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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 8 - 15, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Bang-on with the silk shirt, but mail would not be Mongol period equipment, usually. More likely an armor of scales or bands, or leather. (It is Mongol, by the way... we don't like being called Mongrels. Watch for the arrow in your door ;)

Rainy and cool in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 06/01/05 01:01:04 EDT

Arron-- Everything, everything that ever got run through a printing press can be found on the Internet in the used book stores of the world. http://www.campusi.com/ is a wonderful book-finding search engine devised by some boffins at MIT. There are others. And don't overlook interlibrary loan. Get the local libe to find the book for you, then photo-copy it, yup, the whole entire thing. Just don't crack the binding. Old James F. Hobart, who scrove the best book ever on soldering, hard soldering and brazing wayyyy long ago won't mind. I doubt that Schwarzkopf will, either.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 06/08/05 00:19:14 EDT

Sahindler: Hiliandhillbilly, These are still sold by Brian Russell See www.powerhammers.com. He should be able to fix you up with a manual.

Note that when these hammers overheat it is usualy due to recycling to much air and not taking in cool fresh air. They can reach a point where they will desiel with the cylinder oil. This can wreck the hammer. Give Brian a call I am sure he will help you keep your hammer running.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 02:11:29 EDT

Nolands forge
Forges boil down to this:

1 air aupply ( O2 mix )

2 container to hold fuel ( can it withstand the heat )

3 what is the demand on the forge ( how durable vs cost vs usability)
The rest is learning to think inside as well as out side of the "box" Have fun, play around with the ideas in your head, draft em out, think some more and then try them. If you fail take noted on what worked and what did'nt. Then try again.
As for simplisity , I've used a fire brick( hollowed with a pocket knife) and a camping torch( colman I think, it a while back) to make a bolt into a big rivit to fix the 'u' joint on my hunting truck.( shure beat the heck outa sleeping in the forest waiting for help to come)
   - Timex - Wednesday, 06/08/05 02:11:34 EDT

Al dust goes bang

Seem imposable but it does happen and Al is used in both primary and secondary explosives ( No I Won't Tell ANYONE The Mix!) Both the military and civilan demo crews use it. AL also has long term exposure health risks. Wear a filter mask and pls use a grinder rated for the suff to be ground.
One does not use a hammer to turn a screw, no a torch to trim ones hair.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 06/08/05 02:22:14 EDT

Nolan; I have made numerous punches, chisels, drifts, creasers, etc, etc, out of Allen wrenches. They are readily available at flea markets and garage sales. they range in size from itty bitty to huge. Stay away from all but the BLACK ones.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 06/08/05 04:21:55 EDT

Addendum; I even made a boring bar out of one.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 06/08/05 04:26:00 EDT

Our Forge Plans: Our brake drum forge plans are pretty specific and there are detail drawings of two styles. The only thing I do not give is a catalog number for the blower or a make/model on the brake drum.

Blowers are everywhere and those used on forges vary from scavanged hair driers and auto heater blowers to made to order industrial forge blowers. IF you want to do it the easy way go to one of our advertisers and BUY a forge blower. They are a good investment and you can upgrade to a better forge and use the same blower.

The brake drum is almost a cliche'. Many other things work. My first forge was built from scraped wheels and very nice forges have been built from old disk harrows. AND one of our readers from India had to laugh at us and sent a photo of a workin forge that was literaly a hole in the ground.

I like to compare building your own forge to the Jedi Knight that must learn to make his own light saber before becoming a master. Making a forge is MUCH less technical but the association is the same.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 11:21:50 EDT

Haircut: Now Timex, . . We have ALL used our gas forges to trim our eyebrows and mustaches a time or two and regularly use them to remove excess arm hair (yeah WHAT hair). . . Ah the smell of burning hair in the morning. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 11:24:31 EDT

Metal Powders, Dust Explosions: Many metals are highly reactive when reduced to powder due to their great surface area. Even water causes rapid oxidation problems and does not quench a metal powder fire.

Anything that will burn, especialy organic materials such as wheat husks to charcoal powder can ignite explosively when distributed in air properly. One of my favorite chemistry experiments was a dust explosion demonstration using corn starch (much to my 3rd grade teachers horror). Good thing schools had high ceilings then because the flame easily reached 10 or 12 feet. . .

It is amazing the things we did as kids a generation ago that would get you straped with a shrink and labeled for life today. WE THINK our society is more enlightened but in fact it has become as far from it as possible.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 11:38:11 EDT

Thats funny guru, Ive made some of those, so I shouldnt have too much trouble with a forge.
I'll take a look at the blowers on some of your advertisers.
   - Nolan Chase - Wednesday, 06/08/05 12:22:06 EDT

Timex is right, aluminum is one of the main ingredients in flash powder and many other explosives. definately dangerous when mixed right.
   - Nolan Chase - Wednesday, 06/08/05 12:23:34 EDT

A selection of forged and hot-stamped spheres is available at www.outwater.com A 1 15/16 hot stamped sphere goes for about $3.25 in single quantity.
   - Bill - Wednesday, 06/08/05 12:42:32 EDT

Guru - this came up in discussion with a friend: roughly how many "hits" does it take to make a nail, and how many would an experienced smith (or nailmaker) be likely to produce in a day?


   Tim - Wednesday, 06/08/05 14:15:40 EDT

I know I have this in one of my reference books at home, but I'm at work just now. Sorry for not being able to do my homework!
   Tim - Wednesday, 06/08/05 14:37:07 EDT

Tim, I don't know about the number of "hits", but Jerry Darnell makes two nails in one "heat." Total time about 20 seconds per nail at top speed. Over time you'd have to stretch that out quite a bit, since even Jerry can't keep up that pace for a full day! (grin)
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 06/08/05 15:04:21 EDT

Ken, an even cheaper source of BIG ball bearings may be the local power plant. My Uncle used to work at a nearby power station as a fitter, and he used to fetch me and my older brother some monster ball bearings for us to use as marbles. I had a 1000er that was the size and weight of a cannon ball:) I think he got them from the turbines, when they stripped them they chucked them away so if you have a word with any of the fitters on such a site maybe they will let you have them, better than it going in the bin.
just a thought :)
   Tinker - Wednesday, 06/08/05 16:04:30 EDT

Another source for steel balls

Royal Steel Balls
304 East 29th Street
P.O. Box 901
Sterling, Illinois 61081
Phone: (815) 626-2539
Fax: (815) 626-2544

We purchase from them occasionally, I think they have a minimum.
   daveb - Wednesday, 06/08/05 16:16:45 EDT

Jock, and Thomas P,
I cannot get it through my thick scale why you both think that tall is better than squatty for rebound in an anvil. If you take a bar of steel 12"x12"x12' and stand it on its end and do a rebound test on it then lay it down on its length and do the same test the results will be identical until you began to hit it with a hammer big enough to cause flex. Mass is mass is mass is mass. Every action has a reaction of equal and opposite direction. This is why a 100lb. anvil welded to a 400lb block of steel scrap makes a cheap 500lb anvil. Take both these configurations into outer space and apply the exact same blow to them and they will apon being struck, began to move at the same velocity.
Now, this is what I think and I would be perfectly happy if anyone would take the time to correct my thinking if I am wrong. Jock has correctly stated that a piece of railroad rail is more effective on its end. This has got to have something to do with vibration or flection because obviously the mass and the consequent inertia are the same in either direction. The reason for rebound loss is often a function of a glancing blow or the force not transmitting cleanly through the work to the anvil. Now, I can't wait to hear that the molecules of steel line up like a spring and the taller the anvil the longer the spring. I have complete confidence in the superior brains on this site and will gladly yeild the remainder of my time to the honorable master of mental and metal arts of Gladys Virginia, Jock Dempsey, true friend of the floundering and visionary founder of this site. BOG. (He knows I'm triing to pull his chain)
   Larry Sundstrom - Wednesday, 06/08/05 16:40:57 EDT

Larry here's my attempt. The hammer only strikes in one spot. The blow, is distributed through the material mechanically. The steel that is struck bangs against its neighbors who in turn push their neighbors and so on. It all happens very fast - at the speed of sound in steel - but nevertheless it happens in *sequence*. Imagine taking a 100# PW and drawing it out into into a 1" sq bar. What kind of rebound would you expect from a blow against the center of the bar? Surely not the same as if you hammered on the face of the original anvil. In this example it's easy to see that middle the bar flexes under the hammer blow and the steel at the ends of the bar is barely doing anything at all to oppose the blow or generate rebound. Consider a second case in which the anvil gets flattened out into a piece of 1" plate and the center of the plate is used for striking. This would do better than the bar but still the center of the plate will flex, the edges of the plate will not do much to prevent it. This is "squatty anvil" in extreme form. Turn the plate on edge and use a 1" edge as a striking surface, much better! Now you have almost 12" of steel under the hammer. This is the "tall" anvil in extreme form. These effects are present to some extent even when the difference in proportion is less exaggerated.
   adam - Wednesday, 06/08/05 17:17:37 EDT

The relative mass of the anvil is related to the column of mass under the area of the face of the striking hammer
   - Chris Makin - Wednesday, 06/08/05 17:27:16 EDT

That should have been relavent not relative:)
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 06/08/05 17:29:44 EDT

LARRY; No doubt, you have thought about it. Now go do it. Turn a piece of rail iron on end and see for yourself, the difference.GRIN.

   sandpile - Wednesday, 06/08/05 17:37:47 EDT

we filmed Peter Ross and then slowly watched.
22 hammer blows in 25 secs to make a nice 2 inch nail from 1/4 square.
He admitted he was out of practice and so was a bit slow.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 06/08/05 18:07:38 EDT

Mass Larry, the test example you give is incorrect. Go out in the shop and HIT the end of a several foot (say 3 foot) bar of 1" round or square THEN try it from the side. No matter how light or how hard you strike the bar the reaction will be the same. In fact you can run this same test on a little piece of 1/2" (13mm) or 3/8" (10mm) square. . A long piece struck on the end it will have tremondous rebound. DO IT. Don't theorize about it.

It is the mass directly in the line of force that is most efficeint. All the other mass is reduced in efficiency by half the angular vector ignoring flex. This is fairly complicated reactional physics that you will not find in a physics book. The normal rules of physics are purely theoretical and expect spheres of nearly infinite hardness.

However, not only do we have vector dynamics we DO have flex. That theoretical 5,878 pound twelve foot log of steel you describe will sag from its own weight about a 1/16" or more. If you sit on it, it will deflect enough to send a fine dial indicator spinning.

In our shop where we did precision work on large pieces I would tell the machinists that steel is like rubber, except when apposed to flesh. . . The slightest touch on a shaft will deflect it measurably. In fact even the spring in a dial indicator can deflect a fairly heavy shaft. You have to go out in the shop an TRY these things. PUSH a 3" shaft with your pinky and see the dial on a tenths indicator move!

Again with your example piece, if you strike it with a puny 24 pound sledge you will not feel much difference in any direction because your example is a 245:1 ratio where VERY large anvils are only 100:1 with a normal hammer and 50:1 is typical and 40:1 is not unusual (125# anvil and 3# hammer). Strike your sample with the biggest one handed hammer you can swing and the ratio is nearly 1000:1.

You can line up a series of anvils of different shapes and strike then sharply with a hammer and FEEL the difference. It is no different than that 1" bar. Few people have this oportunity but we have done this test in Josh Greenwood's shop where he had over a dozen anvils including his 450 pound German classic, 350 pound Hay-Budden a half dozen common anvils and another dozen antique English and European anvils. Mass is king but when the mass is properly shaped a small 150 pound anvil can be just as effective as a MUCH larger anvil with its mass distributed into horns, feet and other appendages.

Energy rebound is not as simple as the pure spheres in physics books would make you think. And uh, stacking parts has a disastrous loss of rebound through each interface (joint). Try pounding on a pile of washers or steel plates with anything less than a precision gauge block (millionths flatenss). Its like hitting sand. Lots of mass, little resistance.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 18:36:14 EDT

On Anvil size to rebound.

In Grade School I did a project for my science class in which I took a Newton’s Cradle apart and placed the hanging steal balls across a large 1’ X 1’ chunk of metal and a 1/2 # lead weight swinging against the other side. The result was that the ball hanging directly opposite of the lead weight bounced the hardest and so on out to the edge that barely moved.

This shows that the force that is applied to one spot on the anvil travels in a line to the other side without much bleed off of energy. The more mass behind the hammer blow the better the rebound.

As I had posted earlier I just went from a 110# ASO to a Peter Wright 100# a loss of 10# of mass and a loss of about half the face width of the ASO. I had to lower my anvil stand to accommodate the extra height of the Peter Wright. Result much, much better rebound.

Well that is my 2 cents and after today I am sure I bounced a brain power check somewhere.
   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 06/08/05 19:02:05 EDT

Fionbarr picked up one of my surplus axles last weekend for a anvil to sledge on, 36" tall, 5.5" shaft, with a 22" flange on the ground, about 454#. (4140) Would this not be a tall but squatty anvil?
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/08/05 20:40:58 EDT

Final update on my hammer project. Did a little tweaking today and raised the bpm to 140 and it purrs like a kitten Eye's and reflexes adapted handily (surprise surprise), and I'm gonna stop messing with before I'm a living example of that old Military work theory, "If it ain't broke, fix it till it is" !
   Roland Gerson - Wednesday, 06/08/05 21:42:58 EDT

ptree, can you say "treadle hammer anvil"???

I thought you could...I'd hit you up for one but I already have some 4[1:3}40 about 42" tall and 5.25(?)" in dia that was free and would not have to be sneaked on board an airplane as my false leg...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/08/05 21:48:11 EDT

Euroanvil specifications say Hardened shift is up to 1/3 of the high of the anvil Hardness: min 420 HB (44 HRC), what does that mean? Also it says curve of working surface is up to 5mm max, I assume that means that the face has a dropped down curve in it , why's it curved?
   - Trapper - Wednesday, 06/08/05 22:01:02 EDT

Trapper, not sure, why not ask John, he wrote it. The flatness spec is because they grind these on big belt sanders which take off more on the tapered horn and front edge. Some Czech navils have been as much as 3/4" out of flat. (5mm) 3/16 is one fourth that.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 22:10:51 EDT

Nail Making: Tim, rarely is anything in blacksmithing measured in blows other than with big drop hammers. Heats is different. An amature nail maker can make a nail in two heats. Heading is typicaly 5 or 6 blows. One to upset, the rest to make flats. A professional nail maker can often make a nail in one heat.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/08/05 22:16:02 EDT

In the shop where I was last employed the some of the "workbenches" were old pressbeds [bolster plates]. These were slabs of boiler plate about 6" thick planed flat on the top & bottom. When You centerpunch or stamp a piece of metal on a bench like this You can sure tell the difference compared to a regular bench with a 1" thick benchplate on top.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/08/05 22:44:08 EDT

Going to http://www.appaltree.net/aba/nails.htm and working through the further links cited provides a brief history of nail making. Apparently nailmaking was largely mechanized in the late 1700s. Initially each nail cutting machine required an operator to manually flip the flat bar stock over between cuts. Automating this process both increased the supply and reduced the manpower required in the process.

From making nails myself as a public demonstration and seeing others do it my SWAG is 60-80 per hour is about the maximum substainable rate. Here as many nail rods would be kept hot as could be worked in sequence.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/09/05 05:47:15 EDT

that may be max if working by yourself. BUt I doubt that in teh factories you worked alone.
Saw a chain making film at ABANA 2000. In it 2 or 3 chain makers per staion. to hitters and one heater. BTE these were links that looked to be 2 inch thick and 8 or so inches long or longer.
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/09/05 06:49:29 EDT

Nails and Chain: Both these products were made in small blacksmith shops, by cottage industry AND in factories which where just large blacksmith shops with multiple forges and some specalized machinery. For a very long time the smaller nails nad fine chain were made by women in small shops or as cottage industry as it was thought they were more suited for fine detail work. Heavier chain tended to be made in chain shops or factories. Generaly the only chain that required two workers was the large anchor chain and stud (crossbar) chain.

In nail making competitions at the AFC meets the average nails made per 15 minute period was about 24. This easily puts you in the relm of 100 nails per hour or 1000 per 10 hour working day. But you REALLY have to hustle and I doubt that production rates were this high except on rare occasions.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/05 08:37:06 EDT

Nail machines: The first nail machines were invented as Ken says in the 1790s. They were nothing more than a water-powered shear with a stop that kept the nail size uniform. It worked by being fed a sheet of iron that had been rolled to about 1/8" thick by however wide you wanted the nails to be long. These sheets were necessarily short, since the grain of the iron had to run across the width rather than the length of the stock so that the grain would run the length of the nail. A cross-grained nail will break before it bends, and that's not a good thing.

Anyway: The wrought iron sheet was fed into the shear at an angle to make the typical tapered cut nail shape. These were then put in a header and headed by hand. Hand-headed cut nails date between 1790-ish and about 1825-ish. After this point, the fully machine-made cut nail appeared and rapidly took over the market. Improvements in rolling mill and wrought iron production techniques allowed this improvement in efficiency, since one could take a bloom of wrought iron produced in a puddling furnace, roll it into a wide sheet, and then shear the nail bar off the end of the sheet with the grain running right.

Modern wire nails started production for fine furniture in the 1850s, but did not become common until after the 1870s in the midwestern US.

Hand-forged nails remained in use for special purposes well into the 1840s, but had been replaced with cut nails for most uses by the 1820s.

Just a little history lesson from CSI.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/09/05 08:58:35 EDT

Got an oak half-barrel for an authentic looking slack tub, got it about swelled up enough to keep in the water. Now, how do I keep out the 'skeeters? Seeing that it holds about 30-35 gallons of water, I'd hate to have to fill it but one time a season. Also, will a good freeze break it? Thnx.
   George Frazier - Thursday, 06/09/05 09:10:28 EDT


Put a lid on it. A round piece of plywood will do.
   - Marc - Thursday, 06/09/05 09:33:40 EDT

Nail machines:

The Saugus Iron Works, in Saugus, MA, is a reproduction of an actual iron works from the mid to late 1600's. I haven't been there for a few years, but they have a water-powered slitting mill that I seem to remember was used to make nails. If true, that would put nail manufacture 100 years earlier.
   - Marc - Thursday, 06/09/05 09:46:17 EDT

Marc, The slitting mill made small bars and rod from larger pieces. The small rods were called "nail rods" but the process was not nail making.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/05 10:42:23 EDT

Skeeter (Mosquito) season: A half cup of Chlorox bleach will keep the water fresh and kill the bugs for a year at least. Just like treating a pool.

This message care of Paw-Paw's suggestion in 2003.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/05 10:45:02 EDT

Oak half-barrel: George, I use one too. My current barrel is three winters old with complete freezes several times yearly. The bottom band just let go this spring. I think mostly due to rust. it's still holding water, but I think it's time to replace it. When I do I will attach an outdoor water spiggot as near the bottom as I can. Turned parallel to the floor, I can put a length of garden hose on to empty it as needed. Especially in the winter if it won't be in use for a few days. Of course, I have a hill to throw the other end of the hose down. I'll siphon gas, but slack water...
   Gronk - Thursday, 06/09/05 12:40:27 EDT

Shire, a Brit publishing outfit, puts out a dandy little booklet series re: the crafts, has done one on chainmaking, with lots of pix, showing the doughty ladies who made chains (up to a certain size, it was women's work wayyyy back when) and a detailed depiction of a chainmaker's bench.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/09/05 13:15:59 EDT

Somewhere I remember seeing a sketch of women and children forging nails in a British factory. What struck me as odd was the women were wearing dresses with the full skirts. Artist license I do not know.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/09/05 13:20:53 EDT

Jock et all
I do not see how welding a 100 pound anvil to a 300 pound steel block will adversely affect rebound, I did go out into my shop and do it. And yes, I have seen an anvil sitting on top of a Sandpile(BOG).
Now here is the real test I would challenge you to make.
Heat up a piece of steel 4x4x1. Lay it on all of Josh's anvils and then drop a steel ball on it and measure rebound.
All this other talk is anecdotal. And besides, what self respecting blacksmith woud ever hit an anvil with a hammer.....Or try to blow one up.
By the way, I was thinking about making a JYH out of a old hydrolic cylinder. You wouldn't happen to have any pictures of one would you?
P.S. Yes indeed, I have learned somethig new about angular vectors and Newton's cradle and that is great gain. Love this site.
   Larry Sundstrom - Thursday, 06/09/05 13:51:59 EDT

I put a bunch of crud in my half-barrel slack tub to keep the skeeters and other stuff out. I have some anti-bacterial dawn, some baking soda, a little borax, a little ash, leaves, and whatever else falls in there. At almost two years it seems to be working fine. The bleach is a good idea too, if I had thought of it earlier I probably would have used that. Does the bleach cause excessive rust when you quench things in it? I had heard that baking soda reduces rust which is part of the reason I added some, but that doesn't seem to be true, at least not true enough to make a noticable differennce to me.
   AwP - Thursday, 06/09/05 13:55:24 EDT

I use a wooden bucket from an icecream freezer for my slack tub; never seemed to need the ammount of water a barrel half would hold---and out here you would have to top it off several times a day to keep water in it...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/09/05 13:59:47 EDT

depending on the time it was suposed to be it was probably accurate.
IN the time frame that we portray at Ft Vancouver NHS the men were to wear trousers, a shirt and a waistcoat at all times while working. In fact according to the records several ( one perhaps one smith on repeated times ) smiths were fined for being undressed in public.
   Ralph - Thursday, 06/09/05 14:20:23 EDT

Chainmaking: THE Book on Chainmaking is now available from Richard Postman. See toward bottom of our book review page.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/09/05 15:06:31 EDT


I get hollow steel balls from a local steel suplier called Patton Steel. http://idc1.idcsolutions.net/ps/pattonscorp/customer.nsf I went to product search then ornamental supplies and searched on the word ball and go a bunch of them in varying sizes. Cast iron and hollow steel. They don't do online sales, but I bet you can contact one of the branches and have an order shipped, or get a referal to another company that will ship.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 06/09/05 15:18:44 EDT

Doh, guess I should finish reading before I answer questions.
   FredlyFX - Thursday, 06/09/05 15:46:19 EDT

I seem to remember that at one time, water from the slack tub was considered medicinal. It obviously is high in iron which would be good for anemia but also there probably was the whole magic thing about iron and blacksmiths.
   John W - Thursday, 06/09/05 17:10:04 EDT

I posted the pictures of the Champion 200 1/2 drill press on www.owwm.com. Has anyone had any thoughts about the gear support clip. I was thinking about just a snail shaped cam that would turn in to ride the groove to hold the gears up and turn out to let them drop. Maybe a little spring on the other pin to make it stay in place.
   John W - Thursday, 06/09/05 17:13:55 EDT

Ken-- Yup, they did wear skirts, them's being proper lydies, don't y'know. The Shire booklet on chainmaking has photos, one dated 1980, others going back to late 1800s, of women in skirts making chains. Good sketches of chainmaker's anvil setup, too, and the forging process.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/09/05 21:11:17 EDT

I know for a fact that iron regulates body temp. Perhaps that is why the slack tub water was so sought after when heat was a blessing, not an entitlement. The reason women are always cold is because they lose a lot of iron during "that time of the month". Anyway, I also heard that scientists think that they have isolated the frequency that kills misquito larvae. Don't ask me how it works, but a reliable friend tells that it is the case. He is a gentleman and a scholar and I would be very disapointed if the said discovery does not hold up under close scrutiny (you guys allways seem to check this kind of stuff out).
   Matthew Marting - Thursday, 06/09/05 23:00:28 EDT

John W./ Matthew, well if you wanna drink it that's fine by me. Send me your address and I'll bottle some up for ya. :) I'm generous that way. The "frequency" have anything do do with disturbing the surface tension of the water? Skeeter larvae float on the water. Stirring it up drowns them.
   Gronk - Friday, 06/10/05 00:23:13 EDT

Almost all of the bandsaw blades break long before they wear out. At $20.00 plus (when shipping is included) I hate to throw them away. (I do not do brazing.) Someone mentioned the following electric welder for repairing them. Does anyone have experience with using this type of equipment on bandsaw blades? If it worked one should be able to buy a roll of the right size blade and make up their own.

   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/10/05 06:25:38 EDT


The +big snazzy industrial bandsaws, like DoAll, come with just such a welder mounted right on the fron tof the saw. If you do a proper job of squaring the ends and setting up the welder for the size/type of blade you're using, they work just fine and dandy. I've never used the HF model you refer to, but I am thinking about ordering one as having blades made up and shipped here is a nuisance, to say nothing of having them arrive the wrong length.

A couple of days ago, I went to change the blade on my Radio-Free Taiwan (RFT) 14" bandsaw, only to find that the blades that had been shipped to me some months previously were all a little bit long. I had to make a column insert for the RFT saw to be able to use the blades at all. A real nuisance that would have been avoided if I had a blade welder/annealer. Saving money on new blades is a secondary benefit to me, compared to being able to *have* the blade I need *when* I need it. My advice? Go for it; get the welder. Then let me know how it works out, so I can get one.
   vicopper - Friday, 06/10/05 08:36:00 EDT

vicooper: I found the same unit, new, on-eBay for less than HF's price. Seller is within a couple of hours drive - and will give me a hands-on demonstration. 220v, but I have that service already in the shop for my welder and tablesaw. My thinking is if I can get even say 50% more use out of a repaired blade (over a replacement) it would pay for itself fairly quickly.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/10/05 08:47:25 EDT

Bandsaw Blade Welding: Lowbucks welders are a waste of time. Blades on small cut off saws see enormous stresses (abusively so) and the welds must be PERFECT. You can use marginal methods on standard band saws but NOT the little saws that twist the blade.

I was buying standard blades from a local outfit using an old welder. The welds LOOKED good. Blades lasted about a minute to as little as a few seconds. When I started buying the high price Lenox bi-metal HSS blades the dealer told me their welder required for these blades cost over $20,000 (back on the 1980's).

With these blades, properly welded on a properly adjusted saw I can wear out the blades before breakage. Since these blades are very durrable that is often months of regular use compared to hours or minutes for the cheap blades poorly welded.

If you are purchasing GOOD blades from a reputable supplier they will usualy warrant their welds. Yes there is some turn around time but there is also the frustration level to consider.

The difference between the lowbucks welders and the first class BIG bucks ones is the programed heating tempering cycle that is ABSOLUTELY required on alloy blades. On the cheap welders this is done by seat of the pants trial and error bumping the buttons until you get what you THINK is right. Then you install the blade and SNAP. . back to the welder. With lots of patience, note taking, skilled timing and MANY tests you MIGHT get a blade that works.

THEN there is the matter of a first class blade grinding setup. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/10/05 09:10:56 EDT

Bandsaws: Lots of old bandsaws came with welders as an option. These were fairly decent welders costing several hundred dollars back in the 1950's. It was common in a job shop to have a piece of work come in that sawing a hole in it was a tremondous time saver. SO, a hole was drilled in the work and the blade welded through the part. Then the part was sawed saving hundreds of hours of milling and the blade was then cut and the part removed. This was often the primary purpose for these welders and the joint only had to last the one part.

Standard saws have 14 to 36" diameter wheels. This is a large gentle radius for the blades to be bent through. The little cutoff saws have 8" wheels which is a tight bend even for that 1/2 x.024" blade material. THEN they twist the blade about 45 degrees TWICE in just a few inches. The stresses to just install one of these blades is far more than what a blade on a big saw ever sees in use. And thus the welds MUST be much better.

When the alloy blades are not properly tempered after welding they rapidly lose teeth at the joint and the blade starts "bumping". It is not long after this starts that the blade fails.

When welding blades it is important to pick where the joint is to go so that there is no loss of teeth or a gap in teeth at the joint. This is an art that requires good eyes as well as practice. It makes a big difference in the life of cutoof saw blades.

   - guru - Friday, 06/10/05 09:43:03 EDT

BLACKSMITHING IN THE MOVIES: In the 1997 made for TV movie "Last Stand at Saber River", Tom Selleck is a rancher in 1865. In one brief shot he is seen working in his barnyard with a portable forge and a large anvil on a stump. Later the anvil is sitting on the ground next to the barn. Being a big guy, I guess Tom just moves his anvil whenever he feels like it. :)
   Neal Bullington - Friday, 06/10/05 09:59:41 EDT

Bandsaw Blades: For what it's worth my 24" Grob vertical bandsaw has a built in blade welder and grinder which I use to make up blades for it and for the 20" Rockwell from coils. However the welder is only rated for blades up to 1/2" wide and works very well with simple coil stock. It won't however give me a good enough weld to make or repair the heavier 3/4" wide blades for my Kalamoazoo cutoff saw. I buy those bimetal blades prewelded from either McMaster or MSC. I have yet to break one before I wore it out.

If you are making blades for a vertical bandsaw one of the small welders is probably worth a try. As Jock says if you are using a small cutoff saw- Good Luck. When grinding the blade junction be sure to keep the back of the blade smooth so there is no tendancy to catch or push out as the junction passes the guides. Shock from catching a tooth or the back of the blade will tear it apart. It's better to grind a protruding tooth smooth or change its set than to have it catch in the work.

   SGensh - Friday, 06/10/05 10:12:09 EDT

Guru, Do you have any ideas of what an old foot treadle grinder is worth? Back in the day ever farm had one.
   - achbar - Friday, 06/10/05 10:39:50 EDT

Shoot and here I'm digging through dumpsters behind machine shops trying to get broken bandsaw blades to make BSB & strapping billets from...Though the sawmill re-saw blades are nice if you have a sizable hammer to do the work...

Sharp but broken BSB is also good for making large hacksaws using woodcutting bow saw frames---make the mounting hols a bit closer to get more blade tension.

Finally I used a bit of heavy duty BSB to make a bodice dagger for a lady that actually *was* part of the "boning " of the bodice...

Achbar; let me ask my colleague what a treadle grinder goes for in Germany; or was there a specific location you were interested in? Prices may vay by a factor of 2-4 depending on where you are at...

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/10/05 11:22:23 EDT

I don't know how well it would work for a metal cutting bandsaw, but I,ve successfully silver brazed some woodworking blades with a small O/A torch on a tapered lap joint.
   3dogs - Friday, 06/10/05 12:33:23 EDT

I am part of a Festival where I am going to have some artisans from Oman doing some metalwork from a small stone forge. They have asked me to provide them with 30 stones they can use to make their forge. What kind of natural stones do I need to use. The forge is not very big, only about a foot high with a bellows connected to one side of the rock and the fire coming from the top. Any help would be appreciated.

   Kevin Blackerby - Friday, 06/10/05 12:37:22 EDT

What do they use at home? I use soapstone for my Y1K forge.

Whatever you use I would suggest doing a heat test *BEFORE* letting it get hot out in public. I always tested the stones we used for cooking (heating and dropping into the water) before they went "public". In general I had best luck with mafic metamorphic and igneous stones. I would suggest avoiding sandstones and limestones for their noted propensity to explode and hurt people...

In a pinch I would buy some ramable refractory and make fire safe "fake" stones.

Pity you are not close as I bought some old soapstone lab sinks last year...I could do a heat test on the local basalt and welded tuff as well.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/10/05 13:44:17 EDT


I've successfully silver-soldered lots of bandsaw blades for wood, and even a couple of times for light metal cutting. I don't recall ever having use done of my repaired blades for cuttin gany stock heavier than 3/8" brass or 16 ga steel. All for my 14" RFT vertical saw. I wouldn't try it for a blade-twister machine, though.

I've also on one or two occasions used a dab of hard silver solder to "fill" a gap in a welded blade, when the gap risked a broken blade. (This was a notable problem when scroll cutting sheet metal where the stock thickness/pitch ratio was crowding the limit.) The stock will skate right over the fill without snagging. As SGensh remarked, it is really important to have the back of the blade a straight smooth line so it doesn't hop when it passes over the backroller.

For the stone forge, you could always line it with some refractory clay just to have an added measure of safety from hot-spalling.
   vicopper - Friday, 06/10/05 14:40:50 EDT

Would bicycle wheels be strong enough to make a bandsaw? I am not sure what the stresses would be on the wheel.
   John W - Friday, 06/10/05 15:00:18 EDT


Bicycle wheels may be strong enough for a band saw (they have to take some pretty heavy shock loads on a bike). You'd have to find tires that were wide enough and had the right crown. But the axles aren't heavy enough to cantilever out from a support on one side only. So you'd need some form of "fork" to support them, and would probably have to remove the wheels to change blades. Changing the tracking might be tricky too.
   Mike B - Friday, 06/10/05 15:52:51 EDT

Bandsaw blades.
I have been using the Lennox, Diemaster II 9 to 14 tooth variable for the cheap 4" x 6" horz/vert. bandsaws for years. About 15 years. Only blades I ever had break were when the vise let the part move and put a kink in the blade. I have used about 150 of these blades. I pay $16.62 each from Hagemeyer. I use a Lenox Portaband stock for thin stuff, same price.
   ptree - Friday, 06/10/05 16:23:36 EDT

I had figured on running them on the wheel itself, not on the tire. the rims should do the tracking if they are lined up reasonably close shouldnt they? If the fork went from one wheel to the other, like an I beam with a "U" cut out at each end and then fastened to the frame at one side. With 36 inch wheels, 10 rpm's would be about 90fps, that sounds like a reasonable speed.
   John W - Friday, 06/10/05 16:24:47 EDT

John W: Problem I see is how to hold the stock to be cut, assuming you are going to use the bicycle as basically a stationary one. I have seen a sketch of one, somewhere, hooked up to a blower with the wife providing the power.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/10/05 18:22:39 EDT

Don't really know about the tracking, but band saw wheels are normally crowned. Bicycle rims tend to be flat or concave between the flanges (and have the ends of the spoke nipples sticking up).
   Mike B - Friday, 06/10/05 18:44:56 EDT

John flat belts tend to try to climb the ridge why crowned pullies work for them.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/10/05 18:57:30 EDT

Ken: Was the blower set up so tht when the wife yelled at you it turned the blower and provided the power or what?
Thomas: I see. Maybe I can fill in the wheel rim with something to bring it up level and then crown it. I am trying to think of a common junk wheel about that size that would be better. Maybe a bicycle tire filled with sonmething. Sand?
   John W - Friday, 06/10/05 19:52:28 EDT

John W. The sketch was an exercise bike hooked up to the blower via a belt. As the wife rode the bike it turned the blower.

Question on horseshoes? When would mild steel have replaced wrought iron for the general manufacture of horseshoes? I did a google search on the history of the horseshoe and don't see anything related to it.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/10/05 20:05:26 EDT

I've been shopping on ebay and now own a 10cuft
Acet tank that arrived today and a 20cuft O2 tank that is coming. I am planning to get one of the $50 torch outfits. I will not be a heavy user so I hope to get by with the cheap and small. I am a little concerned about the fittings. It looks like the Acet tank has a small male fitting(CGA200?)
So I should need a 200F to 520M adapter? The O2 tank looks like a CGA540 which looks like the standard regulator fitting. does this sound right? Ken: I think it is more likely that it would be a heck of a lot easier to get my wife to yell at me and turn the blower than use an exercycle to power my shop tools!
   John W - Friday, 06/10/05 20:31:30 EDT

John- I built a vertical bandsaw that uses the same size
blade as my horizontal bandsaw 3/4". The wheels I used were the cast iron wheels from an exerciser- found them one the side of the road-scrapped. I run a 1 hp 1725
motor thru a 50 ti one gearbox. I have some pictures if you are interested-just email me and I will send- I made the top slide with a lot of travel and can also use the dull blades1/4" from my wood bandsaw for cutting sheet metal
   ptpiddler - Friday, 06/10/05 20:47:26 EDT

my email is jlw50 at bellsouth.net. I would love to see the pictures.
   John W - Friday, 06/10/05 21:12:10 EDT

Forge Welds
Hello, I've been practicing some forge welding for some time and still have a long way to go on being sucessful on a somewhat consistent basis. I tig weld for a living and I've heard that, "Forge welding is a cohesion rather than fusion of metal." Yes? What could I expect for strength out of a sucessful forge weld in comparison to a tig weld? Obviously, there's no penetration in a forge weld as in tig. Would you be able to give a twist in a forge welded section with a good enough heat without it breaking somewhere? What would be some limitations in a forge weld? There are more questions I have on this particular subject but I think I'll stop here. Thank you.
   Chad - Friday, 06/10/05 21:37:04 EDT

there seem to be two main thoughts on this. SOme folks believe a proper froge weld is as good as the parent stock, and others say it is not. I personally do not know as I have done empirical testing on it. SOme of my welds when twisted break some don't I have made many many yards( yes yards) of chain. I would test random links and had some failures.

John Naesmith ( sp?) was commisioned to test the anchor chains for the Admiralty in the late 1700's. He found that there was about an 80% fail rate of the chain that he tested. SO a standards system was developed to help ensure better chain.

I know that this was not exactly the answer you wanted.
   Ralph - Friday, 06/10/05 21:44:23 EDT

For the common junkyard wheel, what about the drum pulley from the inside of a washing machine? Over here they're not far off a bycicle wheel in size, and wouldn't need much to crown it. The belts are slatted not toothed. I'm not sure if they would be alluminium or steel over there though. Unsure if Al. would take the strain.
just a thought
   Tinker - Friday, 06/10/05 22:37:13 EDT

Bandsaw blades & wheels: The blade issue is as Guru & others stated, I posted similar results a couple months ago. I used to weld blades for My 4"x6" cutoff from Do All bimetal stock on the welder on the Do All verticle saw at work. The welds usually failed before the blade was shot. Too much flex due to small wheels and twist. For homemade bandsaw wheels I suggest gluing up plywood to get about 2" thickness, atached to a sprocket or whatever flanged thing You can find with bearings in it. Tires can be cut from rubber roofing stock with the but joint superglued. I made the tires for a Grenlee portaband this way, and it is working fine. I used the double thickness where the factory seamed it.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/10/05 23:11:36 EDT

Chad and forge welding:

i've tried to figure this one out my self and the nearest that I can figure is that its like gluing two lumps of wood together. The glue is the forge wied and is stronger due to the fact its a bigger area of bonded or melded material. BUT most ( or at least mine are) prone to flaws and bleeds of flux.( mostly due to improper heat or impatiance and lack of exp.)
Any one got some advice?
Ps. Guru , I've almost got my charcoaling data together. I'm gonna post it as soon as I can get some final chem math and the remaining reactions figured out( biochem 210 is harder than it sounds)
   - Timex - Saturday, 06/11/05 03:18:31 EDT

Strength of Forge Welds: A forge weld can easily be as strong as the parent metal IF it is a 100% perfect weld. The presence of oxides on the fusion plane will reduce the joint efficiency and the strength of the weld will diminish. Most of the pipe and tube made today is welded using the high frequency method that is basically a forge weld. No metal is added to the weld and the pipe and tube is commonly used in high pressure applications such as oilwell casing.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/11/05 06:46:46 EDT

ptpiddler: that is a really lovely setup. Besides the craftsmanship it lookslike the next necessary is finding the right wheels. I will look inside some washing machines and then think about plywood. My blacksmith buddy in Snow Camp may have something.
   John W - Saturday, 06/11/05 08:38:30 EDT

Off to BRBAVA.org meet. Will answer questions this afternoon. . . Is it warm enough yet?
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/05 08:44:53 EDT

Whoever said a forge weld was not a fusion obviously didn't know how to weld! "Penetration" is probably not the best term to use when talking about a forge weld either. We usually look for the disappearance of the weld line as an indicator of a good weld. A pattern-welded or "damascus" knife blade is nothing but a pile of forge welds that has been etched to reveal the previously invisible weld lines.

A good weld can be forged and twisted. As others have said, a bad weld with lots of oxides at the seam will pop right off if twisted. Glue is a poor analogy. Think of it more like that purple stuff you join plastic pipe with: If the joint is not clean, it will not stick over the whole area. Scale and flux pockets in a forge weld prevent the weld from taking in that area. Naismith's contribution to the Admiralty's chain problem was the introduction of proper scarfs to ensure the scale and flux was blown out of the joint as it was being welded.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 06/11/05 08:45:11 EDT

I'm just a hacker(on metal) that needs to make a tool out of stainless and have never heated it before. I was wondering about the different techniques needed to work with stainless. If you could point me in the right direction I'd appreciate it.
   JoeLa - Saturday, 06/11/05 11:01:49 EDT

Heat treatment of a whole anvil is better than a heat treated face and a soft body correct?
Tyler aka Trapper
   - Tyler - Saturday, 06/11/05 11:42:25 EDT

JoeLa, any hints on what kind of stainless it is?
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/11/05 13:09:54 EDT

A forge weld is NOT a fusion weld. There is no melting of the mating surfaces and no filler metal is used. Bonding by this method is more and exchange of electrons between atoms of the mating surfaces. In theory(and application in some cases) "forge welding" can be done at room temperature. A good exaples is pure gold spheres. If you tap two of them together at room temp, you can get them to stick together. this is because gold is very free of oxide and is soft enought to deform at room temp. In forge welding iron, high temps are needed for deformation and flux is used to deal with the oxides (scale).

   Patrick Nowak - Saturday, 06/11/05 13:17:35 EDT

Hey, Pat!
Yeah, I think the problem is more semantics than anything else. Most don’t realize that fusion means to melt. In the technical world “fusion temperature” is the melting point. Lay people tend to use it to mean “stick together” .

From Dictionary.com:

The act or procedure of liquefying or melting by the application of heat. The liquid or melted state induced by heat.
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 14:35:53 EDT

Blood sucking BUGS ( ewwu)

Some thing for you environmentally aware smiths.
] Add 1 table spoon penut oil
} or add 1 table spoon of Dawn Dish washing stuff( Blue gell stuff

Both coat the surface of the water in your slack tub and smother the blighters. Plus it is 'OK' to dump the water on the ground or in the garden.
Only problems incountered so far are the greasy looking water, and ( dawn only) the foam that is made from stirring hot iron in the quench.
   - Timex - Saturday, 06/11/05 15:02:52 EDT


Please send me a couple of those gold spheres, wouldja. 4" diameter or so ought to work well. I'll report back here with the results. lets see now, 4 cubed X .5236 = 33.51 cubic inches. X 1.42 lbs per cubic inch = 47.58 lbs or 476 ounces. What’s gold these days? Say $300.00 X 476 = $142,800.00 each! Yeah, I’ll send those results from South America!
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 15:34:55 EDT

Oops! That should be 14.58 oz. per pound. 693 ounces = $208,114.00!
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 15:50:12 EDT

Chad, they used to forge weld the shafts of marine engines together out of wrought iron stock.

If you look ay migration and viking era swords you will see a lot of twisted forge welded welds---also look for "turkish damascus" made by taking a number of billets, forge welding them, twisting them and then forge welding the twisted pieces together.

In the pattern welded stuff I make it's not the weld line that shows up as much as the different alloy steels used.

To really dive into the subject may I commend "Solid Phase Welding of Metals", Tylecote, to your attention.

Thomas---it's a dry heat...
   - Thomas P - Saturday, 06/11/05 16:13:54 EDT

OK, if you make a weld with out flux. Which I have. ( occasionally) ANd during this fluxless welding, what then is all the molten stuff that sometimes flys out?
Isn't room temp welding done with pressure? If so then if you squeeze the metal so it welds I would think you would get a localized heating due to said pressure.

But I am only asking as I do not have a degree so I am no where close to being an expert.
   Ralph - Saturday, 06/11/05 16:20:12 EDT


That would be liquid scale. Also, notice the title of the book (paper?) Thomas sited "Solid Phase Welding of Metals". "Solid Phase Welding" is the technical term. Why do you think they call it that? The variables are: Time, Temperature, pressure and intamacy of contact. Increase on, you can decrease another. In the non-ferrous world its known as "Mokume".
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 16:31:40 EDT

Washing Machines:

I think Tinker has front-load washing machines in mind. These are rare in the U.S. The top-load ones common here have a drum and agitator driven directly off a transmission. They have a couple of small v-belt pulleys, but nothing like Tinker described.
   Mike B - Saturday, 06/11/05 16:41:17 EDT

So what weighs more: a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?
   John W - Saturday, 06/11/05 17:10:12 EDT

John W,

It takes 1.215 pounds of gold to equal 1 pound of feathers, so a pound of feathers weighs more than a poun of gold.
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 17:27:24 EDT

At the current price of gold a pound would weigh much more heavily in ones pocket than a pound of feathers. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/05 17:27:57 EDT

Interestingly, while a POUND ot feathers weighs MORE, an OUNCE of feathers weighs LESS than an OUNCE of gold!
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 17:40:24 EDT

JunkYard Bandsaw: The best wheel for a Junkyard bandsaw is a automobile wheel and tire, preferably a tall narrow one like and old VW wheel. You need a tire with narrow tread or that is mostly worn out. The tire is just like the rubber tire on a regular band saw, it allows the teeth to sink into the surface without hurting the blade.

Courtesy Mother Earth News circa 1980. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 06/11/05 17:48:12 EDT

I am intrested in knowing the prices of old grinders
   - achbar - Saturday, 06/11/05 18:32:25 EDT

Which pounds are we talking? Gold is generally measured in a different system.
   Ralph - Saturday, 06/11/05 18:48:39 EDT


You're right, of course. Common or English weight is Avoirdupois (hmm, sure sounds French). Precious metals use Troy weight. The Troy pound is smaller (very close to a metric pound. Yes, there is such a thing!) But, even though smaller, there is only 12 troy ounces in a troy pound rather than 16, making the troy ounce bigger.
   - grant - Saturday, 06/11/05 19:12:31 EDT

Yes your absolutely right:)
I didn't realise front loaders were a rarity over there, its the other way round for us. Top loaders are virtually gone now, but every dump boasts a few front loaders over here. They have big pulleys on the back of the drum. Having said that so do some 'tumble dryers'. So maybe thats a better bet, unless thats transmission too over there?
   Tinker - Saturday, 06/11/05 19:13:12 EDT

ThomasP, as I often tell my wif when she regales me with tales of "hot but its dry heat" in the southwest, I remind her that its hot but dry heat in the oven, but I don't go in there either.

Guru, I just happen to have 8 mostly worn out wheels and tires off VW beetles. 6.00 x 15. need a pair?

Ralph, in some materials, at room temp's, just a little pressure will weld them up. I was working with type 347 SS, and made some threaded samples in 3" full acme thread to test, and when I screwed the male into the female by hand, slowly, after about 10 turns, they siezed. Put 2700 foot pounds on them to untwist, got maybe a 1/8 turn. Cut them abart, and the galling was complete. Started reading, and galling, is the localized welding that occurs in metals when under pressure. The surface finish is a factor in that better finish increases galling. Pressure increases galling, and the crystal structure has a big effect. I do not remember whether face center cubic or body centered cubic was worse, but I suspect of the learned metalurgists will help me remember!
   ptree - Saturday, 06/11/05 19:24:41 EDT

I need to edge weld a few pieces of thin (.025)stainless auto molding. The welds will be more spots then a running bead. They will only need to hold to aid assembly. Will regular steel mig wire and gas work good enough for this low strength application? Thanks in advance....Bob
   bhigdog - Saturday, 06/11/05 19:26:01 EDT

The tumble dryers I've fooled with have belts that ran around the drum itself. But I haven't fooled with many -- some could easily have separate pulleys.
   Mike B - Saturday, 06/11/05 20:52:54 EDT

ptree, I am well aware of galling. Experienced it a bit while in the Nuc Navy.
I have also seen explosive welding and other types as well.

While I have not done Moku-Gane, I have studied it.

Anyhow, I just think that there is too much time and effort going into what a forge weld is. (smile) It either holds or does not. After all knowing that the bond is on the electron valence shell level makes no difference if you can not get it to stick. The same basic principles are required, hot enough, clean enough mating surfaces, and hitting or joining the two pieces just right.
   Ralph - Saturday, 06/11/05 21:14:57 EDT

Finally building a shop,,,what should the inside walls be made of?? how close to the walls can I place my propane forge?? Ventalation???Any other advise will be greatly appreciated or a source for setting up my home bladesmith shop...Thank You
   arthur - Saturday, 06/11/05 21:32:42 EDT

Hi, I have a small shop in Maine. I have been working full time as a blacksmith for about 5-6 years with about 15 before that on a part time basis. I recently purchased an anvil on ebay that looked to be an 18th century anvil. I asked the right questions and was soundle lied to. That part is my fault and I will deal with it. However, what I was after was an 18th century anvil. I do many historical events and historical demonstrations. I have a number of anvils but they are all London pattern. Do you have a suggestion as to where I might look to find an 18th century anvil? I don't mind fixing it as long as it is not absolutely destroyed. It will be well cared for and used for teaching and demonstration at historical events. Thanks, Jack Harrill, Moose Trax Forge
   Jack Harrill - Sunday, 06/12/05 00:32:44 EDT

"Pressure Welding?". Whenever there's a wreck in the 4 stand tandem rolling mill where I work, quite often some of the sheet being rolled gets welded to the work rolls, and must be removed prior to the regrind. What kind of welding would one call that?
   3dogs - Sunday, 06/12/05 01:50:41 EDT


Metal heat up when worked, ie rolled , beat , bent, squished, twisted. If heated enough in a o2 deprived invironment it will want to bond or weild. Pressure welds are the same animal a an explosion weild.
   - Timex - Sunday, 06/12/05 06:00:08 EDT

I bow to the metallurgists on fusion and the lack thereof in forge welding. Still, I bet many of mine are 80% as strong at the parent metal, and some are about the same as. That's the important part, for my money.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 06/12/05 06:44:46 EDT

Jack Harrill: Out of curosity, what was the eBay auction number of the anvil you purchased? I do not recall seeing one I thought might be pre-1800s recently.

Pre-1800s anvil do come up on eBay from time to time. Essentially you want to look for one without a step (which became common cicra 1780) or a pritchel (which became common cicra 1830); although one with a step and no pritchel would likely be a transaction between Colonial and Old English and still be suitable if you are doing late 1800s era . Basically you want one such as Richard Postman, in Anvils in America, calls a Colonial anvil. These were generally smaller (about 120 lbs on the high end), blocky, have short, stubby horns and flair outs more than pronounced feet.

"Fixing" anvils is a matter of some debate on the forum. Some would say use it as is and some it would be OK to repair it to not perfect, but what it might have looked like during the actual period as far as past usage. Postman still grumbles about my repairing a Colonial-ear anvil for someone who wanted one suitable for the period, rather than one with obviously over 200 years of wear and tear.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/12/05 06:54:58 EDT

My post vise jaws are a little cattywhampus, ie: they meet at an angle. the right side closes maybe/4 inch closer than the left. The bolt is tight at the joint. Suggestions?
   John W - Sunday, 06/12/05 08:40:46 EDT

Im currently in iraq right now. As a hobby i got in to blacksmithing and im lovein it. but now coal is hard to find so are any hard woods. the shop as charcoal like for grillin well this work. some joes say to dip in deisl i never heard of this. any why will the charcoal burn to hot. thank you
   pocan - Sunday, 06/12/05 09:56:09 EDT

Im currently in iraq right now. As a hobby i got in to blacksmithing and im lovein it. but now coal is hard to find so are any hard woods. the shop as charcoal like for grillin well this work. some joes say to dip in deisl i never heard of this. any way will the charcoal burn to hot. thank you
   - pocan - Sunday, 06/12/05 10:00:00 EDT

John W: It sounds like one of the postvise shafts is twisted - likely the front one. You might try removing it completely and laying the shaft portion on a level surface to double check. If it is twisted, you might be able to heat a section of the shaft and correct it. If it is the neck of the jaw out of alignment, then that might be a bit harder to correct.

Pocan: Do a search on charcoal in the archives.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/12/05 10:55:33 EDT

Dear Sir - my name is Willis Shepherd. In my day they called me CoreDog#1. I have held a Journeyman Molder-Coremakers card for some 20 years now or I should say up till approx 3 years ago when after my second back surgery, they put the old CoreDog out to pasture. But anyway, I started collecting knife's some years back and I came across a knife that has Anvil Hammered across the blade. On the lower end of the blade right by the handle it has ROBESCN, the N could be an H. Then right beside that it has in cursive writing the name Shirldge. Below that is the NO.14 stamped NO.14. If there is anyway that you or someone could tell me where this knife came from and approx year it was designed, I would appreciate it very much. If not, can't blame the old CoreDog for trying. Yours Truely W. W. Shepherde
   Willis W. Shepherd - Sunday, 06/12/05 11:02:49 EDT

Dear Guru and others, I am having some new flat dies made for my 100lb Bradley, to replace the brittle egded, soft centered, half & halfs I am using now. I want a die that will with stand denting from the top tooling I am using. My
machinist can get S7 easily, and Brian R. of Sahinler Hammers specs his dies (also S7) at 52-54 Rc. Does this sound like a good plan? I want a hard durable die, we will be using my machinist's nice commertial heat treat furnace, so will able to do a good job on the HT. Any other suggestions? Thanks, Andrew T.
   - Andrew T. - Sunday, 06/12/05 11:50:15 EDT

Charcoal in Iraq. Hi pocan. Charcoal works great for blacksmithing. Make sure you use the real wood charcoal (it looks like wood branches and chunks) rather than the pre-formed briquettes (looks like a pillow, all the same shape). If the charcoal has not been cooked enough, it may flame and smoke. Either cook it more or use the old more cooked charcoal from the last forging session.

I have a buddy who uses briquettes (Kingsford) with a side-draft blower. This setup gets hot enough to bend steel and perhaps do a little forging. But, recently, I have found a source of good hardwood lump charcoal that costs less than Kingsford briquettes. Also, you can make charcoal (see FAQ) out of lumber scraps (don't use treated wood, old scrap is OK).
   EricC - Sunday, 06/12/05 11:57:47 EDT

Forge welding strength. I was really excited when my first faggot welds stuck. Especially when I could feel the difference under the first hammer blow when you know whether it stuck or it didn't. So, I bent the bar in a vice, and it broke at the edge of the weld, but not at the weld itself. Then, I tried a tougher test. I faggot welded another bar, and then hot punched it over half the width through the weld. Then, I twisted it around the weld. The weld broke at the edge of the punch hole, and I was able to see smooth surface at the break, meaning it broke at the weld line, not inside the native metal. I then sectioned through the weld, and although the line seemed to have disappeared, there was a thin pocket of oxide separating the pieces of metal. Probably a substandard scarf. If you read M. T. Richardson's book, there is a lot about poor scarfing causing welds that eventually failed. There is a fellow at the office who's dad worked in a scarfing mill. It's just as I imagined. He shaped the ends of large bars in preparation for joining.
   EricC - Sunday, 06/12/05 12:08:19 EDT

I want to make some stamps for silver jewelry. I purchased a few at $5 each, and they are made from automobile valve stems.
The Junkyard Metals chart didnt list Valve Stems, although it did list valve springs.

Is there a post in the archives that might tell me the type of metal Valve Stems are made from and the steps and temperatures to anneal, harden and temper?

I have a kiln that goes up to 1780 F, so annealing shouldnt be an issue. After I anneal a valve rod, I want to flatten one end and then shape it to make a gentle sloping curve. It then needs to be hardened. It probably dosent need to be hardened much, as it will be used to stamp Sterling Silver, which has been annealed and is dead soft.

Any help will be appreciated, and assume that I know nothing about steel.

Love and God Bless
   Randy Smith - Sunday, 06/12/05 13:52:41 EDT

I want to make some stamps for silver jewelry. I purchased a few at $5 each, and they are made from automobile valve stems.
The Junkyard Metals chart didnt list Valve Stems, although it did list valve springs.

Is there a post in the archives that might tell me the type of metal Valve Stems are made from and the steps and temperatures to anneal, harden and temper?

I have a kiln that goes up to 1780 F, so annealing shouldnt be an issue. After I anneal a valve rod, I want to flatten one end and then shape it to make a gentle sloping curve. It then needs to be hardened. It probably dosent need to be hardened much, as it will be used to stamp Sterling Silver, which has been annealed and is dead soft.

Any help will be appreciated, and assume that I know nothing about steel.

Love and God Bless
   Randy Smith - Sunday, 06/12/05 13:53:03 EDT


52-54 Rc is just right for hammer dies. Almost any deep hardening steel will serve well at that hardness. I've made tons (literally!) of dies from 4340, but if S-7 is readily available it will work great!
   - grant - Sunday, 06/12/05 15:19:39 EDT

pocan: Someone else over there was posting on another forum, seems they were using wood from the excessive ammount of pallets they had lying around. If your location has all those pallets too then that should work fine. You can either pre-charcoal it, or just use it as wood, waiting for coals to form at the bottom and always adding the new fuel to the top.

Randy Smith: When using old parts, you can never really know what the steel is in most cases, but that doesn't mean all is lost. If it's a high carbon steel (i.e. rusts easily and is pretty hard) then you can try the basic mystery steel heat treat. Heat the steel until it's non-magnetic (should be in the reddish-orange crossover area, depending on ambient light, often called "cherry red") then put back into the heat for a few moments and let the color equalize, then quickly (very quickly since some steels give you less then a full second) quench it into oil. After you quench it, take a file and see if it bites into the hardened area, if it does then try again with water, if it still does then it's not good steel for your purpose, if not then it's hard and you need to temper it. To temper it you heat it to 350-700F or so for about an hour, cool it off and repeat. I'd probably guess about 400-450F for a mystery steel and your purposes.
   AwP - Sunday, 06/12/05 15:22:02 EDT

I won't be doing this personally, but any heavy blacksmiths out there want to comment if this is a doable open die job? Naturally would want grain direction going around corners at juctions of sections. Throw is 3 7/16". Rectangular section is 1 3/4 X 4 X 10 7/8. Long round 3 7/8 X 14. Short round 3 1/2 X 5. Does not have to be this pretty until machined. Will be 4340 and must pass ultrasonic with flying colors.

Here are some links to jpegs:


I am a retired machinist/toolmaker/mechanical designer

I can assist on this project with simple flow control dies made on my 36" Ohio shaper

Thank you

John Oder

Houston, TX
   - John Oder - Sunday, 06/12/05 15:29:21 EDT

Grant, thanks for responding. Do you think 4340 is = to S7 in this app? I will let cost and ease of heat treat deside.
I assume 4340 is oil hardening? How much oil is needed to pull the heat out of two blocks 3x3x7"? My machinist has a 55 galon drum, I dont know how full it is. Will S7 air harden in this size? Thanks again Andrew T, not Willis.
   - Andrew T. - Sunday, 06/12/05 16:25:06 EDT

John Oder
I'm not sure who does it, but the cranks on forging presses and upsetters are forged. A typical upsetter uses a crank about 9 to 18' long. the throw is about 30" off the centerline and the bearing journals are in the 20 to 40" range. You should be able to find some one to forge that crank for you.
   ptree - Sunday, 06/12/05 18:39:49 EDT

You mention sword blanks in one of your articles,Is there any suppliers in the uk or a website where u can buy them from.Hope u can help thanks.
   Dave - Sunday, 06/12/05 21:07:34 EDT

John Hardessen, recieved mail sent replies. You may have a spam filter set that is bouncing my new .NET address. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 06/12/05 22:23:12 EDT

Randy Smith: The valve stem itself is probably some oil hardening steel, but the head of the valve is some type of high temperature steel, and it may not respond to heat treat the way You expect. By grinding under dim light You may be able too see a diference in the sparks to tell where the seam is. You will have to use the trial & error method to figure out how to heat treat it.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/12/05 22:28:55 EDT

Auto Valves: Randy, This material varies greatly depending the era, make and performance of the engine. They range from medium carbon nickle alloy steel to hard tungsten alloys with sodium cores.

Now THIS is where things get tricky. Quite a few high performance engines supposedly had sodium filled valves. The sodium is light and melts a very low temperature. The liquified sodium in the head would conduct the heat up the valve stem resulting in higher heat transfer and thus a valve that could take higher heat. The lower weight also reduced inertia alowing lighter valve springs for the RPM of the engine so the engine could run at high speed efficiently. The problem is that if you cut one of thes open OR try to forge one you have pyrophoric mess. Sodium oxidizes in rapidly in air and ignites in water. Imagine what it would do at forging temperaturees. . .

ALL auto steels are Junkyard steels and all the rules apply. See our FAQ on Junkyard steels then the one on Heat Treating.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/12/05 22:45:50 EDT

Globalization: Every other day or so I have some Chinese, Indian or Pakistani fellow trying to sell me everything from vetrinary equipment or rivets to Kaowool to wrought iron furniture. These folks want YOUR jobs! When was the last time you tried to sell YOUR products or services to someone in another country?

My next door neighbor is a good ole boy from rural Virginia. He's married to a beautiful little blond Africaaner from South Africa. Another neighbor is married to a French Canadian woman. Our local mini-mart is operated by a nice Indian family who speak better English than most of my neighbors. . . . Today I met Mike Briskin and his Chinese wife. The fellow I take Spanish lessons from is from Chile and there is girl in our class from Korea. In the past year my daughter has dated a fellow from Guatelmala and another from the Caribean.

Now this would not mean much if I lived in a big metropolitan area, but I do not. I live in a relative backwater of the US where a few years ago anyone not from Virginia, much less somewhere else in the US would have been very unusual. Today at least one in ten folks I meet is from somewhere outside the US. We are still the "mixing pot" and there are a LOT of NEW Americans.

Newly released census data reports that last year there were more Hispanic births in the US than all others. This was the first time the Hispanic population had increased more by births than by imigration. In a couple years Mexico City will be the world's most populous city.

Think about it mi amigos.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/12/05 23:08:01 EDT

Arthur, since you must live in central NM like I do and must have a lot of time on your hands; may I suggest you make your shop from adobe. If you are not using much straw the propane forge can actually touch the wall.

Now I didn't have a lot of time so my shop is in a metal building---only wood in it's construction was the concrete forms and we pulled them out after the floor set up.

I have 2 10' x 10' roll up doors one at either end of the prevailing wind sides and get good ventilation---though sometimes the wind knocks over an anvil of two. No insulation though I am thinking of installing a swamp cooler.

If you live in a different climate your shop may need to be very different.

Solid Phase Welding of Metals (ISBN:071313173X) hardback book with well over 300 pages. Not a light read... As I recall the more pressure the less heat needed and no pressure does not create heat in solids though deformation due to pressure can. Cleanliness is also a big factor why vacuum welding can be a problem on spacecraft...


   Thomas P - Sunday, 06/12/05 23:27:30 EDT

ptree - I don't have a quick reference regarding Fcc/Bcc crystalline structures and galling, but the 347 would be an austenitic stainless, so would have an FCC structure - most of the stainless bolts I've galled over the years have been 300 series (primarily 304 or 316), So this metallurgist's educated WAG would be that it's more a problem for the FCC austenitic structures.

ThomasP - Solid Phase Welding of Metals is getting harder and more expensive to find in the used book market - it's still out there, but you've got to search harder. Picked up a copy about 2 months back.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 06/13/05 00:01:24 EDT

Alan L and forge welding:

Wow 80%, mine welds tend to be closer to the 45% range, but my mig , tig and arc are in the upper 90's on a bad day. Per haps we could have a contest of sorts. If you can break mine I buy the beer and vise versa?
   - Timex - Monday, 06/13/05 01:50:30 EDT

I don't think forge welding is all it's cracked up to be.
   lsundstrom - Monday, 06/13/05 08:08:52 EDT

I'm going to make a hot chisel out of a large worn out file that I bought a few weeks ago. According to the junkyard steel chart on Anvilfire files are W-2 tool steel but a knifemaker from Homer, Georgia told me they were 1095. Which one? Forging temp?
   Tyler - Monday, 06/13/05 08:15:44 EDT

Timex: Only if the welds are in a blade! (grin!)

Tyler: They could be either. Heat treat and forging range are similar. Neither one is going to be a good hot-work steel if you intend to keep a tempered edge.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/13/05 08:40:24 EDT

Welds and Penetration: The big difference in forge welds and arc welds are that the forge weld is a gross surface weld where the arc weld is a narrow zone weld. They are like comparing apples and pigs.

Most arc welds are lines of very strong glue holding narrow plates together in configurations such as T joints. This is NOT a task that can be done properly by forge welding. But when you plate an anvil a forge weld makes a huge surface weld that you cannot effeciently reproduce with an arc weld. Various clad plates are made in modern plants by roll welding using the same process as a forge weld. The only difference is that it is continous.

There are places where both work. In decorative work a proper forge weld makes a much more gracefull line between branches of a scroll. But the same can be done by arc welding with the same results if properly done. However, most fabricators do not prep and blend the weld so they stick out like a sore thumb. A practiced smith can usualy make this kind of joint easier than than arc welding and cleaning up but it CAN be done.

Strength of the two welds depends on the joint design. When everything was forge welded all joints were designed for forge welding. Many of these are not suitable for electric processes and neither are arc weld joint designs suitable for forge welding.

There is no contest if each process is properly applied.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/05 10:36:13 EDT

Guru: Hot cuts and punches. What is a good steel to use for tools that will be used on forging temp steel. I melted a comercial chisel the other day when I couldnt get it out of a piece I was slitting. 2. Sodium valves. Should you cut the stem off with a chisel or something before forging it? I was thinking that they might make a good steel to use in a knife damascus: very hard, nickle for appearance.
   John W. - Monday, 06/13/05 10:54:53 EDT

Valves: John, on sodium filled valves the stems are filled with the same.

Hot Work Steels: S-7 and H-13 are favorites. Then there is the "non-tempering" Atlantic-33. Note however that improper technique can make a mess out out even the best hot work tool as well. These tools should have proper taper and edges. Eased corners help reduce getting caught in the work. See our iForge demo on punching and slitting.

Hotwork lubricant which also acts as a coolant as it burns off also makes a tremondous difference. Besswax has been used, I prefer bearing grease (its handy), neversieze works but is messy. Any can of lubricant you dip tools into should never be used to pack bearings or other critical lubrication jobs due to contamination. There are also special lubricants with graphite and molebdenmum disulphide such as the "Puncheize" sold by BigBLU Hammers.

The best slitting chisels are those imported from France (made by MOB). They are very thin and made of very high alloy hot work steel. You can get them from our advertisers.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/05 11:18:39 EDT

S-7 in this section is right on the edge between oil/air hardening. I'd air harden it with a blower pointed right on the face. The 4340 MUST be oil quenched. 30+ gallons is fine for this size. either one should be heated to about 1750F. The S-7 will probably stand more abrasion and last a little longer (maybe - maybe not). Hardness testing is a denting process, so any steels of like hardness will stand up the same to denting forces similarly. either one will be close to 52 Rc with a 650 draw temp.
   - grant - Monday, 06/13/05 15:43:32 EDT


I have been taking welding and forging lessons for a couple years and am now in the process of converting part of our basement into my own shop. This is a walkout basement so I do have a large window and a door that both open to allow fresh air in. The space I will be working in is about 400 sq/ ft. and my forge is on the outside. What do you recommend for the following:

1) If I keep the door and window open while welding, do I need any additional type of ventilation?

2) In order to keep my workshop as flame retardent as possible, what should I put on the walls? Right now my portion is separated from our den via 2 x 4 framing. There is insulation and drywall facing the den portion, but my shop doesn't have anything up yet. If I just drywall and paint my walls will that repel sparks or should I cover my walls with some form of metal roofing material?

Thank you!

   Laura - Monday, 06/13/05 15:56:53 EDT

Kinyon air hammer.

I'm cogitating about fabricating the Kinyon air hammer from the Abana-published plans. One thing that caught my attention was the drilling of 3/4" holes in a 6.5" by 28" steel anvil, ar. Of course, there's always options for other implementations, but I'm wondering how I could possibly drill a 3/4" hole, around 4" deep, with normal shop equipment. Ideas? Can this sort of thing be done on a 'normal' shop sized drill press?

Raining again in the cascades...
   - Tom T - Monday, 06/13/05 16:04:19 EDT

Laura-- From the standpoints of fire safety and ventilation putting your shop in the basement strikes me as an extremely risky idea. Bill Gichner did have a coal forge down in the basement of Iron Age Antiques-- but, then, he did not live there.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 06/13/05 17:21:18 EDT

While S-XX and H-XX are great hot work steels, almost any heat treatable steel can be used. After all, carbon steel tools have been used for hundreds or even thousands of years. Many of us have used springs and such to make quite servicable tools. You just gotta learn to keep them cool. That might mean cooling them after every 3-4 blows, whatever it takes to keep them from softening. By all means, use hot work tool steels if you can get them, but the difference is just in technique and time, or, I guess in quantity needed.

   - grant - Monday, 06/13/05 18:10:53 EDT

Slitting/forging lube. In our very large comercial shop, we use a polymer lube for upset forging. We used to use various graphite formulations, most with oil as a vehicle. More smoke and dust than most want. The excess graphite coats everything in the shop, leaving a combustable dust with its own safety issues.
I have supplied the magic lube in small samples to several smiths and farriers. Tom clark of the ozark school loves it for slitting and punching. I am awaiting the results from the farriers for pritchel use. The old thing about this lube is you dip a hot tool in it. The water flashs off cooling the tool, and leaving a solid film to lube the part. No smoke, just a little steam.
I am bringing some samples to quad state to pass out to those in BLUE, so join CSI and visit quad state to get a sample.
   ptree - Monday, 06/13/05 18:15:44 EDT

Tom my "normal" shop drill press has a 2 hp motor and the chuck holds 3/4" bits---was cheaper than buying a shoddy new one back in '83

Ventillation: without a positive draft hood I would want good flow through ventilation not an opening on a single side. (I have 2 10' x 10' roll up doors on opposide sides of my shop along the direction of prevailing winds)

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/13/05 18:24:59 EDT

ptree, how about those in "orange"????

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/13/05 18:25:36 EDT

By normal, I mean a sub $1000 floor model typically found in most hobbyist shops.
   - Tom T - Monday, 06/13/05 18:42:26 EDT

ptree: Where can we get samples of the magic lube if we arent going to quad state, or maybe even buy some.
   John W - Monday, 06/13/05 19:25:21 EDT

Mine ran $250 so I guess it's in the range...

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/13/05 20:03:17 EDT


If you sheetrock the walls with two (2) layers of 5/8" sheetrock, being dutiful about not having joints lying atop each other, you will have what is generally rated as a "firewall" for most insurance purposes. Obviously, if you start a big fire in you shop and have no fire supression equipment, you will find out how well that works. Odds are, you'll find out that the floor above your shop burns faster than the sidewalls. So, be careful, and you'll be okay. Be stupid, and you'll be homeless.

Using the forge outside is a good idea for ventilation and fire purposes. Welding outside would also be a good idea. If you must weld inside, I strongly recommend you get either some serious ventilation equipment, or a positive-pressure supplied air welding helmet. Those things are not cheap, but they really do work well, plus they go a long ways toward keeping you cool in hot weather. Your welding supplier should have information on them.

The foregoing was based on arc welding. If you meant gas welding, then you could probably do that in the shop with the doors/windows open and a fan going to stir the air up sufficiently. Your homeowner's insurance carrier may have some serious reservations about having flammable gas cylinders stored in an occupied structure, however. If you ask them, they'll probably just cancel your policy to be on the safe side. For them, of course. I suggest you read the policy, have a lawyer read it, and then make decisions based upon real information. Be wary of telling the insurance company anything until you've read the policy. Most of them are weasels, in my limited experience. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 06/13/05 20:22:17 EDT

Tom T.,

I have one of those Radio-Free Taiwan drill presses, and I've drilled plenty of 3/4" holes in steel with it. I don't recall if any of them were as deep as 4", but I'm sure several were over 2" deep. As long as I drill the appropriate pilot hole first, use a good qwuality bit with cutting lube and lots of pressure so I keep on making chips, it does the job. The lowest speed on mine is about 220 rpm, a bit fast for 3/4" holes, but I get away with it. If you can get the speed down to about 120 rpm, it would be better.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/13/05 20:26:38 EDT

I'm new - if I want to get started while waiting to get to a blacksmithing class would I be well served to buy one of the propane forges that are sold to make knives, horseshoes with??? (for small starter projects)
   sv - Monday, 06/13/05 20:52:48 EDT

To those wanting samples of the magic lube, I am still trying to figure a way to ship it short of truck freight. If I can figure the shipping out I would be able to send a few samples. If enough people want to buy some, I will ask the supplier to sell it in gallons. As it is diluted with about 3 parts water to one in a production shop, a quart may be a better size container. If Jock is willing, maybe he could add to the Anvilfire store.
   ptree - Monday, 06/13/05 21:29:46 EDT

For those in orange, especially those in disreputable hats and lederhosen, the sample may be in a suitably disreputable container, but yes I have one saved back for you.
   ptree - Monday, 06/13/05 21:31:16 EDT

Tom T: As was pointed out, the drillpress must run slow enough for the diameter You are drilling. Water soluable oil cutting fluid squirted on liberally from a dish detergent bottle helps push the limit on RPM. You need to be below 500 RPM, 200 to 300 would be fine. For metal working a drilpress should have a jackshaft to get more reduction. Building the jackshaft is within Your capabilities if You can build the hammer. If the workpice is a lot heavier than the machine, consider clamping the machine to the work, or possibly renting a magnetic base drill [portamag or similar]I would probably drill a 1/2" hole first, then use the 3/4" if using a hand fed drilpress.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/13/05 21:36:40 EDT

Kinyon Hammer: Tom, Building these things usualy requires SOME access to machine tools. At a minimum a REAL drill press or a Mag-Base drill. It helps to make an anvil cap or "sow block" and do drilling/machining to that small 100 pound piece rather than an 800 to 1500 pound anvil. Even though this is a DIY project it is NOT a backyard JYH. Builders usualy have a lathe, mill and other machine tools.

As to what is a "normal" shop sized drill press, a Department store drill press is usaly designed for wood working and is not good over 3/8 or 1/2" in steel. But a standard old model 20" floor drill press with a 1HP motor will drill holes over 1" diameter as fast as you can feed it. These old war horse machines are not much bigger than a depatement store "homeowner" drill press but are considerably heavier (around 800 pounds).

You can also drill 1" diameter holes with a Mag-Base drill press that weighs less than 100 pounds. . .

THEN. . I HAVE step drilled shallow 3/4" holes in steel using an old fashioned brace and bit. It works fine but it takes all your weight to get enough feed pressure and the work is VERY strenuous. Ever see an old fashioned beam drill? Sometimes it is just a matter of how much you want something.

You cannot make machinery without some basic tools. Making holes is an important part of the process.
   - guru - Monday, 06/13/05 21:57:28 EDT

For a quart size container, the magic lube might sent in a priority mail flat rate box for $7.70 to any U.S. Zip Code (including AK, HI and, I'm told, U.S. territories). These boxes come in two sizes: 5.5" x 8.5" x 11" and 3.5" x 12" x 14". Same basic volume in both.

On the drill press for large, deep holes. Be sure to support your plate from underneath.

sv: As long as you will not be doing forge welding, just about any propane forge would serve your purpose. If you think you will eventually use it for forge welding, get one guaranteed to do so. The items you need between the tank and forge (e.g., regulator, perhaps pressure gauge and hose) will run you about $65. Thus, if the forge you look at doesn't come with those items you need to factor that into pricing. Do a comparison of the propane forges sold by the AnvilFire advertisers.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/13/05 22:10:31 EDT

Grant, thanks for the help.
   - Andrew T. - Tuesday, 06/14/05 00:57:05 EDT

Laura and the fire wall

I concure with Mr. Ptree, READ your insurance contract and have a Good lawer inturpert it for you( sorry for sp I'm tired) after that ask your local code inspector or inspecting fire engineer for recondatios and advise. Its cheeper than the fine and the cost of a 'fire in house' event.
Welding inside, bad Idea if u don't have very good air recirculatio vs fresh air. Point made. See welders hand book or a standard founders guide for the reasons why( gotta love chem/ bio 310 )

For a air conditioned posy flow hood look in to a CO. called Clen Tech. They supply both sandblasting helmets and industral welding hoods( full head enclosure) that have an in line air purifier ( activated charcoal) and an air cooler that workes in line with breathing air. It costs $$$ but any thing that can frost up my blast hood in .003% humidity and 109 F is a worth while investment.
Just an industral viewpoint.
   - Timex - Tuesday, 06/14/05 02:36:40 EDT

Sorry the CO. Is Clem Tech not clen.
School pluse work pluse blood thinner make for a very tired Timex
   - Timex - Tuesday, 06/14/05 02:39:38 EDT

Humm, I do not recall ever hearing of a welding shop burning down as the result of common cut and stick-type welding. Welding induced fires, such as welding on a wall without realizing something flamable was against it on the other side or being careless with oxy/ace cutting, yes, but not typical shop welding.

Even in the blacksmith shop fires I have heard about causes have been out-of-control grass-type fire, a hot ember smoldering in cloth or careless handling of quenching oil. On the later, Larry Wood (one of SOF&A founders) tipped up a bucket to get enough oil depth for a blade. It flashed and he dropped the bucked on its side, sending burning oil spreading.

IMHO, neither welding or blacksmithing are directly fire hazards as long as common precautions are taken.

Some goes for welding fumes. I am not about to use the equivalent of scuba gear to weld when just adequate ventilation is all which is necessary.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/14/05 09:19:05 EDT

ptree, I already carry my flux in a small wooden barrel---used to be sold with a bunch of wooden spoons in it for kitchens. makes a dandy old timely flux containerturned a simple wooden top for it on the lathe and fastened it to a piece of worn out leather belt (mine not a machine) that it tacked to the barrel on one end and uses the original holes to fit over a knob screw on the other.


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/14/05 10:06:02 EDT

Ptree, I am still looking for the sample lube you gave Paw-Paw. . . Will find eventualy.

A last reminder. This coming Saturday will be the Memorial Hammer-In at Jim Paw-Paw Wilson's. Everyone is invited, friends, smiths, acquaintences. Details on the Calendar of events.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/14/05 12:59:41 EDT

Guru, the bellows that you made for the portable blacksmith shop, the valve is partially blocked by the middle board. Did you rasp or cut away some wood to open it up? Do you have to crease the leather so that it folds nicely or does it do that on it's own? What thickness lumber do you reccomend? Did the four holes on the bottom board and two holes on the middle board work well? Thank you for advice.
   Tyler - Tuesday, 06/14/05 13:23:58 EDT

Two questions:
Would someone PLEASE tell me how to find this HAGEMEYER company? I have seen their name up here too many times and I would like to check them out. Are they online(searched and only came up with fire extinguishers)? Is there a phone number for them to get a catalog?

2. In light of Paw Paws sudden death due to zinc fumes inhalation I am searching for a source of NON-zinc plated chain. I would prefer carbon steel. The size at this point is a baffling thing to me. I know it if I see and can describe it but don;t know the trade size. the links are approximately 1 inch long and about MAYBE 5/32 thick..not miniscule but pretty small chain ALOMST like proofing chain but not quite that big.
I am not wild about burning off the zinc on the chain anymore(too much work to begin with).

Any help with either of these items is appreciated.
   Ed Green - Tuesday, 06/14/05 14:37:59 EDT

Thomas P and his drill press:

You dog! Where did you steal that monster for $250?
   - Tom T - Tuesday, 06/14/05 15:47:29 EDT

Hagemeyer: http://www.hagemeyerna.com/. However, you can also call 502-961-5930 and ask for Mike Morrison. Tell him you heard about Hagemeyer on the AnvilFire forum and would like to receive a catalog.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/14/05 16:09:00 EDT


The fire danger of smithing or welding is not excessive, IF you are careful and prepared. That means knowing what you are doing and having fire supression equipment at hand. It also means having a shop area that is properly laid out and free of clutter and debris (anybody really have a shop like that?) with all the appropriate equipment like flash curtains, non-flammable construction materials, fireproof storage of flammables, etc. That said, if really think it isn't risky, just mention to your insurance agent that you do welding or have a forge in your house and watch what happens to either your coverage or your rates. Or mention to the fire marshall that you have an acetylene cylinder inside your house. I doubt very much that you'll be pleased with the reaction from the insurance carrier or the fire marshall.

As far as supplied air welding helmets go, they aren't anything like SCUBA gear. I've used both plenty of times. A supplied air helmet is very little different in feel from a regular helmet, it just has a hood or neck drape with it and it provides nice, cool fresh air to breathe. You don't suck on it, you just breathe like you would in a regular helmet...except you're not breathing welding fumes. Definitely a good thing for your lungs.

Can you get by without one? Maybe. Depends on a LOT of variables. Amount of time welding, type of electrodes, flux, shielding gases, contamination, plating, health history, etc. You can avoid all that figuring by using supplied air. Simple, no?
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/14/05 16:21:26 EDT

I am new at blacksmithing and am trying to make strikers for flint and steel. I have experimented with using hot rolled steel and could not get a spark. Is there a specific type of metal that generates a spark easier, or am I doing something wrong? I also tried using a few files and a chainsaw file to turn into strikers and failed to get a spark. I am having no problem with getting the desired shapes, just the spark. Any help that you can give would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
Ryan Loucks
   Ryan Loucks - Tuesday, 06/14/05 16:31:16 EDT

In 1983 the oilfield went bust and a lot of small machine shops in OKC had bankruptcy auctions; since most folks had lived high during the boom they were pretty busted too, things were cheap. I had lived poor and banked my money...one part of my mother's side of the family was from OK and I was raised on tales of oilfield boom/bust cycles.

One of the things I have used it for the most is I have a machinists vise that fits on the crank up table---sure is nice to do whatever you need to do with the vice at *exactly* the right height!

I could have had a 4'x8'x2" layout table for $5 but I couldn't have moved it. Just as well as I moved 6 times in the next 6 years and it wouldn't have fit in the old phone co van I had---I did move a number of triphammers in that van though...I've regretted selling every triphammer I have ever let go of so now I'm going to just hoard them as they come sniffing round my triphammer bait...here hammer hammer hammer...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/14/05 16:40:31 EDT

Hello guru. Its been a while since I've been on your site. You helped me before on bending some spring steel and was wondering if you could guide me a little on welding ductile iron pipe. What it is, there is a riser that is connected to a fire hydrant that is buried in about 6 feet of earth and understandably the company I work for doesn't want to dig up the ground to replace the pipe, so I got elected to try to weld the crack in it. Oh goody!! Now I have done quite a bit of cast iron welding, but, I'm a little leary of this because it is outside and I can't do a preheat and post treatment like I would like. I did take a grinder out the other day to see how soft/hard the pipe was and it acted like there wasn't a lot of carbon in it so I felt that it could be welded. One of the guys claims that you aren't suppose to weld ductile iron. What do you think Guru??
   toni 1595 - Tuesday, 06/14/05 16:54:39 EDT

Toni 1596,
Are you sure that that pipe is ductile iron? A lot of fero-concrete has been used for this type work in the last 40 years. Fero-concrete will not weld.
Ductile pipe for fire mains is usually repaired with clamp on couplings. If the repair is at a tee, or ell, then a kicker is usually poured around the repair or joint. A kicker keeps the pipe joined when the pumper truck hooks up to the system and supercharges the flow. A kicker is a backhoe bucket wide by about 6 to 12' long by 3' deep concrete slug poured around the pipe, and then backfilled when set.
When you say the crack is in the riser to the hydrant, are you sure that is the source of the leak? The valve that isolates the hydrant is at the very base of the hydrant. The hydrant should not leak when closed.If there is a crack, and it leaks when closed, then the valve is leaking at a rate faster than the drain hole to allow drainback of the hydrant can handle, and probably the crack came from a winter freeze up. That is the reason for the valve at the bottom, and the drain back hole. Typically the hydrant is about 3 to 4' to the side of the main, and is tee'd off the main, and the valve is also the ell to turn the flow upward.
Typically the tee, and the valve are all poured in a kicker in anything installed after about 1960.
I usually find it impossible to economically repair a hydrant with a bad valve. Same with a post indicator valve or isolation valve on the mains.
Considering the pressure, and the effects of a failure to the personell using the hydrant in an emergency, repair seems to me to be risky.
In my part of the country, the hydrant I replaced last year, including the 8" think concrete paving that had to be replced after the repair was about $6000.00
Whats a life worth?
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/14/05 17:38:00 EDT

Ed Green,
As Ken suggests, call Mike, and ask for a catalog, but remember that they sell literally everything industry needs so the catalog does not contain everything. Expect some discount from the catalog also. I call Mike almost dailey to search for stuff I need. I describe, he searchs and e-mails me back a cutsheet or three and price and availalablity. He bends over backwards to help.
Tell him you saw it on Anvilfire.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/14/05 17:41:41 EDT

Ryan, how are you hardening your strikers? A good high carbon steel is generally suggested and not too hard but not too soft. Another common problem with folk starting out is there may be a de-carb layer from taking more time forging them. Hitting the working face with a grinder can remove the decarb layer if there is one.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/14/05 18:53:18 EDT

Ryan-- your hot rolled strikers probably don't have enough carbon. Sounds to me as if your strikers made from files may not be getting hard enough. Heat them up at least to where they lose magnetism, and quench pronto. I take mine-- made from old files-- up to just below white. You have one (1) second to get them out of the fire and into the quench to obtain max hardness. And, are you sure you are using flint? A good sharp glancing strike on the thin edge?
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 06/14/05 18:57:00 EDT

Guru (or anyone else with an answer),
I've been getting request's from my black powder shooting compadre's to set up at rendevous' as a smith. I'd like to find a source of sketches or pic's of 1710-1840 period utilitarian smithed items like candle holders, boot scrapers, fire irons etc. Naturally I'd try to sell some of my own design's as well, but I'd like to please the purists in the group. Thanks
   Thumper - Tuesday, 06/14/05 18:57:06 EDT


Everything you listed is in the Iforge section on this site. Go to the upper right corner to the drop down and click on iforge.

   Arron Cissell - Tuesday, 06/14/05 19:44:53 EDT

Thanks Arron. Thumper
   Thumper - Tuesday, 06/14/05 20:41:18 EDT

Guru, I have a pile of used horse shoes. There are some Summer and Winter shoes. I am wondering if these horse shoes have any value. They are over 70 years old.
   - achbar - Tuesday, 06/14/05 21:10:55 EDT


This book is currently on eBay. Firearms, Traps, & Tools of the Mountain Men, by Carl P. Russell, published by the University of New Mexico Press, 1967. This is a 2001 11th printing. 6 x 9 paperback, 474 pages with 107 drawings, 2 maps. ISBN 0-8263-0465-6. I leafed through a copy several years ago but don't remember if it contained much in the way of accessory type items.

   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/14/05 21:11:00 EDT

Hi Ken,
Thanks for the tip, but I'll tell you what, there is such cool period stuff, and projects that could be adapted on iForge, that I'll be busy for a month or two just making one of everything. Glad that was pointed out to me!!! Buy the way, I used to go by Roland, but after making my JYH, my wife and her girlfriend gave me my new handle. Has something to do with the ground shaking when I use it....God it's sweet, there ought to be a government grant available for every registered blacksmith to get one!!!
   Thumper - Tuesday, 06/14/05 22:49:00 EDT


have you thought of a plated cap weld?

I have had to use a version of this to repair boiler pipe in a pulp/waste elect. gen. It involves cutting a section of softer but higher iron content pipe that just fits over the fissure in the host pipe. you bevel ,caut and cap the pipe withe 15% pressure on the line then clampit down. After that you spot and weild it through and through.

I've heard or versions of this( haven't seen) that (low pressure lines) in volved a rubber liner that was used as a gasket in betwen the joint.
   - Timex - Wednesday, 06/15/05 02:03:50 EDT

oooo another Idea,
If its a lower pressure line why not braze it and then cap weild( just my 2 cents )
   - Timex - Wednesday, 06/15/05 02:05:15 EDT


OK, an outright sales pitch. I have published the book: 101 Metal Projects for the Novice Blacksmith by Al Cannella. I suspect many of those would be suitable to the period. Cost is $19.99 plus $2.42 medial mail or plus $4.85 priority mail. Book is mostly self-explanatory line drawings with a bit of text. Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools, 1645 West Blue Creek Road, Waverly, TN 37185. Also on eBay at #6178841200.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/15/05 06:11:22 EDT

Could copper water pipe be used for verticle spindles on a stairs and railing. How would someone seal the copper to keep it from tarnishing?
   edie kittelsen - Wednesday, 06/15/05 08:18:18 EDT

edie kittleson,

Copper water pipe is going to be too weak to make good pickets on a railing. YOu can use copper, but you will need some heavy wall pipe or solid bar to have adequate strength, I would think. An engineer could calculate the loads and material strengths for you.

To seal copper you must get it perfectly clean and free of all oxides, then clear coat it with one of the high durability acrylic lacquers or enamels as used for automotive paint. Copper is such an active metal, readily oxidizing in the presence of the least little bit of oxygen, that even clear coating is only going to work for a couple of years indoors, and less outdoors. I would probably just leave it bare, give it a coat of car wax and tell the customer that it will require periodic maintenance to keep it looking shiny.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/15/05 08:31:45 EDT

Copper Pipe: Edie, Yes this is possible however the copper is very soft and likely to get bent. To prevent tarnishig clean and polish (or finish to your preference), strip the wax from the polishing compound or neutralize acids if chemicaly finished then coat with clear laquer. Note that while handling clean metals that you must use clean cotton gloves or handling pins to prevent handprints which are oily and contain salt. This combination leaves wonderful etched fingerprints over time.

When finishing gun barrels wodden pegs are made to fit the ends so that the metal is not touched. This would work for your copper pipe as well. To stiffen the pipe you might want to consider pressing in a snug fitting wooden dowel the full length. This would be a considerable expense but would be cheaper than using solid copper and be much stronger.

Also note that comercial pipe may have lettering embossed or printed on it. Often the print etches and will require significant polishing to remove.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/05 08:41:43 EDT

Used Horse Shoes: Achbar, A few smiths make things out of used horse shoes. If they know a farrier they usualy have far more than they could use in a lifetime. Value is basicaly that of scrap iron due to the ready supply.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/05 09:13:52 EDT

My Great bellows: Tyler, There is no blockage of the valves in these bellows. When at rest the leather keeps the spacer boards an inch or two off the surface of the other boards. When in the stowed condition they stack up to about 8" thick.

Since building and using this bellows for many years I have had the misfortune to use many others both custom made and commercial. All were quite disappointing compared to those I built which were smooth operating, easy to use and quite efficient. Other I have used were stiff, heavy, cludgy things that are only suitable for wallhangers or kindling.

The lumber was 1" (nominal = 3/4" (19mm) finished) pine shelving. This is a little light but created just the right feel in operation. Only when the fire was cloged with clinker was the additional weight of a hammer lying on the top board needed. The leather was 1/16" split cowhide sold as "buck skin" but heavier leather would do. The stuff soft tanned in whole hides for upholstery is perfect. Heavier leather makes a stiff inefficeint bellows. Cloth coverings pass copious amounts of air and are also very inefficient.

The leather does what it wants to do. Early on I "trained" it by dampening it and pushing it between the boards then leaving it stowed (bottom proped up) overnight. This worked where it wanted and in other places the leather made the decision. Its not worth fighting to some preconcieved geometry that doesn't realy work.

The holes above the screwed on valve bodies were quite large, only about 2" smaller (total) than the valve bodies. This allowed maintenance as the middle valve could be removed through the lower. Brass wood screws held them in place.

These bellows held up perfectly for 25 years. In the last 5 they have seen some rough use. Recently the support and brackets were changed and my method of blocking up the bottom board was not used. The result is that there is transportation damage that tore the lower hinge out of the wood and tore the leather. Twice recently holes were poked in the leather with the end of a steel bar. Repairs were made to the seams and one hole using the valve body access. At 30 years of age it is due to be releathered or replaced. Due to the narrow boards I have recommended replacement.

Releathering an old bellows is a serious job. A local historic site has sent an old factory made bellows to Historical Williamsburg TWICE for releathering and it is still not right. It is going back again. Currently the bellows only opens to about 1/3 its design travel because it was shorted on leather. The valves were repaired/modified and the middle one does not work or has flipped over and cannot be accessed without removing the leather. The result is a very short stroke bellows that stores no air and sucks smoke back into the twyeer with almost every stroke. The short stroking (about 6") is agravating and tiring. To top all this off the lever arrangement has the wrong ratios and puts the operator in the wrong position (nearly IN the forge).

There is a definite limit to how many times you can remove and replace nails in an old bellows and I have recommended that this one be retired as a museum piece and replaced with a new bellows. However, I expect I won't be listened to and this debacle will continue.

Bellows are a wonderful tool if they are built right. It is not difficult to do if you can use some common sense.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:14:06 EDT

Fire Strikers: See our iForge article.

Unplated Chain: See McMaster-Carr or ANY industial supplier. The norm for "proof coil" load chain is unplated. General purpose chain is usaly plated and MUCH better to have than old rusting chains. . .

You can always use muratic acid to remove the plating safely. OR paint over the zinc.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:19:56 EDT

I used thin sheet metal with a layer of felt glued on for my flappers on my bellows---having a good keeper (to geep the flappers from flipping all the way over) is a must. The lighter and more free moving the flappers the better the bellows works.

For my leathers I used *heavily* treated canvas tarp material used in the oil field for wind wings around the drilling floor and up on the monkey boards---no air leakage and it lasted for about 15 years including wintering outside until I passed it on to another smith when I moved.

A properly built bellows *system* is a joy to use---I've welded up a number of billets using mine before. A poorly set up one is literally a pain to use. Mine had the pumping lever held by a loop of rope and so by moving it along the top beam you could put the lever on either side of the forge or right over the middle---it extended past the "hot" zone---very handy for sharing the forge.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:35:51 EDT

You know it's so frustrating to spend 8 months of your life putting together things, getting tools, making tools, learning, only to get to do something four times. Yup thats what happened on my long quest to start blacksmithing, due to limited funds, time, and resources I spent 8 months putting everything to gether to make a protable forging equipment. Then after four times using in my apartments parking lot (not near any cars) I got a note from my land lord saying cut it out or we will cancel your lease. I'm a college student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Virginia. I can't just leave the apartment but they won't let me work there. I drive a honda accord so hauling my equipment somewhere to work all at once isnt an option. I am just so frustrated I want to work but I can't. I have tried finding a storage place to let me work but only one would alow it and they want 65 a month to do it. I just can't afford that. Dose anyone have any ideas on what I can do?
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:41:40 EDT

No Roof, got any art students at Va Tech? They often have arrangements for storing and using odd equipment that would get anyone else evicted or expelled. Call yourself an artist, not a blacksmith, and it may get easier.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:54:12 EDT

I'm sure we have some art student's I will have to take a look though. I'm engineer so I don't have much exposure to the art folks.
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 10:56:31 EDT

No Roof Overhead:

Contact all of the historical societies in your area to see if any have a pioneer-type village. A smithy is usually part of it and they may be eager to see it in use. Likely no pay, and you have to provide fuel, but they may let you sell some items, such as nails or S-hooks.

Also use the Navigator Link to the list of blacksmith groups. Contact those in your area. They may well have a member willing to let you use their shop on occasion - or may know of an site opportunity for you.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/15/05 11:04:23 EDT

NoRoof -

I'm nearby - give me a call at 394-2631 (days).

You might want to consider volunteering at Mabry Mill's smithy. I met a wonderful smith there who I am going to be learning from, and their smithy is already set up!

You might also be able to squeeze the University into letting you set up a shop at the Smithfield plantation (or somewhere). Or get one of the frat houses to let you set up there, in exchange for occasional trinkets... like maybe wrought iron decorative holders for beer cans?
   Tim - Wednesday, 06/15/05 11:06:25 EDT

No roof,
Also look to find the local smithing group and see if you can hook up with local to you smiths. While it will not help you use your equipment, you may find someone near you with a shop they might let you use ( leaving your stuff in the apt. untill you move) If someone says yes also offer to pay for fuel or stock.
Just rememeber, if someone does let you, be sure to follow the rules THEY set. I had a youngster who was in a simular situation, so I pointed him to a friend who had the shop space etc. All was good a few weeks then youngster started getting uppity and eventually got kicked out. Pity.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 06/15/05 11:10:17 EDT

Mabry Mill's? Where is that located? I would love to volunteer what kind of things do they need volunteers for? I am a Computer Engineering, Computer Science double major, that and I have a strong back any of which I would be willing to lend out for a place to work. Any idea of where to even start asking about the working on campus? I tried once through the machine shop and they said they were not set up to handle the exhaust from the forge and never heard about it again really. I tried the frat because I knew they had nearby houses on big plots of land and not around anything. But the couple I checked with wanted rent or I had to join, and frankly I'm not the frat kind of guy not to mention I already have so little time being in a frat would kill anytime I would have for blacksmithing.
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 11:15:22 EDT

Thomas P. You say the canvas on your bellows was treated. Happen to remember what it was treated with? I have an old, heavy, tent that I was thinking could make a bellows skin. Funny how this thread came up now.

BTW, you've mentioned Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel enough times now that I finally read it. Every once in a while a book comes along that makes you want to read the ones listed in the bibliography. This is one of those books.
   Gronk - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:07:54 EDT

I was looking up historical blacksmith shops to see how they were set up. This is the information I found on a smith that works at a "Madry Mill Historic Blacksmith shop".

I am not from Verginia so I do not know if this is the same place but I think that the name would not be re-used.

Blacksmith Ted Hazen and his apprentice Caleb Pierce,
Virginia's Explore Park, 1850's Historical Area , the Blacksmith Shop. 540/427-1800
   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:08:28 EDT

Sorry about the spelling. I hope Virginia can forgive me =)
   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:11:45 EDT

I hope someone knows the advertisers really well.

I had found one of our advertisers that had 3 steps of starter kits. I had thought it was anvilbrand.com but they do not have that. I would really like to look at it again and talk to them about the setups they sell.

If anyone remembers who that is or was plaese let me know
   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:16:25 EDT

Arron, Virginia's Explore Park is NE of Roanoke (I think), perhaps 45 min NE from No Roof Overhead's university in Blacksburg, and I believe is a local facility (County or City, not sure). Mabry Mill (a different facility) is run by the US Parks Service, and would be about a 90 minute drive S from there.

No Roof - I was thinking of the frat houses down Janelle Road, in case you hadn't chatted with them. But I doubt you'll be successful. There is no blacksmith's organization nearby, but about 2-3 hrs drive (Lynchburg vicinity) is a new group, Blue Ridge Blacksmith Assn - see the ABANA links kindly hosted by Guru. I wish I could participate, but it is a bit of a drive. Mabry Mill, on the other hand, is only 10 miles from my home, and they have a smithy that they try to staff on weekends (and perhaps weekdays) through the summer. Want to pound some iron (and learn some new stories)?

But I'll bet that Mr. Hazen and Caleb would be nice folks to get to know, too...
   Tim - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:19:22 EDT

I'm definatly the patient and respectful kind, the product of an old world upraising. (Born in Poland imigrated in 89) I am not afraid of hard work. I would love to come and work but right now I am at home making money for next semsesters tuition. I work as an Intern at AOL currently writing testing software. I should explain my finacial situation, my parents believe in hard work and thusly they refused to pay for my college even though they have plenty of money to do so. I have to pay for my tuition, and living expenses. They pay for my cell phone and car inusrance. At the moment with gas prices as they are I think I could only make the trip every once in a while without becoming destitute from filling up my tank. I would definatly love to come and learn a couple of times when class get back in sestion in august though.
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 12:30:01 EDT

No Roof; so have you asked around the materials science folk? I work on the NM tech campus as a bit herder and the Mat Sci
department has asked if I would do a smithing demo for them.

Also the "group" may be far away but members may be close; back in OH I was a SOFA member but lived 2 hours away from the SOFA shop---we used to carpool to meetings to save money/have fun.

The last two SWABA meetings have been 2 hours+ from where I live but I have a college student coming over to use my shop every Sunday; shoot I even went and picked him up when his truck broke down---needed him as an excuse to get me out in the shop too...

Treated Canvas: it was whatever the local custom tarp maker used for that type of thing. *very* heavily treated and quite up to rough duty on a drilling rig. ISTR use of canvas being mentioned in Biringuccio's Pirotechnia aaas well.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/15/05 13:00:01 EDT


Thomas P has excellent advice on several counts:
I'm sure that the University could put together something for you (if nothing else, in the History department), and the visit-the-smith relationship he described might be just the ticket for you. The smith at Mabry Mill lives in Radford, for instance. I am still building my shop, otherwise I would invite you over to play - though you would do better with something better than a blacksmith wannabe...

Mabry Mill, BTW, is on the Blue Ridge Parkway, almost due south of you, near Hwy 58.
   Tim - Wednesday, 06/15/05 13:18:22 EDT

Oh wait is it that Mill with stone and mortar channels running to feed the water wheel with a long section of raised woden troughts right before it and the blacksmithing stuff in the shed right next to it? If so I have been there before, I think it was more like 45 minutes away from me.
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 14:18:04 EDT

No Roof - You may also try looking into the local ABANA chapter and find out if there are any other smiths in your neck of the woods. I know several that (having seen that you got your tail in gear and worked on getting stuff, rather than just talk about it) would have invited you to work in their shop, but of course, they, and I are in Florida. You may find a similar attitude in your neck of the woods.

You've obviously got some drive, to get the forge up in the first place. That's an attitude that most smiths like and respond to. One of my mentors down here gave me just enough information to not make a stupid decision, but then kept quiet until I'd bought my first anvil. Then he invited me over and we put together my first gasser, got the prep-work for the second gasser (haven't needed the larger size, yet, so I haven't completed it) and welded up a fire-pan from scrap I'd gotten.
   Monica - Wednesday, 06/15/05 14:19:45 EDT

I've been going through the iForge site and it stops at the first 3 years. Are there more pages I just haven't found? Also, are the demos still part of the Slack Tub Pub format? And if so, I've tried three times to sign up and get on to the STB user list and haven't gotten any reply at all, how's it done? Thanks.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 06/15/05 14:44:23 EDT

Arron: I believe Pieh Tool Company is the one with the various starter kits. I only put one together every couple of months.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/15/05 14:51:38 EDT

No Roof:

Check your school or area for an SCA group. That's the Society for Creative Anachronism. They attempt to recreate a medieval life. I played with them quite a few years ago and it seems like most groups have at least one blacksmith in attendance. Maybe you could hook up with him/her.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 06/15/05 15:10:47 EDT

Thanks Ken that was the one I was refering to. I knoew the site the second it loaded. However, I do not see them in the links list for anvilfire and I remember clicking on a link or banner from this site to get to them.

Anyway thanks for the site.
   Arron Cissell - Wednesday, 06/15/05 16:30:02 EDT

I tried my first year at Tech to get in contact with the SCA but the group had seemed to of disbanded or was no longer active. None of their contact info was current and I couldnt get any responses.

On a side note I saw that Pieh Tool starter kit myself. I didn't get it I opted not to get it from them but I did buy a firepot from them which I was very happy with.
   No Roof Overhead - Wednesday, 06/15/05 16:32:41 EDT

Shutting down a coal forge:
Here's a question for y'all, when finished at the coal forge for the day, do you douse the flames or let it burn out naturally.
I would imagine that dousing the flames could result in saving fuel, increased coke availability for the next session and added safety as there is not a hot fire in an unmanned shop. I would also imagine that draw backs could include increased wear on the firepot due to oxidation/rapid cooling of hot metal of the pot.

Am I correct in assuming that dousing will shorten the life of a fire pot? What about "dousing results in more available coke for the next fire vs. letting the fire burn out naturally"
I asked one of the workers at the TX Cenataur Forge locations and he said he always doused but admited he didn't work much with coal fires. I'm not too sure I can tell the difference in available coke using either method, thus damaging the firepot is my main concern.
I would appreciate your views.
   Brett - Wednesday, 06/15/05 17:57:41 EDT

Nope, don't douse that fire, unless you want to crack that firepot. What I do, is I pull out the coals, and pile them back from the firepot. The center of the fire, where the clinker is, I let die out. The coals I pulled out, I gently sprinkle to put out. Then, I putter around, not really cleaning up like I should, until the fire is cold. Next fire, I pull out the clinkers and rebuild with the coke I saved.
   Bob H - Wednesday, 06/15/05 18:06:08 EDT

When tear down a fire. I have a metal bucket half full of water. Then I pull all the green coal off to the edges. Then the coke out next. the fire pot is still full of coke and clinker. One or two fire tending shovels worth. THis I dump in the bucket. SO the fire is out. The clinker sinks. All is good.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 06/15/05 18:35:53 EDT

No roof, I can recall when I needed a spot when I first began. Lucky for me my friends has lots of property and didn't mind. I also found some spots on abandoned lots to go to.
   - achbar - Wednesday, 06/15/05 19:15:37 EDT

No,as far as what the pipe is, I can only go on what the guy from the town's water district said. Honestly I cannot say for sure what the exact composition of the pipe is, but, it is definitely a casted pipe without a doubt. THis particular pipe was put in only about 3 years ago so it is fairly recent install..... I'm not an expert by any means on fire hydrants, but, from what I can gather the valve which is located deep in the ground is leaking by some, filling up the pipe and is in turn leaking in the crack around the flange where the hydrant itself is coupled on, similar to a sprinkler pipe connection, with a circular clamp. I was told that the company has called their insurance carrier and it has okayed the repair, so I guess they feel that it is feasible.....Also there was some confusion as to whether or not we were supposed to service the hydrant or was it the town's responsibilty. Turns out we do own the hydrant and are responsible for it. We were supposed to be filling the hydrant with glycol to keep it from freezing and I wouldn't be surprised if thats what caused it to crack in the first place. Come think of it how would the glycol stay in the hydrant if there is a drain back hole in the bottom?? Don't seem like that would work very well. Anyway I'll have to do some investigation into the hydrant manufacturing to see what exactly I'm going to be dealing with. I really don't want that kind of responsibility on my shoulders, it might be too heavy for me to carry. Toni.
   toni 1595 - Wednesday, 06/15/05 19:21:34 EDT

Toni 1595
The clamp ring you mention strikes me as the unsealed joint that allows one to put the hydrant together. Most are not intended to seal, and the gycol is usually used in hard freezing areas as the ground may freeze deep enough to seal the drain back hole. Also the drain backs work poorly if the kicker covers them as often occurs. Ask the local pipe supply house for a cut sheet, and a care and maintnance sheet for the hydrant you have. They can also probably tell you the pipe material.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/15/05 20:31:34 EDT

This is the site with the closer picture of the Champion 200 1/2 drill press. If anyone has any suggestions about what to make to hold the secondary gear cluster up please let me know. I am thinking of a nautilus shaped cam to ride in the groove or swing out to move the gears. I should be able to figure a little keeper spring to hold it. http://www.owwm.com/PhotoIndex/detail.asp?id=2823
   John W - Wednesday, 06/15/05 21:05:49 EDT


You are correct that the iForge demos stop a yearor so ago. Those demos take quite a bit of time on the part of the demo'er to prepare, and then they take even more time for Jock to make ready for posting on the site. For the last year or more, there simply has not been time available for Jock to set up any new demos.

To help correct that situation, the members of CSI (the Anvilfire support group) are working to try to fund some office help for Jock so he has the time to do more demos. You can help, by joining CSI. The cost of a membership is about a buck a week, a darn small price to pay for keeping all this valuable information available for the years to come.

CSI is currently working on producing an online members' newsletter which will probably have plans and iForge-type demos in it, in addition to news, articles, interviews and other items of interest to blacksmiths. As things progress, we hope to make the newsletter also available in printed paper format as well. Join us and become a part of the team!

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   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/15/05 21:07:31 EDT

John W,

If I understand it, the two gears on the idler shaft slide up and down to change the speed. If that is true, could you make a sort of "shifter fork" that pivoted on the frame behind the gears and raised/lowered them? A simple detent with a set screw or spring pin could hold the fork in the proper attitude.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/15/05 21:10:41 EDT

John W-- It's not as if you are going to be taking your XK-120's gear box through the chicanes in the bloody Mille Miglia. Make a tidy split cylindrical shim to hold the cluster up when you need it up. Store the split shim in a safe spot of your choosing near the drill press when the cluster is down-- which it will be mostly, no? Go on with life.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 06/15/05 22:56:00 EDT

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