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 8 - 15, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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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

Merl, look up the "Elder Futhark" for the runic symbols and their English sound equivalents. There are 24 characters in the elder, but there are variances in runes from 16 to 36! I prefer the Germanic elder futhark (The word "futhark" is actually an acronym for the first set of 7 runes and their prospective sounds. The elder set consists of 3 sets of eight. Each rune represents a specific hour of the day, location on the compass, etc.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 06/08/09 08:59:49 EDT

I forgot, get some books on the subject if you really want more info. I suggest anything by Nigel Pennick. Secret Games of the Gods is a great one, not too specific to runes, but an eye opener about the games we play.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 06/08/09 09:01:04 EDT

Potts Forge: Potts was a small but significant manufacturer of blacksmiths tools and equipment. I do not have a Potts catalog but I know they made various items.

To make the curved legs a large conduit bender (hickey) will do the job. I have several of these with the largest being for 1" pipe I think. Most electrical contractors have gone to hydraulic units for the larger pipe and now do all but 1/2" on the machines.
   - guru - Monday, 06/08/09 09:02:35 EDT

Welder Purchase Decision: Merl noted one of the important points, a local dealer. To me, a good local welding supplier was a critical vendor for my business. While warrantee and repair issues are unlikely on a buzz box having a good business relationship with a local dealer can mean a lot.

If you purchase equipment on-line or from discounters and then need supplies or service your local dealers have the right to refuse your business and may just do so. If nothing else they will be as unhelpful as possible.

Back when I was blacksmithing full time I used very little in welding supplies but it was just enough that I was in the shop once a month and the guys at the welding shop knew me. If I needed something odd ordered I didn't have to pre-pay and if I needed an extra cylinder for a week there was no complicated paperwork.

When I started I had bought a Sears welding outfit. It was OK equipment but Sears orphaned it before I bought it. . . I realized much later that asking my local welding dealer about parts for it was an insult and not good business. They sold and serviced Victor and AO Smith and I SHOULD have made my equipment purchase from them. A few dollars more for equipment would have sped along a business relationship.

Later I purchased my buzz box, leased cylinders and bought supplies all from the one dealer and we developed a good relationship. But it took a while to get over the purchase of the Sears junk and asking folks that didn't get the benefit of the sale to service it.

In many places the welding suppliers know the steel suppliers and they both know the local industrial hardware suppliers. Having a good relationship with one won't hurt your relationship (or desired relationship) with the others. Their counter people and order desk folks often talk to each other and often the subject is bad or crazy customers. Having a good business relationship goes beyond good credit and may be just as important.
   - guru - Monday, 06/08/09 09:35:00 EDT

Not to rain on anybody's parade but while we do know from sagas that runes were used for things like divination and some inscriptions are indicative of "mystic" meanings; we don't have *ANY* real data on exactly how they interpreted them.

Most of the "systems" you find are made up; some of them ascribed to ancient times.

Stainless alloys suitable for functional swords are MUCH more difficult to work with than plan carbon steel alloys!

Note putting the actual edge on a blade is usually the LAST step done right before shipping the blade out and definitely after the sheath has been made. Hilting a blade with a sharp edge usually results in damage to the edge and the maker!

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/08/09 11:43:42 EDT

When grinding an edge on a knife with a belt grinder what would you do to get the exact angle you want without eyeballing it and doing it free hand?
   Mike - Monday, 06/08/09 15:10:06 EDT

Mike, no tool rest system will give you exactly what you want, although for simple straight edges they can do okay for a rough grind. The best thing to do is practice freehand grinding on hardwood, followed by mild steel until you get the hang of it, and then move on to your blade steel. Not what you wanted to hear, I know, but for anything beyond a straight razor that's about all you can do.

It took me several months to get my grinds to the point I'd use my grinder on a good blade, by the way.

It also occurs to me after typing all this that you may not be asking about grinding the bevels, but rather about sharpening. For that, the answer is pretty much the same if you're gonna do it on a belt grinder.

Finally, are you grinding edge-up? If not, try it. That way you can see what you're doing better.

Finally finally, what kind of belt grinder? Might make a difference, might not.
   Alan-L - Monday, 06/08/09 15:41:41 EDT

Mike....Eyeballing it and doing it free handed are what it's all about!
   - arthur - Monday, 06/08/09 15:43:04 EDT

I remember a discussion a while back concerning the painting of hot-dipped galvanized steel. I tried to search for it with no success. I'm needing some advice on painting some pieces that were just dipped. Can you or anyone else advise? Thanks
   Randy - Monday, 06/08/09 18:30:32 EDT

I finally had a chance to use the Champion Forge/BBQ that I got last month. I put some reflective firebrick on its end to make a chamber to hold the coal, and ran it for about 60-75 minutes (give or take) before tilting the bricks back and scattering the coals.

It worked well, but the ring of the tuyere (not the cross piece) was orange. Did I run it too long, or make some other mistake, or is there something I should be doing differently to protect the forge from the heat?
   Dave - Monday, 06/08/09 18:49:41 EDT


Freshly galvanized metal has a multitude of stuff on the surface, all of which screw up painting it. Ther's grease, oil, dirt, and of course fresh raw zinc. Paint doesn' tlike to stick to any of them. The trick then is to get the surface so it is more like a really well-aged piece. Start with a strong de-greaser like TSP and hot water, followed by a thorough rinse. After that, the surface should be etched lightly with something like phosphoric acid to get rid of the super smooth surface that won't hold paint well. A good surface for paint should look almost velvety. Once you achieve that surface, you should get a good etching primer on it promptly. After that you have some breathing room before you have to get the slukrfacing primer or topcoats on.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/08/09 19:44:03 EDT

Dave, the forge/barbeque is not a forge. Adding bricks increased the heat at the tuyere. A red tuyere is just a tad under burning up or melting out. It needs to cool as slowly as possible.

Galvanizing is treated as VIcopper indicates (some sort of acid etch after cleaning) or let it age for a decade or more.
   - guru - Monday, 06/08/09 23:06:18 EDT

So, assuming that I will be using this at least for the next month or two, is my best path to mound the coal loosely, rather than building a more contained fire?
   Dave - Monday, 06/08/09 23:42:26 EDT


You might try putting a bed of firebrick pieces around the tuyere to raise the fire above it a couple of inches. That, and the draft from the tuyere, should keep the tuyere itself cool enough to survive the experience. When your blast gets low enough, it allows the fire to burn sideways and down, while a harder blast will make the fire burn higher, up to a point. Allowing the fire to spread a bit shouldn't hurt, either. You just don't want a concentrated hot fire right on the tuyere itself.
   vicopper - Monday, 06/08/09 23:55:58 EDT

I can do that. The bricks are around 2 inches thick, but the coal pieces are fairly small. Is there anything I should use as a grate above the tuyere?
   Dave - Tuesday, 06/09/09 00:11:32 EDT

Edge and Bevel Grinding: Eye balling is just part of the skill. Timing, the steady speed of the motion as the cut is made is one trick to equal bevels, especially on an aggressive grinder.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/09/09 09:32:17 EDT

The first of a series of body piercing related sculptures I am doing for our newest location in New Hope, PA. New Hope is/was an artist community in Bucks County and I am sure that this series will be well accepted.


   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/09/09 10:41:42 EDT

I forgot, it is made of forged 14 gauge stainless sheet, chromed tubing "needle" and mild steel tethers.
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 06/09/09 10:42:52 EDT

can i make a hammer out of an old drive shaft? i hear they are 1040 or 1050 but i am not sure. it is about 2.5 inches in diameter. thanks
   bigfoot - Tuesday, 06/09/09 13:39:25 EDT

Yes and No. Most auto and truck drive shafts are thin wall hollow tubing with welded on ends. Axles, a different part, are solid on most autos but occasionally hollow on some independent rear suspension systems. See our Junkyard Steel FAQ for more.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/09/09 15:38:48 EDT

Bigfoot, I've made a number of forging hammers out of old 18 wheeler truck axles, which are about a 2 1/4" diameter on the flange end. I treat them like 1050. I power hammer the axles to about 1 5/8" or 1 1/2" square for a cross peen type of hammer. This usually gives a 2.5 to 3 pound hammer, finished. The square stock sits nicely on the anvil for ease of punching. If the stock is round, as for a rounding hammer, the punching is done with the stock in a swage.
   - Frank Turley - Tuesday, 06/09/09 18:29:52 EDT

Round faced hammers such as heavy repousse' hammers often have a square body where the eye is and round ends. This is easier to do in long bodied hammers than short. If starting from stock as large as Frank describes you would want to work stock down to 1-1/2" and 1-1/4" square prior to making hammers. Lots of heavy forging.

Most of the car and light truck axles I have worked were much smaller.

Note that axle ends with the flange are often useful for making mushroom stakes. The spline end can make a texturing tool.
   - guru - Tuesday, 06/09/09 19:23:10 EDT

Nice job Nippulini. Very creative.
   - Jack Knife - Tuesday, 06/09/09 21:31:19 EDT

Axle materials. When I begain work at the axle shop I believed from various sources that axles were 4140. I quickly found out that the industry standard was 1045H below 1 3/8" stock and 1541H for axles above that size, for trucks. This was a chain of plants that is one of only about 3 big companies making axles in the US. The customers set the spec. This was reported to me to have been the material in the uS for al least the previous 20 years. The H is a modified version of the steels. These modified steels are heat treated and quenched in scanning induction heaters and are finished to a "case and core". These modified steel are much more prone to quench cracking than plain 1045/1050, and I would suggest quenching in oil. These steels are also prone to grain growth if held at forging temp for very long without working the steel. We also had a 45 minute time limit from quench to temper.
I brought home many drops and several of the local smiths have tried this steel for hammers and were succesful.

We did use 4140 for some of the very large axles used in off road equipment like big front end loaders. Thee axles are not usually induction heat treated, but are furnace treated. The axle diameters of up to 6" would probably not be a good case for "case and core" by induction.
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/10/09 06:36:00 EDT

AXLES: to the guru i am sorry to waste time posting this here as i was unable to find difinitve specs for large drive shafts like the one i got. i am fairly sure it was off an 18 wheeler (probably off a mac, if that is how it is speelled). it has no flange as that end is snapped off. noted i won't use that end. i will probably get a friend and forge it sqaure with an 8 or 10 lb sledge trying not to miss. thanks for the info.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 06:50:53 EDT

sorry i forgot to ask in my last post. does 1541H harden more that standard 1541 or 1040? does it just crack more? and belive me this is a solid drive shaft! it is about 3 or 4 feet long and an easy 70 pounds. and as i said it is snapped at one end where the flange came off so at least that part is solid.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 07:01:17 EDT

bigfoot, the H in the alloy designation indicates it has a slightly tighter tolerance on the chemistry range of the elements. This gives it a more predictable hardenability. Many of the H-alloy steels were in response to auto industry needs to mass produce products that could be put through the same process every time and achieve the same hardness every time.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 06/10/09 08:00:19 EDT

ok, so i take it the tolerences are less then? so the chemistry is closer .48-.52 as opposed to .46-.54, just for the sake of concversation. thanks again.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 08:59:31 EDT

Big foot PLEASE read and understand the introduction to the Junkyard steels FAQ.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 09:24:41 EDT

In a small, or home shop why do we need to know what Rockwell hardness something is?
Personally I feel that knowing how to make junkyard steel do what we want it to is is a very important part of the trade. As it has been pointed out by smiths much smarter than me, "There was no mill standard in the medieval (or earlier) period" Every smith worthy of the name back to Tubal Cain had to deal with "Junkyard steel" Please don't get too caught up in the numbers.
   JimG - Wednesday, 06/10/09 09:53:33 EDT

guru: i just read the intro. being a new user i did not no it was their. sorry to waste time here. and i realize i could have just spark tested it, but i had not gotten around to chopping it down to workable lengths.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 10:01:46 EDT

Quenchcrack. Once long ago, you talked about normalizing being more acceptable than annealing, at least for plain carbon steels, because annealing resulted in "large carbides" being retained, and that was undesirable. Could you please amplify in relatively simple terms?

Also, I have a time explaining the difference between annealing and normalizing to my "people." Is annealing more thorough in terms of say, wanting to drill a hole in W1, 0.70%C? Does annealing give a less number in Rockwell C than normalizing on the same piece?

What is the difference between W1, 0.90%C and the so-called standard steel 1090? I assume it's in the steel making process and quality control.
   - Frank Turley - Wednesday, 06/10/09 10:03:19 EDT

Bigfoot, Its not just the spark test which indicates carbon mostly but alloying which CAN be seen in spark tests but not with dependability. The thing about junkyard steels is that they could be ANYTHING. In automobiles axles are fairly common CHEEP steels but in a race car that same axle may be changed out for a much higher strength alloy steel. They also race trucks and use special parts in them as well.

But the BIG thing is that most parts are speced out on performance. Often the maker has a choice of any steel that meets the spec OR BETTER. It is not unusual for a better steel to slip into a production run of a critical part simply because it was available or on-hand TODAY and the cheaper steel was not.

The folks specifying parts can change the spec to a better or lesser standard based on historical performance OR economics OR politics.

The important thing to always remember is that junkyard steel is what it is and that no two visibly identical parts may be made of the same steel. You just DO NOT KNOW. So you must treat every piece as an unknown.

   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 11:57:39 EDT

ok. but (how do i know this is going bad?) even if my hammer is too soft or too hard i have had practice. and if it sparks like it has carbon i will us it. and belive me i could not care much less if this is alloyed with tungsten or something. if it gets hard enough to be a hammer that is all i care about. and if it is too soft i can use it as a flatter or fuller. still i need to use junkyard steel as it is all i can afford. if i could pay up i would but some new 4140 or some other good tool steel. i understand that my steel is a shot in the dark for me. but steel of unknown copositions for 2000 years. i understand to treat it as an unknown. thanks though for all of the advice.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 13:05:43 EDT

ok well when i said'but steel of unknown copositions for 2000 years.' i meant to say that steel with inknown compostions has worked in the past and i think that it can work for me. but i will admit that new steel will be the best for me, but only after i get a job! being an unemployed teenager is not all that fun, especiall in this economy.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 13:15:13 EDT

Boy, you guys are sure getting crabby in your old age. Why ya beatin up on a guy who asks a perfectly reasonable question? Or do you just not want him to come back? It’s not me, read the frustration in his posts. Sometimes new people just want to join in the conversation. I didn’t see anything wrong with his question, and it did bring out some new and useful information from Ptree.

Sure junkyard steel is a crapshoot, but we’ve all used some and we take our chances. If he can forge it into a hammer, he’ll be very proud of it. If he successfully heat treats it, he’ll keep the hammer for the rest of his life and always be able to say, “I made that hammer when I was just starting out”. Otherwise he’ll learn something.
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 13:55:49 EDT

I thought my answer was pretty reasonable. Yep, lots of things are made out of mystery metal that work JUST fine. But I was not the one trying to define that mystery metal as some specific alloy and then apply some specific heat treat to get a specific Rockewll hardness.

If you work seat of the pants with junkyard steel that is FINE as long as you know what junkyard steel and seat of the pants means. Most blacksmithing heat treatment IS seat of the pants. But as soon as you ask about specific Rockwell numbers (as done on the Hammer-in) then you are no longer in the seat of the pants realm.

Me, I apply sloppy seat of the pants heat treating or none at all and just dress tools a little more often UNLESS it is something very critical like precision punches and dies. But most tools are not that critical UNLESS you are selling them. Springs, blades, small gun parts, everything on a pocket knife. . now those can be picky.

A general rule is you are better to not harden at all or to temper soft rather than be too hard. Tools that are too hard crack, chip or break and cannot be fixed. Tools that are soft become misshapened, dull or dented and can be dressed and used again.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 14:33:58 EDT

JimG: I understand your point, but we use numbers to describe lots of things even when we don't have the measuring instrument. Without looking at the thermometer, I can tell you it's in the 60's today. I can pick up a piece of steel and without a tape can tell you that it is 1-1/4 inch diameter. With practice, you can judge Rockwell hardness with a file, especially if you have something to compare to.

Knowing Rockwell numbers allows us to look up how the "book" says to obtain that hardness and at least shoot for that. How else are you going to describe a certain hardness to someone, "harder than the hobs of Hell"? When I say I forged something down to 3/4 inch, you get a mental image. Likewise, if I say I hardened something to "around" 40 Rc, you know that it is not real hard, but ain't real soft either.
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 14:42:32 EDT

Summer Jobs for Teenagers: We get this one this time of year every year.

We have about 2 acres in a subdivision that we are trying to landscape and keep maintained in NC where it has been raining weed seeds and rain. . . For four years we have tried to hire part time school kids (from 16 to 21) with miserable results. We pay well and cannot get the grass mowed, garden dug, rocks moved. . . We occasionally advertise for help. There is little response and those that do don't come back after a few days.

Prior to that I've got a place in VA that needs roughly the same services. A LOT of weed wacking but also cleaning, toting and so on. . . hard to get or keep workers. Could have put a kid through college with the work that needed doing.

A kid with a lawnmower or a broom and the willingness to work can make good money. Its worth $10/hour to have someone mow, level the driveway ruts, trim trees, weed the shrub beds. . as long as they stick to it. Showing up with your own tools is a HUGE plus. If I have to work on the mower, sharpen the blade, fix the pull cord . . . then I'M doing the job. That is NOT what I am looking for.

Don't "like" yard work? Offer to clean windows. Show up with a squeegee, a pan, a bottle of ammonia and a roll of paper towels and you can make $50 in a morning or $100 for a full day. Learn what to look for. I have windows that haven't been cleaned in 20 years. . . You can spend a couple hours getting ONE right. But most are much easier. In an apartment building you could work full time forever.

There is not a lot owner, farm, business, somewhere, anywhere, everywhere that doesn't need SOMETHING done that they are willing to pay a kid CASH to do. If one place doesn't have enough work then ask 5.

Most industrial businesses will not put someone under 18 on the payroll. But they WILL pay cash. Take less because its worth much more. A job this year cleaning the grounds on weekends could turn into an inside job next year.

Show some initiative, be willing to work on weekends, find your own transportation (walk, bus, bike). Lawn work, sweeping parking lots, washing cars, doing odd jobs. . . There are BILLIONS of dollars out there looking for a hard working kid. But YOU have to ask and make NO excuses.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 15:19:29 EDT

JimG: 'Nuther thought. Having "mill standards" is why we have to know more than the ancient smith. He had it easy, everything was simple carbon steel and he could judge it quickly by how it reacted under his hammer. Nowadays, the piece could be any of thousands of different steels. Give that medieval smith a piece of modern alloy steel and he'd be lost (for a while anyway).
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 15:31:55 EDT

More Summer Jobs: A local machine shop was moving. They had a 100 year old collection of unsorted fasteners (nuts bolts screws, washers. . ). I suggested my younger brother and brother-in-law both of whom had just graduated from high school. They both had some mechanical experience and knew a nut from a bolt.

It took them three weeks to sort that room full of hardware and put it in labeled bin boxes. They started using plastic thread gauges but by the end of the first week they could tell a #10-32 from an M5 at arms length and knew a couple dozen head and hardware types. It was dirty and boring work but by the end of the job they KNEW fasteners and could judge a thread size as accurately as folks that had been in the business for a lifetime.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 15:32:20 EDT

i am working on lining up a job sweeping a truck shop and 'cleaning' up their drops. and by cleaning i mean liberating. i have a couple of part time jobs lined up after i turn 16, but for now i have to be a master scroungologist. and it is going to be fun as a cleaner upper in a full time blacksmith shop! when i say 52 rockwell i mean hammer hard or a bit short of sword hard (not that i am making any). but grant, i don't think that this forum is too crabby at least compared to iforgeiron. there i would have been banned by now for disagreeing with the admins. and that has happened to me a couple of times. what is the better hammer for a begginer straight or cross pein? i have used both and they work, but i think straight is way better. how 'bout you guys?
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 15:40:31 EDT

The same point I was making about Rockwell. It's incredible what you can learn to eyeball or with simple tests. When I was doing a lot of machining I remember looking at a part in the lathe and saying it looked tapered. Ten inch long part and it "miked" to have .003 taper. How can the human eye possibly discern that. A mind is a terrible thing.
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 15:45:56 EDT

Bigfoot: We sorta have a "gentleman's agreement" that we don't slam one site on another. Flame wars start that way. Just proper etiquette you understand. Hope you have fun here.
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 16:53:09 EDT

I refer people both ways from/to various smithing sites and have a stated policy that if ever I am forbidden to mention a different site I'm out of there!

People can make up their own mind as to the flavour of different sites and where they want to spend their time.

As for straight vs cross pein hammers---I vote for the one you own! Really depends on what you do most of and how you do it *and* what the shape of the pein is to boot!

Bigfoot sounds like a great entry level job; HOWEVER DO NOT LIBERATE! Get explicit permission even if you have to pay the scrapper rate you're still way ahead of the game and getting a reputation for trustworthiness really is worth you weight in gold over the long run.

Perhaps set up your own "bin" and get the fellow in charge to OK it every once in a while.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 06/10/09 17:19:30 EDT

ThomasP: Nobody's "forbidding" anything. That aside, you and I are more often in agreement than not. The end of diplomacy is often the start of war. We can always choose how we say things.
   - Grant - Wednesday, 06/10/09 17:29:45 EDT

Grant, thank you for the complement.
Re; axle stock on large trucks. When I stated that 1045H/1541H was the spec I was stating that the customer spec'ed those materials. No "better" steel, and using something else that yeilded an equal performance was ever allowed. The Guru is used to other industry, but is probably unaware that the customers in this case not only spec'ed the steel, they bought the steel and had it drop shipped to our plants. Thats 4 axle forging plants. There was another company that also forges axles and they have the same conditions.
From memory, the customers that we had were Mack, Ford, Visteon, Axle Aliance, John Deere, Case, Volvo, and Dana, the premier maker of rear ends in the US. I will again state that if the axle has been forged in the US, in say the last 20 years, it is a 1045H/1541H. I was shown the spec's when I questioned the forge engineers because I had heard at many demo's that truck axles were 4140. The forge engineers even showed me spec's for other companies we had quoted, and they were the same. Some were Japanese companies.

Quench cracking. I won't argue with Quenchcrack. He is a metalurigist. The graduate engineer at our plant reffered to the DI ratios and so forth, and flatly stated to me that these steels were a real quench crack problem. We used a polymer modified quenchent to get hardness and reduce cracking. We did have problems in all the plants with cracking. I have made many tools from axle stock, and oil quenched with no issues. ( Bob, I am not sure about what the DI ratio was numerically at this point, and I do not intend to insult, only repeat what the fellow who was working with the stuff daily told me)

In short, axle stock will make a good hammer in MY opinion.

In fact I have a couple of those huge 454#, 4140 axles I am going to use for a power hammer anvil, and a couple of the unforged billets from same for the ram:)
   ptree - Wednesday, 06/10/09 17:56:45 EDT

Thomas p: to the liberation of drops i was joking as i would pay the scrap rate. i have a clean up arragement with one shop, actually. i clean their floor and work area and i can keep whatever steel i find. exept for tools of course! Grant: and i do mean to slam iforgeiron, as i have had problems their but if it bothers anyone i will stop. sorry to offend this forum. and to the straight vs. cross pein i am making some hammers and am deciding what to shape the peins. i may just make 2 of the same size and decide that way what i like. and hey i may even make a flatter, fuller and hot cutter, noted i have to recruit a friend to help me forge everthing out. i think i understand why powere hammers are so loved now! so it seems off to school, truck shop (for more steel) and then my house for homework and a nice hour or two at the forge.
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 18:17:08 EDT

wait Thomas P. do you mena my weight in gold or the steel i will buy? beacause either way that is a ton of gold (or in my case 240lbs) :D
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 18:18:17 EDT

I always lol when i hear a teenager or young adult say "especially in this economy". i'm a month shy of 20 years and i've always had one or MORE good jobs since i was 16.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 06/10/09 18:23:14 EDT

i have job: staying on honor role. but it does not really pay all that well for me. so i moved on to paying jobs. (insert chuckle here)
   bigfoot - Wednesday, 06/10/09 19:04:25 EDT


I've been having trouble with a gas forge I put together. Namely it seems the wind is messing with the burner. Is there any way to get around this? I suppose I could use a blower-type burner instead but that is very expensive (the blower mostly, not the pipe bits).
   mike3 - Wednesday, 06/10/09 21:28:30 EDT

To prevent wind problems, use a windshield. . .(hahahah hah).

Seriously, Many gas forge burners do not like breezes and the way to cure it is with shields or "screens". An oversize sheet metal tube fitted around the burner so that the air around the burner is more or less static will help a great deal. The tube should be from 4 to 6" in diameter and open on both ends. The tube should clear the forge and extend past the open end of the burner about one tube diameter.

Often the wind problem is blowing into forge door or through the forge. The only cure for this is a larger wind screen made of wood or sheet metal.

Another problem caused by wind is blowing forge exhaust into the burner intakes. The exhaust gas can come from poorly sealed burner tubes, the door or the rear vent (if the forge has one.

Coal forges can also have wind problems. Wind blowing into the forge (toward the wind screen) can blow coal gases into the blower or bellows and result in gas explosions when pushed back toward the fire.

The last option is to work indoors.
   - guru - Wednesday, 06/10/09 23:31:34 EDT

Jim G: The Rockwell scale is really easier than some other methods of describing hardness. I find it hard to remember if the Hobs of Hell are harder or softer than Woodpecker Lips, but I have no problem remembering that 57 RC is harder than 44RC.
   - Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 06/10/09 23:37:06 EDT

Dave Boyer: I like it! But let me check that on my calculator. Even in "the old days" blacksmiths tried to quantify it, Spring temper", "chisel temper", "file temper", they had a whole list so blacksmiths could talk to each other.
   - Grant - Thursday, 06/11/09 00:03:00 EDT

How do you mount this "screen" thing, though?
   mike3 - Thursday, 06/11/09 00:15:55 EDT

bigfoot, if you read some of the names of the posters on this site and then look on several of the other blacksmithing and metal working web sites you will see that a number of them frequent several different sites.
Part of the privlage of useing a free site is the responsibility to mind your manners and be respectfull of others.
Keep this in mind. If you would deside to take blacksmithing from a hobby to a business you will need the help of many of the people that hang out at sites like this. If you spend your first few years as a newbee blacksmith cheesing everybody off and getting a reputation as a "hammer head" you will find your self on the outside looking in and wishing you could take back the snipets you were handing out to people you really don't know.
Humble yourself a little and remember that on average most of the guys answering your questions here and on other sites have probably been doing their jobs for nearly twice as long as you have been alive.
Ask a clear question. Listen to the answer. Say thank you. Don't argue with someone that clearly knows more about a subject than you.
Welcome to blacksmithing. Have fun!
   - merl - Thursday, 06/11/09 03:01:57 EDT

I have a 220 AC stick welder. As it is AC does it matter which terminal is the ground and which has the stinger attached?
   philip in china - Thursday, 06/11/09 03:52:40 EDT

Welding / Heat Treating Hardness Question


I have observed a strange phenomenon when welding small pieces of 4130 Chromolly. I am working with 0.065" thickness 4130 where I have a 1/4" diameter bolt hole that needs to be plugged. I have been fitting a small piece the same material into the hole and then torch welding the gap between the two pieces on both sides of the sheet. The parent piece is about 10 inches long and 4" inches wide. (I do later heat treat these parts in molten salt and quench in Fuel Oil and then temper). I have noticed that when trying to grind up the weld and dress the part with a file, that I am getting a hard spot on one area. These hard spots are harder than my files!! Which to my experience is actually harder than this material can get during deliberate heat treating. The first time this happened, I thought that I had inadvertently gotten the right conditions of having the parent metal cold and heating the area when welding for a short time and part quenching itself with the combination of cool parent metal and air. The second time this happened, I watched very carefully and the whole area was above red heat during welding and took several (5 - 10 seconds) to cool below red heat. So there is no way this cooled fast enough to quench in the normal manner. I am torch welding with a neutral flame, the filler metal is an old spool of 0.035" mig wire (for mild steel) that was given to me because it got rusty. I lightly sand the rust off and use it. This last hard spot I got was hard on only one side of a 0.065 inch thick piece (the first side welded), and not in the filler metal, but on the piece I welded in.

I am thinking that maybe the alloying elements Chromium, Carbon, Molybdenum, etc.. are moving to the one surface during welding and creating a material that will air harden? What do you think? Like I say, when deliberately heat treating a small scrap and quenching in water, they don’t get quite file hard!
   Bob - Thursday, 06/11/09 06:45:06 EDT

Merl: yes i noticed that people are on more than one website. the people are fine but the can be not so nice or even patient. i got banned for posting a conflicting comment. now, i do realize if i piss every one off i lose friends. but, i am only bashing people that are already mad at me. now if i am offending anyone i will stop, which i have already done.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 06/11/09 07:05:57 EDT

Frank Turley: annealing is basically a softening operation. Holding the part at a fairly warm temperature (1100-1300F) provides for adequate carbon diffusion and results in the carbides growing larger. The metal around the carbides is now low in carbon and is softer. The slow cooling is just a way to provide more time for the carbon to diffuse to the carbides. Normalizing does just the opposite to the carbon. Heating it up to normalizing temperatures (1600-1800F) and air cooling causes the carbides to dissolve and the carbon spreads out through metal. If you want to cold shape a piece of steel, anneal it. If you want to harden a piece of steel, normalize it because the carbon will be uniformly distributed in the metal and can act to make the steel hardest when quenched. Remember, carbon tied up in carbides does not contribute to hardening. Having the carbon uniformly distributed will also act to minimize distortion in the quench.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/11/09 08:17:26 EDT

Welding Problem: Bob, I do not know but your theory about the alloying elements is good. In liquid metals there is a tendency in some cases for separation or segregation. An oxyacetylene flame can also add carbon while welding.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 09:18:05 EDT

AC Welder: Phillip, I believe the ground is connected to the case so it would make a difference. When everything is isolated and working right I do not think it makes a difference. But there are reasons one is marked WORK and the other ELECTRODE.

In the case of welders that have taps or ranges (HIGH/LOW, amp settings) the WORK is the common on one end of the transformer and the LOW is a tap somewhere in the middle and the HIGH on the far end. Plugging the leads into HIGH and LOW will create a current like LOW but not as designed and may be hard on the transformer. It works but is NOT recommended.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 09:30:41 EDT

Anneal vs. Normalize; Quenchcrack:

So, normalizing isn't so much a partial anneal as a way of relieving stresses while retaining a modicum of hardness, right?

Therefore, if you plan to do further cold work on medium to high carbon steel, such as filing or drilling, you want a good anneal on the piece; but if you're using the piece as is, or you're at an intermediate stage in forging, you may want to regularize the piece. You should also normalize the piece before heat treatment.

IF I have this right, this is a major correction to my understanding; and I thank you.

Cloudy and fixin' for more rain on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 06/11/09 09:38:31 EDT

Well Grant I guess you haven't seen some of the stuff I have gotten on *other* forums! I'm fairly well tolerated here by comparison.

BigFoot; I figured as much; but remember when we post an answer it's written to the world at large; there are usually more lurkers than posters posters out there and I wanted to get that out for *them*!

Unfortunately I've got you beat on the weight; I wear a 13 E shoe too, makes a handy "close to a foot in length" measuring tool.

Staying on the honour roll may very well pay off bigtime in the long term; if not already on things like car insurance!

One "trick" for getting conflicting info out is to post it as a nicely worded question. *Or* post it as "In my experience I have seen suchandso when I did that rather than what you saw"...

Thomas of the disreputable red hat---coming soon in the Mark II version!
   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/11/09 10:04:22 EDT

Anneal & Normalize:
A clear, concise and, to the point description QC.

bigfoot, why waist your personal energy and time sniping at people you probably don't care about anyway?
You'll find anger and resentment interfear with your creativity and ability to learn.
I'm just saying you should focus on helping yourself and not waist your time getting in a pissing match with someone on the internet.
   - merl - Thursday, 06/11/09 10:05:19 EDT

ThomasP: i am 6' 2.5" and i am 15 and i wear a 12 quadruple E.and a foot long foot is very convenient i agree! but good work boots can be hard to find. and i am leaving the peeing match as it really is a waste of time. Merl: in a good way you sound like my health teacher. coming in with calm and logical statements getting a teenager to stop doing something stupid. although kind of an odd statement but i have found i write better creative writing when i am somewhat emotional. and for forge welding: has anyone managed to forge weld 5160? i have been having alot of trouble with that but managed to weld mild steel. and it is easier to weld in a charcoal fire than a coal one. but that is just me. and i came to this conclusion beacause the coal fire will clog up with clinkers and you need to remove those before welding and that distracts me from the process. although it is easier for me to get a coal fire to a welding heat.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 06/11/09 10:25:42 EDT

BigFoot, The 5160 is an alloy steel and needs a more aggressive flux to weld and more precisely maintained conditions. Flux for alloy steels, particularly those with chrome or nickle have Flourite (CaF2) powder added to the borax.

Coal is infinitely variable from the purest carbon down to carbon bearing shale. Good coal only produces a handful of clinkers a day and bad coal is all clinker. Coal has other properties such as volatiles, cokeability, ash consolidation and many other that determine if it is good for blacksmithing.

Charcoal on the other hand is generally much less variable than coal but it DOES vary according to wood it made form and the coaling process.

Generally a good quality coal fire runs hotter and is no more difficult to weld with than charcoal. In fact, large heavy pieces will weld easier in a good coal fore. However, the hottest part of the fire is very oxidizing and you need work that is being welded to be above that.

In either case you must learn the characteristics of the fuel and how to maintain the fire. It is also important to clean out the forge regularly.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 11:44:02 EDT

Note, It is also much easier to get an answer if a question is posed as a question and not part of a rambling post. Stick to one subject.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 11:45:27 EDT

Bigfoot, just for the record, I was also banned on IFI. Got it fixed,though.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 06/11/09 11:47:29 EDT

ok now for the guru: i make my own charcoal from oak and local hardwoods. and i have ok coal with few clinkers. i have less than i one gallon bucket full from a month of forging. so i think it may be good coal (but it is the only coal i have ever really used so that is not a good indicator). but i have a tuyere in my forgee which clogs really fast. but, i have boric acid as a flux and i did not mix that with any thing. so i think it is just what i am used to when i think about it.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 06/11/09 12:15:49 EDT

and to reduce the rambling quenchcrack i left iforgeiron not beacause i was banned but i was tired of getting threats of banishment from moderators. now i will admit i did have a tendancy to confuse terms (like hot shortness and burning steel)
   bigfoot - Thursday, 06/11/09 12:17:17 EDT

Can we get back on the cross pein vs straight pein discussion? I have had the hardest time finding a good straight pein hammer for years, until I was gifted an old hot cut hammer that I converted into a nice straight peen. It's not that I think one is better than the other, but when I'm holding a 3 foot piece of iron and want to fuller it out on the hardie, a cross pein just doesn't work unless I am working behind the heel of the anvil. If I am forging a smaller piece (about a foot), then I can hold it from the rear of the anvil and the cross pein works just fine. So, right now my hammer collection includes: 3# welding, 2# ball pein, 3# straight pein, 2-1/2# cross pein, 1# cross pein, 1-1/2# straight pein, 2# modified ball pein to cross pein, 3# square face, 2# square end cross pein, 8# hand sledge, 8# striker sledge, 2# brass cross pein, 3# rubber mallet, and I think there's a couple others that I hardly use I forgot about.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 06/11/09 12:23:14 EDT

Oh yeah, that weird 2# taper pein thing
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 06/11/09 12:36:11 EDT

I'm Canadian, telling me "it's in the 60's today" isn't a reference to I'm familiar with.
I think that illustrates my point about getting caught up in using numbers quite well.

Also since it is so hard to convey humour in this medium please take this with a grain of salt (or the whole shaker if needed) (insert gratuitous smiley face here)
   JimG - Thursday, 06/11/09 13:17:34 EDT

TGN; when I moved from OH to NM I had over 100 "handled" tools on the rack

Now take a 3' length of 3"x1/8" strap and make it into a cylinder by peening along the center of it over a swage.

Quite difficult with a straight peen as you hand is close to hot steel most of the way.

So not one is better than the other but you need both depending on what you are doing.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 06/11/09 13:22:21 EDT

THEN there is the diagonal pien which many swear by and others think is ridiculous. I think they are a good idea and more useful as a general purpose hammer than a straight pien.

BigBLU hammer makes straights and right and left diagonals.

The hammer that is best is the one you use the most and has become an extension of your hand. On a global scale in almost every culture the preference is a cross pien. This is probably more universal than anvil type preferences.

Hardies and hot cutters need to be made from higher carbon steel than a hammer. The best hot cutters are made from specialty hot work steel.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 13:58:19 EDT

Jim: Being Canadian, It doesn't do any good for me to say something cost $10.00 either! (insert grin here) That's right, you use centigrade/celcius don't you. And that is why we need ONE standard, isn't it? Cheers!
   - Grant - Thursday, 06/11/09 14:13:30 EDT

Bigfoot, sounds like you're well named!

To address one question and make one statement, I've welded 5160 to mild steel and wrought iron using coal with plain old borax as flux, but I have never successfully welded it to itself no matter what flux I use. I haven't tried welding 5160 in charcoal or gas, though.

As for teens and jobs, I started working minimum-wage jobs at 14, (in 1984) working 20 hours during the school year and full time during summers. By the time I was out of high school I had paid for two cars free and clear. My parents paid for exactly one year of the eight I spent in college, thanks to full time minimum-wage jobs over the summers and part time better-paying jobs during the school year.

This was before iPods and the internet, though. (grin!) My best advise to teens is to get off the couch and away from the computer. And I do fully realize the irony of that statement as I sit here in my office typing on a computer...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 06/11/09 14:42:09 EDT

Most Canadians, Mexicans and Costa Ricans I know handle feet and inches just as well as meters and centimeters but temperature is always a problem. Its the weird conversion factor. . . I vote for Feet, Inches and the American way. . . ;)

   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 14:50:36 EDT

mike3: The wind screens I've seen most often are nothing more than sheet metal bent into either an L or a U. I would think 12
   - Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 06/11/09 14:50:46 EDT

Attaching wind shields or screens. Brackets, clamps, screws. . . light duty blacksmith stuff. Weld it on or make it free standing.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 15:11:29 EDT

Banned: I've never banned anyone except a couple trolls and taggers (3 or 4) that posted hate speech or non-relevant posts using language that is not acceptable in public. These were NOT legitimate users, IE non-persons. I DID run off a fellow in our first months that tried to sell concrete anvils by misquoting me. A couple times we have had to warn about language use. Pretty good record for 11 years on line.

Once in a while when posting archives I've removed irrelevant threads that were possibly part of a flame war. Once in a while I've even removed one of my long rambling non-blacksmithng post. Occasionally I'll remove links to non-advertisers or competitors when archiving. They got their 15 minutes of fame (actually weeks or months) and since our archives stay on line forever they have gotten their money's worth and I'll give them no more. If they want to pay then fine. But I have also left links to non-competing products and for those that contribute more than they take.

I DO regularly filter our Google ads for link traps, link arbitrage, non-relevant content and shady web behavior (such as pointers to a different site than displayed). But this is catch as catch can. I've also refused certain advertisers. That is our right and is not a "free speech" issue.

Other Forums: Since I DO NOT monitor any of the other blacksmiths' forums I am sure a lot is said about me that goes uncontested. If a multi-site flame war is going on I will not know about it unless someone mentions it HERE. But we do not ban users or censor speech (unless it is out of hand).

I also do not have time to monitor and fight others disagreements or wars. I'm NOT your playground monitor. If I must interfere then both sides will lose because I do not have time to read every word and figure out who was right and who was wrong or where the trouble started. Crybabies that cannot take the heat from something they started have NO sympathy from me.

We also give away a LOT of free advertising. We are currently running a banner for CanIron as we have done in the past and for other events. We host sites for contributors and advertise for them as well. We host dozens of blacksmithing organization sites and even pay some of their URL registrations.

   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 15:16:15 EDT

alan: i got named bigfoot as i was (and am) a full head or two taller than my teamates (at least on the laccrosse team). and on hammers: i have never used a diagonal pein but i heat they are better for some work. and welding: no i think i know my problem. i was trying to weld too cold! i had trouble getting my forge up to heat and i will try to weld 5160 to mild tomorrow (if it does not rain). and an hout at a forge is worth a week of 8hr days on the internet.
   bigfoot - Thursday, 06/11/09 18:41:03 EDT

The AC welders I've looked at (I'll admit not many) have not had the work lead grounded to the case. That seems to make sense. If the work lead's connected to the case, it's also tied into the electrical system ground. Then if you accidentally touch the welding rod to a grounded tool, you complete the welding circuit and send 100+ amps through the walls in 12GA (or less) wire. That doesn't mean some welders weren't built that way, of course.

As long as neither lead's connected to the case, though, I don't think it matters which is which.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 06/11/09 20:39:58 EDT

Isolation of welder output leads: They are SUPPOSED to be isolated from the primary AND the case. A welder can have a short circut from the transformer secondary to the case and still function. In industry and construction frequently the "work" lead is grounded to the building structure. There are advantages as well as risks to this practice.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 06/11/09 21:47:52 EDT

I have 3 slash peen, (or diagonal) shop made hammers because I thought they were the answer to everything... After learning how to use the edge of the anvil I find them to be quite gimmicky and not worth it for my style of working. YK/100lMV (the K/100l is for kilometers per 100 litres)...
   JimG - Thursday, 06/11/09 22:44:34 EDT

grounds: All I know is the ground fell off a forge I was wedlding on and a few seconds later I smelled smoke. When I looked the grounded flexible metallic conduit running from the wall to the forge was glowing red and burning the wires inside. This was on my NEW Miller in 1973. The return current was going to ground via the electrical main. The circuit breaker feeding the blower motor had tripped protecting ME but the nice new wiring was fried. . .

I need to find the welder manual. . . and see what the wiring diagram says. Can't find it. I KNOW exactly what the 2 ring binder I put it in looks like but it is buried somewhere in the stacks of books that are in the 6th year of a 2 year pack and move process. . . I am terminally frustrated.
   - guru - Thursday, 06/11/09 22:47:29 EDT

I have recently started trying to do work with some spring steel, but I have no idea what kind exactly and have thus far been unsuccessful in heat treating it back to spring after forging. Basically, it is very thin stock (18 ga., probably) about two inches wide and three feet long if anyone knows what it might be from. But I was thinking about using it for fillet knives. I have been doing a standard oil quench. Is this even right? Is there any standard temperature I could temper at and be safe?
   Christopher Tidwell - Thursday, 06/11/09 23:49:50 EDT

Christopher, How do you know its spring steel? You say you do not know what it is from. It could be anything and is more probably mild steel or structural plate cut in strips.

Minimum temper is about 350-400F. This is the point where tempering starts to take an effect. Up to 600F is common for springs and knives. See our FAQ page Temper Color Chart. See our JunkYard Steel FAQ for unknown steels.
   - guru - Friday, 06/12/09 03:51:17 EDT

If you go to the Miller website you can find your manual on-line. Need model and serial number as coded into serial number is year of manufacture.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 06/12/09 04:57:28 EDT

jimG: when you say you began to use the edge of the anvil, do you mean you use that instead of fullering with the pein of a hammer? i do the same thing, if it is that, to get around the flaws of a drilling hammer for forging.
   bigfoot - Friday, 06/12/09 06:54:02 EDT

GURU: i just read you story on your first anvil. it was a really well written story and reminds me of how i bought my fist and only anvil just last month. if you care, it really is a lot like yours. a kid in a candy shop, or litterally a kid in a scrap yard. thanks for the story and please keep them coming. i have been reading around the site and realized how amazing it is. i really hope that this place stays around for a long, long time. and if there is a way to help out and if i can i will make an attempt to help out this site, but i do not have much money to give. but if anyone needs scrap metal in the norwalk area i know a few people who have some. and i know a scrap yard that sells it, but i know some free places too.
   bigfoot - Friday, 06/12/09 07:39:32 EDT

Edited Forums: Having experienced the flame wars, obscenites, dog fights and just plain, uh, dog waste and other stuff in some forums and bulletin boards; as well as the tight leash and choke collars in other forums and bulletin boards; I admire the calmness and restraint that the Guru exercises.

Good information, amusing stories, enlightening insights; and without wading through a lot of drama and dog deposits to get there. What's not to like. It's the type of learning experience that I enjoy; I have enough drama in my life at work, and with my wildly diverse crew of friends and family.

More rain due on the banks of the Potomac. We are starting to evolve gills and webbed toes.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/12/09 07:54:44 EDT

Bigfoot, the radiused edged of an anvil can be one of the most versatile and useful parts of the anvil. Not only can it be used for fullering, but (obviously) for drawing down, notching, bending, the list goes on.

Bruce, let us know when your dorsal fin pops up.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/12/09 08:04:40 EDT

Yes, amoung other things. I used to use a slashpeen with the peen ground to almost the same radius as the horn and do a lot of drawing out on the horn using the peen. I then learned to do it with half face blows on the edge of the anvil, and I can get more done per heat.
   JimG - Friday, 06/12/09 09:02:14 EDT

More on Normalizing:

It is sometimes useful to think in of normalizing as an "air quench". The hardness of normlized product is typically higher than that of annealed product, but less than that of liquid quenched and tempered product. Many large industria forgings are used in the normlized condition. Besides providing a uniform distribution of carbon in the microstructure, normalizing also results in a uniform grain size and composition of phases in the microstructure. As-forged microstructures can be a mish-mash of structures such as retained austenite, martensite, bainite and ferrite with an uneven distribution of carbides. As noted by quenchcrack, this is not the ideal microstructure to start with for further heat treatment, so normalizing is done to set the part up for the next step which usually is re-austenitzing followed by quenching. Generally, you could anneal and then austenitize and quench, but in industry you typically don't do that because the anneal cycle takes so much longer to complete since slow cooling is used when an annealed structure is desired.

Note that the discussion of normalizing applies only to carbon and relatively low allow steels. Stainless and high alloy tool steels are handled differently.

Frank Turley- Your question about W1 vs 1090: The difference between these two grades is the tolerance on the various alloying elements. It also has intentional alloy additions of tungsten and chrome which are not present in the 10xx series.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 06/12/09 09:02:47 EDT

Where I am still a bit confused is "heat packing" or grain improvement by heat treating. Rick Furrer did a great demo on it at Quadstate a few years ago but I came in late and had to leave early. . .
   - guru - Friday, 06/12/09 10:37:30 EDT

niplleine and JimG: i have a love affair with my anvil edges. it is a used 100 and some odd year old fisher but the edges on one side are pristine. i have to admit that i would not beable to work without decent edges on my anvil.
   bigfoot - Friday, 06/12/09 11:03:39 EDT

Thanks Quenchcrack & Nowak. And now on to Guru's latest question...
   Frank Turley - Friday, 06/12/09 11:18:10 EDT

Christopher; I have assumed you have done the #0 test for unknown steel and heated it above the temp where it loses it's attraction to a magnet and quenched it in water and then checked it's hardness/brittleness. And did this BEFORE you made anything that requires hardening.

So how did it break in the #0 test? Did it crack in the quenching? Was it bendable at all with a hammer and postvise afterwards? Did it shatter making you happy you were wearing your leather apron and a face shield?

If you don't know the alloy you have to test to get an acceptable heat treat process. It might not be an oil quench maderial if it's still too soft after an oil quench. Try brine or water; but expect some failures in those mediums as you work out temp before quenching too.

Making something of unknown steel and *then* trying to figure out if it's heat treatable is almost always a BIG mistake and waste of time.

The only think I could think of with those dimensions commonly made from a medium to high carbons steel would be bandsaw blades and even there you might find some bimetallic ones with the hardenable alloy just on the edges. They are also easily recognized as BSB as they have the saw teeth on one side...

   Thomas P - Friday, 06/12/09 11:40:00 EDT

I just got some Stay-Silv and Stay-Brite from Airgas, it's a brazing flux and solder (respectively) says to be used specifically for stainless. Has anybody used this? The flux is cheap as dirt (as always), but the filler is $20 for a 1/2 lb spool, so I'd rather not experiment with it. I would imagine it to be like any ol' brazing/soldering job, but I like hearing from experience.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/12/09 13:02:23 EDT

Guru, the "heat packing" thing that Ric does shouldn't really be called packing (too many myths associated with that term). It's just thermal cycling around critical.

It's a fun experiment! I've done it with 1095 as a demo, and I saw Ric do it with 52100. You can try it yourself as follows: Take your high-carbon steel and hold at nearly welding heat for a minute or five to induce grain growth, then quench and snap off the tip end. It'll look like sand in there. Take the same piece, run it up to critical, hold for one minute, allow to air cool to black, then quench and snap. The grain will be much smaller. Do that thermal cycling (up to critical, air cool to black three times or so and the grain will be as fine as a new file. This is with ZERO forging. A very useful application of the normalizing technique!
   Alan-L - Friday, 06/12/09 15:41:46 EDT

I should add that if you do that thermal-cycling trick on a straight carbon (10xx) steel too much, you can reduce its hardenability to the point where you can't quench it fast enough to make it harden.

This is not decarburization, the finer the grain size in a steel that has no deep-hardening additions like chromium will push the quenching speed necessary to achieve hardening off the edge of the chart, meaning you'd need to be able to quench through a time warp in reverse. If you look at the charts it makes sense.

Example: with ordinary 1095, you typically have something like 1.5 seconds to get it from critical (1450 degrees F or so) to below 900 degrees F in order to create the hardenable martensitic structure. If you over-refine the grain, you can end up with the equation being something like you need to get from from critical to under 900 F in -1 seconds...
   Alan-L - Friday, 06/12/09 15:49:27 EDT

"Edge Packing"-

From a metallurgical perspective this is an impossibility since "packing" implies an increase in density, which you can't accomplish via deformation. What is actually occuring when a bladesmith forges the edge of a knife at low temperatures is the grains are broken up (refined) and some strain is induced in the metal. When you go back up to austenitizing temperatures, the strain energy serves to promote nucleation of new grains (since you are changing phases) and, provided you don't austenitize at too high a temperature, your grains will not grow much and you end up with a fine-grained structure. The point of the demo that Alan described is to show that you can achieve the same fine grained result without the low temperature forging step.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 06/12/09 16:04:27 EDT

I shouldn't have used the "packing" term. I know edge packing is kind of a bug-a-boo that is a waste of time in most cases. Probably a hold over from the Bronze Age when edges were work hardened in the sharpening process.
   - guru - Friday, 06/12/09 16:33:28 EDT

guru, I'm sure you are you are aware that edge packing is of no use at all unless you are facing north and sprinkle chicken blood over the blade.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 06/12/09 18:33:07 EDT

I thought it was ox blood... or was it the blood of the strongest male wild pig? Meanwhile, I tested out the stainless brazing kit. Works real nice, the flux is amazing. Set up time after brazing is a little long, but works nice.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 06/12/09 19:20:43 EDT

has anyone made a stump anvil from an axle? as i will have leftover scrap from making a hammer from my axle i was thinking of making a stump anvil if a friend wanted to come over and try their hand at forging. anyhow what shape drift do you guys recommend? i think a slight taper is best and i assume high carbon steel it the best. and as i don't have hot work steel 2 would be better so i can use one and cool the other right? thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Friday, 06/12/09 20:26:33 EDT

No, no, no: You have to use the blood of a turnip (check w/ IRS) and turn around three times withershins! THEN you have to point north and quench it behind the "little house of mysterious noises" with whatever comes to hand.

It is, of course, the Century of the Fruitbat and we ARE men and women of science!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 06/12/09 20:31:17 EDT

Stake Anvils: These vary widely in size and shape. The Mexican Coppersmiths at the Flagstaff ABANA conference had a piece of axle about 1-1/4" diameter that stuck up about a foot out of a stump and made a large radius right angle bend to about horizontal 8" from the vertical. The end was rough torched and most of the rounding liked to be from wear.

Sheet metal workers and armourers often have a heavy T stake "horse" which has square holes at the ends to hold various shaped "horse heads" that are various radii and shapes for working inside hollow, helmets or tubes. The our Armoury Page and Eric Thing's tools.

The Spanish seem to gravitate toward stake anvils that are classic shaped stakes but in anvil weights.

English Locksmiths used long shanked stake anvils that reached the ground from about anvil height ot higher but were only 6 to 8" long at the top.

T-stakes were often fairly slender and were auxiliary to hornless anvils or those with short fat horns. Many had both round and square horns. Some had punching holes and or fullering grooves much like a sheet metal creasing stake.

There is a whole world of useful shapes to these tools depending on your needs and specialty. Parts are forged and welded together by various processes.
   - guru - Friday, 06/12/09 20:58:32 EDT

Stake/stump anvil: i was thinking more of a cylinder with a point so it could be placed into a stump semi permanently. if i cannot do it in my forge i cannot do it. i was thinking something along the lines of this: http://www.oldworldanvils.com/anvils/stump.html
but round and close to a foot long to have more mass and make it easier to use. i think a 4 in long shank (what do i call the part you drive into the stump? or is shank the right term?) tapered to 1/8point would work well. or will i need to make it longer? and i just to have a horn i have a smaller axle that i can make into a vertical bick in a stump. thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Friday, 06/12/09 21:20:57 EDT

Hmph, that miserable thing! Twas not designed by a smith or a tool maker but by a pattern maker without a clue. That little stub on the bottom is worthless. Click on the photo at the top of our Hammer-In page for a REAL stake anvil. That one is a classic that dates from 17th Century and probably made in France or Italy. The best ever made.

Stakes were tapered to save very expensive iron and for the final fit. A straight cylinder will do and making a hole to fit is much easier. These were not driven into the stump but fitted. Usually the hole was carved but the last bit of fit might be burned in by heating the stake to above the char point and forcing it in just until it fit. Today you would bore a hole and bed the stake in using epoxy or auto body putty. I would wrap it in aluminum foil or wax paper so that it would not be permanently glued in.
   - guru - Friday, 06/12/09 23:12:59 EDT

Nip: Stay-Brite is a silver bearing soft solder [tin & silver]. Safety-Silv 56 BAg-7 is the product suggested for for nickel alloys & color match to stainless. It is a hard silver solder.

I used Stay-Brite for refrigeration lines where I didn't want to use higher temperature silver hard solders.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/12/09 23:28:40 EDT

Christopher Tidwell: You might have a piece of tempered shim stock. If that is the case, it might not be quite as high in carbon or alloys as spring steel, but it is pretty springy as recieved. What I have seen was a blue oxide colored, like the blue temper color of clock springs.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 06/12/09 23:33:23 EDT

Thin bar or strip: Many types of thin material is rolled to thickness the last passes being cold. The result is very work hardened and springy. Sheet stock, coil stock and especially shim stock is quite springy due to work hardening. Even brass shim stock is quite hard. Stainless shim stock probably the hardest and makes fair small springs.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/13/09 00:20:32 EDT

When making stake anvils don't get locked into it has to be one solid piece. Forge out the top of the T as desired. Then welded it to a shaft of stock to fit your hardy hole. If 1", then perhaps weld on a collar of 1/2" length of 1 1/2" square tubing.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 06/13/09 05:06:27 EDT

Stake Anvils: ok so i will just cut a section of axle and make a bit to bore it into a stump. Thanks guru. that is good idea. it will be easier to make and involve less work. i will just have to make a bit to bore it into a stump. and i don't have welding gear and lately forge welding has not been so good. i nailed it last week. then i cannot get it yesterday. but on the t stake design, i want something like a bladsmith anvil like tim liveleys.
but set in a wooden stump and round. but the t stake looks way more useful. thanks for the help.
   bigfoot - Saturday, 06/13/09 07:52:45 EDT

Atli, 'tis the year of the barking spider, my friend. I have encountered the barking spider on hiking trails many times. Don't step on them. They bark loudly and emit a terrible stink. Curious insect.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 06/13/09 09:05:14 EDT


So if I'm heading out to demonstrate, I don't need to bother taking a slash? (grin)
   Mike BR - Saturday, 06/13/09 09:23:41 EDT

Mike BR, don't matter to me. I still do 90% of my forging with a slashpeen, but I can't remember the last time I used the peen to do any work. Depending where your demoing I think slashpeens get more attention.
   JimG - Saturday, 06/13/09 09:50:06 EDT

T-Stakes, unless cast (many are) are welded. While it is possible to forge one from one piece it is a LOT of effort for little return. The old ones are forge welded and modern one arc welded.

Sometimes stakes are bent to an L shape and a piece welded on to make a T. Blowhown Stakes are made this way and in my anvil making sketchbook I show a blowhorn type cone added to a welded T-stake made of RR-rail.

In my article on making RR-rail anvils I show designs for a simple arc welded T-stake anvil.

While you can make this sort of stuff without an arc welder and a grinder it is very hard work. T-stakes used to be made with a split T-weld where the shank was split into a V with tapered ends and the top pinched out to fit in the V. This was then forge welded and dressed to shape. but this was in the wrought-iron era when everything was built up by welding.
   - guru - Saturday, 06/13/09 10:57:07 EDT

Ahhh Bruce check that receipe again---in "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" they mention radish juice as being a good quenchant not turnip IIRC! (for *real*!)

Funny that stake anvils came up as I've got several slowly in progress. It started when I picked up s couple of non-standard sledge heads at our conference and I suddenly noticed that the old RR spike driver head would make an excellent armourer's stake anvil and that several other elongated sledge heads would make quite medieval anvils---though of better steel of course.

For the armourer's anvil I thought of heat shrinking and riviting it on the shaft (forging a "ridge for it to rest on of course) As it doesn't take as much abuse on the "face" as a general smithing anvil.

For some of the others I have been thinking of leaving the shaft a bit low and plug welding it on with a suitable rod and then dressing the face and heat treating the entire "head".

I'm working on the assumption that the heavy shaft material I get will be mild---or wrought iron.

I picked up a piece today at the scrapyard that has a nice 1.5" sq section and then was forged into a slightly smaller round.

I say slowly as I have learned to wait working large steel upon visiting friends with large powerhammers or presses to wit our August meeting will be a great place to do such work...

   Thomas P - Saturday, 06/13/09 23:05:43 EDT

What are the comparative advantages and disadvantages of 1 piece and 2 piece powerhammers please?
   philip in china - Sunday, 06/14/09 06:08:54 EDT

Stake Anvils, Projects: All projects requiring heavy steel in the small shop are the kind of thing that requires patience. They start with opportunistic collecting of heavy pieces of steel. Then taking advantage of access to equipment or help.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/14/09 08:50:50 EDT

Power Hammer Types: Phillip, The disadvantage to two piece hammers is the time and expense of setting them up. The advantages are that they can have heavier anvils at a more convenient height and that the frame with the more complex parts of the machinery is a seperate part for machining. Two piece machines are also less likely to suffer from cracked or broken frames and are considered better long life machines.

Generally hammers over 500 pounds cannot be made in one piece and hammers of 1000 pounds could not be transported on a single truck. Of course at one point parts must be moved by rail car.

The big advantage to single piece hammers is they can be moved in and setup to run quickly. Die alignment is also better as it does not change over time. But the heavier models are more expensive per pound and need very good castings.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/14/09 09:34:08 EDT

Going back to annealing of ferrous metals, it's often used to prepare steel for machining. In that instance, the objective is to produce the microstructure that's optimal for machinability for the grade being annealed. For an alloy such as 4140, you want lamellar pearlite in a matrix of ferrite. Achieved in a continuous furnace on as rolled product by heating above the AC1 temperature and slow cooling. Temperature used was I believe 1600 F. For grades like O1 or 52100, you want spheroidized carbides in a matrix of ferrite. In that case, again in a continuous roller heart furnace, we cycled the steel to just above the AC1, then slightly below it, and then back up, and then back down and finally a slow cool to room temperature. I forget the number of times, but we got a nice spheroidized carbide that met the ASTM requirements for machining.

You may also anneal to increase the ability to cold form an item - what comes to mind is annealing low carbon sheet steel, 300 series stainless, and 400 series stainless sheet so it can be formed into parts either by bending or deep drawing. The annealing cycles are very different for the materials mentioned, but usually involve going above the AC1 and controlling cooling all while in a protective atmosphere. Of course, quenching is a controlled cooling process for 300 series stainless.

I think of staying below the AC1 when annealing as a sub-critical anneal, which in my experience was usually done to minimize/reduce stress in the steel.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 06/14/09 10:45:02 EDT

Hi Guru, my question is the following:
How can a tree stump be cut to make a sinking jig for sheet metal.
   - J.P. Ravinet - Sunday, 06/14/09 14:13:15 EDT

A cold chisel would work better as a punch than a punch would work as a cold chisel. But only just. If you can make a cold chisel, you can make a punch. If you need one, make it.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 06/14/09 15:24:36 EDT

looking for somewhere i can get quality optical flats for more affordable prices. looking for ~1" dia x .5" thick.
   - Tyler murch - Sunday, 06/14/09 15:43:27 EDT

Well, I am a fairly competent smith so obviously I've tested the Heck out of it. I guess I should have prefaced the question a little better. Basically I can get at the very most a Rockwell hardness of what I would call a 60 by filing. But the problem is that I can't seem to get the spring back. BUT, Dave Boyer hit the nail on the head with the whole tempered shim thing. So, it seems I won't be able to. Would make good razors, though, if I play around with it a little more. Thanks for the help yall!
   - Christopher Tidwell - Sunday, 06/14/09 19:41:27 EDT

Try Edmund Scientific: http://www.edmundoptics.com/ for optics
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 06/14/09 19:50:20 EDT

Are the bouton glasses that are sold here good? I just ordered 2 sets as i need shaded glasses as i have heard good things about them. are they good enough protection for a coal forge? or just a gas forge?
   bigfoot - Sunday, 06/14/09 20:40:26 EDT

J.P. Ravinet: There is a cutter made for carving tree stump figures that is a 4 1/2" diameter disc with chain saw blade on the edge. This is used on a right angle grinder and is easier to use and a little safer than the nose of a chainsaw.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 06/14/09 20:40:42 EDT

Sinking Stumps: J.P., You carve it or burn it.

Carving depressions is done with any one of several tools depending on what you have on hand. The standard is a gouge (curved chisel), the bigger the better with a curve at little tighter than the depression.

A chain saw works or the chain saw type carving blades made for a 4-1/2" angle grinder. It can also be done using a skill saw taking plunge cuts at multiple angles then clearing the remaining pieces. This is fairly dangerous and should not be done by someone without lots of experience using a circular saw.

The last method is by burning. A hot piece of steel is shaped on the block and the result burns the block at the same time as the steel is worked. OR you can just use a propane torch, burn a little, scrape a little, burn a little . . .

After getting close I like to work the wood with a ball pien to compress it and smooth it.

The important thing is not to make the bowl too deep. A part of a hemisphere about 1/4 to 1/5 the half (R/4 or R/5) is about right. Most swage blocks are much too deep. A depression 1/2 to 3/4" ( 12 to 18 mm) deep is plenty for most shaping processes.
   - guru - Sunday, 06/14/09 21:47:25 EDT

Has anyone heard about the kanca anvils from old world anvils? it says they are forged and for a forged anvil they seem very reasonable. and i have no affilation with OWA it just seems that the anvils they sell are good and cheap, for new anvils anyway.
   bigfoot - Monday, 06/15/09 09:01:10 EDT

The price per pound is the same as the German made Peddinghaus which has a nicer more traditional shape. Made in Turkey should be considerably cheaper the German made.
   - guru - Monday, 06/15/09 09:44:52 EDT

Shipping is always a consideration with heavy objects.

Something to remember about a good anvil, you will have it for as long as you live IF you keep it. While you CAN wear out an anvil most individual smiths and ESPECIALLY hobby smiths do not thus they are multi generational tools. So you are looking at a tool your children OR grand children may inherit OR at least someone may be using 100 years from now. . . That is why I have an issue with ugly poorly designed tools. It costs no more to make them well proportioned with nice lines as to make them dog ugly.
   - guru - Monday, 06/15/09 10:34:34 EDT

moderately big foot; when talking about heavy stuff you need to keep reminding folks of your general location so if someone near "has steel they want removed from their house" they might think to e-mail you.

Thomas in Central NM USA
   Thomas P - Monday, 06/15/09 15:56:00 EDT

oops! silly me, i am in the norwalk area. sorry.
   bigfoot - Monday, 06/15/09 15:57:43 EDT

As I mentioned over at the hammer-in forum there are Norwalks from Connecticut to California---there may be others around the world as well. *you* know which one you are near. We still don't.

   Thomas P - Monday, 06/15/09 16:26:48 EDT

BigFoot, I've got tools I've had since I was 4 years old and I've been buying tools since I had my first job. I've had good tools and bad. I've always kicked myself over sinking to buying cheap low quality tools. When they come into my shop other than being bought (gifts, found, part of a bulk purchase), the first time they give me trouble they go in the trash can or scrap pile. Same for bad software. I've tossed more software (another kind of tool) than I use because if it doesn't work out of the box its not worth my time to bother with it or fix it. I'm afraid this has amounted to many thousands of dollars spent and thrown away.

Same with off brand tools. I bought a popular "Big Box" store welding outfit many years ago. It was a sizable investment for me in the 70's (nearly $200 THEN). It was unmaintainable crap. The first time I needed replacement tips (when I went into business) they were not available. An investment I had relied on was wasted on junk. . .

Tools breaking can be just an aggravation OR they can be dangerous. The cheap import 2 ton hoists. . . they will slip and drop a load on you because you CAN'T make a safe hoist under a certain size ratio. The reason good ones cost 100 times more is size and the resulting safety.

Constantly shopping for the cheapest tool just results in a shop full of short life aggregating junk that actually costs more than good tools due to the junk having a short life.

You are much better off spending your money on OLD worn tools that were top quality than the same price for bright shiny new junk. The old will outlast the junk AND give better performance in the process. In recent years I've bought old "junker" anvils for $50 and $125 that most folks sneered at. Why? Because they were far better tools than $200 soft iron Russian junkers or $100 cast iron ASO's. An old anvil missing the horn but with a hard face and near or over 100 pounds is a fine anvil to forge on and can be purchased for $50. Think about it.
   - guru - Monday, 06/15/09 16:43:39 EDT

Bigfoot: Don't over look eBay if the anvil is within a reasonable pick up distance. Nice anvils occasionally show up on www.craigslist.com. Search in your general area. While they might seem high, bear in mind your pick up is going to be less than an eBay purchase if it has to be shipped.

This has been brought up in the past, but will repeat it. Likely you drive by anvils every day. You just don't know they are there or potentially for sale. Place an ad in your local newspaper: WANTED: Blacksmith anvil and tooling for a novice smith. XXX-XXXX. Ask your entire social network if they know of an anvil which might be for sale. If you are stopping in a local business ask if they might know of one potentially for sale. Maybe Uncle Fred picked on up at a farm auction for a reasonable price for a garage/shop anvil, he died and Aunt Malitda may be interesting in selling it. However, here give her local market price for it. You'll feel better about yourself afterwards.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 06/15/09 16:57:12 EDT

I was given a martial arts weapon called a sai dagger to repair. The hilt was bent. The thing appears to be mild steel which has been chromed. I told him I could heat it and bend it back into shape, but the chrome would be discolored. He said that would be ok. Question. Can chromed mild steel be heated? Or is it like zinc -- producing toxic fumes? How should I go about this?

   coondogger - Monday, 06/15/09 22:22:38 EDT

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