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

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

This is an archive of posts from June 24 - 30, 2005 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

   mati - Friday, 06/24/05 02:55:25 EDT

you question looks and smells stongly of school work. And generally we will not answer.
But type in wire manufacture into a 'net search engine I used google and got over 1.4 MILLION hits but the first 2 or 3 are the only ones needs
   Ralph - Friday, 06/24/05 03:22:03 EDT

Dave, I suppose that is the big difference -- my "hot electrode" machine was a Miller Dimension 452 (IIRC) with wire feed. Boy do I like that machine... :)

Two questions this time. One, what kind of steel are/were post vises generally made of? Would mild steel be acceptable in this role? While I have access to a large anvil, welding-capable forge, and a few helpers, I was thinking of forge-welding up a post vise out of 1-1/4" x 1" mild steel bar. I would be using two vertical columns of this on each side of the vise, BTW, with the 1-1/4" sides perpendicular to the jaws.

Second question: Mr Sarver, if you are around and if you can tell me, what are your tongs made of? I used a pair yesterday and I was utterly amazed -- I don't know if I'll ever be able to make tongs as good as those, but I'd like to know what they're made of just for kicks.

Hot and humid in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 06/24/05 04:48:31 EDT

Vices or Vises: TG, Leg vises are made of wrought iron and mild steel. The jaws are hardened steel forge welded on similar to an anvil face. I have found that WI is a little soft for vices and the handles often bend on some models. Those with steel parts are quite a bit sturdier. Making a vice is a big project but not technicaly difficult. The screw is the key item. You need an acme thread a minimum of 1.25" for an average vice. The Blacksmiths Journal has plans for a vice if you need them.
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 09:38:28 EDT

Hmmmmm . . ball bearing and cutting oil covered.

Wire School is out in most places I think. Making wire uses a process called drawing. But making electrical wire starts with making VERY pure oxygen free copper and ends with coating with insulation, a number of technical processes.

Mati, You need to ask a more specific question OR do some research as Ralph suggested before asking questions. The trick to finding answers is to learn enough to ask an inteligent question FIRST. Even a common dictionary will have clues to manufacturing processes in the definition of a word. I usualy start there, then an encylopedia. I also have many specialized references for very technical questions. Google and the web is a great resource but you need to know how to weed out the BS from the facts. Starting with an authoratative reference such as an encylopedia is the best way.
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 09:50:45 EDT

hey tyler, your post from 6/23 has me curious (maybe that was your intent). if you could find a big green egg smoker, then you have access to big green egg hardwood charcoal, which, you may know, is sold in large bags, and not really that expensive. as to your vent question, having a smoker myself, maximum temp in the smoker will occur with the firebox vent wide open and the exhaust vent wide open. vari the temp by regulating the firebox opening. a smoker is not an optimal vessel for making charcoal if you are using the firebox to place the wood. i suppose you could use the smoke chamber, but it sounds like more trouble than it is worth; consider buying the charcoal.
   - rugg - Friday, 06/24/05 09:52:55 EDT

Tongs, Tongs, Tongs: As noted we have at least three methods of making tongs on our iForge page. One is dead simple, makes ugly clumbsy tongs but IS a start. The twist method (found on our 21st Century page) can be done without tongs, the methods shown by Bill Epps are traditional forging methods that require a little more skill. Almost all books on blacksmithing have a method and Machinery's Handbook has an excellent size chart that we have reproduced (with permission). See the reviews of Machinery's Handbook.

Hints: Most poorly made tongs are WAY too heavy. Good tongs are strong but light. You should be able spring the reins comfortably but not bend them. To hand forge light tongs the reins need to taper from half the joint height to 1/4 of that at the ends.

The best grip is from tongs that fit the work. A deep V or groove that surrounds the work is the best. Flat tongs are good for general work but require a strong grip. Fitted tongs are much safer and easier to use. One of the absolute best tong designs around is the Grant Sarver OffCenter Tools Chainmaker tongs. These have a goose neck like bolt tongs and a crossed V groove that will hold round or square in line or from the side. A couple sizes of these will replace numerous other tongs.

My favorite tongs are some old German bolt tongs in 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". They are heavy industrial tongs with round reins but are springy enough for my small hands. My most used tongs are some I made. One pair has offset V jaws that allow holding long tapered work next to your hand so you can grip close to where you are working. The other pair is a specialty pair for making hooks from 1/4" stock. These have a center groove and a cross groove (like a T) that allows a tight grip after the hook is formed. I have just about worn these our doing demos and need to make a new pair.

It is common practice for a smith to refit tongs to a job as needed AND tongs should be checked for fit with every use. This greatly reduces the number of tongs you need. NEVER modify tongs in someone elses shop without asking!

Four of our advertisers sell tongs of every imaginable size and shape.

   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 10:19:47 EDT

Moving Anvils: I used to pickup anvils up to 200 pounds. . . but I am currently carrying a built in one of about the size and cannot lift ANOTHER 200. . . Its also dangerous for your back.

Even when I could lift a 200 pounder I would keep it to a minimum. You can skid a 400 pound anvil up a ramp into your car or truck (alone). Today I use an overhead hoist in my shop with a nylon sling. It is on a mono-rail so I can load and shift to the end of the shop easily. It will also pickup little things like machine tools up to 8,000 pounds. . . you MUST have a skyhook!

Once I have an anvil on a stand I would move it from stand to tailgate back to stand with very minor lifting at a convienient height. Lifting an inch while standing straight is a LOT different that getting one off the ground.

Moving heavy objects is somewhat of an art. If you THINK, take your time and have a few basic tools you can move almost anything.

Key moving tools in order of importance and increasing cost:

1) Your brain.
2) Prybars (big RR bars and small prybars)
3) 1" pipe cut in 3 foot lengths.
4) Wood or steel wedges
5) A HD cable come-a-long.
6) A HD chain come-a-long.
7) 2ton Chain Hoist and rigging (chains, slings).
8) Overhead monorail
9) Forklift
10) Rectilinear hoist
11) Crane truck.

HOISTS: Note that the little Tiawan chain hoists are VERY dangerous. They CAN lift the rated load even though they look marginal. HOWEVER, Their small size means they have a VERY small load clutch. While lifing or lowering loads the load clutch is slipping contantly. When it gets hot it is just like overheated brakes on a car, they stop holding. The result is that the hoist will not support the load without someone holding the chain. When the clutch slips under holding conditions it heats VERY quickly and will litteraly drop the load. . . VERY, VERY dangerous.

When you look at a Yale hoist the chain wheel that has the clutch on it is 12" in diameter on a 2 ton hoist and the clutch is 10" diameter (like on out of a pickup truck). In comparison the Taiwan hoist has a 3" clutch. Area is the key and the Yale has 30 square inches of clutch surface and the Taiwan on 3. The Yale with aluminium body gives off heat very rapidly and that clutch can work continously at full load. The Taiwan hoist with 1/10th the area heats rapidly and cannot cool very quickly through the steel parts. . . They will JUST barely support a heavy load staticly and will fail quickly under use.

If moving heavy objects buy good tools. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 10:47:46 EDT

"If moving heavy objects buy good tools. . ." *OR* hire good people! A trained rigger is well worth the cost if you have anything that might be damaged by dropping!

Guru; school is still in session for the folk who wouldn't do the work the first time around...

Tongs: in general tongs "fit" when the jaws are parallel so they touch the work all along their length.

If they are at an angle and only touch in one spot then you have a pivot point and can do amazing flying flipping red hot steel tricks---sometimes followed by the ouchie dance or the ceremonial application of slack tub water onto the ritual fires you have started outside of the forge...

When teaching I show folks that one of my smallest pairs of tongs is actually sized for 1/2" sq stock and one of the larger pairs is sized for 1/4"

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/24/05 11:12:27 EDT

Load Slings: One of the best inventions of the 20th Century was the nylon load sling. They are soft and do not scratch what is being lifted. They are also easier on the hands when handling. They are springy and absorb shock and are also very forgiving. Finaly, they are also very inexpensive compared to chain.

Note that nylon load slings are NOT the same as the webbing used to bind loads. Nylon load slings are much heavier and usualy have a rating tag. The first ones I bought were little 1" wide 4 foot long slings cabable of lifting over 4,000 pounds (a long or metric ton). They only cost about $10 each at the time. We had similar slings about 2" wide in our shop good to 16 tons!

I use the little ones for lifing anvils with the loops over the horn and heel. Quick, easy and does not scratch finishes or (cured) paint.
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 11:16:00 EDT

Moving machinery. . . Yep, 99.9% of ALL machinery damage is from moving. Handles broken off when dropped from fork lifts or swung against a wall with a crane. I've seen crews try to pickup something with TWO fork trucks because one was not enough and then drop the load. . . dummies. I've also seen amature crane operators (supposedly trained) that did not read or believe the derated capacity when the boom was extended. It is often 1/4 the close in capacity.
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 11:23:35 EDT

Dave Boyer: I have a Northern Tool mid-price range 64 1/2" bandsaw. No cooling bath. Problem I run into is blades breaking long before they go noticeably dull, even the higher quality ones. As near as I can tell it is caused by ordinary fatigue from going around two metal rollers and being bent 45 degrees twice in one loop. My thinking is the Tap Magic cutting oil will help keep the blade a bit sharper longer, thus reducing strain on the blade, thus reducing fatigue, thus having the blades last a tad longer. At a drop at a time, a small can of Tap Magic should last a goodly while.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/24/05 11:57:02 EDT

Nice Tutorial on Chisel Work Over at Armour Archive:

This seemed pretty well done. Chisel work has never been my forte', but this shows what can be done, even if you're a beginner, with a little effort and skill:


Hot and sunny on the banks of the Potomac. I'm actually back to work (at least my day job; blacksmithing will take a little longer).

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/24/05 12:12:33 EDT

Metal Cutting Band Saw Blades:
I have a horozontal band saw, 641/2" blade, and the blades almost never break. The saw is a knock off like Northern tools, but the blades come from a local saw maker/sharpener.
I buy the bi-metal blades and for non-ferous metals, like bronze, the have a combination blade that is 8TPI and 12TPI alternating. They cost more, but last until dull.
   blackbart - Friday, 06/24/05 12:48:20 EDT

Broken blades: Ken, Your saw is either badly aligned or the blades not tensioned right OR your supplier is doing a bad weld. Remember when we visited this subject a few weeks ago I mentioned that my supplier pointed out that his welder for the fancy high alloy highh quality blades cost $20,000 (back in 1980). If blades are failing prematurely you need to talk to the supplier OR get a new supplier.

Alignment is critical. It is very easy to get these machines so out of wack that it can take a full day to properly true the blade.

When properly setup the blade cutting edge should make a straight line from wheel to wheel and the twisting happen on the (soft) back of the blade. After properly setting the guide heads in line then the blade should also be set square to the line of travel so that the back edge of the blade does not drag the work. It should clear both sides in the kerf. Last, the stationary vise should be squared to the line of the blade. When properly adjusted you should be able to cut withing .005" of square in 2".

NOW. . the problem is that the knock off saws are often made so poorly that you cannot make these adjustments. The guide system is attached so crooked that you just cannot get there from here. These variations are found in every low-bucks saw. That means that Bart's might be able to be made to work and Ken's not. That is what you get when you buy cheap imports with poor quality control. I have seen expensive import machine tools that never worked on the factory floor as designed and required major remanufacturing just to be operable. I've found you have a 50/50 chance of buying an inoperable machine from these sources (even the big names). This situation will continue FOREVER unless the bad machines are returned en-mass. Which they are not. The "stupid rich Americans" just buy them and put up with the crap. . .

If the saw is aligned properly and the blade well tensioned you should be able to run it until there are no teeth without the blade breaking. If the weld fails then it was a bad weld and the supplier should re-weld or replace the blade. Good reputable suppliers WILL do this.
   - guru - Friday, 06/24/05 14:30:15 EDT

Josh: You may well be right on alighment. This is the saw where the blade ran between the vertical and horizon rollers on the incoming side for a while when it jumped off the vertical roller. Top of the blade actually was cutting into the frame. PawPaw said exact same thing happened to his. Thought I fixed it by putting small washers on each side of the vertical roller, but blade may be wanted to follow old grooves. Tentitive plans are to nurse bandsaw along until the local ag equipment consignment auction next February and then replace it with a new 3/4" blade one. I am now doing enough cutting to justify a higher quality and bigger rig.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/24/05 14:56:54 EDT

Hello I like to make hoofpics, tack hooks etc. for some of my shoeing clients. I would like to know of the best way to coat the metal to protect it from rusting. Seems some folks don't like the rust patina, LOL. Anyway I have used beeswax just by itself to run over a piece and it doesn't seem to leave a very good coating on it. I have tried clear spray enamel but it tends to flake off. I have read about blacksmith using some type of linseed oil base mix but can't find any instructions about mixture ratio and etc. What are your suggestions? Thanks, Chris
   chris clark - Friday, 06/24/05 15:26:10 EDT

Chris, my suggestion is to make them from stainless; electro polish if necessary and forget about needing to "finish" them.

A bit touigher to work but get good at it and you will have a niche to sell.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/24/05 15:35:39 EDT

hello all, i have never seen a trenton anvil. so i guess i could be fooled by an imitation. does the dimond that is on the side have an x in the center? the anvil that i saw was about 200# and has a dimond imprinted on the side withthe letters "trexton" the x is very large compared to the other letters. it looks like and sounds like a good anvil with good rebound with a ballpein hammer strike. i do not have any pictures the man want $400.00, just would like to see a genuine trenton to compare. thanks a lot ron.
   ron60 - Friday, 06/24/05 16:11:42 EDT

Vivianne - Concrete & steel are VERY compatible in so far as expansion rates are concerned - Virtually all concrete structures have steel reinforcement.

The problem comes when the steel emerges from the concrete: When exposed to the weather, water will work it's way into the concrete, especially at the joint where the steel emerges, and the steel will rust, expand and cause the concrete to fail.

The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas is a fine collection of steel reinforced primitive concrete sculptures and is still in pretty good condition after upwards of 75 years, and was neglected for a good 40 of those years. And this is in an area which has more freeze-thaw cycling than many. But all the steel is carefully covered with concrete.

   John Lowther - Friday, 06/24/05 16:20:09 EDT

ron60, TreXton is a known common varient for Trenton anvil markings. It should have the weight stamped on it under the name in pounds, this will allow you to calculate $/# If it is in good shape with a lot of life left in the face $2/# is not a bad deal; though depending on where you are located you may want to make a counter offer or ask for a bit more thrown in on the deal---say a postvise or hardy.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/24/05 17:21:58 EDT

thomas, thanks for the info i have been using a homegrown rr rail anvil, the anvil that i was refuring to has seen very little use with very small chips and dings the top is streight the hardy hole and pitchel are in good shape it is a little rusty but not pitted at all, i am thinking about makeing a counter offer. thanks much ron
   ron60 - Friday, 06/24/05 18:15:27 EDT

Whose videos do yall recommend for beginners.
   CharlieB - Friday, 06/24/05 20:22:18 EDT

Two questions: 1. I have been going through the coal lists for NC. The one in Winston-Salem, GB energy, is out of the coal business. I heard that there is someone in Colfax NC but I cant find the name/contact.Do you know who they are? 2: I got a lovely piece of I beam large enough for an anvil stand but now idea how to attach the anvil to it. I dont have an arc welder. I do have a torch though. Welded straps?
   John W - Friday, 06/24/05 20:41:00 EDT

Ken Scharabok
My saw did the exact same thing, with the blade jumping off the blade thrust bearing. My saw happened to have cast iron guides, and were adjustable. A couple of hours of tweeking provides much better performance. I also adjusted the feed spring to only let gravity on the movable saw frame. cuts a bit slower, but the blades last much longer, and the extra time in the cut is pretty small. I use Lenox 9 to 14 tooth bi metal blades. They are called Diemaster 2 and are $16.65 each, factory welded by Lennox. Call Mike at Hagemeyer.
I have rigged drip coolant systems for these type saws, but only saw a big improvement when cutting stainless.
   ptree - Friday, 06/24/05 21:05:03 EDT

John, where are you located in N.C.-- I think the person you are looking for that has or had coal for sale in Colfax
is Don Dillon-email ddillon4@bellsouth.net
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 06/24/05 21:19:42 EDT

ron60. Clincher on Trenton/TreXton is to look for the serial number on the front foot. If you let us know what it is, we can tell you year of manufacturer. I agree with Thomas on $2.00 pound being reasonable, but, of course, see if he will take less. You can get weight by using a bathroom scale.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/24/05 22:01:55 EDT

John W,

I might suggest drilling an tapping four 1/2" holes in the I-beam and then using chain and bolts to secure the anvil to it. If you size the chain just right, the bolts will take it up very tight with little effort.
   vicopper - Friday, 06/24/05 22:07:50 EDT

Ken S: I have a similar saw, It wasn't set up properly out of the box, I spent a few hours setting it up. I don't remember what I had to do, it was over 20 years ago. I just started using the Lenox blades, so I don't know the life expectancy, but they cut extremely well. Of the industrial saws I have used, the "Wells" saw semed the best canidate for a small scale shop, it is simple, and a lot less money than the high end units like "Do All" If You happen to run across a "Marvell" verticle cutoff saw in usable condition at an afordable price, buy it. They are extremely versitile.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 06/25/05 00:03:59 EDT

Have any of yall seen the BLACKSMITHING PRIMER videos? If so, are they worth the money? Also what about the Hershel House videos and the Epps videos?
   CharlieB - Saturday, 06/25/05 05:18:46 EDT

Charlie, The Bill Epps tapes are all worth the money. I have not seen the rest.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/25/05 07:00:23 EDT

Thanks vicopper and ptpiddler. I am now going over to the Harley dealership to see if there is any broken chain for a holdfast. I am also going to visit the B-smith at Hillsboro.
   John W - Saturday, 06/25/05 07:47:59 EDT

I have recently purchased an anvil advertised as a Hay Budden and when it arrived it was marked as a Juniata. Is this still a Hay Budden anvil? Is it still a good anvil?
   - Mike Blais - Saturday, 06/25/05 08:27:32 EDT

CharlieB, A Turley demo video is offered by illinoisblacksmith.org. Click on "IVBA Forms" to locate listing.

sriver, I've seen two vises that have letter stampings on the box, and they were Peter Wright vises. The stamping is small and faint and placed on the upper portion of the box, so it usually wears off. As I recall, the order of stamping in caps, is PETER WRIGHT. Below that PATENT; and below that, SOLID BOX.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/25/05 08:50:45 EDT

Hi !
can you help me ? i need about 70-100 square head nail for fastening forged hinges on wood window. the nails are about 11/2''long with 1/8''square shank and 1/4''square head.
i try to forge them but it takes me 1 1/2 hours to forge...15 nails.is there any company in u.s.a or canada who sale nails like that. or anybody have tips to forge them rapidely ?
thanks a lot !!!
   - machefer - Saturday, 06/25/05 09:18:37 EDT

machefer, Take 1/8" square stock and point one end. Upset the other end, preferably in the vise and drop the shank into a heading tool to get the hammered head.

You can fudge by dropping an appropriate sized "washer" over the end of the 1/8" stock and plug welding with oxy or arc. Reforge the head.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/25/05 09:37:51 EDT

thanks thomas and ken for the info on the trexton anvil. i think it is a good anvil,but i am not going to be in a hurry to buy, if he sells it before i make up my mind then there are more at that price. this is a great forum and thanks again ron60
   ron60 - Saturday, 06/25/05 09:58:13 EDT

Mike Blais: If it was the one on eBay, it is almost certainly made by Hay-Budden, likely for a client who had their own logo put on or perhaps a previous owner did their own stamping. Juniata is just an SWAG based on shape of lettering. I don't see anything even close to it in Anvils in America, but in it Postman does note there are likely more customer logos than he was able to document. Whether a H-B or not, it appeared to be a very good anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 06/25/05 10:22:45 EDT

On moving anvils, don't believe I saw one method listed: Hand truck/cart or dolly. I have used an el-cheapo hand truck to move anvils around and an applicance dolly should be able to handle a pretty good sized anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 06/25/05 10:26:12 EDT

hello i am looking for a power hammer had a look at the user built ones on the hammer page do you know of any suppliers of hammers in the uk if not i will build the dusty hammer cheers
   david hannah - Saturday, 06/25/05 12:44:30 EDT

Iron and Masonry:

Fort Jefferson, in the Dry Tortugas beyond the Florida Keys, is the largest brick structure in the Western hemisphere and the biggest government boondoggle of the 19th century. I could go on for about a half an hour about all the things that went wrong (and the headaches that the NPS has in trying to preserve it), but relevant to this thread; the pre-Civil War designers thought it would be a really cool idea to sandwich wrought iron gun shields in the masonry at each of the gunports.

In a sea fort.

In the tropics.

...and mix the morter with salt water, since there was never enough fresh water for the workers or the garrison.

As the iron rusts, the iron oxide expands, tumbling huge chunks of masonry into the moat. (Probably endangering the sharks, too! :-)

Dry Tortugas National Park: http://www.nps.gov/drto/

.pdf on stabilization: http://www.nps.gov/ever/gmp/easbfjs.pdf

"If the Smithsonian is the 'Nations Attic' then the National Park Service is the 'Nation's Back Yard'." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Hot but breezy on the banks of the lower Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/25/05 14:09:10 EDT

Off Center Tongs: I must add my complete agreement with Guru regarding OC chainmaker tongs. I have 1/4" and 1/2" and use those two about 80% of the time. I believe Grant said he made these from 4140. If you have never tried them, you would be amazed at how light they are and how well they grip the work. Grant, I take PayPal.... :)
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/25/05 14:29:32 EDT

have a look at this....


No idea how much they are but they do various weights and tooling for them too. Lots of other blacksmith/farrier stuff, anvils, all sorts. Like I say no idea on ££££'s.
Where are you in Blighty? I'm in West Yorkshire near Leeds.
A lot of these lads are American, but not all ;)
but they certainly know their stuff.
   Tinker - Saturday, 06/25/05 14:50:51 EDT

hey im looking for a good place to buy various strengths of steel for sword making. as it stands ive practiced with rebar but i wish to make some high quality blades for friends and i. got a good reference? if you have a link page for this that would be great too.

thank you for any and all help its much appreciated in my adventures ;)
   stephen - Saturday, 06/25/05 14:59:26 EDT

stephan: I would suggest 5160 or 1050-1070 steels, L6 and S7 would also be good but are harder to heat treat from what I've heard. I don't have a good source for these since I use O1 for most of my knives and my suplier doesn't seem to have those other steels, but at least knowing what steels to look for should aid your search.
   AwP - Saturday, 06/25/05 16:44:51 EDT

Ken & Mike; I ran "Juniata Anvil" on my Ixquick Search Engine and came up with www.altoonalibrary.org/books/blaircountyhistory/blaircountyhistory0001.htm When you get there, scroll down to pages 15, 16 & 17. Another was www.trainweb.org/horseshoecurve-nrhs/juniata There you will find references to the Pennsylvania Railroad's blacksmith shops, the possible source of your "Juniata" anvil. There was also a query made on this same subject a few years back on "Keenjunk", but I don't know if the archives are still available.
   3dogs - Saturday, 06/25/05 17:28:50 EDT

Stephan, go to www.dfoggknives.com. Spend some time checking out the supply section. Then drool over Don's work. You may want to stick with rebar when you see what a master bladesmith can do....
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/25/05 17:30:33 EDT

machefer: Check tremontnail.com. they claim to be the oldes nail forging facory in the states.
   John W - Saturday, 06/25/05 17:40:28 EDT

I've been studying th heat treating process for a while now. I have a strong chemistry and physics background, so I generally understand things best from the molecular structure up. My 'Q' is this. From what I've been able to find, when steel is quenched below the bottom level of the austenizing range (we'll say 900 degrees), if the steel hasn't already been hardened, nothing happens. i.e. you still have pearlite. now. when you are cooling your tools (say a hot punch, or chisel etc)as you use them, I've been told to keep it as cool as possible. which is sensible. but the explaination was given that if you quench it too hot, it will harden and then be prone to breaking. Now I could see, from what I know, that the tool, if hardened, would revert back pearlite, but not why it could harden if it hadn't started to austenize.
also, since temperuring is a function of temperature. if you temper something at say 500 degree. can you then continue heating it up to 500 degrees without tempering it further?

also, I would like to ask, if titanium can be heattreated, and which alloys are best for forging.

alright =) I think that's most of what's in my mind at the moment. thanks for you help! this site is an incredible resource I wish I had discovered earlier.

   ben hanawalt - Saturday, 06/25/05 17:56:25 EDT

John W. On 6/19, you commented " The only peculiarity is that the motor seems to speed up as I close the shutter, but it may just be the wind noise."

The motor did speed up because it has less work to do. It can't move as much air because you are not making it available to move, so it can use the energy to turn the fan faster. Not a problem.
   djhammerd - Saturday, 06/25/05 18:35:52 EDT

Blacksmith tapes: Randy McDaniel's tapes and dvds are absolutely superb, and what they teach you can be backed up with his book, A Blacksmithing Primer.
   - John Larson - Saturday, 06/25/05 19:25:10 EDT

thanks to m.Turley and m. John w for there answer about nails, i will try both idea...thanks !
   - machefer - Saturday, 06/25/05 19:28:16 EDT

Stephan, You can use the pulldown menu in the upper right of this page and click on "Armoury" to find out more about swords.


From a smith's viewpoint, I quench hotwork tools while using, before I think I ought to. I take my clue from horseshoers, who quench pritchels quickly in beeswax, paraffin, or hoof packing, while working. Also, it depends very much on which tool steel you are using. Hotwork tools with red hardness such as H13, H21, S1, and S7, I try to quench before reaching a black heat, about 750ºF, and I don't necessarily quench to ambient temperature, because of the time factor. I'm trying to get some work done. The idea here is a practical one. At red hardness, the tools will continue to cut or punch, but there is a slight possiblilty of bending the tool-end at heat or blunting the tool, if it bottoms out on a cutting plate. So, why push your luck?

I suggest that if one quenches a hotwork tool at austenitizing temperature and it hardens, then one is not paying attention to the work at hand. The tool should be quenched well below the point where solid solution begins to take place.

A cold work tool, say of W1, if tempered to 500ºF, will retain that temper if the reheat is below 500ºF. For example, when grinding a cutting edge, the friction heat should not exceed 500ºF (a copper colored surface oxide color). If the 500º is exceeded, you will have further softened the tool's proper temper, thus requiring normalizing, hardening, and tempering all over again.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/25/05 20:05:41 EDT


A little more to add about the word, but not necessarily related to anvils. In a January, 1935, issue of Hardware World magazine, there appears an ad for Phoenix and Juniata horseshoes, muleshoes, and calks. The cities mentioned in the ad were Chicago, Illinois, and Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. There is a town in Pennsylvania named Juniata, so the trade names probably came from that town.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/25/05 20:32:42 EDT

Ben: www.iforgeiron.com, Go to the blueprints, look for the one titled "Metallurgy for Blacksmiths". You are correct in your assumptions; no austenite, no martensite. Heating hardened steel past the tempering temperature will soften them as Mr. T explained. Yes, titanium can be heat treated. As for what alloys are best for forging, well, what are you trying to make? I find that generally, the red hot alloys are best for forging.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/25/05 20:44:11 EDT

Thanks for the responses on the videos.

   CharlieB - Saturday, 06/25/05 20:53:09 EDT

You can see the Juniata anvil at eBay 6185863758. Sure looks like a Hay-Budden. Appears to have the number 13742 on front foot, which, if a H-B, would be 1894 production.

Mike Blais: Does it have the hourglass depression on the bottom? If so, you may have a 'oner'.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 06/25/05 21:29:28 EDT

Well it's amazing what you find when you keep looking. Continued buffing on the marked postvise had good results.

Going back over the lettering with a Milwaukee grinder with a wire brush attachment and brushing down more, the PW became PWRIGHT in an arch and PATENT and SOLID BOX in straight lines below - just like Frank said - except for PWRIGHT instead of PETER all spelled out.

Thanks for the motivation to keep going.
   Sriver - Saturday, 06/25/05 21:52:40 EDT

djhammered: electric motors are more complex than I had thought. I got a 3/4 hp squirrel cage fan from a house ac system. It is wired for four speeds. I cant find a 4 position switch so I picked the next to fastest and just hooked up light switch to it and use it to blow the mosquitos away. It over heats and cuts off in about 2 minutes. A friend said I need to block off half of the output to slow it down. ???
   John W - Saturday, 06/25/05 22:11:50 EDT

Sriver. I have also found that if you remove the box and clean it, you will probably find a single letter stamped on it. I assume this to be a mark made by a final checker, before the vise is shipped to be sold.

Juniata anvil. It does appear to have a Hay-Budden shape. Many Hay-Buddens that I have measured have a 4" thick waist, even though the weight varies. That might be a clue.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/25/05 22:19:34 EDT

ptree: any more thoughts about the slitting punching lube?
   John W - Saturday, 06/25/05 22:29:35 EDT

Mike Blais
Juniata anvil
You have a good anvil. It is for certian an early second style Hay Budden. Enjoy it!!
   burntforge - Saturday, 06/25/05 22:46:51 EDT

John W,

Sorry, your friend is leading you astray. If the thing overheats after 2 minutes with the output open, it will overheat in less time if you obstruct the output. If you want to decrease the amount of air output, and make the motor do less work, block off part of the INTAKE. Less air in means less load on the fan (less air molecules to push around), so less load on the motor. I'm not saying this will cure your overheating situation, though.

A motor that overheats and shuts off after a couple of minutes run time usually has some electrical problem. It could be that you are using too light a wire to supply it, or too light duty a switch. A 3/4 hp motor needs 14 ga wire to operate. Heavier if the supply run is longer than 50 feet. Multi-speed motors don't necessarily use just one tap per speed, some use combinations of different taps for the different speeds. Does it have a wiring diagram on the motor identification plate?

You might want to take it to your friendly local heating and air conditioning shop and have them give it a quick look over. They can meter the current draw and tell if it is performing correctly. You didn't say if it was capacitor-start, induction run, or capacitor start, capacitor run, or induction run with starting switch. If the latter, it could be that the starting switch is hangin gup and not throwing out correctly. If the former, you could have a bad run capacitor. The HVAC guy will be able to tell.
   vicopper - Saturday, 06/25/05 23:20:14 EDT

Yes Frank - there is a large letter A clear apart from the other markings and in a larger, deeper, and different font. That was the first mark we found.

Getting more agressive and using the electric wire brush really made a difference in the shape and number of the letters. Some letters just seemed to rise up out of nowhere. Earlier, when rust/crud was coming off and the fine lines started to show and it was becoming a thing of beauty, I was brushing too gingery to be able to read past the divots and dings.

Thanks for your help -
   Sriver - Saturday, 06/25/05 23:28:12 EDT

There is a slight component of time at temp in tempering but in general if you did do a good soak at the draw temper you wanted there will not be an appreciable loss in hardness re-heating to at or below the same temperature

Ben, since TI is not a good metal for blades I must assume that you are making armour or some such thing from it and so want to anneal it---I can look it up in the ASM handbook but would like DETAILS before I spend my time trying to guess at what you are trying to do.

Tremont nail co is definitely the way to go if you are not making your own; very good reputation---I know a viking boat rivited together with tremont nails...

Thomas "Human Jerky" after a long hot day at the auction
   Thomas P - Saturday, 06/25/05 23:42:05 EDT

Thomas P: Which auction were You at?
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/26/05 00:06:51 EDT

All, I have a 12x12 barn room I'm turning into a smithy. I will be working by myself (except when I can draft my 15 daughter or wife as a striker). I would love to have comments about the layout I've come up with - please visit www.greenchilifrog.com/smithylayout.jpg (and now, trying it as html: click here). I already have everything except the power tools, and those may or may not ever materialize. I don't have the dough to ever get a power hammer, so I don't need to reserve room for that. I have 12ga 110v to the barn. Thanks... -Tim
   Tim S. - Sunday, 06/26/05 02:02:44 EDT

Blackbart, Thank you for the info on the flameholder. I just finished installing it tonight. At first I didn't think that the flameholder made that much difference but when my kids came out to talk to me, I was indeed able to have a conversation with them while standing next to the forge. Thanks again Wolfe
   Wolfe - Sunday, 06/26/05 02:39:38 EDT

Tim S.: There's plenty of ways it could work, but what I'd probably do is move the post vice closer to the forge (preferably freestanding so you have room all around it for bending stuff) and the drill press further away. I'd also reccomend a belt grinder before a bench grinder, they're more versatile, especially the good ones.
   AwP - Sunday, 06/26/05 05:15:50 EDT

John W.:
I had my 35-year old air handler replaced a few years ago, and they had to convert the circuit over to 220v. That's that's what the new blower used. Apparently the new air handlers are designed so they can be used as heat pumps, in which case 220v auxillary heaters are be installed in the same unit.

Run a 220v motor on 110v, and, if it starts at all, it's likely to overheat quickly. (Though there are some types of motors that are happy at lower-than-rated voltages.)
   Mike B - Sunday, 06/26/05 06:40:36 EDT

Junitia: I am inclined to agree with Mr. Turley's thinking on this anvil. Junitia, as a line of horseshoeing products, may have wanted to be able to offer an anvil. Size, at 135 pounds, would seem about right as a farrier's (portable) anvil. I suspect it would have been easy for them to make arrangements with Hay-Budden to put on their logo and drop-ship for them. I'm passing on the info to Richard Postman. Perhaps he can still list it in More on Anvils. Since a reference was made to a past Keenjunk thread on the brand, may be more than one out there.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/26/05 07:08:12 EDT

Matt: I'm probably going to be the youngest person here but i'd like to know if anyone has any information at all on swordsmithing, revently i've been trying to find it and have had no luck whatsoever. Please let me know thanks
   Matt S - Sunday, 06/26/05 07:57:36 EDT

Matt. We have a long article with resources on our FAQ's page and some articles on our Armoury page. Start there. The books we list are some of the best and go into great detail. The Armoury page has a web ring that has many specialty sites as well.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/26/05 08:30:18 EDT

thank you very much, my search was gettin quite frustrating as most swordsmiths i found didnt bother to answer and emails. thanks again
   Matt S - Sunday, 06/26/05 08:34:58 EDT

Tim S

Please remember the fire extinguisher and first aid kit - esp if you are by yourself. Fire in a barn room could move fast.
   Sriver - Sunday, 06/26/05 08:43:11 EDT

wow, im not sure if any of the others say this, but id just like to let u know i read the info and its really helped put things in perspective. furthermore id like to offer a huge apology to you for all the constant naive questions on swords, im sure that would get annoying. thank you so much for your patience with me and others like me.
   Matt S - Sunday, 06/26/05 09:20:41 EDT

Tremont Nails, I think Tremont makes cut nails with a wrought head no longer than 3 inches.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/26/05 10:29:54 EDT


I was delighted to read your post just now - it is a very rare person who is able to write such a note. Your attitude is super! May we all share it (God knows we all need to back off and apologize for one thing or another, only with us it is usually something deliberate rather than naive).

Let me make a suggestion to you, though, which may help with perspective. Weaponry is fascinating, to be sure. I dream of rescuing fair maidens, too! We are wired to PROTECT our families, so this is a reasonable response. But another of our "hard-wired" motivators is to PROVIDE for our families. The fellow who faithfully goes to work every day is exhibiting this. One aspect of "providing" is putting the food on the table. Another is the establishment and growth of civilization, and the blacksmith has had arguably more to do with that tham a whole host of other types.

I wouild encourage you to consider toolmaking and hardware work as worthy of honor, fully as much or more than the making of weapons. Sure, it ain't as sexy as swordsmithing, but we live our lives in houses that need hinges, handles, latches, and such, eating food prepared using pots held up by trivets and cranes (or we did, anyway), and warmed by logs burning on the (fire dogs? forgot the name) and tended using tongs, pokers and shovels made by some blacksmith. Step outside to the farm, and the implements (and tools to build and repair them) are legion. You are approaching a hobby, a trade, and a calling that has a long and honorable history, and you can certainly make a name for yourself (if only in your neighborhood, perhaps) as a careful craftsman who actually MAKES something - you produce tangible, for-reals, knock it on the table and it goes "klunk", stuff... instead of pushing numbers around on a computer, for instance (or worse, being a good video-gamer).

Go for it, Matt! Learn the basics, build a smithy, hang out with the guys that know what they're doing, make tools, hardware, and goodies (hey, people dig hooks!)... and then make a knife or two. If you like it, consider swordsmithing. But do it on YOUR terms as a competent blacksmith with a head on your shoulders, rather than from a position of (and I mean this kindly) ignorance.

I share your concern about jumping in too deep - I'm a wannabe, too. So let's grant each other the good will to believe that we're kind-hearted but new at this (= likely to ask newbie questions), and let's build from here. The folks I've met here and the local smiths have been very, very kind, and understanding with me, and I'm sure they will be with you, too.

Again, highest compliments for your attitude! You'll do well and go far... -Tim
   Tim S. - Sunday, 06/26/05 10:38:19 EDT

Smithy Layout. Tim,
I think your going to run into problems with long stock in the forge with it in the corner. Personaly I like the forge in the middle of the longest wall if possible. And just cause your not planning on working long stock NOW doesn't mean you won't later.
   JimG - Sunday, 06/26/05 11:22:58 EDT

I have seen several Juniata anvils, my friend has a 140lber. I`ll have to start taking pics of them since there such a rare bird. Another friend has a anvil marked Roberts.
   - Robert IW - Sunday, 06/26/05 11:59:05 EDT

Robert IW: Robert's Anvil is listed in Postman's book on page 354 as a Trenton made. Photo on page 360. Interestingly, that one had the serial #13762. That Juniata had #13742.

Mike Blais: What does the bottom of the Juniata look like?
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/26/05 12:05:49 EDT

I don't think I asked my questions clearly.For years I had problems with rusting on my band saw.I was told that I should be mixing oil into water instead of water into oil as I had always done,as the oil molecules cover the water molecules.Is this right chemically speaking? It seems to have worked but I'm not sure that I was using the right % of oil before. Everyone thinks that it's indifferent which way one mixes.
   Claudio - Sunday, 06/26/05 12:18:21 EDT

I didn't understand your reply to my question about ball bearings.How do the firms that produce ballbearinngs insert them into the rings without expanding the ring?Is the ring formed & welded after? But the balls would be damaged by the heat?For me & a group of friends this is one of life's great mysteries.Hope I have explained myself clearly in english( as I'm Italian)......................................
   Claudio - Sunday, 06/26/05 12:30:24 EDT

Tinker. thanks for your reply had a look at that web site sent for some paper work to see the speck i am in stevenston ayrshire west coast of scotland
   david hannah - Sunday, 06/26/05 13:04:13 EDT

Are you mixing plain mineral oil with water to form an emulsion? Most cutting coolants are a mixture of many different materials. One of them is an anti-rust material. One of the bad things that happens in oil/water mixs is the growth of bacteria. Some bacteria live on the surface and give off methane and create acids as the by products of life. Another type live on the bottom of the oil film in poorly emulsified oil that floats to the top of the tank. These bacteria give off hydrogen sulfide and also create acids.
The comercial mixs also have a bacteriacide as a componet. When you start your saw, do you get a rotten egg smell? Thats hydrogen sulfide. If you can not get comercial coolant, and you get this smell, a bubbler that bubbles air into the tank will help to control the bacteria.
The acids from the bacteria will create rust. Some of the comercial coolants will strip paint,but they tend to not promote rust as long as the coolant is cared for per the makers directions.
Good luck
   ptree - Sunday, 06/26/05 13:07:24 EDT

Bacteria control: A quart of Listerine in the coolant tank does a fairly good job of keeping the smelly bacteria in check, too. Re-apply as the smell returns. I use the Minty Fresh type because the other kind smells worse than the bugs...........
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/26/05 15:32:30 EDT

I checked the lable on two different brands of soluble oil I have(Lubegard and Ultracut 250). Both say for a true suspension ADD OIL TO WATER (not my caps).
   - grant - Sunday, 06/26/05 15:52:48 EDT

Oop! true emulsion, not suspension.

poof then prost
   - grant - Sunday, 06/26/05 15:54:38 EDT

Stephen..for knife steel I use admiralsteel.com they have a good selectiom 5160,1084 plus tool steel.will ship UPS
   - fishear - Sunday, 06/26/05 17:20:59 EDT

Man with big knife often times finds out too late that he's gone to a gunfight with it.
   3dogs - Sunday, 06/26/05 19:19:55 EDT

I looked at the archives, iforum and all but I dont see anything about forming candle cups from bar stock. Pipe yes but barstock, no. Looks like using a punch to start a hole then using the horn to hammer it out. Suggestions?
   John W - Sunday, 06/26/05 20:30:09 EDT

John W: Yes, use pipe.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/26/05 20:34:32 EDT

John W,

Yes, you could punch a hole and then drift it out to size, or work it over a bick iron. I don't know if the anvil horn would work, though. Even my little 100# Peter Wright doesn't have a horn slim enough to make a very good candle cup. Unless it is for a 3" diameter candle. (grin)

You can also roll flat bar into a tube, weld it, and then neck it down to close the end. The necking is done on the edge of the anvil, much like fullering a groove.

If I wanted a candle cup on the end of say, a piece of 1/2" square bar, I would probably form a short right-angle bend with the leg being about 1" long. Next, draw out the leg both ways until it is 1/8" thick, 3/4" wide and 2-3/8" long. Now scarf the end and roll it into a tube 3/4" i.d. and weld the seam if you wish. If you don't want to weld it that's fine, the scarf will allow you blend the end into the body.

When you roll the tube, do it so that it sits over the end of the parent stock. The result is a candle cup on the end of the square bar, the right sixe for a standard taper candle.
   vicopper - Sunday, 06/26/05 21:17:20 EDT

Claudio: The easy way to understand the ball bearing assembly is to take apart an old one. Lay the old bearing down on a heavy piece of metal, and with a punch break out and remove ALL the spacers that are between the balls. Then push all the balls around untill they touch each other. The balls will only go less than 1/2 of the way around the races, and the inner race can be moved away from the balls and lifted out. The manufacturer reverses this proces and puts the spacer together from each side of the bearing, seals or shields are installed last.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/26/05 21:44:46 EDT

Thank you quenchcrack. I really appreciate your help. I have started to read that artical, and I am very excited about the information. It is what I was searching for. that should keep my mind occupied.
as for the titanium, I had seen a pair of titanium tongs and after talking to the guy who made them, feel reasonably confident to make a pair. However, went I went to buy some titanium (or research prices at least) there were so many different alloys that I thought perhaps I should do more research. as for heat treating it.. that was purely curiousity, and as yet finding no material on it.

and thank you as well Frank Turley, for clarifying that point for me. iron is such an amazing substance. but that is only one question in many, and I will still be attending your school after I have saved up enough money =)
This question really stems from a work scenario, where a radiused hot cut," ( "<-- basically this shape, I was using cracked vertically up the very middle of the blade. The smith who made it said that was because I had quenched it to hot (even though it certainly never reached 750). whereas I think it more likely he didn't anneal it after he formed the curved, and/or formed the curve at too low of a heat.
I would further ask if you are able to judge the temperature of a tool fairly well by the way it interacts with your quench. my own observations lead me to believe, that if it steams, you are close to 200..if it boils of quickly, nearing 300 and if boils and hisses.. perhaps 400 and up??
   ben hanawalt - Monday, 06/27/05 00:12:38 EDT

ps. normalized, not annealed. but Im sure you guessed that =) I did want to ask you as well, Frank. you mentioned 'red hardness', in reference to my first question. but im unfamiliar with the term. are you refering to hardness at a red heat?
   ben hanawalt - Monday, 06/27/05 01:03:59 EDT

Hi, I've asked this question once before and didn't get a response/reply ... I'm trying it again.

I've got this antique forged iron flax ripple here:


The workmanship is really nice.

It has a blacksmith's mark (3 dots with 2 lines ... like a trinity or "V"). It was brought here to the U.S. from Scotland about 80 years ago ... but I don't know it's actual origin before that. Has anyone got any clues as to where it may have been made, when ... or by whom??? Thank you!!!

   JohnJones - Monday, 06/27/05 03:46:02 EDT

John, that's a nice piece. In the U.S. we call 'em a flax hackle instead of ripple, and they're usually made of wood with several layers of iron teeth instead of the one row. Unfortunately, that's about all I can tell you about it! You need an expert on old Scottish textile tools.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/27/05 08:00:05 EDT

JohnJones: Your iron flax ripple could have been made by any of literally thousands of British blacksmith or even in a factory. Nice work but nothing particular challenging about it. You might try to find the trademark protection group for Britian to see if the mark is one, but I suspect it is just the smith's personal touchmark.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/27/05 08:04:17 EDT


The hot work steels I mentioned have "red hardness", meaning that they retain some hardness at a red heat (at least, a dark red). It's helpful to make hot chisels and punches out of these tool steel alloys, because they tend to hold up to the work much longer than cold work steels.

Cracks in tool steels and alloy steels can result from forging too cold or too hot, and from heat treating too cold or too hot. All is related to TTT (time-temperature-transformation). Ideally and in addition, there should be no nicks on the tool. They may develop into cracks during heat treatment or later when the tool is in use.

Jock Dempsey, our alpha guru, often recommends that a student of smithing should purchase "Machinery's Handbook", Industrial Press, Inc., New York. There are sections devoted to the various steels. Each steel purchased has its own heat treatment specs, and the specs should be followed. I include forging as a heat treatment.

The boiling and hissing thing. Whoa. That is a new one on me. Some old timers used to "take the snap out of a tool" by boiling it in water. The tempering colors are a temperature guide for a smith; they occur between 428ºF and 626ºF.

...and continue to read Quenchcracks treatise on metallurgy.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 06/27/05 08:55:39 EDT

What does the phrase "peened over swage" mean?
   diane - Monday, 06/27/05 10:47:46 EDT

Re: Flax Ripple.

This tool is very similar to those used long ago in the Philippines to work abaca (commonly refertred to as "Manila hemp.)fiber to make rope. This fiber comes from a banaba-like plant which is peeled and the dried peelings are worked over this tool to produce the fiber for rope-making. finer toothed ones are used later in the process.
   - John Odom - Monday, 06/27/05 11:18:33 EDT

Ben who was the guy? I made a set of Ti tongs but just used CP as that was what was free...

The auction is the annual surplus property auction of NM Tech in Socorro and it once again rubbed my nose in the fact that everybody has more money to spend than I do...

Blades---it is perhaps a reflection on our hard wiring that knifemaking *is* one of the ways a smith can put food on the table. You can spend the same ammount of time making a good chisel as a small knife---but the knife will sell for 2-3 times as much!

Alan that's not a hackle or a hatchel it is a ripple and used for removing the flax seed from the stricks *before* hackling. It is a proof positive of a beneficient diety that I have always been able to find hatchels cheap that I could give my spinster wife instead of forging all the pins for one...

Peened over swage---more details please is this describing a swage or describing a process? I use my swedish crosspeen and a half round (concave) swage to start turning a rasp into a rasptle snake by peening the metal into the swage.

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/27/05 11:24:57 EDT

Quenching sounds as a guide to temp? Very clever! Reminds me of the 'old' mechanics trick... tasting how sweet the water was in the radiator tank to tell the strength of the antifreeze mix. Hot metal sound wise, further up the scale you get that rumbling underwater 'thunder' when casting metal underwater like the japanese do sometimes. Thats definately good for anything over 1761'F (or 950.5'C to me) and grey hairs! (trust me :)
   Tinker - Monday, 06/27/05 11:53:36 EDT

I am setting up a shop and have a question about tyeres . I am planning on using hardwook charcoal(not briquetts) as I can buy it up the street and my local hardware store. Can I use a commercialy made firepot tyere with charcol or do I need to make one. I learned on coal fires and have actually never used charcoal but it is the easiest way to go for me.
   tom Egan - Monday, 06/27/05 12:16:34 EDT

Thomas: I learn something new every day! So one row of spikes is a ripple and multiples are a hackle? My own spinster wife won't do flax anymore, preferring wool. As we have no sheep, she's happy just buying roving and spinning it as she wants to get on to weaving it as soon as possible anyway.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/27/05 13:21:16 EDT

Frank- thanks for the suggestion, I will try to find a copy of that book asap. As for the 'water sounds'. that came from production work, where I have, say, 40 identicle hotcuts to make through 3/4 plate, and wish to perfect my technique. *grin* so I began to push different limits (can I make the cut in 1 heat, instead of two? how long can I quench only the tip, keeping the striking surface dry, before I need to quench the whole tool? that was when I noticed that below 428 degrees,(as the tool was ground, and I did not notice an O2 colors) there was a lot of varience with how the tool sounded when quenched, and how it looked coming out of the quench tub. but if up to 750 (as you said earlier) is a perfectly acceptable temp to quench, there may be no practicle use for what I observed, beyond my own curiousity.

a general 'q'- I have heard that different alloys oxidize at different temps. have there been charts made for the different alloys?

the guy in question was an old german smith in montana. he and a welder friend of mine almost got into an argument whether titanium could be welded. =) and where did you find free titanium??

and one last thing.. I would just like to say what a wonderful resource, this website is. and how much fun it to talk with you all who share this passion for metals.

   ben hanawalt - Monday, 06/27/05 14:14:17 EDT

Alan, note how the pins are angled to catch the seed heads---that's indicative of a ripple. As you mentioned hackling usually has a number of rows of pins as well.

Tom are you doing a bottom blown or a side blown? Either way you can generally use the fuel interchangeably---but charcoal takes a much softer blast to get it to working temp anhd charcoal you usually need to stack deeper to get a good neutral zone. When I use charcoal in my coal forge (bottom blown) I usually stack a couple of firebricks right by the fire pot to alloy me a deeper fire without it going out sideways as *all* the charcoal on the forge likes to burn and throw out waste heat on me the smith.

Ben I didn't get much probably only 60 pounds or so---I helped clean out the old welding engineering building at a local college before it's demolition and the "left overs" were my pay. What do you do with a 1.5"x3"x60" piece of Ti???? (No Patrick; I'll figure *something* out!)

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/27/05 17:34:40 EDT

I need a method for testing hardness of armor plate installed on vehicles. I hear terms like rockwell, brinell and durometers, the armor has to be 500 brinell. Is there a nondistructive portable device to do this? (novice in USA)
   R Kirk - Monday, 06/27/05 18:14:21 EDT

May I respectfully suggest to those of you who have recently commended Anvilfire for its value that you step up to the plate and show YOUR support by joining CyberSmiths International? CSI is the organization that was formed to support Anvilfire and keep it running long into the future. With your help and your dues, we can realize that ambition, as well as work toward improving Anvilfire. The cost is minimal and well worth it. Then you get to see YOUR name in blue, too. Click on the link at the bottom of this window to learn more.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/27/05 19:20:29 EDT

R. Kirk, why is a novice building armor? For whom do you build it? Do you understand fracture mechanics? Does your process include controlled heat treatment? Controlled chemistry? Charpy Impact testing? What percent shear is specified on the CVN? King Portable Brinell testers can be had for under $3500. Do you know how to run the test and read the impression? Shouldn't you know the answers to some of these questions before you start "protecting" lives?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 06/27/05 19:50:32 EDT

Ben, Titanium is REALLY expensive! You can buy a lot of 4140 to make your tongs from for the price of one set of Ti tongs. Yes, iron is a blessing that most people do not appreciate. It is one of the very few metals that undergoes a phase change in the solid state. That alone makes it unique and is what allows us to harden it. By some remarkable coincidence, it is one of the most common elements on earth. There are no atheists in foxholes and there shouldn't be any atheists in smithies! :)
   quenchcrack - Monday, 06/27/05 20:00:23 EDT

I have received a tentitive order (guy seems serious) from France for five propane forges plus some other tools. About a $700-$800 order. Outside of insisting they buy through eBay and pay through PayPal, anything in particular I need to be aware of for an overseas sale? They will prepay overseas USPS Economy Parcel post, understand delivery may be over a month, they have to deal with their customs service and transitioning from SAE gas coupling to metric is their responsibility. I've sold odd items to England, but nothing like this deal.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/27/05 20:01:23 EDT

Quenckcrack, re:armor and novices. AMEN!
   ptree - Monday, 06/27/05 20:09:47 EDT

To all you anvil heads: We are an end user of armored vehicles and I want to verify the products we are buying to insure protection of persons at risk. You clearly have nothing else to do but be arrogant and condesending.Thanks for nothing
   - R Kirk - Monday, 06/27/05 20:38:34 EDT

(A little something for the Battlestar, perhaps?)
   3dogs - Monday, 06/27/05 20:42:53 EDT

I've been callled a lot of things. But "anvilhead"? Hmm, I kinda like it!
   Bob H - Monday, 06/27/05 21:10:34 EDT

Remember not just the military uses armored vehicles. I believe they are fairly common for some contactor personnel in Iraq for example. R. Kirk's question may have been on how to do quality assurance on delivered items.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/27/05 21:11:11 EDT

Mr. Kirk: We get so many nuts here who war fascinated with weapons and armor, who ask questions without the understanding to use the answers. No one was trying to "put down" a serious questioner. Please don't take ofense.

Yes, there are cute, handy portable Brinel testers. I don't think that the Brinell numbers alone would be very useful to you. The metalurgy of armor is complex, and deserves more than a simple answer. A portable Brinel tester recently sold on ebay quite cheap. Because lives are at stake, you need source your armor from a reliable source and work closely with their technical service people. If they do not have a competent metalurgist on staff, change suppliers. Armor testing is not for novices.
   - John Odom - Monday, 06/27/05 21:11:28 EDT

Dear Mr. Kirk,

Please accept this as an attempt towards peacemaking rather than as an attack. Obviously you have a decent and important question, and I'll bet that if the air were to be cleared (my attempt here) you could profit greatly from their knowledge.

Given the strong feelings I've seen here in the past, it could be that the reply you got was rooted more in concern for the lives of our servicemen rather than being a deliberate or personal attack on you. Anvilfire is an "I'm trying to make ___" type of site and it was not clear from your first post that you were the recipient of the armor; we have suffered a LOT from young bucks asking, "Duh - how do i make a sword?" and it could be that your question quite inadvertently pushed that button, too.

I've often exhibited behavior that would have quite rightly been called anvil-headed. My words have almost always been well-intentioned, but came out harsh and were not received well. Based on what I've seen in the past, Quenchcrack is OK... probably the same situation here.

Hope this helps,

-Tim S.
   Tim S. - Monday, 06/27/05 21:24:37 EDT

...and I suppose "anvilhead" beats "mandrelnose"...
   Tim S. - Monday, 06/27/05 21:27:50 EDT

Mr Odom / Mr. Scharabok
I appologize if I was too hasty in my inflammatory remarks. I don't have Phd in metalurgy. I appreciate your information. We have recently aquired a vehicle from a company that as it turns out maybe having difficulties. Our concern is that the armor panels maybe mild steel. At this point our only option is remove a section and shoot it. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks again.
   - R Kirk - Monday, 06/27/05 21:29:44 EDT

have a question, why does it say you cant cold forge a sword out of a leaf spring? i have seen it done and the even though it takes a long time the swords turn out beautifully and are stronger than any hand forged sword i have ever weilded, i have broken many fellow blacksmiths swords withing the hour and have never had a problem with my sword, do you just want people to blacksmith and not
just straighten metal or what?
   Satanica - Monday, 06/27/05 22:52:13 EDT

R Kirk: The problem of testing the material "on the vehicle" is that the test devices are generally made to test a chunk of flat material on the bench. What I mean is that there will be a penatrator that is pressed into the material, the other side of the material is supported by a part of the machine, visualize something like a really stout "C" clamp. You need a flat surface that You can get to both sides of, this may require some disassembly. For comparison, a .308 Winchester hunting load will punch right through a 3/8" mild steel plate, I tried tat Myself as a kid. Does the suplier warrent against bullet holes? if so just shoot the thing! By the way, the .308 punched a slug of plate through the hole, about the size of a dime, and hemispherical in shape.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/27/05 23:09:17 EDT

R Kirk.
One way to help insure end product is to have a FULL set of spec papers of each part form build to final test. It almost sounds as if you are not trusting teh reports, and are wanting to re-test it all. Which you already paid for.
   Ralph - Monday, 06/27/05 23:09:23 EDT

Cold sword foring...
Actually In you case I want you to do so. Make about 10 of them. Then after all those hours do as you say you do which is
to destroy them. That is a sigh of a true craftsman. Spending hours of your time to make something just to destroy it. ( MAN that is SO COOL!)
   Ralph - Monday, 06/27/05 23:12:31 EDT

I just bought a Milne anvil and am looking for info on it. It is a 175 #er and in fair shape any if would be great Thanks Marty
   Marty - Monday, 06/27/05 23:50:05 EDT

R. Kirk - there are portable brinell testers that work by striking one end with a hammer - there is a standardized bar, then the ball indenter, and then the material being tested - they're not terribly accurate but you should be able to tell the difference between 500 BHN and mild steel. I've used them, but it has been awhile and don't remember a brand. Could also check with a file - how well does a file bite into the armor plate versus mild steel for rough comparison.

A more recent development is ultrasonic hardness testing - the process is under development, not certain of brand name & or accuracy but should be good enough for your purpose. We looked into them to replace std. Rockwell for test results on stainless sheet - weren't accepted by our major automotive customers, so no go even though cheaper and realtively accurate.

Doing a google search also turned up Equotip portable hardness testers - again no experience, but something that might work for you - they've been in business since 1975.

Good luck.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 06/28/05 00:01:20 EDT

Guru - would the ball-bearing bounce test be of any use? Mr. Kirk may have to upend the vehicle so the plate is horizontal, but would that be another rough indicator he could use? (Mr. K - the trick with an anvil is to drop a hefty ball bearking from a certain height, and see what percent the bounce takes it to. I don't recall the formula, and I think that this is also testing resiliency, which may or may not be of use to you. The Guru would be able to help (though if you could tell us "Sorry, can't make any of the plates horizontal" it would answer the question real fast).
   Tim S. - Tuesday, 06/28/05 00:48:24 EDT

I fyour swords have been breaking( or your friends) you need to look at the temper, grade of steel, and the work load the blade is giong to experance. I would never try to use a roman gladius as a greek foil, but in a pinch a long sharp shank of steel will kill just as good as a blunt round mace. Its all about use and technique.
   - Timex - Tuesday, 06/28/05 02:00:16 EDT

Marty: Your Milne was made in Finland from cast steel. That is all Anvils in America, page 66, says about it. If it is decent cast steel, properly heat treated, you may have a good anvil.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 06:52:41 EDT

Cold forging a blade would obviously pack the steel, so your friends might have forgoten to pack the blade, and did they know that you usualy temper swords at a hotter degree then knives?
   - Bjorn - Tuesday, 06/28/05 08:18:29 EDT


Cold forging? That is just another way of saying work hardening. Forging, the displacement of metal to achieve a certain shape, must be done hot, if you are going to have an end result that is predictable and dependable. If you work cold, you are building stresses in the metal and very likely creating millions of microscopic stress fractures that will come back to haunt you later.

For any medium or high carbon steel to achieve its full potential, it MUST be *properly* heat treated. The type of heat treatment varies depending on the steel and the use to which it is put. While the method may vary though, almost all heat treatments start from *normalized* steel. If you're going to normalize the steel anyway, why not forge it hot and save all those years of pounding away on work-hardened steel, to say nothing of avoiding all those stress cracks? It only makes sense. It has nothing to do with what *we* want; it has everyting to do with what the steel wants.

If you *cold forge* a sword from a leaf spring, say 5160 steel, you will have created a potential disaster. The resulting sword will very likely be so brittle from work hardening that it may shatter when struck, sending pieces of sharp shrapnel flying all over. This is just the reality of steel, and we don't want people mislead into thinking that what you suggesting is safe or reasonable. It isn't.

It is not an accident that the most well-known and respect sword maker in the US also has a degree in metallography. He KNOWS what he is doing. Read his books. Dr. James P. Hrisoulas.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/28/05 09:11:46 EDT

Cold Forging Swords: Satanica, The article on-line describing cold forging swords from truck leaf springs is a parody or joke.
To say you have seen it done or DO it is VERY questionable and as such I have to make note of the fact since we try not to spread this kind of misinformation.

WHY NOT FORGE COLD? Springs as fpind are fairly hard. In use they often fail from work hardening and brittle fracture. To forge this hardened steel into another shape will work harden the steel way beyond usefullness and it will crack and break long before you can can change the cross section to any degree. Sure, you can make a round edged club by straightening a spring cold, but not a fine edged weapon. Cold forging is a great deal different than "edge packing" which is done at the end of the last heat (on hot forging) and is actually of very little advanatge if the steel is properly heat treated afterwards.

To do more than to straighen a heat treated leaf spring cold by plastic deformation is a physical impossiblity (change cross section, size, ect.). If you grind the cross section from the straighened bar then you are using "stock removal", NOT forging.

If you have "broken many other blacksmiths swords" then you are dealing with amatures or are abusing the blade. In most cases it is not the forging but the heat treatment that is critical. This is often the difference between a blacksmith and a bladesmith. Bladsmithing is a specialty that requires more attention to detail than most general smithing.

Please post your dribble elsewhere. Only the ignorant and gullible will believe your line of BS.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/28/05 09:35:12 EDT

Cold forging?

I'm wondering if this is just a mis-application of terms. Maybe he meant cold-bending and grinding to shape. Stock removal instead of forging.

   - Marc - Tuesday, 06/28/05 09:49:16 EDT

In Service Testing: R. Kirk, Testing equipment in the field is very tricky. First, hardness is NOT a particularly desirable property for armour plate. Hardness results in brittleness. Brittle plate will shatter and result in sharp shrapnel. What you want is toughness and to a point the softer the steel the better. Where problems occur in steel plate armour is in the manufacturing process where flame cutting may have been used resulting in hard edges that may be a place for cracking and failure to start. Failure modes also include holes too close to edges. They should be specified as well as inspected.

SO, what you need to do is as suggested above:

1) Have complete engineered specs.
2) Insist on an audited quality assurance program with test reports.
3) Inspect the test reports and see that inspectors' marks and the reports agree.

Many hardness testing methods leave a clearly visible mark on the part tested. The size of the mark is used to determine the hardness. If every part is to be tested by the manufacture using the same method and location (by specification and contract) you can come back and inspect the hardness testing mark, thus assuring the specs have been met.

In the modern era the only armour that is sufficient against ever increasing explosive power or armour piercing rounds is thick layered graphite and kevlar composites. On tanks these materials slow down and stop the high velocity armour piercing rounds with friction and the necessary deceleration time (which requires distance). This is combined with the large mass of the vehical making the armour possible. This makes "light armoured vehical" an oxymoron the same as "military intelegence". . .

Except for small arms fire and rock throwing the add-on steel plate armour put on light vehicals for use in the Middle East has almost been a wasted expense. The enemies of those using these vehicals have just increased the power of their weapons so that the entire vehical is destroyed or the armor punched through. Armour sufficient to prevent this is too heavy for the light vehical to carry.

Escalation of technology has always a problem in warfare. One side makes better defensive weapons and the other makes more power offensive weapons. Coupled with the fact that it is much easier to destroy than to create the advantage almost always goes to those using the offensive weapon.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/28/05 10:29:33 EDT

Marc, There is a really stupid parody on-line describing in all seriousness forging a sword from a leaf spring cold using a sledge hammer. It goes into great detail. A lot of gullible people have believed it and it has become another modern myth spread by the Internet. It IS a myth and we will will not help spread it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/28/05 10:39:48 EDT

I recall reading somewhere putting armor on a Humvee increased the weight by something like a ton. If you have a one-ton cargo pickup, imagine always carrying around a ton of dead weight. Try accelerating on the highway or going up hill. It has, from the article, made them so heavy a convoy can't speed up from a trouble area because their protection, the Humvees, can't keep up. I would imagine the extra weight also causes all sorts of suspension problems.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 10:47:49 EDT

Mr Kirk; look into "spark spectroscopy" to get a read out on the alloy content of a piece of steel.

Hardness has a variable correlation to alloy depending on heat treat. (Work hardened mild steel can be harder than annealed high alloy steels) Where the correlation is better is in the higher hardness ranges where you *don't* want armour to be as it's also more brittle.

There are formal "ball bearing tests" it's called a scleroscope an instrument that measure the rebound of a dropped impactor to determine hardness.

Satanica is most likely a troll: however most of the cold straightened "SLOs" I have seen are several times heavier than real swords were. Of course you can destroy light *fast* real swords with a crowbar---so what?

Using swords tended toward a weight of 1 kilo for about 1000 years, from viking swords to rapiers!---this was when every blade was "custom" made. Do you think that they knew something then that we are missing today?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/28/05 11:43:41 EDT

As they say, "Don't feed the Trolls".

Recieving Inspection: This has always been complicated. To properly test every incoming piece is complicated. Most organizations pull random samples and test. If a sample fails then the whole order fails. Testing can include everything from complete dimensional checks, bolt torques, materials, paint and stock component certification. In the end it is much easier to do business with people that you can trust.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/28/05 12:00:41 EDT

Just as an FYI

When I first started reading and asking question on this board, I did not know the difference between blacksmithing and stock removal.

I have seen a “cold forged” method used and it did turn out a very nice wall hanger. The guy that made it just wanted to see if it could be done and did not trust it at all. This was done by striating and stock removal.

Guru Email coming your way.
   Arron Cissell - Tuesday, 06/28/05 12:34:59 EDT

Thanks everyone for your input. It appears there is no easy way to test the armor plate. Without absolute certainty of the quality of the steel the vehicle is useless. We conduct tests on materials at H.P. White, it's just difficult to insure there has been no "bait and switch". Don't be fooled by composites, they can stop the first round but fail rapidly with multiple hits. The best form of protection is to avoid exposure to high risk enviroments. Unfortunatly some of us have to for many reasons other than war. Thanks again for the great info.
   - R Kirk - Tuesday, 06/28/05 12:43:24 EDT

Charcoal Forge: Generally a charcoal fire needs to be deeper than a coal fire but the fire pot for one works with the other. The only difference is how deep you pile on the charcoal.

Candle Cups: I have made them by simply flatening the end of a bar and then rolling it into a tube. I would usualy start with a bar larger than the "stem" and then draw out the stem. Makes a nice long tapered cup with a floral look. Some have add on drip pans and others the "pan" was created by flaring the edge of the cup (after rolling). This type cup or tube was ocassoinaly welded AND can be made of a seperate piece welded on to a bar.

To punch in a solid bar you do a similar thing. Start with a large bar, draw down the stem and support the piece in a swage block or bolster plate by the stem. You may want to make a tool with a gentle radius and some support. Then use a punch similar to a long center punch. Be sure to use plenty of punch lube. Expand with progressive drifts also lubricated. This is the hard way but can make a very clean piece. I would be inclined to make the initial hole by drilling. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/28/05 13:04:42 EDT

could anyone tell me anything about an anvil that has a large "T" on the side of it i cant find any other markings on it, it looks to be in the l75 lb. class the smith that has the anvil said he has owned it 15 years. but dont know anything else about it except that it has been a good anvil.
   ron60 - Tuesday, 06/28/05 14:09:16 EDT

ron60: If T is orange, it was probably made by a fan of the University of Tennessee football program. Here in TN they are likely to paste it about anywhere.

Seriously, Anvils in America does not list one so marked. Let's use process of elimination: Provide following information: 1. Does it ring when struck in several places on top and horn? 2. Can you see a separate top plate - look closely as sometimes seam is hard to see? 3. What does the bottom look like - flat, oval depression or hourglass depression? 4. Are their any handling holes, such as under the horn, heel or on bottom? 5. Is it the typical London pattern of a narrow waist and nicely shaped and rounded horn or a farrier's anvil with an very narrow waist and very long horn? 6. Is the T stamped in, cast in via a depression or cast in via raised letter and what is height of letter?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 14:55:24 EDT

I must add one thing to the "cold forging" discussion. Supposedly packing should come before the final heat treatment. Heat treatment restructures the steel, so that means that "alligning the carbides" was utterly useless. Anyway, it has been surmised by the esteemed Mr Goddard that perhaps the old time smiths who were packing were not attempting to harden the steel so much as they were trying to smooth it out and get rid of the scale at a low heat so that it would be easier to finish (after all, many old time smiths used files and little else for stock removal).
   Matthew Marting - Tuesday, 06/28/05 15:22:24 EDT

Hello everyone

In Practical Blacksmithing it said that the scarf needs “Accurate planning, thoroughly smoothing and cleaning the surface.”

What would “thoroughly smoothing” mean?

Also several books say to clean both ends of the scarf with a wire brush just after removal from the forge. I am not fast at this and being told that I do not need to do this, as it takes off the flux and oxidization starts. Any opinions?
   Arron Cissell - Tuesday, 06/28/05 15:27:01 EDT

Matthew; early steels also suffered a *lot* from grain growth being without the alloying elements that promote grain refinement during heat treat, and hammering at low temps *before* heat treat would introduce a lot of disslocations to nucleate grains during heat treat to make for afiner grained result. Did Mr Goddard mention that in his book?

Also earlier smiths were used to working at much higher temps as wrought iron often required them and higher temps promote grain growth.


   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/28/05 15:42:23 EDT

Aaron you don't want to leave hammer dings that can hold and trap crud in the weld. (or hot rasping scoring, etc)

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/28/05 15:43:54 EDT

ken, thanks for the quick response the 1. yes the anvil has a good ring when struck in several places including the horn, it also has a good rebound when struck in several locations. 2. yes it has a seperate top plate that is in good shape no swag but small chips and dings. 3. the bottom is flat 4, no holes ofr handeling it does have a hardy and pitchel. 5. this anvil is what i would concider to be a london pattern. 6. the t is raised about 1/8 inch
   ron60 - Tuesday, 06/28/05 15:47:20 EDT

ken the letter is about 4" high and i remember there was a fairly deep mark under the "T" it was round maybee a 1 1/2 in. circle looked to be 1/4 maybee 3/8 deep but could not make out any characters or design it looked as if it were cast in when the anvil was made. thanks a lot for your help ronald rumfelt.
   ron60 - Tuesday, 06/28/05 16:44:33 EDT

As a Military Intelligence Officer I take exception to your remark!! ;)
As for the up armored humvees, they are fitted with more powerful engines and chasies, power and handling are not an issue in them. They are designed to protect from small arms fire, RPGs and poorly made IEDs. Having just returned from a year in theater and executing numerous combat missions in the armored vehicles, I can say that they serve their purpose quite well. Of course there are occurances of failure against munitions the armor was designed to defeat (we lost a soldier from a head on RPG blast to the windshield which was bullet proof (dunno about RPG proof)) but that's why they are called armored plates not invincibility plates. Now there are IEDs the enemy can craft that will defeat the armor but the skill of the monkeys we are facing over there does not make it a prolific threat. Of course if you drive OVER 500# of explosives, there's not much on the planet that can keep you safe. Our (relative) effectiveness at defeating the IEDs has led to the increase of the insurgents targeting the local Iraqi Security forces that we have seen in recent months.

Great site, I'll look into joining CSI and no hard feelings about the MI quip.


PS, you spelled intelligence wrong ;)
   Brett - Tuesday, 06/28/05 16:49:43 EDT

The phrase "peened over swage" is used to describe a piece of hardware -- a spacer or standoff. Does that help?

   diane - Tuesday, 06/28/05 17:29:02 EDT

ron60. I am going to have to give you an 'I flat out don't know' answer. The fact the letter T is raised indicates the body is cast (as does the flat bottom and no handling holes). Yet it rings, which would imply cast steel rather than cast iron. If you use cast steel you don't need a separate plate. Sort of like wearing suspenders with a belt. At this point Little Grasshopper is going to have to refer you to the Old Master. Call Richard Postman at 269-471-5426. You already have the information he will need. Let us know what you find out though.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 18:19:23 EDT

Hi, I am going to buy a copy of Richard Postmans book very soon but in the mean time I ran across an anvil that I might want to buy but don't know the brand and hope you can help me out. It is marked with the letter C inside a triangle. Any clue on the brand?
   Jeff - Tuesday, 06/28/05 18:31:01 EDT

Aaron, "Thoroughly smoothing" could be poor technical writing. I try to make my lap welding scarf a little rounding on the face, so that it is tangent to the other scarf in the center in order to to squeeze out the "soup". However, I saw the esteemed Mr. Whitaker make a stair step looking taper on his scarf faces, working off the near, sharp edge of the anvil. He got the weld, and he was a good forge welder.

Many American smiths remove the pieces from the fire, quickly wire brush the scarfs, and quickly apply the flux. Into the fire they go for the welding heat.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/28/05 18:38:53 EDT

Jeff: It is a Columbian, from the Columbian Hardware Company of Cleveland, OH. One piece cast steel. Likely they had them cast in a local foundry. Reported to be a very good anvil. Likely dates from the very late 1800s to 1922-1923. After 1923 they had anvils made in Sweden for a couple of years, then stopped making all but bench-size anvils complete.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 19:04:12 EDT

Thanks for the info Ken.

   Jeff - Tuesday, 06/28/05 19:24:38 EDT

R Kirk. If I offended you, accept my regrets. However, I am a metallurgical engineer and a Registered Professional Engineer. I have worked most of my life in the Oil and Gas industry where fracture toughness is extremly important. Hardness is not the only criteria by which armor should be judged. Fracture toughness is the difference between absorbing the shock of impact and just shattering, adding to the shrapnel. Simply checking the hardness is no guarantee of fitness for purpose. If you have doubts, or if it your butt this armor is intended to protect, I would spend a few bucks on the opinions and tests of a Consulting Metallurgical Engineer. Look in the yellow pages under Testing Labs or Consulting Engineers. I have always offered free consulting to the people who visit anvilfire. However, since I am obviously too arrogant to suit you, please contact someone you can work with.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/28/05 19:47:24 EDT

One last indulgence of my ever-expanding paranoia: How do we know that Mr. Kirk is not a terrorist trying to learn how to defeat armor plate on vehicles carrying our troops?
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 06/28/05 20:08:09 EDT

Jeff: Correction, somewhat, to above. Page 216 of Anvils in America shows the Columbian Hardware Co. with a very large factory building in their ad. Notes they were "Producers of Art Hardware", whatever that might be. Thus, they may well have had the capability to cast their own anvils in house..
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 06/28/05 20:14:12 EDT

In ref to Mr Kirk
I know I and several others said to either trust the testing agency, OR get a new one.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 06/28/05 20:38:01 EDT

Can blacksmithing be done proffesionaly today. I am thinking of studying buisness in college now that I am in high school and would like to pursue a career in blacksithing and welding/fabrication.

   - andr arms - Tuesday, 06/28/05 21:04:55 EDT

*I meant out of high school above...
   - andr arms - Tuesday, 06/28/05 21:05:34 EDT

Quenchcrack, I too think that the services of a qualified consulting service is indicated for Mr. Kirk.
My AMEN came from the many years I spent in the military, using equipment made by the lowest bidder. I worked in the somewhat esoteric trade then of working on the equipment to defeat armour vehicles. Yes Guru, any armour can be defeated. And yes Brett, the usefullness of armoured vehicles, and body armour is apparent. I believe that a study of WWII casualties revealed that the leading cause was artillery. The armour since is often designed to defeat small shell splinters. I wore a steel pot far too long to not appreciate that the thing was heavy, would not stop a rifle round unless a glancing hit, but would stop small shell splinters that would seperate me from my life.

Mr Kirk, I too thought that you were either a wannabe armour maker without a clue, or perhaps the
lowest bidder was about to make life safety choices for my brothers and sisters in service, without a clue.

If I offended you I appoligize. If you really want to know the quality of the armour you have, you need a full service consulting metalurgist service with testing facilities as well as a qualified mechanical engineer to check design/construction. As I am neither I am afraid I can offer no help.
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/28/05 21:10:13 EDT

Confusing Steel Terminology. The ads for Columbian anvils in Postman's book are ambiguous and changable, depending on when written. Postman handles this pretty well.

For example, "cast steel" was the result of a specific process for making tool steel. In America, it was termed "crucible steel", the English preferring "cast". In the early 1900's, wrought iron or steel or both, and sometimes charcoal or pig was added to provide carbon. After a few hours of melting, a man called a "puller out" took the graphite crucible from the heat source and removed the lid. Slag was skimmed, and the molten steel teemed into a mold. This was heavy hand work. The ingot was later forged out under a steam hammer, at least in the early 20th century.

Tool collectors will sometimes turn up an edge tool stamped "CAST STEEL"; this does not mean that the tool was cast, but rather that it was forged from cast steel, and probably the provenance was Britain.

Re the Columbian anvil, Postman feels that even though the anvil is sometimes advertised as made of cast steel, this does not mean that is was made of the material, cast or crucible. It means that the anvil was itself a casting of some sort of steel. in the early 1900's, most likely open hearth or bessemer steel.

Reference; Hugh P. Tiemann, "Iron and Steel", 1933.

   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/28/05 22:20:22 EDT

Armor and Artillery:

The German "coal scuttle" helmet was initiated in WW-I when a German surgeon noted large numbers of soldiers who were killed or brain damaged by very small shell fragments penetrating their skulls. A Ptree mentions, above, it is not meant to stop direct hits by projectiles. Historically, most armor has merely raised your odds of survival, not guarenteed it. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the naval arms race was the balance between ship speed, armor and range and penetration ability of the rifled guns.

Like everything from sailboats to swords, it is always a compromise between protection, performance, and price.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 06/28/05 22:48:48 EDT

andr arms: If You are planing on running Your own buisness, studying buisness is the right move. Take whatever welding, machine shop and blueprint reading courses You can also. If You want to do art/arcitecural work or repair/industrial work learn as much as You can in those areas. A friend of mine had a landscaping buisness for about 12 years before He went back to school for His MBA. His coment was "I should have known this stuff when I was starting out"
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/28/05 23:12:13 EDT


Thanks I did not think of applying flux after. Maybe my welds will get better.

The Wisper Daddy 2 was delivered today and I have to admit it is an easy build. Will be getting soem sort of ITC 100 or equivalent available in my area for it.

Thanks for all the information so far.
   Arron Cissell - Tuesday, 06/28/05 23:20:24 EDT

I have a spring arm on a hay tetter to straighten. It appears to be stainless. I'm a 2 year apprentice bladesmith. I'm pretty familiar with hardening and tempering carbon steels, but the only experience with stainless is a pair of spurs I'm working on and stainless seems to have a whole new set of rules. It moves pretty well under the hammer just as it loses color. Any tips on hardening and tempering the spring arm would be appreciated.

   Charlie Brown - Wednesday, 06/29/05 01:50:48 EDT

Charlie Brown: Check the dealer where you purchased the tedder as I highly doubt the spring arms are stainless. Normally they are a pretty good grade of spring steel. On mine, I can usually restraighten them cold.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/29/05 07:01:41 EDT

In reference to the ongoing discussion on testing armor plate...

What specifications apply? I have no background in testing armor but lots of background in testing and test equipment in a wide range of products and processes. When faced with a new project my first question is always "what existing specs/standards apply?" Those specs whether, ansi, mil, automotive, homegrown or whatever often call out specific tests and/or parameters to be measured and methods of measuring them. We often invent new equipment/methods of getting it done but usually some one has already decided what tests and parametrics apply. Depending on whether we're dealing with design validation, process validation, in process inspection, incomming inspection of purchased material/components, cost and risk we then decide which we will test and how often.

Sorry, that was a really long winded way of saying that I bet it's already being done so..."how are they doing it?" My guess is that hardness is one parameter that's measured but...before and after what other tests and what other parametrics are taken? I'm not looking for the answer but rather suggesting that the right question might not be being asked. Sound reasonable?
   Mike Ferrara - Wednesday, 06/29/05 08:20:56 EDT

Stainless: If it moves well under a low heat it is probably not stainless. Most stainless is more difficult to work at a low heat than cold and needs to be forged at a bright heat.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 10:15:38 EDT

After reading the posts I thought it was hilarious that a Military Intelligence Officer gave our 'potential terrorist' the information he may have been seeking! 500# of explosives ought to do the job Osama :)
This is of course overkill, the largest 'car bomb' used here by the IRA was less than that I think. But hey! If Bin Liner fancies cooking up his own nitro in his tent I for one wouldn't stop him, in fact if he's reading this make sure you heat the mix properly.
   Tinker - Wednesday, 06/29/05 10:49:45 EDT

Thanks for the help. I think I'll try the cold straightening first.

Thanks again
   Charlie Brown - Wednesday, 06/29/05 10:54:16 EDT

Treated Lumber vs. Mild Steel?

The newer preservative used in treated lumber evidently contains a LOT of copper, and the code says one has to use Stainless or Hot-Dipped Galvanized hardware. Local anecdotal evidence suggests that "regular" nails and bolts fall apart in "a few months".

I would like to make hooks, hinges, and other outdoor farm hardware using mild steel, and attach them to treated posts. I expect to sandblast my work, then paint with cold galvanizing paint, a primer, and a top coat. However, if I drive a spike (as the back end of a hook, for example) into treated lumber, what are my risks of having it deteriorate? Should I get cute and forge this stuff from stainless? I hesitate to cook up a crucible of zinc...
   Tim S. - Wednesday, 06/29/05 11:29:17 EDT

Professional Smithing: Andr, I guess it is time I write an article on this subject.

1) Yes there are many professional smiths making a good living.

2) There are far more starving artists than professional smiths making a living.

3) The professionals must compete with the starving artists and amatures or part timers that underprice their work.

The difference between being sucessful and a starving artist is that you have to be a good business person and use common sense about your work. Those that want to be "purists" or have some preconcieved idea or are too idealogical about what blacksmithing is usualy fail to make a living.

The modern blacksmith shop looks more like a modern machine shop than a "smithy". This is a world market and to be competitive you have to be mechanized sufficiently to compete with very low wage workers that are not nearly as well equiped OR amatures that underprice their work. This means saws, shears, presses, drills, lathes and milling machines as well as power hammers, gas forges, MIG machines and plasma torches. The modern blacksmith uses 21st Century tools as well as techniques that have not changed in over 3,000 years. It is not unusual to find a 100 year old anvil and vise next to a high tech PC guided plasma torch and each being used regularly.

SO. . as you will learn in business school you will need to be properly capitalized. That means have enough money to invest in all that machinery. A few VERY talented folks manage to do this by working up from nothing but it is very difficult.

You MUST love blacksmithing to be sucessful at it. The rules you will learn in business school will say that this is an impractical low profit business that is likely to fail. They are right. However, those that survive to be sucessful are those that are both creative, LOVE the art and the independence of being self employed. You must really want it, have the talent and knowledge.

To be a professional blacksmith I would not recommend business as a major. I would recommend engineering, art and general metalworking with electives filled in with business or an accounting course. Engineering management covers a LOT of what it takes to operate a blacksmith shop.

Many smiths want to be "artist blacksmiths" but do not study art. To be an artist blacksmith it is more important to be an artist than a metalworker. The capacity to draw, create plans and illustrate them for the client are important skills. A smith I know went to a local art school and took life drawing classes and he says that it revolutionized his work. I was an artist long before I was a smith.

Alternatly I could recommend that you study all these things on your own (if you are a self starter and self educator) and spend the money that would go into an education on tools and machinery. You could do this and take the four years you would spend in school to study in your own shop or studio. However this is a radical move that is only right for a FEW individuals. It leaves you without a degree and closes many other possibilities if you should fail or change your mind.

Planning a life and career is difficult. Usualy "life" happens and makes the major decisions for you. You fall in or out of love, start a part time job that becomes a full time career, find another interest, have family obligations, win or lose some gamble, have a calamity or windfall. IT happens despite anything you plan.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 11:58:04 EDT

ITC-100 Equivalent: Note that there are cheaper ceramic coatings that can be used in place of ITC-100 but there are no equivalents to this product on the US market. Compare the descriptions first.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:00:34 EDT

Armour: the basic question was how to determine if the stuff he was getting was the alloy spec'd or just mild steel. He seemed to think a hardness test would tell; something I for one doubted that would work and suggested spark spectroscopy for an alloying element readout. This would not help defeat the armour...just tell if it was to spec on the alloy.

I have found a large number of chisels marked "cast steel" with US manufacturers on it; I don't think it was just the UK! (For more detail "Steelmaking before Bessemer; vol II Crucible steel" details the process as it was done in the UK)

Andr Arms; I beleive I have visited 4 working smithing shops just in Santa Fe NM and one just to the east a ways. It can be a career; but like all small businesses it can be a tough one to get started in. You really are talking about triple majoring---art, business and metalworking skills. May I suggest you see if you can intern in a working shop for a while to see if the work is really what you think it will be?

Tim; I'd go for handforged stainless or make them with holes and use stainless mounting hardware---I'd supply it with the piece too to keep the devil spawned end users (why yes I do work in IT) from doing something stupid to save money.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:05:08 EDT

Treated Lumber: Its not the copper or arsenic, it is the fact that they are salts (usualy chlorides) of those elements.

The life of plain carbon steel facteners in salt treated lumber will vary with the humidity and exposure to moisture. Hot dip galvanized fasteners are recommended. However, when I built my shop 20 years ago I used uncoated nails for internal sheathing and sheetrock. So far everything is holding up. I also used 1/2" galvanized all thread to assemble much of the building and had some scafolding attached to the building with the same for seveal years. I was surprised at how rusty the uncoated washers and nuts were when removed from the scaffolding. However, these were also in a high hunmidity environment.

I would expect that well painted drive hooks used indoors driven into salt treated lumber would last 100 years or more without a problem. Used outdoors they would probably hold up for several generations if the paint was tight.

I suspect the lumber industry has detailed information on this subject.

On small hardware you might want to consider doing your own hot dip galvanizing. You melt zinc in a ceramic or coated pot (1,100°F) and dip acid cleaned hardware in the melted metal. Shake off the excess as you remove then let the part cool. To paint you will need to etch the surface of the zinc or use a special etching primer made for aluminium and zinc.

See our warnings and safety demo on burning zinc.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:16:58 EDT

Seems like someone recently said on the forum they had a Columbian anvil and you can clearly see the mold marks on the bottom. They might of had the capability to forge anvils, but I rather doubt it. I don't remember seeing a beat up one on eBay so apparently they do hold up rather well. Sheer number of them still around, considering they were only produced for about 25 or so years, speaks well for their quality.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:17:23 EDT

Brett, Having a military father who trained counter-intelligence... I'm leaving ALL comments off.
   Monica - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:21:39 EDT


Tell me you're kidding, right? ;) Our potential terrorist (which is ridiculous in and of itself), has probablly taken my foolish breach of OPSEC and is even now scribing a letter to Osama and Zarqawi and telling them: "My Brothers, the foolish Americans have given us the key to victory!! We must use 500# of explosives in every IED. Then Allah will surely grant us victory!!" The 10% of bad guys that survive trying to amass 500# of explosives will be finished off right quick as one does not just sneakily hide 500# of explosives in your trunk and slip it under a leaf when no one is looking. Darwin is in full effect over there.
   Brett - Wednesday, 06/29/05 12:23:55 EDT

Weaponry: The fact is that the current crop of IED's are doing a good job of demolishing armoured humvees and the insurgents do not need our help. But lots of missinformation would not hurt. . . other than possibly getting our little forum put on a watch list (if it was not already).

B O M B s and the Internet: It drives me nuts to hear about how easy it is to find instructions on the internet and how horrible it is. . . Look in ANY World Book encyclopedia in any elementary school and there are fairly good articles on common and military grade materials as well as diagrams of construction. Back this up with a good dictionary and much is revealed. The better more techincal Britanica found in high schools goes into even more detail and you can walk into ANY college or university library and find chemistry books with the details of the processes left out by the Britanica authors. These are standard non-specialty references found in every school world wide. Most technical colleges and universities with engineering schools have VERY detailed specific references on this subject. If I could not author a very good article on this subject with practical how-to information from a week's research at local libraries I would give up. . . .

Those that cry wolf and point at the Internet as the source of evil information have never cracked a book to do REAL research. That includes folks in the "news" and government as well.

It reminds me of a World War II cartoon. A fellow amid his pile of National Geographics and National Geographic maps is shuddering while listening to the radio as the announcer instructs the public to identify spies as those that have books about local geography and detailed maps of the world. . .

Education is power. Ignorance is defeat.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 13:02:38 EDT


You're right about the plethora of info on the net about how to be naughty. I will however say that just because you read about how to do it doesn't mean it can easily be done. As a High Schooler I must admit I was into the whole homemade explosives and things that go boom thing. I got a hold of a copy of "Improvised Munitions" from a surplus store that had a receipe for nitric acid in it. Well, first I tried following the instructions to the letter in my home kitchen. Didn't work (chalked it up to lack of proper equipment). That made me mad. Since I was a persuasive little punk, and I was enrolled in Chem II at school I convinced my teacher to allow me to run the experiment for my "thesis project". Still no luck. I came to the conclusion that just cuz it is written in a book or on the net doesn't make it true or make it easy (think: cold forging swords).
I learned that knowing HOW to make nitric acid does not always mean you CAN make nitric acid (currently this is true for me and forge welding), even given a fully stocked HS Chem lab.
Same thing with the IEDs, knowing that 4.5 tons of explosives will destroy a Humvee does not mean it is feasible to put the knowledge into action.
Though I agree with Guru, you can get as educated as you want but it is the guys who have learned by trial and error and are trying to teach others the practical knowledge that need the killin (regarding IED construction, not forge welding ;).
   Brett - Wednesday, 06/29/05 13:19:03 EDT

Tim S.

I use mild steel drive hooks into treated lumber on a regular basis. No problems, so far. Its been four years since I started doing this, in an ocean air climate. I pulled one out the other day and the shank showed no rust, while the exposed surfaces were lightly rusted. That particular hook was put in four years ago and was unpainted, just tight scale.

I also forge a few things like drive hooks out of 304 stainless for use outdoors, and if those are not passivated after use they will rust, too. Not as badly as mild steel, but rust nonetheless. even if you passivate them, you have to retreat the spot where you smacked it with the the framing hammer to pound it in, or that spot will show surface rust in a month or two. Life on an island is tenuous at best sometimes.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/29/05 13:54:32 EDT

Sorry, British sense of humour at work :)
I was of course joking, if your bosses don't plan for breaches of OPSEC then they're not good bosses. Without giving too much away I know from a very good friend in the Army, (lets call him 'Felix' Brett) what a complete set of *$%£"*%^ the bomb makers are.
I was merely poking fun at the paranoia we all have about the net being a bombmakers best friend and how we can't say anything without causing a mass panic.
Ultimately as the GURU says the info be it good or bad is already easily available. If you are stupid enough to try and cook the stuff you deserve a Darwin...
   Tinker - Wednesday, 06/29/05 13:58:07 EDT

At the end of the Cold War, or thereabouts, there was a great hue and cry raised about the dangers of too much "sensitive" information being publicly accessible. It seems that an enterprising student did some research in his university library and the L.O.C. and came up with all the information necessary to construct an atomic bomb. The Luddites of the day got their panties all in a wad over it and rushed to slam the barn door now that the horse was gone. Didn't work then, won't work now. You can remove all the cookbooks and make recipes illegal, but you can't stop people from cooking. Hunger (for anything) is a powerful motivator.

I was another of those delinquent lads who manufactured various home brewed explosives in his youth. (Of course, in my youth in Colorado, you could easily buy dynamite at the hardware store.) I am astonished that I still have both eyes and all my limbs after the things I made or "unmade." At least 95% of my youthful exuberance would be classed as terrorist acts these days and the powers that be would see to it that I would be writing this in homemade ink on the wall of a cramped cell at Guantanemo or somewhere similar. Times have changed, but people haven't.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/29/05 14:07:02 EDT

Ok...I know your going to get a chuckle at my expense for this question. I am trying to fire up me very first coal fire...How do you get the darn stuff to ignite! Everybody had a first time. ;o)
   phillpote32 - Wednesday, 06/29/05 15:04:33 EDT

Pillpote32 - No matter what they say, remember that you have a blowtorch. See also http://www.nydailynews.com/news/col/barryd/
   Tim S. - Wednesday, 06/29/05 15:17:26 EDT

Phill; I clean out the forge pot and build a wood fire, as it coals down I start a slow air flow and add coal onto the burning charcoal/wood as I slowly "smother" the fire I turn up the air flow to get the nasty smoke. At the appropriater moment I poke a hole to the hot zone to get the smoke to light on fire and wait for it to coke up a bit before using.

I often have a "low grade" project I can work on while the fire is still burning to clean.

I spent many a wasted hour with the DuPont "Blaster's Handbook" in the engineering library in college---subtitled "Better Living through High Explosives" but my real introduction was reading "7 Pillars of Wisdom" T.E.Lawrence (of Arabia) that explained how to blow up bridges and derail trains in an efficient manner.

Actually building an atomic bomb is not that difficult; building a small efficient reliable one is very hard and getting the U235 or Plutonium is the hard part---ever seen Oak Ridge and realized how small the output was for all that fuss and bother?

Thomas---more interested in making things than destroying them nowdays
   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/29/05 16:03:17 EDT

Thanks to Dave Boyer. I took apart a ball bearing! Now we can sleep nights.
   Claudio - Wednesday, 06/29/05 17:00:28 EDT

As Brett, who has been there and seen first hand, bomb making is not as simple as many would believe. If you are out in the boonies and can light a fuse and run, not so hard. Want a reliable, fire at the right instant thing, harder.
Do any of you, with the obvious exception of Brett have any idea how big a volume 4.5 tons of high explosive is?
To take out the old, outdated, M-60 main battle tank, (with hard steel cast armour, aware that several hundred M-48's were made with soft mild steel hulls/turrets for training use only?), the Russians developed a anti-tank mine that was 100 kilos (no folks, no give away of opsec, look in "Jane's") And that was iffy unless directly under the vehicle. The antique anti-tank missle I worked on, could penetrate ANY tank that moved. Most battleships if they were close enough.
Trick was it took a crew in a 50 ton tank, and people to maintain the thing.

The biggest risk to the average vehicle crew is still the RPG. Cheap, made and sold by the millions. It is eyeball aimed, notorous for inaccuracy, but if enough are shot, something gets hit. Defeatable? Yes. A Ky National Guard Armoured Humvee took one in the windshield. Knocked the gunner out, but he had only minor shell splinter wounds.
So yes you can armour against some threats. Not all.
If I had to choose between no armour and armour, I know my choice.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/29/05 17:43:53 EDT

Web and dangerous info.
In the dark ages of the cold war, before anyone, even Al Gore had heard of the internet, I was in a school in Redstone Arsenal. Being taught how to troubleshoot and maintain an anti-tank missle system. Once fairly well into the training, at the base public library, I cracked the "Janes All the World's Armoured Fighting Vehicles".
Found to my delight that most everything that I had been counselled to hold confidential at risk of a long visit to Leavenworth was accurately listed. Published in Britian, one of our friends!
When the Russians wanted to find out the details of the new and so very secret Polaris Sub, they bought a Monogram Blueprint series model.It is very hard to control information in an open society. Which the guys that framed our original experiment in government thought good.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/29/05 17:51:47 EDT

ptree to calibrate the test instruments for the first atomic bomb test they set off a kiloton of TNT, the pictures of them stacking the cases of TNT up for the test was "interesting" and this was during the war when we had other uses for the stuff too...

Trinity site is just down the road a piece from here; theoretical physics made manifest.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/29/05 19:08:24 EDT

Terrorist Training Camp: When I was about 23, I was taught how to use Det Cord to cut trees and bridge structures, how to make a shape charge and a 55 Gal. drum of rocks into a giant shot gun, and other useful tricks. It was the Demolitions course for Army ROTC at the college I attended. Being a college that offered a Degree in Mining Engineering, the availability of explosives was evident to the many county residents who lost poles supporting various things to the inquisitive minds at Mines.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/29/05 19:47:44 EDT

Those inquisitive minds at the School of Mines wreaked quite a bit of havoc, according to my uncle. Of course these days they would run afoul of so many different acronymic agencies that graduation would be reserved for parole only. Life just ain't as simple as it used to be, in many ways.

These days, I spend a good deal of my working hours laboring over reams of anti-terrorist information, planning worst-case scenarios, envisioning every dire threat that I can and still sleeping at night. I guess I'm a fatalist or something, but it keeps food on the table for now at least. (grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/29/05 20:26:10 EDT

We had the short course as my duty station was about 50 Km from Fulda Gap, and the ARMY figured we would need to blow up anything left after the prelim arty fires and air strikes. Since we were a missle shop/repair depot, we had lots of things that required blowing up.

For those of you who have not graduated from the green suit school for wayward boys, note carefully that I said blow things up. The Germans had a teribble drought in 1976, and asked the ARMY demo boys to blow up a WWII bridge pylon remmanant that the low water levels in the Main river had exposed. The principal mistake was the Germans had in mind explosive demolition as seen on TV were the building implodes. The combat engineers know how to blow things UP. A small case of misunderstanding the requirements VS the abilities :)
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/29/05 20:49:38 EDT

Guru: I learned two things this weekend so amazing that I must share it with you and the smithing community at large. 1. YOU CAN'T TAP A 1/2 INCH HOLE WITH A 1/2 INCH TAP. 2. MOST SHOPS THAT ARE OPEN ON WEEKENDS DON'T SELL 5/8 INCH TAPS. Incredible no?
   John W. - Wednesday, 06/29/05 20:56:02 EDT

Thanks for the info guys!
   - andr arms - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:08:26 EDT

DIY Explosives: Cooking it yourself IS more than a little stupid. The folks that do it for a living at the various arsenals who should know how and have huge safety budgets DO get blown up at regular intervals. However, the details of how to do it ARE in books such as the Chemical Formulary and other references. But it is MUCH easier to just buy what you need.

Making nitric acid and sulphuric acid is not that tough. They were both made by the ancients long before the chemistry was understood and in significant quantities prior to the industrial revolution. The trick is to pick a process that works under primitive conditions. However, these are VERY nasty compounds and breathing their vapors IS lethal. . . Again, it is much easier and safer to buy what you need.

In my youth I did stupid things like VIcopper that would now get you permantly labled as a social misfit or locked up today. If an 11 year old with no budget can make gun powder, flash paper, fuses and electric detonators in his basement then imagine what someone with an education and finances can do.

What I hate is the photos of a "crime scene" with a pair of needle nose pliers, a pipe wrench and couple screw drivers and some wire labled "bomb making tools". . . We ALL have these tools and MANY more . . and I never used any of them to do what I did decades ago. When it comes to this kind of "dangerous" tools we blacksmiths are all far into the red alert zone.

The really dangerous information is created by our imaginations and stored in our minds.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:12:20 EDT

John, You tap a 7/16" hole with a 1/2" tap (59% thread). And I am not amazed that you could not buy that size tap. I've tried to buy 1/2" Jacobs arbors and 3/4" drill bits on weekdays in a major industrial city with no luck. However, the problem with the 3/4" bits was that some construction company was using them up by the dozen and had sent guys out to buy every one they could in a 100 mile radius. . . IT happens. But anything over 1/2" IS hard to find from anything other than an industrial supplier.

Common hardware stores and the quality of the tools they carry do not count in my world. I'd hand forge a carbon steel bit and hand grind it before wasting money on what is sold to the general public. Industrial suppliers are the ONLY way to go. AND if you are a regular customer you always have a salesman's number to call on weekends. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:20:22 EDT

Sorry guru, I left out the smiley face. I was really commenting on my stupidity in not thinking ahead. I felt really dumb when I realized what I had done.
   John W. - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:26:59 EDT

Ladies & gents; As an ex employee of "Uncle", I can't think of a faster way to get the "Powers" to start the paperwork needed to down this great board, than to continue with this string. And yes, they can, and will do it.
   - phillpote32 - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:30:28 EDT

On the iForge site about Pawpaw's memorial was a powder horn with the Gunn clan badge. That is my wife's family too. Can you direct me to the owner. My kids have it tattooed on their little hairy bods.
   John W. - Wednesday, 06/29/05 21:37:12 EDT

John W,

If that should ever happen again, which I seriously doubt, (but it might to others), you might try checking at your local auto repair supply. You won't find a 5/8" tap, but you might find a Helicoil™ kit for a 1/2" thread. They require drilling an oversize hole for a larger threaded insert to replace the 1/2" threads, and the kit includes the drill bit and the tap, in most cases. It would be one way out of the woods, at least.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/29/05 22:21:04 EDT

Hi there! I have an old cold cut hardie that has some information stamped into it. None of my other hardies have marks like these, so I'm very curious what they mean and if it identifies the manufacturer. It looks like this:
5 7 B (or maybe it's a "3". Then below the numbers and to the right is what looks like the greek symbol "pi." I've always gotten GREAT information from you guys... I'm hoping that you'll know something about these markings as well. Thanks! - lauren
   lauren - Thursday, 06/30/05 00:26:50 EDT

Guru: I have been wondering about the posibility of small scale hot galvanizing for a while now. How quickly will a steel pot get disolved, and would the steel contaminate the zink to a point where there would be a problem? Do You think old boat zinks would be a usable alloy? Does zink give off toxic fumes at 1100f ? I know nobody woried about fumes in the '70's at the die casting plant.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/30/05 01:57:39 EDT

Gunn clan badge
See AlanL that posts here as he did the engraving.
   - Conner - Thursday, 06/30/05 02:31:58 EDT

Leaf springs:

Are leaf springs usually galvanized? I was working on some leaf spring pieces today, burning the paint off of some in the gasser before working them. I noticed that the paint would burn off (yellow rich dragon's breath), and thought it normal, but then I noticed smoke coming off of the dragon's breath and thought "Uh-oh!" Pulled the piece out and it did indeed appear to have that yellowish burnt zinc on it. The last springs I used did not appear to have this... I could be wrong. Comments?

Also, can anyone give me some REAL information as to the respiratory dangers of A) Plasma cutting and B) Stick welding? This is a serious concern for me at this point, as I'd like to keep this pair of lungs in good condition. Thanks!

Warm and wet in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 06/30/05 05:18:50 EDT

T. Gold, Not car or truck springs; Some boat trailer springs are galvanized for protection against salt water. Galvanized stuff doesn't forge weld very good anyway; trash them.
   Ron Childers - Thursday, 06/30/05 07:33:48 EDT

John W, Conner, and the Clan Gunn badge: Sorry, I only did the rifle and pistol. Jim told me once who did the horn for him, but I don't remember. Sheri may know.

So John, are you a Wilson too? Not that the "W" gave me a hint or anything...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/30/05 08:03:53 EDT

John W.:Take a look at http://www.gunnclan.net/edition7.html
   3dogs - Thursday, 06/30/05 09:32:03 EDT

Vicopper as a fine upstanding citizen I would like to do my part and do hereby offer you my east yard as an evacuation point for anvils and other smithing equipment if the VI's ever suffer a terrorist attack!

The NM school of mines had a rich tradition of school hijinks that finally got so out of hand that they moved spring break to cover St Patrick's day. It was/is in an isolated location; something between a 10:1 and a 4:1 M:F ratio depending on the year and is a heavy engineering-tech school (what do you call a techie that takes 5 years to graduate---a speed freak!) but you got to love a place that offers armourmaking for credit as a fine arts class.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/30/05 11:04:36 EDT

T.Gold, Plasma cutting as is OA torch cutting is a very clean process. The only danger is the metal you cut. Clean steel is not a problem. Most stainless is not problematic. Aluminium alloys often contain zinc and copper. These are fumes you want to avoid.

Arc welding is relatively safe. However, the rods DO contain celulose to create the sheilding smoke. ALL smoke is bad for your lungs. They also contain alloying powders and fluxes like calcium floride (flourite) which can produce an anesthitic (sp) gas in humid conditions. Alloy steels often contain manganese which has been related to welder health problems (see article on our safety page).

When arc welding simple ventilation is your best, cheapest and most convienient defense. If you are going to be really anal about it you setup a portable drum type fan with a fire proof fiber glass reinforced silcon rubber hose. These come in large diamters (8 and 10 inch) and have a steel coil in them like a clothes drier hose. They are normally a bright safety yellow and black. It is not cheap hose but it IS the standard and will not catch fire. This rig is setup with the hose near the welding and the exhust of the fan outside your work area. These ventilation systems are required by OSHA in many cases and are available commercialy. They ARE rather pricey and you can do much better with a little scrounging. The exception is the hose. There is no cheap substitute. It is available from welding suppliers and industrial suppliers like McMaster Carr.

The alternative to good ventilation is good well fitting filter masks. In the case of gases and fumes these often have to be the limited life activated charcoal type. They must be replaced often. Masks are a pain, often are improperly worn and require constant maintenance. Ventilation is initialy more expensive but is cheaper and more effective over the long run.

Spot ventilation is very handy but general shop ventilation is more effective and you don't have to think about it. The general ventilation also covers other operations such as forges, heat treating, foundry work. . . Both general and spot ventiation is the best if you can afford it.

ME? I have mostly worked in outdoor or open air shops and shops with huge garage doors left open. This is not perfect but you get lots of fresh air. Closed spaces with static air are very problematic in our business.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/30/05 11:29:10 EDT

Alan: Sorry but I am a Washington. Married a part highlander from NZ. Her people are Gunns and McPhersons.
   John W - Thursday, 06/30/05 12:05:32 EDT

Hardy Marks: Lauren, not a clue. The only marks I am familiar with in a brand is the Athol Horseshoe with an A in it. Others may recognize yours.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/30/05 12:41:32 EDT

Galvanizing: A steel pot made from schedule 40 pipe will be penetrated in a few hours of holding liquid zinc. Been there. Its no fun being pissed on with liquid metal. Stainless hold up well as do standard crucible materials (graphite, silicon carbide).

Steel pots must be lined with a ceramic. ITC recommends the following:

Clean (degrease) and roughen surface with a saw blade.
Apply ITC-213 as a primer and let dry.
Apply ITC-100 as a base coat (dry and recoat)
Apply ITC-296A as a top coat.

Let dry then heat slowly and only as hot a necessary. Recoat as necessary. Coating the outside will also reduce oxidation of the steel surface.

The ITC ceramic coating prevents disolving the iron and also the tinning of the surface so that dross does not stick to the surface of the crucible.

In small operations you can buy crucibles cheaper than the ITC products (which are also used to protect crucibles).

Contamination of zinc with iron is a problem in high strength alloys but a small amount does not hurt galvanizing. Large amounts COULD.

Boat zincs are usualy 100% zinc or zinc scrap and should do for galvanizing.

At 1100 F the zinc does not fume. However exposure to high temperature gas flames while melting will cause some flare (burning zinc). Normally if the furnace is vented then it is not a problem. Flaring stops as soon as the metal is removed from the furnace unless grossly overheated. We used a dip pyrometer to check our casting alloy.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/30/05 12:41:58 EDT

John W, Yep, I knew you were laughing at yourself. But it IS a serious problem. I have driven hundreds of miles when in need of a common tool TODAY, NOW. This is a growing problem. We are rapidly losing our industrial might. Empty wharehouses and lack of supplies has been the first clear indicator and it has been progressing for over 20 years.

In one of President Bush's recent speaches he finally admited that there MIGHT be a finite amount of oil and that we need to look at other energy resources. . No kidding! Apparently the government oil availability predictions were based on Saudi statements that they would NEVER run out of oil. . . . (they claimed to have an infinite supply). To have accepted such an illogical statement as fact is foolish and blatently stupid. And that sums up our trade and energy policy.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/30/05 12:56:52 EDT

Thanks, Jock. I appreciate it. I'll look into setting up a blower for the welding fumes.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 06/30/05 13:44:23 EDT

Your friendly neighborhood welding boutique can and by law must provide material safety data sheets on all the rods and gases they sell. Read them. To me, 6011 is always the one to look out for. A day spent sniffing the heady aroma of 6011 (and this is oudoors) means at least the next day of feeling yuggggh. Funny part is, I like the smell.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/30/05 13:49:40 EDT

Ah . . the smell of ozone and burning metal in the morning. . . ;)
   - guru - Thursday, 06/30/05 14:52:50 EDT

I just purchased my first anvil, a Peter Wright, it is rusted and partially painted. What would be a good process to clean it up and take out some small dents in the face? is there something to put on it after cleaning, or just keep it dry? Thanks
   Rob - Thursday, 06/30/05 15:09:12 EDT

Wire brush and sand the paint off. To remove the rust use krud kutter rust remover which you can get at wal-mart. You can put WD-40 on it after cleaning or paint it. Regular use will keep rust off the face.
   - Tyler - Thursday, 06/30/05 15:43:31 EDT

Where can you buy a Kohlswa forging anvil in the U.S.? Is Kohlswa pronounced like cole slaw?
   Tyler - Thursday, 06/30/05 17:00:50 EDT

re: weld fume. Arc welding produces a witches brew of aerosol particules that is known as weld fume. The correct usage for the word fume is for a solid that was vaporized, cooled and formed aersol sized particules. When you have a solvent evaporate, you have vapor, not fume.
As the guru mentioned, Manganese is a concern. But with the increasing use a mini-mill steel, more and more chrome, nickel, and other heavy metals are in steel in trace amounts. Alloy steel such as the common to blacksmith shops axle steel, is normally made with Chrome, nickel, lots of manganese, and sometimes boron. None good to breath. Also the stuff we weld through is often worse. Paint pigments, plating, antisieze etc.
Local exhaust as the Guru suggests is a very good basic protection for any shop. I also wear a nifty low profile half face respirator from A.O. Safety called the "Quicklatch" with the pancake P-100 dust fume, and radionuclides filters. I wear this to wirewheel brush rust etc, and to weld. Even though my shop is well ventilated, I find less congestion and ugly dark stuff in my nose after a day of fun when I wear the respirator. Like it so much I have bought three of the things! One for the weld fume, one with organic vapor cartridges for painting, and one as a gift for my 15 year old who is starting to weld.
I think that the respirator in the cheaper plastic face model is less than $30 from Hagemeyer, and the filters are a couple of dollars a pair in a box of ten.
"Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injuried, or in jail" Uncle Atli's very thin book of wisdom.
   ptree - Thursday, 06/30/05 17:14:11 EDT

Tyler: To my knowledge Kohlswa's are no longer being imported to the U.S. Thus, the used anvil market (such as eBay or blacksmithing conferences, may be your only options.

You can try the forum advertisers though.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/30/05 18:39:58 EDT

I got home this evening to find a large envelope addressed to me from a certain Bill Epps. Curious, I tore it open to find an autographed copy of Bills new book "Angle Iron Projects". It is a spiral bound book with very detailed photos of how to make an angel, a butterfly, a dove, an eagle, and a winged dragon. Thanks, Bill! The book is wonderful and the autograph makes it very special!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/30/05 18:55:06 EDT

Waita Waita Waita!! I thought we were fully cognizant of when our (meaning the earth's) fossil fuels would run out. Thus, I thought the Saudis weren't exactly able to surprise us with their
   - Brett - Thursday, 06/30/05 19:36:14 EDT

Waita Waita Waita!! I thought we were fully cognizant of when our (meaning the earth's) fossil fuels would run out. Thus, I thought the Saudis weren't exactly able to surprise us with their
   - Brett - Thursday, 06/30/05 19:36:55 EDT

Waita Waita Waita!! I thought we were fully cognizant of when our (meaning the earth's) fossil fuels would run out. Thus, I thought the Saudis weren't exactly able to surprise us with their "Oh, did u think 400 years? No no we meant 40 years!" type stuff. And that was why all the oil wells that had been dormant in TX for the past 20 years were turning on again. R u telling me it is time to buy a Hybrid? ;)
   - Brett - Thursday, 06/30/05 19:37:05 EDT

Umm.. I'm not gonna even pretend to act like I know whar happened up above. HAPPY 4th!!!!
   brett - Thursday, 06/30/05 19:38:43 EDT

This may sound silly, I am unable to lite my forge. I use charcoal soaked in kero to start then add coke, turn on the blower fan than the fire goes out. What am I doing wrong ?
Mal Morris.
   Malcolm - Thursday, 06/30/05 19:55:38 EDT

Anyone here remember the Oil Shale project in Northern Colorado? In the late 70's to early 80's a consortium of oil companies discovered that there is a lot of oil trapped in the shales of the Rocky Mountains. How much? Several orders of magnitude more than is in the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Are you willing to pay $3-$4 per gallon? It is all just sitting there but getting it out won't be cheap. However, someday, when the Saudi Oil fields are all capped and abandoned, we will be mining our oil and selling it to the rest of the world. Except Saudi Arabia. :)
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/30/05 20:06:21 EDT

I have purchased a Peter Wright anvil,from a neighbor for 12 dollars. The markings say 0 3 13.
Around the middle "3" I think it says "OSWROUT?H"
If you can give me any details on this anvil I would appreciate it.It weighs about 95lbs on my old shop scales,I'm not sure how accurate they are.
Thanks Kevin Hopkins
   Kevin Hopkins - Thursday, 06/30/05 20:59:32 EDT


Combustion requires three things to happen or be sustained. They are: sufficient heat; sufficient oxygen; adequate fuel. Since you have charcoal that you ignite with an accelerant and you have coke, you certainly have fuel. If you're using more than a dozen briquettes, it should be plenty. With a blower, you certainly have adequate oxygen. What you are probably lacking is adequate heat. Confused? Read on.

When you light the fire with the kero and get the charcoal burning well, you have adequate heat. But when you turn on the blower, you may be literally blowing all the heat right out of the firepot. Just like blowing out a match. After you add the coke to the fire, wait a few minutes and then bring up the blower *gently* and gradually. If you only have a one-speed blower, you will need to make an air gate for the input side of the blower to throttle it back so you can get that gentle blast.

So, let the charcoal get burning well just like you were going to grill a steak, then add the coke, wait a couple minutes, then add the air a bit at a time so you don't blow the heaet away and kill the fire. Coke takes a bit more work and heat to get started than green coal, but you won't have to deal with the yellow smoke and stink.

Someone else may have another easier method, too. On the rare occasion when I get some coal or coke, I just use my O/A torch to start it; I'm both lazy and impatient.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/30/05 21:19:36 EDT


The lettering around the middle "3" should read "Solid Wrought". Peter Wright anvils were made in England, using wrought iron for the body with a tool steel plate forge-welded to the face. The numbers 0*3*13 are the weight in the English hundredweight system. The first number is the hundredweights, in this case, "0", the middle number is the quarter-hundredweights (28#), in this case 84#, and the last number is the individual pounds, "13." So, the total weight as manufactured should be 97 pounds. Your scale is probably as accurate as Peter Wright's was. (grin)

That should be a very good anvil if it hasn't been abused, and getting it for less than 10 CENTS a pound is a terrific deal. The going rate is somewhere between two and three dollars a pound.
   vicopper - Thursday, 06/30/05 21:28:15 EDT

Guru-- you done got it, man! Bullseye! Ozone! Makes me homesick! Reminds me of nothing so much as the old Red Rocket trolley car racketing across the timber bridge to Old Bay Shore amusement park down near Bethlehem's Sparrows Point shipyard/steel mill. The crackly sparks from the trolley gave off that ozone smell. (The raw sewage those parsimonius souls at Bethlehem ran through the mills as coolant gave off polio.)
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/30/05 23:36:46 EDT

MILES; Now you've done it! You've let the secret of Eau de Electrode out! And here I thought I was the only one who got off on the smell of 6011. Now the stuff is gonna get scarce and the price is gonna go up. The next thing you know, we'll be buying it on dark street corners under names like "Hobart Gray" and "Phast Phreeze". We'll be reduced to scrounging for stubs under the bench, and pulverizing the flux to be heated in a spoon over a candle. Ah, well, I should have known it was too good to last. Maybe Lincoln will open a string of rehab centers in industrial areas, where we can undergo a 12 step program involving mig and tig.(Hey, man, I know where we can score some helium).
   3dogs - Friday, 07/01/05 07:38:08 EDT

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