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 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

V-chisels: You might try folding it over on itself (legth wise), hammering a slight bevel on the edge that ends up being the bottom of the V and then unfolding it. Starting with the center thicker might help keep the center from getting thinner than edge oposite the fold. Tool steel will crack like crazy if you let it get too cold. "the complete modern blacksmith" By Alexander Weygers devotes many pages specificaly to chisel making.
   Leaf - Thursday, 06/08/06 01:50:47 EDT

Jock; please see my posting on a new treatment for manganese toxicity on the hammer-in.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/08/06 13:55:47 EDT

Camp Fenby; Friday through Sunday, June 23 to 25, 2006

Camp Fenby is our somewhat laid-back medieval arts and crafts camp held at Oakley Farm in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Civilian clothes are perfectly acceptable (so you don’t have to dress funny unless you’re really into it ;-), and there’s usually a lot of stuff to learn, teach or do.

This year, due to fitting out the new ship, we will be concentrating on projects related to the Sæ Hrafn, as well as some related projects from last autumn, and having a pleasant weekend.

Camp Fenby has a Yahoo Groups webpage at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/ We usually post the latest and best information there, as well as directions to Oakley. There is a nominal site fee to cover the cost of the porta-potty, with all surplus funds going to support the Longship Company. Camping on the farm is available, and there are a number of motels in the area.

Metalworking Projects for the Longship Company:

Brass Casting (...so we can have a proper clapper for the ships bell.)
We’ll use the molds from last autumn. (They should be dry by now!)

Anchor: I would like to take some of the 1" X 1" wrought iron fence stock and
forge a nice "lunch hook" size anchor for the Sæ Hrafn, similar to the
one we made for the Blackbird last year. As a bonus, we could also do
the wooden stock.

Boat Hook: Once again we can forge the head, and carve down a broken
oar (the one we snapped the blade off of against the daymark) for the

Other Metalwork:

Horse tack with Drey (who can only make it Friday) and some steel saddle bows for Leonard.

Help Atli finish the sleighs (...if he hasn't gotten them done by then- this project needs to go away, but it take more than one person, and help is hard to come by. Help; it's ruining my life! 8-0 )

Beginning blacksmithing (if we have any beginners).

Hinges for early medieval chests. (Ragallach's are ready for fitting from last autumn.)


Mast Step: We've selected a good piece of windfall cherry, we need to
fall upon it with chainsaws and adzes and whatever to form it into a
proper mast step for the Sæ Hrafn. (There's a design flaw on the
current mast step).

Rigging blocks- we need at least 1" stock for 4 pairs of maiden blocks
for the ship.

Chests and caskets.

The lathe is available if someone wants to instruct.

Fiber Arts:

Spinning, weaving, nålbinding, tablet weaving, etc.


The customary Saturday night crab & shrimp fest! Ribald songs included.

Other projects and classes as time, talent, and instructors allow.

If you need further information, please contact me at asylumATearthlinkDOTnet, or, from Monday to Thursday night, at bruce_blackistoneATnpsDOTgov since I will be in Philadelphia at a Departmental conference that week. (And it will give me something to look at in the evenings. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/08/06 14:35:34 EDT

I have just purchased an Anvil. Marked on it is "Fischer" and "1936". It is about 200 lbs. and in ecellent shape. Do you know anything about this name/company.
   Lucas Patsch - Thursday, 06/08/06 14:59:13 EDT

Lucas, may I commend to your attention the fac on Fisher-Norris anvils found under the FAQS link in the "navigate anvilfire" menu at the upper right of this page.

It was made in 1936 so it's pretty young as anvils go (I picked up an 1828 William Foster in bad shape for $5 before)

It has a tool steel face and a cast iron body so it's quiet in use and if in good condition makes an excellent smithing anvil!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/08/06 15:24:07 EDT

Lucas - In addition to what Thomas said, Fisher was the first company to make anvils in quanity in the US and their anvils were available new into the 1970s. (At least I got a price list for 'em in the '70s)
   John Lowther - Thursday, 06/08/06 15:52:58 EDT

Hey, TGN: If you're still looking for a way to heat up your miniforge, may I suggest the following:


It's the neatest little setup I've seen for a fully adjustable atmosphere in a beancan-sized forge.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/08/06 16:13:07 EDT

I am the owner of my granddad's old forge, tools, etc. Patented 1888. I want to try my hand at pounding iron like he showed me 50 years ago. I remember almost nothing. I have some good quality coke that I believe is a good medium for the fire. What is the best way to get the fire started. My granddad used a coaloil soaked rag if I remember correctly. This was way before starter fluids, etc. Any advice greatly appreciated.
   Brummbaer - Thursday, 06/08/06 17:49:19 EDT

Von Schwartzwald by any chance?

Coke is probably the hardest fuel to light. Most of the folks I know that use industrial coke rather than coal use an O-A torch.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/08/06 18:26:32 EDT

Fire Starting: Brummbaer, There are several methods.

1) Use a torch on some fresh coal, push in some coke (half burned coal), increase air, add coke and coal. This works with coke and coal.

2) Use wood kindling and a little kerosene or deisel fuel. Use a gentle blast of air then increase as the coal catches. The air is right when the fire is making the loudest roar.

3) On good goal just paper and a little kindling OR just the paper will start the coal. Put about 2 to 3 sheets of newsprint balled up right on the tuyeer. Light at the bottom when placing. Apply very gentle air as fresh coal is piled around the paper. Leave a small vent when pushing the coal over the paper. As the coal starts there will be yellow smoke. Add a little more air. Too much air will cool and blow out the fire. Note that this method only works with GOOD coal.

It helps when the forge is clean. When the forge has old clinker and old coal ash it is difficult to get the coal started. Different grades of coal require more or less help getting started. After some practice you will know what your coal requires.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/08/06 18:31:28 EDT

COKE: Note that coke requires a constant air blast (electric blower). It is nearly impossible to use a hand powered forge with coke. Once you get a piece hot and go to work it, the fire will go out and require restarting.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/08/06 18:34:46 EDT

Brummbaer-- Man I knew back in Alexandria, Va. accidentally killed himself trying to light his BBQ with starter fluid. Unbeknownst to him, some of the briquets had ignited. When he squirted some more starter fluid onto them, WHOOF! The flame shot up the stream, blew up the can-- and the burning fluid flashed all over him.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/08/06 19:52:05 EDT

Thanks for all the advice. The coke that I have is industrial grade from a local foundry. Sounds like I need to find a source of coal as well. I will forego the accelerants. Thanks for all the advice. By the way, reference the first response, the forge is US made. It is currently 4 AM and dark outside. I will look and see where it was made later in the AM.

   Brummbaer - Friday, 06/09/06 05:26:50 EDT

Foundry coke is a real pain to use. First, it is too large and needs to be broken down to about 1/2" to 3/4" lumps. Then as mentioned it MUST have a continous supply of air. It is also much denser than "natural" coke from the blacksmiths forge. This is because it is compressed in the process of making it. It also has NO volitilea at all which natural coke has some making it easier to keep burning. So just mixing come coal with the foundry coke does not cure all the problems of using it.

If you have a bellows or hand crank blower you need to use good blacksmiths coal (high grade bituminous coal) or charcoal (real wood lump charcoal).
   - guru - Friday, 06/09/06 06:43:36 EDT

Alan, thanks for the link. WOW! That guy surely has an excellent shop. Not only am I jealous (the guy has almost every tool), but his shop is so CLEAN!

I don't know if I want to fool around with a blown burner design like that yet.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/09/06 07:52:50 EDT

Alan, that's an interesting page. I might make something like that to heat treat in. On a larger scale of course. I liked it very much, and even thought I was not the one who asked for it, Thank You!

   - Rob - Friday, 06/09/06 10:53:05 EDT

Ahhh boy scouts was where I got my pyro "fix" during my teenage years use of forbidden accelerants was the *norm*...

while industrial coke is a difficult fuel to learn on it will do a bang up job for large industrial work. Coke firepots are usually *much* heavier than coal firepots because of the intense heat it generates.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/09/06 10:58:58 EDT

I have limited knowledge of metals but this site looks great.
My company etches .062 aluminum sheet on one side. because of the material removed from one side the sheet bows and rolls. I was wondering what would happen if i clamed the sheet and heating it, annealing??? I am not sure what temperature but have read 650-1000F??
So you think this will help flaten the peice?
Thanks for you time

i have some more information on my aluminum. it is T3 2024 .032". we tried some rolling but the process damaged the detail on the bored. Now i am looking for the temperature to do the stress relieving and wondering if i should do it before or after etching. I am going to look at ams 2770 and mil-h-6088 later today. I wondered if anyone had recomendations for temp and time, or pre or post etch. Thanks again
   mjh368 - Friday, 06/09/06 11:25:56 EDT

If anyone is interested the forge that I have been refering to is molded with the inscriptions David Cummings, Chicago, USA on the left side and Cummings Forge No. 1, patented 24 July 1888 on the right side. There are other smaller numerical markings in various points. I am not interested particularly in whether it has any intrinsic value as it is a family heirloom and a keeper. I only hope that I can pass along some small knowledge to my son before I am too old to swing a hammer. Must learn fast, time waits for no man.

   Brummbaer - Friday, 06/09/06 11:45:44 EDT

Currently Wal*Mart is selling "wood charcoal" to facilitate our Mexican friends style of barbecue cooking. Would this stuff work or is it too soft?

   Brummbaer - Friday, 06/09/06 11:47:40 EDT

Take a look at eBay #6287625345. Appears to be a natural gas fired firepot of some sort. I assume it would have been filled with some type of refractory rock, otherwise it would have just had the bare flame.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/09/06 12:21:42 EDT


I found a colonial style anvil I'm concidering buying to actualy use as a worker.

I'm not sure on the age but it seems to be in very useable condition. (It's 130 pounds)

From a a practical aspect, how usable are these with their wide face and lack of a pritchel hole?

My current anvil is 80 pounds and I want the next anvil I buy to be one that I wont have to worry about replaces for quite some time.

Thanks for your help!
   BluSpecs - Friday, 06/09/06 12:41:09 EDT

Lack of a pritchel hole pre dates the anvil to the mid 1800's if I am correct. I have a 108 pound anvil with no pritchel and I do just fine with the hardie. A hardie tool with a round hole in it will suffice for most pritchel needs.

If I'm wrong about this stuff, Guru can smack me around a bit.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/09/06 13:15:36 EDT

Brummbaer, any *real* wood charcoal will work for forging---the japanese did all their sword forging with softwood charcoal. Charcoal usues much less air electric blowers are usually too much for a charcoal forge and they excell with hand crank, bellows or other slow more intermittant air system.

Charcoal has about the same BTU's per pound as coal *but* a pound takes up a lot more space! Using charcoal in a coal forge is often facilitated by adding a couple of firebricks to make the firepot narrower and deeper. Charcoal was *THE* smithing fuel for the first thousand years of the iron age, coal not being introduced till the high to late middle ages and even then charcoal remained a popular fuel through today!

BluSpecs Most of the world forges on anvils without pritchel holes. A wide face is generally considered better than a narrow face. My main shop anvil does not have a pritchel but at 500# is plenty wide (see Fisher-Norris link from the anvilfire anvil faq for a picture on it's twin)

If you really feel the need of a pritchel why not make a tool to fit the hardy with a round hole in it? In fact why not make a holder to hold a bunch of different sized holes so you will have the "right" sized one for your work?

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/09/06 13:23:46 EDT

I have a friend that has some coal that he is looking to get unload and I wanted to get some advise before I take it to use for blacksmithing. He says its in small pieces the largest being about 1/2 inch. It is really soft, almost like charcoal and he thinks it's bituminous. I guess it's hard to tell the quality until I burn it but I would welcome any advise.


   Dan - Friday, 06/09/06 13:31:21 EDT

Thanks for the responces. This is a great place to find answers

On a related note, I'm currently working out of the front of my garage around my car and various other stuff I don't want to damage and it's just too little space.

I concidering converting a shed (6x8) on our property to a shop.

Storage is not a problem, its the actual workspace.

Is there such a thing as an ideal amoutn of space?

   BluSpecs - Friday, 06/09/06 14:27:49 EDT

Dan, without using it it will be hard to know.

give it a try. good luck sounds good from here.

   Ralph - Friday, 06/09/06 14:46:16 EDT

Dan: I'm a chemist and we analyze hundreds (sometimes thousands) of coal samples eaxh year> the one thing I have learned I syou can't tell much about coal by looking. Sure if you can see rocks in it it will be high ash, but you have to see how it burns in the forge!
   - John Odom - Friday, 06/09/06 15:01:01 EDT

I was wondering, i dropped a file a while ago, and it shattered, i have about 10 more of the same files from the set, i bought them cheap from my school, and was going to make knives out of them, will they break when i try to forge them>?

can someone tell me how i can make knives with them?
and, does it look cool if you only polish the edge part, and leave the spine and half the blade file like, for the design?
   Cameron - Friday, 06/09/06 15:22:38 EDT

Cameron, they wont shatter if you forge them. The file shattered when you dropped it because it was tempered at a low temperature. I have personally tried leaving the design on the file knives, and I loved the outcome. What exactly do you mean "how to make knives out of them"? Basically, just forge out the proper blade shape and tang, and go from there.

   - Rob - Friday, 06/09/06 18:02:36 EDT

are there any tricks to forging brass?
   - stephen - Friday, 06/09/06 18:26:41 EDT

I'm exclusively a coke burner and need to add one thing to the line of thought above. If you don't have an Oxy/Acet torch (I use a propane/oxy mix with the appropriate tip on my cutting torch, acetelyne is too expensive to waste that way), then try soaking charcoal briquet quarters in gasoline, surround them with some small size kindling and bank with coke. Add coke on the top of the fire as I gets going. IMPORTANT...when you light the briquets make sure your fan is already on, or you'll get blowback and a good sized bang in the pipe leading to your fan below your tuyere.
   Thumper - Friday, 06/09/06 18:50:03 EDT

Okay, so next question. The forge has an iron ring to contain the coal/coke/charcoal. I think that it is cast iron. Should I bed it in sand before building the fire inside the ring?

   Brummbaer - Friday, 06/09/06 19:34:49 EDT

stephen---yes FIRST make sure it is a brass alloy that will forge---most of them won't!

Secondly heat until you can barely see a glow in a *dark* room.


Good luck.

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/09/06 19:53:26 EDT

no clue what kind of alloy it is was a 85 cent bar from lee valley so i will experiment how do you weld brass or can you (in a forge) thanks
   - stephen - Friday, 06/09/06 20:51:41 EDT

stephen-- make SURE you have lots of ventilation when heating brass!!
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 06/09/06 20:57:12 EDT

thanks milles i'll be working outside
   - stephen - Friday, 06/09/06 21:11:57 EDT

Forging Brass: See my iForge demo on brass candle sticks. The only trick is not melting it. Most forges are much too hot. I used a torch on a fire brick that was preheated so the brass would heat from both sides. If a flat piece becomes semi-molten just wait until it solidifies before moving it. Also not that no matter how long a pice of brass is you need tongs.
   - guru - Friday, 06/09/06 22:13:01 EDT

My husband is starting blacksmithing as a hobby. ( I think he should learn the computer, so I don't have to be his secretary) ;)
We live in MN and there are very few resources here. Can you send him any info - he is looking for a good beginning book.
Thank you so much. M
   Mary - Saturday, 06/10/06 08:35:36 EDT

You should take a look at the "Getting Started in Blacksmithing" FAQ on this site. It lists a number of resources that may be useful to you. As for books, "new Edge of the Anvil" by Jack Andrews is a great book. I have also found that "A Blacksmithing Primer" by Randy McDaniel to be a good book. Another good one is "The Art of Blacksmithing" by Alex Bealer. You should be able to get any of these through Amazon.com or you might even find them at your local library.
   Steven Galonska - Saturday, 06/10/06 09:15:55 EDT

Mary, I would also have to add to Steven's post. I got started without any books. Just a lot of research online, and filtering through the bad information. It's free this way,and if he is determined enough he can do it through the internet as I did. The bad side is that it took me about 8-10 months to get all the information I needed out of it.

   - Rob - Saturday, 06/10/06 10:54:46 EDT

I am trying to punch through an old car axel (suspected car axel that is) that is about 1 5/16" diameter and 18 inches long. I want to punch through it length-wise so make a 2" long turnip shaped pommel. I managed to heat it in my forge, but I have only gotten about 5/8" in. Should I make it in pieces instead, cut the axel down to length before punching to allow for expansion, etc.? Thanks in advance!

   - Rob - Saturday, 06/10/06 10:58:07 EDT

Rob, For most tasks keeping the piece on the bar is best but not for punching axialy. Cut it off.

When punching medium to high carbon steel you only have a few moments to work on small pieces. So you work hot, hit a couple blows on the punch, cool the punch, heat the steel and go again. Punch lubricant and cooler helps a LOT.

You can dip the punch in grease between heats. This is a common method but not the best.

If you use coal and have a good grade the dust works well by sprinkling it into the started hole then punching. The coal dust has just enough volitiles to gas off and cool the punch and the carbon acts as a lubricant. This is a very traditional method that works fairly well. Another is to use beeswax but I don't think it works as good as grease.

Then there are modern punch lubes. The folks at BigBLU Hammers sell what they call "Puncheize". You dip the punch in it and let it dry on the punch. The lube is a mix of graphite and molybdenum disulphide. PTree also has some industrial product that he redistributes. Not sure what is in it. Either is a good product and makes punching a lot easier.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/10/06 11:14:45 EDT

The punch and forge lube I advocate (but do not redistribute) is a Henkel Surface Technologies product. Sold in industry by the tank car and bulk tote. It is an alkanline salt in a polymer base that leaves a dry, solid film on the tool. Only works when applied to a tool hot enough to flash off the water. It is available through an industrial distributor here in Louisville that has agreed to repackage for our trade in single gallons and 5 gallon pails. If interested, email me for the contact. Tell them you saw it on Anvilfire as I am trying to get them to advertise.
   - ptree - Saturday, 06/10/06 17:50:32 EDT

Ptree, what is the price range? I'm short on money at the moment, due to a trip to mexico I hope to go on in July which costs $475, but if it's not too much I'll gladly buy some. Thank you again!

   - Rob - Saturday, 06/10/06 18:19:09 EDT

How much is a gallon and what is the contact point?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 06/10/06 18:35:57 EDT

Mary: If You show Your husband this site[in it's entirety] and I forge iron.com He may decide it is time to start using the computer Himself. There is a wealth of information on these 2 sites, how to's and plans, tips, etc.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 06/10/06 22:11:40 EDT

Punch Coolant?

We have a small farm, and one year we rendered out a lot of beef fat to obtain high-quality tallow (from the fat around the kidneys, if anyone is curious - I had to ask, too). It is solid at room temperature, though somewhat the consistency of shoe polish. Would it be a useful punch coolant, or perhaps a quenching agent?

(I discovered that there's another TimS around, so I'll defer to him on the "true" name, and revert to my nickname I use elsewhere)

   Paymeister (AKA TimS the Newbie) - Saturday, 06/10/06 22:19:24 EDT

Does anyone have any good material on hand forged chain making?
I have seen a couple of methods for doing this somewhere but I cannot find them anymore.
can someone help please? I am looking more for the type of chain that is riveted rather than just the heat, forge weld type of chain making.


   Ed Green - Saturday, 06/10/06 22:48:55 EDT

Browsed the site and found the FAQ which led to still further research. Many questions answered. Probably a lot more answers out there that have been asked for time and again. I discovered that there is a blacksmithing group only 110 miles from where I live, so will be attending their July meeting. Thanks for the politness to allow me to ask the obvious.

   Brummbaer - Saturday, 06/10/06 22:50:53 EDT

Ed, See our book review page way down at the bottom. This is THE chain book. However, it is all forge welded. The books will be available again from Richard Postman in September.

The only riveted chain that I know of is old chain mail links. These have flattened ends and very small brads. AND there are modern repair links that have have rivets formed as part of the die forging. These are the only riveted chains that I know of. In general this is a very weak link and not used very much.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/10/06 23:14:33 EDT


Yes and yes. The tallow is pretty good for a punch coolant, while the punch is in use. Horseshoe forging contestants have been known to use something similar on their pritchels as they work, usually beeswax or paraffin.

One of my mentors, Victor Vera, said that in Old Mexico, he used beef tallow (sebo) as a lubricant when using his taps and dies.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/10/06 23:29:33 EDT

For beginners looking for their first anvil as I did, let me tell you what I did. A lot of farm tractors have huge slabs of steel bolted to the front end to act as a counterweight. I got one of these. It is nothing professional, but will allow you to forge and weld until you can do better. Hope this info is useful.
   Mike Thompson - Sunday, 06/11/06 01:26:08 EDT

Dear Guru,
I read your article on Gen X swordmaking and I found it very educational and I like your sense of humor. I am 23 years old, a US Army veteran and I have always respected the Japanese katana.
For acouple of years now I have purchased a few swords and done some research on metallurgy. Most of which, I have no idea what is going on. However, I don't want the typical American sterotype of the short route and learning from a master blacksmith.
I want to learn to create a quality sword I can take pride in and use for moderate cutting. Your article opened a new door for me and I will drop the cash for the books. I do have a few questions for you primarily about swords.
I read your myths portion of the Gen X article and in a seperate article I read the sharpness of a blade was measured by a 1-12 point scale of sword strokes used on the human body. 12 would be a generally simple stroke at the wrist and 1 would be an extreme stroke across the mid-section thru the hip bones and etched onto the sword tang.
Can you smelt a rail-road rail for a sword??
What is the strongest, most wear resistent sword metal out there?? Folded Damascus?? What about Diamond coated??

I really appreciate your time and knowledge you put into this site. Very resptfully,

Monterey, CA
   Army_13 - Sunday, 06/11/06 02:02:30 EDT

Mary: A new book which would be good for your husband's reading is The Backyard Blacksmith: Traditional Techniques for the Modern Smith by Lorelei Sims - yep, a woman blacksmith. Works through the basics (including tool and equipment acquisition) and then has 20 some projects reinforcing those techniques. Wonderful photogrpahs and illustrations. Book is also sprinkled with various work and safety tips and techniques. It is on eBay and should be hitting bookstores about now. SRP: $25.00.

Ms. Sims will be at the ABANA conference next month and likely at Quad-State if you would like to get your copy signed.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/11/06 06:55:15 EDT

Army_13, Swordmaking is generally regarded as the highest level of smithing although some, including myself, disagree. It is near the top due to the difficulty of the techniques involved and the understanding of the metallurgical processes required. We have several accomplished bladesmiths who visit here. Nevertheless, our primary focus is on general smithing. We would be happy to tell you what we know and would also encourage you to visit the other sites dedicated to swords, such as the Sword Forum, Don Fogg (www.dfoggknives.com) and others. Here, you can converse with some of the best in the business. I am always amazed at the willingness of these professionals to share their knowlege and insights with everyone. To address your questions, start with something forgiving, like 5160 (leaf springs from an old auto) for your first sword. You can move to Damascus when you have learned the basics of hammer control and heat treating. Come back and let us know how you are progressing.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/11/06 08:06:02 EDT

   mary - Sunday, 06/11/06 08:32:15 EDT

Mary- an SA-250 is a pipeline machine- a big, heavy industrial welder. They weigh between a 1000 and 1500lbs, depending on engine. Which means you want to buy one close to where you live. The majority of deals on used ones are in the oil patch- Texas, Oklahoma, and thereabouts.
A diesel SA-250 in decent shape is going to run around 5 grand, no matter where you are.
Personally, I would buy one from a local dealer- the small price markup is easily made up for by having the good will and service of your local guys.
But you can look at www.americanweldingsupply.com- they are a texas company that always has a few used 250's, and know their stuff about these machines. Interestingly enough, the big boys in the field are converting these machines to Yanmar diesels- more power, less maintenance, and incredible fuel efficiency.
   - Ries - Sunday, 06/11/06 10:12:11 EDT

Ken and Rob,
The punch lube is about $30 for a gallon, and as it is Shippable as non-haz, shipping is easy. The contact is
Ted Mitzlaff
J & M Labs
Ask for the P3 Forge 185 forge lube.
This lube does not seperate, freezing does not hurt it, just thaw, and it does not smoke, or burn. It is shipped in a concentrate form, dilute to about 20% concentrate to water. As you use it it will evaporate, just add a little water from time to time. Remember that it ONLY works as a solid film so it needs to be applied to a hot tool. I have changed my routine to dip the tools after every use, and it is always ready for the next use, even weeks later. While I would not drink it, it is very safe to use.

   - ptree - Sunday, 06/11/06 10:19:08 EDT


I commend your attention to a biography of Keith Austin, who studied bladesmithing in Japan. www.ncjsc.org/article_keith_austin.htm
Keith was a man who had DESIRE! He said that in his nine year apprenticeship, he got two days off, remembering that they don't have weekends in Japan. When asked why he got two days off, he replied, "Because the Master took them off!"
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/11/06 10:46:21 EDT

Hello Guru
Your work here is wonderful.I want to work on the stone cutting field, soon will be welding diamond segments on blades, but really I need knowledge about saw smithing, how to remove the wobble of a blade. I know it's done with a hammer, necessary it's a cold work, it seems they only hammer the center of the blade ? I did beleive the peripheral of a circular blade should be "bigger" to pull on the center, like a bicycle wheel. I think this is a real complex theory to learn ! do you know something about it, and is any books existing on the topic so I could learn it ? Thanks very much really, I am already so desperate by advance thinking of my first "wobbling" blade, maybe by my fault after a welding, and getting fired because the blade is lost !
   francois - Sunday, 06/11/06 13:42:16 EDT

Hello - first, a little bit about me. I'm an aspiring blacksmith from Glendale, California. I haven't done too much work yet. However, I have completed a rather complex wrought iron gate , the pictures of which I'll soon be putting up on a website. I'm interested in making many things, old fashioned locks, hinges, armor, and also guns. Gunsmithing is a different field than blacksmithing, of course. But I'm sure at one time a blacksmith might have had to double as a gunsmith, to make the barrel of the rifle, and possibly the inner workings. I was wondering if there exists an introductory type book to gunsmithing, something akin to the Spruce Forge Manual of Locksmithing. Something that gets real basic, and explains how the gun was made in the old days with blacksmithing procedures. PS: Thank you for this great web site.
   - Raffi Aidiniantz - Sunday, 06/11/06 16:15:21 EDT

Hello - first, a little bit about me. I'm an aspiring blacksmith from Glendale, California. I haven't done too much work yet. However, I have completed a rather complex wrought iron gate , the pictures of which I'll soon be putting up on a website. I'm interested in making many things, old fashioned locks, hinges, armor, and also guns. Gunsmithing is a different field than blacksmithing, of course. But I'm sure at one time a blacksmith might have had to double as a gunsmith, to make the barrel of the rifle, and possibly the inner workings. I was wondering if there exists an introductory type book to gunsmithing, something akin to the Spruce Forge Manual of Locksmithing. Something that gets real basic, and explains how the gun was made in the old days with blacksmithing procedures. PS: Thank you for this great web site.
   - Raffi Aidiniantz - Sunday, 06/11/06 16:15:40 EDT

how can i become a blacksmiths apprentice?
   - zak fussing - Sunday, 06/11/06 17:14:12 EDT

Dear Zak,

The very best thing for you to do at this point is read Guru's fine essay, "Getting Started in Blacksmithing". The link to it is at the bottom right side of the page you're viewing now. The next step is to read carefully the article on Apprenticeships. That one can be found using a link at the bottom of the "Getting Started" essay.

The folks here have tremendous knowledge and experience, and will do everything they can to help a willing student. However, part of being a willing student is to do one's homework... and you need to read these essays before you do ANYTHING else. Then, spend a few nights considering what you find... then come back here and start reading the archives. You'll learn a lot! And the folks here will be impressed (and much more willing to help) if you show you've made these efforts.

Hope this helps... I'm a newbie, too, and it is highly embarassing for me to realize that I've just asked a question that has been answered many times over. Let's be good to each other, and do our homework! These are good folks here, and we need to respect their time (and good will in posting the essays, articles, and advice).
   Paymeister (AKA TimS the Newbie) - Sunday, 06/11/06 18:00:30 EDT

Presentation ideas!

Well folks! Being the lucky blacksmith that I am I was able to land a great job (as a blacksmith) in a Fort historic site. Having done some public blacksmithing demos and presentations with limited success in the past, I am officially begging for ideas and suggestions to spice up a good presentations. Humour, facts, projects, experiences ...anything....please..(on my knees)...please...

   Louis - Sunday, 06/11/06 19:17:01 EDT

making a striker for starting fires. using tranmisson fluid to harden.
   - fatboy - Sunday, 06/11/06 20:59:04 EDT

making a striker for starting fires. using tranmisson fluid to harden. doesn"t make a good spark.
   - fatboy - Sunday, 06/11/06 21:01:26 EDT

fatboy-- what I do with strikers, chispas, is use pieces of old worn-out files as the material. Forge to shape. Heat to white, just below sparking. There are those who will say that is too hot. It works for me. You then have ONE SECOND to get the striker into the quench to achieve maximum hardness. I use water. Then decarburize, lightly grinding off the firescale on the striking edge. Be SURE you are using real flint. Strike with a sharp glancing blow of the edge of the striker on the thin edge of the flint. (Arguments have raged for centuries around campfires about whether instead you should strike the striker with the flint. That's what makes horseracing.)
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 06/11/06 21:07:32 EDT


If you ever make a dragon head at a demo. And some smart guy tries to start a you-know-what contest by telling you it doesn't look like a dragon ask him, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A DRAGON?!?!
   - Tyler Murch - Sunday, 06/11/06 21:27:42 EDT

Louis: Two books you might consider are The Revolutionary Blacksmith by PawPaw Wilson (available through the Anvilfire Store) and The Blacksmith, Ironworker and Farrier (formerly The Village Blacksmith)by Aldren A. Watson. Your local library may be able to obtain a loaner copy for you.

Since you mentioned 'fort', I assume you are in the 1700s period. The latter book would be much latter, but little in basic blacksmithing likely changed and it gives you a good idea of what at least a New England blacksmith of that period (1885 - 1910) would have made.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 06/11/06 21:31:18 EDT

Fatboy you didn't tell us what you made it from and what you did to it (what colour did you quench it at? Was it non-magnetifc at that point?); best we can do is to guess.

Louis; talk to a local historian and find out if there are any daybooks archived for the forge---try to find out what the smith actually did, how much was he paid?---was any of it in beer? How many helpers did he have, how much were they paid? Where did he get his metal and charcoal? *Know* your history! I'd suggest keeping a piece of real wrought iron around showing the "green stick fracture" so you can discuss the differences from working then and working now.

Will you be in costume? if so make *SURE* that it's linen, wool or leather and not some "mix" that is a timebomb waiting to go off when you get some hot metal against it.

Remember that you can be a good smith or a good interpreter but don't expect to do both at the same time. If you have something that *has&* to be done and done right; get someone else to talk for you!

Make sure that kids don't crawl under your crowd control barrier and get too close.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 06/11/06 22:04:11 EDT

Tuning Saw Blades: Well. . it is an art. And in most cases the blade should be left alone. You can easily make things worse. I have been told that most problems that people believe are blade tuning problems are mill alignment and operational problems, not the blade.

Yes, it is done cold using a stand to rotate the blade, a special flat anvil (called a sawyers anvil) and a heavy hammer. As far as I know it is one of the last few arts that is passed down from person to person.

The tools are still sold but I could not find them on the web. The obvious search words bring you back to here.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/11/06 22:58:04 EDT

Gunsmithing: We have some fine gunsmiths on this forum and I am sure they will tell you that nothing is as simple as it seems. Get every book you can and study, study, study. The Dixie Gun Works catalog (if they are still around) is a good starting place). The catalog itself is a great reference and they used to care books and plans. Use ABE or Bookfinder and search on the terms and buy every book you can find on the specific subject. Basic blacksmithing skills are required and so are machinist's skills.

Welded barrels are rarely made today and most gunsmiths use barrels drilled from solid steel. This is much safer and removes a significant bit of libility. Most modern gunsmiths start with making repairs to old guns or assembling kits and then extending their knowledge from there.

There is a film titled "The Gunsmith of Williamsburg" that covers the entire process of making a long rifle by hand in a small shop. They do everything from welding, boring and rifeling the barrel to casting the furniture and making brass plate. You may still be able to get a copy from the Colonial Wiliamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/11/06 23:08:33 EDT

Demos and Patter:

First, you make NOTHING that cannot be finished in one or two heats. Nails, hooks (J, drive and S). Leaves if you are good. Longer demos and folks look and leave.

Make things you can make with your eyes closed.

Explain that the steel needs to be hot to be soft enough to work but is not so soft that it still does not take a BIG hammer. Know how hot the fire is (3,000 to 3,200F) and that steel burns at 2600. Teach the BASICs. You will have 60 seconds to just short of 5 minutes. Address your talk to the youngest children there, the parents probably do not know more than the 8 year old.

It helps to know some of the site's history but you are only going to get those questions from 1 out of 100. The rest will be, how hot is it?, do you ever get burned?, is there a lot of money in blacksmithing. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 06/11/06 23:20:46 EDT

"Saw Doctoring"

Correct me if I'm wrong. The old time circular blades were dished, and would straighten out losing the dish, when the rpm was up. I am told that the contemporary blades are alloy steel and are made flat, eliminating the necessity of dishing. I worked on a fairly new, flat one some years ago, about 14" in diameter. It was slightly warped. The owner said he would not hold me responsible if I screwed it up by hammering on it cold. I was able to level it to his satisfaction, and it wasn't returned to the shop for further work.


The alpha guru's advice is right on. No one is going to give you a sense of humor, however. Some responses might help. To the query, is that hot, we sometimes say, "Give me a quarter, and I'll lick it." Whe you receive the quarter, lick the quarter and put it in your pocket. Have you ever been burned? "Yeah, but I got rid of her (or him as the case may be). Thanks to Lorelie Simms for that one. What're ya makin? "About a dollar and a quarter an hour." What's that black stuff you're burning? Tom Turtzo of Pennsylvania says that it's cottage cheese, spray-painted black. How about, "You don't LOOK like a blacksmith!" "How many blacksmiths have you ever seen?"
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 06/11/06 23:46:20 EDT

francois: As I understand You will be repairing the blade by welding new diamond segments onto it. I have a big diamond blade from a pavement cutter that was repaired, the reason I have it is because it has radial cracks from the edje going a couple inches toward the center, and one section of diamond has been broken out. It was discarded by the local tool rental company. Maybee it is fatigue, or maybee the repair wasn't done properly, I will never know. My suggestion is that You find out all You can about the welding procedure, and hopefully You will be able to weld the diamond segments without putting stresses into the blade that will cause wobble. What little I know about blades has more to do with sawmill blades, but I guess the principals would be the same. As You mentioned the periphery of the blade is supposed to keep the center in tension, but only a little bit at operating speed. Hammering displaces the metal where it is hit causing it to expand around the hammer blows, the trick being to know where and how much to hammer. In sawmill blades a blade that runs true will start to wobble if friction against the side of the blade causes expansion on that part of the blade. I do not think that the blade repair is a job for an amature, If they have been doing it sucessfully in the past there must be somebody there to teach You. If that person isn't there anymore it is thier problem, not Yours.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/12/06 00:00:29 EDT

Frank: My Dad had a Frick 00 mill. That is a small comercial mill from about 100 years ago, about what You see at historic sites here in Pensylvania. I guess the blade was probably from the same eara, it took tooth inserts and could theoretically be used indefinatly. That blade had no obvious dish as I remember it. It ran true, but would get wobbly if ran too fast or if the log had stresses in it that caused it to rub the blade. The old guy who brokered the mill [and had been running these small mills for many years]said that many inexperienced guys that set up thier own mills would have blade problems and want to get the blade hammered. He said the problems were not the fault of the blade [it had worked for 50-75 years previously] but of improper setup of the mill or the operator not learning what the blade liked and didn't like.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/12/06 00:24:04 EDT

FELLOW BY THE NAME OF william Cannon wasburied up near the Top of the hill real nice view
   Ralph - Monday, 06/12/06 08:36:45 EDT

I'm trying to bend 50 fairly good looking circles for an armature/sculpture from 3/16" (or 1/4")steel rod. My problem is that I need a simple way to bend them, and I need to bend four different radii (1.5 - 5"). The jig I made from two pieces of steel pipe on angle iron in a vice(bending between) only really makes nice arcs and can't do the small radius circles. Likewise, chainmail techniques are too small, and the usual tools for bending pipe/conduit are too wide to handle the narrow steel rod. I'm a novice at finer fabrication, sadly.
   Bobbie - Monday, 06/12/06 11:54:21 EDT

Bobbie, see our Benders articles on our 21st Century page.

For light duty bending you can cut your jigs out of plywood. This is easy to make full circle jigs. Remember to make them a little undersize for spring back.

IF you cut full circles mark the center and then about 10% off center make another mark. Put a nail here into a 2x4 about 4" longer than the diameter of the circle. Use a heavy nail or a block attached to the 2x4 as a work holder spaced a little farther or the circle than the thickness of the bar to be bent.

Clamp the 2x4 in a vise. In use you can rotate the disk to clamp the bar you are bending and then as you pull on the bar it will hold itself in position as you bend it.

If work falling off the jig is a problem then use a larger plywood circle under the bending circle. If these are to be used over and over you may want to drill the off center pivot hole for a 3/8" bolt. It is also good practice to mark the size on each bender when you make several that are similar.
   - guru - Monday, 06/12/06 12:43:31 EDT

More on ring benders: Bobbie, you said chainmail techniques wouldn't work but they should do just fine for the smaller rings. If you use a couple foot long piece of pipe for your mandrel you can wind up a long coil then hacksaw it into pieces. Instead of turning the mandrel in a drill you clamp it in a vise verticaly and walk the bar around (assuming enough space to work). It could also be done by hand cranking but this would require more setup and fabrication than I think you are interested in. Of course lengths of pipe are no always easy to come by either. Hard wood mandrels could also work.

   - guru - Monday, 06/12/06 13:10:56 EDT

Passing of a Great Friend

This past weekend Russel Jaqua left us after a valiant struggle with ALS. He was diagnosed nearly three years ago and given 12-18 months. Way to go, Russ. He was a dear friend for the past 30 years, with a very creative and somewhat lost soul. No one could create such beauty with only flat dies. Without any sort of tooling he would turn a bar into something alive. I'll always remember when he said "Blacksmiths are kinda the Hell's Angels of the art world"! Well, I always thought of Russ as the Bob Dylan of the blacksmith world. Damn, we're sure gonna miss you Russ!

Some of you may have known Russ or his art or his anvils; he operated Nimba Forge in Port Townsend WA and made the famous Nimba anvils. His Wife will carry on the business. Memorial will be Thursday at 2:00 at the Catholic Church in Port Townsend.

   - grant - Monday, 06/12/06 13:38:09 EDT

Thank you Grant.
   - guru - Monday, 06/12/06 15:38:21 EDT

Bobbie: If you can find different diameter pipes to fit all the sizes you need, you only have to have 3" - 4" lengths to weld to angle iron for a jig. Bend the rod all the way around the piece of appropriate size pipe to make your circle. Scrolling tongs with the jaws at a 90 degree angle will help a lot to hold the rod to the pipe while you bend. Then you'll have a permanent jig to use and all the circles will come out the same size.
   - rthibeau - Monday, 06/12/06 16:00:57 EDT

Bobbie: Using the jigs that the others described You may find it helpfull to slide a 6"-12" length of 1/4" pipe over the rod You are bending to act as a handle, just kep sliding it along the rod as You wind it around the pipe on the jig. A drilled hole can be used to ancor the starting end of the rod, pry ithe end out or cut it off after the rod is wound enough turns, tack welding is another alternative.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/12/06 21:47:14 EDT

Gunsmithing: Dixie is still around and have a GREAT list of books available. Their catalogue is the best investment for someone interested in blackpowder gunsmithing. Check their website: http://www.dixiegun.com/
   JLW - Monday, 06/12/06 22:15:53 EDT

Hello! I've been trying to get started blacksmithing, and have been working with a friend to start our own gas forge. He has a small anvil, but that's about all the equipment we have thus far. I don't have a lot of contacts to go to for help or suggestions or for apprenticing where I live, so I had a quick question regarding the "beginners kit" offered at www.centaurforge.com. http://www.centaurforge.com/prodinfo.asp?number=BKSKIT

I don't have an apron, gloves, hammer, tongs, or anything close to the sorts. Plus the video doesn't look half bad either. What do you guys think? For $155 is this worth investing into? Or should I go a different route? Thanks!

   Glen - Tuesday, 06/13/06 07:30:35 EDT

Starter Kit: The problem with these things is they have a lot of things you need but may already have or may not be as important to you. You need the safety glasses. An apron is nice but not a necessity. The tongs type would not be my first choice. But if the money is not going to hurt you then go ahead, you will need all this eventually.

For the stand alone cost of the video you can get The Art of Blacksmithing plus another book. I am not familiar with the Hershel House video so I cannot comment on it. The value of many of the blacksmithing videos is pretty low unless you NEED to see someone doing something and cannot pick it up from a book. In this case you are better off to get to a local organization meet and watch things live. But videos can be educational as well.

Where the blacksmithing videos I have seen fall down is that they don't start with the REAL basics. Proper anvil size, how high to mount the anvil. Forge safety. Newbies need to be told where to stand and repeatedly, STAND CLOSER TO THE ANVIL. You want to hover over the anvil like a mother bird protecting its nest. Take posession of it! There is also working posture, don't hunch over, stand up straight. On this count MANY smiths are bad examples. Holding your hammer lighty and hitting hard by swinging the hammer, NOT pumping it. Pumping with your forearm and wrist will wreck your arm and many smiths do it immediately after saying don't do it. . . .

Then there is the question, how "small" an anvil? If it is too small (less than 100 pounds) then you need to scale down the size of work you do and hammer you use. OR start looking for a bigger anvil. See my Selecting an Anvil article.

It all comes down to your budget. Many newbies to this craft are teenagers with no money and limited transportation. Scrounging and make-do are the key skills for these folks. Someone with a job, looking for a hobby, and has some disposable income may do just fine with the Centaur kit. However, it is just a start and many hobbiests end up with near professional shops including power hammers.

A good blacksmiths' leg vise is indispensable if you have ever used one, an AC buzz box arc welder may not be part of your style of blacksmithing but they are almost indispensable for making tools, jigs and so on. Then for many things we do, especially small work but also cutting plate an oxyacetylene welding setup is next on the list.

I usualy recommend getting started with as little as possible and finding out if this is what you want to do. It can be very frustrating at first because the metal does not move for you like it does for others. . for that you need lots and lots of practice.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/13/06 08:49:01 EDT

How many times do we toll the anvil for Mr Jaqua on Thursday?
   JimG - Tuesday, 06/13/06 09:22:11 EDT

Glen if you would hint at where you live perhaps we could suggest a local contact...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 06/13/06 10:35:23 EDT

Raffi, on learning black powder gunsmithing:

First, take a look at Foxfire 5. and the video the Guru mentioned. If you still want to continue, keeping in mind that in that video Mr. Gusler makes everything look MUCH easier than it actually is, I recommend "Notes from a Small Iowa Rifle Shop" by Steve Bookout. This is a thin spiral-bound paperback of photocopied sheets chock full of info on how to get it done with simple, if not always traditional, tools. You may be able to find Mr. Bookout on the web by searching for "Toad Hall Rifleshop and Yaller Tomcat Forge" but I haven't tried that.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 06/13/06 11:12:39 EDT


The cheap mild steel I use for most of my projects is very prone to rusting. I've been coating with a flat black paint, but I want a more natural finish.

I've been considering satin polyurethane, or possibly "seasoning" with lard, like is done cast iron cookware.

Can you recommend anything?
   T.N. Miller - Tuesday, 06/13/06 11:32:20 EDT

how old do you need to be in order to learn blacksmithing?
   Koneko M. Akuma - Tuesday, 06/13/06 12:10:30 EDT

i am 14 but i am a female and from what i hear females havent been considered for learning blacksmithing
   - Koneko M. Akuma - Tuesday, 06/13/06 12:39:38 EDT

Young Student: Koneko, I have taught people as young as eight years. However, this is a little early to leave a student unsupervised in the shop. Age 13 or 14 as you are is a better minimum age for both physical and mental reasons.

In some societies blacksmithing is considered to be men's work only. This is still true in many places. However, in North America where blacksmithing almost died out then came back largely as an art form women have been welcomed into the ranks of blacksmiths. The fact that their are few compared to men is a general social trend that men do mechanical things and women do not. However, there is no reason for women to not to be in the mechanical trades.

In the past certain blacksmithing jobs were done primarily by women. Making small chain was considered delicate work that required a woman's touch even though the work was the same as making larger chain. In England small chain shops were operated primarily by women.

Blacksmithing as an art or production craft is a mechanical trade. It requires people interested in learning about mechanics and physics, how tools work, how to operate and maintain machines. As an art form, whether making a sword, a forged flower or a large gate it IS art and requires the skill to see things as an artist, to understand symmetry and balance, to see lines for what they are or are not, how to draw or think as an artist.

Let us know if we can be of further help finding your way.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/13/06 14:01:35 EDT

Finishes: T.N. Miller, Finishes either protect steel from rusting or they do not. Waxes and oil finishes are amature paint formulations that require continued maintenance. Use professionaly formulated paints and finishes according to the instructions. Not that almost no clear finish prevents oxidation from occuring under the finish as they alow the exchange of oxygen and moisture.

The only "natural" finish for iron is rust. Rust that will eventually turn your work to dust.

Search our archives for "finishes" and you will find the same over ad over along with more details.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/13/06 14:08:07 EDT

Hey Guys, thanks very much for the valuable responses you have given me. I am 26 with a job and a bit of a disposable income. This is something I want to pursue as a hobby, but maybe eventually if I enjoy it enough throttle back on my real job and work with metal more. We will have to see. I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I will have to do some more research first I guess before I start buying.

Also, the anvil size we have right now is 27lbs, but I think he's looking upwards of 80-120lb anvil here in the new future. I've seen how expensive these can be, so I think I'm going to pound around on his first before I start setting up something of my own. The downfall is that he lives over an hour away in Maryland. Thanks!

   Glen - Tuesday, 06/13/06 15:16:53 EDT

Koneko M. Akuma: Where do you live? I started smithing at 12, but that was in the Philippines where there were no restrictive laws and few lawsuits. Here in the US, child labor and safety legal considerations make it much harder for an ambitious kid. It would be easiest if you can find a hobbiest smith to become a "friend of the family" that could teach you. Some of the clubs take in young people with parent's consent. Our club here in Chattanooga TN does. A commercial shop could not have you present because of the leagal problems.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 06/13/06 15:53:20 EDT

Koneko M. Akuma
My oldest daughter going to my shop as a child of 4 or 5, and started smithing with careful supervision at about 11 or 12. She sold enough iron work to pay for a couple of second hand cars while in high school. My second daughter has followed the same path, and does some light forging. As both my girls are TINY, I had to adapt for them. At first I put them up on a wood box to reach the anvil. Now I have a second anvil and have a short stand for them. My 14 year old is about 4'-11" and 100 pounds, and swings a small hammer, but is having fun, and makes some money from doing thems for me like cutting steel to lenght, deburring and toting and fetching. As she gets more skill she will be able to advance more.

All this is in America. Many societies frown on females doing anything that might be seen as mens work. I hope that you live in an area that does not have these issues.
Good luck
   ptree - Tuesday, 06/13/06 19:22:48 EDT

Anybody have any experience with 18/8 stainless? Is it forgeable or weldable? My daughter wants me to seriously modify her horse's bit. It's American made, believe it or not, but it's lost wax cast so I don't want to jump right on it without info. Help ASAP; 13yr girls are not the most patient creatures. brian
   goodhors - Tuesday, 06/13/06 19:39:42 EDT

Leave us not forget that some of the best blacksmiths in the land are of the female persuasion: Lorelei Sims is one example. Another, Dorothy Steigler, went to Frank Turley's smiting academy in Santa Fe in the 1970s, became president of ABANA. Both will be starring at the ABANA camporee in Sattle.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 06/13/06 19:59:21 EDT

Koneko: At the last PABA Hammer In a 9-10 year old girl did a demo making an "S" hook, it looked pretty good. Her Dad & Mom are really active in the organization, the kid has probably been smithing since She could see over the anvil.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/13/06 21:52:42 EDT

Glen:There is a lot of activity in southeast PA and in Maryland. Unfortunatly You just missed 2 really good events in the last 2 weeks. On equiptment, At Rough & Tumble last weekend [near Lancaster, Pa.] there was a farrier's competetion along with the Blacksmith's Days events. Only a couple guys brought thier heavy shop anvil, a few used specialized farrier's anviles, a few used a 100# anvil being produced by one of the participants. About half of them used an Emerson 150[#]Tradition anvil. Now I recognize that the farrier trade is a different but related trade, but they were forging steel at least as large as what most artist blacksmiths would forge by hand. Mind You this was serious competetion, some had travled far to come to it. My point is that a 120# to 150 # anvil is a good choice unless You plan to do a lot of really heavy work with Your buddy swinging a sledge hammer. The 100# anvil that a few used has a good bit of the mass centered under the middle and a small tapered European style heel. Don't buy a small anvil that is all horn and heel, as the mass isn't where it does the most good. I am a beginner smith but experienced in other forms of metal work. I am near Pottstown, E-mail Me if You want[ click on My name at the bottom of the post].
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 06/13/06 22:14:17 EDT

18-8 Stainless This is roughly the same as 302 through 304 stainless. Should weld with standard SS welding techniques. Forgeable depends on the quality of the casting and the alloy chemistry when it was cast but it should forge like 304.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/13/06 23:20:08 EDT

T.N.Miller I like the colors of rust, so what I do is galvanize my work, then patina back to the rust look using "galvano rust" a product by Surfin in Los Angeles, Ca.
   brian kennedy - Tuesday, 06/13/06 23:47:11 EDT

I read when forge welding do not use a wedge type scarf, but always use a cupped scarf. Someone please explain.
   Mike T. - Wednesday, 06/14/06 01:05:18 EDT

Weld Scarfs: Mike it depends on the joint type. The point is to have convex surfaces mate or convex on flat leaving a path for the flux and dross to squeeze out when you close the weld.

If someone sugessted a concave scarf they are wrong or you read wrong. This traps the dross and makes a weak weld. The only time a concave scarf would be used is if the oposite side was more convex (a tighter radius).

You also do not want too sharp of edges on your scarfs as they will burn an leave a weak closing edge. Leave the edges slighty thick or rounded. The point of upsetting at a weld it to provide more mass so that you can dress out the imperfections without reducing the bar or part size at the weld or to leave enough material for fillets in a T-weld.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/14/06 08:03:53 EDT

Finishes: As Brian noted you can galvanize and put any finish you want over it. In his case it is a special product to use on galvanizing. In most cases the zinc needs to be aged, treated with an acid etch or a special non-ferrous primer used (they make one for zinc and aluminum).

Using spray cans OR a spray gun for large projects you can blend various finishes. There are metalic blues and gunmetal metalic blue automotive finishes that can then be dampened down with black or black tinted clear over them that will result in a finish similar to fresh wire brushed steel. If you do not want a gloss finish you can get clear with flattener OR you can dust clear on from a distance and get a dry flat finish. Do this over a good smooth clear.

Some of the best looking finishes are the prepared antiquing finishes. These sould be applied over a good primed and sealed basecoat of a similar color as these are often rubbed on and do not provide a lot of protection. Antique bronzes with highlights are common but there are also marble and stone finishes. Go to a garden shop and look at the finishes put on plastic fountains. They look like everything from concrete to aged stone or marble.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/14/06 08:19:55 EDT

I have a set of large 4 foot sheet metal stars on the sides of my house. One of the stars blew off with a gust of wind (missed my car by a few inches), so I screwed down the points back in the clapboard siding. Now, (a year later) I have two really bad rust streaks running down the side of my house where the points meet the wood. These streaks almost touch the ground. My house looks ugly and is in need of a paint job. How can i get rid of the rust marks without repainting? And, how can I prevent further rust stains? I figure if I weld prop rods at the points, it will keep the rusty star(s) from making direct contact with the siding. I can send pics if you want.

BTW, Glen, I live in Southeastern PA too. What county are you in? I'm in Bucks.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/14/06 08:20:23 EDT

TGN; You'll find some stuff at the grocery store in the laundry products called "Iron Out" rust stain remover. Mix up a solution of that per the directions and go after the stain with it on a rag. Note that it is a sulfite, and you WILL want to stay upwind of it. If you are asthmatic, you might want to try something else, as it will likely cause a reaction.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 06/14/06 09:26:57 EDT

TGN, The rust is probably caused by something other than contact. You may have bimetalic corrosion going on. If the stars are aluminium or plated and you used plain screws or thinly galvanized screws, OR brass screws, it may be the screws rusting spead up by the other metal or if brass screws they are causing the steel star to rust. . . The screws would need to be heavy galvanized or stainless steel. Lowes sells SS screws in small lots for less than a dolar.

OR you have a plated piece and broke the plating where you made holes. However, I suspect that the long rust stains are due to bimetailic corrosion (which as noted could be the plating).

How are the stars attached otherwise? Should have rusted there unless they are attached under the eves where it is drier.

Cure the problem, then try 3dogs stain removal. If you need to get the points off the roof use plastic pins as stand offs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/14/06 10:24:57 EDT

TGN "Bar Keeper's Friend," a souring product contains Oxalic acid which is pretty good at removing rust stains.
"CLR" contains Gluronic acid and works quite well also. it is a liquid, not a powder. Plastic pins to mout them would help.
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 06/14/06 14:34:05 EDT

TGN-- sounds like the key question here is, howcum they weren't emitting rust stains before you stuck them back onto the house? Could the screws you used be the culprits? Would stainless screws solve the problem? Getting rid of the rust stains is going to be a toughie. Easy does it.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 06/14/06 19:06:05 EDT

TGN, You need to check out Peltor's new earplugs. They are called "Skull screws" are metalic colored and look like phillips headed screws coming out of the ears when inserted.Got some samples today and they are even comfortable! Too cool for metal guys such as we smiths.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/14/06 19:32:19 EDT

ELLEN had her surgery today and we have not heard the results as yet. She is having a kidney removed due to the finding of a hickey in it.
She could use some Knee mail.

   sandpile - Wednesday, 06/14/06 20:23:46 EDT

I recently received a gift from a friend which they claim is an 18th century locksmith's tool. But it is the shape of a capital 'L', which confused me. Do you have any idea what this is used for, or how?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.


   Ellie - Wednesday, 06/14/06 20:51:37 EDT

I just purchased a 158# Columbian anvil and tried it out today.....WHAT A DIFFERENCE over my 100# Vulcan, using it is right up there with eating and sex (you can see my priorities). Can anyone tell me how they were made? Is there a plate welded to the top (there's a ridge line but it could be a parting line from the mold), my Vulcan didn't have any ring but this one does so I'm stumped. Running a file over the base and over the edge of the top displays a major difference in hardness, but is this just heat treating? Also, ptree, where can I find these Peltor earplugs?
   Thumper - Wednesday, 06/14/06 20:55:58 EDT

Ellie, it could be a "square", for marking 90% angles. Hard to tell without a pic.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 06/14/06 21:03:10 EDT

Thanks Thumper. Is it possible to put pics on here?
   Ellie - Wednesday, 06/14/06 21:13:21 EDT

Thumper, I know Hagemeyer has them as I got my samples from them. I believe they sell for about $27.00 for a box of 120 pairs in individual wrap. Called "Skull Screws" by Peltor. Call mike at 502-961-5930 and tell him you saw it on Anvilfire.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/14/06 21:26:25 EDT

Old tool:Ellie, That would be (or could be) a lock pick. Old locks were quite a bit bigger and different than modern locks. That L shaped tool would still be used today for a variety of old style locks that take "bit" keys or what people erroneously call "skeleton" keys. Sizes would vary from an an offset of 3/8" to as much as 1" to fit big locks like those on jail cells.

The simplest of old lock picks were L shaped pieces of metal or heavy wire. Then there were "J" shapes with a point and zig zags. Others were actual old keys with most of the bit ground away.

For this kind of lock picking I use a piece of heavy iron wire (1/16 or 1/8 inch diameter) and a pair of plires for bending it to shape as needed and a small hammer for tightening up bends. I suspect that because these tools were most often made on the fly like this that they are pretty rare OR hard to identify.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/14/06 22:15:33 EDT

Just include the html (or use cut and paste) and we can go to the pic site.
   Thumper - Wednesday, 06/14/06 22:24:03 EDT

hey guru i just bought a cast iron anvil and was just wondering how good it was for a newbie and how long would it last under pressure and what do you recommend and where could i find it lol
   kong - Wednesday, 06/14/06 22:36:44 EDT

That's excellent. Thanks for your help!
   Ellie - Wednesday, 06/14/06 22:39:49 EDT

I have a 20 yR OLD PERCHERON AND he is growing these weird things out of his fetlocks, what are they, they are quite long and resemble little fingers they are like a chestnut? There are 3 on eack leg where the ankle is behind the ankle.
   lorianne - Wednesday, 06/14/06 22:59:41 EDT


It's called an ergot, and ergots are similar to the chestnuts higher on on the leg. They can be trimmed by a knowledgeable farrier or vet, but they're usually not bothersome. It is thought that they are vestiges of a time when the horse had five toes. Some horses don't have a growthy ergot, just a bald place behind and below the fetlock.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/14/06 23:34:59 EDT

The stars were rusty to begin with, so the rain runoff carries the rust and deposits it at the bottom points, which are screwed in with drywall screws I think. I wonder if I can use a rust remover like that in a pressure washer (something I don't have).

Ergots also grow on rye flowers and are a source for LSD.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/14/06 23:53:51 EDT

I was watching a program about metalurgy on the History Channel. Limestone is used as a flux to trap impurities and prevent oxidation. ie.-a crucible is filled with iron and crushed limestone is then placed on top. During the melting process the limestone and slag will form a bloom and foam up. The crucible is poured out, with the bloom seperating from the molten iron. The bloom is thrown aside and the glob of iron forged into a billet. Ok, here is what I was thinking. When forge welding, when the metal gets to the welding stage, why couldn't limestone powder be sprinked on the steel. Reheated until the limestone powder melts and combines with the slag. Then just brush it off and weld. I thought this might be food for thought.
   Mike T. - Thursday, 06/15/06 01:45:07 EDT

Nip: Phosphoric acid solutions allso remove rust, like Naval Jelly, Phoz, or Ospho. You can get oxalic acid cristals in the paint department, might be called wood bleach, mix it with water for aplication. Lime Away, CLR, Snow Bowl or other toilet cleaners, or diluted muritic acid will remove rust, but be carefull that they don't destroy Your house in the process. Rinse really well afterwards regardless of what chemicals You use.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/15/06 01:52:20 EDT

Frank, I've only seen ergots grow one to a leg, Lorianne said there are 3 "fingerlings" on each leg. Also, she failed to mention if these were soft tissue or hard and crusty like the chestnut, in any case you're absolutely correct in having her check with a vet or farrier, but, have you ever seen ergots in multiples as she described?
   Thumper - Thursday, 06/15/06 02:58:04 EDT

Thumper: The Columbian anvil was made by the Columbian Hardware Company of Cleveland, OH, probably late 1800s to 1920s. Would be one piece cast steel, heat treated. For a couple years in the 1920s Columbian drop U.S. production and imported from Sweden. Those should marked with the Columbian logo and have SWEDEN on them.

Kong: If someone gave you a couple of bucks a pound to haul off that cast iron anvil you may have come out OK on it. It will not hold up to heavy use with the top dinging and the sides probably breaking off in chunks. I don't understand the last third of your question.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/15/06 06:22:20 EDT

Dave and Nip, I live in Southern Chester County near Delaware and Maryland. I've checked out the PABA site, and hopefully the next time there is an event I will try and make it! Thanks for all the help thus far.

   Glen - Thursday, 06/15/06 07:16:13 EDT

Plese let me know where I can find ready plan gas burner to
smoking and cooking gril.
Thank You
   Anssi - Thursday, 06/15/06 07:27:21 EDT

Assi, not a clue. As blacksmiths we build burners that would liquify your grill. Try googling "grilling"
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 07:53:23 EDT

Fluxes: Mike, This is a different type of fluxing. Iron ores generally have lots of other mineral in the ore that creates slag. What the limestone is used for is 1) Combine with the impurities released by the smelting process 2) make a more fluid slag so that it can be tapped off. In modern steelmaking much more agressive fluxes are used like flourite powder which blacksmiths also use for nickle alloys and stainless steels. Borax is the primary ingrediant in arc welding rod cover fluxes. It is not used in smelting or steelmkaing because the temperature is consistantly above the boiling point of the the borax. Silicon based minerals are also used in steel making to create an artificial slag along with the flourite and other active ingediant fluxes.

The limestone is not an active flux as are other minerals which disolve iron oxide. In the forge you need a fast acting relatively agressive flux. That is what borax is used for. Note that many smiths do not use flux at all and the Japanese sword smith uses clay and rice grass ash to protect the steel (not flux it) while heating and welding. Other smiths have used silica sand as a protectant and flux but this is not a chemicaly active flux. Red clay has been used for the same in parts of the country.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 08:48:23 EDT


No, I haven't seen them grow in threes. However, judging from the dogs I have owned and seen, there is quite a bit of variation on the "extra claws" that grow on their legs. I thought it might be a mutant form.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/15/06 09:35:34 EDT

One other aspect in the use of limestone as a smelting ore is for it's Ca to take the place of some of the Fe in the slag---if your slag is richer in iron than your ore you don't get much output from that run...

As mentioned this is not something we're worried about in forge welding.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/15/06 09:51:16 EDT

My mother is all upset about a lawsuit she heard of where someone contracted Parkinsons and is suing the manufacturer of the welding rods he used (that supposedly gave him the disease, I think ALS was mentioned as well). I tried to explain to her that this guy is going to have to prove that he used the rods in accordance to the directions of use and precautions printed on the package. She worries (that's what mom's are for) because she bought me my first arc welder for my 31st Birthday last year (not that anyone cares, I turn 32 tommorow). Does anyone know about this lawsuit? I'm keeping my moms sanity by telling her I have more than adaquate ventilation and use all safety precautions when I work metal. Apparently this is a big case that's getting national attention.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 06/15/06 11:19:09 EDT

Manganese: TGN, See the link that Thomas posted on the Hammer-In on 6/62006. See also www.manganese-exposure-lawsuit.com. Note that this site and many others are class action lawyer sites and you will only get one side of the story. For the government side see,

NIH.GOV hazmap on Manganese

Manganese fumes have been been associated with symptoms
called "occupational manganese parkinsonism". It it not Parkinsons and does not cause Parkinsons but has symptoms very similar to it.

This is one of those deals where the individual makes a huge difference. If you keep you head directly over the arc and let all the smoke circulate under your helmet there is a much greated likelyhood that you will be over exposed to the fumes compared to someone that leans back a little or chooses a slightly different work position. Ventilation makes a huge difference. How open your shop or workplace is makes a huge difference. Welders working high iron are unlikely to hage high exposures but welders on the same job installing equipment in a boiler room, elevator shaft or any small enclosure will have a high exposure unless they take precautions to use significant ventilation.

On this note there are tons of folks including every welder supplier that sell spot exhust systems AND enclosed area ventilation fans. They are not cheap but they are required IF OSHA checks the working conditions. In areas like the Nuclear industry the air quality is checked constantly and ventilation agjusted as needed. However this is a very expensive process BUT radioactive elements are very easy to detect compared to the legion of various toxins that can be in the general workplace.

For most welders there is no problem. For others the problems show up after a lifetime of welding. By then the problems are usually combined heavy metals poisioning from lead, cadmium and zinc. The lead and cadmium are cumulative over a lifetime. Manganese has opnly recently been recognized as a problem.

The other variable is that I believe different rods have different amounts of manganese. There should be more in high strength and special alloy rods than in the more common E6000 series.

Insurance Industry report

The problem at this point is that the science it not there to back up the claims although there is a body of evidence there is no clearly defined study AND now the ambulance chasers are in the picture so you cannot trust almost anything you read on the subject.

THEN, the contributing factors are often unknown. As I have mentioned in the past I have had at least one letter a year from the spouse of a welder desperately looking for answers to why her husband is dieing of a combination of mystery aliments usualy effecting the liver but other organs as well. When I ask if they have been tested for heavy metal poisioning the answer has been no. This is something doctors do not automaticaly look for unless YOU tell them. In these cases it is not just one element that is causing the problem but many. When you have multiple poisions in your system they interact in many unpredictable ways. But the results are never good.

I've had those "black bugger" days after welding outdoors. It can be much worse. Good forced ventilation in the right direction is important. Think about how you work and be aware of what is going on. You are your best and usualy last line of defense against occupational health problems.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 12:32:52 EDT

Thanks Ken.
   Thumper - Thursday, 06/15/06 13:18:45 EDT

I've noticed that the worst "black bugger" situation I run into is when I'm wire brushing. Sometimes it gives me a sore throat for a short time as well. Is this harmful?
   Mike H - Thursday, 06/15/06 14:10:03 EDT

*ANY* dust exposure is not good for you. Some dusts are worse depending on size and shape of the particle or the material they come from. (bone/antler dust is a nasty, some tropical hardwoods are quite nasty and we don't have to mention the "A" word...)

I was sanding off a lot of rust last night I did it outside with a good wind at my back and had little "intake". Basic precautions.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/15/06 14:45:34 EDT

Breathing in the SHop: Mike, it depends on what you are wire brushing. In general iron oxide is not bad for you but any dust you inhale can be bad for your health. That is what those nose hairs and mucus are doing, filtering air.

If you are wire brushing burnt galvanizing both the burning and the zinc oxide dust are bad for you. If you are removing paint there can be lead, cadmium, zinc. . you name it as paint pigments are largely metal oxides and zinc compounds are used to prevent rusting.

If you are polishing or wire brushing monel, copper, brass or bronze then you are making and inhaling copper dust which is toxic. When you notice that "bad penny" taste in your mouth afterwards you have been ingesting and inhaling copper as well as the alloying and trace elements in it.

Wood dust, particularly that of fruit woods is a known allergen to a large segment of the population.

Any time you have a reaction to something in the shop, be it a rash, soreness, itching, a sore throat or anything else abnormal then you should think about protecting yourself. One of the problems with various chemical exposures is that some people are more sensitive than others and some are just plain alergic. Allergy tests are given by applying substances to the skin. So skin (or throat) irritation is a good indication of something your body does not like.

Often the the really bad irritating smells in chemicals are additives put there to warn you away. The smell in acetylene, natural and propane gases are additives to warn you that there is a leak. Bannana oil is put into various solvents to induce vomiting. The odor is supposed to be enough to warn you away and prevent drinking it! Others are naturaly obnoxious causing eyes to water and nose to be irritated, and for that reason they should be avoided.

In almost all cases simple ventilation can cure the problem. This can be via a simple window fan or a dust/fume removal system. If you have a row of buffers and grinders in your shop it is not a bad idea to to plumb up a dust extraction system with a outdoor exhust. This gets most of the grit and dust out of the shop (or house) and especially your lungs.

If you do not have a ventilation system then some sort of filter mask is suggested. Note that the small paper "hospital" filter masks are almost worthless. They may make you FEEL safer and they WILL stop a small percentage of the dust but more will go around the mask than be stopped by it. They are only suitable for ocassional use, not regular shop use. Get a decent filter mask and some replacement filters. Also note that there is a big difference between dust and fumes. Dust has a significant size that can be filtered out mechanicaly. Fumes require an activated charcoal filter that the bad stuff is absorbed into. Paint and chemical fumes go straight through common filters.

Also note that filter masks require you to breathe harder to pull air through the filter. This is stressful on your cardiovascular system. If you have breathing problems or heart problems then a filter mask may pose a hazzard in itself. If you are not sure about this then ask your doctor. He will likely have your lung capacity tested and do a general check up.

Don't be paraniod about shop safety, just be smart. Ususaly a minor exposure to something once in a great while will not hurt you. But a heavy exposure or daily small exposures over a lifetime (chronic exposure) can be a problem.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 15:05:48 EDT

At your local welding shop, a P-100 dust mask and filters should be $20 or so with one pair of filters. The filters are $10 and last a pretty long time. This mask fits under a welding helmet. BUY ONE. All that junk in your lungs is BAD NEWS. Like Jock said, if you feel bad after leaving the shop (physically) then you are doing something that could potentially cause much more serious problems down the road.

Also, regarding the increased breathing effort required by a respirator -- very true. And if you notice yourself getting a headache while wearing one, replace the filters. (Grin) I learned that one the hard way.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 06/15/06 15:20:24 EDT

Thanks for all the info. I'll ask about those masks. The lower profile would probably make me wear a mask more than I do. Thanks again.
   Mike H - Thursday, 06/15/06 15:56:38 EDT

Would someone be able to tell me where I an find plans for the Smithin Magician, I believe it is called. Thanks.
   KEN - Thursday, 06/15/06 17:21:45 EDT

Ken, That is an invention/trade name of a device sold in kit form by Blacksmiths Journal.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 17:27:06 EDT

There's a lot of stuff on the web re: welding rod lawsuits, last time I looked a while back. Merits unknow. Beware fumes from heating brass, and some of the fluxes in hard soldering give off evil nasties, too. 6011 flux has some weird crapola in it. You absolutely MUST have good ventilation and a good respirator-- I mean filters, not like divers use-- mask. If not you are a fool. Grinding, wire brushing produce jillions of tiny particles looking for a place to land deep inside what used to be your pink lungs. Don't let it happen.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/15/06 17:31:55 EDT

For a fuller tool that does similar things a different way see, iForge demo #41, Anvil Fuller Tool
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 17:31:56 EDT

Hello- I have just recently built a propane forge and have been running it in my 2 car garage with door wide open , windows, etc for venting. I'd really like to intall a hood and fan above for safety. My question is- what is a sufficient system to vent a 2 burner propane forge? I tried searching this site and the internet but the answer seem illusive. I have no idea how large, how many cfms etc. Any help would be appreciated.
   darrell - Thursday, 06/15/06 18:18:01 EDT

Mike T: Take everything technical and scientific that you see on the history chanel with a grain of salt. There are a lot of small errors and other things they cover so superficialy that the net effect is eroneous.

The function of flux in smelting is related to but different than it is in welding or foundry practice.

I still enjoy them, and find they are usualy the best thing on the tube at any given time. When you find something interestiong do some library research, to find what they should have said!
   - John Odom - Thursday, 06/15/06 18:54:58 EDT

Breathing safety.
First a few factoids;

"fume" and "fumes" are the result of metal droplets being atomized into the air then solidifing back into solids. Often the result of welding and burning off plated metals.
Zinc fume fever is what killed PawPaw.

Vapors are the result of a liquid evaporating, and are the gasous form of that material.

A P100 filter is designed to stop dust, and fume. The P means some oil may be present in the air being filtered. A N-100 does the same thing but no oil.

A P-100 is a HEPA rated filter and catches 99.97% of particles 3 micron and bigger if I remember correctly. A True HEPA filter is used for Asbestos and Radionuclides. It IS NOT a HEPA filter if it is not stamped and has the NIOSH logo.

For solvent vapors, a "Organic Vapor cartridge is required.

It is possible to buy combination cartridges, and in some cases to stack up cartridges to get protection from both. Stacked cartridges are much harder to breath through.

For welding, there are two good choices for those of us without facial hair. You can buy a half face respirator with replacable low profile (Often Called pancake) cartridges for less than $30.00
You can also buy NIOSH rated disposable N-100& P-100 respirator type dust masks.

The advantage to the dust mask types is no cleaning or maintenance required, just toss. I like Moldex and 3M, with the Moldex a bit more comfy in my opinion.

The half face masks do require regular cleaning. I also prefer to keep mine in a tupperware container when not in use. Keeps the dust and dirt out as well as the creepy crawlies. Nothing worse than a trapped, upset spider insdie a respirator. I may have experienced that one.

The bit about checking the heart and lungs before wearing is true. Very true. I have seen cases reported of heart attacks from respirator wear, in the heat, when the wearor was in bad shape.

I prefer the A.O. Safety Quicklatch with the P-100 pancake cartridges. I believe they are in the $20 range with a box of ten filters for about $10. I get mine at Hagemeyer, 502-961-5930. Tell em you saw it here.
   ptree - Thursday, 06/15/06 19:02:50 EDT

Note that some blademakers have gone to a positive pressure mask. One homebuilt one had a flexible hose coming down from the ceiling that hooked up to a *SCREENED* fan outside the building in a place that didn't pick up exhaust air from the shop. The hose connected to the top of a hardhat with face shield---cooling and clean air.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/15/06 19:09:51 EDT

CSI Hammer In: I wrote an article about Ken Scharabok and the CSI Hammer In he hosted in April. You can read it, and see some photos of the event at www.thefabricator.com. It is listed under the Featured Articles as "Poor Boy Blacksmith".
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/15/06 19:48:24 EDT

Realy nice article Quenchcrack

   TravisC - Thursday, 06/15/06 20:12:56 EDT

ptree's warning re: creepy-crawlies is muy valid. Nothing more exciting than finding that a mama blackwidow has had a maternity event inside your welding helmet. After you put it on. I keep my earmuffs in a Tupperware box, my respirator in a big coffee can, my gloves in another one. Friend of mine who does woodworking has a hood/mask like a bee-keeper's, that has a hose attached to it, fan air intake/exhaust pulling in through a filter, powered by a belt battery pack. Dunno how you'd ever weld with such a rig but he researched the field, reports this is the only one that really works. If you can smell the fumes, says he, your mask ain't working. Johnson Controls at Los Alamos Nuclear Lab has drop-down spot exhaust hoses all over the shop that the welders can position precisely above the puddle.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/15/06 20:35:07 EDT

First of all, I am new to this site and everyone has helped me more than you know. I want to thank all of the Guru's especially. I am new to forging plus I have a compulsive behavior problem. That means when I get involved with something, that is primarily what I think about and study 24/7. My brother in law says this is a good thing, sometimes I wonder.......Now I have oil hardening on my mind. The question is this....would lowering the temperature of oil have an affect on the grain structure of the steel ? Let's say you cool the oil in a freezer to 40-32 degrees, would the lower temperatures give a tighter grain structure ?
Thank you
   Mike Thompson - Thursday, 06/15/06 20:45:40 EDT

Mike, The point of oil quenching is a slower cooling. In almost all hardening it is best to have the quenchant warm, room temperature or better. This includes air, oil and water.

The grain structure of the steel is effected more by how it is heated and heat treated than by the temperature of the quenchant. The point of warm quenchants is to do the job while avoiding thermal shock. However, there are cases where you have a very large mass and you just cannot cool it quick enough. In these cases ice water is ocassionaly used. However, it is generally not recommended. When possible a large flow of continously refreshed quenchant is used. In the old anvil shops where they had water power they would divert part of the sluice to do the quenching. Even then an anvil tends to be self tempering due to the heat in the core.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:19:56 EDT

Actually Mike, warming oil slightly (like to the temperature of bath water or slightly more) actually makes it an even faster quench. Oil at low temps doesn't really get the part to be quenched wet. It just doesn't adhere to the hot metal as well. Warming it slightly allows it to wet the part to be quenched and cool it faster resulting in the best quench.
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:23:11 EDT

Mike, one more thing. The higher steel is heated the larger the grain grows. To get the grain smaller heat to slightly over non-magnetic and let cool to black heat. Repeat that one or two more times. After that normalize (2-3 times), then harden, then temper (2-3 times).
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:26:38 EDT

I recently acquired several dozen feet of new 1 1/8 steel cable I would like to make damascas billets (Cable damascas) out of for knifemaking. My question to any who have done this before me is what would be best to remove the oil or grease that is imbedded in the cable? and has anyone forged cable into damascas and could you share any insight. I am about to make a 27 inch long forge made of firebrick to heat the cable (Propane fired). This will be my third forge I have made so I think it should not be a problem.
Thanks for any advice you guys can offer.
Chris W.
   Chris Williams - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:28:25 EDT

Anssi: Some full service propane distributers have replacement parts for gas grills and cookers. The burner itself has many really small holes, easier to buy than make. Alternatly You might use a cheapie camping stove burner.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:33:36 EDT

You probably don't even need to degrease it. Try to weld it first, and if it doesn't weld because of the grease soak it in some muriatic acid which you can get at Homedepot or Ace. Spray with water at high pressure to blast all the crap out. Some people actually take it apart and clean it. Dirt will not weld so if its got too much dirt for the flux to take care of it won't weld. Flux the heck out of it to dissolve all the crap and help to wash it out. I would just try to weld it without cleaning it, and then if it doesn't weld clean it up.

Look on the most recently archived guru's den page. Guru answered some questions on cable there.
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:42:43 EDT

Oh heck Chris. I just saw that you said it was new cable. In that case you are probably talking about oil, not thick grease. Oil won't bother things one bit.
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:46:40 EDT

As for sharing insight on cable damascus, here's how I do it

Cut of a piece about 8" long. Weld each end of it. Stick one end in the vise, grab the other end w/ a twisting wrench and twist it up tight. Weld the rest of it. Keep welding until you can't tell it used to be cable, and then weld it some more for good measure. When you begin welding it you want to keep turning it to keep it from unraveling. Once it is partially welded and won't unravel then you can start working it square.

What are you going to do with 27" inches of heated steel? Do you have a power hammer?
   Tyler Murch - Thursday, 06/15/06 21:56:33 EDT

I am refurbishing an antique furniture piece, at least 50 -75 years old. The door pull is a cast brass "t" style turn knob that is bent. I would like to straighten it but am afraid it will break. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
   Dennis Gergely - Thursday, 06/15/06 22:00:50 EDT

Thanks for the insight on how you do cable damascas. I think I might try to weld it up next week. As for the 27" forge, I figure I will build it with three burners with Ball valves and only use the front two burners for normal small stock and use all three if its large long stock. As for the 27" stock while that might be more than I can handle (Not sure but well see) but I do have a power hammer I just built it with the help of a few friends. And I cant wait to try it out on some damascas.
Heres a link to my powerhammer build.

Chris W.
   Chris Williams - Thursday, 06/15/06 22:28:19 EDT

Dennis- Leave it alone. It's part of the heritage of the piece. Working with brass is a nightmare.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 06/15/06 23:12:23 EDT

Mike, Another thing about oil. "Unlike brine and water, the oils have the greatest cooling velocity at a slightly elevated temperature-about 100 to 140ºF-because of their decreased viscosity at these temperatures.

Quotation from "Heat Treatment and Properties of Iron and Steel, NBS Monograph 88, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966.
   Frank T - Thursday, 06/15/06 23:18:05 EDT

Gas Forge Ventilation: Darrell, This is a good question and I do not have an immediate answer. "Two burner" does not say much about the output of the forge as burners vary greatly. However, I suspect any ventilation blower larger than a bathroom ventilation fan is enough. Where you need to be careful is that it is rated for high temperatures like a commercial kitchen stove fan.
   - guru - Friday, 06/16/06 08:07:02 EDT

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