WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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 16 - 19, 21, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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I am interested in building a one-person commuter trike (2 wheels in front, electric powered). I've seen bolted-together rollcages, and I know I can heat metal enough to bend it. Can one effectively bend tubing? And would I want to consider square tubing? Comments please (expecting flames)...

I'm also considering leasing a used welding rig for a few months, but hiring this out is way beyond our means.
   Paymeister - Monday, 06/16/08 01:29:46 EDT

Regarding education comments, above: if any of you have kids or grandkids of school age, consider homeschooling: beats the snot out of public schools. Even though I taught high school for 13 years before leaving, and my wife, my sister, bro-in-law, mom, dad, and grandpa taught... we homeschooled our daughter, and she's miles ahead of the pack.

Favorite "clueless" story: when I taught in Southern California, the principal decided she didn't like the grouping of poor performers into lower-level tracks. So she eliminated all of the non-college prep classes...
   Paymeister - Monday, 06/16/08 01:40:45 EDT

Martin Davies: I am fairly familiar with anvil markings and your's has me baffled. I'm going to make the assumption you are reading the markings incorrectly. If CWT, indicates it is European. Lay anvil on side and dust with flour. Brush off excess. Readable? You can send me a photo (attachment please - not in body text) by clicking on my name.

John L. Your Hay-Budden would be about 1919. Should have a one piece top of tool steel with a mild steel base.

It is not known why H-B, after producing some 250,000 anvils, reverted back to serial #1 with an A in front. It is also not known why some Trentons have an A in front of the serial number.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/16/08 07:24:29 EDT

Ken, while we're at it, try to explain why Trenton anvils turned into Trexton anvils.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 06/16/08 09:17:39 EDT

Nippulini: Even Richard Postman doesn't know the answer to that one. May simply be someone making up a new logo stamp decided to have a bit of fun with it. Trenton was an established brand name so I personally don't see why they might want to confuse people.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/16/08 10:12:21 EDT

CWT is usually an idication of an English anvil as that was the country using the hundred weight system.

How much does it weigh?---put it on a scale! If you could read the markings the CWT system for a 3 part number X Y Z goes:
Leftmost, X is hundredweights which are 112 pounds X x 112;
Middle number is quarter hundred weights (28 pounds and so can only be a 0,1,2,3) Y x 28;
Last number Z is remainder and so can only be 0-27.
Total weight" (X x 112) + (Y x 28) + (Z)

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/16/08 11:56:00 EDT

Fractions, Algebra and the Metric: Peter, Etal; The decimal system is the PROBLEM. Fractions are algebraic and algebra is fractions. If you understand that 3/4 = 9/12 = 7.5/10 then you can work out x/A = B/C or the algebra needed for simple geometry such as A = SQR(B^2 + C^2) and therefore B = SQR(A^2 - C^2) or the law of sines, sine(a)/A = sine(b)/B = sine(c)/C which covers a LOT of ground IF you are algebraically literate.

LIFE is fractional. I do not give you 0.50 of my apples, I give you HALF. When you share HALF of your share then that is a QUARTER (1/4) of what I had to start. . . IF there are three of us we divide by thirds not 0.333333333. . . .

I remember kids cheering when we got to the metric system and the teacher announced that there are NO FRACTIONS in the metric system. . . Decimals ARE fractions. . of 10.

So what is with metric hex key sets that have 2.5, 2.25 and 1.5 wrenches? These are clearly FRACTIONAL divisions. And THEN what happens when you plug in x/2.25mm = A/B . . .

THEN if you really want to see fractional notation at work in the real world learn to setup a dividing head to make gears. It is ALL algebraic fractions. The gear head is 40:1 and the dividing wheels have holes of many increments each one a division of the 9° that the 40 turn gears create. Virtually every odd and even number of divisions can be made on a dividing head. Need a 213 tooth gear. . . Yep, it can be made. In fact many gear trains use these "bastard" numbers to avoid excessive were from the same teeth bearing against each other on every rotation. While the number of teeth are whole numbers a sophisticated set of fractional manipulation is needed to get there.

In Engineering: As Dave Boyer pointed out there are usually no feet and everything is decimal for measuring purposes. Very early on the Southbend Lathe company adopted a standard of using only tenths of an inch in design. This means that parts are 0.1", 0.2", 0.3". . . It makes them very easy to reverse engineer. This was based on simple in-house standard setting.

Now . . the Southbend system works very well until you get to a bearing clearance or press fit and 2.2 becomes 2.1995 +/- .0001". At this point is does not matter if you are using inches or meters. You had better be using the right tools, good tools and KNOW what you are doing.

In fact, in the engineering world mixed units have been the rule, not the exception but most people do no know it. The first ball bearing manufacturers were metric and many machines had metric bearings simply dimensioned in inches. . .

Besides English and Metric, the old British Standard and Whitworth are still used in many places, particularly hydraulics. Fractional inch feet and fractional scales are still used in architecture.

In the world of engineering almost everything is very fine decimals that are no more difficult to handle than fractional values in the the same system. When you need to measure a part that is 13/64, using .203125" or 5.159375mm is no different. In both cases you may want to round to 5 places and the results for all practical purposes will be exactly the same. A lot of digits.

Back to the Point: THINKING that using decimals is better because there are no fractions is ANTI-MATH and ANTI-EDUCATION. Teaching children that the metric system is better than the inch system on a mathematical basis because there are no fractions is no different.

Grotesque Failures in the Metric System: The metric system is suppose to be very scientific, based on easy to define and replicate standards. It is no more arbitrary than the modern English system.

TIME: The metric pundits have yet to convert anyone to metric time (a 10/20 hour day with 100 minute hours).

ANGLES: The TRUE metric system uses either (THEY couldn't decide) a 400 degree circle or a 2PI (radians) circle for measuring angles. They adopted the radian but let the general world continue using the 360 degree circle. . . In computer languages they won so EVERY computer program has conversions to and from radians from degrees. . .

Oh yeah. . . Guess what? Radians are ALL fractional (or algebraic). 360° = 2/PI 180° = PI/1 90° = PI/2, 45° = PI/4, 30° = PI/6 . . . and when you solve for those in the decimal system there are absolutely NO intgers or whole numbers. . .

TEMPERATURE is based on the boiling point of water at sea level on the planet Earth where sea level varies from one place to another and due to climatic changes is never the same anywhere any time. . . In other words they copied the Fahernhiet set points and failed utterly to advance science. . . There ARE two points in physics where a true universal temperature system that works anywhere in the Universe could be based on. . . but the Metric system is NOT it.

METERS: Distance, like temperature at sea level was supposed to be an even division of our planet's diameter. It did not work. They miss-measured. So they went to some very bastard number of a difficult to measure wavelenght of light. . . In the end we traded one divided stick for another. In fact, they screwed this up as well. The DESIGN conversion between inchs and millimeters was supposed to be 25.4:1. But the physical standard bars were poorly made. This resulted in the TRUE conversion being 25.40008:1. It took 100 years for the powers that be to admit they were not perfect and drop that worrisome .00008.

WEIGHT: Again, the kilogram is no more universal than the pound and is referenced to a lump of metal. . . A man made object with no more universality or scientific basis than picking up ANY rock and saying THIS will be the standard upon which ALL weight is based on. Try to explain THAT to a visitor from another world. It is arbitrary and its adoption capricious based on nothing more than snobbery and sold to politicians that could not divide twelve by four evenly.

The HUMAN System: I try to write in both English and Metric units except when the subject is based on wholly English units. But occasionally I will use feet because everyone has one and knows how long it is. If the length described (such as an average firepot) can vary as much as the human foot then it is good enough. Cubits are a little handier because it is longer and easier to apply but the definition is often muddled and people would think I am speaking in tongues.

Understanding math well and the why's and wherefores are important in the modern world. But some people use math much more than others. If you work in the shop in manufacturing, machining, welding or blacksmithing you had better know how to convert from one system to another, fractions and a little algebra.
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/08 13:22:50 EDT

Guru this post is not for you, since I'm sure you already know most of what I have to say, but to offer some additional credit to the metric system.

Eh is someone really claiming that fractions are bad? O.o
One would have to be lacking a highschool education in math to say something like that. As far as I am concerned, no system of measurement has anything to do with pure mathematics. I do not disfavor the imperial system because of fractions but because of it's units and conversions between them which seem pretty whacky to me.

To me the simplicity of the metric system is not about the base units, you could take any imperial unit and use it in the metric system, but that would be the only unit used, the larger and smaller units for that type of measurement would all be the base times 10 to a power, making conversions as easy as they can be. I also don't see what decimals have to do with the metric system, you can get decimals in any system, 0.001 of an inch is still a thousand times smaller than an inch. In the imperial system, the next unit up from an inch is the feet at 12 inches, then the yard at 36 inches and then the furlong at 7920 inches, then the mile at 63360 inches. Even if the base unit is the yard, conversions from inches to greater units becomes confusing if you can't remember the conversion factors. Whereas in the metric system all scientific units are a thousand times bigger than the preceeding unit/ increasing by 10 to the power of 3, the oddities like the centimetre and decimetre aren't Si units.

Any conversion from the metre to greater units requires the construction of a simple fractional conversion factor. For example going from mm to km, the conversion factor is 10^-3 / 10^3, or 10^-6. Pretty much all of the conversion factors for the metric, or more correctly the decimal system can be memorized by two phrases. Every Pretty Thing Gives Me Kisses, (exa 10^18,peta 10^15,tera 10^12,giga 10^9,mega 10^6,kilo 10^3, Milli Must Not Pull Fire Alarm, (milli 10^-3, micro 10^-6, nano 10^-9, pico 10^-12, femto 10^-15, atto 10^-15). Smaller and larger units were left out since they aren't used often/ at all in highschool physics.(Despite what I may ramble on about, I actually did learn something in school)

For time in everyday life, using a system based on things we can relate to makes sense, I don't think 10 seasons and a 100 units of whatever per season would fly well with our biological clocks. However when it comes to measurements and calculations, using the Si standard of seconds in the decimal system is practical.

When it comes to temperature, I would have to say that using the celcius scale for everyday things is much more practical than the farenheit or kelvin, for where I live the range of temperatures we can actually tell the difference between is -30 to 45, these being the far out extremes, it's much easier to keep track of the weather this way. But for calculations and scientific work it doesn't really matter, neither of the three common systems as far as I know have any other units than degrees and they are all measured down to decimals, they only offer advantages over each other in specific kinds of experimentation.

For weight using kg for everyday things is sort of impractical only because of being exposed to the imperial system for so long, it also doesn't really matter because weight isn't something that you can estimate just by looking at an object and if by picking something up, the range of estimation becomes extremely limited. So it doesn't matter what is used, but the strength of the metric system is again the use of decimal conversion factors.

I have to disagree with that angles bit, radians are whole numbers but they rely on the unitless constant pi which it self is a never ending string of decimals after 3. that represents the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a perfect circle. That being said, it does not matter which unit you use, neither converts to the other without creating a large number of decimals. Radians also do not have to be fractions or whole numbers, you can have 0.7234pi radians which becomes an unpractical fraction. The degree also has a bastardized cousin called the rad, which is just radian instead of pi radian, it's the ratio between the length of two radial lines in a circle with an acute angle between them and the length of the section of the circumference of a circle that lies between them expressed in pi radians. Just like the degree the conversion between pi radians and radians is less than spectacular and in all honesty the degree should be compared to the radian instead of the pi radian.

Well any ways to reiterate what I wanted to say, so far with my highschool level knowledge in science and mathematics, I favour the metric system almost solely because of the ease of conversion due to the decimal system.
   Nabiul Haque - Monday, 06/16/08 17:21:01 EDT

Paymeister-- urge you strongly to investigate carefully the liability-- to yourself, passengers and fellow motorists-- aspects of putting a motorized homebuilt trike (or anything for that matter) on the road. Tubing has to be special stuff to begin with, and then specially handled, to withstand all the stresses. No job for a beginner. Or even a certified welder, for that matter, without special training in the metallurgy involved.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 06/16/08 17:34:48 EDT


Wasn't the kilogram established as the mass of liter of water? Of course, water varies in density with purity and temperature, so I can understand the metal block, but at least the KG's theoretically universal.

Of course, the Imperial (not U.S.) gallon is the volume of water with a weight of ten pounds, so maybe the kilogram doesn't have as much advantage there. On the other hand, a liter of water will have the same mass anywere in the universe, but an Imperial gallon of the same stuff will weigh 10 pounds only on Earth. (I guess it would have a mass of .31081 slugs anywere, though).
   Mike BR - Monday, 06/16/08 17:39:26 EDT

Mike, yes it is but the "standard" is a cylinder of platinium. The weight taken from water at a standard temperature (based on the boiling point and freezing point of the same), measured using a cubic value based on another arbitrary measure.

My rant against the metric system is that its great advantage was that it was supposed to be oh so "scientific" when in fact it is just as arbitrary as the length of the King's thumb or foot. . . Inches and feet were established so long ago that all references and existing standards are the same as modern units to well within the limit of accuracy of the time they were made. A modernized system based on existing English units would have done just as well and in fact is STILL in use 200 years after the so-called "official" adoption of the metric system.

TIME for humans will always be based on the solar day on Earth no matter what system you use. A change would only be mathematical and would not effect the length of the day.

TIME and the measurement of angles will always be linked as they were both inventions of the ancient Summerians who used base 60 for their mathematics. In fact, when we tell time and measure angles we are using the sexagesimal system even thought we express it in decimals.

My point on Time and Angles is that the Metric proponents failed to follow through. Until all measurements are part of the system it is NOT a complete system and never will be.

   - guru - Monday, 06/16/08 18:41:26 EDT

A typical measuring system for me is based on soapstone marks on the side of my anvil...

Don't forget "A Pint's a Pound the World Around!"

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/16/08 18:50:09 EDT

But an Imperial Pint's a Pound and a Quarter.

The other problem with the metric system is that there are at least two systems of higher-order units. So you get both joules (Kilogram Meters squared per second squared)and ergs (gram centimeters squared per second squared) as units of energy. Not to mention calories (and Calories).

   Mike BR - Monday, 06/16/08 19:37:44 EDT

Thomas, RE: the pint per pound-

You wouldn't believe the anguish I felt upon realizing they were NOT talking about the price of beer...

But yes, at sea level one pint of water weighs one pound.

ALL measurements are arbitrary. Deal with it. I like the length of my left forefinger's second knuckle, i.e. one inch, 2.54008cm.

Know your system, and everyone else's, and most of all PAY ATTENTION.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/16/08 19:38:08 EDT

Building a Trike: Paymeister, Yes, tubing can be bent. To prevent damaging the tube it requires good fitting dies to fit one of the benders we have been discussing (Hossfeld, Di-Acro). You can bend 1" pipe sized tube with conduit "hickies". Generally tubing is not heated to bend it except under special circumstances using special methods.

Square and round tubing can be mixed but it is an engineering decision.

A project like this is NOT the place to learn welding. It is a place to apply years of practice.

My honest opinion on projects like this is that if you have to ask the most basic of questions then you are probably years from being ready to tackle it.

Hiring a weldor is the least of your expenses.
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/08 21:09:48 EDT

From Pat McGhee: Measure with micrometers, mark with soapstone, cut with chainsaw - refering to the way things were often done in Josh Greenwood's shop.
   - guru - Monday, 06/16/08 21:11:11 EDT

With all due respect guru, your argument against metric is tenuous at best. The base unit of any measurement system is arbitrary and it is not particularly important what is chosen. The point of the metric system is the relationship between various units. Decimal versus fractions is an irrelevant distraction from the key point.
1 cubic metre is 1000 litres. There are 1000 millimetres in a metre and 1000 metres in a kilometre. It's ridiculous to argue that a high-school education should be required to effectively use a measurement system. Any child is equipped with the skills to make these conversions. The same cannot be said for the imperial system.
However, again this is a distraction. The key feature of the metric system is it's universality. Almost everybody on this planet uses the metric system. Given the globally distributed nature of engineering efforts these days, this is critical.
I don't understand the refusal to accept metric because it doesn't include angles and time. It is true that time has non-trivial conversions. However, again these units are universally accepted and standardised. There is little to gained by changing.
   andrew - Monday, 06/16/08 22:09:46 EDT

The greatest drawback to the metric system for Me at least is that I have a shop FULL of inch based everything. From nuts & bolts, taps, dies & drill bits to precision measuring tools and machine tools.

"Whoo Hoo America's Going Metric" or so said the song in the movie they showed Us in middle school in the early '70s.

Bullshit on that, I have a calculator, and I can convert metric back to inches.
   - Dave Boyer - Monday, 06/16/08 23:20:26 EDT

As I was walking thru the store today I was thinking and I thought of a question. When I've seen coke burn it has pratically no flame and no smoke, But when lump charcoal burns it does put off some smoke and has a flame. I thought charcoal and coke both were nearly pure carbon with no volatlie gases or immpurities, so why does charcoal behave like it has volatile gases(at least some) and coke dosen't
   - John L. - Tuesday, 06/17/08 00:22:23 EDT

Metric vs. Inchric:

Metric may be common as houseflies all over the globe, but here in the USofA we're still using the old inchric system wich suits me fine. I like fractions, and have no problem reading a tape, converting, or reading a conversion table. And inchric units have so much more emotional appeal than those coldly mechanistic metric measures. Inchric units are, as Jock noted, more "human" to me than metric units. I know from whence came the inch, the cubit, the foot, etc, and for any number of tasks the anatomical precursor will suffice. I'm talking about "measuring" your back yard here, not designing a microscope, of course.

I was in college when they said the US was going metric, but I'm glad it didn't really take. Like my buddy Dave, I have a shop full of inchric tools that work just fine for me. Geeze, I even have a vernier caliper that reads inchric fractions, and find it very handy at times. Particularly since the KMart doesn't stock metric fasteners.

I gotta admit though, I haven't had occasion to use any of my Whitworth wrenches since I sold my last British motorcycle about thirty years ago.

But, just in case the US does suddenly go metric behind my back I have, tucked away in the back of my tool chest, an emergency back-up 250mm metric Crescent wrench. ;-)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/17/08 01:45:04 EDT

John L,

Charcoal does that so you can get a nice even char on that T-bone, something you probably wouldn't try with coke.

I think charcoal still has some incompletely coaled wood that produces the flames and smoke. I've made charcoal for drawing, (and in my youth for making blackpowder) by cooking it in a vacuum until it was absolutely completely coaled and when I did get it hot enought to ignite (after being coaled) once or twice, it burned without visible flame or smoke as near as I can recall.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/17/08 01:51:56 EDT

to anybody that might be interested, check out thesheetmetalshop.com I found some very interesting reading on this site and they have a fairly comprehensive library, all printable, including stuff on smithing, heat treating etc.
   - Dan Raven - Tuesday, 06/17/08 06:59:32 EDT

Fractions: Andrew, I've taught fractions and their conversions to children as young as 5 to 7. The concept of half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth. . . and then odd fractions that need to be reduced such 40/28 and 10/3 are natural and easy to understand IF TAUGHT. The problem is that the adult must understand them in order to convey them to the child. Terms such as divisor and "least common denominator" do not need to be involved. A small child that can just barely count can often understand the concept of equal divisions when sharing. From the division by half and then half of that to make four equal pieces then using thirds and so on teaches the concepts of multiplication, division and numeric progression. IF TAUGHT.

A child can learn to reduce a fraction to the least common denominator in their mind without knowing their multiplication tables. In fact, once the concepts are known and practiced then the NEED for knowing the complete multiplication facts is apparent to the child and easier to learn as they see a point in them.

Raising by powers is an altogether different concept that requires more advanced cognitive powers and life experience. It is also hard to visualize. It also does not teach algebraic relationships which are needed more and more in an every increasingly technical world.

The problem is that neither are taught well and as a result we have adults that do not understand the most simple fractions and are in fact SCARED of them.

My friend Josh Greenwood gave me this verbal test to use with prospective employees.

How are your math skills? - "Ok I guess."

What is half of one half? - Many stumble here, eventually getting "A quarter".

What is half of a quarter? - Those who stumbled on the first step often get the second or not. Answer "One eighth"

What is half of an eighth? - "One sixteenth"

Those who got the first few make it the 1/32 and MAYBE 1/64 but cannot figure in their head or never pondered more divisions and cannot answer 1/128, 246, 512, 1024. . .

Of course these are a binary progression but to the folks that cannot figure out what a half of a half is, binary is a completely foreign thing.

If you get to 1/64th without hesitation then you MIGHT know how to measure in inches. But many, including a fellow that had his own welding business did not get past sixteenths. . . I did not hire him.

Someone that does not understand the concept of 2,4,8,16. . . is not going to understand 10^1, 10^2, 10^3, 10^4. . . any better.

One mathematician of the modern age postulated that we would have been better off with 8 fingers and toes rather than 10. Octal mathematics is an advanced set of binary and binary is converted to hexadecimal (all of one's fingers an toes if you have 16) which is what most computer languages are based on today. In a world where everyone spoke Octal or Hexadecimal understanding the possibilities of a binary machine would have been as natural as counting on ones fingers and toes and dividing a half by half and by half again . . .

Many other things are binary progressions. The way we define musical notes and how many parents and grand parents you have in a generation. It is part of NATURE. It is natural mathematics that a child can understand if they are not taught to fear fractions.

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/08 09:25:16 EDT

I must admit it took me a while to get used to using a metric anvil when I exchanged my old Peter Wright (marked in good old English hundredweights) to my newer Refflinghaus, marked in Kg. Suddenly my 800 gram hammer worked better than my 30 ounce hammer, and I had to switch my hardy tools from a 1-inch shank to a 2.54cm shank...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 06/17/08 09:33:51 EDT

Alan L, You poor thing. That takes a lot of getting used to. My old Okie friend from Pawhuska used to say, "You can get used to anything; you can get used to hanging if you hang long enough."

Australia started their change-over to metrication fairly early, and they are used to it. U.S. money is essentially a decimal system, and that doesn't seem to bother us, as long as it spends. Australia went to decimal currency in 1966, and one interesting note: they got rid of pennies. Yes! They threw them out along with shillings, half-pennies and all the rest of the Imperial currency system. The U.S. government at this moment is trying to figure out how to make a CHEAPER penny; ie., it costs more now to make a penny than it's spending worth. I say, "Throw out the pennies. Get rid of them. They are a pain.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/17/08 09:47:50 EDT

Appreciate any info you may have on 125 lb anvil marked "Multi- Prod. Co , 820-4, MP 125 ,ATLAS " .Size [inches } is 30.5 length X 9.5 height X 3.25 width of rectangular face .Has harvey and 2 pretzils . Also a bulge on neck .Thanks --joe
   joe lacona - Tuesday, 06/17/08 09:51:48 EDT

Joe, Dick Cropper of Chatsworth, CA, went to Japan in the late 50's, and contracted to have horseshoeing anvils, horseshoes, and shoeing hand tools made over there. They are the Multi-Product Brand. The anvils are a little freaky, maybe too thin on the heel. The swelled horn is for opening up shoes, making them wider or fuller. The waist is pretty thin. The hoof nippers were of good quality, marked "MP."
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/17/08 10:08:25 EDT

Small Currency: In many countries they round off things to the nearest whole unit. But that is because the decimals of that unit are almost worthless. LESS than a US Penny. Even single digit whole units coins are not made. Things are rounded to the nearest 10 whole units!

Take Costa Rica. Their Colone is worth 1/500 U.S. Dollars (or was last year). So a single Colone is worth 1/5 of a penny. So currently their smallest minted coin is 5 Colones and rounding to 10 is common such as at gas pumps where they display to the last Colone. They used to have smaller coins (1, 2, and 3C) but they are pretty much collectors items now. Their smallest paper bill is 1000C ($2). It is not unusual to have over 100,000 Colones in your wallet! However, it is a poor country and not too long ago even 1/2 cent was worth something.

But even in wholly metric countries using a decimal currency FRACTIONS raise their ugly head. Like our half dollar, quarter and nickle almost every currency has units of 50, 25 and 5. Costa Rica is moving away from this to 20C coins instead of 25. This is in anticipation of dropping 5C coins (~1 U.S. cent) and rounding everything to the nearest 10C. In some countries the small unit is 100. . .

This is another case where workers must be more mathematically astute than in the U.S. Due to prices per pound, taxes in less than whole units and such cash registers still display the EXACT amount. Rounding up or down is done on the fly by cashiers and patrons alike.

With the devaluation of the dollar a U.S. penny is now on par or worth less than a whole single minimum unit in some places.

The value of a U.S. penny has been for a very long time the smallest useful monetary unit of value world wide. Taking the copper out of the penny was as big a step as taking the silver out of coins. We have devalued our currency from gold, to silver, to copper, to zinc. . . what next? Aluminium (even Costa Rica does not have cheap aluminium coins like some countries). Iron? Rock? Dirt? . . or round up to a nickle (5 cents).
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/08 10:32:51 EDT

How much Metric? Like Dave I have a shop with thousands of dollars worth of precision inch measurement tools. Our family shop tens of thousands of dollars worth. Total investment in these very expensive tools is probably in the trillions of dollars in the U.S. alone and more are being sold globally every day.

AND with a $5 pocket calculator they can be used to measure to any standard within their limits of measurement JUST as accurately as a metric tool.

Walk into a hardware store (ferretería) in rural Costa Rica (a metric country surrounded by metric countries) and ask for a half thirteen bolt or a quarter twenty and they will ask how long and how many. I am pretty sure it is the same in all the English speaking nations and suspect it is the same in many more places of the world than you would suspect.

The biggest laugh is the bugaboo about becoming less competitive if we did not convert to metric. The fact is that more non-metric goods are produced in many metric countries for export. What standard is used has nothing to do with staying competitive.

More inch fasteners are made outside the U.S. in metric countries than here. AND a great many of the inch precision tools are also made outside the U.S. AND they are being sold outside the U.S. to all those factories making Inch hardware. . . that is also sold in "metric" countries. . .

   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/08 10:32:54 EDT

FAilures of the metric system? I don't think so. Being decimal or rounded to multiples of 10 does not make anything metric.
Time: There is absolutely nothing metric about the 10/20 hour day. The metric system quite successfully uses the second an a basic unit.
Angles. Again, absolutely nothing metric about either 400 degrees or radians. SO as you note, the failure of the radian is a failure of a fractional, not metric unit.

Temperature: This is actually one of the great successes of the metric system, which is why it is adopted as the scientific standard in most of the civilized world. Actually the standardization of the degree based on the physical characteristics of water is replicable anywhere in the universe that STP can be achieved or understood, and it unifies scientific measurement of all quantities in terms that are both scientifically precise and humanly understadable: 1 ml of water at STP. SO in what sense do absolute zero and the freezing point/boiling point of water at SP derive from the the Fahrenheit set points of 32 and 212

Meters: The diameter of the earth? That's a joke, right? Which diameter? Eight hundred-thousandths of an inch over a hundred years ago? Disaster. Again, not a failure of the metric system.


Wrong again: The kilo is based on somethng universally understandable: water at STP. The platinum blob, like the orange light, were backed out of the water-based measurements, not the other weay around. ANy alien culture that manages to get here is probably also water-based,and would certainly understand the universality of one cc of water, as well as being ably to measure the wavelength of orange light and understand the physical properties of platinum

It seems to me the objections to the metric system are so abstract as to be meaningless and are just as aptly applied to the English system. Even if there were no inherent advantage to metric, the elimination of a second system requiring constant translation and conversion alone would justify choosing one -- any one-- as the standard. the fact that most of the world and all of the scientific community has chosen one argues strongly in favor of that choice, and that choice happens to be metric.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 06/17/08 10:57:50 EDT

I think you got the angles bit confused, he was saying that the 360 degrees failed, not rad/400.
   Nabiul Haque - Tuesday, 06/17/08 11:27:01 EDT

Living in Canada and being in school just when the switch happened I was fortunate enough to learn both systems. I can and do use either system interchangabley and as needed, however the one place I need to convert for things to make sense is to miles per gallon for fuel usage. And I do miss distance measured in miles, I'm not good enough at math to figure ETA accurately and fast.
   JimG - Tuesday, 06/17/08 11:27:43 EDT

   Dave Leppo - Tuesday, 06/17/08 11:51:53 EDT

Hardie Tools: I want to make some for my anvil. I have looked at some of the demos here, and also consulted Bealer's Art of Blacksmithing, etc. The question is: mild steel or tool steel?
   Jonathan young - Tuesday, 06/17/08 13:43:20 EDT

I would like to know what would be the most plyable metal or iron to form cylinder shaped letters for hanging on the wall, that would give the appearance of black wrought iron. And, I would also like to know what's the best and inexpensive way to shape it, so it could form smooth bends for the look of hand written letters?
   - chris - Tuesday, 06/17/08 13:56:01 EDT

I would like to know what would be the most plyable metal or iron to form cylinder shaped letters for hanging on the wall, that would give the appearance of black wrought iron. And, I would also like to know what's the best and inexpensive way to shape it, so it could form smooth bends for the look of hand written letters?
   - chris - Tuesday, 06/17/08 13:56:18 EDT

Jo. Young... I make my hardie tools with mild steel shank and base with welded high carbon steel cutting/fullering edges. The neat thing about it is, you forge the cutting edge and quench it brittle, then the heat from welding it to the shank assists me in tempering it. Neat, I'd say... but I'm not a pro, just a happy hobbyist.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/17/08 15:11:08 EDT

Hardie Tools: Johathan, There are hardies (a cutting tool) and hardie tools (anything that fits in the hardy hole). Hardies being used largely hot need to be a good tool steel preferably an air hardening or hot work steel. Many smiths use S7.

Everything else can be SAE 4140 or there abouts. Bending forks should be better than mild steel. Many form tools (lower dies) can be made of mild steel if they do not contain a lot of detail. Half rounds, V's, spoons and such can be mild steel but will stay in better shape if made of a harder steel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/08 15:15:24 EDT

Pliable Metal: Chris, Lead is the softest and easieset to form next to pure gold but is often not self supporting in sheets and is not recommended due to toxicity. Copper is very ductile and affordable (compared to gold and silver). To color it black requires some rather noxious chemicals but it can be painted. Wrought iron (pure iron) is very ductile and IS the metal you are trying to represent. You can't beat the real thing. Good wrought is nearly as expensive as copper. Annealed mild steel is not as easy to work as wrought but it is comparitively inexpensive. Worked hot it is nearly as soft as copper.

Best and Inexpensive do not usually go together. A lot depends on what tools and skills you have available. The best way is with the tools on hand if price and training are not a consideration. The cheapest way is usually the slow very difficult way.

The fastest and easiest method from some points of view would be to have the letters cut out from CAD art using a laser, waterjet or plasma system. Then roll the results through a set of rolls to fit to a cylindrical shape. This is relatively inexpensive having a jobber do the cutting and rolling and you the artwork. This is not the cheapest route.

Hand cutting the letters from a pre-rolled cylinder using a fine cutting torch like a Hen-Rob or a small plasma torch would be the cheapest if you value your time in the least.

Both methods using cutting equipment do not really care how soft of ductile the metal is. Mild steel cuts well and is the cheapest.

It is possible to do a job like this with a chisel, small saw and files. The chisel will require repeated sharpening so you will probably need a grinder and the saw blades and files replaced often as well. The cost would be very low but the labor (time) very high. The stiffness and easy of cutting alloy aluminium puts it high on the material list for this method. Good wrought iron would be next.

A better description of your project would help. But I have about covered it above.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/17/08 16:11:16 EDT

Cutting Hardies, Hammers and Hardness:

I just make sure that my hammer face is harder than the hardy, since if I misplace a blow as I'm about to cut through, it's easier to resharpen the hardy than to reface the hammer. I have one specific hammer with a relatively hard face that I use.

I'm sure some folks never hit their hardy, but I'm not one of them. ;-)

Thunderstorms are missing us on the banks of the Indian River. Florida feel just like Maryland these days!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 06/17/08 19:26:48 EDT

I'm with Frank on the pennies. Of course, I think we're one of the few countries where sales tax is added at the point of sale. About everywhere else I've been has a form of value-added tax that's already built into the price of the individual items. So they're priced in round numbers, and that's what you pay.

But we already round our prices at the register (what's the 5% tax on a 30 cent item?). We could round them to the nearest nickel just as easily.
   Mike BR - Tuesday, 06/17/08 20:46:26 EDT

"You can get used to anything..."
I was walkin' down a contry road this one time when I came apon a feller settin' on his front porch step jest a hollerin' and carryin'on like the Devil himself had him by the hip!
I run up to the man and says "Old man, what on earth is the matter?!" He stoped hollerin' long enough to take breath and tell me,"Son, I is sittin' here on a great and awful nail! " I claped my hand to my brow in amazment and and begged of him to tell me "Sir, why in the good Fathers name, don't you git up offen it?" to where he replyed
"Naw, it's awrite, I'll git used to it directly..."
   - merl - Tuesday, 06/17/08 23:11:07 EDT

Merl, That's a good 'un. You can get on my ball team.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/17/08 23:51:08 EDT

I don't have any objections to the metric system per say,
I just don't like it because it is not the system of measure that I'm acustome to. I was in upper grade school when the Metric system was being pushed on us. It didn't work as easy as they all thought I guess because eventualy it was just taught quietly along with the english system instead of the force feeding.
I learned to read the .0005 resolution Vernier scale instrements in 6th grade shop class, you had to learn it to pass the corse. We had a 24" Sterrit Master Vernier higth gage and granit table that had been purchased new and donated to the school system by the chamber of commerace members, to ensure that the students going thru, what was at the time a 6 year shop corse, from start to graduation, would come into the industrial job market knowing how to read the Vernier scale,(in English by the way)
It's all in what you're used to and if your employer wants you to use SAE standard measurment then that's what you do.
I used to work in a shop with an old man from Germany. Because he owned the shop he new the value of good comunication with his employees. He never insisted that we do everything in Metric even though he always thought in Metric when he designed parts. We were constantly converting prints from Metric to English and visa versa.
He was the smartest man I ever new and, he always said,"Metric or English, who cares! just make it to the print so we can get paid for it!"
Metric mesurements don't convey anything to me. I don't have a visuale on how big a millimeter is, I do know what .040 looks like and can easily see the differance from .04, .05, .06 ect...
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/18/08 00:18:44 EDT

Thanks Frank, I'm glad you like it.
BTW, according to the weigh/count scale at work, I've got a little over 3000 penneis in a couple of old gallon bleach jars, do you think I should turn them in for scrap?...
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/18/08 00:33:16 EDT

Value of Pennies: When the copper pennies were replaced by the zincies in 1983 they did it by mixing old and new pennies. . . but withing a couple years all you could find in circulation was zinc. Perhaps the Federal Reserve collected them but I suspect collectors. At that time the copper was worth 1.3 cents per penny. When silver coins stopped being made the President at the time said there was no way that all the silver would go out of circulation. . . It took less than a year.

SO, if you have copper pennies I would hold them. But if your collection is largely after 1983 they will be worth a lot less than all copper. Zinc pennies are considerably lighter than copper and your scale will be off a significant amount unless they are sorted.

Note that both gold and silver are now higher than when the Hunt Brothers tried to corner the silver market. . . Until last year silver was a bargain. It still may be but it has nearly quadrupled in a short time. Copper has also been rising though I do not keep up with all the metals.

Somewhere I have (or had) about $100 in copper pennies. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/08 00:58:40 EDT

there is some amazing metalwork/engineering to be seen on www.ted.com. in the clip about Arthur Ganson's "moving sculptures." I thought folks on here would probably really enjoy it...
   brian kennedy - Wednesday, 06/18/08 01:38:23 EDT

Metric vs. English: In the 1980's we did a lot of converting of European designs for shops to manufacture parts in the U.S. It was not just a matter of re-dimensioning but of material thicknesses and standard dimensions as well as fastener substitution and drill tap notation. Sometimes it takes more than just a calculator. . .

I probably deal with the metric system better than most people including other engineers. I do not need to look up conversion factors. Working with it is not a problem. I've written computer programs with reciprocal value conversions for all units that return perfect repeat conversions to 16 places over and over. I often make engineering drawings in both units. However, as noted above, some things do not convert.

My gripe is that I do not think it is not a system worthy of the amount of disruption and expense it has caused. While the world needs a uniform system it would have probably done so by now from natural causes. Due to the U.S's global dominance in industry for nearly a century the Inch pound system would probably been adopted world wide if it were not for the metric system. Is it the best system? Probably not. But there are too many flaws in the metric system to have made it worth changing the world. And history has proved that. The English system will probably fade away in time. But it will be just as strong and vital as is the United States. . . its passing may also mark the end of life as we know it in the U.S.

Does anyone remember when they tried metric speed limit signs on U.S. highways?

Merl, A millimeter looks like .040", a centimeter between 1/3 and 1/2 inch (almost exacly .40" - see mm), a decimeter equals ~3.9".

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/08 01:44:01 EDT

OKay, here's an odd one for you guys. Most of you are aware of my background. I have made some coin forging stainless nails for the sideshow folk who do blockhead acts. (if you don't know, look it up) A variation of the act includes a drill blockhead. SOME performers use a rod with flutes painted.. very bad. Others use a masonry bit with the drill in reverse. My idea is to make a drill bit from stainless flat bar stock with the flutes running clockwise, so the actual drill can be running forward but the bit is going backwards. This avoids ripping nose hairs and gives the performer better control. The sharp edges of the flat bar will be sanded smooth of course. Any suggestions? Ideas? Want to tell me where to stick my drill bit?
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/18/08 16:24:00 EDT

Oh, BTW I will be using standard "English" for measurements.... as we ALL should.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/18/08 16:24:29 EDT

"Oh Great Nippulini", They do make left hand twist drill bits that you can just polish up and and take the edges off of if you would like to save the expense and effort of trying to make a drill bit by hand. You can also get them with out the black coating. Any industrial machinists catalog like MSC should have them.
   Robert Cutting - Wednesday, 06/18/08 16:36:25 EDT


Don't turn those pennies in for scrap -- It's illegal. http://tinyurl.com/y44942

Nippulini -- I'm not sure why you even need to bother with a left-handed drill bit. You could just regrind the tip of an ordinary right-handed one so it's smooth (you could also grind it "backward" so it would cut only if you spun it counter-clockwise). The flutes on a bit are to pull the chips out of a hole, but I really can't see them grabbing nose hairs. If they did, a left-handed bit would try to push the hairs further into you nose. I can't imagine that would hurt any less than a right-handed bit trying to pull them the other way.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/18/08 17:18:02 EDT

Here's the thing.... it's not that hard (at least I think so) to simply forge twist some stock rather than smooth out an existing bit. Besides, two things: these guys love the low maintentence of stainless, and 2; they are willing to pay lots more than a cheap bit that's been sanded down. The whole idea of reverse twist was just an assumption of safety. Expense? I have SOOO much stainless stock that material costs are zero. It would take mere minutes for me to make the piece, maybe 10 - 15 minutes for polishing and I'm charging $15 per bit. When it comes to stage props, especially ones that they only have to buy once, these guys fork out the money.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/18/08 18:17:38 EDT

Mike, TGN *sells* these props and it's always easier to sell hand made *special* than the "go down to the hardware store and you can do it yourself" stuff...He should make them from Ti!

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/18/08 18:17:49 EDT

Hey wise men, I live in South Bend Indiana, and am having a hard time becoming a blacksmith, I've read the getting started in blacksmithing and have tried to get as much info as I can from it, it just seems that I'm kinda limited in my options because of my location, if anyone has some ideas for me it would be very appreciated, thanks.
   Anthony M. - Wednesday, 06/18/08 19:44:07 EDT

In that case, I've always wanted to see a nice pattern welded left-handed drill bit (grin).
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/18/08 19:46:54 EDT

Location, SouthBend, Home of my Lathes. . GREAT location! Anthony, You do not simply "become" anything, other than perhaps pregnant or dead. . . You study, practice, make a plan, follow the plan.

The "Getting Started" article makes a LOT of suggestions of things to DO. Have you followed all the related links?

If you have not found other smiths in your area you are not looking very hard. Try your local blacksmithing organization (ABANA-Chapter.com). Note that "local" can be hundreds of miles or right around the corner.

Have you looked into welding courses locally? High school adult classes, community college, tech school, 4H, individual?

Have you looked into and joined your local blacksmith group? If you have no local group have you tried to establish one?

Have you BOUGHT or BORROWED the books suggested and STUDIED them? I DO NOT mean "read" or "browse" or just look at the pictures. I mean STUDY them! Learning requires study. Knowledge is not just magically bestowed like a knighthood, it requires WORK, no matter what the subject.

Have you tried to do any forging? You can build a forge for NOTHING if you are a good scrounger and for very little if you are not. You are in an industrial town in the rust belt. Mega TONS to scrounge from. Those that claim poverty but also do not scrounge well do not have my sympathy. Tools of any kind have a cost and blacksmithing requires tools. Good tools can be FOUND but most often cost money. Tools are often gifted but you must be sincere and ask!

No wisdom. Just an expectation of having sufficient interest to find a way. Ever hear the expression that you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink? anvilfire is the water. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/08 20:40:12 EDT

Drill Direction: Nip, Almost all drills today are reversible and do not have markings for Forward/Reverse or Normal/Abnormal. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/18/08 20:46:18 EDT

Anthony you are in one of the great areas in the world to find smithing equipment and lucky to be so close to so many great smithing groups.

Why do you think your location limits you? (I have a 100 mile drive to see my Dr out here in NM).

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/18/08 21:06:55 EDT

I have a cordless drill with a green LED that lights when you spin it forward, and a red one for reverse. It's right up there in my useless inventions list with my tape measure numbered every eighth inch -- that has quarter and eighth hatches the exact same length so you pretty much have to read the numbers. Of course it's also painted up like a Baltimore Ravens helmet . . . maybe it's time to stop buying stuff on clearance sale.
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/18/08 21:23:30 EDT

Arthur Ganson... I think the guy is a genius, his work is awe inspiring, although sometimes querky and maybe even disturbing...
Guru, I'm well aware of .03937 (that is the converstion unit I use to go from Metric to English)
I was hoping you would detect the subtle irony in amongst the apparently non-existant humor... oh well
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/18/08 21:38:49 EDT


For a real go-ahead blockhead bit, you want the thing to be shiny bright so it flashes in the key light as it rotates, right? I think the SS flat stock twisted as you're proposing would do that quite well. If you engine turned the flats you might get even more flash. You could upset the end of the flat bar a bit before you twist so that you have a more nearly ball-like end for the best sinus comfort. Ten bucks extra for that.

I think the act would be good if the bit came out looking like it had grown fur and you could do a routine on power-plucking nose hairs.

No matter which way you go with the drill bit gag, you've got one major problem - it ain't True Path. Melvin never used anything but a hammer and if it's good enough for Melvin...(grin)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 06/18/08 21:47:51 EDT

I realize that becoming a blacksmith is much harder than dying, and I'm not afraid of studying.
Yes, I've followed the links, and found the info very good.
I'm very limited in my search for locating blacksmiths, I don't have a car, and pretty much the only way that I can locate them is through the internet, and that is not very helpful, but I have found a few of them in my area.
I have looked into the welding courses but for right now I'm not able to take those courses just yet.
I haven't looked into local blacksmith group just yet, I'm slowly looking into blacksmithing as my time allows.
I have bought most of the recommended books and still waiting to buy the others, I'm in the process of studying them, again as my time allows.
I haven't tried forging yet, before I potentially kill myself, I want to know what I'm doing.

   Anthony M. - Thursday, 06/19/08 01:28:07 EDT

I seem to be having a tough time locating these great smithing groups if anyone knows where they are any help would be greatly apprecitated.
   Anthony M. - Thursday, 06/19/08 01:31:37 EDT

Arthur Ganson also has a spot welder that looks hand made to weld bailing wire!
Very cool. He is a genius.

If ya go see those block head shows don't set up front.

Good night All
   blackbart - Thursday, 06/19/08 01:37:51 EDT

hey guys .. well i needed to ask u guys sumthing ..
well as u all knw how the forging process goes .. heating the raw material or ingot and then forging it till v get the desired shape and compression . after that letting it cool and then annealing it for further machining.
well wht i was thinking is tht after the forging process is completed instead of letting the material to cool why not push the material(finished) back into the heating furnace ..let it reach the right temp and then letting it cool slowly(annealing process) ... if this thing works v can cut costs and time ..! wht do u guys say .. am i thinkning right or wrong .?
and another thing .. we use furnace oil in our furnace for heating and annealing ... as the price of oil is rocketting .. furnace oil is becoming expensive .. does anybody knw an alternate.?? we have thought about using pulverised coal injection .. but in a box type heating furnace all the ash would form a layer on the material and the heat would be wasted a lot . so if anybody has any suggestions .. plzz . anything will help.. !
   Abhay - Thursday, 06/19/08 05:12:29 EDT

Anthony M. Go to www.abana.org and click on the link for AFFILIATES. Your group would be the Indiana Blacksmithing Association.
   - Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/19/08 05:16:50 EDT

Vicopper, you have earned a metric ton of respect from me by name dropping Melvin. His nail was almost 1/2" thick!
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 06/19/08 09:36:19 EDT

Anthony, IF you have really looked at the information here you will see that a forge can be built from junk.

Yep, transportation CAN be a problem. When I first started seriously chasing girls it was not unusual to walk 10 to 15 miles in my hormone driven stupor. . . Yes, that took several or three hours and I did so in all weather. Yes, we had bus service but that was also over an hour's walk away in a small city. . .

When I started driving I didn't go out in a car trolling for girls NOR blacksmiths. Girls, I met at school, for others I used a telephone directory and wrote letters (YES, by snail-mail - there was NO Internet). I talked to people and followed leads. Even today when I get into the car or truck to travel I like to have a CLUE where I am going even if going out on a lark. Maps are some of my favorite tools.

Public transportation exits in your town and if you can carry it or drag it up the steps you can haul it on the bus. That includes everything from a small anvil or a lawnmower to live chickens. Taxis will often help you haul stuff as well (for a fee). If it will fit in the trunk and you can lift it. . . if the cabby helps, tip him.

Have a bicycle? We have a member in Sweden that due to theft in his rented shop carries ALL his tools on a wagon pulled behind his bicycle every time he uses his shop. I have friends that ride 100 miles on bicycles to spend a few hours at the beach and then ride back. . . Folks (often small barefoot children) carry water by hand or yoke for MILES daily in many places of the world . . As primitive as this is some of those folks have access to the Internet. It is not nice to whine about not having transportation in front of these folks when you have both feet, shoes to fit and live where there are paved roads with constant traffic.

IF you are serious about anything, you will find a way. Enroll and older friend into your quest, tell a parent OR relative of your interest, earn some money and take a cab. If you contact your local group and tell them you need transportation there MAY be someone that lives near you going that way. Worst case, beat feet. Like I said, you COULD form your own group and meet in your back yard. . .

Now, if you are in a pristine, clean, Homeowners' Association controlled, uptight suburb you would think that junk is hard to find. But EVEN THERE garages are full of old hibatchies, wash pans and broken wheelbarrows. ALL can be converted to a forge. A coal or charcoal forge will NOT blow up.

Even in high rise city apartment complexes there are often storage rooms for the stuff that won't fit into an apartment. People other come from other places and other lives and have the stuff of that past with them.

To find anything or anyone requires some effort. Obtaining the wherewithal for any physical hobby requires effort as well OR money. Blacksmithing is tool heavy and usually requires money. When I started blacksmithing there were no suppliers of blacksmith tools left and Bill Pieh had not launched Centaur Forge. Today there are a half dozen specialty suppliers in the U.S. that will fix you up with anything you need and ship it anywhere in the world that the mail or UPS delivers to. When I started studying blacksmithing none of the new books on blacksmithing had been written and the very few old ones had not been reprinted or were very difficult to find. I used related metal working references and general metalworking references (which I STILL highly recommend). Today you can fill a long book shelf with nothing but blacksmithing books. My point is not that it was harder for me to get started, but how EASY it is today.

Those who are in blacksmithing are usually passionate about it. They love the act of creation using air, fire, metal from the Earth and water. Many know they want it before they start, others try it and become addicted. There are hobby smiths that have large shops that are better equipped than some professionals and there are others that do miniature work on a kitchen stove and lap anvil.

A major trait of blacksmiths everywhere in world is resourcefulness. No matter how rich or how poor it is a requirement of the trade. The infinite variety of the work requires imaginative make-do or to make tools as needed from what is available. That is followed by some mechanical sense and manual dexterity. The later can be learned but resourcefulness is a mind-set that is either innate or adopted by determination. Without these traits you are doomed to failure. Blacksmiths are NOT whiners they are DOERS.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/08 10:37:38 EDT

Annealing after Forging: Abhay, This is often common practice when part need to be machined after forging. However, the part must be a uniform temperature above the transformation point to properly anneal as it cools. Forgings or parts of forgings are often cooler and must be re-heated under controlled circumstances. Also, in most forging situations the work flow requires all the available space in the furnace. Under the right circumstances your plan might work. There is nothing wrong with trying to save and make use of that remaining heat to reduce costs.

Mixed fuel furnaces do not work very well and are complicated to operate. The ash you mentioned often melts into the scale making a mess and can also be detrimental to the furnace lining (depending on its type).

Used motor oil has been used to replace fuel oil or in addition to it in many circumstances. There are some serious problems. The first of which is that many people use synthetic oil which does not burn well. The second is the oil additives and the materials picked up in the engine including heavy metals. This can lead to toxic air pollution problems. Normally the engine oil needs to be preheated prior to injection due to its heavy consistency.

Fuel costs in the forging industry is going to be a serious topic. In today's market everyone that uses fuel in there process is going to rethink contracts and quotations. Every contact will need a seperate fuel adjustment clause based on the current global price. The problem that the airline industry and others have has is selling tickets or products months in advance of delivery. When fuel costs are stable this is not a problem. But when there are sudden changes the fixed or pre-sold price can be devastating.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/19/08 11:16:06 EDT

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