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 1 - 7, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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I hadn't thought of doing it like that. That seems even easier. Linna's uncle works in a railway line making factory so I hope to get some offcuts for very little cost. So fullers, bottom swages and hardies are easy enough. I suppose if the base of the rail is a decent size I could finally make my flatter as well. That is all without needing to think of much. I am sure other tools will suggest themselves once I get started.

BTW why are flame cut edges always so hard?
   philip in china - Monday, 06/01/09 01:21:48 EDT

Nip: Yep, sounds like a linesman's hammer. I was told it was used to start and then twist in or out (via the hole) foot spikes into poles. I use to carry one to demonstrations and then let people guess as to the purpose of the hole.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/01/09 05:34:37 EDT

Flame Cut Edges: Phillip, Generally it is self quenching. The steel has been heated to a red and as the torch moves along the steel behind the cut cools very quickly due to the mass. In some cases it may also be carbon from the flame mixed into the melted steel which then cools very quickly.

In either case it is VERY hard and will wreck a file and ding a chisel, unless you get UNDER the hard material. This makes a portable grinder is an absolute necessity when using a cutting torch for more than making scrap.

In a perfect cut (generally a machine cut) the hard material is very minor and usually only on the top corner. In the cut the molten steel is removed with such efficiency that the unmelted base is heated very little and may only show some temper color.

You get this effect when using a chop saw (abrasive cut-off). While they are great for cutting hard steel they will also take a nice piece of annealed tool steel and give it a rock hard HAZ (heat affected zone).
   - guru - Monday, 06/01/09 09:08:11 EDT

Rachel: more data please! Is this smithy in a factory, a major city, a rural town or an obscure hamlet? !811 is in the industrial revolution of which England played a great role and so may be quite different than a smithy in a rural farming area in the USA.

Pay especial attention to the mention of sideblown forges the more typical (for us) bottom blown forge would NOT have been used in England in 1811! Also ths smith of that time would have used real wrought iron for basic material and blister, shear or *rarely* cast steel for high carbon material. (Having the person ply the bellows too long and buring up a piece of *EXPENSIVE* cast steel that was in the forge is a possibility.) Note two the tha anvil will not look quite like a "modern" london pattern anvil---especially if it's a very old one. No pritchel hole, small hardy hole small horn, "squat" shape---and that's for one made around 1811!

My suggestion if you must have a "generations of use" plot hook would be to burn the building down as it may be centuries old. Most of the equipment inside it will have been used, worn out and re-made time after time in a long term shop.

Perhaps contacting the British Artist Blacksmith Association; BABA; would be a good idea?

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/01/09 12:02:33 EDT

Another option might be to have your heroine lose or break his firesteel or firestrike which his ancestor that first ran the smithy, and every generation of smiths has been using ever since to start the forgefire.
   JimG - Monday, 06/01/09 12:39:00 EDT

Rachel; Picturesque and Dramatic Destruction of Villain's Forge:

It's 1811 and the Napoleonic Wars are still in motion. Have the heroine dump a dozen cartridges worth of loose gunpowder up through the flapper valves in the bottom of the bellows. When the smith starts his fire in the morning he would not only blow out the bellows, but probably set the forge building on fire as well! Stuff enough gunpowder up the valve (from, perhaps, a "souvenir" howitzer shell) and you could probably blow the roof off the building!

(Exact results are somewhat debatable; I've worked with a lot of black powder, but I've never been crazy enough to try something like this.)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/01/09 20:49:39 EDT

Well . . . to REALLY hurt a smith, if he's any good, you would have to physically hurt HIM. Blind, him, cut off his hands (or more). To destroy his shop might be an emotional or psychic set back but a trained smith would be able to rebuild and be back to it.

Gunpowder in the bellows would definitely do the trick. The first few grains that reached the fire would probably blow back and set off the rest. . . It would get the forge, bellows and operator. . . However, it is common for an apprentice to build the morning fire so you might be killing the innocent.

An old wive's tale about the forge is if you put a penny in the fire it will prevent the smith from being able to make a forge weld. This has no basis in fact but the belief persists. Maybe the forge (and fuel stock) could be contaminated with a "magic" powder that would prevent welds from sticking. This would put a smith out of business in a short time and possibly cause him to go insane.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/02/09 01:15:09 EDT

I got a problem.
I have seen a great looking finish (etched) but can´t figure out how it´s done

I´d add a link to a pic but guess that´s not working through this form.

I´m talking about the finish of the Kiku knives.
Maybe you know them.

It´s an etched finish

   alfred - Tuesday, 06/02/09 04:03:05 EDT

Linesman hammer: So can this be used at the anvil? I was thinking of forging it out to a different shape if needed. The straight peen hammer head I got is amazing. I had to grind out the mushroomed face and clean up the peen (which is longer than the face).
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/02/09 07:54:34 EDT

Rachel, I think the penny-in-the-forge is a good direction to take. You're looking for an accident, so how about she went to heat up a copper pot, not thinking how hot a forge really gets? The water boiled away and the pot melted in the forge. If the old, evil, blacksmith was superstitious about copper in the forge, that would easily set him off.

   - Marc - Tuesday, 06/02/09 07:59:18 EDT

Kiku Knives: Alfred, On the makers web site there are six knives with six completely different finishes. All are the high art of an exceptional craftsperson. These blades are also NOT made by one person, they are made by a number of specialists.

On several of the blades there are fairly normal etched finishes that require the steel to have the texture IN it from the welded layers. No amount of etching produces this texture. There are two of these and two with the standard Japanese sword finishes which are a combination of steel, heat treat, etch and polish. A high art.

Another blade has some type of baked on black texture finish. This is not an etch, it is a high tech finish that you MIGHT find if you research the blade and finishing industry magazines.

Another is an artistic etch created by coating the edges of the blade with a resist and then dribbling what looks like a melted wax consistency (heavy liquid) resist on the blade in an artistic manner then etching. This could also be the result of a photo resist etch with the pattern developed by an artist to fit the blade. In this case every blade would have the same pattern. However, there is a higher probability that the ARTIST creates the pattern on each blade and that there is a good bit of randomness involved in the final outcome, as in most art.

All of these finishes may be the work of different individuals or at least several different individuals. There is no formula or trick to them, they are high art and some of the methods probably proprietary (secret). AND the finisher is in several cases only one step in the process. But as high art they could probably tell you EXACTLY how they do it and you probably could not. It is art and technology, both are required.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/02/09 09:48:39 EDT

Hammers used at the anvil: About the ONLY hammer not used at the anvil is a carpenter's claw hammer. All others are acceptable.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/02/09 10:26:52 EDT

Alfred....A couple of those knives look like the scale was left on and hammered into the blades...personally I prefer making Damascus to trying to add a finish to a blade,Except maybe if these are some kind of esoteric Japanese style that I'm not aware of.
   - Arthur - Tuesday, 06/02/09 10:55:40 EDT

What is a good substance to cure the metal in?
   - Brandon Williams - Tuesday, 06/02/09 20:42:05 EDT

I send all my substance-abusing metal to the Betty Ford Clinic.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/02/09 21:10:57 EDT

Claw hammers in the smithy:

I confess that I keep my trusty 26 oz. Vaughn framing hammer close at hand when I'm forging. Not to hit anything with, but as a back scratcher. Forging is the tropics gets hot and sweaty in no time flat and then my back itches like fury and I've never found a better back scratcher than the claws on that framing hammer. I've also used the checkered face for texturing, but I didn't really like the results.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/02/09 21:13:58 EDT

Geez Vic, does every body have one of those hammers?
You're the forth or fifth person I know of that has that hammer. I have several Vaughn hammers from the framing to the 32oz. ball pein to the 3lb cross pein (5 of those actualy, in various tool boxes between home and work)
I think they are an exalent American made hammer, I wish they came in a greater veriaty of weights and shapes.

Teusday is "goin to the dump day" and I came home with a pair of 1.25" X 24" chromed rods out of a couple of hydraulic cylinders. Good threads on the piston ends, straight and no scratches with only a little wear to be seen. Only the pivot/coupling eye is broken on one of them.
I can't decide if I should put them in the stock rack for some project or use the as guid rails for something.
Any thoughts anyone?
   - merl - Tuesday, 06/02/09 22:10:00 EDT

Hmmmm Cure. . You cure hams, tobacco, illnesses. . . not metals.

Brandon, you need to either define what your goal is and ask a well formed question OR read a book or two on metal work. We have two full basic texts on-line (see eBooks) that are a good start. See the suggestions in our "Getting Started in Blacksmithing" article.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/02/09 22:45:06 EDT


Way back when, when I was a lot younger and hardier, I did a couple summers as a framer. Didn't take me long to learn that the Vaughn is the best hammer out there, and I have the 12oz trim hammer, 16 oz finish hammer, a 24 oz smooth face framing hammer, the afore-mentioned 26 oz waffle-face framing hammer and a 32 oz. rigging axe for the rough stuff. I also have an Estwing steel-shank hammer that I lend out since I can't hit squat with that thing. I know I could never put in a day framing with that rig axe these days or I'd be crippled for a week afterwards, but I still keep it around. My wife has staked claim to the 12 oz claw hammer, too.

Those cylinder rods would make good guide rails if you could find some linear bearings to fit them. One of them would make a shiny center post for a set of fireplace tools, too. :-)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/02/09 23:05:51 EDT

Well, you actually "cure" some of the precipitation hardening metals, don't you? I think the proper solution for them is called "tincture of time."
   vicopper - Tuesday, 06/02/09 23:06:55 EDT

"aging" is the word, not cure. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 00:14:34 EDT

Lets see. . . some folks "season" cast iron cookware and some might call it "curing". . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 01:11:53 EDT

I am writing a History of the Adjustable Spanner (Wrench) in the UK and would love you to recommend a comprehensive book on the History of Blacksmithing which should include evidence of the variety of work done in the 18th Century and evidence of subsequent specialisation, roughly in parallel with the Industrial Revolution. Many thanks in anticipation.
   - Ron Geesin - Wednesday, 06/03/09 03:20:53 EDT

I am writing a History of the Adjustable Spanner (Wrench) in the UK (where it all started) and would love you to recommend a book on the History of Blacksmithing that should include evidence of product diversification in the 18th Century and subsequent specialisations roughly in parallel with the Industrial Revolution.
   Ron Geesin - Wednesday, 06/03/09 03:29:38 EDT

Ron Geesin: You may have better luck researching early publications of the machinist trade. While the terms of machinist and blacksmithing are sometimes used interchangeably, to me they are different trades.

Then you have common names of wrenches themselves. In the US a pipe wrench is commonly called a monkey wrench, although likely it has little resemblence of the wrench pattened by Charles Moncke in England.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/03/09 04:14:29 EDT

“Pickling” would be another more valid process than “curing”
   - Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 06/03/09 06:19:49 EDT

Ah, Ken, now you're starting something! Firstly, I have most of the History of Adjustables ready (in files, papers and collection) and just want to check early background: that's the Blacksmithing bit. Secondly, there was no Charles Moncke! Having looked at all the 'theories' about 'Monkey', it's most likely that it's simply that the head profile of some early 'coach wrenches' looked like a monkey's head. The term 'Monkey Wrench' first appears in the R. Timmins (Birmingham, England) Pattern Book c.1840 and very likely then travelled to America, where it stuck!!
   Ron Geesin - Wednesday, 06/03/09 06:20:09 EDT

Merl, those cylinder rods may not be accurate enough for linear bearings/ guide rod use. Cylinders run the rods thru bronze guide bushings at the head and use soft rod seals. Recirculating ball linear bearings need more accurately controlled OD and straightness than cylinders.
Cylinder rods are usually IHCP, Induction Hardened, Chrome Plated stock. If you go in under the chrome from the end with acarbide cutter, say about 0.060" deep, you can machine off the chrome and very hard outer layer, and then thread etc These rods are very tuff and have excellent tensile strenght. Good machine building stuff. If the chrome is good, running in bronze plain bearings with oil, excellent.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/03/09 06:24:17 EDT

"What is a good substance to cure the metal in?"

I dunno... Dayquil? Pennicilin?
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 06/03/09 08:29:42 EDT

History of the adjustable Spanner: The need for the tool followed the large use of nuts and bolts for the assembly of various equipment AND was itself a product of mass production. Use of bolts for assembly was not very popular until standards evolved and they themselves were produced on specialized machines. Most of these tools use a screw for adjustment which took them out of the realm of most blacksmith shops making them a specialty to manufacture (like vises). So I doubt that you are looking at an item traditionally or commonly made by blacksmiths.

The most commonly used adjustables in the US today are the Crescent and the Vise-Grip. I do not know the history of the Crescent wrench but I think its an American invention. The history of the Vise-Grip is well known. It was invented to be adjustable tongs by a blacksmith for blacksmiths but found a much more accepting market among machine and auto mechanics.

Monkey is applied to a great many things in various trades. In blacksmithing a "monkey tool" is a simple block with a hole in it. On ships it was a place to put cannon balls. I think in many trades it was used like "whatchmacalit" (a term from the German) for things without a formal name.

Early Blacksmithing References are few. As Ken noted trade publications such as catalogs are more common. The only early reference I have dates from the late 1700's and while it has many common tools there are no adjustable wrenches. They have dozens of hand and pin vices, needle nose pliers that look like modern tools but no wrenches at all. Screw plates, small screw turning machines, screw drivers. . . but no wrenches.

One of the sweetest little adjustables I've had (and passed on) was a little British made tool labeled "King Dick". They were part of the tool kit in many British cars and most US mechanics that worked on imports knew what a King Dick was. These were about as tight and well made as such a tool could be.

As a professional mechanic for many years I had pride in my tools that included one or more combination wrenches (spanners) to fit every size English, Metric, Whitworth and British Standard fastener. I never had an adjustable until many years later and then I did not purchase them, they just drifted my way.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 08:48:41 EDT

The original Crescent Wrench was produced by the Diamond Horseshoe Co. of Duluth, MN. Later Cooper Tools. Who did the get all of the State and Local save the Jobs funds, and leave town in the middle of the night trick. So there is a blacksmith connection.
   - Hudson - Wednesday, 06/03/09 09:20:38 EDT

I had an elder British student, now living in Colorado, who called all wrenches "spanners," adjustable or no. In the States, the spanner is a pin spanner, fixed and not adjustable. One of my references is Ludwig's "Metalwork Technology and Practice" 1947.

One old forged wrench that I see quite often in antique malls and on eBay is the wagon hub wrench. Those wrenches were used frequently, so that grease could be applied.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/03/09 09:58:09 EDT

What's more, the original Crescent Wrench was a copy of the Bahco (J.P.Johannson, Sweden, 1892) which was a modification of the original Richard Clyburn pattern of England.
   Ron Geesin - Wednesday, 06/03/09 10:00:55 EDT

Early smithing references: Don't forget "Mechanics Exercises" which was published in 1703 (early 1700's!) and dates a bit earlier in the writing of it. (which may be what you were thinking of Jock as I remember the big point about screw plates be a necessary tool in the blacksmith's shop)

Late 1700's I would go with Diderot's Encyclopedia if you can find the unabridged version.

The history of blacksmithing has about 2000 years *before* the industrial revolution; perhaps a history of it during the IR might be more useful...

If you have time; contacting the old tool companies to see if they still have anything in their company libraries might help. Also perusing the patents to see what was being done when.

Most american books on historical blacksmithing reference the situation in America which was very different from that of England or Europe. (frontier, no strong guild system, etc)

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/03/09 10:37:15 EDT

Yes ptree, I agree with that. I ment they were in good shape for apair of used rods salvaged from the dump.
I would definatly run bronze bushings and probably 32 hydraulic oil deliverd from cups or maybe a central one shot oiler.
They definatly scream "power hammer slides"

"Monkey Wrench" I always thought the term monkey wrench was applied to any of the double open end wrenches with an extream latteral offset, almost so that they look like an "S"
Grandfather," Hand me that monkey wrench",
Grandson," What's a monkey wrench?"
Grandfather, "The one shaped like an S "
Grandson, "Then why's it called a monkey wrench?"
Grandfather,"Because you have to be a MONKEY to get your arm in there to use it and the shape makes it easier to use in this tight space."
Grandson,"Ohh, I see..."
Excerpt taken from an actual conversation some 40 years ago while working on a combine with my grandfather.
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/03/09 12:29:50 EDT

The problem era in the industrial technical revolution is the late 1700's and early 1800's. So much was going on so fast and so much was NOT recorded.

As soon as I posted on the Crescent Wrench I knew I was wrong. I've had older similar wrenches. They (Crescents) have patent numbers on them but that would be a design patent covering the specifics of the pattern, not the mechanical design.

Now. . . a better book to write would not be the history of these specific tools but the best invention date, inventor and country of invention of as many tools as possible.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 12:41:00 EDT

Merl, Sorry, your Grandfather was mistaken.

Open end Wrench (common Spanner) most often with double ends - different sizes. The 15° offset to the ends that allow half flat rotations on a hex lends to the "S" shape which was exaggerated on early wrenches.

Combination Wrench - Open end and box end, same size.

Box End Wrench - Closed ends, two different sizes.

Monkey Wrench - Adjustable spanner.

Pipe Wrench - Several types, most common modern type has torque pivoting L shaped adjustable jaw (THE Stilson wrench - 1869). The prior two were the old plain type with stepped teeth and afterward had a single "claw" and cam surface. All designed to grip a round surface.

Stilson pipe wrenches and adjustable spanners are often confused. I know I have done so.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 13:57:08 EDT

Oh no, Grandpa was never wrong, just ask him.
No wait, there was one time when he addmited to being wrong, and that was the one time when he thought he was wrong... (grin)
   - merl - Wednesday, 06/03/09 15:36:46 EDT

Sounds, like my Dad. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/03/09 17:42:09 EDT

See eBay listing # 110397861213 for an example of an early adjustable wrench. These are often listed in eBay as a blacksmithing tool. Might have been within the capability of a skilled blacksmithing to make.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 06/03/09 17:52:41 EDT

Curing metal -- wet burlap? (Works for concrete)
   Mike BR - Wednesday, 06/03/09 18:20:53 EDT

My Grandpop thought He was wrong once, but He was mistaken...

As a kid I was helping Grandpop repair the water system at His house [gravity fed from the spring]. I had never worked on plumbimg unions for 1 1/4" pipe before. I asked how tight I needed to make them. He said "Water Tight".
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/03/09 21:25:52 EDT

Yah Ken, Those wrenches were called pipe tongs in the old catalogs. My 1894 catalog shows four different brands, each brand manufactured in different size capacities. But the Stillson wrench had come on the market at that time and soon became the common pipe wrench.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/03/09 23:25:19 EDT

Talking about Dads...I don't think there was anything my father didn't know about metal fabrication!! I just wished I had paid more attention...
   - Arthur - Thursday, 06/04/09 00:31:36 EDT


Dad just picked up an old cast-iron portable forge. I forgot the name cast in the blower, but the hearth is interesting. It’s a big flat-bottomed round pan, about 4” deep, 24” diameter, with an air grate that domes UP about two inches in the center of this. The grate is a cast piece with holes for the air. This differs from the “duck-nest” firepot I’m used to seeing. Perhaps this is designed for clay?

The blower has the name cast in to it, which I can’t remember, but it was a single-syllable last name, and says “Lancaster, PA” The blower works quite well. The assembly has four legs made of pipe, bent out at the bottom to form feet.
I was at the auction when this was purchased last summer, and an older gentleman (maybe Wallace Yater himself, but I didn’t know it @ the time) told me it was a charcoal forge. There is a longer story about the auction, which I will save.
Looking for any info known, despite my spotty description.
Thanks as always.
   - Dave Leppo - Thursday, 06/04/09 08:44:41 EDT

It is a Champion portable or rivet type forge. The bottom does require clay.
   - Rustymetal - Thursday, 06/04/09 09:39:29 EDT

It's not a Champion. the name is a man's first two initials followed by a single-sylable sir-name.

You may be right about clay, though.
   Dave Leppo - Thursday, 06/04/09 09:55:21 EDT

The guy who remodeled our kitchen used a big old framing hammer for everything, including trim work. He had worn the cross hatching off down to just a few faint lines. Used it quite well too.
   Brian C - Thursday, 06/04/09 11:18:55 EDT

Greetings all, quick question. I am making a hammer to do some hot and cold raising for armor production. What color do you guys like to temper your raising hammers to? Given that the hammer will be used on hot and cold steel from 20ga. to 14ga.
   Jed Depew - Thursday, 06/04/09 11:40:04 EDT

Old Forge: Well, it might not be a Champion brand, but it was likely made by Champion. They made things for other folks. But then Champion was not the only manufacturer in the area.

The products offered by some of these companies were very likely made by others. I have three different old belt driven drill presses, a J.Y Ryerson and Sons, a Royersford Excelsior and a Champion. There is probably 25 years difference between each but most of the parts are interchangeable. I recently took spindle thrust bearings out of the Ryerson to put into the Champion. Many other parts interchange even though the machines are different sizes.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/04/09 12:12:35 EDT

Hammer Temper: Jed, It depends on the steel the hammer is made of. Those made of 1050 are often just normalized and used as-is. Those made of higher carbon are selectively tempered and those made of high grade tool steels are selectively hardened and tempered.

According to the 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker by Holford, machinists and blacksmiths hammers made of 75 point carbon steel should be tempered to a blue. That is about Rockwell 56C. The only hammers made harder are for stone cutting.

Many prefer to harden just the face and peen. They can be slightly harder with a soft body but I would not recommend harder. However, with high carbon tool steels the temper temperature will have to be higher. In fact some tool steels temper out beyond the normal temper color range.

Temper Color Chart with Hardnesses
   - guru - Thursday, 06/04/09 13:05:16 EDT

Champion in Lancaster, PA: 1875 - 1966. They had different layouts to mark their tools over the years.* By hearsay, I understand that the earliest forges were called "Lancaster," and so was the company. I also understand that Channellock took over, and subsequently moved to Meadville, PA.
* "Directory of American Toolmakers" 1999.

For my forging hammers which are made out of old truck axles (approximately 0.50% carbon), I harden the face, not the eye, in water, and I agitate. I have a forged turned-eye of 7/8" square with a lengthy handle which I heat to a welding heat and drop over the quenched and scale free face, as the face protrudes above the vise jaws. The turned-eye is a snug fit on the hammer head, and I temper to a dark straw by heat conduction.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 06/04/09 15:13:24 EDT

I have an old portable Champion rivet forge and have not clayed the pan. I noticed after using it a few times, the tuyer has gotten hot enough to burn off the linseed oil finish I put on it when I cleaned it up. The pan shows virtually no sign of high temperature and I still have no plans to clay it. The operative word is PORTABLE.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/04/09 17:06:55 EDT

Oh opps sorry... i heard something about curing metals and well i guess i shouldn't have listened...
   - Brandon Williams - Thursday, 06/04/09 18:31:59 EDT

Brandon....On the bladesmith forums I've seen discussions on how to "age" a blade to give it an antique look...Is that what your talking about?...people have suggested ideas like: hot salt and peroxide or 13-13-13 fertilizer.
   - Arthur - Thursday, 06/04/09 20:05:42 EDT

Brands: As well as changing brand marketing many itemes were sold under their sub-brands, designer, inventor or patent holder.

Aging, patina, distressing, quick rusting, corroding: None are a "cure". They may be a finish or a process. . . still a problem of terminology.

There are many people that use very poor terminology or repeat things they do not understand and replace words due to a lack of vocabulary. Such is life. . .

   - guru - Thursday, 06/04/09 20:34:53 EDT

Thanks. It probably IS a champion, with another (man’s) name cast in the blower. Dad and I plan to consult our local metalsmith guru, Rube Miller, on Saturday to discuss repairs & restoration.

I would like to avoid the clay, and retrofit a flat pan with the firepot built-in, which would sit in place atop the original cast-iron pan. I envision an eight-inch thick flat plate with a 10” hole at the center. Welded to this would be a tapered collar of thicker material sloping down toward the tuyer, incorporating the sides of a fire-pot and using the center of the original pan as the bottom. I would probably replace the existing domed grate with a flat one. This would give a narrow but deep firepot.
   - Dave Leppo - Friday, 06/05/09 06:33:29 EDT

Dave, I've got a piece of 8" plate 48" in diameter. It weighs almost exactly 4,000 pounds. . . ;)
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 07:20:28 EDT

What in God's name do you need a piece of steel that big for?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/05/09 08:25:13 EDT

Just a little scrap. . . It goes with a 16" round bar that the combined weight will be over 6,000 pounds. Its to replace the anvil on a 350 pound steam hammer. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 08:39:19 EDT

16" bar! I thought I used big stuff but the biggest I use is only 8". My recent coffee table sculpture weighed in at a mere 75kg.
   philip in china - Friday, 06/05/09 09:09:58 EDT

read eighTH-inch

   Dave Leppo - Friday, 06/05/09 10:11:52 EDT

Whew---you had us worried there. next we were thinking you would be chucking that 8" plate in your lathe and turning the firepot out of it!

Of course Patrick can tell stories of them working 40" dia stuff where he works at Scott Forge!

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/05/09 11:12:45 EDT

After forging steel, how do what methods are used to remove the scale ? For some reason I was thinking of
acetone, I think they use it for cleaning bricks etc.

   Mike T. - Friday, 06/05/09 12:48:05 EDT

Mike, acetone will not remove scale from iron nor is it used to clean bricks. A dilute solution of hydrochloric acid (HCl) can be used for both. You can get HCl at Lowes, Home Depot or a pool supply place. HOWEVER! HCl is dangerous (it can burn flesh), may create chlorine fumes (which can be fatal) and is not to be used without the proper precautions (face shield, rubber gloves, respirator, etc. since it can explode if mixed improperly). You don't indicate your age but if you are under 21 I STRONGLY suggest you go to method B which is a wire brush and elbow grease.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 06/05/09 14:13:14 EDT

And when you are done with the acid it may be classified as hazardous waste.
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 14:47:38 EDT

I couldn't help it. "eight inch plate" ;)
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 14:59:01 EDT

Mike T. I often use a "knotted" (twisted strands) wire cup with my small angle grinder. The Norton Bear-tex wheel will remove scale. I use it with a light touch, because it can gouge or disfigure the work. For hard to reach places, I tear a thin strip from a used sanding belt and run it back and forth. Building supply and welding supply places have this stuff.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/05/09 14:59:03 EDT

Alright Guru, How do I make a sword?...Just kidding, but not really. I have read your article on this question and I agree with everything you've said, especially the part about the level of experience and skill those in your trade have aquired and I mean no insult in this request, so let me explain. As a 31yo police officer and former Marine, I live in an age by the gun, not the sword, so my reasons I will explain. Being a history buff of Germanic descent and planning a wedding, I have my heart set on swearing my vows to my bride on a very special sword that will become hers as part of an ancient Norse wedding custom. Since I have no dead relatives that can give me an ancestral sword, I have decided to make one with my own two hands because I feel that is the next best thing and very sentimental...right, what I am getting myself into? Now, I have absolutely no knowledge in your field, I am handy and I worked on airframes in the Corps so I understand some metal working but I really don't know anything about metal. I have a friend who makes knives and has a lot of equipment to do so, and we are going to cheat. We are not going to forge and hammer the steel from a chunk, we are going to order a plate, cut it, grind it, and ultimately polish it. This much I think I can handle. I hope to find a local forge in the Raleigh, NC area that will allow me to harden, quench, and temper the blade myself, under their skilled supervision of course, because I believe that this will add so much more to what I'm trying to accomplish. My question to you is what type of steel should I order for this project? I don't mind if it looks authentic or new, the plan is a handmade, by me, replica of a Norse sword that I can handle the making of. I have ordered "The Art of Blacksmithing" as suggested in your resourses area but it will be another week before I get it, and even then, the knowledge required for this one simple question I doubt I can learn from any book in a timely manner, but I believe you can answer it. I really want to get started on this and I'm ready to order the steel. In your advice, please keep in mind that I really want to be the one to physically remove the blade from the forge and quench it, even though this sword should never see combat, that's what my 45 is for. Thank you in advance for your help, and I hope I have not come across as a complete tool in asking you how to make a sword.
   James - Friday, 06/05/09 16:24:20 EDT

Material Choices: James, For a blade that is going to be symbolic I really recommend stainless. It is hard to hurt and heating and quenching will increase its corrosion resistance. However, if heated you will need to grind and polish off the scale. If you have forged runes or have heavy engraving on the blade they can remain black.

While it is not traditional (not even available until the 20th century). But you can polish it, hang it on the wall and it will look the same (except for dust) a hundred years from now. . . Carbon steel will need to be cleaned and oiled every so often and unless an abrasive is used will eventually be a nice brown color.

If you want to harden and temper a modern steel then you have lots of choices. However, they are still no more "traditional" than using stainless, they ARE modern steels and their method of manufacture centuries different.

An "Ancient Norse" sword would probably (I'll sure I'll get corrections on this) be soft wrought iron with steel edges or a soft core with steel slabs and edges. If not then it would be made of a quite primitive hand worked steel.

Otherwise. . . any grade of spring steel is probably the best.

By making the blade of stainless you can shortcut a lot of technical effort. Even if you do the stainless wrong it will still be OK. But your effort into making the furniture and decorating the sword. A series of runes forged into the blade (you would need to make rune punches). OR carved into the furniture. There are some real nice laminated guard and pommel designs that go nicely with braided wire-wrapped grips. Do it right and will be a work of art you will be proud to pass down to your children. . . But you better plan on making more than one.

Start with stainless bar stock as close as you can get to size. Saw the profile, grind the section using a belt sander or angle grinder (note that stainless does not grind well and will wreck hard vitreous wheels). File the details, engrave, sand, polish and then spend your time on the REAL work, making the furniture.

See our bladsmithing references if for nothing more than design ideas. Sword Making Resources:
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 17:46:12 EDT

Guru; is your advice towards using a low carbon stainless for a display piece? Sure simplifies heat treat issues for stainless.

For a "using" blade I would go with 5160 or 1070 as an alloy choice.

Or to get *real* fancy you can buy a pattern welded billet and then do stock removal on it for the blade!

The wedding's not for a year or two right?

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/05/09 18:16:25 EDT

Stainless it is, thanx for the help and other tips too. I had thought of possibly having the blade etched or engraved once all else was done, but your mention of punched runes is very appealing. At what point should they be punched into the blade, in the shaping process or while the metal is hot? I think black runes in the blade itself would really look great and much more a part of the sword than just having something "scratched" into the metal.
Thanx again.
   James - Friday, 06/05/09 18:48:45 EDT

Thomas P
I've got time, but my status of being less than a novice means I need something that I'm least likely to screw up. While I am prepared and intend to put in the work, I don't want to do it twice. It would be nice to have something functional, because really why else have a sword, but I don't want to get into something over my head. If a stainless alloy of some sort would be more functional, yet still maintain the low maintenance and higher margin of error in prep, than I would go with it, even if it costs a little more and took more work to grind and polish. I guess the real issue would be a metal that I'm not likely to ruin in the heating and tempering process, in the event that I find a forge that will let me do it, they may not be the most knowledgable when it comes to swordsmithing. That and I really like the idea of punching the ruins into the blade, would an alloy handle that as well as stainless?
Thank you all so much for your input, your knowledge is invaluable to me. James
   James - Friday, 06/05/09 19:01:00 EDT

Yes, I was speaking of 304 or 304L for a display blade, not a hardenable cutlery stainless.

James, In the case of making a 304L SS blade you may forge it to shape (thus many heats) or grind it to shape and the only reason to heat it would be to hot stamp the runes. If deeply hot stamped you could do quite a bit of grinding afterward to clean up. You could hot punch any steel. The stainless would give the best color contrast.

To use runes the stamps would need to be made of tool steel. It is mostly a fine grinding/filing job. Properly made each punch would be a stroke or two of a character and each punch could be used to make multiple characters. In this type work the punches would be simple and flat ended. Some straight and some curved. There are sloping W, F and E type characters and shapes used in various ways.

Step one is to research the rune characters and translate the word, name or words (in whatever language) and then create the needed punches from there. Remember that in doing hot work of this type you have one chance to make a mark or two. It may take more than one heat to create a single character.

For making these tools see Touchmarks and Matrix Punches

And Making Repousse' Tools. This is somewhat applicable.

If you need some help with the punches I am currently hiding out near Yadkinville in Boonville. I've always wanted to make a set of rune punches. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 20:18:09 EDT

Steel Plate: At the auto frame plant We had steel plate up to 12" thick and a flame cutting machine to cut it with. This would have been great for power hammer building, but a 1500# anvil sized chunk would have been hard to sneak out of the place in a lunch box.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/05/09 20:29:28 EDT

Dave, that is even tricky in pickup truck. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 21:11:33 EDT

runes drawing by j.dempsey

Basic rune punches. Those underlined are complex punches. Most of these could be made using a grinder and a file. A Dremel tool would make some of the work easier. The complex ones need to be either hot punched or drilled or milled.
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 21:11:36 EDT

Mike T.....Soaking overnite in vinger will remove scale..
   - Arthur - Friday, 06/05/09 22:05:31 EDT

Quenchcrack, Mr. Turley, Guru,

Thank you for your responses to my question. I am making
my first knife ( 1095 ) I spent a long time getting a
shiny glass finish on it. This afternoon I heated it and
quenched it. It looks good except for the scale, looks
like baked on varnish. Mr. Turley hit the nail on the head,
because I don't want to mar the fine finish. Guru, I will
soak it overnight in vinegar and see what happens. On my above post I mentioned acetone, I thought it might dissolve the gunk, wipe it off, then soak in baking soda
water, that was just a thought :) As always, I really appreciate everyones response.....this is a very good site.
   Mike T. - Friday, 06/05/09 23:01:48 EDT

Mike, Final finishing is done after heat treating.

If quenched in oil you may have burned on or hardened oil. That might come off with a solvent. The coloring oxidation will not come off with solvent.

The vinegar is a weak acetic acid. It will etch off scale and produce a flat finish. It will not remove burned on oil.

The normal procedure is to harden and temper then finish. If tempering by color then sandpaper or a soft wheeled grinder is taken to enough of the work to see the color immediately after the quench. Then the work is heated to temper color. Normally the tang (if hardened) is tempered as soft as it will.

After tempering the final surface is ground and an edge put on. Normally the blade should be left blunted prior to hardening so that it can be ground back to good clean material. If the blade is to be polished this is done last.
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 23:43:49 EDT

Mike, note that you do not need to start over again. You will just have to do a little refinishing. The steel possibly being harder now will be a little tougher to sand. If you do not jump to too fine a grit too fast the work will proceed faster.
   - guru - Friday, 06/05/09 23:49:46 EDT

Disabled Blacksmiths

Does anybody know of any organisation etc. dealing with disabled smiths?
   philip in china - Saturday, 06/06/09 01:52:40 EDT

Yadkinville, huh? Can you e-mail me directly?
   James - Saturday, 06/06/09 04:28:59 EDT

About runes: I used to study and follow Norse mythology, Odinism and rune casting. I made my first elder Futhark rune set from stones I pulled from an icy stream in the woods. One of the reasons the runes forms are the way they are is that they are mostly comprised of straight lines that intersect. When I put the symbols into the stones I used a Dremel, but for metal all you really need is a chisel. Depending on which set you prefer, runes have no curvy lines, so a short chisel can be used for the small staves on the runes and a wider chisel for the longer uprights. James, if you REALLY want to be serious with putting the runes in the sword, you should mix up your own tiver (a red paste like material to fill the engraving, this magickally "charges" the runes). Tiver is usually mixed with the makers blood. I would recommend you mix it with you and your prospective wifes blood.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 06/06/09 08:17:06 EDT

Smithing Runes:

First question: how big do you want the runes to be? If theyre half an inch or less you might be able to punch them in with only two chisels (and maybe a few replacements). Most runes consist of a stave and branches, the branches being about 1/3 the length of the stave. (Lay it out, see what proportion looks best.)

Second question: How extensive do you want the script to be? Do you plan to run it down both sides if the sword or just some short symbolic inscription on the ricasso?

What Ive done is used the two chisel system to cut them in, stave and branches, one line at a time. Ground-dawn masonry nails, heated and quenched in bacon grease, will sometimes suffice. For a larger scale you can probably buy or modify chisels in the right proportions. Also critical is to do trial pieces on the same metal that you plan for the inscription, at the same state of hardness.

The trick is a steady hand, keeping the chisels at the proper angle and making sure each rune is aligned, and practice, practice, practice!

Cloudy and cool and (thank God{s})dry on the banks of the lower Potomac; scribing, carving, scratching, and smithing runes since about 1965.

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 06/06/09 08:20:12 EDT


I don't know the answer, but your question isn't clear to me (maybe it's due to a difference between English and American usage). Do you mean an organization that helps people with disabilities learn/perform blacksmithing, or an organization that assists (financially or otherwise) people who used to blacksmith, but can no longer do so?
   Mike BR - Saturday, 06/06/09 09:46:45 EDT

Sorry Mike. I have been tasked to help some disabled people (injured in the big quake) to learn some practical skills for their villages. I have been doing this anyway for able bodied people but want to speak with anybody with experience of people with disabilities working with steel. Obviously we are not talking about severe multiple disabilities.
   philip in china - Saturday, 06/06/09 10:37:32 EDT

Phillip, I had a one legged man as a student about 25 years ago. He is still blacksmithing in a museum situation.

In WW II, Bob Gerkin was in the army in Asia running pack strings behind enemy lines. He found a legless Chinese man who was a professional horseshoe nail maker. The U.S. packers would carry the man from place to place. When he worked, they would put him on the ground with a charcoal fire and his tools. Gerkin later founded and operated Bob Gerkin's School of Horseshoeing in Houston, Texas, until his passing.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 06/06/09 12:54:48 EDT

When Im making blades Ive started to finish them to 200 grit, then paint them with a very thin slurry of firecement (looks like putty from DIY stores for repairing fireplaces in the home, mix a pinch with a bit of water).

Dry it in the dragons breath of the forge, then heat and quench. Keeps the unwanted oxygen from the blade, same finish after h.t. as before :)

James, Ive never made a sword but will no doubt at some point. It would be very nice to use carbon steel for your project as the heat treatment puts the 'soul' into the steel, Ie takes it from being a bar of metal into being a sword in a few seconds.

Stainless just seems to be a bit lifeless to me.

Not all ancient swords were 4' long, you could 'stock remove' a small sword, and still have a chance of someone being able to heat treat it for you without to much specialist equipment. ( you can buy O1 tool steel in pretty much any sized ground flat bar which is very consistant material, and simple-ish to heat treat )

There are several websites specialising in blades who may be able to point you in the direction of a local bladesmith who will help with your project.
   - John N - Saturday, 06/06/09 19:14:45 EDT

Scaling: ITC recommends using their ITC-213 for reducing scaling on billets. It is used mostly for exotic alloys in place of special atmosphere furnaces. It can also be used for standard steel and heat treatment. A very thin almost transparent coating is all that is needed.

I haven't had a chance to experiment with it but will do so in the future.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/06/09 20:12:31 EDT

I'm having about 30 sword blanks cut from 304 and 316 stainless plate (14 and 12 gauge) for sword swallowing. I do not DO the act, I am just making them for a 10 sword stack one guy commisioned me for. The rest will be stock for requests by other sw/swallowers.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 06/06/09 20:33:52 EDT

Swordsmith to the stars. . . ;)
   - guru - Saturday, 06/06/09 21:47:09 EDT

Bruce, I've been following the stuff about the Runes but, now I'm a little confused. Are the runes stamped ONTO the surface or are they actualy cut in with material removed?
You sound like you're saying they are cut INTO the surface, yes?
   - merl - Saturday, 06/06/09 22:51:40 EDT

Merl, I was suggesting hot stamping with flat ended punches for a bold look. I think Bruce was talking about either incising narrow lines or engraving them.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/06/09 23:52:45 EDT

Thank you everyone on the board for your help. Guru the
vinegar did take the scaling off !!!!! I also used a soft copper scrub pad and it comes right off....I am also going to try the ITC 213.

Thank you,
   Mike T. - Sunday, 06/07/09 01:36:10 EDT

When coating a blade prior to h.t make sure that the coating is very even thickness what ever you use. I did one that had 'streaks' from the paintbrush in, Yup, on etch they showed up as a series of faint 'hamon' !
   - John N - Sunday, 06/07/09 04:48:50 EDT

Nip, so I guess you probably have a pretty good receipe for swords, eh?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/07/09 07:50:06 EDT

Ack! He did it AGAIN! :) Recipe, Swallowing, Sword. . .

Sounds fishy to me.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/07/09 08:19:55 EDT

You guys!

Fishy..... time to take the rods 'n reels to the creek.

Merl, runes are usually engraved into the surface, in this case, chiseled in.
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 06/07/09 09:08:22 EDT

Guys: Have a decision to make. I need a low-cost welder; the very kind person I borrowed a Lincoln AC tombstone welder from finally asked for it back after a 10-year loan. I had pretty good success with it, but now I have to buy my own.

So, the eternal question: Red or Blue? That is, Lincoln or Miller? Their low-cost AC and AC/DC welders seem very close in cost, features, weight, etc. I'm inclined to Lincoln, since I used one for a decade with good results, but are there any Miller fans out there with a good case for their products? (Or is there a third contender in the same price range that I don't know about...?)


   - Eric Thing - Sunday, 06/07/09 15:05:54 EDT

Eric, I would vote for an AC/DC machine, and both the red and blue are good. Avoid the cheap no names. I would suggest looking at the welding supplier, as they will service and tend to remember folks that buy more than just the rods, when a deal is needed.
I personally have a Lincohn weld-pac 100 mig, an old gas engine Lincohn Sa-200, and a new Miller thunderbolt ac/dc stick machine. All excellent in thier own right.
   ptree - Sunday, 06/07/09 17:35:16 EDT

Eric, I think you will get the same service from either. The real questions are, tap or variable, AC or AC/DC? If these choices are still available.

The original Lincoln Tombstone was a tap type welder. The transformer had multiple taps a various amperage's and no moving parts in the transformer. This is quiet and durable.

The Miller Thunderbolt buzz boxes use a sliding armature for infinite adjustment and had a high and low range. With a little wear the transformer parts rattle more than just a "buzz". Its a goodly growl.

As a newby I thought I needed the fine adjustment of the infinitely variable. You really don't. If you can weld then +/- 10 to 20 amps is nothing and fiddling with the adjust just avoiding the issue of ability.

However, as Ptree noted, DC is handy for many things and almost a necessity in some welding.

My little Miller that I bought in 1973 has been through rain, flood, rust, years of outdoor abuse and is very well used and I am glad I bought it. At the time I went in to buy a Lincoln and was sold the Miller because at the time it was heavier AND cheaper. But I think I would have been happy with either machine.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/07/09 18:18:03 EDT

Runes: Forgive me; I should have made it plain that they would be stamped in vertically, first the stave, then the branches. Complex runes such as the long "O" sound for OEthel (that's the diamond with two angled legs) have to be done in about six strikes; but most are simpler.

As for cutting, I was going to mention the alternative of engraving. I've done very little myself, but since the runes are made up of straight lines it's not too hard. Experienced engravers consider runes to be no challenge at all. So, if I were doing a very fancy sword, and the runes were much over 1/4 inch, I would consider farming out the engraving to an experienced hand. Given the simplicity of cutting the runes, one could probably get a custom price IF the inscription wasn't too long.

Sword Lengths: Swords in the Viking age (depending upon date) had blade lengths ranging from about 23"(62 cm) to as long as 37" (92cm); both the shorter and longer lengths occurring in the later Viking age.

I hope this is of use in the project.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 06/07/09 20:02:11 EDT


I have mostly blue these days, with the exception of a Chinese inverter TIG that I'm learning to like a lot, and a really old Century AC/DC buzz box I've had for thirty years with no issues at all.

I have a friend down here who owns a large fabricating shop and he has always been a Lincoln man - until recently, that is. In the past two years he has had a couple of issues with his Lincons, one a bad spool gun and the other a bad control board in an outrageously expensive inverter TIG. In both cases, he could get absolutely NO decent support from Lincoln. They insisted he had to buy complete new asemblies for high prices, instead of just the parts that actually failed (switch on the spool gun, where they wanted to sell him a $400 motor and a sensor on the TIG where they insisted he had to buy a $1500 board). He is now switching to Miller and has been much happier with the machines and the factory support.

I've had no issues with my Miller equipment and that's the way I'd go if I was in the market for a new welder. My local supplier sells both Miller and Lincoln, but I'd buy the Miller every time.
   vicopper - Sunday, 06/07/09 21:01:29 EDT

Miller and Lincoln are both good- however, I cant imagine buying another buzz box- I have a miller AC DC, my first welder, and it still works fine, but I havent used it in ten years, easy.
For small, precise stuff, tig is the ticket, and if you dont build bridges, the newer inverter tig power supplies, which can run on either 110 or 220, and tell the difference on their own, are really the nicest welder I have used.
About the size of a 50 cal ammunition can, but half the weight, with pulse, the Miller Maxstar 150 STH is my choice, if I had to live with only one welder.
Currently, though, I run two Miller tig machines, on transformer and one inverter, 3 miller wire feeders, including a spool gun, a miller spot welder, a miller stick welder, a miller plasma cutter, and have used a Miller Trailblazer gas drive quite a bit- and, in almost 30 years and close to a dozen machines, one major problem, a $500 board on the transformer tig machine.
Usually 3 of us in the shop, using these machines pretty hard.
So all in all, Miller has done pretty well by me.
   - Ries - Sunday, 06/07/09 22:10:09 EDT

Eric, I tend to buy used small industrial welders. In a stick machine I would choose a Miller Dialarc 250 AC-DC or the same machine in a different color private branded for one of the compressed gas companies OR a Lincoln Idealarc 250 AC-DC. Thes machines have a higher open circut voltage and work better than a homeowner Buz Box. They often go for $300 or less on eBay or Craigs List. I have one of each, got one for $50 the othe for $75, both with cables, but I had had My eye out for a while and just wasn't buying the more expensive ones.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/07/09 22:40:16 EDT

Thanks Guru, I guess I did understand that correctly what you bothe said. Thanks Nip, I got that. Anybody have a resorce for some kind of alphabet or translation?
I printed off what you had above Guru but, what does it mean?

Eric T, you should consider the Linde stuff too.
While I'm partial to Miller ( if for no other reason then they are made right here in Appleton, Wisconsin) I was given a Linde 350 TIG power unit by a former employer when they up graded to a new Miller 351. The Linde always did very good work at the shop and is set up pretty much like the Miller equivelant and easy to use.
Having said all that, there is nothing wrong with any of the Lincoln units I have used over the years.
It will probably come down to the best dealer service for you to make your decision.
   - merl - Sunday, 06/07/09 23:30:16 EDT


Text cast into blower gearbox crank side: D. H. POTTS - LANCASTER, PA, USA - SPIRAL CUT GEAR BLOWER
fan housing far side: NO. 33

There is a hole rusted out on the hearth pan, and a crack. Saturday we tried two cast-iron repair techniques: We brazed a sheet-metal patch under the hole, and bolted a splice-plate under the crack. Both successful (so far). Now to make new legs from pipe...
   Dave Leppo - Monday, 06/08/09 07:48:28 EDT

Rune Translation: Merl, Nothing. That was merely an example of punch types to make bold characters. A set of punches could be just a few straight lines but several with corners or "joints" would do cleaner work. Some of the runic alphabets have curves and these are easier to make with a curved punch or chisel.

Google "rune alphabet" and the first entry of several (from Omniglot) is quite good.

As I noted, to do a nice job the word, name or phrase should be translated to a suitable language THEN made into runes. More mystery. The alphabets also developed over time so for historical accuracy you might want to select runes from the correct time.
   - guru - Monday, 06/08/09 08:56:50 EDT

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