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

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from June 17 - 23, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

I am interested in learning about tombac and how it can be forged for sculptural pieces. Can you suggest any resource information?
   jody - Tuesday, 06/17/03 02:49:18 GMT

I posted a question a few weeks ago about how to reduce pock-marked surfaces on knives and the like. I learned to heat the piece to a higher heat and finish it in as few heats as possible. This method was relatively succesfull. I greatly appreciate the help. But I was wondering how exactly to get a knife to a flat or mirror finish. I was about to purchase a flatter, but decided to check here first. The question is then: How do I make my rough surfaced knives flat and shiny without grinding too much metal off and should I purchase a flatter or not?

Thank you
   - Stephen - Tuesday, 06/17/03 03:07:29 GMT

I posted a question a few weeks ago about how to reduce pock-marked surfaces on knives and the like. I learned to heat the piece to a higher heat and finish it in as few heats as possible. This method was relatively succesfull. I greatly appreciate the help. But I was wondering how exactly to get a knife to a flat or mirror finish. I was about to purchase a flatter, but decided to check here first. The question is then: How do I make my rough surfaced knives flat and shiny without grinding too much metal off and should I purchase a flatter or not?

Thank you
   - Stephen - Tuesday, 06/17/03 03:10:38 GMT

Tombac: Jody, Tombac is a type of brass also called German or Dutch brass. It is very malleable and ductile. It is 84% copper the balance zinc and trace metals. Some coinage is made from tombac.

Brass can be forged just as steel is forged. The only differences are:

1) The forging temperature for brass does not show any color except in VERY low light. In normal light brass has melted before it shows a red heat. A forge can be used to heat brass but a temperature controlled furnace is better. When heating clean brass a slight oxide blush runs across the surface when it reaches forging temperature if one looks closely. If the metal melts the heat can be turned off until the metal solidifies then forging can resume.

2) Due to the high conductivity of brass tongs must always be used unlike steel where long bars are commonly held bare handed while the heated end is white hot. In brass copper and aluminum the "cold" end quickly reaches nearly the temperature of the hot working end.

Brass is VERY soft at forging temperature and takes much less force to shape than hot iron. Common smithing tools can be used, forge, hammer, anvil, tongs, vise, punches and chisles. The anvil and hammers can be much lighter than those normally used in blacksmithing.

Often brass forging is done cold, heat being used to anneal the metal. When metals are worked cold they "work harden" and become brittle. To remove the work hardening non-ferrous metals are heated to forging temperature and quenched.

Brass can be forged in heavy solids just as is steel. It can also be worked via raising or repousse'. Often large sculptures are produced in sections of sheet metal then fitted together and welded. This is often a more efficient use of expensive copper alloys and easier to produce large works.

Since most blacksmithing methods apply to shaping solid brass then any blacksmithing reference will apply in large. In sheet it is also similar to silver smithing and identical techniques can be used. It can also be easily cast and worked by jewelery methods.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 03:51:20 GMT

Cracking Forges: Old forges often had warnings to "Clay before using". This was to prevent heat stress and cracking. In most cases it is unnecessary as the fuel bed protects the forge. But when shallow fires are built the forge pan can get overheated. I used to put sand in the bottom of tin wood heaters to prevent them burning out and have done the same to forges.

Another problem can be fire pots bolted in too tight. Firepots see most of the heat in forges that have them. They expand much more than the cooler forge body and can cause cracking.

Any weld repair of any type on forge pans can cause further cracking. Welding an place on cast iron castings causes high shrinkage loads at the weld which often causes cracks on the opposite side of the casting. You have to carefully preheat the opposite place on a casting so that when it shrinks it does so evenly on the same axis. Doing any welding on a cast iron part can become a comedy of errors as you chase cracks from one place to another. Even doing the "proper" preheating may not work as knowing what is the right way is very tricky. This is why it is often said that cast iron cannot be welded. It CAN be but is difficult and has a high failure rate. NiRod works but creates the highest stresses. Although brazing is less stressful than welding it too can cause opposite side cracking on certain shapes (such as forges).
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 04:05:14 GMT

Flatters: Stephen, all a flatter does is to help level a wavy surface. It will not work on pits. Due to the large surface area of a flatter it requires being struck with a heavy sledge. Unless you have a striker and do heavy forging they are almost useless tools. Even then you will not be displacing enough metal to remove pits.

A practiced smith can produce a surface flat enough that a flatter is useless. Flatters were most commonly used on heavy work where strikers weilding sledges had shaped a heavy piece leaving serious hammer marks. Then the flatter was used to level out the marks.

As Paw-Paw pointed out, forge thick and grind thin. If you do not have enough material to finish a piece then it is waste.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 04:12:19 GMT

"STRAWBERRY FIT" I like that name, Jock. We did that very thing, along with the Quick Metal on the refiner shaft I mentioned, only we called it "Kentucky Knurling". By any name, it's a great "gettin' by" technique. That kind of trickery is what I love about blacksmithing and the Millwright trade. I also love the way the Rookies stand there and shake their heads when one of us old phartz pull off a slick one like that. I just hope they're paying attention and absorbing this stuff for when it's their turn.
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 06/17/03 05:54:20 GMT

Bob; I think selinic acid ( distant furry memory), a class B poison is/was sold for gun bluing.
There is also the temper color method of getting blue which requires polishing the steel first, then heating to the proper temperature..around 460*. This temperature will result in rather softer steel.
Stephen; The tradition is that hammer marks are a sign of poor craftsmanship. It becomes less of a problem with practice. Carefully radiusing the edges of your hammers also helps. Other surface irregularities can come from rough hammer or anvil surfaces.
If this fails, refer to the pits ( they're the pits) as " Surface information" and act arty.Keep a straight face.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 06/17/03 07:42:05 GMT

All right, folks, I just finished my first gas forge. It runs pretty well, and I've got a couple questions for y'all. Firstly, does anyone know any good preparations (i.e. chemical methods) for taking off spraypaint/spray enamel? There are bits of paint on the air tank I used for a forge body that I couldn't sand off and would like to get to before they poison me! (grin)

Second question is more obviously forge-related: I feel that my forge needs a door, as it's pretty small. The inner volume is about 100 cubic inches, as a cylinder 11" long and 6" in diameter. It runs on one naturally aspirated burner, and seems to get good heat at 1-5psi (I have not yet run it up to full heat yet for fear of the aforementioned spraypaint). How can I determine how big of a chimney I need to leave in my door?

P.S. Guru, a thousand thanks for the great service you provide in the form of this site and especially this board and the store. Love my new anvilfire cap... not to mention the kaowool lining my forge!
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 06/17/03 08:18:03 GMT

Thanks for all the info. The shafts do have adjustment nuts on them . Think I'll take your advice , and try and re-ball the bearings .

Trouble is it's the third time it's happened , suppose you can't expect too much from an original 60+ year old forge.

What oil do you recomend for these old blowers ,I've been useing diff oil ,80-90 ,may be its too heavy??

Thanks again
   - Wayne - Tuesday, 06/17/03 10:44:54 GMT

Stephen,Im with pete on that one! "Face" your hammers, That is to say,Round off the edges slightly on points of contact,and practice,practice,practice!
   - Tag - Tuesday, 06/17/03 11:29:57 GMT

3DOGS, now you wouldnt be a pickin'at us Kaintucks now woodga'? sniff,sniff,wimper.....
   - Tag - Tuesday, 06/17/03 11:45:59 GMT

I think that by the end of the week all the extra "bits" I need for my "small" forge will have been collected and it will be put together. Firing up for the first time will be exciting. I have a few implements that will temporarily make do for tongs. First job will be to make some forge tools. What material do you recommend for making tongs etc?
   - alank111 - Tuesday, 06/17/03 11:50:59 GMT

Hammermarks: I am learning to make things with few marks, as my hammer control is improving. However, as Pete alluded to, some folks consider the presence of hammer marks to be proof of the work being hand made. I know in woodcarving, leaving the facets left by the knife or chisel is not considered poor workmanship. I guess there are different degrees of hammermarks: those that add to the beauty of the piece and those that don't. When I faced my hammers, the percentage of "those that don't" went down considerably.
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/17/03 11:52:29 GMT

T.Gold - Removing paint:

I just did the same thing last week. I took my burner and burned the paint off. Actually, I just singed and bubbled the paint and then it easily scraped off. It took all of maybe 10 minutes.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 06/17/03 12:13:32 GMT

Eric; 100 K USSR Anvil:

I kept the catalog around for ages (this was not a catalog item, and I don't know if it was a unique purchase that they had made). Alas, the last time someone asked about it, I could not turn up the catalog in any of my voluminous files. (It's probably buried in one of my piles since the time-before-last... My wife says that I should take a weeks vacation this summer and get organized.

As I recall, the place MIGHT have been in Freehold, New Jersey. I wouldn't place any money on it. If I come up with the catalog again, I'll have the Guru post the latest and best information with the FAQ.

Working on a lease on the banks of the Norwalk River for Weir Farm NHS. www.nps.gov/weir/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 06/17/03 13:33:26 GMT

Forge vent: The rule of thumb is that the exhaust should be 7x the area of the burner tube - so for a 3/4" dia burner = 1/2 sq in (apprx) giving 3.5 sq in for the exhaust. Of course the exhaust varies with gas pressure and is somewhat dependent on the size and shape of the chamber. I think that dimensions you describe (long and narrow) will create some back pressure.

Many people, self included, prefer not to make a door but rather to block up the front with pcs of soft firebrick so that the aperture can be made to suit the work. In any case this is a good way to start. It will give you some idea of what the forge needs. If you choke up the exhaust you will see the forge running rich.

I usually just let the paint burn off. I put a fan next to the forge the first couple of times I run it.
   adam - Tuesday, 06/17/03 14:43:20 GMT

Forge Paint and Vent: TG, The little bit of paint should not be a problem if your work area is vented well enough to be using a gas forge in the first place. There will be a little stink when it burns off and that will be that. Be sure to use something to replace the paint. Some barbeque black or exhust pipe paint.

The vent in the door for that size forge should be about 3"x3". Put it at the bottom so that you can use the forge closed when you put in straight stock.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 14:45:05 GMT

Blower clearances and Oil: Wayne, balls constantly falling out of bearings sounds like a serious problem. The think about gear boxes is that the gears wear out too. Worn gears are not just usualy noisy but put a lot of unusual load on parts like bearings. If there is a lot of clunkety, clunkety, clunk in the box then it might be the gears hammering the bearings.

The oil can be anything from 30 weight motor oil to 90 weight gear oil. The problem with gear oil is that it stinks and in the winter it can be too thick making the blower hard to crank. But it DOES do a better job of protecting the gears.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 14:51:45 GMT

Tongs: Use mild steel (rebar is good too), 1/2 x 1" , 3/4" round or similar - depends on the style and size of the jaws. Work hot - (yellow). If you use long stock and draw out rather than weld the reins, you wont need tongs to hold the work. I threw away three or four useless monstrosities before I got a pair that worked.

Just my opinion, making tongs requires an intermediate level of skill and is not the right choice for a first forging project.
   adam - Tuesday, 06/17/03 15:00:29 GMT

Steel for Tongs: Alan, Mild steel works fine and is the best unless you can get a medium carbon steel on the low side of the carbon range. Tongs should not be made of tool steel because they are frequently quenched while in use. This can result in overhardened tongs that break or cracks from thermal shock.

Common hot roll "mild" steel is now A-36 structural steel that has aproximately 30 points carbon. This is more than enough. Good cold drawn steel is usualy true "mild" steel and is SAE1018-20 (18 to 20 points carbon).

Ocassionaly folks make tongs out of hot work steel like H-13 but is it a waste of good steel AND a lot harder to forge. Stick to mild steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 15:00:48 GMT

I use 10w90 in my hand cranks,the multi-viscosity oil is 10w when cold,90w when hot.Just make sure you dont over-fill it,this can cause a serious fire hazard! a 1\4 full blower is usually sufficiant enough for your gears to pick up the oil. if you see oil drippin' out your ash dump,LOOK-OUT! shes to full!
   - wayne - Tuesday, 06/17/03 15:05:04 GMT

WAYNE,sorry, the last one was from me!
   - TAG - Tuesday, 06/17/03 15:08:45 GMT

First tongs. Alan, iForge #132 "EZ tongs" can be modified to hold most anything you'll work with. They're a good place to start till your skills improve. All of my "Metalworking" Boy scouts have a pair.
   robcostello - Tuesday, 06/17/03 16:37:12 GMT

Hammer Marks? To texture or NOT to texture THAT is the question.

In the near past when all blacksmithing by hand was a necessary industrial trade it was considered poor quality to leave any hammer marks. The same was true in woodworking with hand tools. Only rough work such as barn or mill beams showed hewing ax and adz marks. And even those were amazingly smooth when made by a skilled worker. Many of the beams in our 1806 mill show no sign of ax or adz. None of the heavy timbers that were parts of machinery showed ANY marks at all. They had all be removed with a draw knife.

It is only in the 20th Century that faux texturing became popular. In the 1940's and 50's it was very primitive. In iron work a ball pien hammer was used to create a series of dents to "rusticate" iron work. In wood working finished wood was notched with an ax to look like hewing marks. In other cases a branding iron was used to create "check" marks to look like a hewn heart wood beam. In botht the wood and iron these markes were usualy few and far apart and HAD to have looked as phoney then as they do now. But THAT was the style of the time.

From the primitive faux texturing we moved into the 1960's and 70's when hand made items became hot and the more hand made looking the better. Many smiths went to great length to obtain power hammers for the sole purpose of putting hammer marks on every bit of surface. Some big name smiths were in this school of extreme rustication. Many still are and still don't get it. . . One actually refused me from a juried craft show because my work was "too clean". . .

In the 1980's Centaur Forge started selling Kuhns and the artists that bought them with their original standard narrow dies launched a school of smithing some us call "crash and bash". Steel bar beat to pieces and heavily shaped with narrow fullering dies. . . More "modern art" (circa 1960's on).

Today we are generally more sophisticated on this subject. Educated smiths know that texturing is part of the art. The texture should be a purposeful part of the work and part of its design, not just happenstance or sloppy work. Reproductions of old work MAY be hammered all over but should be clean and a smooth as can be economicaly possible as were the originals. When ball pien "hammered" metal textures are used the texture should cover all the surface and the facets be random yet fairly uniform in size. When done in steel it is usualy emulating the hammered texture that is normal in sheet metal raising before the work is planished. It is a LOT of work. The heavy "hammered all over" look is not properly part of traditional work but does have its place in modern work showing the plasticity of the steel.

The texturing that was favored by Francis Whitaker was a smooth burnt surface texture that looks a lot like old iron that has rusted but been maintained. Other textures are easily created with power hammer tooling such as made by Grant Sarver and sold by Kayne and Son, Centaur and Pieh tool. Vine and bark textures or different scales are common. Many smiths make their own special texturing dies. In all cases the texture should be a consious decision and pruposefully executed where appropriate. In the recent past there has been much inappropriate texturing. Hopefully this was just a fad that has past.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 16:52:06 GMT

I have a bin of coal about 3' x 4' x 5' in my cellar from when they used to heat my house with coal. I was thinking a local backsmith might be able to use it (free). How would I find out who near Pittsburgh, PA would want it?
   John - Tuesday, 06/17/03 18:23:23 GMT

John, first suggestion would be to look in the Yellow Pages for Blacksmith. There might be one or more listed there.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/17/03 18:43:35 GMT

I'd like to know how to get started w/ the smithing business. Particularly how to set up a forge.
   M. Roach - Tuesday, 06/17/03 21:34:56 GMT

I am going to be drilling some 5/8" holes in half in plate. My question is what speed should I set my dril press at faster or slower?
   Jacob Langthorn - Tuesday, 06/17/03 21:37:36 GMT

M. Roach,

Start by clicking ont the Getting Started in Blacksmithing article at either the top or the bottom of this page.

Jacob L. Slower. Slowest speed your drill press is capable of.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/17/03 21:45:47 GMT

HEY GURU,man o' man look at that last article! WELL DONE< BRAVO...BRAVO! My hats off...Tag
   TAG - Tuesday, 06/17/03 22:56:30 GMT

I saw a anvil the other day in this shop.I was working temporarly, rebushing a back hoe. Iwas wandering around. Looking at a huge varity of neat old tools .Any way the anvil was stamped Peter richt.patent england . solid wrot.Ithink i have seen this name before.It was the only thing in the shop that wasnt rusty.Idont need it real bad but I would use it way more than thay ever will.What is a far price? (the wt. was stamped 1 0 20 Dan.
   Dirty Dan - Tuesday, 06/17/03 22:58:55 GMT

JOHN,dont listen to PAW PAW!!UNLESS....HE"S willing to teach you how to build a forge from old furnace parts...you have the parts,you have the coal,you have the steel...yourrr gettiiiing sleeeeepy....beeee theeee blaaack-smiiiithhhh johnnnn. heee heee.
   TAG - Tuesday, 06/17/03 23:04:40 GMT

Dan, That is a Peter Wright. A good make of old English anvil. The weight marked in English hundred weights is 148. Old anvils like this in good condition are worth $1/pound to $3/pound and a little more for perfect specimins.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/03 23:20:48 GMT

Guru. I am in an unusuall area,my neighbors use blowers for mailbox stands,there are multiple 1800's iron furnaces here(the big stuff) I just saw an anvil for sale last weekend.i bought a pair of tongs for 3 bucks. hey guys,gals,lets go yard salelin'in s.e. kentucky! I never thought this stuff to be valuable,by that i mean,(someone else needs it}maybe I should latch on to some of this stuff!...so what is shipping on a 200lbs. anvil?!?
   TAG - Tuesday, 06/17/03 23:44:42 GMT

   TAG - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:02:13 GMT

What can I do to cut down on coal smoke on start up?
I have a demo coming up and when I light the forge or add new coal I smokeup the whole shop.
   Kerwin - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:24:55 GMT

I have just aquired my grandfathers old Champion forge blower and plan to have it sand-blasted and repainted. Anyone know what color Champion painted them? Thanks.
   - Robert Dean - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:26:48 GMT

Hey kerwin,I am a coal operator too. it is preferred to turn your coal to coke before a show. I dont mean to crowd the fellas down here,but if your coal is properly cleaned coke,...well she'll hardly smoke!
   TAG - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:39:08 GMT

I give it try thats what i was thinging thanks
   Kerwin - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:42:18 GMT

Robert Dean. Mine is black..so is my forge,my face,my shop...my....well, you get the idea bro.!
   TAG - Wednesday, 06/18/03 00:43:15 GMT

Guru-Will muriatic acid clean mild steel? It seems I spend an awful lot of time with a wire brush(on a grinder) getting rid of scale, etc. Will it clean things like roses and other items with lots of nooks and crannies?
   - clinker - Wednesday, 06/18/03 01:15:17 GMT


Yes, Muriatic acid will clean. So will Vinegar and Real Lemon. The last two are easier to dispose of, neutralize them with baking soda till it quits bubbling, and throw it away.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/18/03 01:24:32 GMT

Drilling Holes: Jacob, The question IS what speeds does your drill press have. The fancy 16 speed Craftsman drill press is a wood working machine and the biggest drill it can use (slowest speed) in mild steel is 1/2" IF you use a lot of feed pressure (on rubbing or non-cutting). IT will be generating blue chips at that. For normal non-professional drilling it is only good for 3/8" in mild steel 1/4" in tool steel. . .

What you want for a 5/8" drill is about 500 RPM. At 611 RPM you will be running 100 feet per minute. 90-100 FPM is the maximum for high speed steel cutters. But for drills about half of max speed works best.

The old geared head drill presses such as the one shown in our iForge demo #121 on drill press accessories runs 645, 385, 233 and 140 RPM in straight gear. The fastest speed is good for up to 1/2" (13mm) HSS drill bits. The slowest is good for 1-1/2" drills or more and will fill a barrel full of chips in just a few hours drilling large holes. In back gear the machine runs as slow as 25 RPM. This is for boring with a big single point tool.

Modern metalworking drill presses generally run is a higher range due to their being designed for more non-ferrous work and less large boring. But they still run down in the 200 to 800 RPM ranges. This is important when drilling large holes. Many small wood working drill presses do not go slow enough to drill very small holes in metal.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/03 01:28:09 GMT

dont forget to oil yer bit before,during,etc. we wouldnt want you to loose your temper while drillin'.
   TAG - Wednesday, 06/18/03 02:55:31 GMT

Hi ppw
   TAG - Wednesday, 06/18/03 02:58:56 GMT

TAG, are those your initials? If so, you have the same as me. Small world, eh? (grin)

Sorry, PPW, looks like I'm going to have to forego using your swage block stand design... I like it, but I'm not yet strong enough to flip my 145lb "anvil" around without help. I've figured out a design that should work, though; hopefully I can get one of my friends to bring a digital camera over so I can share my forge design and stand design with all patrons of the Guru page.

Wondering: I've heard of people forging spade drill bits, especially in older smithing literature... also on Ron Reil's site. I'm very curious as to how this is done, what kind of steel is used, etc. I'd love to be able to make my own large-diameter drill bits.

Sunny and hot hot hot ow my feet the asphalt burning... anyway... Sunny in lovely Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 06/18/03 06:55:30 GMT

Kerwin; Coal Smoke:

As well as having a higher coke ratio when you start up, part of the secret is to get a good draw in the chimney or stack. Every shop differs, but what I usually do when lighting up is take one (1) sheet of newspaper, hold it by opposite corners and then fold and twist it into a LOOSE cylinder. Stuff it up the stack or chimney and make sure that there is plenty of room for the air to get by (do not block). Then, I touch off the corner of the twist first, then light the paper/kindling in the tuyere. The twist in the chimney usually makes a nice roaring sound as it kick-starts the draft and pre-heats the air column.

Two caveats: Too tight a twist will lead to incomlete combustion of the paper, and the charred remains will either accumulate and block a chimney, or drop in an unexpected moment out of the stack. Too much newspaper will lead to the first problem, plus will tend to block a good draft in the first place.

Shoving off soon from the banks of the Norwalk River.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 06/18/03 13:41:34 GMT

T. Gold; I used to make all the spade bits for the electricians at a plant where I worked about 20 years ago. They often needed bits that were up to 3 feet long. Get yourself a set of cheap ones to use for models, then get some O-1 or W-1 steel drill rod in various diameters, and bash it into shape and grind it according to the models. If it was necesary to reduce the driven end to fit a drill motor chuck, I would set up a grinding jig consisting of a piece of angle iron, clamped parallel to the axis of a bench grinder, and turn the shaft by hand to the desired diameter before forging the other end. Of course, this will take some improvising according to your own bench/grinder setup. The drill rod is generally sold in an annealed state, so all you really have to harden and temper will be the cutting end. There are plenty of written articles out there describing the tempering process, and drill rod can be pretty forgiving, if you just take your time. The drills I made were used to drill through old yellow pine timbers and studs in a very old factory building, and they seemed to hold up pretty well. It's a fun project to do, and it's good basic smithing. Mazel tov, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 06/18/03 14:29:41 GMT

Bits and Chisles: Spade bits and spiral flute wood bits are both pretty easy to make. Flatten the end, use a chisel to cut the lead point. If you cut the right hand side (looking from the shank end) and flip it over and cut the opposite side while it is on the right also then both cutting edges will have the proper angle without grinding or filing. Of course they WILL need dressing but it is easier when they are already at the proper angles. Spiral flute bits are made from longer stock and then twisted. If you want that classy cross section with the thick center section than you will need to make a little spring die to do the flatening/forming in. Long spiral flutes need to be thicker in section than short spade bits to keep from twisting in use.

Wood chisels can be made from flat or round bar. Spring steel works well and is easy to come by. Forge to the shape you want, oil quench, temper by burning off the excess oil than grind to sharpen. I've made very nice gouges that had the taper on the outside AND gouges that had the taper on the inside. Both have their uses.

Don't make the mistake of making the tang too small. It is good to have a full round shoulder on a tang so that it does not get driven into the handle. I use various types of pipe and tube for ferrules on handles. EMT (electrical conduit) is thin wall and handy diameters. I've also used copper pipe and coper end caps make nice closed end ferrules. I use regular shedule 40 iron pipe for striking end bands.

Making wood working tools is fun and is not difficult if you keep it simple. Temper is not nearly as critical as it is in metal working tools. The important thing to do is MAKE them and then USE them. You will often be your own worse critic and can then make another, and another and get better over time.

When I needed a 6 foot long bit for drilling a hole in a fire stop to pull a wire through I just welded a 3/4" spade bit to a piece of 1/4" round bar. . . Drilling the hole was easy. . fishing the wire was a little more difficult.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/03 15:54:03 GMT

dsmurphy and commissiner, your pub registration mail bounced.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/03 16:47:03 GMT

member bob h, you have been smithin' for about 1 1/2yr. i have been goofin around with hot steel for about the same time. i am curious...what are you able to do skill wise?? where/how did you learn the various techniques. most of the participants i believe are very experienced, so it is interesting to hear some rookie stories @ times...

alpha guru, et al...how do you calculate the gain in length of a bar when slitting/opening/drifting holes. example: bar 2' starting length, four holes. what is the gain in length? forge out two, divide gain by 2 to arrive @ gain per hole?? expert comments much appreciated..

mr caleb, any pics up of your forged work yet?? you are not designing a submarine fueled by e coli are you?? just kidding...
   rugg - Wednesday, 06/18/03 17:56:44 GMT

Guru, hint on fishing wire: after drilling whole but before removing bit tape a length of wire to the bit and pull it back thrugh the hole. this can either be the final wire or a temp. "Fish" wire.

   habu - Wednesday, 06/18/03 18:10:12 GMT

Length Change: Rugg, Seat of the pants guesses and trial and error. There are no hard rules because of the variety of holes and situations. A swelled punched hole may have no net gain or a little growth. A hot punched hole without swelling changes the length of a narrow bar more than a wide one and a cold punched hole changes the length none at all.

Slitting and opening shortens the bar by the amount of material that would fill the hole IF the sides are not thinned by forging. Every situation is different.

SO. . what most smiths do is start with a sample bar of known length and punch a few holes in the same manner as the final work then measure the change. Measurements need to be as accurate as possible. An error of .010" between two holes is a tenth of an inch in 10. It is rare but on long rails the amount can be considerable. Where it gets tricky is when there is a change for each hole. You need to compensate at every hole as well as the full length. There can also be situations where on bar grows and another (like a top rail) does not.

SO. . It is a matter of awareness and testing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/03 18:48:42 GMT


As a matter of fact my buddy, whom I believe to be completely mad, had me designing a submarine that utilized over 100 articulations to move like a whale so as to trick sonar and sound. Along with an all steel body suit that would be capable of warding off 100+ 6' long snakes with 3" fangs to retrieve 2,000 lbs of 1,000+ year old pirate gold coins from an underwater cave.

Anyways. . .

I have also been blacksmithing for around 2 years and have been a member of Cyber Smith's International for close to one. Hum, membership renewal is most likely coming up soon!

Skill wise, having split up my obsessions in a vast group, I am most likely behind the curve.

Today I am going to try a modification of Bill Epps musical cleft bell from demo #23. It will be made from 1/2" square, looking at it from the front the corner will be facing you, with a round taper in the inside finel and the vertical "backbone" with a long twist in it.

I will try to take some digital photos of it and a neet 12" x 8" x 8" wall hook I also made from 1/2" square that has square corners and a twist in the forward vertical and lower horizontal portions, the twist in the horizontal portion really helps keep the stuff from sliding around(it is used in a box van). If I have enough time and guts today I will also attempt a triple basket twist with a large twist on the outside and two smaller ones inside of them, the middle twist going in the opposite direction of the other two. I will post the photo's on the yahoo photo group as soon as I can.

Keep those anvils ringing and singing.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Wednesday, 06/18/03 19:32:10 GMT

Guru; I believe I read somewhere,that when a clinker formed in the fire, that the smith would stop and remove it. Is this really done? I've always found that simply breaking and pushing through the tweer would free up the airway sufficiently, rather that disturb a good working fire, later when the fire cools the whole mass can be lifted out.it's the way I do it but is it the right way? any insight would be appreciated. Thanks for your time!
   - JEFF. - Wednesday, 06/18/03 20:36:43 GMT

Gun Blueing

Go to: http://www.anvil.co.za/Tutorials/tut_embellishments_gun_blue.htm

   Tiaan - Wednesday, 06/18/03 20:50:05 GMT


I do the same thing except when I need a welding fire.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/18/03 22:14:35 GMT

You can break up the clinker to restore the airflow but you still have the problem that there out to be burning fuel where there is clinker. This will make your fire "cold" and also leave too much unburned oxygen at the work piece. Also, breaking up the clinker into small pieces will make it hard to clean the fire when the time comes. None of this is critical unless you need to weld.

Gauging length. You can get some play dough - form it roughly into the shape you intend to forge and then roll it up and form it to roughly the same cross section as the stock you will be working from. Quite easy and quick to do. A table knife makes a good forging tool for play dough. I think Rob Gunter showed me this.
   adam - Wednesday, 06/18/03 22:35:30 GMT

Adam, you missed where he is dropping the clinker down the tuyere. Actually, pushing would be a better word than dropping.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/19/03 00:29:56 GMT

NEW: The long awaited 2nd chapter of Pawpaw's The Revolutionary Blacksmith is posted AND we will have a an iForge demo tonight.

Clinkers Ocassionaly clinkers are obvious seperate lumps and can be pulled out. When using good coal the clinkers form a doughnut size and shaped ring just above the tuyeer. You can usualy fish these out with a fire poker and continue to work for a while. However, by the time one of these has formed the fire is getting pretty trashy and will not be as hot as it was at first. Before another ring clinker will form you usualy have to clean out the center of the fire and start over.

Stops, starts, breaking up and rebuilding the fire are common daily chore when burning coal. It is all part of fire tending which is a constant task. Every time you pull a piece in and out of the fire adjustments are made. If you are not constantly banking, feeding fuel, tightening the build and removing clinkers then you are not burning coal. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 00:56:58 GMT

You can tell EVERYTHING about a smith from the way they keep a fire. Sure beats usin'\Makin' charcoal.
   - Tag - Thursday, 06/19/03 01:06:17 GMT


For mounting my post vice I stacked and welded together three semi wheels. Then setup the vice how I wanted it touching the outer edge of the top wheel. Then with some 1/2" square stock welded it to the wheels. This makes a very solid conection with the base and does not move when putting a lot of torque into the vice. However this setup does lessen the amount of energy that is absorbed by the leg, since much of it goes directly into the wheels. The wheels also ring a good bit when the vice is struck. I should fill the stack of wheels with dirt to deaden the sound and give the base even more weight.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 06/19/03 01:06:19 GMT

RUGG. I make a lot of fire pokers lately. I usually start out by warming up with a flint striker or simple twist hook. Made lots of hooks and S hooks. Lots of stuff I make is a one shot deal where I try something I sawbut don't know all the steps and it looks not quite the way I want it to. You know, a little knowleddge is a dangerous thing. And I mean little. A lot of times I think you really have to know what step comes in what order to make something work out better. But I got started by watching a 4th of July blacksmith demo 2 years ago. Stuck around long enough and asked enough questions that he finally put me to work. He told me of a school in Kalamazoo for smithing lessons, and I have taken two of those. Also I go to a lot of the local demos and we have a shop here that has a open forge nite once a month. Little by little my skills and understanding is coming along. One thing I have learned, is when you see something for sale by a smith that you would like to make, buy it! By the time you get around to trying to replicate it at home, you can't remember all the details. But if you already have a sample, it is much easier to try to make.
   Bob H - Thursday, 06/19/03 01:13:07 GMT

Caleb,Very interesting.I Have a few big drums,but if I unbolt them from my wifes Freightliner...well, I think Ill have ta' leave town...I just poured in a few tons of limestone, But it leaves me in a quandry,do yall' think I should dig in' and pour a footer? I know keeping impact off the screws is primary,but, in the day, they didnt have concrete! how bout stone? how was it done....how was it done!!!!
   - Tag - Thursday, 06/19/03 01:19:38 GMT

I should also mention that almost all the smiths I have met have been more than willing to share techniques if you just ask. And even tho I am not the most knowledgeable smith, I have very much enjoyed showing others how to do some of the things I do know how to do.
I get a lot of joy out of being able to make something unique out of metal. I've built 2 forges for myself and one for my brother in law. And they all work great. I've given away or traded some of the things I make. RR spike letter openers, hooks, plant hangers. I've made some candle holders, and some stuff was just experiments to try something different. Like I've made a basket twist handle, but have not attached it to anything. I've made some campfire pot stands.
I kinda trade info with the smith who got me started. I've been to some demos with him, where he teaches me how to make something. And I give him flintknapping lessons in return.
   Bob H - Thursday, 06/19/03 01:27:30 GMT

Tag, regarding not having concrete when post vices ruled the world - concrete is based on cement - basically cement + aggregate. The Romans had and made cement, including good hydraulic cement. I've worked in a number of factories that were originally from the late 1800's with concrete floors in areas that dated back that far.
   GavainH - Thursday, 06/19/03 02:03:46 GMT

The safety glasses arrived last week. Will let you know how they work out. Thanks again!
   - Wendy - Thursday, 06/19/03 02:09:20 GMT

Ahhh, TAG, they had concrete for about 1000 years before the earliest I can date a post vise (take a look at the Pantheon for a nice Roman use of concrete).

They had lime based morters thousands of years earlier than the concrete.

Me I'd dig out a hole and set a rock with a hole in it for the leg, or just pour a chunk of concrete for it---posthole size.

n.b. taking parts off of your wife's truck will likely result in you not needing to set a post vise as you may be too busy pushing up daisies...

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/19/03 02:10:42 GMT

Just wanted to be the first---when is book III Chapter 3 going to get posted?????????

Thomas "and then Dee opened "Ye Olde Forge Tea Shoppe..."
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/19/03 02:33:33 GMT

Vise Stands and photo by Jock Dempsey Mounting Leg Vises: Sturdy is important. When I have a chance to mount a vise on a bench the bench is anchored to the wall and the floor first. Then I make a plate to anchor to the wall with a piece of angle iron extending from it. This is mounted under the bench top and has a hole for at least one of the vise bolts to go through.

The foot of a leg vise needs a load distribution pad. Usualy a metal plate with a hole for the spike. OR a good hard stone as Thomas suggested. The load pad can rest on concrete, wood or brick. On a dirt floor it was common to set a post deep in the earth next to the vise mounting post for the foot to set on. These were cut above the floor OR below as needed. Use a good creosoted or salt treated post. In a permanent shop with a dirt floor you may want to also seal the post with tar for longevity.

The two stands shown here were designed for portability. The new steel stand works very well but needs some ribs to extend out on the base plate to reduce springyness. The reason the vise is set to the back od the plate is so that you stand on the plate when using the vise. You CAN NOT make the vise move when you are standing on its base! This baseplate is some 3/8" scrap I had. It would seem stiff enough without ribs or diagonals but it is not. I suspect that 1/2" or thicker is needed to avoid the springyness.

The stump mounted vise looks cool but was a bad design. It acts like a rolly-poly clown toy and is not very steady. One twice as big might have been OK. Over the years the edges of the stump have worn round making the problem worse. My plan is to mount this stump on a piece of plate like the other vise. The larger wheel base will prevent tipping and be very solid. It will also prevent further wear on the stump.

Portable vise mounts either need to be large OR heavy. I think most brake drum mounts are two small and light. Avoid welding to the vise if you can.

One very intresting vise mount I saw recently was on a hitch reciever. Slip off the trailer ball and slip in the vise. Anchoring to the bumper on a heavy vehical is about as solid as you can get.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 03:27:23 GMT

Vise & Bench Miscellany: Paw-paw uses RR-rail support plates under his vise. Most already have a hole in the center.

The stump mounted vise above did not originaly have that split bracket. I added that to it. This vise is an old English type made by Brooks and Cooper with the tennon mount for the bench bracket. The handle, bracket, pin, spring and pivot wedge were missing when I bought this vise.

For anchoring wood benches to walls I use little brackets made from 1 or 1-1/4" x 1/8" angle iron. I anchor the corners of the bench top and the two front legs. It is amazing how stout a couple little brackets can make a bench.

The very large chipping vise that will be mounted on my weld platen will be setup to be easily removable. A welding bench or table with a permanent fixture on it is a pain in the neck. The vise will be attached to a plate with an expanding square shank to fit the platten holes.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 03:48:38 GMT

Guru, I still have not gotten my big anvil cast. I believe the last time I wrote you,I was waiting on a quote from my pattern shop.Well not long after I got my quote,I was shocked at the price.Anyway I still have not tossed the idea, but am considering another avenue.I once made an anvil for a friend that weighed 700 #`s. We had about 80 man hours in it .We started with a seven inch thick block of A-36.When it was done I put about a half inch of hardsurfacing onto the face.It has worked well for about 12 years now and is a daily user.Anyway i believe I will probably do this again for the experience of it.As I can buy a block of steel big enough to end up with an anvil weighing around 1000 to 1200#`s, for the money the pattern shop was going to charge me for the pattern.The only other answer is to look for an anvil around this weight to buy.If you know of one let me know.Maybe if I get the word out one may turn up.Good anvils are getting hard to find. I used to see one come through the auction from time to time but you don`t even see tat anymore.Give me your input on this situation.Thanks Ben H.
   Ben H. - Thursday, 06/19/03 03:45:12 GMT

Big Anvils and Pattern Costs: Ben, Permanent patterns are mui expensive. For one-offs you make them yourself. Currently large one off castings are being made using lost foam. Carve your pattern in blue foam insulation board and have it cast as an investment casting. The foam is so easy to work that a very nice anvil pattern could be make in a short day. 20 years ago foundries would not talk to you about lost foam but today it is usualy offered as an option to expensive permanent patterns. Cores are also avoided. Carve the hardy hole in the foam. . . Check with your steel foundry to see if they will cast from foam.

The foam can be glued up with small amounts of elmers glue. It saws easily with a band saw, coping saw or frame saw. The fine surfaces of a four-in-hand rasp work very well at producing a smooth finish on the foam. On a large solid the interior can be left hollow so there is less foam to burn out. Gates, risers and vents are all made of the foam. I would coat core holes like a hardy hole with ITC-100 to prevent burn through into the sand. Normally dry (unbonded) sand is used but standard greensand or petro bond can also be used. These both need vent holes poked through with a wire.

If your steel foundry will deal with the one off lost foam let me know. I have a few projects of my own. . .

The biggest standard London pattern anvils made were for railroad shops. These were 500 to 650 pounds. Several years ago I knew someone with two (now sold). A fellow wrote to me the other day about a 650 but I have not heard back from him again. . .

Old "bridge" anvils of the type common in the oil fields often weighed over 1000 pounds. But these were not designed for forging. They were for straightening and use as a heavy work bench.

Euroanvils is supposed to be taking delivery on a 500 to 550 pound cast steel anvil in the very near future. The price will be reasonable as always. Probably less than what you can get your fabricated anvil heat treated for in the US.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 04:16:32 GMT

I'm just starting out in blacksmithing and have reasonable mechanical skills and a good deal of common sense. I've just picked up two Buffalo Forge blowers. One is a standard sized blacksmith forge blower 2 1/2 and the other is notably smaller with a 1 3/4 dia supply pipe. There are no other markings as to model number, type, etc., that I can find. The bodies are cast. What I would like to know is there any guidance on how to go about restoring these to working condition? Can/should I use naval jelly to remove the rust? Will this harm any bearings / gears etc.? What lubricants should I use? Are the gears pressed in? Can they be removed? What is the best way to clean these parts? Is there a gasket used to maintain the oil/grease reservoir? I removed something that could have been a paper gasket. What finish/color is proper?

Once I got the mud dauber nests out of the fan blades the larger unit worked! The grease in the smaller unit was nearly petrified it was so old! So Guru what should I look out for? Any and all advice will be appreciated. Thanks
   oakspring - Thursday, 06/19/03 06:29:38 GMT


Go to your nearest NAPA auto parts store. On the same shelf with the WD-40 pick up a can of B'Laster. Spray the blower down LIBERALLY. Inside and out. Let it sit for an hour and try to turn it. If it's really trashed, it might take two applications.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/19/03 07:19:37 GMT

Vise Stand:

Here's another idea for mounting a post vise:

I needed move-ability because of my small shop, but not necessarily portability.

I originally used a standard brake drum, but as the Guru said, it was way too wobbly. The nice thing about it was the 5" pipe fit snug in the center hole of the drum and the peg of the post vise fits nicely in the stud holes.

Then when this large truck drum became available, I basically placed it over my existing stand and welded it in place.

When doing heavy twisting I can easily stand on the large drum.
   MarcG - Thursday, 06/19/03 12:03:47 GMT

Anvils: We bought a Euroanvil @ Madison. Price was good and it works great - good as my Heybudden. No sacrifice of quality...Ron C
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 06/19/03 13:12:46 GMT

25# LG Prices Habu, Sorry I overlooked your question. Depending on condition these sell for as little as $400 (working) to as much as $2800 (rebuilt in fine condition).
Unless it has been recently rebuilt most 25 pounders are worn pretty badly. These small power hammers are some of the most poorly maintained machine of any type I have ever seen. I think that folks think that because it is a "hammer" that it can't be hurt or that is is some kind of primitive stone age device . . .

Things to check for, grab the toggles and shake the ram side to side and back and fourth. . It should be fairly snug. Loose means the guides are worn. If you can find a pry bar try lifting the ram and pushing up on the crank wheel. If the wheel or shaft move up and down visibly then the babbit bearings are worn. Operate the clutch, does it move in and out smoothly and quietly. Low clunks or clanking mean the clutch bearing is worn.

And most obvious, if it is not soaked with OLD and new oil and not surrounded by a big oil slick then it has NOT been lubricated enough! There are no seals on these machines and no matter how clean you keep your shop this machine should show signs of LOTS of oil. If is has been in use within the last 10-20 years and it doesn't look oily then it is probably severly worn somewhere. A dusty dry Little Giant is a machine that has probably been abused.

On 25 pounders cracked or broken dovetails are common. This is a $1000+ repair if you take it to Sid Sudemier.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 13:23:40 GMT

Blowers: Oakspring, Besides the cleaning paw-paw recommended you probably do not want to do a lot to these devices. There are hundreds of types and models and they all take different parts. Most of the gears and bearings are factory-only parts and the factories have been gone for 50 years. Occasionaly someone will restore an old hand crank blower but if the gears are not in good condition then it is not an option.

The congealed oil is probably the result of using linseed oil or other vegatable oil for lubricant. This must be removed entirely and may require complete disassembly. These oils oxidize and become a hard varnish preventing new lubricant from doing its job. Often solvents will not remove the varnish and it must be carefully scraped from every working surface.

These devices did not have seals and most have very small oil reservoirs that are more oil drip pan than resevoir. They need to be oiled every time they are used. The excess runs out and must be wiped off. This is typical old machinery. It is also a reason for black paint.

Most original paint jobs I have seen on these were black. However, there was a war time paint spec during WWII and many manufacturers painted all their machinery an OD green or a blue (battleship) grey. . . it was not to camoflage the equipment but to avoid using carbon black pigment which was in high demand for making tires. Many small tools and devices were "Japaned" with a thin black lacquer. When you find castings with no hint of paint it is often because the original was a very thin Japan finish that has worn off or flaked off as rust formed. I have also seen bright red paint but I do not think it was factory - but it MAY have. Heavier paint almost always left some traces.

If you have the common sense and mechanical skills you claim then they will take you a long ways with tools and machinery. Lots of folks get into this trade as a fantasy and have no mechanical skills at all. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 13:50:36 GMT


I am new at smithing but very interested in the process. I am in design and fab stage of a 4 burner gas forge. I am useing a 24" lenth of 18" s/20 pipe for the body. I have installed a 12" wide x 24" long peice 1/8" 316ss plate to flaten the floor. The viod under the plate will be poured with liquid mix refractory. With fire brick on top of the floor plate. I plan to use 3" of refractory blanket all the the rest of the radius. Because the back wall of this forge will be movable I intend to rap the blanket from the inside over the end of pipe and fasten with a ss sheet metal shroud attached to the shell to protect the exposed blanket from damage and hold it in place. The front will be 1/4" plate seal welded to the body with a 4 x 7" slide out drop down door also with 3" of insulation (hense the slide out). I intend to fab the burners in my shop using the rex design. These will be two 1" and two 3/4" (could be a bit much but better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it).Mounting them at 10:30 and 1:30.
With this said what would you estimate the exhaust vent size be. for all 4 burners hot? With two hot?
I do intend to make two sets of front and back doors to work with long or short stock.

Thank you for any input.
   davettlsed - Thursday, 06/19/03 14:07:54 GMT

Thanks for the insight. Both blowers were manufactured by “Buffalo Forge & Blower Co.” out of Buffalo New York. If they did date or mark them with an ID number or Part number where would it be? I’m curious as to just how old these puppies are?

Would pressure washing or steam cleaning be a good idea to get all the old grease and debris removed? I’ve never used B’Laster but will give it a try. What about Naval Jelly to clean the rust off?

The goal is to restore both of these to working order but to retain as much of the original character as possible. They will be used regularly. Also once I get them all cleaned up what weight/type oil should I use on these critters?

Thanks for your help.
   oakspring - Thursday, 06/19/03 14:26:46 GMT

Another quick question. Are there any websites that deal with restoring blacksmithing gear (like blowers and such) that you would recommend?

Thanks again!
   oakspring - Thursday, 06/19/03 14:29:38 GMT

large Gas Forge Dave, Embedding the SS plate in the refractory is a bad idea. SS has a very high coeficient of expansion and will warp and break up the refractory floor.

Vent size is proportional to the burner capacity but that can vary greatly depending on the design. Since you are making your own burners you will need to find the ratio yourself.

For normal performance burners I quote Adam from yesterday:
Forge vent: The rule of thumb is that the exhaust should be 7x the area of the burner tube - so for a 3/4" dia. burner = 1/2 sq.in. (apprx) giving 3.5 sq.in. for the exhaust. Of course the exhaust varies with gas pressure and is somewhat dependent on the size and shape of the chamber.
Gas forges need SOME back pressure. This raises the fuel/air burning temperature.

Don't make your first gas forge too complicated. Simple is better. Refractories do not like being slid, rubbed or moved.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 15:52:38 GMT

Clean up and restoration Oakspring, there are one or two articles spread all over the web on rebuilding and repairing blacksmithing equipment. Most that I have seen were not very good. Things like folks recommending rebabbiting Little Giant bearings when they only needed reshiming at the most and just lubrication would have sufficed.

Rebuilding and restoration are two different things. A restorer will jump all over your case for doing anything that might remove a bit of original paint. A rebuilder will go directly to steam cleaning or even sand blasting. As blacksmiths using relatively antique equipment as day to day tooling it is a problem. Either the tool is going to be useful OR its going to be a museum piece. Currently there is little interest in these items by museums by and large.

My preference it to do whatever I have to do that does not harm the metal or do nothing that cannot be undone. Anything necessary to clean and paint is OK. But grinding and welding is off the table unless the item is broken and usless without serious repairs. Many vises and drills are missing so many parts that they could never be good museum pieces so anything you do to keep it going and preserve it is probably a good thing. But it is best to keep in character of the product. Most parts for old vises can be hand forged just as well as the originals. Wood hand crank handles can be turned out of good hardwood and match the original shape. I've replaced bearings on numerous machines with the nearest modern fit but it always called for some carefull machining.

Where it gets tricky is things like anvil repair. That gracefully worn swayed surface is part of its history, a kind of badge of honor. It also does not hurt the useability of the anvil a bit. A swayed surface is actually easier to straighten parts on and round corners are better for good forging practice. Most serious flaws can be worked around. Continued use in the shop is just part of the tool's long life but a major resurfacing destroys any value as an antique. Anvils can usualy be lightly dressed and used as-is and neither you or the history of the tool will be effected.

Yep, it is YOUR tool and you can do what you want with it but it may have had a dozen owners before you. Will it have a dozen more after? In many ways we are just caretakers of these durable ancient tools much like we should consider our selves temporary residents of the Earth and caretakers of the environment and resources. . .

Clean and paint, a moral issue? Sometimes. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/03 16:27:12 GMT

I did see an 850# London pattern anvil at Bob Larison's (sp?) shop in Santa Fe. Didnt notice any markings on the side. He got it from a welding shop where it had been badly mistreated. It was very cool to see such an anvil but I am not sure it would be too useful unless you had a team of strikers to weld axles for RR cars or somesuch.

   adam - Thursday, 06/19/03 16:41:47 GMT

Rugg, I've also been smithing about 1-1/2 years. I'm not sure how to quantify what I'm able to do... Drawing generally comes out about like what I intended. Simple bends come out right all the time, but multi-turn scrolls or coils are often quite a challenge. Upsetting hasn't been too much so. Have done one forge weld, successful on the first try with close supervision, anxious to try more. Forged a nice blade this spring at a blade conference but bogged down in finishing it... Does any of that help? I've learned from reading these forums, reading books, going to the local forge meetings, and going to conferences. All good. Biggest leaps seem to come from watching a demonstrator and then going off and trying it on my own.

Length change - I try to remember to keep notes as I go along. "Starting with this much stock, I made a braided handle this long and had this much left over." The older guys in the group seem to just eyeball it, so I'm guessing experience... The notes should help me catch on as I go. I'm also trying to keep notes of how long things take so I'll have some basis for estimates as people have started asking once in a while...

   Steve A - Thursday, 06/19/03 17:34:54 GMT

I'm trying to find a hub casting for a Dyna Mow 7240zt B series mower. There is a casting number on the original;
9E24 I wonder who makes these castings and how I can get in touch with them to buy a new one. Thanks for Your time!
   Austin Madden Tate - Thursday, 06/19/03 19:12:25 GMT

Coming in a little late on post vices:

I mounted my 100# Columbian on two 4X4s (one behind the other) concreted into the dirt floor with about 100# of concrete. While I was at it, I concreted a 12"+ piece of black locust stump, about 6"-8" in daimeter, along with the 4X4s to take the foot of the vise. Into this I screwed a traingular piece of 3/4" steel, used to hold lamp posts to their bases in Washington, D.C. (Upon occasion, a vehicle will go off course, knock over a lamp post, and I collect the bits and pieces.) This had a conveniently sized hole that seated the foot just fine, and I bored a tad into the locust stump for a perfect fit.

I discovered that even with this elaborate setup, a determined man trying to unscrew a frozen trailer ball could start to torque the whole setup out of the ground! (Never did get that trailer ball loose. I've had several where the metal seems to gal between the threads and the nut and just freeze up forever!)

When not torturing trailer balls, however, it works just fine for blacksmithing!

Hazy, hot and humid on the banks of the Potomac, and more rain due. Looks like we're going to have to watch where we park for Camp Fenby next weekend, my wif says that the lawnmower is sinking into the mud!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/19/03 19:21:46 GMT


More on vice stands. My best guesse on how they used to plant a vice is that they would take a log 1' or more in diameter and set it in a 4' hole or so. Then pack some dirt around it and attach the vice to that with a bracket.

Restoring and Rebuilding

When I was cleaning up the inside of the flat belt pully's on my 120 year old drill to make sure they will run balanced, I began to think that this may have been the first time that it had EVER been cleaned. Especially when I began to smell some very strange odor coming from the "caking" that I have NEVER smelled before. I was thinking about cleaning up the whole drill press and painting it. Then I began thinking that the almost 1/4" think layer of very old oil, dirt and who knows what, is probabley doing a better job of protecting the metal from corrosion that a good coat of paint would do. So I am leaving it be.

Plus, although I DO NOT fit into the restorer catagory, there is something sort of neet about the tool having dirt and grime on it from most likely every shop it has ever been in.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 06/19/03 20:34:56 GMT

I am trying to find information on period accurate Civil War Forges...i.e. their design, pictures fo them, etc. for my reenactments. I currently use a Champion Forge and it was ten years after the Civil War at best. Any information would be appreciated. I also posted a forum on the Abana website. Thanks,

Bob Scudder
   robertscudder - Thursday, 06/19/03 20:40:36 GMT

Bob, would that be the American Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, the English Civil War, Ruwandan,...?

I'd suggest going with Moxon for the English civil war only a couple of decades off.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/19/03 21:18:02 GMT

Post Mount: A smith I know has a portable setup that I'm looking at mimicing. His anvil stand is wooden, and extends past the heel. 2x6's were bolted together to form the mounting post. The leg of the vice was supported by a section of angle iron (heavy gage stuff) with a depression/hole for it to sit in.

Since the base has the full weight of the anvil, as well as it's own sturdy construction, it stands up to heavy twisting, etc., without shifting.
   Monica - Thursday, 06/19/03 21:30:55 GMT

My husband is a machinist who works on a manual lathe, and I'm thinking about getting him a book on blacksmithing as a gift and a suggestion. Are there machining skills that transfer well to blacksmithing? I know he has a good "metal sense", that is knows how metal behaves, but I wonder if it's a logical transition, given the industrial nature of machining.

Can you suggest a good book?
   Susan - Friday, 06/20/03 00:14:57 GMT

steve a and bob h, thanks for the comments. it is interesting to hear the experiences of the less than experienced. i do keep a log on what happens dementionally (sp) to forged pieces. i found that calculations are not what happens most of the time. an example: i have read that when joining with rivets, one should allow about 1.5X the thickness of the rivet to protrude so as a head can be formed without leaving you short or too long. rough estimate and works fair. the collar length calculation should work, but what if you are joining a straight piece with a curved one?? like the gurus have stated: test pieces and record.

i am accumulating books by the week. i like the CoSira series (rural commission books from the UK). meetings and hammer ins in this area do not happen. when i do something @ the shop, i usually have questions when i return, then i post it...the rookie stories are very cool. keep posting your experiences; you ( and others) are sure to learn more..

   rugg - Friday, 06/20/03 00:41:26 GMT

Books: Susan, Today there are many books on blacksmithing and related metal work. See our book review page (the bookshelf). They range from basic how-to to "coffee table" type books for inspiration. Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithing is a good standard on historical blacksmithing. Andrew's New Edge of the Anvil is more about basic how-to but does not skirt technical details. Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork is about more than just ironwork and bridges between being a technical how-to book and inspiration.

If you have a reason to want to get someone hooked on blacksmithing then buy all three and give them one a month in the order above. . . ;)

You may want to study them yourself. There are a lot of women in modern blacksmithing. There is a renaissance of blacksmithing as an art form going on since the late 1960's. As rebirth as an art form it has had its share of top women smiths and they are accepted as equals in what had once been a predominantly male profession. There are tools and machines that equalize any physical strength differences.
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 00:49:13 GMT

Rookie Stories: Rugg, Have you read My First Anvil?. . The photo of the two vises above are a kind of rookie story. . I put a lot of work into making replacement parts for that vise and mounting on that stump . . . only to have it be a failure that has bugged me for 32 years. We will finally fix it (soon). The photo above is a "before".

I had a brief flash of clarity about leveling it up (the stump). I'm going to put three lag bolts in the bottom then adjust it to plumb. After the bolting tabs are fitted to the new base plate the stump will be "grouted" in using auto body putty. This will distribute the load on the wood while the lag bolts hold it plumb. More lags from the side will finalize the mounting. After 32 years it will finally be the tool I planed on it being.
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 01:03:19 GMT


Mousehole Forge by Richard Postman author of Anvils in America is now being presold. The book is at the printers and should be ready to ship in a few weeks. It is 122 pages and has over 80 illustrations, 40 in color, soft bound. This is an historical treatise about the famous Mousehole Forge near Sheffield England, where anvils and vises were manufactured for hundreds of years. Mousehole Forge is said to be the first and longest running anvil factory in the world.

Price $25 - includes priority mail shipping to anywhere in the US. Sold only by the author. Send your order (with a check for $25 each) to:

Richard Postman
320 Fisher Court
Berrien Springs, MI 49103

Multiple copies (5 or more) are $20 plus shipping. Call for pricing. Richard DOES NOT take credit cards.
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 01:16:35 GMT

   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/20/03 01:24:54 GMT

Re: New Book

I've already ordered my copy.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/20/03 01:41:46 GMT

alpha guru, where is the "first anvil story"; have not read it...

mr postman sent me a post card for the book. i ordered it. hope he signs it...

hope to get a copy of recipes in iron soon....
   rugg - Friday, 06/20/03 02:09:57 GMT

Casting Question...again.

I stopped by a scrap yard today looking for some brass to melt down for a casting project I want to try. I ended up walking away with some bronze left over from punching medals as well as some german silver. the german silver is nickel silver, right? How does it behave for casting?
   - Tony-C - Friday, 06/20/03 04:10:23 GMT

I live in prime rust territory and know too much about it. When I see folks asking how to make a rust finish, it cracks me up.
On those seemingly intractable rusted balls ( trailer hitch balls) and simililarly gauling gauled and rusty threads....
There are a bunch of colorful techniques, but the one that continues to amaze me is the washing-soda anna battery charger electrolisys(sp) technique. It has taken apart solidly frozen threads that I doubted would yield to heat and beligerance.
Caleb; While i like the character and quasi-organic qualities of gurry-encrusted machinery..."neat" is not the word i'd use.
Tony C
Think nickle silver is right..nickle seems to raise the melting temperature of alloys with the one's I've tried.
So Join the Cybersmiths already!
   - Pete - Friday, 06/20/03 07:51:30 GMT

I could be all wrong on this but I thought German Silver was a nickel-copper alloy (monel?) with no real silver in it?!
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 06/20/03 12:02:11 GMT

QC, according to the scrap yard guy German silver is 70% copper and 30% nickel....
   - Tony-C - Friday, 06/20/03 13:33:23 GMT

Guru, Regarding the little giant hammer: Once again you were right on, she was rebuilt in the last 2 years looked like a greased pig, mounted solidly, and bid up by 4 smiths that had learned on her. $2000. Thanks

   habu - Friday, 06/20/03 13:36:54 GMT

Nickle SilverYep, "nickle silver" is a brass or brass/bronze with nickle in it. There is no silver.

64cu, 26zn, 10Ni OR 64Cu, 18Zn, 18Ni.

There are numerous copper alloys that come under the general discription within those ranges. The American nickle is nickle-silver. The old "bronze" pennies were a brass with a very small amount of tin so they called it bronze. . The percentages actually changed numerous times. Of course now they are mostly zinc. . Mix old and new pennies and you get a nice yellow brass.

Rugg, look on the story page. The Victor Vera story is another "how I got into smithing" story. . .

Trailer balls. . . I leave the hitch in the reciever and do my wrench turning there. The only problem is when the ball starts turning with the nut. But a pipe wrench braced against the vehical frame cures that. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 14:09:35 GMT

70/30 Copper Nickel is "Copper-Nickel", Monel (a trade name) is approximately the oposite ratio (mostly nickel 67, 30 + iron, silicon and others, K monel has aluminium and manganese.). Although monels vary they have no zinc which all brasses and some bronzes do.

What you have from the scrap yard is an unknown silver grey colored alloy. Melting points:

Monel 2370 - 2460°F
Nickle Silver 10, 1715°F (brazing alloy)
Brass 59/30 1650°F

   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 15:19:16 GMT

We are looking for a driveway swing gate (iron) and we live in Crawfordsville IN (close to Lafayette and Indianapolis) do you know who we could contact for this
   Shirley Hudson - Friday, 06/20/03 15:59:05 GMT

Sorry...I should have specified, I am looking for information on the American Civil War forges. Actually any information on blacksmithing during the civil war would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately most of the blacksmithing history books try to cram the whole history of blacksmithing into one or two volumes and not by era. There is so much information from colonial times until current with different equipment, metals, techniques, etc. that it is a daunting task. I have searched for civil war blacksmiths and have found little to no information on them, the appropriate equimpent, etc. I have, however, found what they made and how to replicate it.

Bob Scudder
   robertscudder - Friday, 06/20/03 16:08:52 GMT

Shirley Hudson and driveway gate???

Are you looking for someone to fabricate a driveway gate out of tubing or art metal components, or are you looking for a blacksmith who can forge a gate by hand using more or less traditional techniques?

I live near Attica and go to a chiropractor in Crawfordsville but I don't do fabrication, but I could do something more traditional. If you wanted something fabricated I know a couple of welder/fabricators who could probably do the job. One in Docs Corner north of Lafayette, and one in Mellot south east of Attica. I don't know what either of these guys would charge...

Do you know what you should expect to spend on a gate like this? You should expect atleast a minimium bid of 150$ per linear foot for a gate, and that is for something very simple and fabricated by a welder. If you want it assembled out of premanufactured components for something fancier it will be more. If you want it hand forged with traditional techniques and an interesting design the price goes way up. There are a number of archectural blacksmiths who read this forum, so somebody who has done more of that kind of blacksmithing than I have will be able to give you more information.

Shane Stegmeier
Merelion's Lair Forge
Attica, In
   Fionnbharr - Friday, 06/20/03 17:09:27 GMT

I really didn't know women are into blacksmithing, hadn't even thought about it. I did know that to complete a sculpture program at AB college of art, you have to do a welding course, but I didn't connect it with blacksmithing. I must have bought into the "suitable male and female occupation" thing more than I thought.

I found out recently that the ancient Celtic goddess of metalwork, poetry, and healing - is Bridget/Brigid. Interesting that the Celtic deity of metal is female, while the Greek and Roman ones were male.

Maybe I will also look into it myself, as I'm an artist and like doing sculpture; so far only clay though. . perhaps I found this site for a reason.

And thanks for the book recommendations - love getting books! Will return later.

   Susan - Friday, 06/20/03 19:28:42 GMT

WBtS Traveling Forges:

As soon as I get Paw Paw's done, I'll try for a second copy.

Still catching up and recovering from Santa Fe and Connecticut. Frank left for Scotland just as I was showing up! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/20/03 19:54:36 GMT

Blacksmithing and Sculpture: Direct metal sculpture (as apposed to casting) varies greatly in the techniques used. It ranges from built up using modern techniques to hot forging and actual carving of steel. It also includes sheet metal bas-relief which in metal is called repousse'. The Statue of Liberty is a combination of repousse, raising and shaping. The great maker or mobils Alexander Calder used various techniques including forge and anvil. Modern artists often use every technique at their disposal.
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 20:04:39 GMT

Driveway Gate: Shirley, Besides what Fionnbharr pointed out you need to know if you want an automatic (electric) gate. You also need to know if the gates are functional or decorative. Often gates on inclines cannot be functional and non-functional gates are hung in a permanently open position. There will also be the matter of mounting. Often there are pre-existing masonry pillars at a driveway. Unless these were designed to support a gate when they were installed they may not be up to the task no matter how substantial they look.

Just some things to think about before discussing the project.
   - guru - Friday, 06/20/03 20:14:15 GMT

Bob and field forges,

I don't know if this is what you are looking for but:

Ordnance Department specification for equiping a field forge (1840). U.S. Ordinace Manual pp. 309-310

Contents of Limber Chest of Forge A, Boxes A2, A4, and A5; and of the forge body. (two vehicles)

Hardie 1 .75 lb.
Files, assorted 12 10 lb.
Hand punches 2 2 lb.
Hand vice 1 1 lb.
pr. Smith's Calipers 1 .40 lb.
Taps and Dies 8 3.33 lb.
Die stock 1 6.25 lb.
Fire shovel 1 3.05 lb.
Poker 1 1.90 lb.
Shoeing Knife 1 .33 lb.
Hand Hammer 1 3.50 lb.
Shoeing Hammer 1 .82 lb.
Riviting Hammer 1 1.80 lb.
Sledge Hammer 1 10.50 lb.
Chisels for hot iron 2 3.00 lb.
Hand cold chisels 2 2.00 lb.
Chisels for cold iron 2 3.00 lb.
Smiths tongs 3 15.00 lb.
Nail punch 1 .80 lb.
Fore punch 1 1.00 lb.
Round punch 1 2.10 lb.
Creaser 1 1.00 lb.
Fuller 1 2.40 lb.
Pritchel 1 .85 lb.
Clinching iron 1 1.00 lb.
Oil stone 1 1.50 lb.
Leather apron 2 3.00 lb.
Quart can sperm oil 1 2.70 lb.

Forge body. The bellows is a part of the forge body. 250lbs. of bituminus coal and the coal shovel are in the coal box. 120lbs. of iron stock in the "iron room." The anvil fixed on the fireplace, weighs 100.00lbs.; the vice fixed on the carraige, weighs 29.00lbs.

   Myke - Friday, 06/20/03 21:43:24 GMT


Do you have a copy of the manual, or did you find it on the web? If the latter, do you mind sharing where you found it?
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/20/03 22:18:03 GMT

Has anyone looked at using an outdated plastic injecton mold base for a anvil surface. the block of steel that I am looking at is aprox. 18"x24"X 8" and is built from H-13 tool steel and is in two plates held together with 4 1" leader pins. the part cavity is less than 1/2 of 1% of the total block. and there are a few holes in one block for 1/4" ejector pins and the large face of the other block has a 1/2 hole for injection of the plastic. My source has a heat treating oven and tooling as well as an EDM system so it is possible to have the block modified to fit.
   habu - Friday, 06/20/03 22:30:13 GMT

Habu, wow, not many folks can brag about an H13 anvil! Even using just 1/2 of that mold ought to make a pretty good anvil. H13 is an air-hardening steel that has a hardness of about 48-50Rc as hardened. Lightly tempered to about Rc 45 should keep your hammers from throwing shrapnel.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 06/20/03 23:08:09 GMT


This is a part of some notes I took while stationed at West Point. The original manual was loaned from the Library to the Armourer Corp of Cadets. I can not seem to find any drawings for the cassons or forge body but they were available.
   Myke - Friday, 06/20/03 23:21:25 GMT

Newly returned from Scotland. Saw some castles, lots of ironwork, and visited the renowned Edward Martin, now retired. He is in the small village of Closebutn and gave me and my traveling companions a tour of the surrounding countryside. His decorative iron is in the churches and Robert Burn's farmhouse. Mr. Martin has been to numerous "horseshoeing clinics" in the states. He is a consumate expert in the forging of draft horse shoes. He is an all-round smith and received a gold medal in 2000 from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in London. I believe only three such medals have been awarded in the last 100 years. His medal states that he is a "Supreme Master Blacksmith". Wow!

I saw two castle gates on the Isle of Skye probably dating from 1500 or so. They were 6 feet wide by 3' 8" tall and had threaded construction [bars through slit-chiseled and drifted swellings]. One of these gates at Eilan Donan Castle was found in a well in 1883, then restored and reinstalled.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/20/03 23:41:43 GMT

The village is Closeburn. Robert Burns country.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/20/03 23:44:12 GMT


I've seen the drawings and have a set coming in. But I've not seen the specs that you had. (NOT doubthing them, just haven't seen them before.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/20/03 23:49:12 GMT


Glad to have you back and I hope you took LOTS of pictures and will do an article for the news for the guru.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/20/03 23:49:54 GMT


If this can help relocate it...my biblography lists it as.

Mordecai, Maj. A., comp.: "The Ordinace Manual for the use of Officers of the United States Army." Confederate edn. Charleston, SC. 1861, pp. xx-475. 19pls. It was mostly a reprint from the Ordanance Manual, US. 1840

I wish I could give you more.
   Myke - Friday, 06/20/03 23:57:34 GMT


I can't find any information about the pub at the TRADOC site, you wouldn't happen to have an ISBN, would you?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 00:20:04 GMT

Sorry, that is all I have on the book. I was more interested in the cannon limbers than forges at the time. If I remember correctly it was an original on loan from the Library of Congress.
   Myke - Saturday, 06/21/03 00:32:39 GMT

Maybe I can find it at the LOC then, Thanks for the help!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 00:50:32 GMT


I looked on the LOC site, and could not find that particular book. But there is another with simular page and plate counts. LCCN 10018730

Happy hunting
   Myke - Saturday, 06/21/03 01:26:48 GMT

Quench , regarding the mold, these are more common than you might believe, the injection plastic business quite often tosses molds like this as the products produced with them finish their life cycle. how many 500lb door stops can one machine shop use?, lol. If they truly would make a good striking surface, I would recomend checking out tool and die shops and injection molders.
   habu - Saturday, 06/21/03 01:27:34 GMT


Got it! I'll see if I can get it on ILL. Thanks!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 01:35:35 GMT

Gurus, forgive me if this question is a repeat of earlier activity, I am computer phobic, hate to look at achives, and really am adverse to reading all the good stuff here due to the mentioned phobia:

The Question is on sizing post vices. They are classified by weight, 50 and 70 lbs being the most common. There are those amoung us prols who classified them by approximate jaw width 50# being about 4 inches, 70# about 5. The question (get to it boy) is: are there any other sizes, is there a 90#'er at about say 6 inches?
   - Tim (Steampunk) - Saturday, 06/21/03 01:52:04 GMT

my 6.5" jawed monster comes in at 122# but..... I have had in my paws at one time a 6" that wieghed in at a very svelte 83# the jaws were very slender and seemed more suited to finer work I always felt uncomfortable wailing on it ...but it found a good home in a silver smiths shop in exchange for pressy's for She Who Must Be Obeyed :)
   Mark P - Saturday, 06/21/03 02:26:15 GMT

How is a gong made? Is it like a BIG cymbal? What makes those ridges in a cymbal? Seriously, someday I'd like to have one, but I don't know if it can be made with a big sheet of brass.
Thanks for any help.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 06/21/03 03:45:04 GMT

Vise Sizes: Tim, Generally they are proportionaly the same among one manufacturer but there was no standard. Weight is the only true designation because jaw widths on two different makers 50 pound vise may differ half an inch and the jaws were the same for several different weights in a manufacturer's line. I have at two old catalogs (1899 and 1930) that list a size number that coresponds with weight. The sizes were 35 to 200 in 5 pound increments to 100 pounds and 10 pound increments from 100 to 200. Jaw widths increment at about 1/4" per size BUT often are the same for a range of sizes. From 70 pounds to 95 pounds the jaws only change from 5.25" to 5.75". A #200 has 8" jaws.

American made blacksmiths vises often have the size/weight marked on them. This is most often found on the drop forged bench bracket. Those that had hand forged brackets such as most English vises had no size markings that I have seen.

The 1930 Catalog only listed 6 sizes covering the range above and specificaly indicates that the size approximately equals weight in pounds. These vises were so much a standard comodity that they are only listed as "solid box blacksmith vises", while in the same catalog numerous machinists bench and chipping vises are being sold under numerous famous brand names (Prentiss, Rock Island, Columbian).

I had one of the larger blacksmith vises for a short time (traded for it and then traded it off again) that had aproximately 8" jaws and weighed over 200 pounds. I never did weigh it to be sure. I have also seen one that had 10" jaws. The proportions on these big vises look peculiar because the arms are so long and heavy they nearly reach the foot. Where a 50 or 70 pound vise has about a 20" long leg a 200 pounder has an 8" leg. The entire jaw and arm assembly is scaled up but the total length of all these vises is about 40".

Solid Box vises started at little clock and watchmakers hand models called a "tail vise" tightened with a wing nut. The part that is the leg on larger vises was a nicely forged handle on these miniture vises with 1/2" ans 1 wide jaws. As they become bigger the arms of the jaws become the handle. Bench models had either a sliding screw handle or a nut and wrench.

There are also "wagon" vises and hand screw attached bench models. All in the same standard English style. The style of these vises was perfected early like the shape of the violin and stayed the same for over one hundred years. I wish they would continue to make them in the same classic style instead of these awful "modern" designs. Even the sliding arm bench vise makers had enough sense to copy as much of the style of the old vises as they could.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 04:26:39 GMT

Gongs: Jim, There are gongs and there are gongs. The big circular type are made of brass or bronze. Those made in the East are made of special alloys that contain many metals largely for symbolic reasons. However the general balance work hardens which is necessary to have a good sound.

Old gongs were made entirely by hammering. Modern gongs and cymbals are made by spinning which is what leaves those ridges. Good cymbals and gongs that are spun are also hammered to tune them.

Spinning is done on a lathe. The metal is clamped against a wooden form and then shaped by pressing a tool by hand against the metal as it turns. This stretches or compresses the metal as needed. Metal spinning is used to make all kinds of things. Pewter dishes, stainless cooking bowls and laboratory equipment.

Bell or cylinder gongs are made of cast bronze or iron. Old welding cylinders make wonderful full sounding gongs.

Pete-F is our resident cymbal maker. He used to have a business making finger cymbals. He may have some advise for you. My suggestion is to start small and work up.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 04:59:50 GMT

Mike McGinty ViseVise ID? Mike McGinty sent this photo in trying to identify this vise (type or brand).

Must be vise week. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 05:49:08 GMT

Gongs, as traditionally made, are deceptively complex for something that looks like a round disk.
They are carefully tapered in stages, which is what makes the stepped decay in sound. As the vibrating energy level fades, they drop from one harmonic to the next. In order to sound right, the harmonics must all agree .
The higher pitches tend to radiate from the center, the lowest pitch tends to be an edge wave.
A gong is just a thin, flatish, bell. Like a bell, the center is tallest and the dish flexes concentrically, in circular waves with separate harmonics forming rings of vibration shaped like the zones of a target.
Generally speaking, thicker or smaller radius or harder = higher pitch...and thinner or larger radius or softer, drop the pitch.
Radial symmetry is important...in thickness,diameter and work hardness. Cracks, cold shuts and laps damp sound, as do most suspension methods. Locate the null points to attach the suspension.
If you aren't fussy about sound quality, then a steel or brass/bronze disk, dished a bit, has a fair chance of working. Either stretch the center or shrink the edge working in circular courses,using even, slightly overlapping blows. Work towards the edge shrinking..towards the center stretching. If the sound is poor, try trimming the edge till your harmonics conflict less.
A simple disk of steel, cut with a torch will shrink around the edge from the cutting heat and sometimes sound pretty good. A fat bead of braising rod will shrink the edge even more for improved sound...most trys. I called these "Goines" ; my occidental imitation of a fine oriental product. They were my bread and butter item for years at the R P faires.
GONG!!....mmm, must be the signal to shut up..g'nite
   Pete F - Saturday, 06/21/03 07:22:07 GMT

It must be copper nickel day.

I picked up some "stainless" tubing and wire mesh from the scrap guy on Thursday. (along with a military 6 by 6 for some reason grin) I wanted to tig the wire mesh to the tubing for some mosquito coil holders. The 4.5" od by .109 wall tubing conducted heat much more than typical 300 series stainless and was very soft in comparison. Got it to weld, but it was a fight and the heat required threw me off. The tubing turned out to be 70/30 copper nickel. Twas a real dance to get the copper nickel puddle and not melt the thin stainless wires from the mesh back to oblivion.

Wish I would have read the little blue lettering on the side under the mud before working on a slice or two.

Seems like it would make a good coin metal.

   - Tony - Saturday, 06/21/03 11:35:38 GMT

Vise: Mike McGinty, Years ago,I got a vise like that pictured sans handle, and it has been sitting around my "gonna fixit" pile. It is cast iron, has a 3" jaw width. The only marking is a raised numeral "8" on top of the movable jaw. It came with a coil spring around the screw.

In my 1894 catalog, the leg vise weight and jaw width are listed thusly, and I believe they are referring to the Peter Wrights. I'm going to type this table; I think it's called avoidance behavior.

English Solid Box Vises
Weight Jaw
30 3.5
35 3.75
40 4
45 4.25
50 4.5
55 4.75
60 5
65 5
70 5.25
75 5.25
80 5.5
85 5.5
90 5.75
95 5.75
Weight Jaw
100 6
110 6
120 6.5
130 6.5
140 7
150 7
160 7.25
170 7.25
180 7.5
190 NA
200 8
Weight in Pounds Jaw width in inches.

As Jock pointed out, there are going to be variations, even by the same manufacturer. For example, I saw in Scotland a Peter Wright vise that had a 6 7/8" jaw and a 20" long spring. The legs had a very slight chamfer. I have one with the same jaw width and a 17" spring. The chamfering is much more pronounced.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/21/03 12:34:25 GMT

Thanks for the gong tips! It sounds as though I could spend a lifetime learning to make one properly. I think I'll just buy one or stick with the oxy tank bell (already have several). Got the idea from a book "sound design" from Lindsay publications.
   Jim Donahue - Saturday, 06/21/03 12:57:42 GMT

In the book "Firearms, Traps & Tools of the Mountain Men", by Carl P Russell,University of New Mexico Press, he gives an extensive inventory of the tools and equipment for John Jacob Astors settlement on the Columbia River 1812-1813. It is 3 pages long so I will not reproduce it here. The book was published in 1967 and may be out of print.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/21/03 14:22:40 GMT

QC, got an ISBN?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 14:53:16 GMT

That is a good book. It was reprinted as late as 1983. ISBN 0-8263-1465-6 or LCCN 77-81984
   Myke - Saturday, 06/21/03 16:24:46 GMT

To any and all who are familiar with K-WOOL, I'm planning to build a propane knifemakers forge, I want to use a small gas bottle for the body, lined with K-WOOL. Q: Is it better to keep the K-WOOL fluffy or compact with muliple layers? Also want to cut off the bottom of the bottle and keep the valve end for the burner, laid on its side of course. is this feeseable?
   - JEFF. - Saturday, 06/21/03 16:25:54 GMT

I've got a champion forge blower patented in 1902. everything is in good working order. I've found it in my old barn at a place I've just recently purchased. Now that I've found it I would like to learn more about some of the blacksmith's trade and maybe what I need to do to restore this peace. Also is there any value to this peace. I've got lots more stuff that maybe goes with it including an anvil. It's pretty cool to run across antique stuff like this. If you can help me please do.
   chris - Saturday, 06/21/03 16:29:29 GMT

European Bells: The familiar bell shape with a flared bottom rounding downward is not just an artistic shape. It is an attempt to take the higher frequency sound at the smaller top portion and have a sympathetic or harmonizing frequency at the bottom while damping out the inharmonic vibrations. When you have a primary vibration of 512 cps then 256 and 128 will harmonize since they coincide every so often. Other ratios such as thirds and fifths are common in Western music so they sound "right" to our ear that is accustomed to Western music. The European developed bells are made to fit in this scheme that we are familiar with.

Eastern music has different prefered ratios. Things that our ear says are "out of tune" are perfect in these other musical systems. Eastern temple bells are relatively straight sided and are made to reinforce those secondary vibrations that WE try to cancel out in Western bell designs. That is why welding cylinder "gongs" have that Easter sound (to our ears).

Jim, you are right that it takes a lifetime of intense study. So you had better start NOW! ;)

   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 16:37:29 GMT

Frank, I practiced a little avoidance behavior myself and reformated your data into a nice table.

This information was the same as my 1899 Carey Machinery catalog. There was also a nice engraving which showed the old style bench bracket that gracefully forged rather than the later drop forged versions. The 1930 catalog had only 6 sizes and the engraving showed a Columbian Vise Mfg Co. tradmark on the vise. The bracket was a later dropped forged type with a U=bolt rather than the strap and wedges attachment. The sizes given were the same as the English vises.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:30:35 GMT

Old Blower Value: Chris, Blacksmithing equipment that is over 200 years old is in daily use in shops world wide. Shops do use modern equipment but all the old tools are also in use in the same modernized shops.

Hand crank blowers are no longer made in the US and there is only one English manufacturer. They are sought after by folks that want either old-timey forges, period forges or don't have or want electric blowers on their forges. Prices range from $75 to $300 for blowers in good condition. Good used anvils sell for around $2 to $3/pound US depending on the quality and condition.

You have had a rather good piece of luck that many would b smiths dream of.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:36:20 GMT


That's what I needed, 10Q.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:44:07 GMT


Is there a typo in the ISBN? I'm getting an "Invalid ISBN" when I try to search for it.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:47:49 GMT

you are right try this one. 0-8263-0465-6
   Myke - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:50:31 GMT

PPW, LOC Catalog card number 77-81984, ISBN Number 0-8263-0465-6. Just noticed it was reprinted by Alfred Knopf, Inc. in 1977. Very interesting book if you are into Buckskinning.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/21/03 17:58:04 GMT

Chris, wanna sell the barn? Grin.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/21/03 18:00:23 GMT

Kaowool: Jeff, We sell Kaowool and the ITC-100 to coat it. I have built several melting furnaces with it and plan to build a small forge soon (probably from an old propane bottle).

Normally the kaowool fluffs up as much as 50%. It does not hurt to compress it back to its nominal thickness. The tighter you compress it the lower the insulating value due to thinner insulation. A little compression does not hurt as long as you maintain a good thickness.

For durability and reducing dust (see the warning label) we highly recommend ITC-100 coating on the Kaowool.

Normally you want the burner to come in from the side or top of a gas forge. You do no want it blowing forward. This will reduce the heating inside the forge AND blow more exhaust out the door/front. Single burners are mounted slightly toward the back and at a 30 to 90 degree angle from vertical. It is also beneficial to have the burner tangent to the inside surface of the forge so that the fire circulates in a spiral across the surface and toward the center. This keeps the burning gas in the forge longer makes better use of the heat. However, many commercial forges have the burners mounted from the top center. The burners have a turn or angle in them to prevent heat traveling up the burner.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/21/03 18:32:30 GMT

Myke, Found it through ABE Books for $8.50 plus S&H of $4.50. Ordered it. Thanks for the help!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/21/03 20:54:22 GMT

I just visited the ABANA website to check on the journeyman standards. I can do all of the skills mentioned except oxy-acet. welding / cutting and spinning (sheet metal shaping on a lathe).

And forging a square cornered 90 deg bend. I tried to do one on Friday but it was a mess. Any tips?

The next step up from a journeyman smith is a master smith. How does one become a master smith? What is the standard for becoming a master smith? Is there any institution where one can do the appropriate trade tests?


   Tiaan - Saturday, 06/21/03 21:26:27 GMT

Tiaan, The 90º corner bend or "upset bend" is covered pretty well in the Rural Development Commission [formerly COSIRA] book, "The Blacksmith's Craft" out of London, England. Francis Whitaker used to make about a 100º bend, quench and pour water to localize the heat and use drawing or friction blows directed toward the outside corner. Finally, little by little and with repeated heats, you turn it into a right angle. Sometimes, trapping one leg of the bend in the vise and drawing toward the outside corner will help.

I'm not sure about this "master smith" designation. Sometimes a master was just the entrepreneur, the shop owner. He may have been Captain Cob Job, but he owned the business. To my way of thinking, a journeyman is an accomplished smith. However, in Germany, it is more formal and technical. A journeyman is still in training, wears a special suit of clothing, and journeys from shop to shop to learn the trade. And I understand that when a German makes his "masterpiece", it is termed in German a "journeyman's piece" [gesellstück].

I'm still confused. Maybe others will respond.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/21/03 23:17:53 GMT


It looks like I owe you an apology. The previous info on equiping a field forge was lifted directly from Carl Russel's book, "Firearms, Traps, and Tools of the Mountainmen." page 376. That was careless and irresponsible of me, and I am sorry. I do believe that the Full info can be found in the source at LOC. LCCN 10018730 "The Ordnance manual for Officers of the United States Army." Richmand 1861.

   Myke - Sunday, 06/22/03 01:42:00 GMT

I have been looking for a post drill for a while and I finally found one today that seems to be in excellent condition with all the parts there. It is a Little Giant drill made by some company in Maine( didn't read all the info plate) The drill is a heavy one that weights about 120 lbs and is well made. My question is: How do you operate a post drill? I know you can't tell me exactly how to operate this particular one without seeing it, but maybe some general tips. I have seen many different post drills in various blacksmith shops, but I don't recall ever seeing one in operation. Any info is appreciated.Thanks, MIke
   - Mike - Sunday, 06/22/03 01:42:47 GMT


I'm not being a smarta$$ when I say put a drill bit in the chuck and crank away. That's really about all there is to it. Of course, you'll need to replace the "blacksmith" chuck with a Jacobs chuck on a morse taper, but that's relatively simple. Or if you can find a set of "blacksmith drill bits", you can use them and avoid changing the chuck. But they are mighty hard to find.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 01:50:34 GMT

Camp Fenby Information Posted


This is the Longship Company's and Markland's rather laid-back medieval arts and crafts camp. Civilian clothes are perfectly acceptable, and both modern and medieval tools and equipment will be utilized. Jock will be running brass casting demonstrations, and a number of metal, cooking, pottery and fiber oriented activities are planned.

We're hoping for cool, dry weather to solidify some of the ground, but we have lots of barn space for activites and the crab feast on Saturday night.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 06/22/03 03:06:33 GMT


Bah! Humbug! I think you deliberately chose the last weekend in June so I couldn't be there! (jocking grin) All right, just for that you can't use the ultimate forge that weekend! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 03:23:35 GMT

Nickle Silver
Guru and helper gurus...I recently finished a knife for a customer using D2. He liked to color of some nickle silver I had on hand and wanted that for the bolster (I mostly use brass). I had a difficult time getting the solder (Stay Brite from a knife supplier) to flow. I cleaned blade and bolster material with acetone. Twice the nickle silver fell off when I removed the clamp. The third time i cleaned the blade and used a weak acid pickle on the bolster in addition to acetone and finially got the solder to flow. A couple whacks with a mallet assured me that the solder joint was strong. Am I missing something about soldering Ni/Sil or is it usually that difficult? I have never had any problems soldering brass using the same solder and flux.
   R Guess - Sunday, 06/22/03 04:12:03 GMT

What you have found is an invitation to blacksmithing...with a good head start...you win!
Here at Anvilfire, there is a good part of an education in blacksmithing, tucked away in it's pages.
I spent years trying to reinvent the information that is accessable here.
Find the good Guru's "Getting Started" page first. Also, consider
Blacksmithing books, there are a number of good ones....and
Your local blacksmith's assn. They are all over and many are listed at Anvilfire.
   Pete F - Sunday, 06/22/03 06:34:24 GMT

I am a bit late on the vise thread, being downunder and not logging on last night, but want to add a bit. I have a 1912 catalog with vise sizes and prices in it. BTW they are called "staple vises", and could be obtained in 4" (50 lb)to 7" (140 lb) jaws. The price was a princely 5 pence per pound! That's 5 cents in today's money and 100 of them will get me about 66 cents of your money. (The price of forged steel anvils would make you cry!)
   Big A - Sunday, 06/22/03 10:08:52 GMT

Guru, I am getting very close buying a new anvil to replace my Russian anvil. There are very few used anvils for sale in Texas so I have decided to go with a new one. I am looking closely at the 165# Czech anvil. Having read the Guru Pages every day for the last 18 mos., I am aware that cast anvils are not quite as rugged as the forged versions but a Peddinghaus is just not in the budget. This just a hobby for me so I will not be using it every day, just on weekends. Any comments or suggestions?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 13:13:38 GMT


Hang on for a while. Trust me.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 13:50:53 GMT

PPW, I would trust you with my check book and house keys. However, the value of the Euro against the dollar is going up and that means the price of European goods will go up. I am not going to buy it tomorrow but it would not be wise to wait too long. Keep me posted on whatever it is I am wainting on!
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 14:25:02 GMT

QC, Are you a member of CSI? I think you are. Read the forum.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 14:35:21 GMT

I looked at the Euroanvils at the Madison blacksmith conference and they sure looked good. In fact, the fellow selling them sold all that he had. One of the guys in our local blacksmith guild bought one and he really likes it. You could buy a new 165 lb. anvil cheaper than the old worn out anvils were going for. I'm saving up to buy one too. Mike
   - Mike - Sunday, 06/22/03 14:42:00 GMT

I would appreciate any opinions on a minimum tool set if one intends to only forge knives and 'smithing will be limited to that alone. I have an anvil and basic forge but lack any sort of blower or hand tools of any kind. Thanks!!
   Tom - Sunday, 06/22/03 14:47:00 GMT

Question for Guru et.al.: I'm in the process of making some large (8-11 inches) blades from old files. The blades have turned out well, and I need to know, what kind of heat treating if any, do I need to do?
   Weary - Sunday, 06/22/03 14:47:55 GMT

Drilling: Mike, Paw-paw has a wonderful hand crank drill on his museum's forge trailer that I built but he never uses it. . . ;)

First there IS the matter of bits. Most of the old drills had a 1/2" hole for the chuck and blacksmith bits all had 1/2" shanks. Blacksmith bits were made up into the 1950's but I have never seen ONE much less a set. They are no longer made so any set probably is missing the small ones that break easily. So you have TWO options.

The hard (but cheap) way is to make a set of bushings to hold various size drills. This requires a small lathe to drill all the holes dead true. For each size drill a hole 1/32" or 1/64" undersize and then bore to size with the drill to fit. Each bushing will then need to be drilled and taped from the side for a small (10-32) set screw. A flat should be cut to match the set screw position in the drill spindle. The larger drills (near 1/2") will need a variation since the wall is too thin for a screw, make the bushing and then grind a flat that includes the drill shank. These bushings can be made of 1/2" CF steel bar.

The easy way is to fit a new Jacobs chuck. You can order chucks and 1/2" shanl arbors to fit. Standard Jacobs chucks come without a shank and have a short tapered hole (a Jacobs taper). You want a "Jacobs Plain Bearing Drill Chuck - Heavy Duty". Model 34-33 (or 34-6) is 0 to 1/2" and a straight shank arbor to fit. ($75 + $12). McMaster-Carr stocks both.

  • Oil the machine.
  • Align the drill bit to a center punch mark in the work.
  • Adjust the feed handwheel until the drill touches the work.

  • Preload the feed. (about 1/2 turn on most drills but it could be more if the work is on a wood block).
  • Oil the end of the bit and work.
  • Engage the feed dog.
  • Start cranking while holding the work with your other hand*.
  • If the bit doesn't start cutting immediately then add to the preload. Drill bits that are not cutting are getting hot and worn. So keep the bit cutting.

* Small work should be clamped to the drill table. Long work can be hand held. The purpose of the automatic feed is so that you can crank and hold the work at the same time. For round work a V-block is very helpful. The best for drilling is a hardwood V-block. This holds the work and when the drill breaks through it is not damaged. For other work holding methods see our iForge demo #118 "Drill Press 101 - Furniture". NOTE that old hand crank drills had small tables that C-clmaps work on OK but regular drilling table furniture works fine if it is scaled to the particular table.

Oiling the bit makes drills last much longer by keeping them cool and lubricating the sliding surfaces. Thin oil like WD-40 works well if you keep reapplying it. Regular 30 weight works fine too but does not cool like a thinner oil that evaporates.

The preload is very important. The automatic feed on these drills will keep up with the chips but does not create initial cutting pressure. It is very important that a drill start cutting and continue cutting. Otherwise is is just rubbing the work which creates work hardened surfaces that wear the drill. When you try to cut through the work hardened surface it takes excessive pressure which is also hard on the drill bit as well as your nerves.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/22/03 15:21:20 GMT

Big A, Thanks for the note on "staple" vises. I had heard them called that before.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/22/03 15:29:59 GMT

"Post" Drill Bits; Don't forget the Silver & Deming style bits with the 1/2" shanks, from 1/2" diameter on up. available at most machinists' supply sources.
   - 3dogs - Sunday, 06/22/03 15:50:52 GMT

Minimum Tooling: Tom, "Minimum" and "Tooling" in the same sentence make an oxymoron. . .

The absolute minimum is anvil, hammer, tongs and forge and files. Finding the right size hammer for YOU is probably the most important. For the occassional smith a 2 pound hammer is much better than a four pound hammer. The big hammer takes more strength so it is harder to control. For most small forging control is more important than power.

For blade work you can get away with just a few pairs of tongs that fit the work you do. Over time you will find that there you will want to customize tongs of every shape and condition in order to keep good control of the work.

If you are going to do a lot of blade work a gas forge is probably better than a coal forge. An electric blower is always better than hand powered unless you don't have electicity. If you are going to do your own heat treating a temperature controlled furnace (gas or electric) or a salt pot is an important piece of equipment.

Files are important to have on a tool list because you will need a varity of sizes and they are NOT cheap. At $10 each a dozen files is a significant investment. They also wear out and must be replaced regularly. Many bladesmiths have substituted much filing with belt sanders. This is faster and cheaper in the long run. But you will still need those files. You just won't wear them out so often if you have other choices.

In modern bladesmithing a lot of machinery is used. Grinding machinery is some of the most important because it is both expensive and heavily used. Stock removal folks use nothing but grinders BUT those forging laminated steel (Damascus) remove almost as much metal as in stock removal if not more. Bladesmiths end up with numerous belt grinders in their shops. Combination machines with contact wheels, heavy vertical units and open belt machines to name a few. Even in the middle ages grinding was a very important part of the process. A good belt grinder is often a bladesmiths first major equipment investment.

Then there is the buffing setups. Most folks end up with two or three stations with pairs of wheels with different compound and wheel hardness. Different compound is used on brass, steel and stainless. After changing wheels a few times you quickly learn that more machines are cheaper.

Other machines include a drill press for pin and rivet holes. No, you cannot make critical holes with a hand drill. But you CAN do it with a primitive beam drill and brace. Drill presses are also used for spinning rivets. However NEVER try to use one as an arbor press.

If you are doing any quantity of work you need cutoff tools. Either a saw (prefered) or a "chop saw" (abrasive cutoff wheel). Some of the convertable band saws can be used to do the minimal curves for making stock removal blanks. But these machines are NOT suitable for regular use cutting curves.

Laminated steel or Damascus can be made by hand but it is VERY labor intensive. You will want a power hammer, hydraulic press or rolling mill. A McDonald rolling mill (see our book review page) is the most efficient machine but it does not replace a power hammer. However a rolling mill CAN be the only forging machine in a bladesmithing operation. They are quite and low horsepower. If all you need to do is draw out billets then this is THE machine for you.

Most custom bladesmiths silver solder guards onto blades as well as other parts. This requires at a minimum a small oxy-acetylene setup and the skills to use it.

Then there is heat treating as mentioned above. Blueing or blacking and somtimes plating is also done by bladsmiths.

As I noted at the top, minimum is an oxymoron when it comes to tooling.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/22/03 16:05:09 GMT

Blades from Files: Weary, All high carbon steels need to be heattreated. This is especially true after forging but is also required say when converting a file (full hard) by stock removal to a knife which needs to be springy as well as hard. Since you do not know exactly what kind of steel you have then experimentation is required.

See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/22/03 16:10:53 GMT

Thanks for the posr drill info. I am going to get it mounted and try it out. Looks like fun!
   - Mike - Sunday, 06/22/03 16:55:07 GMT


FYI: Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) is not a member of the European Union and does not use the euro currency. They use the "Korun". Might go up, might go down. Their relation to the Euro is probably similar to Mexico's relation to the U.S. dollar (nada). One less thing to worry about!
   - grant - Sunday, 06/22/03 17:18:28 GMT


I don't know where you are in Texas, but out here in the Pineywood I find decent used anvils often enough. I just picked up a 153lb Peter Wright for 220.00 at a farm sale. Come to think of it; I have a 128 lb. William Foster I could let go of. If you are interestd.
   Myke - Sunday, 06/22/03 19:01:36 GMT


Be patient a little longer and you can get what you want one way or another. Just trust PawPaw when he says wait...
   Myke - Sunday, 06/22/03 19:10:40 GMT


General Announcement:

I'm not free to give all the details yet, but if you are not already registered for the anvifire auction, I *STRONGLY* advise everyone to do so.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 19:36:06 GMT

PPW, I want to register for the auction. How do I do that?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 21:19:59 GMT

Myke, I am in Longview, the north end of the Piney Woods. Send me an e-mail with details.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 21:21:11 GMT

QC, go to the auction site (pull down menu) and follow the instructions.
   - Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/22/03 21:45:40 GMT

PPW, No link to the auction site on my screen. CSI members only?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 22:40:29 GMT

Hey guys,
I was recently offered a job to remove 2"x2"x18" solid bar stock from inside giant pink granite stones that were once part of Union Station in St. Louis. There are 30 of them and I would get them for free. They used to be anchors for a huge (forged? cast?) railing system placed about 100 years ago.
The kicker is that each one is embeded in what looks like would be a half gallon of molten lead. I'm thinking about using a oxy/ac torch on one side and propane blowtorch on the other, as the stock goes all the way through. I would then pound with a sledge when some lead pours out.
A couple questions:
Is this worth it?
Would steel this old have properties that would make it undesirable to forge with? (given it isn't cast)
Would melting lead this old be harmful even with respirator cartridges?
   Nick - Sunday, 06/22/03 23:13:17 GMT


I live just north of Linden in Cass Co.

Sorry, but I have tossed Outlook express from my computer. In short I can't pull your e-mail. Please e-mail me at HawgRifleMyke at Moonshinehollow and don't forget to dot that com
   Myke - Sunday, 06/22/03 23:28:14 GMT

Nick, Better check with OSHA regarding the control of fumes. Just a thought but could you resistance heat the bars? I have doubts that you could get the heat far enough in to loosen the bars from the lead using O/A or propane.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/22/03 23:31:20 GMT

Thanks for the input. Could you explain "resistance heat" though?
   Nick - Sunday, 06/22/03 23:41:51 GMT

QC, no. Check the pull down menu. I think it's on all the screens now.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 00:01:42 GMT

QC, if Nick heated the bar direct, just above the back fill, wouldnt the lead melt out? Using a rose bud?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 00:03:39 GMT

Nick at that age it's probably not steel, thought it might be. But I would suspect that it is more likely to be wrought iron, and is definitely worth the effort to salvage it.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 00:05:13 GMT

Hi, I would like to begin blacksmithing and later advance to bladesmithing. I was wondering how I should aproach this. I am from Manchester, New Hampshire. If anyone can help me out it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
   Nick - Monday, 06/23/03 00:31:45 GMT

QC, looks like MOE4 is backed up again. But I also have a box (same name) on hotmail
   Myke - Monday, 06/23/03 01:00:30 GMT


Start by clicking ont the Getting Started in Blacksmithing link at the bottom of the page.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 01:12:15 GMT

haha, Yea, I just saw that. Sorry about wasting space.
   Nick - Monday, 06/23/03 01:25:22 GMT

Nick, no problem. At least you have your priorities in the right order. Bladesmithing is more complicated (in some ways) than blacksmithing. So learn the blacksmithing first and the blade smithing will follow if you want it to.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 01:43:35 GMT

i've found an old vice i'm interested in buying but need help. it's similar to mike mcginty's - pictured yesterday the 21st. this one has a small anvil - face size approx. 3"x4" on the back and the spring is vertical. it has no leg, but a hole in front where a leg would go.(i think) does this sound like a leg vice? if so, what would be best to use as a leg and can it be wedged in or does it need to be welded? hope that's enough info. thanks for any help.
   lisa - Monday, 06/23/03 02:24:16 GMT

Lisa, would be better able to help you with a picture.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/23/03 02:25:52 GMT

I've been trying to weld up a tomahawk head from a folded horseshoe rasp. I've cut the rasp, bent it over and put the third piece in the end of the blade. When trying to weld, however, I get a good weld connecting the center piece to one side, and can't for the life of me get the other side to weld up to the center. I'm using a forgemaster single burner forge that's supposed to get up to welding heat, but so far, no go. Any ideas?

   MIlt Solberg - Monday, 06/23/03 02:31:51 GMT

Nick, if you don't care about the granite blocks you could conceivably build a big wood or charcoal fire around them... preferably over something to catch the lead. Might be easier and cheaper than using O-A or resistance heating.

Sunny and hot as I bust my fingernails building my anvil stand in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Monday, 06/23/03 02:51:33 GMT

Leaded Anchors Nick, This is one of those jobs that can get you in the national news. "Worker contaminates downtown St. Louis with vaporized lead. . ".

Heating lead in a big heatsink is hard to melt. You end up vaporizing a lot of it. Spilled lead spatters and makes both visible and microscopic dust. I suspect whoever offered you the job was hoping to get someone that didn't know better to just come in a do the job and let the fallout come later. If this is on some back lot somewhere you might get away with it but the ground may end up contaminated with lead. If the EPA finds out there is not enough money in the world to fix it. If it is in a public place it could be a disaster before you even start.

Things like this get done every day. But don't get caught.

The anchors MAY be wrought iron or they may be mild steel. If steel they are not worth the effort. If wrought they are worth a little. But the big cost is removing and disposing of the lead.

I would look at some way to do the job mechanicaly. Drill and tap a (very) large hole in the end of the blocks and then pull them out with a hydraulic jack. They make hollow cylinders to use with port-a-power systems for this kind of thing. This would require some fixturing, a heavy duty mag-base drill press plus the jack and pump.

If the job is in a public place plan on putting a tent over the work area. Pull the parts, extract the lead, and plug the holes before you move on. If you do it in plain view the first busy-body that recognizes lead and you are in big trouble. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 02:52:35 GMT

Leg Vise Lisa, There are pictures of two toward the top of this weeks postings. Would have to see a good picture of the one you are looking at to know about the leg.
There were thousands of patent and special design vises made over the years. They are all different and very little is known about any of them. My dad has an old vise with a tubular column and a univeraly adjustable bracket. Been in our shop since before I was born and I have never seen another like it. I have the pieces of a vise that has three sets of jaws that you could rotate verticaly for different uses. I bought it at an auction before I had a chance to look close and then found that the slide arm was broken in two and there had been an attempted repair. . . I've never seen another like Mikes but Frank says he has one too. LOTS of odd tools around. . .
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 02:59:48 GMT

Lisa, it's difficult to tell about the vise from your description. German vises have small block-like anvils integral with the fixed jaw. The leg would be extending below the location of the back, or fixed jaw box [the female screw "tube"]. The leg would be welded. Is the spring held by a flat U-shackle which in turn, is wedged to a mounting plate? Let your search engines look up leg or post vise, or tune in "blacksmith vise" at the eBay site, so you can look at some vises for comparison.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/23/03 03:25:11 GMT

Resistance heating would involve electric current passed throught the iron bars. The resistance of the bar to the passage of current would cause them to heat up, melting the lead without damage to the bar. However, thinking this idea up is the easy part. Designing a system that is functional and controllable is the trick, and I am not the person to do that.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/23/03 12:02:48 GMT

Guru, The auction registration form will not accept my password. I used "quenchcrack" as my user name and my password for the Pub, and then changed the password to see if it required a new one. Nothing worked. HELP!
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/23/03 12:12:50 GMT

I just wanted to share this link with everyone.


Our local paper did an article yesterday about the blacksmithing and woodworking program at the state park where I work. We portray 16th century English settlers and we're now in the process of building a half-timber framed shop to house our blacksmithing operation. Thanks, Chris W.
   Chris W. - Monday, 06/23/03 13:57:08 GMT

how experienced are you at forge welding?
Is this the first weld you've ever attempted, or do you know how to forgeweld and this piece is just being ornery?
Why are you putting a steel bit in a folded rasp?
Steel to steel welds are tricky w/o experience because the welding/burning temp is close to the same. Try using a lower carbon peice for the tomahawk body, and use the rasp as the bit. And the rest is practice, practice, practice...
   - JimG - Monday, 06/23/03 14:07:52 GMT

Auction registration not working here, either.Wassup?
   - 3dogs - Monday, 06/23/03 14:17:09 GMT

QC, I have registered you for the auction. Worked for me.

Everyone please note, the auction system sends you an e-mail that you MUST respond to for your registration to be activated. IF you do not recieve this e-mail then you either entered an incorrect address OR you or your company/host have spam filters set so that the mail cannot get through.

Also note that this is a seperate login system from our others. If you lose your password I can reset it but I cannot retrieve it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 14:20:17 GMT

I don't know if they're worth anything, but I probably can get some locomotive leaf springs. They measure 4" x 38" x 7/16". That's the biggest one, there's 5 in a stack. My guess is they're 50 or 60 lb each. I'm in the Knoxville area of East TN. The 7/16" is the same along the lenght, they don't taper. They can be had for scrap price, plus say 25% to make it worth more to the repair facility than the metal place would pay.
   Jim Donahue - Monday, 06/23/03 15:37:27 GMT

Jim, Spring steel varies from 60 to 95 point carbon. Some is plain carbon steel and some is alloy steel like 5160. All of it is useful for making tools.
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 15:41:30 GMT

Jim G.
First off thank you for the response.
Now, I'm not very experienced at blacksmithing and this is my first attempt at forge welding. I've made some small hooks, tool parts, and a couple of knife blades, but this is my first tomahawk. I'm following the directions I saw in an old article that said to "cut four or five inches off the tip of the rasp. Heat the larger part and make a bend in the middle, keeping the ends aligned. Place the piece you cut off into the fold so the ends align, and weld."

I'm assuming the reason for putting the piece into the fold is to provide more metal for widening out the cutting edge of the tomahawk. Without it, as you work the metal out to form the edge, it would get way too thin before you got the edge formed.

This has really got me buffaloed, as the first side welded up perfectly. No sign of the joint anywhere along the edge. The other side, just flat refuses to take, no matter what I try.

I've got some small hooks to finish for the wife this afternoon, and then I'll take up the tomahawk head again and give it another shot. If it still refuses to cooperate, maybe I'll put the whole project aside for a while and practice on some welds with just two pieces of metal to try to gain a further understanding of the process.

Again, thank you very much for the response and advice.
   MIlt Solberg - Monday, 06/23/03 15:43:40 GMT

Roundbar tongs....

I work at the forge in the local museum, and find myself doing lots of small demonstrations - hooks, bookends, bottleopeners. I'm an absolute beginner so am very happy to get rent-free forge space.

When holding 1/2" or 3/8" roundbar in tongs, the bar always rotates along its axis in the tongs. This happens much more often than I'd like - especially so becuase there are often people watching. Is it just a matter of shaping the tongs to each peice of stock and gripping it tight, or is there a better way of stopping that pesky roundbar from rotating ?
   roger - Monday, 06/23/03 15:44:57 GMT

Roger, Get a Grip! Use hollow bit tongs, the kind with the ends formed in a cylinder or a diagonal/square box. If you are already using these, heat the tong and move the jaws closer together. If the tongs were made for 1/2" and you are forging 1/4", you might need to make another set of tongs. I prefer the square jaw tongs to hold rounds because they will hold more different diamters than the round-jaw varieties.
Guru, thanks for the help on registering for the auction.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/23/03 16:37:18 GMT

Tongs: Roger, Tongs that fit well generally do not slip. However, light weight tongs that do not allow you to use a tight grip because they bend do not perform well.

I find that bolt tongs work best for round bar. These have an open space and then fitted jaws. Offset type are handiest because you can let the work extend back toward your grip. Those I have for 1/2" through 3/4" bar have 7/16" diameter reins about 28" long that can take a good grip. The long reins help give a tighter grip.

Tongs that have the jaws close to the hinge grip tighter BUT must fit better. You actualy need to allow for the spring in the jaws.

For hooks and such I have made special tongs that hold the hook end so that it cannot rotate. These have a central groove and then a horizontal groove (upside down "T") for the hook to fit into. The opposite jaw is flat.
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 16:39:18 GMT

Weld Failure: Milt, Once a weld fails and you reheat it the metal you often end up with burned metal or was burned to start with and that is why the weld failed. Later attempts to repair a failed weld almost always have problems.

When heating a part it is easy to get one side hotter than the other and either not have a welding heat on one side or to burn the other.

When welding a two sided weld it is also common for the anvil to cool the side resting on the anvil and there not being enough heat to weld. The experianced does not actually rest the joint on the anvil. It is held off the surface until the hammer blows force it against the anvil.

Another problem can be boiling off the flux. A part setting on the floor of a forge is cooler on the bottom and hotter on the exposed top. When the flux boils off the surface burns and will not weld.

To repair a failed weld you often need to open the joint and clean the metal with a file and wire brush. Then when you reheat, flux early and often.

There is a lot more that can wrong in a forge weld than go right. When they go right they seem absolutely simple. When they go wrong they can seem to be impossible.
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 17:05:14 GMT

I have an old anvil, that is in bad shape. Face is worn out, How would repair this?
   philip huff - Monday, 06/23/03 17:28:25 GMT

QC, I have the 165 lb Czech I bought from Steve at Euroanvils last year. I was walking to the restroom at Tannehill when his truck went by, riding low with anvils. Managed to hold long enough to see where he parked, took care of business, then went down and inspected the anvils. Bought one on the spot. (I had seen them on the web and read the forums. And tried out the double horn shape before.)

Really like this anvil. Only thing you might call regret is sometimes wondering if maybe I should've bought the 260-lb...

   Steve A - Monday, 06/23/03 18:13:40 GMT


Now that you've cleaned up the 50 Kilo Russian, maybe I should purchase it as comapany for my 100 K?

Actually, I'm looking for an inexpensive 70#-110# anvil for non-medieval demonstrations. I get tired of dismounting my 70# Mankel farrier every time I do a demo- Just too handy where it is in the shop.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/23/03 19:34:30 GMT

I would suggest you make chainlinks as your first welding practice, take a 10 inches of 3/8 round or square mild steel, scarf the ends, bend in to a linkshape and weld. hammer from one end to the other so you don't trap forge dirt, scale etc in. I start with light blows when welding and increase them as it cools. Then cut the link apart opposite the weld and straighten it out, if it fails look at it and see if you can figure out why.
Forgewelding is 90% mental and 10% technical.
I still am not sure on making the body of the hawk from a rasp, seems like a waste of steel to me. In most axe making I think the bit put between because steel was more expensive than iron. I like high carbon welded between mild because it lets me get the edge harder than I would dare if it was all highcarbon. When you are successful with your rasp bodied hawk becareful when heat treating or you could end up with a handful of peices.
Try heating your hawk up and opening it up and grinding the surfaces clean before welding.
Good luck,
I will now shut up and get out of the way of the Guru's.
   - JimG - Monday, 06/23/03 20:21:08 GMT

TONGS: Roger what I sometimes do is heat the end of the bar I will be holding and hammer it a bit flatter, just 2 or three whacks with te hammer, that should take care of the spinning.

Axes: Jim, as well as cheaper, iron is also much easyer to forge, and you ned only the edge to be sharp, the rest is mainly weight. Added bonus with weldin a steel strip in the end is that you can harden and anneal in one heat: bring to welding heat , then cool of the steel bit plus a bit of the rest in the slack-tub, file small bit of the edge clean, and wait for the heath to bleed back in the steel bit. As soon as it turns blue, quickly cool the whole axe.
   matthijs - Monday, 06/23/03 21:08:12 GMT

Rough Anvil Face: Philip, What do you consider worn out? And how old is the anvil? If the anvil is REALLY old then it may have antique value and welding up the face will ruin any value in that regard. If the face is only worn and has a few chisel marks then it is best to grind maybe 1/32" off the surface and then work around any marks that are left.

When an anvil needs serious repair (welding) then you need to know the type of anvil first. Old English anvils and early American anvils were made by forge welding a tool steel plate onto a wrought iron body. The steel was not very good but it was HARD. Preheat is necessary before welding then hard-face filler rod is used. Only the necessary repairs should be made not complete refacing. LOTS of grinding will be required to clean up. Other early American made anvils were cast iron with a tool steel face welded on IN THE MOLD. This is considered an impossible weld and if you do something to cause it to seperate then the anvil is junk. Welding on these can cause serious damage to the face joint. Only the most minimal repairs should be made. The last type of anvil is either cast or forged steel or all steel upper body. These require a careful preheat and a gentle post weld cool down.

No matter what you do when you weld on a tool steel part such as an anvil face you are going to end up creating hard and soft spots. There is also a chance of cracking which can range from fine surface cracks.

Anvils are a much more sophisticated tool than they appear. Do as little as possible when making repairs.
   - guru - Monday, 06/23/03 21:50:04 GMT

Tongs: if you have a welder then you can weld a piece of rebar onto the work for a temporary handle. Much quicker than making or even reworking tongs.
   adam - Monday, 06/23/03 23:07:35 GMT

Atli, I hope to put "The Toad" into semi-retirement soon. However, I will probably keep it for the same reason you want one. The 110# is just about right for demos. My 70# farrier anvil was just too light, but did have a more useable horn. I traded the farrier anvil for a good post vise, and bought a bick for now. Waiting to see what is in the auction and if I am not successful there, I think the Czech anvil is a likely candidate.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/23/03 23:15:16 GMT

how do i get a picture of the vise to you? can't find anything similar on e-bay, etc.
   lisa - Monday, 06/23/03 23:15:23 GMT


Take a picture and scan it would be the easiest way. Or take several pictures using a different view each time.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/24/03 00:02:23 GMT

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