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 24 - 30, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

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

Thanks for the advice on the granite/steel/lead issue. I think I'm going to decline the task of removing the steel and offer to call a proffesional or at least cap the exposed material some how. This is on private property, so my options are limited by the owner.

On lead, I agree so much. This is a nasty metal. In Missouri,lead mining is abundant, and has been for a long time. The towns that surround the mines (and depend on them as well) have some of the highest cases of cognative disabilities among children in North America. There's direct cause and effect data (and successful court cases) to prove a relationship betweeen the two.

Iron mining is an ugly business too, but I'll continue to forge and fab. with drop from the scrap yard. I don't think the steel industry depends on me that much.

   Nick - Tuesday, 06/24/03 01:07:41 GMT

Hoo-ey! I just got done with my first forging session on my new forge and anvil! My stainless-steel machine part anvil, The Duck, as I've christened it (you'd understand if you saw it) has excellent rebound. In fact, it's better than the Arm & Hammer (wrought iron + tool steel face) that my school has. My naturally-aspirated forge came up to heat in about three or four minutes, and I made my first pair of tongs (iForge demo 132) pretty easily, and started on a simple knife. Blacksmithing has another dedicated devotee!

Tired but wired in sunny Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 06/24/03 01:45:22 GMT

Guru...Jim G.
Thanks for the information guys. You've certainly given me a lot to think about and work with.

I'm fifty-six and got my forge a couple of years ago, mainly to make up some wood chisel shapes that I couldn't find commercially available. Well, one thing lead to another and since I've been interested in blades and tomahawks all my life it only seemed natural that I'd drift in that direction. I'd been feeling pretty cocky with the chisels and hangers and such I'd been making and when I ran into the problem making the tomahawk it pretty much put me in my place. Up until then, I figured I had this forge thing pretty much down pat. There's no fool like and old fool, I guess.

I'm sure glad this site is out there for guys like me to benefit from the experience of you gentlemen. I'm going to try some of the suggestions, opening the fold back up, cleaning etc, and also working with some chain link to get some more forge welding experience. I'll let you know how things work out.

Again...many thanks. You've saved me untold hours of aggravation.
   MIlt Solberg - Tuesday, 06/24/03 01:57:25 GMT


One of the things that helps keep Anvilfire afloat is membership in Cyber Smiths International. For the price of a cup of coffee a week. Think about it. If you're interested, click on the link at the bottom of the page.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/24/03 02:57:38 GMT


A few posts back you mentioned using a drill press to "spin" a rivet. What process is this, and what would you use it for?


   Jim F - Tuesday, 06/24/03 05:11:16 GMT

I don't see how you can avoid lead fumes when you eventually get to forge the stock.
Lisa; Hold out for a whole post vise.
Still working on the cam-lock upsetting tool...wonder if it will work?
Been a day of skinned knuckles and little burns. Always wonder if I'm missing a hint that a bigger injury is in the offing and it is time to cut weeds or do paperwork?
   Pete F - Tuesday, 06/24/03 06:44:16 GMT

Please send me some information about Padlock Shackle (MS) Forging. Is it possible to finish it without manual operation?
   Somashekar - Tuesday, 06/24/03 09:28:52 GMT

Milt Solberg, I don't make tomahawks out of rasps, but if you insist, and assuming you have a coal forge, the hottest part of a coal fire is underneath your workpiece. I usually take a lemon heat on one side, then turn the piece over to complete the welding heat. You're looking for a uniform, thorough heat. In any case, you should have at least two inches of coke on top of the piece to help eat oxygen and to act as a refractory.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/24/03 14:27:30 GMT

Odd Vise: Lisa, Got your photos. The hole in the bottom may just be a core/access hole. If it was threaded I'd say it was for a pipe leg but I see no other means of keeping a leg fixed in place. I tend to think that it is NOT for a leg since the vise is mounted so that it can be rotated at angles. This was a common theme in vises made in the 1940's and 50's and seems to be out of favor now. Fadish gimmicks tend to come and go then we get back to the basics again.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/24/03 14:49:54 GMT

Pete, sorry I haven't made your drawing about the locking angle. Takes some thought when used with a cam and I haven't done one in a few years.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/24/03 14:50:55 GMT

Spinning Rivets: This is commonly used on items where normal riveting forces would damage the parts being held together. It is used to assemble most pocket knives.

To spin a rivet you use a simple tool that looks like a round shanked rivet set that is chucked in the spindle of a drill press. The tool is gently applied to the rivet shank. The rotating tool forms the head by friction with a lot less pressure than upsetting.

I've never done this before but its described in various metalworking books and some knife making references.

Any time you see a low rivet head with concentric circular marks it is a spun rivet. Most knife markers polish out the marks but sometimes you can see them.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/24/03 15:04:57 GMT

Lead Issue: I don't like to sound alarmist on these issues but the public (and government) IS very excitable when it comes to lead, asbestoes and oil spills (even a few gallons).

Many folks cast everything from lead fishing weights to hammers in small shops. Most get away with it. But you don't have to spill much lead to get a contaminated soil report on selling a piece of property. . . Localy we had a fellow that innocently purchased a property that had manufactured auto battries several generations ago. For some reason there was a soil test done and he ended up fighting the EPA for years. His business was closed down several times and he spent a great deal of money on clean up. TWICE he did what the EPA recommended and TWICE the EPA said it was not enough. . . A real mess.

Asbestoes is a highly overrated hazzard that has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry removing it. But the problem IS that there is a much greater hazzard of fatalites due to workers having heart attacks or heat stroke while working in anti-contamination suits than from the asbestoes.

Americans are so brain washed on these issues that common sense no longer applies. So you must look at these things with an alarmist attitude because that is what OTHERS are going to do.

Lead IS a hazzard. There are places where it is needed and places that it is NOT. Dead weights (like treadle hammer heads) DO NOT need to be lead. Radiation shielding generally DOES NOT need to be lead. Steel works perfectly in both of these cases. Fishing weights DO NOT need to be lead. For those that need to be soft tin based alloys can be used. For hard applications like cast lures zinc can be used.

In inner cities lead paint was pointed at as being the culprit in children being exposed to lead. But it turns out that every "hot spot" in every city was next to a major highway or interchange. Auto exhusts rained more lead on neighborhoods than generations of lead paint use. It was in the soil in parks and playgrounds and on every surface touched by children. Yes, old lead paint is a problem. But it was the lead from gasoline engine exhusts that was found as far away as Antartic snow that was the major culprit.

Use common sense when dealing with these things but remember that others will not (use common sense).
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/24/03 15:39:33 GMT

thanks for the help everybody. i'll keep looking for a complete leg vise.
   lisa - Tuesday, 06/24/03 17:17:26 GMT

Guru, I would add to your list of lead sources steels known as leaded steels. Lead was added to improve machinability by making it easier for the chips to break at the lead inclusions, keeping the tool cooler. Very little leaded steel is produced in this country now. Sulphur, tellurium and even phosphorus is added to do the same thing. Scrap from leaded steels may still represent a small contamination hazard to landfills and I would guess to anyone who happens to machine or forge this material.
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/24/03 17:19:54 GMT

One can also get one's daily ration of asbestos by stanting at a stop light for a while as the passing vehicles apply their brakes. Existence is hazardous to your health, and life is what you do while you're waitin' to die. Someday the gummint is gonna figure out a way to tax gravity, 'cause a lot of folks have sho'nuff died from the effects of it!
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 06/24/03 17:34:19 GMT


What is the most effective way to remove rust, and prevent it, from a wrought iron fence? And how to prevent the oxidation of the welding joints?
I live in N.W Arkansas, and I have little experience in dealing with wrought iron.
   Leigh - Tuesday, 06/24/03 17:35:58 GMT

   - richard phelps - Tuesday, 06/24/03 18:01:47 GMT

Richard Phelps; AIN'T NO NEED TO HOLLER! Go up to the upper right hand corner of the screen to where it says "NAVIGATE anvilfire", and scroll down to where it says "STORE". You'll find everything that Jock has for sale. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 06/24/03 21:45:40 GMT

Looking for 3.5 inch diameter round discs for candle cups. Flat is fine, about 1/16 of an inch thick, about the thickness of junction box covers which is what I used last time. And I would rather not have to burn off the galvanized coating.
Do you have a conversion table for gauge to inch?
   LARRY SUNDSTROM - Tuesday, 06/24/03 22:40:44 GMT


1/16" is .0625" which is about 14AWG (American Wire Gauge)or 16USS (United States Standard). There are a bunch of different gauge systems, depending on what material you're talking about. I think that steel is measured using USS these days, but I won't swear to it. I did find a standard gauge chart here: http://www.coasteltools.com/tech_wire_gauge_conversion_chart.htm

I think Steve Kayne sell candle pans, BTW. At least he is an advertiser here on Anvilfire, so he'd be my first choice if Jock doesn't sell them in the store.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/24/03 22:54:15 GMT

looking for armstrong lathe dogs. any leads appreciated!!
   rugg - Tuesday, 06/24/03 23:21:00 GMT

Nickle Silver...recently made a knife using nickle silver for the bolster. Made 2 failed attempts at soldering the bolster on with Stay Bright (430F melt temp) solder from a knife supply catalogue. The solder wouldnt flow even after a thorough cleaning. On the 3rd attemp I used a weak acid pickle on the Ni/Silver and sucessfully attached the bolster. Is nickle silver always difficult to solder, possibly incompatable with my other materials? The blade stock is D2. I have never had a problem using brass.
   R Guess - Wednesday, 06/25/03 01:00:38 GMT

I noticed in one of your responses that someone there at one time made ceramic molds. I know this is a blacksmith web page and I appolige for the change of subject. However, I have a couple of discontinued molds I need to reproduce for my shop. Will someone please explain the process of making a stone master, especially how to prepare the pour hole area on the stone from a pattern and from an existing mold? We have had a one day training session a couple of years ago, and have forgotten some of the class examples. The instructor has passed away since then and we are up the creek with only a half a paddle. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Dee
   Dee - Wednesday, 06/25/03 01:32:01 GMT

Nickle Silver: Randall, I think it is the nickle that was giving you the problem. It's oxide is probably hard to remove and standard flux didn't work. Thats all I can think of.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 01:53:56 GMT

I'm looking for someone to make or locate a iron pendant.
It's going to be a medallion worn around the neck, blank on both sides, circular in shape.
Between 3
1/2cm to 4cm ( closer to 3 1/2cm , but a little bigger) with a hole
as close to the outer rim as possible to string a thin chain through
(12 gauge???) .

It would be nice to have some weight to it but again, it is going to
be worn as a necklace.
I just put two regular quarters together, one on top of the other and
this seems to be a nice thickness. Or perhaps you know where to locate
such a medal in iron similar to my description?. Hope you can help.
Look forward to hearing from you
   Matt Wiley - Wednesday, 06/25/03 01:57:28 GMT

Nickel silver soldering: Try using Johnson's Stainless Steel flux. You should be able to find it at a plumbing or air condition supply. It works very well on stainless so it should work well on nickel.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:07:32 GMT

I was wondering what is a good price for a post vise that is missing the spring but other wise in nice shape?
   Myke - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:11:59 GMT

CSI members:

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:13:50 GMT

Darn! Mike sure read the CSI forum in a hurry! Contest is over folks!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:24:53 GMT

What can I say :I LOVE THIS STORY!!!
   Myke - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:28:09 GMT

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:29:21 GMT

Myke; round these parts (central OH) a postvise in decent condition runs from about US$15-US$150 depending on size and where you pick it up, our local fleamarket generally runs around US$25 for a typically sized one, tailgate at a conference is more like US$45 and up.

Where you are and what size you are looking at I have no idea...

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:37:20 GMT

Mold Making: Ceramics 101 Dee, If we can handle the question we do it. . ;)

We have a couple iForge demos on mold making that may help. Try demos 98 and 99. #98 shows how to make a simple two part mold. Plaster was used for casting brass. The same technique is used for ceramics except the vents. #99 is about cores which do not apply to ceramics.

You start with a master part or pattern. It can be made of almost anything. Wood, metal, plastic or a combination. Often ceramic masters are made out of whatever works. The important thing is DRAFT. That is the angle that lets the pattern. The draft meets in a line called the "parting line" where the mold will open. On simple parts this is a straight line. On complex parts this follows the center line of the part. It is not unusual for ceramic molds to be more than 2 pieces so that the mold will come off the pattern and the piece will come out of the mold. See demo #98.

The "riser" or combined riser and sprue is where you pour the slip (or metal) into the mold. This can be a permanent part of the pattern OR it can be a loose piece that is added during mold making OR it can even be built up out of modeling clay while making the mold.

The part is put into a properly sized "mold box" that can be dissasembled to open and remove the mold. These can be hand made of wood or even be a plastic bucket with the bottom cut out. The part is supported with modeling clay and clay is filled in to the parting line. This is carefully smoothed with a clay "slick", palette knife or pocket knife. Then alignment blocks are either inserted in the surface or molded from clay.

Coat the pattern, mold box and clay surfaces with a soap slurry parting agent. I use Ivory soap in water. It helps if it sets over night. Paint it on with a soft water color brush and alow to dry. Gently wipe of bubbles with the brush.

Then, mix and pour your plaster of paris. Try to avoid air bubbles. Note that in hot weather plaster sets very fast and contaminated water can cause it to "flash set". . . I had this problem last year about this time doing a demo. Dress the outside of the plaster to make a smooth surface to rest it on when flipped over.

After the plaster sets flip the mold box assembly and remove the clay. Paint the surfaces of the pattern, plaster and mold box as above with soap parting agent. When dry pour the second half of your mold.

Now. . after the plaster has set and cured for an hour or so dissasemble your mold box and carefully open the mold. Sometimes this takes some carefull prying. The pattern will stay in one half of the mold. Remove it.

If everything went right and you have no air bubble pockets on the surface of the part you have a good mold. After is dries carefully dress the edges of the parting line with fine sandpaper or a knife. DO NOT round these edges. Just take off the slightest bit of edge to prevent chipping the mold as well as marking the part when removed. The parting will always leave a slight line that will need to be trimmed but the better the mold fits and the sharper the edges the less parting there will be.

To use the mold assemble the parts with big rubber bands (we used car, truck, and bike inner tube rubber bands). Pour in the clay slip, wait a few minutes and dump the extra back into the container. Wait a few more minutes for the plaster to soak up water from the clay and then open the mold. When the clay was "leather hard" we would trim off the sprue and dress the flash with a knife and wet makeup sponge. Before firing we would sometimes dress the bottom of the dried clay part on coarse sandpaper.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:42:45 GMT

Ok here we go. Two things. I live in Las Vegas Nevada and I'm finding it very difficult to find Coal, and Coke. Do you have any ideas on where I can get some locally? Next! Titanium, can it be forged? I've just started trying the trade I've only been doing it for about 2 weeks now. Thanks for the help.

Rob, (Rabbit)
   Robert Hahn - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:48:52 GMT

I was just looking at one on ebay (3230425271) that has 3.5 in jaws and 35 lbs. I am needing something small for working on gun parts. All the cast vices this size end up scrap in only a few months. I was wondering what is a fair price, so I can get to an ebay price :)
   Myke - Wednesday, 06/25/03 02:52:44 GMT


I've picked up a couple of post vises on Ebay, one for $50 and the other for $55. Both were complete and in good working condition. With a missing spring [no big deal to a blacksmith :-)] and being that small, It probably won't go higher that about $40, but you can never tell. If I were you, I wouldn't bid any higher than that. On an average day, Ebay has at least 10 post vises up for bid. Some go extremely cheap, some are ridiculously over-bid. If you watch for a while, you can score a good deal.

BTW, congratulations on winning Paw Paw's impromptu contest!

   eander4 - Wednesday, 06/25/03 03:31:45 GMT

I've done a little nickel silver jewelry, Native American style, and I reached for low temp 50/50 acid core solder, not because I knew what I was doing. I just had a spool of it laying around the shop. If memory serves, I think it worked.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/25/03 03:34:37 GMT

I've done a little nickel silver jewelry, Native American style, and I reached for low temp 50/50 acid core solder, not because I knew what I was doing. I just had a spool of it laying around the shop. If memory serves, I think it worked.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/25/03 03:36:32 GMT

Miscellaneous items - leaded steel, brakes & asbestos, titanium
QC - they also use bismuth for free machining steel - saw a big blurb on it in the last year or so in one of the metallurgical journals. Funny, I was working on that project for J&L Steel in 1982.
3dogs - they don't use asbestos in automobile brakes anymore - a lot of them are manufactured out of hydrogen reduced mill scale (powdered metal) Don't know if there are any other materials used.
Forging Titanium - Rob it can be hot worked similar to steel, BUT AT MUCH LOWER TEMPERATURES I had an opportunity in the mid 1980's to apply for work as a metallurgist with Timet & saw their operations - for small size bars they were still using steel mill rolling equipment from the 19th century with a man catching the bar in tongs and bringing it back around to lead into the next pass on the mill!! Some warnings on titanium - recommended rolling temperature per 1948 ASM handbook is 930 degrees F, which is below the recrystallation temperature. They also imply a maximum heating temperature in air of 1470 degrees F. Much higher and it may self ignite, and it will burn a lot hotter than iron & will continue even after it's out of the fire. To put it out you'll probably need to bury it in sand or use a special extinguishing medium. Annealing temperatures are 750 to 2010 F, and annealing is often done in vacuum furnaces. Basically processing titanium requires equipment with better temperature control than needed to begin forging iron and steel.
   GavainH - Wednesday, 06/25/03 03:50:12 GMT

Vise Prices: Here in the East tailgaters are asking $125 UP. Which I personally think are fair prices. I would buy all the complete vises I could at $50 or less. . . they are a bargain.

Kayne and Son have new European made leg vises for $300-$400. These are great prices considering Centaur used to carry a Vaughans vise for $1300 and folks BOUGHT them! Even though they were an English vise of approximately the same pattern as the old ones they were not nearly as well made. But then . . the old ones were largely hand made. The best old English vises had turned nuts and screws that had decorative turnings on them. Later vises, particularly the American ones had less of these details but still followed the old designs.

Good heavy duty American made bench vises last sold for as much as $2000 in the 1980's. I can no longer find equivalents in the McMaster-Carr catalog. The closest thing is a Wilton that is OK but that I am not crazy about. The heavy duty vises they carry do not appear to be as heavy as the old ones . . but it is hard to tell. Peddinghaus makes an all forged vise which is very strong. It has an add-on "leg" but is basicaly a bench vise. But I think the era of really Heavy Duty vises is over.

The point is that good vises are expensive and the current prices on blacksmith leg vises are a bargain. They are also another one of those tools that will never be made as well or as beautifully again. Even the big chipping "bench" vises like those of the 1950's are no longer made.

Missing Parts: When smiths mounted these vises they often did a PERMANENT job. When it came time to remove them by others they found riveted or large rusted bolts. The easy thing to do was to drive out the pin or wedge and leave the bench bracket behind. This left the spring loose and those often got lost along the way. I bought two old tennon mount types years ago and both were missing the bench brackets. . .

When the spring is missing the bench bracket is also often missing. These are more difficult to replace than the spring. Old English vises (said to be pre 1840) had a rectangular hole in the back jaw for a tennon on the bench bracket. This also went through the spring and was held in place by a pin and the fact that the spring had load on it. Later vises had a strap that wrapped around the leg that was attached to the bench bracket via wedges. This was a much improved mounting but expensive to make. Some later American vises used a U-bolt and nuts. This was easier to and cheaper to manufacture. It is also the most common method used by folks replacing the bracket.

Consider the time and materials necessary to make a new bracket. It is not a big part of the vise but your time IS worth something.

When purchasing these vises sight unseen you have to be careful. Worn out screws are common. I had a vise with mangled jaws that I thought the screw was good. . Bought another vise to put the screw in and found that the screw was worn to where it slipped just where it closed on about 1/2" stock. . . I also had a loose bench bracket I had picked up at a flea market that went with the other pieces. . . Luckily I only had about $15 tied up in the two vises and the extra parts.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 04:38:31 GMT

Thank you for your help. You are truely knowledgable. Your demos were very helpful too. I am far from being a blacksmith, but I have and will continue to enjoy reading the information on your site. Learning something new each day keeps that day from being wasted time. Again, Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
   Dee - Wednesday, 06/25/03 04:53:03 GMT

Rugg- MSC sells lathe dogs-www.mscdirect.com
Not armstrong brand though-
But armstrong is still in business- in Chicago. 800-866-5753. Dont know if they still make lathe dogs- call em and ask.
Or go to a newstand and pick up a copy of The Home Shop Machinist- there are several companies that advertise there that specialise in small lathe parts and accessories- Sobel or Plaza Machinery might have em. Otherwise- flea markets and garage sales.
   Ries - Wednesday, 06/25/03 05:01:16 GMT

Rusting Iron Leigh, First, is this an antique wrought iron fence? If so you may want to consult with someone about the cleaning.

My prefered exterior refinishing method:

1) Sand blast clean to remove old paint and rust.
2) Paint with cold galvanizing (zinc powder) paint.
3) Prime with red-oxide neutral primer.
4) Paint with a finish coat of any sunlight and weather resistant paint.

NOTES: Sand blasting is not recommended for antique iron. But other soft grit blasting can be used. Chemical cleaning that does not remove the original forge scale is also recommended for antique iron.

Where blown sand or sand disposal is a problem they now use crushed dry ice for blasting grit. It just gases away harmlessly leaving only the paint and rust debris behind. Ask your local sandblaster or paint contractor.

Zinc paint IS NOT the same as "zinc chromate" or "zinc rich" paint. It is 99.9% powdered zinc with jist enough binder to make it stick. It is the next best thing to galvanizing. The zinc replaces iron ions in the corrosion reaction and greatly slows or prevents rust. The only thing tricky about it is that it is the same color and texture as fresh sandblasted steel. . .

CLEAN is the key word to repainting old iron. Most paint problems are related to improper cleaning in the first place. Welds (forge OR arc) often hide flux which is hydroscopic (absorbs water from the air). The flux crystals expand and cause paint to flake and then the flux acts as a medium for corrosion. Sand blasting is the best way to remove most flux. Oil from drilling and handling is the other problem. After sand blasting you want to paint immediately and not let anyone touch the iron. Every oily hand print is a place where the paint may fail.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 05:09:29 GMT

hello I'm a 34 yr old welder. I have a rail to bend around a slight curve. my question is how do they bend this metal. its is 1 3/4 wide by 9/16. It is a rail for a pool.
   charles davis - Wednesday, 06/25/03 13:35:54 GMT

Forging Ti

I have forged Ti and I am going to disagree with Gavin. I work it at a bright yellow heat and have not had any problems with it burning. If you don't work it at such high temps, you will not be able to get it to move as it is very stiff at a red heat. For industrial applications, Gavin is probably right because Ti is very prone to absorbing oxygen, which will weaken the material. Also, working it at colder temps will induce some strain hardening which will add strenghth. The folks at Timken used to do some rolling of Ti and I was told that you could actually hear the metal "scream" as it was rolled due to the low temps involved.

Leaded Steels
IN the last few months I was with Timken, they were working with Honda to develop a substitute for leaded crankshaft steels. Their solution was to add sulfur and control its shape and distribution. Sulfur in the steels acts as a chip breaker during machining. I think we will see much more of this type of material replacing the leaded steels in the future.

Patrick Nowak
   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 06/25/03 14:40:42 GMT

Bending Charles, There are numerous methods. Most is done cold using lots of leverage.

Most fabricators use a device with a hydraulic jack. It has two double arms about 30" long that go above and below the rail. There are pins that fit holes in the ends for the rail to bear against. On the other end there is a base for the jack to set. This base has holes on either side for the other end of the arms. THEN there is a pair of tie bars or a piece of square structural tubing that acts as a spreader. This makes a triangle of the device.

The jack has a shoe with a curved surface to bear against the rail. Similar shoes on the outside pins can help to prevent denting the rail.

In use the rail is bent in short sections. A trial piece helps you gauge the amount of bend. Underbending and then overlaping bends makes a very smooth curve.

A bender with a 6 to 10 ton jack can bend 1-1/2" pipe rail. For your top rail bent the hard way you could use less.

A similar bender can be made using a lever to create the bending force. Some use cam type devices and others use a knee action. In either case the tool is not hard to build. Some of the railing component suppliers sell these benders but none of the blacksmith's suppliers that I know sell them.

Then there is a bender called a Hossfeld bender. But these are a shop use device that require being bolted to a heavy bench or the floor and need a LOT of space to use. See our bender article on our 21 Century page.

Another even simplier method is to use a bending hicky (just a big wrench) and a heavy block anchored to your truck. A friend of mine used to have a big old swage block bolted to the corner of the bed of his truck for this purpose. The rail was pushed through a hole in the block and then brute force applied using the rail itself for leverage. You would be amazed at what you can bend when the fixture is on four or five tons of truck. Again, you bend in very short sections. If the block has a nice radiused surface it helps.

You could make one of these for your specific job by torching a curve in a piece of 3/4 or 1" plate. Then weld that plate to another piece and a vertical resistance block oposite one end (See the lighter benders in the article mentioned above.). Always make bender surfaces tighter than the needed bend for spring back. Most benders of this type have a curved surface just the smooth the transition from each short bend to the other. Anchored to a vehical all your would do is lean on the end of the bar (if it is over 8 feet or so. If you leave extra on the bar it helps add leverage and lets you get a smooth bend right to the end (where you cut it off).

On that pool the curve is probably not a radius but a section of an oval or similar curve.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 15:09:33 GMT

More bending: I prefer the hydraulic system for large controled bends because of the fine control. However, you can also mangle a piece with that kind of power.

On one job where we had to bend a large ring on edge we used an arbor press (also has great control) and a dial indicator to repeat the bend to within +/- .001". A rule or gauge bar can be added to the hydraulic bender I described above to get a long consistant bend. This is needed more on a long gentle bend than on a tight bend. On gentle bends you have a high degree of spring back. On tight bends the metals yeilds and stays put.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 15:21:46 GMT

Leaded Steel: I have only machined parts from one piece of free machining leaded steel. . it was some SLICK stuff. Not only did it machine easily but it took no effort to produce perfect finishes. We had one bar out of a dozen and you could REALLY tell the difference. If we hadn't already sawed it up into 2" pieces I would have set it asside for a special or difficult job. Its a shame that it was lead that made it so nice to machine.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 15:26:21 GMT

What type of grease or cosomoline can I use to store metal shafting for future use so it won't rust.?
   Dennis - Wednesday, 06/25/03 18:38:18 GMT

I finally have built 2 Reil burners and am going to build the forge. I'm planning on using it for hot work, knife making, and misc. projects. Is it better to have a fixed design; a pipe forge, or should I mount the burner in a way so that I can rearrange firebricks around it for different projects? Also, I used Teflon tape when I built the burners to seal the pipes, was this a good idea?James
   James - Wednesday, 06/25/03 19:40:38 GMT

Preservatives: Dennis, There are a number of propriatary products for doing this. Do not use automotive lubricants. They contain detergents that absorb water from the air and eventualy rust results. In the engines they are designed for the water is cooked out every so often.

CRC makes several products to do what you want. Their heavy duty corrosion inhibitor (previously called "soft seal") was a tan spray on product that went on like thick paint and then thickened over a period of time. CRC also made a thiner material for short term protection #SP-350 (store and lube). Both materials hardened like varnish over a long period of time. If you used something shortly after application it just wiped off. If you came back a year later it required solvent to remove. The drying effect reduces the amount of dust and dirt that collects in the protectant.

I would use the soft-seal if the item was going to be in storage over a year or more.

Note that due to the hardening nature of these products they should not be used on devices with precision or tight fits such as precision tools.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 19:54:28 GMT

What would the layout of a 13th century blacksmiths forge be like??
   Jacob - Wednesday, 06/25/03 19:57:55 GMT

Adjustable Forges: James, This works but there are limits on how much change a single burner can take. If you put seperate valves on the burners and half the forge then it should work OK.

Teflon tape is great stuff. The only problem is that it gets loose and pieces clog orrifices and such. If you are carefull not to let it get across the opening of a pipe it works fine. But some folks smear the tape across the oppening and don't think about where it is going to end up.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 20:06:54 GMT

Jacob, I assume you mean a 13th century smithy. Actually much the same as a modern smithy, A coal or charcoal fired forge, an anvil, and a slack tub aranged so that the smith can move quickly from one to the other, with the anvil standing free, so it can be used from all sides. here's a picture of my smithy, designed to look like a mid-14th century smithy: http://www.archeon.nl/images/smid.jpg (I seem to keep posting this picture) 14th century is a bit later than you asked, but things don't change that fast. Things wrong with the picture: the ring vaguely seen on the right of the chimny: it is for pumping the bellows, which would have been done by an apprentice, of course not standing in the way of the master smith. Second: the vice, they weren't around those days (very hard to make the thread). It is there because I usually work alone, and sometimes you need a third hand, it the middle ages a journeyman or apprentice would have supplied this hand.

The anvils did not have a horn (not possible with the method of fabrication used). I store my hammers in metal brackets hammered into the stump the anvil stands on, tongs on the side of my fire, and punches, chisels and similar tools in clogs hung on the side of the stump.

I think I got the basics now, let me know if you need anything more specific (explaining about medieval blacksmithing is what I get payed for :)
   matthijs - Wednesday, 06/25/03 22:05:40 GMT

ries, thanks for the tips on the dogs..

guru, have you ever machined rectangular bar stock on a lathe?? like 1X3/8". is this possible? i have access to a lathe and plan on trying some projects. the books that i have read have not described rectangular bar. could set up with a 4 jaw chuck and live center @ the tail. what do you think?? why, you ask? thinking about machining a cylinder in the bar for the retaining hinge @ the top of a garden gate.

   rugg - Wednesday, 06/25/03 22:54:30 GMT

Rectangles: Rugg, Not a problem. However, on a flat I would hack saw (or forge) the rough shape rather than convert it all to chips. The intermitent rectangular cut is harder on the nerves than on the cutter but it works fine.

The center is not necessary unless the overhang is too much for the lathe.

Four jaw chucks come in two types, universal and scroll. The scroll type works like a three jaw chuck except that you can also adjust the jaws independently. Really nice for repetitive odd shaped or rectangular work. The common type are a pain to adjust but with experiance you get pretty fast. Never overlook the fact that you can turn one or more of the jaws in the opposite direction of the others to fit whatever work you are chucking.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/25/03 23:51:09 GMT

A few more things on a smith from the 1200's (13th century)

You would almost certainly be burning charcoal (NOT briquettes!) in a side blown forge powered by two single action bellows. Hammers and tongs can be found today that look like Y1K versions. Anvil would be hornless or minimally horned---*not* because of how they were made as that method was the same through the era of large horned anvils but because they didn't make them that way preferring to use a Bickern for things that needed a horn.

"Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" by Gies & Gies shows a smithy from the 14th century on pg 65 of the paperback---contrast that to the earlier one depicted on the stave church at Hyllestad from the late 12th century and you have your timeperiod at least bracketed. I'm looking for one that I think is spot on your time; but I can't seem to find which of the 6000+ books we have piled around the house it's in...

Thomas (who's drooling over matthijs' smithy, I;ll be out under the tree this weekend...)
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/26/03 00:09:52 GMT

13th Cent:. . and the bellows would have been a pair, not 'Great Double Chambered'.

AND a lot depends on where the smithy is located. In a city or castle it would have a large stone forge like in matthijs picture, but in a rural shop the forge may have been very primitive. Well ventilated open air forges with no chimney are and were common. Equipment would be smaller than in a high traffic shop that could afford very expensive iron tools. The large shop may have multiple forges or double sided forges where several smiths could work at one time.

There would also be heavy benches with bench dogs to hold work for filing. The same benches may have also been fitted with a beam drill and small bench anvils. Many shops also had lathes and grinders. Small metal parts were turned on the same type lathe as wood parts and grindstones for metal go way back.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/26/03 00:40:31 GMT

See our Armoury Page for an engraving of a 16th Century Armourer's shop. The forge and bellows is correct for much earlier shops as is the anvil. Note the big shear mounted in the stump.

As Thomas mentioned, horns were a late invention on anvils. When they did become popular they were just stuck on with a weak butt-weld. They were made that way until the end of the hand forged manufacture of anvils around WWII. Bickerns or stump anvils were very common up into the 18th century. Old ones are still common enough that they only bring $150 to $175 even though most are older than highly sought after Colonial era (in America) anvils. They usualy show a great deal of wear from heavy use. They come in many sizes and proportions. The classic Spanish anvil is a very heavy version.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/26/03 02:04:03 GMT

Nickle Silver soldering
Guru..I hadnt thought about the flux being he problem. It is a liquid flux and comes with the solder. Works great for brass and copper,,not so good with Ni/Sil
vicopper...thanks for the help. I will try to locate some Johnsons Stainless flux.
Mr. Turley..Thanks for your response. I have a couple coils of flux core solder but not sure about the %. I will try a test piece with what I have next time.

   R Guess - Thursday, 06/26/03 02:12:47 GMT

Tubal Cayn c.1360

14th Century Blacksmith illustration from Atli. Note hardy mounted in stump.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/26/03 02:48:28 GMT

Soldering:I seem to remember, many moons ago, when I was repairing antiques, jewelery and numerous other objets d'junque, I started using low temp silver solder on my Weller soldering gun. It had previously been tinned with regular old 50/50 acid core solder, and soon after I started using the soft silver solder and its liquid flux, there was an apparent reaction between the two solders, causing the copper soldering iron tip to erode away. Has anyone else ever run into this situation? By the way, the low temp soft silver alloy is a perfect color match for repairing old damaged pewter articles.
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 06/26/03 07:38:12 GMT

3 dogs,

I suspect what happens is that the acid core solders tend to erode the tips, while the flux cored (usually a rosin of some type) do not.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/26/03 15:23:10 GMT

Or at least not as much, not as fast.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/26/03 15:45:06 GMT

What is the average temperature of a forge? Is there a certain temperature a forge must reach before the heat can heat/melt the metal enough to begin shaping it?

   - Chris - Thursday, 06/26/03 16:09:49 GMT


I have a question about casting iron..
What would happen if one was to take a small ceramic casting crucible (from the jewelry industry) put some steel scraps in it, then drop the whole lot on top of a coal forge? Would a set up like this work for small iron castings, or is there something more special about an iron melting furnace?
   - D Bynoe - Thursday, 06/26/03 16:39:20 GMT

Just wondering about the 14th cent illistration....
I am wondering if the hardie is mounted for use in that location or if it is merely a storage place to keep it handy?
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/26/03 17:50:43 GMT

ralph, thee hardy was probably used as shown on the picture. Although hardy holes did exist at that time, this anvil does not seem to have one.
   matthijs - Thursday, 06/26/03 18:42:50 GMT

Hardies in Stumps: Based on this illustration, plus spike shanked hardies, I mount mine in the stump for medieval demonstrations. Seems to be no noticeable loss of efficiency.

Casting Iron in a Forge:

I don't know about tossing some steel scrap in a crucible. Cast iron has a very high carbon content, which actually lowers the melting temperature. I will testify that cast iron will melt in a forge, bused upon the "Great brass casting disaster" in which I tried to melt some brass keys in a small cast iron cookpot. Although cast iron has a marginally higher melting point than the brass, the pot in the specific vicinity of the main blast soon excceded this, dumping molten brass and cast iron down through the tuyere! Melted the bottom right out of the pot!

Vey warm and muggy on the banks of the Potomac. The Mali smiths were sipping tea at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival ( http://www.folklife.si.edu/CFCH/festival2003/2003_festival.htm ).

Visit your National Parks (it's their folklife festival, but it's our mall ;-) www.nps.gov

Go viking (Hung out with the fellow from Scotland building the Ness yoal.) www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/26/03 18:59:00 GMT

Chris, Forge temperature. You hope you can get the metal up to a "pasty" solidus at about 2300F so you can forge weld it. Mild steel is hammered into shape from about a lemon color 2100F down to about a low cherry red 1365F. Then you heat it again. There is no melting involved in forging. If the metal were molten, it would simply be an uncontrolled liquid mess.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/26/03 19:55:01 GMT

Jewelry crucibles are rated for specific temperatures so be sure the one you use is rated for the temperature of the metal you want to melt! I commonly use my forge to melt: brass, bronze, silver (fine and sterling), copper, in small (several ounces) ammounts to cast knife fittings. It would do cast iron in small ammounts too I am sure but steel is a hot one and I would probably design a furnace to heat it to avoid the stress to my forge.

For casting iron a cupola is often used and can be made fairly simply.

Atli; wish I was in Mali sipping tea and watching the smiths! I remember Washington in the summer as a politician's pretreatment for the afterlife...

Thomas (Just dropped off another resume...)
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 06/26/03 21:02:45 GMT

for the book hounds: hope to win a first edition of john lord bacon's "elementary forge practice"! i am excited, sorry....
   rugg - Thursday, 06/26/03 23:44:17 GMT

Ref Mali, There is a good video out on the making of iron by the Dogon in 1995. See http://archeo.unige.ch/inagina/dogon.gb.html. I ordered the film in the U.S. from www.der.org .
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/27/03 00:26:08 GMT

Rugg, Bacon's book is similar to Elementary Forge Practice by Harcourt. Both are good. I learned how to weld a hinge barrel from Harcourt's book...long time ago.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/27/03 02:54:39 GMT

On the Road. . .

Will be with Atli and the Longship Company at their Camp Fenby (The Mosquito Fest) for the weekend. Have left a bunch undone but that is becoming the usual for me. . .

   - guru - Friday, 06/27/03 04:20:38 GMT

Good Guru;
Because I love to start projects and hate to finish them...I've come to wonder if it isn't a virtue by now ?
   Pete F - Friday, 06/27/03 07:45:17 GMT

I am interested in getting started in blacksmithing, I live in central Texas and wondered if there is any trade school or college that has a good instructing reputation in my area?
Or where how/to get started
   Manny - Friday, 06/27/03 13:41:26 GMT

Hi ya'll, I have some questions about two anvils I saw at a antique dealers yesterday. One is 149#'s and has a diamond about two inches, and in the middle of the diamond it has "bellknap, Loisville" the poundage is heavaly stamped below the diamond. I could not tell if the face is intrical or welded on. It has some chiping on the far side of the face. Over all the face is straight and not hardly mared at all. The price is $259.00. The second anvil is about 90-100#'s. Has a larger diamond about five inches. Inside the diamond the lettering is kind of jumbled with a "dun and a akes" sort of like over and to the side of the "dun" no weight that i could see and no serial numbers. The lighting was not very good in the store. This anvil did have a definet face plate line on it, small hardy hole maybe 3/4" and the prichle hole was very near the hardy hole almost in line with it, and the prichle hole was small like about 7'16 or 1/2" It may have been hand drilled. Like the other one the edges of face one this one is chipped but more severly. Price $249.00. I'm more courious about who made them, and if steel cast, wrouht. The prices I think are a little high for me, but may suit someone else. I'm in SA,Tx if any one wants to know the location e-mail me. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Friday, 06/27/03 14:23:39 GMT

First look at the "Getting Started" Page here on anvilfire.
Also there are several ACTIVE smithing groups in the Texas area. Several folks (who are active in the Pub)are in the Dallas, Houston, area.
   Ralph - Friday, 06/27/03 14:38:31 GMT

Pete F;For me, what's even worse than that, is if you do finish something, somebody will want you to make another one exactly like it. Even WORSE, after you get started on the second one, and get about 75% into it, they'll start suggesting modifications. THAT'S when you start crushing your own fillings.
   - 3dogs - Friday, 06/27/03 18:17:09 GMT

3 Dogs,

Don't crush your fillings, they're expensive. Give the "suggestor" the hammer. Either way you want, in their hand or alongside their head.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/27/03 18:18:35 GMT

I was hoping you could help find a step by step procedure for building a propane gas forge. I was thinking a nice mid-size forge will be good. I appreciate any help you can provide,in directing me in the right direction. Thanks Troy
   Troy - Friday, 06/27/03 21:42:51 GMT


For blacksmith groups check out www.abana.com in their links. Try HABA (Houston area blacksmith association) at: 76021.3660@compuserve.com. A very good organization. The group I belong to is: www.balconesforge.org, also a very good organization. We welcome beginers, some who haven't hit a lick in years and a rusty, and acomplished smith's. Actually anyone interested in moving metal,any metal. We have a meeting tomarrow in Geronimo Tx. If you can make it we will be glad to have you. We meet every fourth saturaday of the month. I don't know where you live, but if you would be coming I35S get off in San Marcus at hwy 123 and take it south 18 miles to Geronimo. First street past the Post Office, take a left onto McKinley Ave. It will be shortly after you turn. You will see a bunch of vehicles there. If you would come I10 towards Seguin get off at exit 10. that will be hwy 123. Take a right going north 5 miles. First street past VFW. take a right onto McKinley ave. The meeting will start at 0900. Hope you can make it . I understand there will be some blacksmithing tools for sale. JWGBHF.
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Friday, 06/27/03 21:45:44 GMT

frank, i think that harcourt's book has the same title, no? on the cover it has two bars brought together for welding?? the cool thing about this book (bacon's) is that it is a first edition copy, 1904 i believe. i hope i get it. this is not a lindsay copy or reprint. thanks..
   rugg - Friday, 06/27/03 21:48:05 GMT

D. Bynoe, yeah, there is a lot more to it. Granted,you are not interested in maintaining any special chemistry but iron or steel oxidizes very quickly and when you heat it up to melting with exposure to air (oxygen) you will get more scale than liquid metal. The fluxes used to melt steel scrap involve some very sophisticated chemical reactions to protect the iron from oxidation and purify the metal. You might have a better chance with cast iron but if you know nothing about melting and casting, start with something easier. See foundry 101 on this site.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/28/03 00:17:31 GMT

There's a vary good smithing program at Austin Community College Riverside Campus. There may also be local instruction available at Larry Crawford's Hammerfest Forge
in Marble Falls.
   chris smith - Saturday, 06/28/03 02:51:40 GMT

Hey 3 Dogs, round here they all wanna' discount... yep, hand-em a hammer.
   - TAG Highlander Forge. - Saturday, 06/28/03 03:50:14 GMT

beginner-what is the esay way to make a sword for me thank you for your time
   John stull - Saturday, 06/28/03 05:42:51 GMT

John Stull,

"According to Arthurian Legend, the Great Sword Excalibur was forged from iron and steel collected from meteorites by Merlin the Magician, who also placed a magic spell on this sword. The heat for the forging was provided by a huge dragon which Merlin kept imprisoned so his flaming breath would be instantly available. Unless you can replicate this method you are doomed to failure."
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/28/03 06:06:29 GMT

John Stull,

An easier method is to just get it hot, hit it hard, and quit when you are done...
   Myke - Saturday, 06/28/03 06:46:15 GMT


Ok, enough playing. Forging a sword is a VERY technical and demanding skill. Taking years of study and practise. I have been hammering iron for two years now, and my forge welds fail 99% of the time. It is a good day when I can take a round bar, turn it into a square and then back into a round bar, the harden and temper without it crumbling like cold cheese or shattering on the first good blow. IF you really want to know? GREAT, welcome! , glad to have you! You will want to look for the "getting started in Blacksmithing " link at the bottom of this page study hard, do what you can and come back often.
   Myke - Saturday, 06/28/03 06:58:31 GMT

3 Doggies;
Why do they always want what you made years ago when you never want to see one again?
I already made that mistake. Now I want to make some new mistakes!
   Pete F - Saturday, 06/28/03 07:22:25 GMT

I've been trying to forge bronze 655 (silicon bronze) and while it tapers nicely, I can't bend it sharply w/o it's breaking and/or cracking. What is a good bronze alloy to both forge and bend?
   muleskinner - Saturday, 06/28/03 16:53:35 GMT

The easy and cheap and fast way to make a sword is to mow lawns and shovel snow and *buy* one from a good maker. (the sword forum is a good place to find out which makers are good!)

If you have the need to make one yourself "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas will give you the information on how to do it; *but* his instructions will make much more sense if you know how to forge already.

This is a common question and to us it's sort of like someone who has never driven a car before asking how they can drive a formula 1 race car---you have to learn the basics, get real good and then slowly learn the "advanced skills"---*NO* *SHORTCUTS* (save the buy a good one!) You are actually risking your life and that of anyone around if you don't know what you are doing with a sword---only takes one blade breaking at the tang/blade juncture and flying off into an innocent bystander to ruin your future for a LOOOOOOONG time!

Thomas Powers

   - Thomas Powers - Saturday, 06/28/03 17:09:01 GMT

JOHN STULL:"How To Make Lotsa Stuff" As was attributed to Michaelangelo, (with tongue firmly lodged in cheek)when asked what would be the best way to carve a statue of a horse, he said, first, you get a great big rock, then you get a chisel and a big ol' hammer and then you knock off all the rock that doesn't look like a horse. I think Paw Paw will back me up on that, he knew Mike personally. (Chuckle, snort, snort)
   - 3dogs - Saturday, 06/28/03 17:35:00 GMT


Sounds like the bronze is work hardening from the hammering. BEFORE doing any bending, anneal it. The method is to bring it to a low red heat and quench it in cold water. It's exactly the opposite of steel.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/28/03 18:17:27 GMT

Drie Hunds!

Behave yourself, or I'll sic a Drill Sergeant on you!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/28/03 18:19:00 GMT

thanks Paw Paw, I'll try that today.
   muleskinner - Saturday, 06/28/03 21:48:36 GMT


Let us know how it works.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/28/03 22:39:02 GMT

Check out my 1834 William Foster anvil I have for sale on ebay. Item # 3230986332
   Tony - Sunday, 06/29/03 00:50:57 GMT

I would like to make a forged coffee table with a glass top, I was wondering how other blacksmiths usually attach the glass top to the steel legs and frame?

   Hayes - Sunday, 06/29/03 01:54:54 GMT


The two most common ways are:

1. to drill mounting holes in the glass and then use a decorative screw to mount to threaded holes in the frame.

2. Put a dab of silicon caulk (clear) on all of the load bearing surfaces of the frame. You can allow the silicone to set up and just set the glass on it. The silicone provides enough friction to keep the glass in place. You can also put the glass in place as soon as the silicone is applied and it will serve as a glue. It will peel off, so the glass can be removed if necessary, but will hold the glass firmly in normal use.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/29/03 02:07:31 GMT

Thomas, It was tradition in days gone,For a warrior to hunt down and KILL an armourer who's weapon failed him in battle...Talk about quality control!PPW,DROP AND GIVE ME 20!...oh, I forgot your blacksmiths...DO PUSHUPS TILL "I"GET TIRED!!!!!BOOO-YAAAA! ARE YOUR WEAPONS CLEAN? ARE YER BOOTS SHININ'....WHAT IS YER MAJOR-MALFUNCTION YOU NONCOMFORMISTS! Oh...Sorry, that just slipped....sarge.
   - TAG - Sunday, 06/29/03 03:00:35 GMT


Soldier when I want your opinion, I'll tell you what it is! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/29/03 04:31:39 GMT

Will ya'll quit it I'm getting flashbacks...
   Myke - Sunday, 06/29/03 05:53:31 GMT

oops...must be on the wrong website.
Visiting blacksmiths today...they confessed junkyard-envy..I grin smugly...till the county discovers me anyway.
Honest, I'm gonna use it all! Sooner or later.
   Pete F - Sunday, 06/29/03 07:33:36 GMT

When i buy glass for a table top or a shelf the Glass Co. offers to give me a number of clear acrylic discs. You place these on the steel where needed. They provide the friction needed to keep the glass from sliding on the table.
   Harley - Sunday, 06/29/03 08:28:47 GMT

I'm 25 and do a little tinkering, basically I've got a sledge, a block of iron I use as my anvil, a welding torch, and a wood burning furnence I use to fix or re-shape objects around my house. I have some swords I would like to make stronger (if at all possible) by heat-treating them. I've seen you're replies on the subject but I know squat about different kinds of metal. They're made from stainless steel 440 and 420 and have not been heat-treated seeing as they were not expensive. I was hopeing you tell me good way to do this with these types of steel and what kind of quench should I use on them. I was going to water but I saw in one of you're replies and decided that might be a no no.
   Jule - Sunday, 06/29/03 10:30:11 GMT

Jule the high carbon stainless steels are generally not home shop heat treat items.

Have you removed the grip and looked at the tang? If the blades were not heat treated most likely the tangs are not strong enough for a "using" sword. Most wallhanger sword tangs are so bad that just hearing about folks swinging one around gives me a cold shiver...

420 is spec'd at .15% C Min, with 420F as over .15% C; but 422 is .20-.25% C so most likely 420 is fairly low in carbon

440A .6-.75% C, 440B .75-.95%C, 440C .95-1.2% C lots of C to play around with here, quenching temp is probably around 1800F and oil or air for the quench medium (depending on what exactly you got and where you are going with it)

Note swordblades love to warp in quenching---especially if they are not evenly heated/quenched.

NB stainless steels are usually considered *bad* alloys for swordblades because of a tendency toward brittleness---a bent sword can still be used as a defense, a broken sword it the first step toward a rewarding career as organic daisy fertilizer. Best common alloy out there would probably be 5160 spring steel IMNSHO; but of course it rusts and who would expect folk to clean and oil their weapons on a regular basis?

   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 06/29/03 14:38:00 GMT


> who would expect folk to clean and oil their weapons on a regular basis?

Any Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, or Company Commander. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/29/03 14:40:47 GMT

PPW....I was going to give an opinion....would you please tell me what my opinion is first? I would like ta' know...Grin.
   - TAG - Sunday, 06/29/03 16:22:12 GMT


If you have to deal with old ironwork, that includes repairing or including it in a new piece,....HAVE IT PROFESSIONALLY STRIPPED FIRST. I lost a dear friend due to ironwork a doctor brought from France and wanted incorporated into a mirror frame and an bedframe. Instead of having it professionaly stripped it was wire brushed and sand blasted. Looked great when incorporated into the pieces.

My friend, on the other hand, ended up with bone marrow that would no longer produce red blood cells. Was not lukemia but something else, result was the same. After a year of getting transfusions, first once a month then later increasing to weekly, his body finally gave up.

The risk is just not worth it. If the customer can not handle the extra price to have his/her old ironwork professionally stripped, then the job is just TOO expensive for you to do.

I will always miss Al Morgan.
   Shawn - Sunday, 06/29/03 17:53:15 GMT

Paw Paw, thanks for the tip on the B'laster AND where to get it. Saved me a trip to a mechanic with my pickup, more than enuf savings to pay for my annual dues to CSI....with enough left over for a new hammer.
   Ellen - Sunday, 06/29/03 19:17:02 GMT


You haven't been around long enough to have an opinion, soldier! Just shut up and do as you're told! (big grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/29/03 22:15:00 GMT

Ellen, Glad it worked for you!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 06/29/03 22:15:52 GMT

Back from Fenby (Longship Co. craft weekend):

Maybe it was a disturbance in the force since we were talking doing and singing Viking life but I heard from our long lost OErjan from Sweden who we hadn't heard from in a long time. .

Fenby was fun and hot as usual but not as well attended as it could be. There was a lot going on. Too many intructors/demonstrators and too few students. The heat was not really bad until today. In fact the weather could not have been better for the time of year.

A wood burning pit kiln was built and fired with some success. A wood burning mound bake oven was built but may not get fired until next weekend. Wood was carved and bow making discussed. Some blacksmithing was done and I poured some Fenby comemerative medals in brass.

The Saturday night crab and mosquito fest was well attended by all and some hours of semi drunken revelry and singing of songs followed.

Thank you Longship Company.

Now to the 225 pieces of e-mail (mostly spam and viruses. . .) that have piled up over 3 days.
   - guru - Monday, 06/30/03 01:16:34 GMT

SPAN fighting suggestion from Atli, Direct all your mail to the TRASH, then sort just the good mail rather than the bad. . . Makes sense to me! I had 8 legitimate mails out of 225.
   - guru - Monday, 06/30/03 02:34:34 GMT

Hello, and thank you for being a wonderful source of information.

I'm new to this trade and I had a question on a technique for setting handles on tools and narrow tang knives. It's called "hot fitting," and requires heating the tang and burning it into a single piece of wood. This seems to me like it would be a rather fidgety way to set something, like it would just fall out. But I was told that most Japanese kitchen knives were made this way. Have you fine folks tried it before? Does this actually work?

Thank you for any advice you can provide.
   Chris Ross - Monday, 06/30/03 02:43:57 GMT

Forging Bronze- I have been forging some bronze lately,3 different kinds- silicon bronze, 655, naval bronze, 464, and architectural bronze, 385.
The best of the batch by far is the naval,464. It is a bit tricky to see the right temp- it takes a low light and a lot of focus to the task, but once you get used to it, it works like butter. For sharp bends, I like to get it hot. It has a pretty narrow working range between cracking and a puddle on the floor, so you have to expect to lose a few.
The silicon bronze is really hard, and cools fast. Its a lot like working stainless. To bend it, it has to be hot. Nice and red, in a low light, even to bend it with a hossfeld, much less pound on it a bunch. I would not recommend forging Architectural unless you have no choice- it has lead in it, which make it dangerous as well as extremely fussy. Tends to crack easily, and turn to cookie dough. It can be forged, but you have to be lucky.
So get some naval bronze- its the best.
   - Ries - Monday, 06/30/03 04:51:08 GMT

Gee Ries; Perhaps there is variation in what is called " silicon bronze", Because the batch I'm currently working is very forgiving with a wide temperature range followed by a significant amount of coldworking ( just kept hammering). It's just lovely stuff with a rich copper color. Seems to cold bend OK. Maybe it just doesn't like you?
Now phos-bronze can be resistant..especially cold.
Oops, here I am contradicting an authority again...sigh.
   Pete F - Monday, 06/30/03 06:12:56 GMT

Thank-you much for your time and info. I think I'll just change out the blades from the hilts with better ones. They're just going to decorate my office but I can't stand owning things that are not functional or have no function at all (I'm not a nic-nac person lol). As for the excess amount of stainless steel I going to have I guess I'm going to have alot of steak and butter knives.
Thank-you again for your time.
I'll know where to come if I have anymore questions.
   Jule - Monday, 06/30/03 10:57:55 GMT


"...a bent sword can still be used as a defense, a broken sword it the first step toward a rewarding career as organic daisy fertilizer." Laughed out loud! I still remember the sound of my broken blade clattering on the marble floors of Union Station! (And so does my crew- who won't let me forget!)

Camp Fenby:

Thanks to Jock and Charley for coming. Some day I'll get it organized so it all comes out even. We had about 6+ folks drop out at the last minute due to family/job/logistic situations. However we certainly had a good crew and a lot of interest.

One of the highlights, for me, was instructing my friend, Drey, in pounding a cutlass hilt out of a railroad spike. (It was his choice of material, but it was also mostly his labor. ;-) Given the situation, it certainly looked a lot like a cutlass hilt and nothing like a railroad spike by the time he was finished. It was also nice to hot-form it to the tang and ricasso for a perfect fit. A little file work and it will be really nice. (My eldest daughter immediately found a small cutlass blade and bought it from Finnr's estate. I'll forge the hilt for her when she next drops in. She can bring a boy friend, too.)

I've pretty much reached the point where, between the scrap pile and the forge, when somebody asks for a tool or material, I can open a drawer, rummage through a box, or kick the scrap pile and hand it over. Now with the small smelter, I can start casting some nice sword furniture.

Another nice thing was being able to work WITH people, instead of a solo act. It was a pleasure to have some good folks swing a hammer or help close the vise. I'm convinced that if Blacksmiths had three arms, life would be simpler. I guess the next project is to get off my tail and finish the "renaissance power hammer".

I still owe Oerjan some American wrought iron, and I came across the envelope with his return address at Camp Fenby, so MAYBE I can finally return a favor. :-)

Bright and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone - Monday, 06/30/03 13:48:51 GMT

Hot fitting:

This is an OLD method, and particularly good with "rat tail" tangs. However, we frequently either peen over the tang where it protrudes from the handle, or use some form of glue, too. I would suppose, depending on the wood of the handle, that some woods would have a better natural grip of the tang than others.

A few tricks that we have found useful:

1) Pre-drill the handle! If the tang has a uniform taper, you can size the drill for the tip and burn-in from there, or if youre in a hurry, size the drills for the tip and the mid-section and drill a "two-stage" hole. Don't just try to burn a tang into a solid block of wood!

2) Don't get the tang too hot! 900 degrees is black heat, but will char the heck out of the handle! Heat it so that it makes progress without excessive burning, somewhere above 451 f. but well below 900.

3) Wrap the ricasso in a wet rag (and cover the rest of the blade for your own safety) to keep from drawing the temper.

4) Draw out a few tapers and experiment before committing a burn-in on a good knife blade.

5) Do not do a Viking burn-in (setting your enemies house on fire while stationing armed men at the exits). It's not considered nice, even by Viking standards!

Hope this is useful.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/30/03 14:07:06 GMT

Hi Manny,

Balcones Forge will have it's next meeting on July 26th at the Austin Community College. Both instructors will provide the activities. Hope you can make it. JWGBHF
   JWGBHF - Monday, 06/30/03 14:10:56 GMT

I've been asked if I can oil quench some sort of pully. its part of some restoration ironwork on a building so really should be done properly.
I don't know how heavy they are, but I remember hearing that even small items (knives) need several gallons of oil to quench in. Is this right? Doesn't oil in that sort of quantity get expensive ? Where should I look for a cost effective oil quenchant ?

Oil quenching is going to be dangerous, isnt it ?
   roger - Monday, 06/30/03 15:01:03 GMT

I put in my registration for the pub the other day was just wondering about how long it takes to get it confirmed
Thanks Bardav
   Bardav - Monday, 06/30/03 15:53:01 GMT


Jock is running behind on Pub registrations, will probably take at least a couple of weeks.


Used peanut oil from McDonalds or Burger King will work. Immerse the pulley completely and quickly. If you get it under the surface of the oil fast enough, the oil should not reach the flash point.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/30/03 15:56:36 GMT

Hot Fitting: Besides what Bruce had to say this was also a method of making deep holes in wood. A seperate hot rod (not the tang being seated) was heated and pressed into the wood. This was a slow process as you want a short heat on the tip of the rod to prevent oversizing the hole as you work. It sounds quick and easy but it takes many heats and there is much smoke and fire as well as repeated quenching of the burning wood part.

This also works on bone and horn but REALLY stinks and is not particularly good for the horn.

The modern method is to drill a hole, file a radius or taper for the large end of the tang (tangs should always have a large radius). Then as Bruce noted glue is used. Today epoxy is used as both filler and glue so the fit in the hole does not need to be perfect. You just need a good clean fit at the guard if you have one. If not the hole usualy wants to be a good fit with even spacing around the tang so that the glue line is parallel and even. An epoxy with a close or approximate color match is used. A tang bedded in epoxy is as good or better than a perfect fit.
   - guru - Monday, 06/30/03 16:11:34 GMT

Oil Quench: I do not have a good tested ratio for oil quenching but I suspect you need at least 1 gallon per pound of steel. Commercially oil quench tanks are water cooled. They have a heat exchanger, radiator and pump system to keep the oil cooled.

It helps to NOT overheat the work (quench from the correct temperature).

My question is what kind of pulley from an old building needs to be hardened? And have they requested tempering? All hardenable carbon steels need to be both hardened and tempered. Both are part of the process.
   - guru - Monday, 06/30/03 16:21:03 GMT

We don't have the luxury of a watercooled tank. Heck, i've yet to buy a tank! We've got a metal bucket that holds between one and two gallons, so that might do.

I think the quench is only to protect the iron against rust, not to harden it any, so it doesn't need tempering. I'm not confident I'd do that sort of work. All I've learnt so far is the basics.
   roger - Monday, 06/30/03 17:21:28 GMT

Manny, Come to Santa Fe to learn. Think of it as a vacation. Brochure available. I have one opening in the August class.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/30/03 17:32:43 GMT

ok thats fine thanks
   - Bardav - Monday, 06/30/03 17:37:22 GMT

Today, June 30th is the last day of Workplace Safety Week.
-Fifteen workers are killed every day from unintentional injuries on the job. Another 10,700 each day are disabled temporarily or permanently by on-the-job injuries - one every 8 seconds.
-For every worker killed on the job, another 8 are killed in off-the-job accidents.
-For every 4 workers injured on the job, another 7 are injured away from work.
-Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for workers both on and off the job.
-On-the-job injuries cost the nation $132.1 billion in 2001 while off-the-job injuries to workers cost society $184.0 billion.
Just a reminder to work safely at work and at home.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/30/03 17:39:19 GMT

Guru - Hot Fitting - first off where you said "hot rod" it caught my eye. What can I say, it's summertime. Vrroom. Question - Ed Fowler (Knife Talk) cautions against grinding on bone or horn wihtout respiratory protection. Would burning a tang hole into these materials be likewise unhealthy?

Hey Roger, if all that's wanted is rust protection why not consider a hot beeswax coating or maybe hot linseed oil? There's no need to risk something going wrong (like overheating an old piece which might be very difficult to replace) if that's the case.

Just a suggestion.
   Two Swords - Monday, 06/30/03 17:52:04 GMT

Can you use antifreeze as a quench?
   Vince - Monday, 06/30/03 18:10:17 GMT


Good numbers to be aware of. Thank you for posting them.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/30/03 20:07:54 GMT

Hay guys
I have bean interested in blacksmithing for some time, problem is I'm 16 and i don't Know were or how to start.
If anyone out there has some advice or wise words for a young and ignorant soul e-mail me at mlink91@hotmail.com

Thanks alot
   Matt M - Monday, 06/30/03 21:04:59 GMT

First off look at the "Getting Started" section here on anvilfire. Read that. ALso if you could let us know what state you are in we can help locate smiths in your area.
Or you can look at the Links page and find the abana chapter locator and use that to contact local smiths. ANd yes I am pretty certain there will be local smiths in your area, as there are smiths in every state and I believe in every provience in Canada, as well as all over the world
   Ralph - Monday, 06/30/03 21:54:08 GMT


I am not sure if you will be able to answer my question, but I thought that
this would be the place to start.

My 16 yr old son has developed an interest in blacksmithing, and has taken
classes locally. Because of this interest, we have been on the lookout for
blacksmithing tools for him. Today, we found an old anvil that we purchased
for him. Upon close examination, we discovered that the name stamped on it
is not J W Wilson, but rather J Wilkinson, Dudley with the crossed sword
emblem of the Wilkinson Sword Co..

Also stamped on the anvil are the numbers 1 0 15 which we now believe is the
anvils weight in stones (it is approximately 125lbs).

Can you tell me if this anvil was once used by Wilkinson Sword, or any
information about it?

Thank you

Wayne F. Rocheleau, DVM
   Wayne Rocheleau, DVM - Monday, 06/30/03 22:59:11 GMT

just getting stated hopeing that some one experenced could give me some poniters on how to forge a basic sword blade

i live in mesa az us
   jared brooks - Monday, 06/30/03 23:05:47 GMT

leigh i have been working on wrought iron fences for over 30 years ..the best way ro clean wrought iron is with iron brush and sand papper..i never sand blast.. hotforge101
   hotforge101 - Monday, 06/30/03 23:06:53 GMT

e-mail me at rotcaz941@aol.com
   jared brooks - Monday, 06/30/03 23:07:38 GMT


Vince, I use an antifreeze mixture in my slack tub to keep it from growning too many fuzzy things. I use the safe antifreeze rather than the ethylene glycol type, but it still sends up a potent cloud of noxious steam when you quench a hot piece. It doesn't seem to quench much differently than plain water, perhaps a bit less boiling off at the surface of the work piece, but not a lot less. On the whole, I doubt it is worth the expense or effort. The other downside is that when it inevitably gets crudded up, you have to worry about where you dump it out. Next batch will be plain water for me.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/30/03 23:25:08 GMT

ohh and iv read the geting stared section
   jared brooks - Monday, 06/30/03 23:30:32 GMT

Quenching media: There is a liquid designed for quenching and it is called polyalkylene glycol. Houghton, Tenaxol, and others produce it. It is water soluble and produces no noxious fumes. Depending on the concentration, it can be made to quench nearly as fast as water or slow as oil. Quenching speed can also be changed by changing the temperature of the liquid. Can't say if they sell it in small quantities but they both have websites where you can get more information.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 06/30/03 23:51:04 GMT

Dr. Rocheleau, For anvil I.D., the definitive work is "Anvils in America" by Richard Postman, 1998. He claims that the sword and cannon makers were Wilkinsons OTHER than the anvil makers, page 510. The crossed design he guesses is "Queens Cross, Dudley" in England. The number 1 indicates 112 pounds plus the last number, the 15 odd pounds. Wilkinson is one of the "big three" of English anvil makers, the other two being Mousehole and Peter Wright.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/30/03 23:54:14 GMT


Quoting from ANVILS IN AMERICA by Richard Postman.

"What was assumed by some to have been "swords" or "Cannons" as part of the trademark of "J. Wilkinson & Sons, Queens, Dudley," I suggest are neither, but a type of cross representing "Queens Cross, Dudley," I have never found the word "Cross" as part of this Wilkinson tradmark and crossed ovals represent that word. Also, it seems that none of the Wilkinson anvil makers made cannons, or swords, as I mentioned in earlier parts of this book. The cannon and sword makers were other Wilkinsons."
   Paw Paw - Monday, 06/30/03 23:56:55 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2003 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC