftspeople still use scrapers but in large they have been replaced by sandpaper. Scrapers were a very common tool that goes back to the stone age. Scrapers leaves a flat smooth surface on wood OR metal and can be as fast as a file. They can also be used on curved surfaces. Due to the expense and rarity of good files (they are not cheap today) scrapers were used any time they could. They were also used after filing when fine surfaces were needed. Scrapers for metal can be similar to those used for wood OR simply a sharpened end on a file. In either case they are easily not recognizable as tools and thus overlooked.

As late as the 1830's the chisel, file and scraper were the primary tools of "mechanics". Parts as precision as any made today using machine tools and surface grinders were made by hand. In fact, all the early machine tools had dozens of parts with slots, keyways, dovetails and sliding fits that were all carved and scraped by hand from rough castings and forgings. This was the norm for odd parts even after machine tools were available to do many of the jobs. Hand scraping to a final precision surface was common well into the the 20th century and faux scraping is still used on machine tool ways to help maintain lubricant on the metal surface.

Lathes: Were another VERY common tool used in many crafts and is commonly left out of illustrations of old shops because of its commonness. It was not a specialized tool of the trade and everyone had them (in one form or another). When you look in Diderots there are dozens of trades that used lathes where no lathe is illustrated. However, there are many examples of the fruits of the machine (fancy turned spindles) that indicate that there was a lathe in the shop. It was just not illustrated. Is it illustrated in Diderots only when the lathe was a primary tool (the wood turner) or put to specialized use (such as decorating silver plate) .

As long ago as the Classical Greek period (350-450 BC) and up into the twentieth century craftspeople have used lathes that were nothing more than two spikes driven through two posts or trees to support the work. The work was driven by a bow with the string wrapped around the work itself or in the case of odd shapes a mandrel. Wood, bone, ivory, brass and steel have been turned this way for thousands of years.

The clockmakers "turn benches" I mentioned from A Catalog of Tools for Watch And Clock Makers, By John Wyke of Liverpool were simply adjustable metal devices that could easily be mistaken for a C-clamp. They are only one or two steps advanced from the primitive spike-in-tree lathe. These have two centers that screw in and out. One end adjusts on a long bar so that various length shafts can be turned. There is also a little tool rest that adjusts along the same bar. They are sold seperately, without a bow. These little vise mounted "machines" were used by various craftspeople including jewelers and instrument makers. They are still used by jewelers today.

Locksmiths of the Middle Ages used small primitive lathes to cut various parts on keys. The ward cuts made parallel to the axis of the key had to be an arc to clear the ward which was cylindrical. The tools to do this had a wooden spindle and a cutting tool on an adjustable arm locked in place by a screw. A few examples of these specialized little tools exist but no lathe from a locksmith shop of the period exists or is illustrated. The existance of the curved ward slots should be proof enough, but the tool is also evidence and useless without the lathe.

There are many examples of the products of lathes in Ancient Greek culture. There are pieces of ivory jewelery and images of chariot and furniture parts that are definitely turned. But there are no mentions of lathes in Greek literature, no extant vase paintings or tools. But they HAD lathes. To deny it is to deny the existance of many of the few remaining objects from that period. The fact is we know very little about the variety of tools workers had available at this time. But the indications are that they had beautifuly made tools that had the same thought and gracefullness that went into their art and architecture.

The lathe in one one form or another has probably been around as long as the potter's wheel. The scraper is one of the most common tools found among stone artifacts and was the most important finishing tool until the 20th Century. To deny that either was not used every day in shops doing sophisticated work is to deny all of technological development.
   - guru - Monday, 06/09/03 18:07:24 GMT

Anyone who doubts the ability of primitive tools to do precision work should check some of the museums in Vietnam. Charly made parts for home made rifles, including barrels, with "machines" that look like scrap bamboo. Bow lathes and drills, pole lathes and drills, milling machines powered by foot pedal mechanisms scrounged from old sewing machines. You name it, it CAN be done.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/09/03 18:59:01 GMT

Dishing and Raising: Doug, As others have mentioned there are various methods. However, dishing and raising are two different techniques.

Dishing is pushing down into a form or over a hollow and stretches the metal and makes it thinner. Wooden stumps work very well and don't mark the metal. The forms can be carved or burned. Shallow is better than deep. Don't foget that you can use both ends of the stump. I've found that large softwood stumps work as well as hardwood.

Raising compresses (upsets) the metal as you work it making it thicker. Raising is done on stakes with rounded tops. See our Armoury article with Eric Thing making a helmet and the illustration in the review of Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork.

After raising or dishing the surface is smoothed by "planishing" with a planishing hammer. If the polished hammer is used with tight even blows you can produce a surface that needs little finishing.
   - guru - Monday, 06/09/03 20:16:47 GMT

Sign Brackets, Intersects: Jim, Sorry I missed your question.

Where scrolls intersect (bars cross) there are several methods. One common method is to shape the bars into a lap joint where half the material is missing from each bar. This can be done by forging or machining and is just like joinery in wood or any other material.

Ocassionaly a fabricator makes this kind of joint cutting and welding the pieces together then grinding everything smooth.

Torching this kind of design from heavy plate would be an expensive waste of materials and also cost a lot in clean up time. It is a possible method but not a good one.

A less common method that is used in high class work is for one bar to pierce the other. The pierced bar is split with a chisel, then the hole opened and shaped to fit the other bar. The pierced bar makes a definite swell around the other. Often these are done in patterns that look impossible to make with bars piercing each other and themselves. Plain bars are inserted and the ends forged to fantastic shapes. Many of these designs are more for other blacksmiths, to make THEM scratch their heads and say "How did he DO that?" The customer almost never appreciates the difficulty factor in this kind of work.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/10/03 00:11:29 GMT

"Pongo" You find some kind of coverage let us all know.. I have been looking upo here in Canada for some time now..
   Barney - Tuesday, 06/10/03 01:30:42 GMT

If you want to see some nice old sign brackets

"Schoene Alte Wirsthaus Schilder", Walter Leonhard (Pretty, Old Tavern Signs---the oe is a umlaut o of course)

Has some I'm afraid to show around German Village here in Columbus OH---they might want me to try to reproduce them!

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 06/10/03 01:44:26 GMT


How do we look at them? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/10/03 03:01:04 GMT

Pongo, insurance story-

I have a policy from Hartford that covers my workshop. Tools, liability. Seperate from our store. Standard small biz policy. When the wife and I moved the retail store to a larger space right across the street, I called the ins co. and brought up the fact that jewelery manufacturing, classes will be at the same location as the retail space. BELLS, WHISTLES, CLOWNS IN CARS. $3100.00

I RUN to a jeweler in town and ask about his policy and call his agent. Tell the new guy all and he says no problem. Yesterday he comes by the new local to eyeball the place. Really to get money and get out of the office. Rare sunny day in NJ. Whips out the new policy and its "Hartford".$1300.00

The other agent was in another state and the laws there would not let them write 2 different classes, retail & manufacturing in the same location.

Don't know where you are but ask around.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 06/10/03 11:57:59 GMT

Insurance: My experiance with insurance companies has been varied but a lot depends on the agents immagination. We needed fire insurance on an ancient building with wood heat and other age related problems. Nobody would touch it with homeowners. This is largely because homeowners covers a wide range of libility and structural items (roof, termites, foundation. . ). A lot of things that along with the wood heat they would not insure our 200 year old building. We went to another agent and told him our problem and that all we wanted was fire insurance. . . He says 200 years old 'eh? Has wide pine board floors? Yep. . . So he writes us a FIRE policy on the scrap value of the wood. And that satisfied the bank. Imagination. . . or is it just normal inteligence?

On the other hand, we had a small flood insurance policy. Then we had a BIG flood. Damages were a lot more than the policy. But the adjuster nickled and dimed us down to 70% of the coverage. . . ($7,000 out of 10,000). Not enough to hire a lawyer to get what we had paid for. But not enough to make the ONE serious repair we had gotten a bid on that was taylored to the amount of the insurance. Meanwhile folks with beach front vacation homes built on sand dunes in areas hit annualy by hurricanes get their entire homes replaced every couple years with the same Federaly subsidized insurance.

Recently it has been reported on the national news that just calling and asking if your insurance covers certain things can get your homeowners insurance cancelled. . . Some states are moving to pass laws to make this illegal. And we wonder where some apparently stupid laws come from???

When asking about insurance don't say a "blacksmith shop", say welding or fabrication shop, or small manufacturer. These are all categories that are covered and are no different than a blacksmith shop. A lot of times the only local company to cover your category of business doesn't have that imaginative agent who can think . . So don't make it hard on them.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/10/03 13:38:24 GMT

Guru: I am endeavoring to make a pair of tongs using the method found in the book A Blacksmith Primer, I,m using 3/4" mild steel [ scrap], after forming the jaws, turning a 1/4 turn and forming the pivot point, I find that the steel splits where the jaws meet the pivot point. any insight would be greatly appreciated.
   - Jeff. - Tuesday, 06/10/03 19:28:11 GMT

Cracks or splits: Jeff, I can't find my copy of the book so I'm not sure where you are. It is also difficult to judge without a better discription or seeing the split.

Cracks can come from a variety of sources. Bad steel or steel that has soaked in the forge too long. Forging or bending too cold. Bending a hot spot surrounded by cold steel.

Cold shuts are also a common problem. That is where a fold occurs and makes an unwelded seam in the steel. This often happens when steel is forged over a sharp corner or is split with a chisel. Cold shuts are usualy a forging problem but they DO occur in factory bar and plate.

IF the split is in the middle of the section and it is not part of a cold shut that you made then it may be a bad piece of steel.

If you are working OLD wrought iron that was heavily rusted it is common for this material to split due to corrosion in the boundry layers of the iron. These layers of slag give wrought its wood like grainyness. When they corrode out the result is like rotten wood. Sometimes old seperated iron can be heavily fluxed and welded back together but it is difficult to do.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/10/03 19:48:17 GMT

Jeff, as our Guru pointed out, twisting it too cold is a common cause of splits. If the scrap was high in sulfur it could also be splitting along grain boundaries (hot shortness). If heating it hotter and working faster doesn't solve your problem, you may as well chalk it up the the Curse of the Junkyard, and find some other steel. However, if you heated it to a white hot, it may be burned in which case you have to accept the blame but you still have to find some other steel and start over.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/10/03 23:22:49 GMT

Coal problems.
I beleive I am making and maintaining my forge fire correctly, but about every other heat, a cold spot appears in the fire. The spot is from coal that won't burn. I am almost sure it isn't slag because it is not as heavy as typical slag, but light like coke. It also has a strange texture. There are what looks like tiny particles of a white substance on this mystery slag.
Any help or information would be greatly appreciated on what this is and how I can fix it.

Thank you
   Stephen - Tuesday, 06/10/03 23:34:24 GMT

Shale, Oil Shale and Gravel: Stephen, A lot of lower grade coal taken from the edge or surface of a coal seam is partialy shale (sedimentary clay) that is just as black as the coal but mostly clay, not carbon. In West Virginia they call it "red dog" and pave roads with it. In California they sell it for landscaping. Another grade is a shale that is saturated with petroleum. Oil shale looks like hard coal and burns with great leaping flames but adds nothing to the forge fire. Once burned it is a dark brown black with white tinges. It works in hand fired furnaces but is very inefficient since you shovel OUT the same volume that you shovel IN.

Another common contaminate to coal is plain old gravel. This comes from the yards where coal is often stored in piles. When the last of the pile is moved a bit of gravel gets mixed in. It is black from the coal dust but will not burn.

True coal varies from peat to anthracite in infinite variety including the non combustable clay content. Good coal has just the right amount of silica (fine sand) in it to cause the ash (mostly clays) to clump together in clinkers rather than form fly ash. Almost all coal has some ash content and some coals have a lot. You want low ash with just a touch of silica.

Blacksmiths prefer a "soft" coal because it is easier to keep burning and cokes down easily. What makes the coal soft is just the right amount of volatiles (petroleum). Too much and the coal burns fast and smokey and has lower caloric output, too little (like in anthracite) and the coal is hard to keep burning even though it is nearly pure carbon and very high in caloric output. Good coking coal can actually be melted and formed into shapes! In the fire it melts together before it cokes and then produces large lumps of amalgamated coke. This in turn is what makes the roof of a bee-hive fire and the resulting white hot heat. The coke is both fuel and insulation.

A delicate balance of all these properties are what makes the best coal for almost ANY purpose. But for smithing the very best is well worth the expense and a joy to use.

Other coals work but are not as friendly to use and often require figuring out a specific fire tending technique. Since there is an infinite variety of coals there are an infinite number of best ways to maintain a fire. . .

Most smiths with experiance with any type of coal can usualy recognize problematic differences and adapt to them. However, with really BAD coal there may be more green smoke coming from the smith than from the fire. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 00:29:37 GMT


My Dad purchased a Trenton anvil at a farm auction this past weekend. It is a real beauty, with no chips on the face, and a horn that is near perfect. I don't think the horn was ever hit on the end!! Any way, to my question: He was wondering about when the anvil was made. The weight is stamped 100 pounds and the serial # is A142999. Any info about when this anvil was made would be greatly appreciated.

   Brian - Wednesday, 06/11/03 02:09:17 GMT


Your dad's anvil was manufactured ine 1916.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 03:22:41 GMT

It may be that Paw-Paw knows because he was there.
Naw, he was busy elsewhere.
Fooling with an idea for a double cam lock upsetting table...using the old "jumping" technique of upsetting.Will see if it works..sooner or later.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 06/11/03 07:00:00 GMT

Locking Angle: For steel on steel the maximum locking angle is 14.5 degrees. The lower the angle the greater the force and the more damage from the cam. SO, you want as high a cam angle as possible that gives a positive grip. 10 to 12 degrees is good.

On heavy axial load devices the cam will tighten and deform the steel until either the travel runs out OR the part is pulled in two. They almost never let go. However, under shock loads the cam can sometimes bounce open releasing the part. A spring on the cam helps prevent loosening due to bounce.

Yeah paw-Paw was there inspiring All Quite on the Western Front. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 12:58:41 GMT

From: Norton Antivirus<av_patch@norton.com>

Get a mail from Norton? Nope. Its a virus with forged return address. One of you fell for it because I am getting it. . . Spreads via MS Outlook. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 14:42:01 GMT

outlook express cost me $1200 to purge a worm.....
   rugg - Wednesday, 06/11/03 16:55:45 GMT


You mean Outhouse Expelled? Or Internet Exploder?

They're both on my desktop, because Win2000 requires them, but they've been renamed as above.

No one in this house uses them. And they'd better not if they want to get along with me.

And I can be REAL hard to get along with if I want to.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 17:36:48 GMT

Viruses & Outlook:

I dumped Outlook about a year ago and replaced it with Eudora (who has a free "lite" version if you don't want to pay for it). I also got the newest version of Norton AntiVirus with daily updates.

No problems to report since, I'm happy to say.

BTW: I also NEVER open email attachments unless I'm expecting them, just to be on the safe side.

my $0.02 worth...
   Zero - Wednesday, 06/11/03 17:50:50 GMT


When I send an attachment, I usually include in the message something on the order of: "This attachment is a cartoon that I thought you woule enjoy." I also have McAffee set to check all incoming AND outgoing mail.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 18:21:39 GMT

Guru, I dont have much of a smithing question but rather a technical one. Would you please contact me via e-mail at thethorin@hotmail.com as I would like to inquire about the SlackTubPub chat program used.
   B-W - Wednesday, 06/11/03 18:33:52 GMT

Is it best to have the air gate on the inlet or the outlet side of the forge blower? After a while I decided I need to install one (Duh!!!!)
   smitty7 - Wednesday, 06/11/03 18:36:13 GMT


Personal opinion, on the outlet side. That's where it's located on my big Buffalo Forge.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 19:02:13 GMT


I don'ty usually disagree with Paw Paw, but this time I'm going to. Putting the air gate on the intake side of the blower puts less strain on the blower. It has to do with the number of molecules of air moved around, or some such. An engineer friend verified for me that it is better that way.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/11/03 19:53:33 GMT


You reckon Buffalo had it wrong for all those years? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 20:55:02 GMT

Actually it doesn't matter much unless you have a high powered blower with lots of stresses. . .

On water pumps if you starve the intake you produce a vacuume that results in cavitation that can errode the blade. It also makes the pump noisy. If you restrict the output, pressure and thrust go up and the the water heats. You can flash water to steam in seconds in a high powered pump. This often results in an overheated impeller that expands and rubs the discharge bushing thus getting MUCH hotter while it wears away destroying the pump.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 21:21:44 GMT

Dunno about Buffalo, just passing on what Tony told me. It does make sense though, if you consider that a blower with the intake restricted is pulling in less air to move, while one with the exhaust restricted pulls in more than it is allowed to expell, thereby creating back-pressure. As Jock points out, if you starve the intake, you are decreasing pressure in the pump. If you're not moving any water, just air, then lower pressure is less resistance. Add a little water, of course, and you have a placer-cutting operation chewing up your impeller.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/11/03 21:47:38 GMT

Had a fellow write and want to know if a 650 pound anvil was worth anything. Any offers? ;)

He may send photos.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 23:02:54 GMT

I'll give him $6.50 for it. If he'll pay the shipping.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/11/03 23:06:26 GMT

Gates in the Discharge: I suspect that generally it is easier to put them there since there is usualy a convienient pipe. Many were built into the tuyeer assembly since forges were often sold seperately from blowers or bellows.

On hand crank blowers you shouldn't need a gate since you control the air by how you crank. But on bellows a discharge valve is nice in that it slows the air when needed while allowing stored air to remain in the upper chamber. This makes the stored air last longer.

Big thunderstorms. . . typical June afternoon.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/11/03 23:10:24 GMT

Now that is a valid point, the blower on the Buffalo Forge is hand cranked. Well, right now it's a shop vacuum, the blower is up at the guru's place.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/12/03 00:23:31 GMT


I have the abana plans for a treadle hammer, which i have been working on and the tool holders are 4" sq plates with 1" holes in the center of each under the plates it calls for 2 pieces of 1-1/2" x 1-1/4", 4" long under each.

I cant find this 1-1/2" x 1-1/4" stock (Im in B.C, canada and I also tried Seatle Wa and Portland Or, U.S). It seems my only option is to get a piece of 1-1/2 milled down 1/4 " on one side for $70 + material. Does anyone no if this size is made anywhere or if this is a mistake in the plans ( although the stock appears rectangular in the pictures)?
And if anyone here has built one what did you use ?

thanks alot

   Hayes - Thursday, 06/12/03 01:13:09 GMT


I'd think you could just use the stock as is. Or use the bandsaw to slice off that quarter inch, if you want to. I wouldn't go to the expense of having it milled, it's not that dimensionally critical.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/12/03 01:47:04 GMT

Odd Stock: Either dimension is standard for plate. The parts are probably torch cut from plate then either ground to shape with a hand grinder or possibly machined. They are also not too big to have been sawed out of 4" wide bar. Even my little cut off saw will saw that.

Most of these machines are built from stock on hand. Much of it is scrap from unknown sources. I am sure I can go out in the shop right now and find several odd dimensioned pieces of rectangular steel. In fact there is a short piece about 1-1/2 x 1-1/4 or so in the back of my car right now. . . Machined on all sides. I scrounged it to make a jig for grinding Beverly shear blades. It is a scrap end left over from SOMETHING we made years ago. Shops end up full of this kind of stuff. Often raiding shop's scrap bins can turn up what your are looking for.

ALSO: Many of the dimensions on these machines you can take with a grain of salt. Machines were built, detail plans came later. Adaptability is the key to completing these projects.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/12/03 03:50:03 GMT

Band Saw Suggestion? I am in the market for replacing the messy and inaccurate typical abrasive chop saw. I am now convinced a band saw will give me more versatility for use than a cold saw. After many hours of research I have set my eyes on the mitre cutting variety (where the cutting head will swing both left and right. Without going way oversize and into big production model's there are only a few manufacturers out there; FMB,ELLIS,Baxter,Kama,Jet. So far the FMB sounds like the nicest considering function and features. I would love to receive any first hand info from anyone that can speak from their experience with any that I've listed! Thanks Guys
   Steve E. - Thursday, 06/12/03 06:54:51 GMT

I don't see how it matters as long as the hammer and anvil faces match in size.
I used a similar method in fabricating my TH anvil..it seemed the easiest way to do the hardy hole. In retrospect, it was a mistake. The plates that made up the anvil should have been set on edge ( except for the very top face plate) so as to minimize the damping. Also, I found that the anvil on that design is MUCH too light and should have been solid, not tubing.
I read the plans and put them in the pile and never looked at them again...the junk at hand dictated what I built...and it sure does not look like the plans somehow...but then, as a little kid, I never followed model plane instructions either.
One problem I have been having with the treadle hammer ( other than breaking fingers with it) is that the rubber skeleton on top of the hammer shaft keeps falling apart after a couple of years. It was a nice day-of-the-dead Mexican rubber skeleton with a great action upon impact.
Have any of you had similar technical problems?....Pete
   - Pete F - Thursday, 06/12/03 07:34:23 GMT

Band Saw: Steve, If you can afford it I would avoid the imports. Bandsaws are usualy quite dependable but some parts DO wear out and I think you may have a better chance of getting them on a domestic machine.

But then, I buy tools I expect to have for a lifetime. . .

I have seen imported machine tools (SE Asia, Brazil) that didn't work at the factory, didn't work at the distributor and didn't work when delivered and required significant remanufacturing of parts (by the buyer) to operate. A $2k mill-drill from a national distributor couldn't have the motor adjusted to where the belt would drive it. It required new motor brackets and modification of the belt guard (several days labor in a machine shop). A lathe had a similar problem but it was the head casting that interfered with the belt. The casting had to be notched AND the motor mount remanufactured! A $17k bandsaw's controls never worked correctly and the vise had a fine pitch screw designed for a motor drive rather than manual use. Every time stock was clamped it took several minutes of turning the handwheel.

Maintenance can be a huge headache. Asian electrical standards are a lot different than ours and sometimes simple things like a motor replacement are nearly impossible or VERY expensive (a significant part of the cost of the machine). Items like control relays are often squeezed into undersized pockets in castings and are difficult to replace with NEMA standard parts.

Although we purchase a lot of things by long distance today I recommend that you SEE the actual machine you are buying and look at it close. Ask for a demonstration if its possible. And purchase from a dealer that you can go back to if there is a problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/12/03 14:14:54 GMT

thanks alot for all of your input on my treadle hammer project.
   Hayes - Thursday, 06/12/03 15:01:47 GMT

I am 70 years old, new to the computer and to knife making. I need to know how knives were made in the Middle Ages as the story I am writing deals with a very special blade. Can you point me toward a site?
   Martha - Thursday, 06/12/03 19:20:46 GMT

Hello! I am just starting to get some tools together for blacksmithing, specifically, knifemaking. This has me on the hunt for an anvil. I am a carpenter/woodworker by profession and I know the value of investing in good tools. However, the prices (and shipping costs) are a bit steep for my budget for both new and used anvils. There is a gentleman on e-bay who is selling new #110 cast steel anvils, shipped directly from the manufacturer, for $130 and there is no shipping charge. While I know its no Peddinghaus this still seems to be a good deal for starting out at least. But if in your opinion this anvil is just junk, then I will continue to search and save for a good quality unit. Your guidance on this matter would be MUCH appreciated. As a reference the e-bay listing is 2328294940 THANKS!
   Tom Dunn - Thursday, 06/12/03 19:28:40 GMT

I wish to install a flue pipe for gas and coal forges. Could you reccomend pipe size and temperature range of exhaust gasses. (single, double or tripple wall) thanks, Mike
   Michael W. - Thursday, 06/12/03 19:36:44 GMT

Tom, if it's a Russian anvil (I didn't look), it's better than nothing, in my not-so-humble opinion. It can get you started, and many have worked on less. However, you will be itching to get a good anvil in short order.

I don't know if your budget will support getting the Russian, working on it as you learn, and replace it as soon as you find a good one. That at least gets you pounding on iron, and gives you time to shop around for the "real" anvil at a decent price.

You may want to check out the ABANA link, or any other smithing organization in your neck of the woods, and see when there's a hammer-in in your area. Attending will get you some great info, and may get you some of the harder to find tools at better prices, and no shipping.
   Monica - Thursday, 06/12/03 21:23:12 GMT

Anvils on eBay: I've written on this numerous times and made purchases from some of the crooks that deal anvils on eBay. Be VERY VERY cautious. They use misleading terms (all the hot button phrases applied to anvils) and just outright lie about the material. Several charge very low prices for the anvils and then very high shipping so that they proffit on the shipping. If you want your money back you are going to pay shipping AGAIN and only get back the artificialy low price.

This does not apply to all anvil sales on ebay but it does apply to several of the regulars with cheap anvils. Compliants went to eBay but apparently it was considered to be too minor of fraud to do anything about.

If you are looking at used anvils on ebay you will see some really inflated prices. Check the ABANA-Chapter.com page for a group near you and go to the next meeting. There is almost always someone at meetings selling used anvils.

The anvil you are looking at is the Russian anvil quenchcrack reviewed for us. Click the link.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/12/03 22:24:54 GMT

Jock ,
I have a new e-mail address and would like it changed in the slack tub pub. I noticed that my old address is still there. The new addy is: ???????????@verizon.net
Thank You,

   Harley - Thursday, 06/12/03 22:44:23 GMT

Tom Dunn: That Russian anvil sells for $70-80 at Harbor Freight. Sometimes the on-line catalog has free shipping on orders over $50. I would rather be nibbled to death by ducks than buy from e-bay. As Monica pointed out, this will get you in the business for cheap. I am always looking for a better anvil but continue to use "The Toad" for now.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/12/03 23:19:11 GMT

Harley, fixed. I also blanked out your e-mail address here. Posting it publicly will get you spammed to death. . . That is what the incryption system is for.
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 00:15:40 GMT

thinking of manufacturing fire pots out of 3/8 hot roll
plate / any drawbacks
   mike t - Friday, 06/13/03 00:23:39 GMT

was there a reason cast iron was used other than ease
of manufacturing
isnt the melting point of hot roll slightly higher than
cast iron
   mike t - Friday, 06/13/03 00:38:05 GMT

Firepots Mike, none at all. Cast iron is a little more rust and corrosion resistant but many folks make their own firepots from plate. Cast iron is also subject to cracking from thermal shock which steel plate generaly is not. So there is an advantage there.
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 00:38:59 GMT

Well, just wanted to back up here a little to the discussion about clutches for small trip hammers. I always liked slack belt clutches better than anything else I ever tried on a hammer. Recently a friend of mine built a hammer with NO CLUTCH AT ALL! Modern technology is really wonderful. Now you can buy a "variable frequency drive" or VFD very cheap, about $150 or so for a 2 HP motor. This gives nearly infinitely variable speed control of the motor. My friend just hooked his treadle to the speed control. I believe his comes to a complete stop when he lets off, but it could just as well be set to drop back to a low idle. 'Nother friend of mine always adjusted his clutches that way anyway. That way you don't have to "tickle" the treadle to get over the top for that first blow. VFD's can also be used as phase converters, 1 phase in, 3 phase out. Might not be great on larger trip hammers where you might want to get good single blow. Smaller hammers are seldom used that way. Great control!
   - GRANT - Friday, 06/13/03 01:28:35 GMT


Melting really doesn't matter cause they should never get any where near that hot.
   - GRANT - Friday, 06/13/03 01:30:55 GMT

Michael/Monica/Harley It turns out those anvils are made in China. My interest is pretty evaporated by now. I will check out the Harbor Freight site and also hunt down one of those meetings. Thanks for the advice! I'm sure you'll hear from me again.
   Tom Dunn - Friday, 06/13/03 02:57:02 GMT

The harbor freight shows a #110 anvil for a c-note and free shipping. I could't see where country of origin was indicated but it sounds pretty workable to me. Sorry I got the names wrong on previous post!
   Tom Dunn - Friday, 06/13/03 03:11:01 GMT


I'm pretty sure that is the Russian Cast Steel anvil that Quenchcrack reviewed for anvilfire.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/13/03 03:15:01 GMT

Howdy, I have an opportunity to buy a crank type blower for a forge, its probly 10 inches in diammeter, but the flange is broken where the blower tube attaches. I was going to constuct a square fire box about 24" square, and attach the blower with tubing coming up from under the center of the box. What would be a good price for the blower, the guy wants $75.00 for it? He also said he could get me a 100 lb. anvil for a $ 150.00, are these bargains? I live out here in southwest OK. Thank you, Marvin PS: Im 47 with welding experince, I have my own cutting torch and welder. I would like to take up blacksmithing as a hobby.
   Marvin Reynolds - Friday, 06/13/03 03:18:29 GMT

Good Guru;
RE Locking Angle:
This answer is related to the one you gave about hold-downs in a platen table.
Would you be so kind as to draw up a quick sketch showing the principle. I'm having trouble visualizing how the forces act so it can be generalized . Feeling dumb..again, some more
Tom Dunn; Be sure not to buy a CAST Iron cheapy...Get cast steel at a minimum. If you are going to deal with Harbor Fright, hold out for a sale and save another $20-30....but really you are much better off finding a good old used one.
( Us old guys tend to talk like that).
Marvin; look some more, I'd guess you can do better...but then I'm cheap ( in that regard).
   - Pete F - Friday, 06/13/03 08:32:28 GMT

On virusses and MS:

IE = Infernal Exploder
OE = Outhouse Excess

Guru, I am busy rebuilding my website and need a piece of advice: Where can I find an applet or piece of code that will encrypt my mailto links so spammers can't get to it?



   Tiaan - Friday, 06/13/03 12:12:37 GMT

Marvin Where are you in SW Ok? I am in Norman. There are several smiths out your way that may be of some help in locating some good equipment. email me and I'll put you in touch with them and invite you to our Hammerin on the 21st.
   Mills - Friday, 06/13/03 12:32:21 GMT

Prices: Marvin, For several years in this part of the country good hand crank blowers have been going for $75 to $200 (complete one's with stands). Exceptionaly good condition ones are worth more. However, the problem with these blowers is that they are not made any more and the gears and bearings DO wear out. Most of the bearings are custom and all the gears were made by the factory long before universal gear standards. . . You can purchase very nice electric blowers from Kayne and Son or Centaur Forge. Piehtool may also have blowers and they carry a British line that includes new hand crank blowers.
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 14:11:35 GMT

Russian Anvils: Just months after our review Chinese copies of the Russian anvil were on the market. They probably used one as a pattern because they look exactly alike. But they are not cast steel (albiet soft), they are cheap cast iron. Some even have ID tags like the Rusian anvil. I haven't seen a tag close enough to see if it says "Made in China" but remember that we are talking about the same folks that had forged copies of Win98 on the shelf in packaging that was IDENTICAL to Microsoft's right down to the anti forgery holographic label . . (by the millions World wide). AND several of the folks on eBay DO misrepresent many details of the cheap Chinese anvils they sell. A little one I bought as an example didn't even have the described "square hardy hole".

AND note that Harbor Frieght DOES carry Chinese anvils as well as the Russian ones. . . If you ask they will tell you where it was made and the material. They are an honest busines as far as I can tell. They just carry a line of low cost imported tools and you get what you pay for.
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 14:42:07 GMT

I am starting with a copy of what was in the guru's den archive, which I have pasted below from the dec 1--10 1999 edition. To wit:

--What's it worth in the shop? They are generaly the most unused tool in most shops. Everybody wants one, but rarely do they get used. I have one. Would I part with it? Probably not. Have I ever used it? Just for a door stop :) Now I have parts of an old "Mole" tire shrinker if anyone's intrested. . .

-- guru Thursday, 12/09/99 22:05:06 GMT

Did you mean "Molle" tire shrinker? I think I have the complete machine assembled, except I think the handle should be a little longer. Maybe MOLE is not MOLLE, maybe it it disjointed into "MO_LE" there is something between the O and the L on my casting, and I thought it was another L, but looking at a few moments ago, I don't know quite what it is. When the light is right it looks like an L and it feels like a cast L but not nearly so prominent as the other L which is LE. Mabe it is "MO LE"???

I would like to know what it is worth, complete, and I have several digital pictures I can send. I would also like to know if anyone wants to buy the thing. Other than practical usage for shrinking a steel tire to fit, it is an antique and though not unique, perhaps rare.

cast into the base on the end where the large shrinker is the word MO*LE, the * meaning that there is something there but maybe it is not the "L" I thought it was.

Nevertheless, cast into the actual machine separate and above the two piece cast base the shrinker is labeled:

I.I. & B. Co
No. 2A

The machine is adjustable, with what appears to be its original adjustment pin.

I assume the "2A" refers to a range of tire sizes (widths) or a single size. I also assume the "R" means "right" or right handed model.

The width of the jaws where they would grip the tire is three inches, and I think tires of that width were common.

The pin allows adjustment to three positions between the jaws.

Tell me what you know of these little critters. And who was I.I.& B. Co. and where were they..?

Thanks. Let me know if you would like to see the pics.

Les Porter
Old non-Blacksmith
I am retired.
   Les Porter - Friday, 06/13/03 14:53:08 GMT

Hiding E-mails Tiaan, There are two practical methods.

1) IF you have access to the non-public area of the server to post a CGI script (program) you can use an email contact form. Your e-mail address can then be in the script and cannot be gotten. It is very secure. It takes some knowledge of Perl progams and installation to go this route. Most people have to ask their server host to set it up. You also have to be careful to not let SPAMERS use it to send bulk mail. This is theft of services and is fairly common. There are hundreds of attempts to hack our mail forms everyday.

2) Using a simple Javascript that calls the mail program. When only one address is used you can break your address into pieces instead of using a complicated encryption system like we do here. In either case it is not a truely secure method of hiding your e-mail address (like the CGI). Anyone that wants it can just click on your link and it pops up in their mailer. However, this DOES prevent SPAM harvestor engines from effortlessly collecting your e-mail address. The other disadvantage of this method is that it may not work on all users systems. But it does work on 99.99%

I'll send you some sample code or post a FAQ with samples.
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 15:26:43 GMT

Jock ,
Thank You
   Harley - Friday, 06/13/03 15:52:29 GMT

Harley I see I need to fix your CSI record too. . . sorry!
   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 16:11:07 GMT

I e-mailed Harbor Freight and asked, for curiositys sake, what the country of orgin on the #110 anvil was. Just got the reply, its very odd. Answered by a service rep it stated that there was no country of origin. Must be making them on the ocean floor someplace! HA!
   Tom Dunn - Friday, 06/13/03 17:42:36 GMT

Tire Shrinker: Les, The only folks these have value to as a tool are wheelwrights who are getting rarer than their tools. The only other folks with serious interest might be collectors and I try to avoid dealing in collectors and antique prices because they have no meaning and change day to day on wims and emotions (like the stock market).

It is worth whatever you can get out of it.

II&B is the Illinois Iron and Bolt Company. They manufactured anvils vises and other blacksmiths tools.

   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 17:53:27 GMT

Guru, please,please,please,please,please find the time to post the next chapter of TRB. I'm trying to be patient honest I am. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Friday, 06/13/03 18:24:21 GMT

Tom Dunn; Those people don't know if they're on foot or horseback! In the first place, they're required by law to state the country of origin on the product, which they do. There's a metal label riveted to the side of the anvil which clearly states,"Made in Russia". The minimum wage recipient you contacted wasn't about to get off his/her arse to find out for you. Now, the cast iron version is usually painted gray and has "Made in China" cast into the side. To date, the only 110 pounder Harbor Freight sells is cast steel. I can't speak for the E-Hucksters, though. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Friday, 06/13/03 21:46:49 GMT

HF Russian anvil. . . That was my feel for the situation. It was probably not in the catalog description and they weren't going to go look. The Russian label says "Central Forge" in English. See Figure 13 in our review.

   - guru - Friday, 06/13/03 23:03:24 GMT

My 2 cents, everything I ever bought made in China is total junk. From bottle jacks to tools to plastic toys, it is all made to sell and not to last. The scam? You are one very large ocean away. Product liability? Good luck with the WTO. I buy American or european and I buy old. Harbor Freight seems to carry a lot of chinese junk. Why waste the money when a little more can buy good steel? Why not own a tool that inspires craftsmanship? Even better, why not hunt auctions? Ray Bakers widow here in Springville, Indiana still has some of Ray's collection for sale...anvils and such. Be part of a proud tradition.
   - andrew - Friday, 06/13/03 23:28:32 GMT

I've pretty much given up on the Harbor freight or Chinese anvis. I'm too poor to buy cheap stuff. Euroanvils is a hot contender. As a newbie at this I'd appreciate a recomendation as to wether the German or Bulgarian would be most suitable for me. Thanks
   Tom Dunn - Friday, 06/13/03 23:45:15 GMT

Andrew, I pretty much agree with you on the Chinese stuff. Every hammer I ever bought there had the head come loose after a few blows. I refuse to buy ANYTHING electrical there. However, if you are just getting into the BS hobby, and have little money to spend, the Russian anvil is serviceable, but not the tool you want for the long run. A lot of schools use those Russian anvils in their shops. I totally agree that it is always cheaper in the long run to buy the best tool you can afford. Sometimes, the best you can afford is $79.00 At the risk of offending some, let me encourage all of us not to totally disparage the less expensive tools. Some of us cannot afford the best, and the best among us can do wonders, even with cheap tools!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/14/03 00:10:01 GMT

I'm going to go with QC for a short here. Even the cheap crap from china is usually pretty good steel. I've bought some of their hand hammers from Harbor Frieght to remake into other stuff and they hold up well. So their junk hammers are still a source of good tool steel.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/14/03 00:32:05 GMT

Let me add one point of clarification regarding "cheap tools". I own a bunch of them. I also own a bunch of very expensive tools. The expensive tools are nicer to use, generally achieve better results, hold their value better, and will probably last my lifetime. So why do I still buy some of the cheap tools? Sometimes, I will use a tool but a few times in a lifetime (like a set of hole saws!) A cheap tool will work ok if I am not making a living with it. I make my living using scientific instruments (which fortunately, I don't have to buy!). Our metallurgical microscope sold 15 years ago for $65,000. Our Scanning Electron Microscope was $250,000. But those tools are what a steel company needs to properly control the processes and ensure profitability. A professional smith would be foolish to use cheap tools, except as Paw-Paw Wilson described. He feeds his family with those tools. But a hobbyest is usually not paying the bills with his work. I still want a proper anvil and some day soon, I will get one. But I did not want to delay my smithing experiece just because I did not have a professional grade anvil. I agree, the Chinese cast iron ASO's are totally useless, but the cast steel anvils from Eastern Europe will let you get started. And sometimes, getting started is the hardest part!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/14/03 01:45:57 GMT

I'm with QC on the subject of cheap tools. I have some absolutely top-of-the-line tools, some good old tools, some pretty decent tools and some Chinese tools. All of them, for the most part, do what I purchased them to do. When it really counts, I buy only the very best. When I can see that the life will be longer than the need, I'll buy Harbor Freight import stuff. Some of it has been actually better than the high-dollar US too it was knocked off from, and others have been just barely good enough to do the one job I got them to do. I can afford to buy some cheap stuff because I'm not trying to make my living at this. Tools for making my living are the very best that money can buy, whether I think I can afford it or not. I can't afford to cut corners there. But for fun I can, and often must, save money where I can. If there were some salvage yards, auctions or garage sales here I could get more good old stuff, bud sadly it just ain't happenin'. Harbor Freight fills that gap, but I buy my body armor from Dick at Second Chance and will never settle for less. Priorities.
   vicopper - Saturday, 06/14/03 03:15:05 GMT

Cheap Tools:

I agree with QC in general but I prefer to take my time and buy used tools. The lousiest beat to pieces old anvil is supperior than a pretty new ASO and often costs less.

This spring I started going to our monthly local flea market since I have an apprentice here. The goal was to find him cheap tools and bargains for my shop when they were not in his buget. His interest is in armouring and I had few tools especialy for that. The first miserable rainy Saturday we went out I purchased a very nice 50 pound leg vise for $80. It had a bent handle and slightly bent leg and others were not sure they wanted a bent vise. . . it only took a few minutes to straighten and an hour of so to dissasemble, wire brush, debur (it still had sharp burrs from the factory!) and reassemble. It is now painted and mounted on a stand and looks like new. . . (and is as good as new condition). Will show it off here as soon as we fix one error in my stand design.

The next month I bought a large Whitney punch for $12. I had to order punches and dies from McMaster-Carr but I still have less than 20% of new prince in the tool as well as more dies than what a new one comes with. It will easily punch a 1/4" hole in 1/8" steel. Very handy. We also bought some odd hammers for a couple dollars each. Our next stop the same weekend I bought a nice beakhorn stake for $80. It is heavy enough for light forging but was bought for armouring work.

A couple weeks later I purchased a little 70 pound Fisher anvil for $15! It was in a heap of junk at a truck repair shop that I'd stopped at looking for parts. It is terribly beat up with lots of chipping to the point that the face is only about 1-1/2" wide at the middle. But it IS a real anvil and infinitely better than an ASO. Anvils are where you find them. . .

The next month I bought a #2 Beverly Shear for $150 that needed blades and now have less than half of new in it with new blades and a pretty metalic blue paint job. Careful dressing of the weld spattered table with a flap wheel and it looks better than new. . . It maxed my tool budget for a couple months but is worth it. Slick tool. Cuts 16ga steel like scissors through paper.

Along the way we bought a bunch more $2 ball pien hammers and a few handles. Now my graduated set is better than before I lost several. My apprentice lucked out and won the tool box and tools from the Appalachian Smiths iron in the hat at the Southeast Conference! Tools come to YOU if you look for them. And luck doesn't hurt.

In five months I've spent about $500 on tools and have a very good start on a little armouring shop and I was not really trying. I have also replaced some tools that had walked off over the years and are collecting stumps (log sections) for stake stands and sheet metal forms. Good stumps can be had for free in most parts of the country if you look for them and they make valuable tools if you are armouring, raising or doing repousse'.

AND I finally found a use for those two heavy truck brake drums Paw-paw and I picked up four years ago. They are not heavy of big enough for vise stands but they are perfect for ball or mushroom stake stands. More armouring tools. . .

I used to probably consume $100 worth of soft drinks and hamburgers in a month . . . which I quit over a year ago (Junk food is actually NOT cheap). Think about it, quit a bad habit, go on a diet, collect tools, gain IRON weight. . get healthy. Quit smoking, stop renting videos or buying lottery tickets. . $100 a month can go a long way. Even a kid with an allowance and mowing lawns on weekends should be able to put aside $50 month. It just depends on what you WANT.

Collecting tools to outfit a shop is a lifetime task unless you have a LOT of disposable income. I have been collecting tools for 47 years (I got my first tools when I was 4 and still have the vise and bicyle wrenches). . But I didn't start in ernest until I had a job. I was working as a mechanic so every week part of my paycheck went to tools. In a few years I had thousands invested.

Collecting blacksmithing tools is a little different than in other areas. Many are no longer made so it is important to go to those flea markets, tool sales and chapter meets. You have to be in the right place at the right time. . . But smithing tools are not that much more expensive than any other tools. A good torque wrench can cost a mechanic as much as a small anvil. Good ratchet wrenches cost as much as tongs. A tune up meter (can't work without them today) can cost as much as a big new forge. You don't need to be a professional mechanic to need these tools. Tools for the do-it-yourself mechanic are no less expensive than tools for the hobby smith. However, there is one HUGE difference. It is actually easier to buy used blacksmithing tools than used mechanic's or machinist's tools AND those smithing tools will actually appreciate or retain their value. Blacksmiths tools are usualy as good as cash. . . Think about it.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/14/03 03:31:19 GMT

TOOLS. . VIcopper (de Islands mon) and T.Gold (Hawaii) are the exception when it comes to plentiful used tools. But I know VI has a nice OLD anvil. . Its just hard to outfit a really complete shop there on the cheap. But even in some of the most desolate places on the main land of North America if people have been there then there are tools. Lots of tools. You just have to go out and look for them.

When I go to the flea market I don't waste my time at 90% of the sellers. The guys that deal in old iron specialize in it. Other folks may have a few items but I look for the rusty heaps. Same goes for antique shops. Forget the classy places. . . You want the dumpy places that never look open. Track down the owner if you have to.

Old shops (machine shops, garages. . ) are often treasure troves of old tools. These guys were often tool junkies too. . . Look for the ones that have lots of old cars and trucks or a mini junkyard. . . I got that $15 anvil at one of those places and the fellow had another bigger anvil (also in bad shape) that I am going to go back for. And I also realized that I need to ask if he has any old body or sheet metal tools (bumping and raising hammers). I'll bet he does. I just didn't think to ask the first time.

Farm auctions or sales are often a source of tools. A lot depends on where you are. I went to dozens of sales in our area and less than 10% had smithing tools. But you never know. However, I don't go to these any more. I'll let the dealers do the finding for me at farm sales. . .

I have found that it is worth it to pay the tailgater's price at smithing meets. These guys are FINDERS. They hunt the wild anvil sniffing out clues and tracking leads. . . They spend a lot of time at it and are often very good at what they do. Spend the one day a month at your local chapter meet and get the benefit of someone else spending every weekend and free hour on the hunt. . . These guys EARN their money. It doesn't matter if they buy an anvil for $25 and then want $250 for it. They have a lot more than cash invested and it is worth it to me.

Speaking of which. . I'm off to a CVBG meet at Tom Boone's tommarow morning. See ya'll there!
   - guru - Saturday, 06/14/03 04:12:45 GMT

One thing about going to farm sales. Check with your state government. Lot's of Dept of Agriculture post lists of the farm sales. Also, contact you local auctioneers. Ask to be put on their mailing list and tell them what you are interested in. Always be willing to tell the guy at the demo, "Sure, I'll be glad to take a look and see what you've got. I got a vocational school BIG forge for $150 that took about two hours of actual work to get into working condition that way. I could have had it for $75, but it was worth more than that to me. When I told the farmer that, he was surprised and much appreciated my honesty. Now he calls me if he stumbles over something. You'll be surprised as what you can find with VERY little effort.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/14/03 11:03:42 GMT

   TAG - Saturday, 06/14/03 11:48:50 GMT

Good Morning!

I am looking for a weeklong summer workshop ab out blacksmiting that my high school age children and I can learn and work together. In the US please. First choice on the east coast.

   sue - Saturday, 06/14/03 11:57:50 GMT

I'm an architect working on the restoration of an archeological site. I'm looking for information on the Spanish "vara". It is a 33" measuring system the Spanished used. I beleive they were three wrought iron links measuring a vara. I need help in what they looked like. Thank you very much for your help. Gil
   Gil Sanchez, FAIA - Saturday, 06/14/03 12:33:28 GMT

I am a Non Technical Person just now joined a Job as Purchase Executive in a Merchant Exporter Firm, dealing with Forged items for exports, how should i keep update with basics of Forgings aswell as latest happenings.
please advice,
   Pradeep - Saturday, 06/14/03 15:21:53 GMT

Medieval Knives; Martha:

You might want to take a look at my article on the history of swords ("Swords of Iron, Swords of Steel") on the Anvilfire "Armoury" page. This goes into a little of the lore and technique of bladesmithing.

One key question is: WHEN in the medieval period are you placing your story? For instance double-edged daggers were plentiful in the classical period and the later medieval period, but (with one exception) all of the non-sword blades during the Viking and Anglo-Saxon periods in Scandinavia and the British Isles are single-edged. Also, what we would call a full-tanged knife, where the metal for the tang is about equal in width to the blade, is either rare or non-existent through most of the middle ages.

One of the better books on knifemaking, of late, is Wayne Goddard's The Wonder of Knifemaking. Check out the review at the Anvilfire "Bookshelf" page. For some really good analysis of early medieval blades, go to your library and see if you can pull a copy, through inter-library loan, of Anglo-Scandinavian Ironwork from Coppergate by Patrick Ottaway (The Archaeology of York, Volume 17: the Small Finds; © 1992; Council for British Archaeology, 112 Kennington Road, London, SE11 6RE; ISBN 1 872414 29 X)

I hope this information will be useful to you, let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Severe thunderstorm watch on the banks of the lower Potomac. Back from Santa Fe, where I spent most of the week sick with acute bronchitis -when your co-workers tell you to go to the hospital, you know you must look pretty bad. ;-) Off to Connecticut on Monday, by train, thank God(s). Good to be back at sea level breathing oxygen-rich, warm, humid air!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/14/03 17:38:24 GMT

Amendment: That should read "(with one exception, that I've seen)" when refering to early medieval double-edged kives. Every time you make a firm exclusionary statement on medieval history and technology, dozens of exceptions usually come flitting out of the woodwork like termites during mating season! ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/14/03 17:43:15 GMT


If you're really serious about learning blacksmithing, then the first choice would be Frank Turley's School of Blacksmithing, located in Santa Fe, NM. Frank has been teaching blacksmithing since the early 70's and is widely acknowledged to be one of the masters in the field. He is also one of the gurus here on Anvilfire who selflessly gives up his time and wisdom to answer questions.

If geography is your first concern, then look into the New England School of Metal Work in Auburn, ME; The Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC; The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC; The Haystack Mountain School for Crafts in Deer Isle ME. This is not a comprehensive list, just a few that have reputations for having good instructors. Check out the ABANA wesite for more listings of schools in your area.

A good place to start is to read as much as you can find on the subject in your local library. A number of books on the subject have been reviewed and can be found in the "Navigate anvilfire" drop-down menu located in the upper right corner of your screen. Also check out the Getting Started page in the 21st Century link in the drop-down menu.

I applaud you for taking an interest and participating in your childrens' learning experiences. If more parents would do that, whether it is blacksmithing or something else, this country would not be experiencing the problems it is today with gangs, school violence, youth crime and poor test scores nationwide. Good luck with your search!
   vicopper - Saturday, 06/14/03 17:46:13 GMT

Still Catching Up

Insurance- Notice has been sent to the Longship Company that the insurance on our vessels (as well as all the vessels for the American Sail Training Association) will be cancelled in July! Nobody wants to underwrite the risk to sail training vessels anymore, despite the fact we haven't lost any of late. "Oh brave New World that hath such people in't!"

Russian Anvils- The horn on my 100 Kilo is at least serviceable and needed no modifications. If I need something finer, I just swivel around to my 70# Mankel farrier's anvil. On page 190 of Anvils in America there is the Trenton "Export Doublehorn Anvil" that's a dead ringer for my USSR version, except the heel is a tad less stubby on the Trenton. I suspect that either Trenton was filling an order for a specific foreign design, or more likely the Soviets got ahold of one and copied ad infinitum. This was quite a common tactic during the early Soviet era, and explains why most of their military trucks were dead ringers for Fords.

Medieval Clocks- My friend, Fred, has been after me to take a whack at one of these ever since we saw the one in Salisbury Cathedral [ http://web.ukonline.co.uk/wildbunch/salis/clock.htm ]. I always quote Dirty Harry Callahan: "A man should know his limitations." He's now got me poking at Congreve rockets for the War of 1812 bicentennial celebration. (Unofficial motto: "Huzzah, we survived and didn't botch it up too bad after picking a fight with the British Empire!") We were able to check out one of the few surviving examples at Ft. McHenry, and Fred is researching the gauges, much simple for a bodger like me than clockwork, and only slightly messier than Anglo-Saxon spears. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/14/03 20:54:57 GMT

Exhust Shrouds: TAG, First, ALL Caps is considered yelling on the Internet.

See our plans page. There are some rough sketches of side draft "hoods". I'm sure they are sufficiently details for someone of your experiance.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/14/03 21:15:12 GMT

Schools and Lessons: Sue, One thing you will be glad to know is that in modern blacksmithing (at least in the US) women are generaly accepted as equals. It has to do with the fact that blacksmithing almost died out in the 1960's and when it came back it was largely as an art form. Most of the thousands of smiths in the US today are primarily hobbiests. Among professionals the women are probably a higher percentage than amatures. I am not sure but I think that there is a higher percentage of women smiths than women engineers (less than 2% of engineers are women).

IF your children are girls, you and they might feel more comfortable at one of the all-female (fe-iron) sessions that the two schools in North Carolina hold. I am noting this only because they DO hold these sessions.

See VIcopper's review of the schools above. Frank Turley is currently in Scotland so you may not get a return on his e-mail for a couple weeks.

Another option is to check the ABANA-Chapter page for a group near you. The chapters meet once a month and they usualy have demos and an "open forge" where can play at the forge OR "green coal" classes to learn the basics. These only cost the membership fee. You may find someone nearby willing to give a few lessons. Note that there are some VERY talented amatures in this business and they are the one more likely to be able to afford the time to give personal or family classes.

Studying the literature is a big help. Knowing simple things like the names of the parts of the anvil and how the forge works are a big help. Knowing a little history of the technology is helpful. The books I recommend in Getting Started are a good place to start. They are all in print and cost less than a day of lessons.

Let us know is we can be of any more help.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/14/03 21:43:08 GMT

Spanish Vara Gil, Our expert on things hispanic, Frank Turley, is off in Scotland at the moment. He may be your best bet. Otherwise we can hope that someone from Spain sees you post and helps with the answer.

However, I suspect you need to contact someone in Spain, perhaps a somone from a museum.
VARA. The vara, a Spanish unit of distance, was used in the Spanish and Mexican surveys and land grantsqv in Texas. One vara equals approximately thirty-three and one-third inches; 5,645.4 square varas equal one acre; 1,906.1 varas equal one mile; and 1,000,000 square varas, which is one labor,qv equal approximately 177.1 acres. The word vara entered the Spanish language from vulgate Latin and originally meant a long, thin, clean branch of any tree or plant. It later came to be used for any straight stick and then for a lance. Next it came to mean a badge of office carried by mayors and judges and such officials and probably achieved a more uniform dimension. As a judge's lance, the vara assumed a position of official importance in the eyes of the people, began to be used as a measuring stick, and eventually became a unit of measurement.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Juan Corominas, Diccionario Crítico Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1954).

- The Handbook of Texas On-line
   - guru - Saturday, 06/14/03 21:59:39 GMT

I have an old Sears&Roebuck wurlwind forge. In my last move something shifted in the box and knocked the blower off the pan breaking the mounting tabs. Can this be repaired? Or is it just a total loss?
   Myke - Sunday, 06/15/03 02:04:20 GMT

Mike, you can braze it, or you can weld it with some of the special rods that are suitable for cast iron.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/15/03 02:34:14 GMT

thanks PPW
   Myke - Sunday, 06/15/03 02:41:02 GMT

Nail Headed.
I am looking for some ideas on making a nail header. I have seen one but never used or made one. Can anyone help me out with a sketch or photo?
   Lefty - Sunday, 06/15/03 04:04:57 GMT

The only marking I find on my anvil is a large N, cast into
the base just under the hardie hole. It weighs around #300.
Can you supply any info on who made it.....when....where?
   Russ AndrewsRuss Andrews - Sunday, 06/15/03 04:44:49 GMT

The only marking I find on my anvil is a large N (in relief)
cast into the base, under the hardie hole. Weight is about #300. Can you supply any info on who made it...when...Where?
Russ Andrews
   Russ Andrews - Sunday, 06/15/03 04:53:06 GMT

Nail Header
Anvilfire iForge demo #48 by Ralph Douglass, shows how to make a nail header with an insert for different sizes of nails.
   - Ntech - Sunday, 06/15/03 07:39:37 GMT

nail header: here's an old one: http://www.netlabs.net/~osan/86-Nail-header.jpg

It is actually very similar to the one I use, only mine has 2 rows of holes: one square for nails and one round for rivets. The holes are tapered, use from the small side, or your nails will get stuck.
   matthijs - Sunday, 06/15/03 12:11:00 GMT

Ok, one last dying breath about tools. I do agree that buying good used tools is a preferable alternative to buying cheap new tools. And if I would get out and look, I could probably find those "good used tools". However, you folks in the mid-west and south-east seem to have a lot more places where good used blacksmith tools can be found. Texas was not an industrial giant in the 1800's. I have occasionally picked up a good tool at the flea market but never from someone who specializes in old tools. Those guys know what they're worth and ask the appropriate prices! Went to a Bluegrass festival Saturday and set up a Blacksmith demo with another Anvilfire regular. Made $175 which is being stashed away to buy a proper anvil. If I can't find a "good, used" anvil, I guess one of the eastern European ones would make a suitable hobby anvil.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/15/03 13:34:33 GMT

Nail Header: Lefty, The one in Ralph's demo is a good idea but it is not a standard header.

There are a couple things you need to know about a nail header. First, the hole tapers. It must be bigger at the bottom than the top. Second, they do not work on straight stock. The nail must be tapered long enough that it catches in the neader on the taper. So nails made from 1/4" stock need a header with a hole under 1/4".

Nail headers need to be made of a medium or high carbon steel so that they hold up. A piece of spring will work. In order to help prevent the nail from hanging up and to make it easier to punch the hole one current design has a domed shape relief in the bottom of the header.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/15/03 13:47:22 GMT

Cable, DSL and Windirt Folks, Please beware of connections that are "on" all the time AND using the newer versions of Windirt. Windirt XP comes with a server application that is running by default. It is easy to hack and the hackers and virus authors have programs that scan the web for Windows server connections and then compromise them. They plant backdoor programs on your system as well as viruses. . .

My brother turned off his hardware firewall for 30 seconds and had a dozen things put on and infect his computer!

The ONLY thing that can protect these systems is a full time hardware firewall. MS will not warn you of the problem.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/15/03 15:22:50 GMT

Guru, Thanks, I have not properly explored your site, but ill look up "hoods". P.S.......I didnt mean to yell!!!! Well, every day I can learn something new is a good day. Looking forward to future talks. See yall' later. Tag.
   TAG - Sunday, 06/15/03 15:47:50 GMT

i would like to learn how to get trained to become a blacksmith; can you tell me how to go about this?
   avigail - Sunday, 06/15/03 20:22:47 GMT

You all have been very helpful with my past blacksmithing questions. I've been ask to find info on a tinsmith's bench shear. It is marked "J&E North East Berlin CT NO.5". I would like to find some info on the web, but have not been successful yet. Can you point me in the right direction? Thanks!
   Ray - Sunday, 06/15/03 20:48:37 GMT

Thanks for the info on the anti spam script. I will try it and let you know how it went...

My new website will have a lot more blacksmithing, with the same knifemaking tutorials and hopefully some blacksmithing tutorials as well ( if I can find the time!)

the adress will remain the same: www.anvil.co.za

Cold in RSA...
   Tiaan - Sunday, 06/15/03 21:54:21 GMT

Slack Tub Pub.....HEEEELLLLPPPP...IM computer stupid,and I cant get in!!!!! Do you have a format more suited to us"crayon-carrying,two finger typers"???? Come on guys.... I just got electricity last year,a phone this year,and now this thing....and no,Im not joking. Next year I should have running water and a toilet to brag about...yes I really built my cabin. Oh heck..Im gonna go light a fire....
   Tag - Sunday, 06/15/03 22:06:13 GMT

To Avigail: there are some good schools around. Here are a few : John C Campbell Folk School, N. Carolina www.folkschool.org / Brookfield Craft Center, CT. www.brookfieldcraftcenter.org / Haystack Mt. School of Crafts, ME. (207) 3482306 / Touchstone Center for Crafts, PA (412)329-1370 / Peter's Valley Craft Center (very Good) NJ. pvcrafts.org (201) 948-5200 / Penland School for Crafts NC (704)765-2359 / Ozark School of Blacksmithing, MO (573)438-4725. My favorite is Peter's Valley. Another great resource is your local ABANA chapter. And this whole site is very good - probably the best on the net is my oponion.
   Ray - Sunday, 06/15/03 22:36:29 GMT

Hopeing someone can help , I've got an old Buffalo blower that needs an overhaul(dropped a bearing at a demo on the weekend )is there anywere on the web that has plans .I was thinking of changeing the old original non cage ball bearings to a set of semi sealed(open on one side to allow lube.)modern bearings .
Has any one done this?,is it possible without haveing to machine the case?
The only identifcation on it, is Buffalo Forge Co .Buffalo N.Y . No 625
   Wayne - Sunday, 06/15/03 23:04:24 GMT

Wayne, plans or blow up drawings are very hard to find. I'll look and see if I can find anything in the old catalog about them. But I doubt you can make the bearing change you describe without having some machining done on the case.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/16/03 01:21:42 GMT


The Buffalo catalog on CD doesn't have a listing for the number 625 blower.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/16/03 01:28:15 GMT

Those buffalo sure put out a lot of methane, which I suppose could be be used as forge fuel ( wild west gassers), But I don't think I wanna even know what a buffalo blower was for. No wonder it dropped it's bearings!
PS..um Wayne...Just measure real well and go to a big bearing supplier..they will probably be able to order something reasonably close.
   - Pete F - Monday, 06/16/03 05:20:49 GMT

Thanks to everyone for the help with the nail header.

   Lefty - Monday, 06/16/03 05:27:25 GMT

Hey, Tag; Welcome aboard! This IS the 2 finger typer format.All the speed typers here are the ones who have learned to use their thumbs on the space bar. This is about bashin' iron here, nobody here gives a rodent's rump about your typing proficiency, or even spelling, for that matter, as you will soon see. Relax and enjoy! Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Monday, 06/16/03 05:49:12 GMT

   BOB - Monday, 06/16/03 10:59:36 GMT

   BOB - Monday, 06/16/03 11:05:39 GMT

   - Tag - Monday, 06/16/03 13:02:50 GMT

Heres a few,if yer feelin' blue! 2 1\2oz nitric acid.2 oz.hydrocloric acid. 1oz.wire nails.30 oz.distilled water.now this is for "rust browning" 1841 u.s. ordinance manual,...1 1\2 oz.ethyl alcohol,1 1\2 oz.tincture of ferric cloride.1\2 oz.murcuric cloride.1 1\2 0z.4%alc. solution of ethyl nitrate. 1 oz.copper sulfate. 3\4 oz nitric acid.1quart distilled water...heres "Bakers Blue",1\4oz.sodium nitrate,1\4oz. potassium nitrate(salt peter)1\2oz.bicloride of mercury,1\2 oz.potassiumclorate,10 fl. oz.distilled water...now I would probably go buy "cold blue"before I blew myself up...or more likly a tempered blue from the "bone meal" case hardining process....should I stop here?
   - Tag - Monday, 06/16/03 13:23:42 GMT

CAUTION: HOT BLUEING IS A SPECIALIZED SKILL,AND IS VERY DANGEROUS IF DONE INCORRECTLY.If you need a weapon done, a good gun shop usually has a gunsmith who can hot tank for you.
   - Tag - Monday, 06/16/03 14:03:59 GMT

Blueing Compounds: Bob, As TAG pointed out they are pretty nasty stuff and you really need to understand how to handle these harsh chemicals. You also need complete immersion tanks with heaters for cleaning and the bluing.

No, blueing compounds haven't changed much in the past 30 years. The commercial recipes above haven't changed in 100 years.

For small quantities of the cold bluing compound TAG mentioned you want to go to Birchwood-Casey. That is who most amatures as well as many professionals go to.
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/03 14:59:00 GMT


I've seen several references made to your 100 kilo Russian anvil that you purchased at an "East Coast Farrier Supply Store". Being an East Coaster myself (albeit, North Carolina, not DC), I was wondering, more specifically, where you bought it, and what the cost was.

   eander4 - Monday, 06/16/03 15:07:04 GMT

Blower Bearings: Wayne, first thing you need to know is that Buffalo had many models that changed often. They were also made at a time when commerical bearings were rare so they made their own. You also have to be aware that some of the bearings are combination radial and thrust bearings designed for a high thrust (axial loading). Champion used bearings with adjustable clearances (using nuts on the ends of the shafts) that were critical to adjust. I suspect that Buffalo did on some models too.

Usualy your best bet is to replace just the balls in these bearings. It is only a temporary fix but fractional sized balls ARE available.

I have never substituted bearings in a machine where I did not have to machine something or another. The tricky part is hitting those press fits. The other problem is that the shafts with integral gears are often hardened and the fits were ground to size.

OBTW - Just because bearings are listed in a catalog doesn't mean they are avaiable. In the 1970's you had a chance that 95% of what was in a catalog was in stock. Today only about 20% of what is listed in bearing catalogs is avaialable. It has to do with the money people taking over businsses that used to consider having stock on hand a service and necessary part of doing business. But the money people look at high interest rates and say it is better to put the money in stocks or bonds and have an empty wharehouse. . . So now "inventory" is a dirty word among manufacturers and it is very difficult for builders of special machinery to purchase components in small quantities. . . Its all part of the decline in manufacturing in the US. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/03 15:52:30 GMT

Hiya, Jock; Re: Your last post about press fits, if you get a "loose, but purtnear fit", particularly on something that's only going to reach handcrank speeds, Loctite makes some stuff called "Quick Metal" that can be a millwright's lifesaver if you're only dealing with a thousandth or so. I've used it in a few emergencies on papermill equipment, and kept 'em limping along until the parts came in. This was on a pulper refiner rotor shaft, about 4" diameter. Hope this can save somebody's butt someday. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Monday, 06/16/03 17:11:01 GMT

Press fits: Loctite also makes a product called "press fit" . . I used to know the number off the top of my head. The problem using any of these on ball and roller bearings is accidentaly getting it IN the bearing. The bearing needs to be well lubed BUT the outside must be grease free. Heavy bodied "magic glue" works too. Both have a limited temperature range and fail when the bearing reaches 500 to 600 degrees F.

The old emergency fix is the "strawberry" fit. You take a center punch and punch the surface of the shaft every 1/8" or 1/16th. This will often create a tight fit ONE TIME but will not withstand disassembly and reassembly. It can be combined with the Loctite products for heavier duty use.

One warning about Locktite products. I have had bottles that lasted for years and bottles that were bad on the shelf. Always test some to be sure it is going to harden. Assemblying something with red goop that never hardens and runs everywhere is a mess. .
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/03 18:35:42 GMT

Cast Iron Forge Crack
I restored an old cast iron forge I picked up at an auction for $25. Got the blower working and had to repair a legbracket that had snapped off. The bracket broke out of the forge body so I brazed it then drilled 4 holes and used steel top and bottom of the forge body to further reinforce the leg bracket or socket.
Anyway I got the forge going for the first time and after about 15-20 minutes there was a bang and the forge snapped on one side from the hole for the firepot 6" out to the side through 2 bolt holes then up the side of the forge body leaving a 3/8" wide crack at the side. When cool the crack is 1/8", probably due to cinders in the crack near the fire pot. I have a lever type pan forge that was similarly cracked when I bought it. I ni-rod welded it preheating first with an oxy-acetelyne torch but it too cracked when I first used it. Why am I getting cracks in these cast iron forges? Obviously it is due to thermal expansion. What am I doing wrong? As an aside I find the rotory crank blower far more easier and efficient than the lever or pump type blower. Thanks
   the Duck - Monday, 06/16/03 18:43:42 GMT

I need to know if vulcan anvils are made of steel or cast iron. I found one I can buy cheap but it is quite a ways to drive. I haven't seen the anvil yet, or I would just drop a ball bearing on it. I don't want to drive that far for it if it is not what I want. Thank you for any information you can give me.
   phaestos - Monday, 06/16/03 21:04:30 GMT

The Vulcan is a cast iron anvil with a steel face.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/16/03 21:40:01 GMT

Frank Turley's class: I highly recommend it - I took it this winter, and if I had time and money, I'd take it every year. A few comments: This is not a class for absolute beginners. Frank will teach to your level but he will keep you forging all day long and if you are not used to a hammer you may tire too soon to get much out of the lesson. Dont expect a juice bar or a restroom. Although the outhouse does have a nice view of highway 599. The shop looks like something out of the 1700's that has been recently wired for electricity.

In the opinion of many, the Turley school was a critical link in the renaissance of American Blacksmithing. He received the very first Bealer Award and told us that when they called him up to inform him, they told him that if he had died before Alex Bealer they would be giving Bealer the first "Turley Award". It was clear that he was still a bit shocked by this comment :)

Enough good things could never be said about Frank Turley. I am counting on his still being in Scotland. I dont mean to embarrass him.
   adam - Monday, 06/16/03 21:50:45 GMT

Can anyone give me an Idea of a fair price on a little giant 25#, there is one comming up at a local auction and I have no Idea of the going prices. It seems to be in good shape and in working order. thanks in Advace. Mac
   habu - Monday, 06/16/03 23:33:31 GMT

guru you mentioned a 650 lp anvil the other day
can you give any info or were you just funning
   mike t - Monday, 06/16/03 23:48:14 GMT

Duck, you could very well be having fatique cracks. Also welding the cast is more than likely causing more stress related issues and so a new crack. The way I repaired my lever forge(before I retired it) was to drill 3 or soset so holes either side of crack. then tap them. Then bolt (from the underside) a strap ( like a band-aid) them would hold the crack in place and not cause as much stress in the already fatiqued metal. ALso I ground the bolt flush with the inside of forge pan
   Ralph - Monday, 06/16/03 23:50:32 GMT

Although not applicable to all cracks, drilling a hole through the end of the crack will often stop it from cracking further.
   Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/17/03 01:15:08 GMT

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