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 18 - 24, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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Thanks for sharing the knowledge, as you can tell I am muchly a fledgling to the world of metalwork. Soon I will attend a fairly reputable school and learn the art of building fine firearms and knives... much to learn, cant wait to be counted among your ranks.
   - Veritas - Friday, 06/18/04 00:25:59 EDT

I'd like to do brazing in my forge but have never done it, and I'd like to do it old-style (not using brazing rods or new fluxes).

Can brass strips or brass filings be used to braze steel heated in the forge?

Will borax work or is another flux recommended?

How would I keep the brass from running all over, just control where the flux is?

Last but not least, temperature if I was using sheet brass strips or filings (color)?

rich pierce
   rich pierce - Friday, 06/18/04 13:53:24 EDT

I wondered if there were any easy and convenient ways to make a serviceable flux?
I have heard that fine sand would do the trick is that true? I've tried it on some mild steel but it didn't really do much good but that might be because I'm a complete beginner at forge welding.
Apparently they used to grind up calcium stones during the midle ages but even that is a bit hard for me to manage as I know very little about stones!
   - Joakim - Friday, 06/18/04 14:57:57 EDT

Joakim flux for what? Limestone was used as a flux in smelting iron from ore. Clean quartz sand was used as a flux in forge welding of wrought iron---WI can take a higher temperature and so the sand melts and is fluid enough to work with it. OTOH it won't dissove off in boiling water like borax residue can.

With the switch to mild steel came the increased use of borax as a flux for forge welding. IIRC Richardson's book "Practical Blacksmithing", mentions using borax as the flux for this "new" material (1880's-1890's). You can use borax when welding WI too.

I've used borax when forge brazing, you heat the metal until then brass melts---usually a red heat. Controlling where it goes is a hard one. I usually work with the ammount of brass and the orientation of the piece. The flux spreads out a lot at temperature. If I *had* to control it I would probably try using a clay wash over parts I didn't want brazed.
   Thomas P - Friday, 06/18/04 15:28:17 EDT

Forge brazing, old-style: Defined by me as late 18th- to late 19th century methods for the purpose of this explanation.

Yes, brass filing and/or strips can be used. Borax works, but a little sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride) mixed in to a paste-like consistency helps quite a bit. To keep the brass from running all over, flux is the key. Also, if you are brazing two forged parts, remember the braze will not stick to forge scale. So, file to clean metal ONLY the parts you want to stick. The brass can be peeled off the rest afterwards. How to hold the steel together in the fire? Since brazing works best in lap joints, use little rivets. I make triggerguards for muzzleloading rifles this way, with the front part and rear parts forged seperately and brazed together in the middle. Fit up the pieces cold, file to clean steel the parts you want to stick, drill a small hole in both pieces, and rivet. I use a piece of 6d nail (unplated) as rivet stock for this. At this point, I flux the joint, then I wrap some brass wire around the joint, then flux again. Carefully put the whole thing in the fire, right on top, with a very low blast. Try not to move it, as the joint will loosen as it heats. As soon as the brass turns liquid, carefully remove the piece from the fire and allow to cool. Soak off the flux in water, then file the joint clean. If you did the fitup well, the only sign of how you made the joint will be a very thin line of brass. It is important not to use more brass than you need, since any that is not pulled into the joint will run all over the piece and/or into the fire. I find an amount of wire or thin ribbon the length of the joint circumference is enough.
   Alan-L - Friday, 06/18/04 15:47:27 EDT

The traditional way to keep high-temp solders from going where you don't want them is to coat the areas with yellow ochre. You can get it in powder form from silversmith's supplies or art supplies. Mix it to a thin paste and paint it on the areas where you want the brazing to stay way from. You don't have to paint every square cm, just a band around the soldered area will do. The molten brass or silver will not flow over the yellow ochre. Chinses white, a type of pigment, will also work, as will most any mineral that won't melt at brazing temperatures and that can be made into a paintable consistency. Yellow ochre, being one of the oldest (and most readily available) pigments, is the traditional method for goldsmiths, silversmiths and sculptors.
   vicopper - Friday, 06/18/04 17:24:54 EDT


There's a formula for another old style flux. Contace me email, and I'll send it to you.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 06/18/04 19:10:41 EDT

On a scale of 1-10 10 being the best.What would you rate the 55lb STEAL hf anvil?
   - John S - Friday, 06/18/04 19:15:07 EDT

   - guru - Friday, 06/18/04 20:08:34 EDT

Sand for flux: Joakim, Yes and NO. There are as many (actualy more) kinds of sand as their are minerals. There is a sand for every mineral PLUS mixtures of sands. Someplaces sand may be the perfect flux and elsewhere (even a few feet away) the sand may be a weld preventer.

Identifying minerals is not too difficult if you study them but sands require laboratory testing OR a ton of trial and error (works, don't work).

Fluxing minerals generaly need to melt at relatively low temperatures and be chemicaly active when melted. Borax IS a mineral and a very good flux as it has both boron and sodium which are very active metals and like to disolve oxides. High soda sands (those that make good glass at low temperatures) make good fluxes. But a sand with alumina or any of the refractory minerals will not melt and just add trash to the weld. Minerals like flourspar with flourine make very agressive flux and is used for welding high alloy steels.

Clays also make suitable fluxes (since they are decomposed minerals). Red clays often work and most mud dauber nests are a good clay that will flux. However, there are refractory clays like those used for porceline and to make firebricks (alumina again) that can be used for metal protectants but NOT as fluxes.

Due to the high aluminium content of the earth's crust and the many aluminium bearing minerals the probability of any given sand being a fluxing agent is pretty low. But then some guy will reach down, pick up some sand, try it and it will work great. THEN he goes around telling everyone that "sand works great". . . Well, maybe the sand in HIS backyard (lets start a sand pit) but not everywhere else.
   - guru - Friday, 06/18/04 20:38:33 EDT

Joakim: If you're just trying to figure out something that will work, as opposed to specifically trying to be old-timey, your local grocery store has flux available. It's in the laundry detergent isle and it's called "20 Mule Team" borax.
   AwP - Saturday, 06/19/04 01:48:31 EDT

Is there any blacksmithing use for potassium chloride? I ended up with four 40# bags of water softening pellets (short, booring story) so I'm open to suggestions and willing to share. I'll even have it available at Camp Fenby.

I'm also looking for a chuck key for the new drill press. All I know is that it is bigger than 1/2" and the insert section is 5/16". I looked at several industrial sources, but there was such a variety, none of which gave the insert's diameter, that I just can't order blind.

Cooling and clouding-up on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby (a laid-back medieval arts and crafts camp-out) June 25-27, 2004; Oakley Farm, Avenue, MD
For those with access to Yahoo groups, further information and updates are at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/files/Fenby2004.htm
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/19/04 16:43:35 EDT

Bruce, are you absolutely sure the hole for the stinger (insert) is 5/16 " ? If so, I'll look at the farm store here next week. Those holes can be in 64ths, 32nd's etc. Not wishing to insult your intelligence (or measuring skills) just wanting to make sure. I suspect I might find what you're looking for but never know. I DO know that I can measure these keys for exact match. Regards
   Ten Hammers - Saturday, 06/19/04 17:40:27 EDT

Can't you make Gunter's Superquench solution with potassium salts?
   - HWooldridge - Saturday, 06/19/04 21:37:13 EDT


I don't think it would work as well, and the Potassium might be hard to get rid of. I just use regular table salt.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 06/19/04 21:58:10 EDT

Ten Hammers:

That's the drill-bitt butt from the index that seemed to fit best, but I can remeasure tomorrow to double-check.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/19/04 22:29:53 EDT

what is the name of the supply house in florida referred to as barberville's?
   smutty duck - Saturday, 06/19/04 23:43:13 EDT

KCl, Potasium Chloride: Is very similar to sodium chloride (table salt). It has a lower melting point and 250 degree F higher vaporization point. It is often used for salt bath heat treating or as a component in a mixed salt bath (see our heat treating FAQ for more details).

Potasium Chloride can be used with Sodium Nitrate to make Potasium Nitrate and Sodium Chloride. It is fairly easy and a common high school chemistry experiment. The Potasium Nitrate can then be used for gun bluing and making black powder.

When I was a kid they wouldn't sell us KNO4 so we made a mixture of Potasium Chloride and Sodium Nitrate. The combination when wrapped in paper of cloth made a great slow fuse. . . left a salt worm tube behind. We didn't know how close we were. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 06/20/04 02:08:10 EDT

Chuck Keys: Bruce, These are brand specific, there is no standard and even Jacobs has some odd variations in its line (but not many). Besides the pilot being different diameters the bevel gears have different pitches (metric and English) and angles. The cloner import chucks may LOOK like our chucks but they are all metric nominals.

If it is a Jacobs chuck then look for the model number (usualy a couple letters and a digit on the body between the key holes) and then look on the McMaster-Carr web site. They have the full Jacobs line listed and sell the keys. They also sell the 4 way (like a four size lug wrench) chuck key which fits 90% of all Jacobs chucks of all sizes.

Jacobs is one of those great old companies that still makes every chuck they ever sold as well as parts to fit most. The exception is the cheap "multi craft" chucks sold on some cheap hand drills.

Other American brands copied Jacobs after their pattent ran out in 1933. However, they copied the mechanism but not the specific dimensions and their keys will not fit. Rarely do you find anything other than a Jacobs chuck on older commercial American machinery. They made an excellent product that few have succedded in duplicating at any price.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/20/04 02:28:06 EDT

Atli, I seem to recall that Potassium Chloride works as a flux for melting aluminum. I have some that I've been meaning to try for the purpose. 160# ought to last you a long time for that purpose.

Does anyone know of a source for decent-sized stake anvils? I'm looking for something around 3-4" square and the same thickness. I may just end up forging and fabricating one, but it would be a fairly big pain for me compared to buying one.

Frying our way through summer in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

   T. Gold - Sunday, 06/20/04 06:10:58 EDT

T. Gold, Old World Anvils used to carry stump anvils but I don't thhink they were that big. Might check out their new web site.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/20/04 09:50:05 EDT

Heavy Stump Anvils: TG, Nobody makes them that I know of. All the stake anvils sold today are sheet metal stakes for light bending, truing and planishing. Most are not heavy enough for planinshing armour and sculptural plate (16ga and up) so you find a lot of make do in those industry.

If you were not in the middle of the Pacific Ocean I would suggest looking for an antique. I have several and I see dealers from Pennsylvania with them often. However, most (that I have seen available) are lighter than you are looking for. My heavy antique stump anvil is about 2-1/2" (64mm) wide and 3" (76mm) deep at the shank, It has a very stout shank that flares gracefully to about 6" at the flange. Its bicks are short becasue is it for heacier work. Click on the image on the Hammer-In to see it.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/20/04 11:00:28 EDT

my question is about making roses or flowers in general how to or how to get started can anyone help me?
   Michael Foltz - Sunday, 06/20/04 18:28:08 EDT

Michael, We have two step by rose demonstrations on our iForge page.

#13 by Bill Epps is the common method useing a blanks kit. Kayne and Son and others sell them.

#40 also by Bill Epps is another modern method but does not require purchase parts. A piece of pipe is used.

#82 By James Joyce called a "Round Rose" is made from small bar stock and mass is created by forge welding.

#146 By Larry Mills called the "Russian Rose" is forged from plain bar and rolled.

There are also a couple other flower demos.

   - guru - Sunday, 06/20/04 19:14:49 EDT

I'm off to try to tape the King Arthur story on the History Channel. We will see if Capt'n Atli and crew made it. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 06/20/04 20:11:31 EDT

Can anyone advise what size stock can realistically be slit using a No. 6 fly press? Oh, and what tonnage does a No. 6 equate too?

   malcolm hollis - Monday, 06/21/04 01:06:12 EDT

Smutty Duck...Barberville Pioneer Art Settelment. FABA sometimes holds regional and statewide gatherings there. it about 25 miles west of Daytona. I dont know of a barbervill supply house.
   R Guess - Monday, 06/21/04 08:56:38 EDT

New T-shirt for Longship Company crew: "You Saw My Butt on the History Channel!"

The Quest for King Arthur ran a little long, but it looked not too bad last night. They have a trailer that actually (briefly) shows our ship at the Partisan Productions web site: http://www.partisanpictures.com/arthurvid.html .

I spent the weekend recovering from Denver, clearing out my parents' house, and trying to get things ready for Camp Fenby; some of these activities run a little contrary to each other. 8-O (= Gaaaah!)

Cool and clear on the banks of the Potomac. I hope we get this nice weather next weekend!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby; a laid-back medieval arts and crafts weekend, June 25, 26 and 27. For those with access to yahoo groups: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/ (in draft)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/21/04 09:03:50 EDT

Yep, the hole in the chuck is 5/16"; but now I need to go back and see if I can find any Jacobs (or other) model numbers.

Soooo; fun with potassium chloride is possibe? Too bad aluminum is not a medieval metal (although our folks did cast Viking broadaxe heads out of it for reenactment purposes, but that's at a larger scale/volume of casting than I'm comfortable with). Anyway, I've plenty of it for anybody needing it at Camp Fenby (as well as pecan stumps, etc.)

{Think, then post...}
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/21/04 09:10:19 EDT

Flypress Capacity: Malcolm, A number 6 can probably hot slit up to 1-1/2 (38mm) and will easily do 1" (24mm) in production. Slitting takes much less power than other processes. The trick is to use a good punch lubricant like PunchiezeTM. The BigBLU guys sell it. The slitting tool needs to be a hot work steel like H13 or H27. I would also recommend forced air cooling of the punch between pieces.

To handle the #6 and work that size is probably a two man job or a real juggling act.

The capacity on the presses is hard to express in a simple number. The force is inversely proportional to the working distance. My calculations show these presses to be rated approximately in tons at .012 to .015" (0.3 to 0.4 mm) travel. So if you have a job that requires 6 tons to punch that size material then it will punch it in one stroke. However, a lot of flypress work is done in multiple strokes.

The maximum force at zero work distance (a sudden stop) would theoreticaly be infinite but it is limited by stretch in frame and compression of parts. It probably limits the maximum coining force at something less than double the presses rated capacity (probably 1.5 x).

See Manual Flypress Capacity for a chart of capacities.
   - guru - Monday, 06/21/04 09:45:50 EDT

Search for King Arthur: As Atli pointed out it ran a little long. It was awful repetitive on many points but did present a lot of murky British history.

Atli, crew and ship are shown over and over in very short clips. The same three 2 second clips over and over any time they needed to show a Viking or Norman ship, invaders coming ashore and a bit of them being repelled (I think). There was also a couple sunset scenes with Arthur going to Avalon.

Sadly the film editors used long time compressed shots of beautiful changing skys to symbolize passing of time rather than using the footage of all the great reenactors from both sides of the ponds to fill time. Like the Longship Company, I suspect they spents days with film crews only to be reduced to a few seconds used over and over.

This style of editing has recently become a hallmark of a History Channel production. They have made a low budget formula out of their editing process that makes all their shows the same and very tiresome to watch. I enjoy the great history but television is a VISUAL medium (like the web) and they have cheapend the visuals as far as you can go.
   - guru - Monday, 06/21/04 10:15:06 EDT

Drill Chuck Numbers: Alti, The easy way to find the numbers is to polish the rust off the chuck. I would use a little fine wet-or-dry sandpaper, pentrating oil like WD40 and polish while running the drill press.

All Jacobs chucks have their name, model number and usualy the capacity stamped clearly, albiet lightly, between the holes where the chuck key goes. It is difficult to read in bad light or on a rust darkened chuck.
   - guru - Monday, 06/21/04 10:21:04 EDT

Sanding Belt Speed: I recently acquired an old belt sander with no motor and no pulleys. The belt is 6in. wide by 48in. long.

Can anyone recommend the best range of belt speeds for general purpose blacksmithing? (Such as clean up of forgings to look nice and see the temper colors, fixing up hammer handles, and the like.) Also, how much horsepower would you recommend?

   Walking Dog - Monday, 06/21/04 13:33:42 EDT

Smutty - Barberville is more precisely about 20 miles west of I-95 at Ormond Beach. It's at the intersection of 40 and US 17. Our statewide meeting is July 10. You are welcome to attend. They sometimes have coal for sale to FABA members. (We have members from several states).
   Ron Childers - Monday, 06/21/04 16:02:32 EDT

Walking Dog, I have 2 6x 48" belt sanders one home built
1 commercial the home built runs @ 1000fpm with a 2 hp 220
volt motor the commercial runs a bit slower and is 115 volt
with a 1 hp motor If you have 220 volt in your shop I would use a 2hp I like my sanders to run fast to do the work faster and not bog down when I do some really serious grinding. I run my 2x 48" belt grinders at 4000 to 5000
fpm with 3450 rpm motors Harbor Freight has their 2 hp
3450 motors on sale sometimes for as little as $59.00
   - ptpiddler - Monday, 06/21/04 16:51:43 EDT

Belt Sander Speed: On an old commercial sander you need to figure out how fast THEY ran it. Bearings come in various speed ratings depending on size, precision, lubrication, heat transmission, sealing. . . Run them double the OEM speed and you might not be able to keep bearings in the sander.
   - guru - Monday, 06/21/04 19:32:08 EDT

how do i preregister for the classroom?every time i try it keeps saying that the page is unavaible.can somone please help?
   - John S - Monday, 06/21/04 21:09:31 EDT

Drill Chuck Information:

It’s a “Superchuck” by the Jacobs Manufacturing Company, Hartford, Ct. USA, specifically a No. 12; 0-1/2”; patented 1902, ’09 and ’15. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/21/04 23:07:11 EDT

I just picked up a nice used bench grinder at reliabletool.com for $25. I only live about 45 min away, so I drove out there on Sat. Wow, what a great place. I was like a kid in a candy store. It looks like they buy up large lots of equipment from companies going under etc and then resell it. They had some great deals going. Particularly if you need machine shop equipment.

My question for you guys has to do with wiring my new grinder. It says on the motor that it is 110/220. Is there an advantage to running it 220 rather than 110? Does it give it more power, or does it change how much power it draws? Is one cheaper than the other?


   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 06/22/04 01:28:41 EDT

oops, bad url above. It was at: http://reliabletools.com


   FredlyFX - Tuesday, 06/22/04 01:30:12 EDT

Fredly; Given the choice, 220 is preferable.
Good Guru; How does one heat treat very small diameter wire...like, say, fish hooks?
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 06/22/04 04:08:44 EDT

Camp Fenby: For those of you in the VA, MD, DC area that may be interested in the Longship company's Camp Fenby this weekend we have a public accessable link:


Note that most of the big chain motels within 30 miles are filled. As Atli notes, it is laid back fun. Plan on coming to participate, not just watch. I will be doing brass casting again if the mosquitoes don't carry me off. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/22/04 08:37:08 EDT

Cheap tools:

Those of you looking for old blacksmith's tools may find it worthwile sticking a postcard sized wanted advert in the window of your local store/Post Office. I did and got a good response. See the link below for details!
   Bob G - Tuesday, 06/22/04 08:47:39 EDT

   Bob G - Tuesday, 06/22/04 08:48:14 EDT


I'd use a heating block on a table next to the forge. That way you can heat the hook indirectly, rather than trying to heat it directly in the fire.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 06/22/04 08:49:01 EDT

Guru, Avov Skin-So-Soft is the hot setup for dealing with biting insects. The yellow flys down here are so mean they will attack a duck. SSS is cheaper than Deet, works good, smells better and won't corrode your lungs. If you can't find it locally, I can get it for you cheaply...
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 06/22/04 10:19:02 EDT

Pete, Paw-Paw beat me to it. Tweezers and a hot block. Electric stove will work too. .

Ron, The biting flies at Atli's think SSS is the sauce on the duck. . . will bite through your cloths. They like my ankles for some reason. A friend gave me some suntan lotion in Costa Rica that also repelled insects I think I will give her a call. I am usualy the bait that gets bit while everyone else is avoided. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/22/04 11:50:34 EDT

Motor Voltage: It depends on the HP. 120VAC is much more convienient for fractional HP motors but you lose power and motors run hotter above 1HP. If the amperage at 120VAC is over 20 then you are required by code to run a special circuit. Of course if you run it on 240VAC you will need a special circuit anyway. . .

The other consideration is the size of your service. If you have a small service the 240V will require half the amps and is a balanced load. However, actual power consumption on a fractional HP motor is almost the same at either voltage.

You will hear folks say that higher voltage is cheaper but this is not true unless it is significantly higher voltage (480, 660 . .). The biggest cost savings at these voltages is the wire size and conduit can be much smaller. However, if the wire length is short the extra cost of high voltage switches and breakers can quickly cancel the savings in wiring. There are less line loss (resistance) when using higher voltage.

Same goes for 3PH. Wire is smaller at the higher voltages. However, at low voltages the addition of the third leg costs more in wire. Most utilities charge a premium for using 3PH when they should in fact discount it because a 3PH service is a more balanced load on their lines. . .

In Europe and other places they avoid this who issue and just run everything on 220.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/22/04 12:10:38 EDT

This question is for guru.What are some good questions for buying a used anvil?Also harbor frate has a steel anvil not those piece of crap cast iron anvils.Does anyone have one and if they do how is it for a starting blacksmith?
   - John S - Tuesday, 06/22/04 14:57:29 EDT

HF Anvils, John, lately they do not really KNOW what they have. A couple years ago they had some Russian anvils (see our review - 21st Century, Product Reviews). Those WERE cast steel albiet a little soft. Soon after the makers of cheap Chinese CI anvils were copying the same pattern. It has been sold as steel while in fact it IS cheap cast iron. The importer brands these "Central Forge" as were the Russian anvils. The name means NOTHING.

Ask more than one sales person at HF and they will give you different answers or tell you the truth, they don't know.

When buying a used anvil I would first ask if it was repaired then pass on it. If it is old and the face is perfect and looks freshly machined then it has been repaired PASS on it. If the face has discoloration (yellower or brighter white) edges or spots on the face then it has been welded up (repaired), PASS on it.

There are a few folks that can repair an anvil and do a decent job. Then there are others that THINK they know what they are doing and talk a big story. . . PASS on their anvils.

There are plenty of unrepaired old anvils. I would (and have) prefered old anvils with chipped corners and a sway in the face rather than any that have been repaired.

If you expect an old used anvil to have sharp edges and a flat face some will sell you an anvil that has been repaired. I have seen anvils where half the thickness of the face has been machined off. . to make sharp edges.

Sharp edges are bad for good forging practice and NOT a good reason to buy a specific anvil.

Dings, minor cuts and chips can be cleaned up or smoothed enough not to be a problem with a belt or disk sander.

Avoid anvils with painted faces. I have know weld repairs, cracks and holes to have been filled and painted over. Rust is better than paint. You can detect the condition of the surface through rust but it is difficult through paint.

The primary problems to look for are cracks, especially around the sides where the face is welded on to old anvils. If the anvil is steel or a wrought bodied anvil it should ring clearly when struck. A buzz or hollow sound (a "thwack") indicates a cracked of seperating face. Steel faced cast iron bodied anvils do not ring but they do make buzzing or hollow sounds when the face is loose.

A 100 pound anvil that is a real clunker with chipped edges and a swayed face is still worth $50 to $100. Repaired the anvil may bring more but I would not buy it. Give me my old anvils showing their age. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/22/04 15:33:07 EDT

ASO's: I went into a HF store a couple of years ago and they had a big sale on the 55 lb. Cast Iron anvil. They had a sign on it stating it was 55 lb of top quality steel. I brought a sales person over, picked up a small hammer and rapped it. The dull "Thwock" illustrated that it was indeed Cast Iron. After pointing out to the sales person the error in their sign, they replied "Iron, Steel, so what's the difference?". Not really an attempt to deceive, just plain ignorance. If you need to determine whether it is cast iron or cast steel, go pick up one of their cheap ball peen hammers and lightly tap the anvil face. Thwock = cast iron Ding = cast steel
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/22/04 19:22:47 EDT

Lightly. . . tapping will mark the face of many of the foamy cast iron junkers. . . Tap it on the side so it doesn't show.

If you are looking at cheapo anvils see THIS:

Cheap Ebay ASO

When I rebound tested a series of CI anvils in a farm supply store they only rated 10% and the concrete floor they were sitting on rated 15% !!!

Testing Anvil Rebound

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/22/04 21:06:42 EDT

Thanks guru and PPW.
I was talking to someone while shining up the high spots on a piece to be photographed using the power wire brush.
Wham! The piece dissappeared. Not paying enough attention. Stopped, Imagined PPW nodding ( told you so) to me; then,counted my fingers. Took me half an hour to find the piece amidst the clutter 15 feet away.
JOIN CYBERSMITHS, SUPPORT ANVILFIRE!! and learn from our mistakes!
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 06/23/04 02:31:20 EDT


I'm glad your lesson wasn't as emphatic as mine was. Have you seen the pictures of the full face and head shield I use now?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 06/23/04 06:54:23 EDT


Can anyone recommend a good Merchant credit card service to use to be able to accept credit card payment for my work ? Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated too.


   Chris S - Wednesday, 06/23/04 09:10:36 EDT

Been there done that; I tell them it's the difference between a porsche and a yugo *and* it constitutes false advertising which is agin the law in every state I've lived in. They don't care, what they need is a class action lawsuit for all the folks who bought their mis-labelled items, perhaps then they would sit up and take notice---hmmm an ASO recall...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/23/04 11:09:00 EDT

Merchant Card: Chris, There are different ways to do this. Everyone involved in doing it on the web is relatively expensive and has hidden fees, or are not what I would call full service. There WAS some variety at one time but the conglomerate Verisign has bought them up.

Consider CyberCash (now owned by Verisign). A year ago their fee schedule looked great but if you go over $5k one month their fee suddenly jumps to $1000 (20%)! So if you are under $5k or WAY over $5K you are OK but AT $5K you are screwed.

I process cards through Cardservice International. They have a pretty good system and their fees are OK EXCEPT, they charged me for an outraegeous "software licensing" fee for using THEIR system on THEIR server. They were hooked up through a leasing outfit that is a notorious scam. The sales guy was as slimy as a curbside used car salesman. I would highly recommend Cardservice International if they didn't try to sneak in that extra software fee. If you talk to them tell them you will do business but you refuse to pay for software that is not delivered to you to run on YOUR server. I got ripped off.

CSI is looking at PayPal. It seems to work but I do not know if they support the kind of reports that a real business needs (shipping and sales tax breakdowns, card batches. . ). Many of these systems are a total mystery until you actually sign up.

If you do not need on-line card handling then you are better off with a regular bank service. There are huge risks to the online merchant that are different than when you swipe a card. When things go wrong you are responsible 100%. Bad sales are pulled from your account faster than an IRS levy.

Most good commercial banks offer merchant card service. If yours does not then consider changing banks to one that does. Many on-line merchants process their cards through the regular service. It is like taking mail orders. The difference with both phone and mail is that you have to manually process the card.

Note that there are scams a plenty in card swiping machines. The banks and CC companies LOVE to lease you theirs forever (like the software above). You can buy a machine outright for what a couple months of leasing fees will cost. Sure, if lightening hits it you are out the money. . but it is still cheaper than leasing. They will not tell you that you can buy an aftermarket machine. Ask another local merchant about what they use.

Beware of fraud (just because they are big doesn't mean they are not crooks) and scams. Read ALL the fine print. Most of these folks are infamous for slipping in odd charges and like your phone bill the "extra" fees can be more than the expected percentage of sales.

When I got into this my bank of 25 years had stopped handling credit cards. Now they do again since they were bought out. I should have changed banks and gotten a merchant account (like I had in the 1980's. ..).

If you do a LOT of sales the on-line systems sure are nice and save considerable time. But there are costs and agrevations to consider.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/23/04 12:46:40 EDT

I have been a forging engineer for 25 years and have 2 small Billings Board drop hammers for sale here in the northeast. Falling ram weights are 800 and 1600 pounds, and the rams cycle about 50 blows per minute. I think they would be a cheap way for someone to add capacity to a shop.
they are electric (come with motors) 460 VAC and they are easily maintained. they will be scrapped soon and I hope someone has an interest before this happens.
   Dan James - Wednesday, 06/23/04 13:05:40 EDT

At a forge museum in Germany I got to see a video of a smith forging a hoe from 2" square stock using a board drop hammer: heat the piece up place it so the left half is under the hammer *whomp* there is now a leftside of the hoe blade well on the way to being done. Repeat on the right than over to a lufthammer to draw down the "tang" of the hoe.

Dan what do they want for them?

Thomas---it's a sickness
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/23/04 13:53:47 EDT

Chris, I've been using PayPal for the last year or so. I like that it is easy to use, and my customers can use their credit card or do an electronic check. The money goes into my PayPal account, and I have a paypal mastercard that I use to buy as much stuff as I can that has to do with my smithing. This way I have my smithing paying for itself as much as possible. I can also transfer the funds into my regular checking account if I am willing to wait the 3 or 4 days it takes for it to go through.

I would suggest that if you are a low volume seller like I am that you look into PayPal. I honestly have no idea how it would work with the kind of large volume Guru was talking about.

If you want to see how the paypal cart works check out my web site. http://fredlyfx.com go to the products page and click on any of the pay pal buttons. You can go through the whole process and just cancel at the end to see how it works. When a person goes through with it an email is generated to me with the order details.

Home this helps a little.

   FredlyFX - Wednesday, 06/23/04 16:11:56 EDT

My problem with PayPal is that they wanted my checking account to back up the credit card for making purchases. I would not give it to them, they gave me a limited account. But they hounded me every time I used the system. You also have to have a registered paypal account to buy through papal. On a regular merchant account you do not. Your card is your card is your card.

I HAD (or have) a paypal account that I cannot remember how to access and stop their junk mail. I am a stuborn crotchity SOB when it comes to some things and in business if folks can't accept my credit card or check as-is then tough, I'll shop elsewhere. Like buggy software and poorly designed tech items and tools I give stuff that is finicky and intrusive very short shift and into the circular file it goes. Life is too short and I have enough aggrevation.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/23/04 18:58:44 EDT

Thanks a lot for the Merchant card advice, it's a big help. I'll proceed carefully armed with your information.

FredlyFX, I have a Paypal account but I don't think they offer a Merchant card service where you can process someones card when you are selling at a show, fair, etc., just online purchases. But thanks just the same.

   Chris S - Wednesday, 06/23/04 18:59:16 EDT

hello there this weard but i dont no what it is what is babbitin knife make making
   billknife - Wednesday, 06/23/04 19:22:17 EDT

Currently, I live in Denver, Colorado. I'm very interested in Blacksmithing and would like to take some classes in Blacksmithing abroad - favorite idea is Spain and second to that is Germany or Italy. I am learning the fundamentals of welding right now (oxy-acetylene, MIG,Arc.) I have worked in a foundry locally and have experience in the bronzing techniques, as well as, some casting techniques.

Would you be able to direct me to an appropriate environment in Spain (Italy, Germany?) I have no Blacksmithing experience. Any information you may be able to pass my way would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much,

   Kimberly - Wednesday, 06/23/04 20:27:37 EDT

Kimberly, Have you considered some US schools first? Frank Turley has a school in New Mexico and there are numerous schools back here in the East.

It is almost too late but the upcoming ABANA conference (July 7-11) brings people from all over the world and personal contacts are the best. Then there is the Calgary Stampede in Canada (July 8-12). It might be a little closer for you. Great place, great event and it too brings people from all over the world. Slightly different crowd, mostly farriers but they also have a forging contest. Good place to go to beat the summer heat. Both are listed on our schedule of events and have links.

I went to CanIron in Calgary a few years ago and it was great. I'd like to get back up there for the Stampede. This year I will be at ABANA conference reporting on it for our NEWS.

Also on our Claendar of Events is the "BAVARIAN ARTIST-BLACKSMITH'S AND METALBUILDER'S MEETING: Kolbermoor - Bavaria, Germany" in August. There is a link and folks ther to contact. How is your German?

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/23/04 20:48:03 EDT

OK Bruce, here goes. I work rotating shifts at a factory. I'm off Fri, Sat, Sunday this week. Will see if I can get to the store Friday before I make a delivery. 5/16 chuck key will be the target, and I will see whats up for price. BTW, Grainger or MSC should have one in your area (but I like to mike stuff and hold it in my hand before I buy it too). You can mail me if you wish. Thanks. NOW, (think then read, then post) :) I suspect that this is just a standard (albiet large) chuck key ? Does it appear the there are any differences in configuration to make it anything but run of the mill standard chuck key ? If so, a pic might be nice. The place (actually I have 2 places) has a ton of MDS and never know what you'll find.

Steve O'Grady
   Ten Hammers - Wednesday, 06/23/04 22:23:23 EDT

I am interested in wrought iron substitutes, namely very low carbon mild steels, such as 1002 or 1006. These seem to be extremely hard to find, and when found are usually in the form of wire or thin sheet. Do you know of a source of bar stock in these low carbon materials?

Also, second question: I have a good bunch of bar stock that I got from a company called "Art and Metal", which was in Massachusetts but is now out of business. This stuff is some form of pure iron, but isn't wrought iron. It is really soft and some have said that is almost too soft, and is unsuitable for some applications like hinges or nails. Any memories of this company, or this material, or what it might be? I can't remember the name, but cannot find anything about "pure iron" on the internet.

Thanks very much for your time,
Ryan McNabb
Ooltewah, TN
   Ryan McNabb - Thursday, 06/24/04 03:59:15 EDT

I'm gone until Monday, folks. On my way to Camp Fenby. See Y'all next week.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 06/24/04 07:42:53 EDT

Pure Iron / Wrought Iron: Ryan, The Pure Iron folks went out of business due to lack of interest afer heavily advertising in the Anvils Ring (should have tried here). Then Roger Duncan took up the banner last year and found that he could get the very low carbon alloy steel precursor from an American mill and had 20,000 pounds rolled into 1/4" plate then had that sheared up into bar. It was a replacement for Pure Iron that he called "Double Ought Iron" or 00Fe. (.003% C).

Sadly Roger died in March. I have not heard what has happened to his stash of "00Fe".

The problem with Roger's plan was that the top end architectural folks need 5/8", 3/4", 1", 1-1/4" stock. The biggerst thing he had was 1/4" x 2" flat. I bought a few pieces of 1/2" and 3/4" by 1/4" from him.

As to pure iron being too soft for nails and hinges what do you tink was used for a thousand years or so? Wrought is just as soft and also tends to split. The big difference is that you have to design work differently. Long spans in gates and fences must be supported differently or the will sag (a lot more than A36).

Most "mild steel" sold today is A36 structural steel or some variation. If you want lower carbon and a better grade then buy cold drawn SAE 1018-1020. Be sure to specify the 1018-1020 otherwise you may get cold worked A36.

The vast majority of smiths just use whatever hot roll they get. It is a matter of economics. Special pure iron and super low carbon steels sell for $1/pound or more PLUS extra for shipping. Of course if you are doing a $250-$300/foot rail job then the materials are a very small part of the job.

In England they are "manufacturing" wrought iron by recyling old wrought, welding up billets and rolling it. But this resource is finite and will run out in the near future. Part of the problem is that much of the scrap wrought ends up going to make scrap steel.

The Pure Iron is still available in Europe as is the rerolled wrought if you want to import a few tons.

In the US there is still considerable wrought iron scrap if you go looking for it. Many old steel bridges were made from wrought. Some HUGE bridges like the Robeling suspension bridge across the Ohio at Cincinatti has lots of wrought structurals. The soft wrought is easily identifiable as the elements that are bent warped and twisted from years of load.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/24/04 09:08:43 EDT

Ryan: The commercial name of the stuff is Pure Iron. The only place I could find it (when it was still for sale in the US.) was a titanium dealer in Hanson Mass. They had a web page under art and metal as you recall. They no longer carry it. They told me it didn't sell well enough to continue. I'm told it is still being made and sold in the UK. You can try www.pureiron.com and see about shipping if you like. And yes, its too soft for nails but it rusts a beautiful brick-red.
   Gronk - Thursday, 06/24/04 09:08:58 EDT

I'm gone with Paw-Paw
   - guru - Thursday, 06/24/04 09:09:02 EDT

Pure iron as nails....

Gonk why do you say it is too soft? I made a fair bunch from it and all worked just fine. I have also made several thousand nails from wrought and they too work fine.
Wire nails ( common nails) are made if I remember correctly from 1008 which is about as soft as PI was.

I have also seen copper nails being used.

So soft I think is not really the problem. But then again this is just my opinion
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/24/04 11:47:17 EDT

I'm only saying what I was told by several people, including the guys at the Colonial Williamsburg shop. Apparently they had all heard that when used for hinges it just wore away due to not being able to bear up under repetitive friction. Didn't make sense to me either, but I am not an expert. I am between forges now, and haven't even had a chance to try this stuff.

Thanks very much for the tips and all the information - very much appreciated.
   Ryan McNabb - Thursday, 06/24/04 12:03:56 EDT

Pure iron / wrought iron hinges:

Here in the Virgin Islands, there are literally tens of thousands of wrought iron hinges. Most of these werre made between 1680 and 1900 and are still in fine shape. That is with the salt air, hurricanes, and thousands of cycles of opening/closing. I am inclined to strongly disbelieve that pure iron would be any problem for hinges, at least vis-a-vis wear characteristics. Hinges that had a long, unsupported span and heavy load would probably sag, given time. Say, a hundred years or so. :-)
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/24/04 12:39:01 EDT

Pure iron IS a different animal entirely than wrought. It has no slag inclusions, and thus loses the composite nature of wrought. I suspect that's why it may not take abrasion well. I played with a bar of 3/8 x 1 pure iron once. It welded well, but was so soft that a six foot length would not support its own weight in the 3/8 dimension. If you clamped one end in a vise, it would slowly bend at the point it left the jaws. It was much stronger edgewise.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/24/04 14:00:32 EDT

I have an anvil that was on our farm when I grew up in the 50's. It came with the place in upstate NY, Mohawk Valley area. It weighs about 160-180 pounds as close as I can figure (guess I should put it on the bathroom scale), has no pritchel hole but does have a square hole, is kind of stumpy- the tail and horn don't extend far from the thick middle. It has no maker's markings except number son one side. There is a clear "1" on the left of the "waist" of the anvil, a clear "2" in the center, and then what looks like a "7" with a slash through it, but it could be a "4". It looks like these were engraved into the anvil, not stamped.

I was wondering if the markings might be weight in "stones", which I guess are 14 pounds. 12x14=168 and maybe the 7 is a fraction?

Guesstimates on the date and place of origin? Anybody who would like to see a picture to give advice, my email is rpierce@im.wustl.edu
   rich pierce - Thursday, 06/24/04 15:17:02 EDT


I agree that pure iron is very different from wrought, for the reason you mentioned. I don't think, however, that the lack of a composite nature would affect the abrasion resistance in the case of hinges. As long as both leaves of the hinge, (or the leaf and pintle) are BOTH made of the same material, the abrasion shouldn't be a problem. If you have pure iron bearing on a harder alloy, or on a composite product like wrought, then you could have a problem with the softer material being abraded.

The composite nature of wrought iron is a double-edged sword. In some instances, like section modulus, the slag inclusions may actually be a benefit. In other cases, like limit of elasticity, the slag inclusions are definitely a weakness. There is no one material that is going to have every characteristic exactly the way we would like it, I'm afraid.

Low carbon steel like 1018 is probably the best compromise of workability, welding characteristics and strength that is available for blacksmithing. As Jock pointed out though, it's not always easy to find and isn't cheap.

Many of us lament the passing of wrought iron, but overlook the fact that wrought came in several grades. The lowest grade was unsuitable for many things, while the highest grade was much more nearly homogeneous (as the result of many more steps in its manufacture), and better to work with. Also considerably more expensive than the cheaper grades of wrought. Just as is the case with mild steel today.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/24/04 16:54:02 EDT

Pure Iron/Nails

Even though modern nails are made from low carbon steel, they are not hot forged. They are made from cold drawn wire and cold headed, so they have some increase in strength from work hardening. I am sure that Pure Iron, treated the same way, would work OK for nails. I do think that direct comparisons between wrought iron and Pure Iron are not accurate since wrought is really more of a composite than a homogenous material like Pure Iron.

   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 06/24/04 16:55:13 EDT

rich pierce,

Both the resident experts on old anvils are off being medieval this weekend, so they may not get to your question right away. However, your supposition about the markings is correct. The first number is hundredweights (cwt) or 112 lbs. The second number is the number of quarter-hundredweights or 56 lbs. The last number is individual pounds expressed directly, or either 4 or 7 pounds, depending on which number it is. I would think it is probably a "4" since the English weren't known for crossing their sevens. The listed weight would then be 172 pounds. The actual weight may vary from that by a few pounds, depending on wear and damage over the years.

I would guess that it is an English anvil made in Colonial times, from the description you gave of its heavy waist, lack of a pritchel hole and stubby horn. PawPaw Wilson or Jock could tell you more, I'm sure, partucularly if they had a few photos to go from. You really need photos from EVERY side, including the bottom, to get the best opinion.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/24/04 17:06:31 EDT

What am I getting when I go to the local iron shop It seems pretty cheap to me.Hot rolled 1/8"x2"x 20ft was around 4-5 dollars.
   Chris Makin - Thursday, 06/24/04 17:57:59 EDT

Anvil Repair. Can a damaged face be re-faced / skimmed? Is the face case hardened, and if so , to what depth? Any info would help as I know nothing about the makeup of anvils.
   Mike UK - Thursday, 06/24/04 18:17:32 EDT


What you are probably getting is A-36 mild steel. The A-36 designation means that the steel will pass certain tensile strength requirements and a fairly loose alloy specification. It is common structural steel in other words. It may be made of any number of different stocks melted together and processed just enough to meet the A-36 specs, but there is no guarantee of a certain exact percentage of carbon or much of anything else. Some of what you get may be easy to work with and forge weld very well, while the next batch may be much harder or softer or may not forge weld worth a hoot. What you CAN be assured of is that it will pass the test for tensile strength.

One of our metallurgists like Quenchcrack can probably tell you a lot more about the A-36 specification.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/24/04 18:27:09 EDT

Besides Bruce Wallace are there any resources for Nazel Hammer specs,info,parts,ect thank you.
   Andrew - Thursday, 06/24/04 18:43:36 EDT

BAck to nails....

And my question about cold drawn nails vs forged.. So what?
Seems to me that really makes no difference. Think about how nails are used. The difference in work hardened nails vs non-hardened nails would make no difference. At least that is how it seems to me. But I am not a PE nor do I play one in the movies.
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/24/04 20:05:42 EDT

Jock and Paw Paw Sighted:

As I sat down to the computer and pulled up this page, who should rumble by but Jock, Patrick, and Paw Paw. I guess it's official! Camp Fenby has started.

See y'all Sunday (maybe).
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/24/04 20:33:12 EDT

Mike UK: Depending on the age of the anvil, the face is either a plate or series of plates of high-carbon steel about 3/8 inch thick welded to a wrought iron body, or if newer the entire anvil may be cast tool steel hardened on the face only. There are also a couple of American anvils that were made with a tool steel face and cast iron body, but I doubt any of those made it to the UK, if that's where you are.

I will echo the usual advice for repairing anvils, which is, don't. Clean it up with a belt sander, or a flap wheel on an angle grinder if you're good, but don't mill off any of the face or weld on it if you don't know EXACTLY what you are doing. Search the archives for anvil repair and see what you come up with.

Ralph: A work-hardened nail is more likely to drive without buckling from badly placed blows. If you hit the nail on the head (bad almost-pun) it wouldn't make TOO much difference.

Vicopper: agreed. I have some wrought from single-refined merchant bar, and some that seems to be triple-refined or better. The slag seems to contribute greatly to abrasion resistance in both cases, and pure iron doesn't have it.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/24/04 21:02:58 EDT

i need to find info on what happens when you put copper and galv.metal together?
   - jeff - Thursday, 06/24/04 22:35:07 EDT

i need to find info on what happens when you put copper and galv.metal together?
   jeff - Thursday, 06/24/04 22:35:27 EDT

does anyone know where i can get this info
   jeff - Thursday, 06/24/04 22:37:08 EDT

does anyone know where i can get info on what happens when you put copper and galv. metal together
   jeff - Thursday, 06/24/04 22:39:37 EDT


Slow down, son! This is NOT a chat room, it is a moderated forum where things are answered in due time. Usually the same day, but not always.

When you put galvanized steel and copper together, there may be an electrolytic reaction, depending on the ambient humidity, presence of slats, temperatures, free water, etc. In the Arizona desert, not much will happen very soon. Where I live in the middle of the Caribbean on an island, it would begin to show electrolytic corrosion in a couple of months, depending on how close to the shore it was.

Generally, the zinc is the most active and will be consumed sacrificially. Then the steel will go, and last the copper.

For specific and accurate determination of the effects of combining copper and galvanized steel, you need the advice of a good metallurgist or electrochemical engineer. Quenchcrack, our metallurgical expert, may offer some insights. You did not, however, specify what metal was galvanized. Is it steel, aluminum, brass, or something else? It DOES make a difference. As does the condition of the galvanized surface and the method by which it is joined to the copper.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/24/04 23:06:54 EDT

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