WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

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 July 22 - 31, 2000 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

My son is working in brass. He has been doing it in a highschool metalsmithing class with an exceptional teacher for 4 years. He recently won the pinnacle or top award in the country in the product design category for his brass fly reel in the scholastic art and writing contest. It is presently on exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in D.C. (enough background - he's serious) he designed a brass lamp and shade. the problem is how to laquer it or polish it to keep the finish even when judges will handle it. The reel was polished with a wax but by the time the show was 6 months later it had started to tarnish. He had a large trout clock that he used indoor outdoor laquer on and it never hardened completely so that when it was wrapped up to protect it in shipping it took on the paper towel pattern. After stripping it and respraying it he had to make a box that suspended it so nothing would touch, but they do not want such boxes in the competition. Problem: How to laquer or polish the lamp which is months of work and get a hard lasting shine that can be wrapped up to ship without damage. Maybe you know a brass metalsmith. Just a shot. thanks for any advice you can pass on or someone to ask. Pixie
PB  <mrorvis53> - Saturday, 07/22/00 02:14:38 GMT

Lacquer: PB, If it didn't dry or "harden" it was NOT lacquer or it was contaminated. Clear acrylic lacquer is sold by automotive paint suppliers (I prefer Dupont). I recently found that many professional finishes are only sold by the gallon now making them very expensive. However, the modern stuff is NOT as good as the old fashioned cellulose lacquer which is much harder and dries much faster. Musical instument maker suppliers still sell it. Be sure to get the matching thinner. Contact Stewart-MacDonalds Guitar Supply.


Cleat epoxy can also be used but DO NOT buy the stuff sold in hardware and department stores. If it is an equal part mix then 50% is an inert filler that makes the plastic gummy. . forever. The MEKP (methyl-ethel-ketone-peroxide) hardener is a clear thin fluid and only a few drops are required per quart of epoxy or polyester resin. Extended hardeners are easier to handle but do not produce the same results.

Natural waxes such as beeswax absorb copper from brass and bronze, turning green very rapidly (days or weeks). Always TEST finishes before using them.

All the chemical products listed above are either highly flamable, poisonous or both. They are listed "for professional use" for good reason.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 05:16:00 GMT

Just a note to you Jock, to let you know it was great finally meeting up w/you at Flagstaff and all the Pubbers who were in attendance there. While I didn't think it was the best conference I have ever attended, it was still good and glad we made the trip.
Best to you,
Sharon Epps
Hey, I still want to know who that guy on the left over there is? I thought it said self-portrait, but that's not you, now I know for sure. Think you been pulling my chain a little bit, lol.
Sharon Epps  <S-Epps at besmithy.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 05:24:30 GMT

Humph! Miz Shardegay, That IS me. About 23 years and 150 pounds ago! The photo was taken in the pitch dark on a moonless night out in the country (real dark). The camera was set on "B" for bulb and the self timer produced a 2.5 second exposure at f1.4 using Kodachrome film. I didn't have a tripod at the time so I used a ladder and my watch under the lens to prop it up. A VERY lucky exposure. Kodak made all the prints from the slide.

The forge in the background it the one on my portable shop that Paw-Paw (or Bethbara Historical Park) has now. The anvil is a 128# late M&H Armitage anvil I bought for $50 and the piece of steel is some 3/8" x 1/2" I used to make souvenier horse shoes from. . .

I traded the anvil for $75 and an identical one that was a 'second' due to the sloped and swayed face. Then I sold the second to Bruce Wallace for about $150. . . :) I still use the apron and Channel-loc hammer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 06:04:57 GMT

hi, i need your help, i am new in the forge but i want to learn.i want to be in contact with you.
HERSON VILCHIS  <herson_vilchis at yahoo.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 07:21:28 GMT

Jock, I thought you were my friend. Now the truth comes out, you're a price gouger. I had a hard time selling that anvil for $300.00. I guess I’ll still be friends with you. I’m hoping someday you can find another 165# anvil to sell to me for less than a dollar a pound.
Bruce R. Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 14:09:22 GMT

NEW: Herson, You have come to the right place. We have a LOT of information here. Start at the home page and check out the 21st Century page and iForge. You may ask questions here or by mail. The folks on the our chat, the Slack-Tub Pub will also be glad to help.

Membership Form John Doe, STANDWI, WIZARD NIKKI. . . DNS . . whoever you are, Please snail mail your form with payment and correct information if you want to join. I cannot process your application without an e-mail address.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 15:22:34 GMT

Jock, there is an excellent article on Damascus steel / blades in the July 6 issue of Machine Design magazine. This was written by Dr. Ray Rantanen who has been forging blades since the early 70's. Check out www.machinedesign.com. I wonder if a reprint of the work could be posted here? The MD editor is Ron Khol; his e-mail address is mdeditor at penton.com.
Jim Carothers  <colonel at fullnet.net> - Saturday, 07/22/00 21:42:29 GMT

Machine Design: Jim, I get Design News and several others. . used to get Machine Design but may have let it lapse. Thanks for the heads up!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 22:42:33 GMT

MD Search: Jim, I did an on-line search for the article under keyword and full text searches and couldn't find the article. . . THEN I just went back and the article in question was a current cover article. .
BEAUTY AND BRAWN Legendary Damascus steel is good for not only dramatic-looking knives, but also for razor-sharp cutting edges that self sharpen during use.

Moldy, There is also an article about fatique in balls screws in the same issue. Your babbit nut would reduce the point load but replace it with the shear strength of the soft babbit.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/22/00 23:59:32 GMT

Thanks Jim!
George  <t_boater at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 02:03:10 GMT

I would like to make letters out of 8th inch diameter rod and I have seen nicely made letters on flag poles for sale.
Are ther jigs or system or bending tools to make good looking finished letters.
Randy  <mcdanel50 at home.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 02:51:50 GMT


No problem! How'd you luck into the material?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 03:26:54 GMT

Benders: Randy, This is a job for a little bench top "pin" bender. It is a piece of plate with holes that accept steel dowel pins. Normaly used to bend by hand. Small bending wrenches can be made to fit the pins.

There are all types of commercial benders but tooling for specialty (nearly all) jobs is all custom made to fit the bender or the bender custom made in its entirety. See our article on benders on the 21st Century page.

George, That stainless can be forged just like steel. The surface scales the same color as steel and can be waxed to produce the same black. You can file or buff highlights which make very nice contrast to the black. A thin waxed finish is all you need. Stainless is red hard so work it hot.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 03:50:29 GMT

Randy  <dackattack at hamilton.net> - Sunday, 07/23/00 04:06:02 GMT

Can you tell me when and where the oxy/act torch first came about? Thanks
RLD  <hamilton.net> - Sunday, 07/23/00 04:08:07 GMT

Hello. While visiting my son in Austin, TX. I saw a yard decorated with a 3 dimensional longhorn steer about 3 1/2' to 4' tall. I am trying to locate one. It would be easier if the crafter was in the Austin or Houston area so I could pick the item up rather than paying shipping. Do you know of any craftsmen who make that sort of critter? I know I see a lot of deer at Christmas, but I have my heart set on a longhorn. Can you or one of your craftsmen shed light on my search?
Thank you.
Janice Brassard
Janice Brassard  <jbrassa at beaumont.l12.tx.us> - Sunday, 07/23/00 05:18:37 GMT

Hello Guru,
I have had a long interest in the art of blacksmithing, but am only now getting serious about learning it. I am trying to find a blacksmithing school to attend, got any suggestions on a good one?
As for my background, I help run a small, family owned, metal fabrication and welding shop.
Thank you,
David Manen
David  <manen at sdown.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 06:49:05 GMT

Schools: David, There are schools all over the US now. In the NorthEast there is Peter's Valley in NJ, In NC there is Penland and The John C. Campbell School of Blacksmithing. Then there is the Blacksmithing schools of the Ozarks and Frank Turley's in NM.

ABANA has a list of schools with details. If I had a choice I'd go to Frank Turley's.

If you don't have formal training in welding (OJT) then take those trade school or Community College courses to be sure you know the safety rules.

In the US a lot of what you need to learn will have to be self taught. The references listed in Getting Started are indespensable.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 08:38:57 GMT

TX Longhorn: Janice, we have a bunch of TX blacksmiths from your area that are regulars. If several don't contact you in the next couple days then drop me a line again.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 08:41:05 GMT

Oxy-acetylene: Randy, I'm not sure when it was invented but I think it was the late 1800's. Maybe about 1890. However, it did not become popular until the 1930's and the availability of bottled oxygen. Acetylene was widely used in miners lamps and air-actylene torches from early in the 19th century. Acetylene is relatively easy to make. Calcium carbide was produced by the burning of sea shells in using coke (degased coal). When exposed to water, acetylene is liberated from the calcium carbide. A simple, early process that was the result of ironmaking. Today acetylene is made by other methods but miners lamps used by spelunkers still use calcium carbide and water to make their fuel. Hope this helps.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 08:53:49 GMT

Hello, I am a structural engineer opening a blacksmithing workshop with a couple of friends who are trained blacksmiths. We intend to produce furniture and architectural components. My question is "what is the best way to finish wrought iron to get a lasting finish and how do I achieve some of the decorative effects such as 2-tone coloring etc."

Thank you and greetings from Ghana, W. Africa.
Kojo  <strozy at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 09:17:11 GMT

Finishing: Kojo, First, forget EVERYTHING you read about oil, wax and "natural" finishes in blacksmithing references. The natural condition of iron is rusted to dust.

Then look in your engineering references.

The steel needs to be chemicaly clean and free of scale. Sandblasting is the best route to go although a lot of smiths use acid to remove the scale. Then the problem becomes how to neutralize the acid residue and dispose of the acid.

The finish on steel is always suseptable to being scratched so a self protecting coating of zinc powder paint (cold galvanizing) or actual galvanizing is recommended. Galvanizing is a sort of "self healing" finish in that it electrolyticaly "plates" the exposed steel.

Over top of the zinc you want a chemicaly neutral primer to prevent reactions between the zinc and pigments in the top coat. If the work has been galvanized (hot dip) then the galvanizing must age or be aged chamicaly with a weak acid before applying the primer. There ARE etching primers that will stick to zinc but they are NOT recommended when the zinc is protecting steel. You will find that the cold galvanizing is best IF you can obtain it. It is often used to paint the inside of large water tanks. Both the cold galvanizing and the neutral primer should be sprayed on.

Over top of the neutral primer you can use almost any type of top coat that suits your taste. Brushed enamel is easy. Automotive finishes (laquers) are hard and there is a wide range of colors available.

You ask for the "best" finish. It is not easy and it is expensive. It WILL however last a very long time without maintenance. On the other hand, most smiths knock off the loose scale with a wire brush and either wax or paint the scaled surface.

In very arid locations you can get away with oil and wax finishes. These are also suitable indoors IF they will be regularly maintained. Natural finishes need to be renewed or touched up about every six months. This is very labor entensive and not a good solution unless your customer insists on it and absolves you of responsibility for the finish.

On the ocean and river fronts many smiths have started using stainless steel or aluminium. Both are more difficult to work than steel and aluminium may not "rust" but it IS suseptable to corrosion. Aluminium has its own special finishing requirements. In most cases stainless can be worked and installed as-is or with a little wax to bring out the black of the scale.

Some smiths have gone to using high tech electrostaticaly deposited "powder" finishes. These are very good and are considered environmentaly friendly. They attempt to aviod the problem of a scratched finish by use of these harder finishes. This is an economical solution but it ignores the fact that the finish IS going to be broken or worn through.

In the end the decision becomes an economic one. How much more is the customer willing to pay for low maintanence and what percentage of the job can you justify in the surface finish.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 15:40:22 GMT

Hello , ive been trying to work 304 stainless, as i understand it work hardens above a yellow heat, (and can also be anealed by quenching at this heat) when i try to weld it i can get it to stick but because this occurs at a yellow heat it immediately work hardens and cracks apart again. im using borax as flux, how can i overcome this problem?
Nic w  <Ruth.westermann at theseed.net> - Sunday, 07/23/00 16:36:19 GMT

204 SS: Nic, Work hardening occurs when working cold. The problem forge welding SS is chrome oxides which borax does not do a good job on. A small amount of flourite or flourspar (about 5% I think) can be added to the borax. The flourine make the flux much more aggressive.

You should always use good ventilation but it is even more important when using flourite. Ground flourite is available from ceramics suppliers.

Annealing requires holdiing at temperature (2000°F) for 3-5 minutes per .10" thickenss. Thin sections may be air cooled while thicker sections water quenched. Annealing is required for maximum corrosion resistance. This is not really a consideration for decorative use.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 17:45:20 GMT

Whoops: That was supposed to be 304 SS
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 17:46:35 GMT

Thanks the the prompt reply! My early edition of edge of the anvil does say that the 300 series ss work harden at higher temperatures, my experiences (only twice so far!) tend to bear this it it gets harder the hotter it is, ill certainly try flourite but at the moment i have to get it to a lemon slick yellow or hotter to get it to stick, and its to hard to move.
Nic w  <Ruth.westermann at theseed.net> - Sunday, 07/23/00 18:39:54 GMT

304SS: Nic, Stainless IS red hard or gets tougher at a red heat than at room temperature. You have to work it hotter than carbon steel. However, red hard is not the same as work hardening. Work hardening is embrittlement that occurs from repetitious yeilding at normal or room temperature.

Although stainless is commonly welded in billets for making laminated steels it is not commonly forge welded in decorative work. As grandpa demonstrated at the ABANA conference by welding billets at 1500°F, the controled conditions of welding billets is much different than welding the traditional scarfed weld.

If you are not getting it hot enough you are probably using a gas forge. Try choking the forge by blocking off some of the door or door vent. There is a delicate balance between the forge running at a red heat and a good yellow.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/23/00 19:47:10 GMT

Guru I have an anvil,150lbs.the name fisher on front,date 1907.It looks like some sort of casting. Is it any good? If it isn't I will use it for a door stop or somthing. thank you regards Marty
Marty Dyckman  <jr1012 at aol.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 00:37:37 GMT


The Fisher anvil was a cast iron anvil with a steel face. They don't "ringr" very well, but usually have good re-bound and are a good working anvil.

They were made from 1843 to 1979, and in that period of time produced over 400,000 anvils.

Personal opinion, they aren't as good an avil as a Hay Budden, Peter Wright, or Mousehole, but they're definitely not a door stop. Use it, If you don't like it, you can always trade it for another or sell it.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 00:58:31 GMT

I realize this question is a little out of the ordinary. I am a knowledgeable antique dealer who usually deals in silver. I have an antique pair of shears 18th century or earlier. Most of the museums disagree on the country of origin of this stlye of shears. My pair unlike the others has been marked (presumeably a Maker's mark) unfortuneately the mark seems to have been scratched out to the point of illegiblility. I have heard there is a method of reading marks struck on iron or steel even if they have been filed off. I am hoping there is a method of reading the mark without hurting the piece. Any help would be appreciated.
Maurice  <labarbedor at primary.net> - Monday, 07/24/00 01:19:29 GMT

Defaced Marks: Maurice, The FBI has a method, I believe using x-rays or an electron microscope, to read serial numbers on firearms that have been filed or ground off. The method works because the impressions made by stamping distort the structure of the metal well beyond the surface. I've read articles on the subject but wouldn't have a clue where to find it now. Do you have a friend in the local police department? There ARE private labs that do forensic work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 02:11:26 GMT

Trusted Advisors
An Aardvule is the inverse square of a mulevaark and repesents the volume of sweat produced by a 250 lb. gorillia swinging a 6 lb sledge in a 100 degee shop on a humid day without a fan. It actually, realistically answers the question, "Am I having any fun?"
Paw Paw (Pow Pow)
I used your idea for making tenons by drill, tap and die. Slow but satisfiing method. How stong would the joint be if the tenon was brazed into the parent stock and not threaded. also, what is the ideal tenon diameter for any given square expressed as a ratio of diameter of tenon to width of parent stock. (I was "T" joining 1"x1" to 1"x1" using 1/2" rod, mild steel through out).(also) How do you think the strength of such joints compare to arch welded welded "T" joints.

Thanks for your advice past and future.
P.S. Why would anyone make an anvil with out a trade mark on it? Were there ever any foundaries that just made a few custom anvils and didn't bother to Trade-mark them. I have such an anvil and would like to know more about it. Its about 250 lbs.
l.sundstrom, m.i.smithing - Monday, 07/24/00 12:19:23 GMT

How can I go about selling an antique anvil? It is a Fisher 200# dated 1901.

Mike Frumer  <mfrumer at ecri.org> - Monday, 07/24/00 13:03:54 GMT


There were many anvils made without trademarks. For the most part they were cast. It is very possible to get a forged anvil today that the trademark is unreadable. Over the years of use, the trademarks can become wiped out espically if they were lightly stamped, in the first place. Sometimes the best you can do to identify the maker of a forged anvil is to go by the over all shape and any normal things to a particular maker such as the hour glass recess under the Trenton anvils.

100 years old isn't all that old for an anvil. Many of the ones in use today are 200 to 300 years old as well as many tools in service also. Fishers are a cast anvil and are not in as high of demand as a forged one. They are still good tools though. Some smiths prefer them as they do not ring.
As to where to sell it. Put an add in the paper, tell everyone you meet that you have one for sale, etc. I am in the begining stages of talks for buying a 450# anvil that we found out about because my son wore a blacksmithing t shirt to school and one of the grounds keepers asked him about it.
You never know who will be interested in it.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Monday, 07/24/00 13:33:49 GMT

No trade mark: Larry, A number of makers made anvils for distributors that put their own trademark on them. Several big hardware chains did this. The distributor was supposed to put their name and what ever else they wanted on the anvil including weight. I suspect there was a cost savings in not having the factory do it. Then you could save even more by not marking it yourself! Or they may have stenciled the weight/name on the anvil although I have no evidence of this.

THEN, It is also known that you could order custom made anvils from many manufacturers. You could ask for a proportionately taller or shorter anvil, a specific weight or other custom feature. Manufacturers normaly did not mark these anvils.

Tennons I wouldn't braze the joint as you are introducing metal that creates a bi-metalic corrosion problem. I HAVE seen this type drilled joint pinned instead of threaded.

Strenght. I've never seen a chart of optimum sizes. . . Sounds like something a Machinery's Handbook for blacksmiths would have published. For the part with the tennon on it the bigger the better. These ratios show the percent of the picketts cross section.
  • .5:1 = 20% (25% bar)
  • .56:1 = 25% (22% bar)
  • .63:1 = 31% (19% bar)
  • .75:1 = 44% (13% bar)
But you also have to consider the loss of strength in the pierced bar. If it is pierced and swelled there is very little loss in strength. Drilled holes weaken the bar and side load results in tension load on the far section of the bar only. When the pierced bar is equal to the tennon bar then a smaller tennon increases the strength of the pierced bar. The optimum would be the two pieces having the same tensile strength. The number in parenthises above (##% bar) are the area of half the remaining bar. This is the part that will fail. The fractional size with the nearest equal strength is 17/32:1 (22%/23%)

Obviously if the peirced bar is rectangular you can increase the size of the tennon. Using a 1/2 x 2 bar the total steel is the same as a 1 x 1. In this case a tennon between 5/8 and 3/4 resulting in a 35%/35% pair is near equal. However the pierced bar is now generaly stronger due to the greater depth and a larger tennon is probably nearer equal strength.

So now you know why traditional work has swelled bars when the bar sizes are the same OR use rectangular bar. Arc welding is only as strong as the cross sectional area of the weld but it doesn't weaken the lower bar.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 14:15:58 GMT

Antique: Wayne, good comments.

Mike, Your Fisher if in perfect condition is worth about $1.50/pound, less if beat up. However, the market is a strange place. You are welcome to post an ad on the Virtual Hammer-In.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 14:29:32 GMT

Mr. Guru

I am in a position of purchasing a wrought Iron anvil at good price. Are there any advantage/disadvantage of Wrought iron anvil that I should consider.
Davar  <dparvin at att.net> - Monday, 07/24/00 15:16:28 GMT

On the subject of non-drying lacquer on brass...I used to work in a joint that did such stuff. found that the secret was to let the stuff dry in the open air for a week minimum before handling, No matter what drying time is listed on the label. sure, it will feel dry to the touch, but the lacquer will continue to harden and cure for a long time as trace solvent and excess plasticizers, flow modifiers etc. out gas. Especially true when in hot, humid weather you have to use a retarding agent to get it to flow out and not bloom.
Fox Creek  <Richard.Mize at mail.state.ky.us> - Monday, 07/24/00 15:48:26 GMT

Lacquers Richard, Thats true of the modern acrylic lacquers but the old cellulose lacquers dry much harder and faster. That is why I recomended the musical instrument supply lacquer. But you are right, it is best to be able to give any finish on metal a week to allow all the volitiles to evaporate.

Anvil: Davar, There are anvils and then there are anvils. Your description "wrought iron" means little. Probably 90% of all anvils manufactured before 1900 had wrought iron bodies and a tool steel face forge welded on. An anvil without the tool steel face would be nearly useless.

A good wrought iron anvil body is almost unbreakable. However, most old anvils were built up from small pieces and often fail at the weld joints. A typical method was to butt weld the horn. Many old anvils broke at this joint.

A wrought iron anvil with a thin tool steel face will become swayed with use (faster with abuse). The better quality anvils had a face of 1/2" or thicker plate. Later manufacturers made the entire upper body of tool steel and the base of inexpensive mild steel or wrought.

The biggest advantage of a wrought iron body anvil is that they are made of a material that for all practical purposes is no longer made using techniques that will never be used again in production. They are something that can no longer be manufactured. A piece of history that will eventualy become a rarity.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 20:12:40 GMT

Hi Guru,
many thanks for the answer for the height of the anvil table. Congratulations for your forum !
From Belgium where the weather's always wet....good time for blacksmithing...
Nicolas  <ferodec at skynet.be> - Monday, 07/24/00 20:56:36 GMT


The Guru beat to the answer about brazing a tenon joint. I agree with him.

I'm not in favour of drilling the picket and pinning it though. That's just another weak spot.

But when the tennons are threaded into opposite ends, and the end of the tennon peened over, I don't think it would be possible to unscrew the joint. I realize that you're trying to cut production time by not having to thread the hole in the picket, but I really think that's the strongest joint of all .
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 21:28:06 GMT


Does anybody have an email address for Bill Hickman? I'm trying to answer a question for him, and my message keeps bouncing. Evidently I've got a mistake in the address.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 22:16:27 GMT

I am curious, what equipment did ancient people use for soldering.I suppose there wasn't any gas(propane,butane, etc...) those days, so what did they use instead of a soldering torch?Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Monday, 07/24/00 22:25:58 GMT

We are looking for the ultimate dictionary of blacksmithing terminology. Can you recommend anything for us? Thanks in advance for your help.

Matt & Vicki  <VLaskowsky at aol.com> - Monday, 07/24/00 23:13:26 GMT

How should I set up a Klafrestrom #1 power hammer?
I know the anvil needs to stand on wood to save the concrete floor and reduce noise.
Can I expect a noise/performance difference if I have the wood standing up or lying down?
Should I bolt the hammer frame to the concrete floor? I have made the concrete about 2 feet thick in the corner where the hammer is going to be.
Are there any similarities in adjustments to Little Giant?
I am thinking of ordering Dave Manzers tape on rectifying Little Giant problems if it is similar enough.

The Klafrestrom hammer is pictured on pg 253 (improved Alinder hammer) in "Pounding Out the Profits". I have some .jpg pictures that I would be happy to email to the Powerhammer page, if you are interested, which email address should I use?

Fredrik, Sweden
Fredrik Jeppsson  <fj at dof.se> - Monday, 07/24/00 23:55:44 GMT

Soldering: George, Until VERY recently all soldering was done with "irons" which actually have a large copper tip on a iron bar with a wooden handle. From relatively ancient times they were heated in any fire but charcoal would have been common. Then in the 20th Century gasoline blow torches were used and then later acetylene air and propane. The exposed flame was almost never used for soldering until use of copper pipe.

Both soldering AND brazing have been done in the forge but brazing was most common.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 00:08:15 GMT

Does one need a smoke shelf of any kind in an inverted funnel type hood over a forge? Presently I have a side draft hood and it is not satisfactory for drawing smoke effeciently when I have built an oven out of coal for forging knife billets. Presumably a funnel type hood will work better, being larger. Is the angle of the sides of the hood critical as well as the height. My forge is about three feet square, and it has a 12" pipe.
Any info you can give me will be greatly appreciated, keep on thumping iron.

Armand  <armandanvil at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 00:34:42 GMT

Glossary: Many blacksmithing books have glossary's of blacksmithing terms. I've been working on an illustrated on-line version (in my spare time, ha!).

To be the "ultimate" reference you would need to have the terms in various languages. There are plenty of English language glossarys but technical terms are often very difficult to translate. Most conversion dictionaries do not contain any technical terms of note and NEVER any current terms much less those of what was considered a dying trade. . .

Now THERE is a job for someone.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 00:39:41 GMT

fjäderhammare: Olle Andersson sent me this image a while back and I have never gotten around to posting it (Sorry Olle). The Klafrestrom hammer is similar. These are spring helve hammers like Dan Dreyer's and the Appalachian "Rusty". The mechanism and the dynamics are completely different from the Little Giant spring and toggle linkage.

There are lots of pros and cons to power hammer foundations but there are some common goals.
  • Isolate vibration from the surrounding floor/building
  • Distribute the impact so that the anvil does not settle
  • Support the hammer
The biggest difference in foundations depends on if the anvil is seperate from the frame. Seperate anvils usualy have foundations seperate from the machine. On big hammers this normally consists of timbres to distribute the load and act as a cushion. The rest of the machine is set on the floor or another less massive foundation.

Vibration isolation is important. Depending on your building the vibration can rattle things off shelves, crack foundations and upset neighbors of adjacient buildings. Often just putting a cushion of plywood and a rubber mat under the hammer is enough under small hammers.

Most small power hammer foundation plans are concerned with isolation and bolting. Anchor bolts are set attached to reinforcing steel and often have tubes around them so that they can be bent or pushed around in the event they don't line up with the holes in the hammer. Most commerical expansion anchors won't stay put on power hammers. Bent anchors set with epoxy are best if you have an existing concrete base.

Last and perhaps most important, the padding under the hammer should distribute the load under the hammer so that the frame is properly supported. It is not unusual for the bottom of machine frames to not be flat. Combine this with concrete that may also not be so flat and you can have a serious problem. The wood pad between concrete and frame can crush and deflect preventing damage to both machine and concrete.

We would love to have some photos of your hammer. It would give us a push to get them AND Olle's picture posted.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 01:38:41 GMT

Funnel: Armand, if the side draft is not doing the job a hood may be worse. You probably have the side draft opening mounted too low or in the wrong position for what you are doing. For large stacked fires they need to be raised a foot or foot and a half from the fire bed. I've seen side draft flues work with large fires and draw the smoke and fire a foot and a half horizontaly. However this is probably the limit.

The reason I say a hood may not work is that a hood tries to suck up both the hot and cold air at its opening. A LOT more air/smoke at a lower temperature has to go up the flue. A hood being large is bad, not good. Unless you have a big enough flue to take the added volume AND is tall enough to have a good draft without a fire. . .

The best overhead hood design would be just big enough to do the job. Perhaps no more than a foot and a half in diameter and as close to the forge as is convienient. The flue and stack itself need to be 12" to 14" minimum. The longer the taper the better.

Many folks swear by smoke shelves but I've seen just as many fireplaces and forge flues without as with. In domestic fireplace flues they act as a check valve (by having a restriction immediately after an expansion chamber) when there is a down draft.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 02:30:15 GMT

I have a new apprentice he has more talent than I have seen in years but the city were he lives is giving him proublems with his forg and the city fire dep does not care that it is safer than a barbq thay are being totaly un reasonible I need any cort rulings dealing with supreshion of a known art form after all that is what we are doing and preserving.
Ironmanmcnatt  <ironmanmcnatt at aol.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 03:03:04 GMT

Zoning: Ironman, Check the local zoning laws. Old cities often HAD zoning that allowed blacksmith (ie farrier) shop almost anywhere back when they were as common as service stations. Also, most locations do not regulate non-commercial operations. As a hobbie you can do almost anything that your neighbors don't complain about. I suspect someone made the mistake of asking if it was OK. You NEVER ask. . . If a neighbor complained there's not much you can do. Investigate the LOCAL statutes.

In most places its impossible to get grandfathered in unless you take over a going enterprize and put it back into operation within a certain time. Usualy less than a year. If no one complains and YOU don't ask it is often possible to slip in "under the radar". . . Then if anyone asks you just say "Yeah, been here forever. . . "

You didn't say what kind of forge. . Coal is kinda obvious but a gas forge IS just like a barbque. Anyone ask suspiciously just throw in a 30 sec steak! AFTER tenderizing it on the anvil. . . ;)

Some localities with local clean-air laws can get real picky. Lots of places in California don't alow starting the barbque with liquid starter and some are talking outlawing barbque altogether.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 04:00:58 GMT

Gurus, finally got around to checking and you are back, man am I glad, a truly fine service. I have a question on forging sheet/plate ala repousse'/chasing/engraving/bouching(sp). How does one back up hot metal, can't use pitch/sand bag, lead might(?)be dangerous!. Am I correct that I should make larger 'graver' type tools as well as various oversized stamp type tools. I've been fooling around with this for a couple of weeks, and its obvious that I need guidance oh wise and all knowing gurus...thanks
Tim - Tuesday, 07/25/00 04:20:18 GMT

Ironman, what specifically are the objections of the FD ?
Ten Hammers  <lforge at netins.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 04:41:11 GMT

i am planning to build a small power hammer how well will a truck spring work as a face for hammer and anvil thank you ed
hot forge 101  <hotforge200099 at icqmail.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 05:23:29 GMT

Fine soldering was done with a small tapered tube and a small flame. The tube was held in the mouth with the cheeks acting as bellows and circular breathing so the air flow would be steady and uninterupted. The tube was directed so the air flowed from the small tip orface across the body of the flame. This created a small pointed jet of horizontal flame opposite the tube that was quite hot and very precise.
Pete F - Tuesday, 07/25/00 08:45:50 GMT

Thank you all for the answers and the help.

Why did the irons used for soldering have a copper tip? Is it because copper will heat very quickly? Wouldn't it loose the heat as quickly?

In the mouth blowing soldering action you 've described, how would the flame that you blow on it, be produced? Would a small flame (from a candle?) would be enough? Can you explain circular breathing?

Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 11:13:25 GMT

Soldering: George, Copper is the ideal soldering tip metal. The copper is denser than iron thus can absorb more heat. Copper is also a good conductor of heat as well as electricity. The heat that is transfered to the work at the point is replaced by the heat in the larger body. It does not lose heat more quickly but it transfers the heat much faster than a poor conducter like iron. Copper can also be "tinned" with solder. A little solder melted on the tip will transfer the heat to the work more quickly through the liquid connection.

The mouth blown "torch" Pete described is an alcohol burning device that has been used by jewlers for millinia and was independently invented by different cultures. They are still used. I know of them but have never seen one. These have been used for silver soldering, welding gold and for granulation.

Circular breathing is a technique most commonly used by musicians that play wind instruments. You breath in through your nose and out through your mouth in a more or less continous stream. It takes practice to learn. I can't do it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 12:25:44 GMT

Hot repousse' Tim there was a demo of this at the ABANA conference. I've got some photos but not yet posted them.

The steel plate was supported above a heavy bench (a weld platten) on spacers made of heavy square structural tubing. It was held down by flat bar and heavy bent dogs.

The plate was heated localy with a rose bud heating tip and the metal shaping done with a hand held air hammer.

It was the NOISIEST thing I have ever heard and I have been in some places that had REAL noise (and made quite a bit of my own). Multiple levels of hearing protection are required and you better not have neighbors within maybe 500 feet!

Hot work can also be supported by clean dry sand in box setting on a similar heavy bench. It will cool the metal faster than being supported in air but the process will not be as noisy. I would recommend preheating the sand. A high temperature silica sand like used in foundry work would be best.

For detail work a fellow at the conference had hand held air hammer supported in a deep "C" frame. The body of the hammer sliped into a close fitting bushing. The "chisle" point worked opposite a mating or female part. The air was controled by a foot valve. Weights were added/removed at the top of the hammer as the work required. The method could be used for hot work.


I've also known smiths to work plate under the power hammer. Deep throat hammers such as the Kaynes "BIG BLUE" or the old Bradley helve hammers are good for this.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 12:56:06 GMT

Truck Spring: Hot-Forge, This is too thin of material for hammer dies. To be of use it would need to be forge welded to a bigger block (like the face on old anvils). The cap from RR-Rail is high carbon (60 to 75 point) and more massive. If you are desparate for material then heavy mild steel dies would be better than thin spring steel. Mild steel will hold up well as long as your work is kept hot. Just plan on dressing the dies with a grinder every so often.

An old sledge hammer head would make good dies. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 13:08:15 GMT

Thank you Guru.

Pete, can you describe with more details the mouth blown "torch", you wrote about?
Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 13:21:28 GMT

I am relly suprised to hear that mild steel should not be brazed. I understand that some metals don't mix because they set up an electrical current that causes corrosion. Could you please expand on that. I thought that brazing was a legitamate method for joining mild steel.
l.sundstrom, m.i.smithing - Tuesday, 07/25/00 13:47:47 GMT

George: Get yourself a copy of "Metalwork: materials and process" by Paul N. Hasluck. It was written in 1896 or thereabouts and has excellent illustrations and descriptions of soldering with blowpipe lamps and "irons", as well as many other types of metalworking processes including casting and forging. You can get it from Lindsay Publications, which should be listed on the links page.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 14:32:00 GMT

Oops, Lindsay books isn't in the links. It's at www.lindsaybks.com.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 14:37:15 GMT

Guru, is this the alcohol blow torch which is shown at this webpage : " http://cgi.ebay.com/aw- cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=383949373&tc=photo303 " is the blow torch you described?

As I can see the small tube, which is in front the small tip orface, is the tube filled with alcohol and which is lighted to produce the flame, and the air is blown from the small tip orface on the top of the other tube.Is that true? Is the bottom end of the tube with the small blowing tip on top, connected to a device which is blowing air(bellows or something else)?
George   <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 15:00:34 GMT

I will check it right now.Thank you Alan.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 15:03:22 GMT

Do you know Larry?
Will Moran - Tuesday, 07/25/00 15:12:20 GMT

Brazing and bi-metalic corrosion: Larry, Brazing is a great way to assemble stainless and ferrous mterials as well as some non-ferrous materials and refractory metals.

The probelem is using ANY dissimilar metals together on
exterior architectual work. Think back to your basic chemistry. How is a simple electric cell made? Plates of Iron and copper or copper and zinc in an electrolyte (weak acid). Ions of one metal move from one plate to the other plateing the opposite plate and generating an electric current. Bolt a piece of brass and steel together and set outdoors and the same thing happens. Common rust is an electrolytic action. Bi-metalic corosion is an accelerated rusting action! All plain rain water or condensation has some CO2 disolved in it making it slightly acidic. In some areas modern rain is more than mildly acid containing sulfur from coal burning plants. Think about THAT! What kind of acid does an automobile battery have in it? . . . . . Sulphuric acid.

Bimetalic corrosion is normaly a one way process (although ions move both ways). Iron moves toward copper and copper alloys. The copper becomes stained and great craters are erroded from the iron/steel. Zinc, lead and cadnium moves toward iron/steel. This is why galvanizing protects steel. The zinc recoats the iron rather than the iron moving toward the zinc OR the earth, concrete or air. . .

I know that brass and copper is very popular on gates and architectual work but the problem has NOT gone away. It is beautiful but it IS NOT good design. Bolt or rivit copper to steel and in a few years go back and look at the joint. If steel fasteners are used they will be severely corroded. If copper, aluminium or bronze fasteners are used the area around the fastener will be corroded.

Years ago a friend of mine was asked to bid on street grates for the Metro in Washington D.C. These were huge light/ventilation grates over one of the underground stations. Among other things they had to support fire truck traffic. The design was to have tapered "S" or "swoosh" shaped forged brass inserts that created the image of a flight of birds. These were bolted between bars that produced a bar grating. The first thing I asked was, "What about bi-metalic corrsion?"

"What's that?", was the response from the Designer Smith.

"What's that?", was the response from the Architect.

Months later after a huge amount of work had gone into design and negotiations the city engineer nixed the project due to bi-metalic corrosion problems. HE didn't ask "What's that?"

Anyone that is going to work in this field needs to at LEAST remember (or restudy) their high school chemistry and educate themselves in simple metalurgy. Both subjects cover the bi-metalic issue. However, engineering references cover this issue (as well as others related to blacksmithing) much better.

We have a link to Lindsey Book on Emile's Links.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 15:41:30 GMT

Ebay Torch: Very similar. Not sure how this one works. I don't see a blowpipe. .

Jim Dandy Torch
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 15:51:39 GMT

Mr. Guru,

I have put together a brake drum furnace. I have heard of lining furnaces with clay. Do I need to concern my self with this step for this furnace? Is this done for heat insulation? Where and what kind of clay do I use? thank you
Davar  <dparvin at att.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 20:43:24 GMT

It is not truly necesary to line a forge pot with clay. SOme folks say it helps the iron fire pot last longer.
Once reason NOT to do so is if you leave your forge outside or you let it get wet often. coal and water make a mild acid, and if the moisture gets under(which it will) the clay you will rust out your firepot quickly.

ALl in all it is up to you. As to the clay, if you buy it buy a hi temp refractory clay, or if you want to try digging your own just find some in your yard(if you have clay soil) or where ever.
Personally I do not clay my forges.

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 21:52:37 GMT

Coal ash always did it for me.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 21:56:58 GMT

fjäderhammare The picture does not show up on my browser. The other pictures on the page do however. Id like to see the Fredrik's pictures if possible.
Hot repousse'- I find the packed sand in my drive-way to be the perfect backing.
JohnC  <careatti at crosslink.net> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 22:25:31 GMT

Errors: John, Hm m m m. Not sure why not. It was edited in the same editor as the color images. However, they were B&W or grey scale when I got them and were still grey scale. I just changed them to 24bit color. Let me know if they work now.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 22:44:40 GMT

fjäderhammare vs Klafrestrom: Fredrik sent me the photos and they are indeed the Swedish patent version of the the hammer in Pounding out the Profits. These hammers are both helve type hammers but the fjäderhammare is a spring helve while the Klafrestrom is a leaf spring balanced helve. The fjäderhammare uses and adjustment that moves the pivot bracket to adjust the working height. The Klafrestrom has a very unique stroke adjustment that slides on a curved bracket. It is also a much heavier built hammer than the fjäderhammare. The leaf springs look VERY solid.

The problem with metal and steel spring helve hammers is the extra cyclic mass that doesn't directly do work. On the Klafrestrom, all that heavy spring in the back puts a LOT of load on the driving mechanism and the helve pivot. The fjäderhammare, though a lighter machine has a lot less mass behind the helve pivot which is much better design.

The various Swedish smiths that have written to me about them say they are very common in their country and work very well. Its intresting that a machine that was not popular in the US would dominate in another country.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 23:17:58 GMT

Thanks for the reply on repairing the face of that anvil. Took a wire brush to it,it is stamped William Foster 1867 B Am using it as is. Is it worth more as is?
Donald Walter  <donbev at pld.com> - Tuesday, 07/25/00 23:48:33 GMT

Guru, I am sorry if I am tiring with this subject.Here are some more questions about the mouth blown torch:

- Did this device use a wick in order to light the torch?
- What jobs are they capable of doing? You say on your previous message about silver soldering, welding gold and for granulation.That means that it can reach temperatures of 1100-1500F?
-Was it used only in silversmithing or could it be used in larger scale works using a wider orface tip and a bigger flame, or many small orface tips( in order to have greater pressure in each one)?
Thank you very much.
George   <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 00:30:52 GMT

Swedish/English translation:
Fjäderhammare = Spring Hammer

Locally we refer to the Klafrestrom as a Fjäderhammare (any powerhammer using a large spring). Now I understand the difference in the mechanisms.
Fredrik Jeppsson  <fj at dof.se> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 00:39:21 GMT


I can't find any listing for a William Foster. That may have been made for a distributor to mark, similar to store brand products today. Fisher Anvils, and Columbus Iron both made a lot of anvils that way. If it's useable as it, leave it alone. I resurface mine, but none of my working anvils are really valuable.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 01:21:51 GMT

Swedish lessons: Fredrik, Thank you for the Swedish lessons. I've Written to Olle Andersson about the brand name of the other hammer. Yes, there is quite a difference in mechanisms even though both are helve hammers.

Alcohol Torch George, I've run out of answers on this one. A fellow wrote to me about the one pictured above. He says there is a wick on it and the flame both heats alcohol in the tube and light the flame. This one doesn't use a blow pipe.

As the size of something goes up the mass goes up by the cube of the increase in size. Hot does not equate to calories or BTU's. Historicaly these devices have been used for the smallest work. I do not know what the size limitation is. Perhaps a Jewler can tell you (us).

William Foster Paw Paw! Page 10, 17, 68, 125! Donald, It is a relatively rare English anvil of good quality. The one you have is made near the end of production or import to the US. They were a good OLD syle shape anvil. A worn anvil is worth more than one poorly repaired or obviously repaired. Dust off any mushroomed corners with a grinder and a file, touch up the face with a sander and let it go.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 02:41:15 GMT

Well Duuuh! I sure blew that one! I was looking up Foster, William, when I should have been looking up William Foster.

Donald, The guru is right.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 03:06:31 GMT

Paw-Paw: you got to cross your eyes the OTHER way! :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 03:46:00 GMT

Guru, thank you for all the answers.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 04:24:40 GMT


Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 04:35:34 GMT

In referance to the Jewlers Tourch you were asking about, there are several types around many resemble a small meths/alcohol burner with a wick and a long slender tube that is blowen through.
The crudest tourch is litterally a meths burner and a tube that looks like a long straw, the tube is tappered to enable pressure to build up.
I used one of these types of tourches for about one year, then started using an LPG blow type tourch, the temperatures attained can be up to the 2000deg, i have even sweated peices of platinum together using a blow pipe.
The one in the picture would more than likley have an attachement for a pipe that could be blowen through.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions about using them.
Andrew Hooper  <andrew at best.net.nz> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 06:25:28 GMT

Hi, This is a fwd.of a question asked me. I was hoping you could help him out.

I am seeking information about three anvils I have. These are not for sale I got these from both of my grandfathers after they died. The first anvil I know is a Fisher brand because it is cast in the front leg of the anvil. It has two mounting holes, one in the middle under the horn and under the heel. The year 1907 is in the waist under the heel. On the back legs under the heel on the left side is cast "L I " and on the right side is cast " I I I I " what does this stand for? On the side of the back leg is cast a letter " P ". This anvil is strange because it has three steps. The face, then it step down to the cutting face, then it steps down and has a face cut at about a 45 degree angle.

the next anvil is a forged anvil the brand is "Lakeside" . One side of the waist is stamped " 180 " in about one inch numbers. On the other side near the top near the end of the heel is stamped " 0 3 3 " in about 3/4 " numbers and these are stamp kinda on an angle and not spaced well apart like the 180 is. If you are familiar with this brand and could tell me any thing I would appreciate it.

the largest of the anvil; the only one I have weighed is 299 pounds. this looks to be a cast steel anvil with a steel top. below the waist one one side is a letter " R " about 2" high and on the other side in the middle of the waist is a Letter " Z " about 1" high. I have no idea what brand it is and I hope you can tell me just for my own knowledge because I will never sell these anvils. Thanks for you help and time.
Mike   <mike at mcguckian.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 06:54:45 GMT

dear Guru, i send a email today,i hope your answer, please.

herson vilchis  <herson_vilchis at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 10:45:26 GMT

dear Guru, i send you a email today,i hope your answer, please.

herson vilchis  <herson_vilchis at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 10:48:29 GMT

Dear Guru, I hope you can point me in the right direction. I would like to find some plans or drawings for the construction of an outdoor forge, preferably ala a brick barbecue, with a compartment(oven) as a side feature that could hopefully be a coke generator. Thank you.
Steve  <Bbismarck at aol.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 13:24:18 GMT

At 10:10 EDT: Kiwi is forging live on AnvilCAM
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 14:11:00 GMT

Fooled: Kiwi has a 10-15 minute loop running. I'll have to ask how he's doing it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 14:44:52 GMT

3 Anvils: Your friend may want to call Richard Postman about the Fisher anvil It sounds like either a special (which I don't think they made) or a break that was cleanly repaired. I'd have to see a photo to have an idea. Fisher castings often had the markings badly cast and it takes some study to figure them out.

Lakeside was a Montgomery Ward trademark. They sold anvils under this trademark made by Hay-Budden and Columbus Iron and Forge Co., perhaps others.

Without better discription I cannot help on the last anvil. Many times a good cleaning or doing a rubbing will bring out the markings.

IF it is a cast anvil with steel face it is steel on cast iron. Fisher was this type, others used the system later. If it is cast steel it will be all one peice. The prettiest cast steel anvils were made by KOHLSWA and other Swedish anvil makers. These are VERY hard and invariably have chipped corners. They were often sold under other's trade names.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 15:08:21 GMT

Brick Forge: Steve, This sounds like you want a custom design so you are on your own. M.T. Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing has various brick forge designs (not dimentioned plans). Blacksmith's coke coal in an open fire. Coking ovens are a commercial operation and information can be found in references on the coal and steel industry.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 15:14:36 GMT

Thank you for your quick response.
Steve   <Bbismarck at aol.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 15:26:18 GMT

GURU Thank you for both your time and knowledge on the anvil question. I appreciate it.
Mike  <mike at mcguckian.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 15:38:42 GMT

Peter Fels and Pheobe says they are DOT COM now! Check it out.


A very COOL site.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 16:17:21 GMT

Could not get Peter and Phoebe's site to open.... :(

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 19:34:43 GMT

Errors: Ralph, I don't think ANYTHING works from where you are. . . I've accessed it from several different places without any trouble. . . using www and without. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 20:35:59 GMT

In that case I will try again from home tonight. Here at work we sometimes get funny results.... Perhaps because I am on a UNIX box?
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Wednesday, 07/26/00 21:37:43 GMT

Hi Guru,

Last night I tried to do some soldering on copper.I managed to do the soldering but it seemed to me that it was difficult.Is this true, because copper is a good conductor of heat?

Is soldering silver an easier job to do?

Thank you.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Thursday, 07/27/00 04:37:20 GMT


There are three very important rules when soldering anything, copper included. Those rules are:




If it isn't clean, it won't solder!

That's true, whether you're lead soldering, silver soldering, or gold soldering.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 04:46:07 GMT

I am looking for Rex Walters site, the guy that reforges the 52100. I thought he had a link here but i can't seem to find him.
Mike Sweany  <sweanym1 at juno.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 06:16:44 GMT

Soldering: There are fluxes and there are fluxes. Common rosin flux is more of a protectant than a classic "flux" it keeps air away from the metal while soldering but does little to remove oxide. It is designed for electrical work where new clean exposed wire is being soldered and you don't want to introduce corrosive chemicals. If the copper wire has been exposed for any length of time OR is old enough that it has oxidized under the insulation (before you strip it off) it won't solder. For really high class work some wire come pre-tinned.

Copper sheet or parts usualy need to be cleaned with steel wool or sandpaper. Fluxes that disolve the surface oxide also help. Acid flux is generaly carried in a rosin paste so that once the surface is deoxidized that the heat doesn't re-oxidize it.

My vavorite flux has powdered tin in it. The moment that soldering conditions are right it flashes on the metal and you know its time to add solder. Pure tin has a very low melting temperature and is more likely solder than higher temperature tin/lead mixtures. Once tinned the surfaces are tinned they easier to solder with any solder.

Soldering with an exposed flame is VERY tricky because it can rapidly oxidize the metal. Controling the flame fuel/air mixture and where in the flame the work is critical. Because gold is very maleable doesn't oxidize or work harden it is easier to work than other metals and is one reason so much early metal work was gold. Copper is a wonderful metal but it oxidizes rapidly when exposed to flame.

Paw-Paw is right, cleanliness is NUMBER ONE. And it must be maintained while heating and soldering.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 13:21:17 GMT

Mike, I don't recognize the name but many folks use their business name, web-site, nickname, e-mail OR chat handle. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 13:25:05 GMT

Hello Guru,
Recently I purchased a Kerihard power hammer (the 33# model) in pretty rough (non-functional) shape. It appears like all the parts are there, however all of the moving parts were frozen. After several weeks of applying penetrating oil (used a product called "Kroil") and a few sessions with a oxy/acetylene torch, we were finally able to begin taking the hammer apart. Without too much difficulty we were able to remove the top and bottom dies, the hammer arms, the top shaft (adjusts the hammer stroke), and the flat pulley. The main problem in how to free-up the central drive shaft and the eccentric. It seems like this part of the hammer has a great deal of surface area that must be broken free. Can you suggest a method to free up this section of the hammer? Could you put me in contact with anyone who has worked on this type of hammer?
T.S. Cole  <tscjkc at aol.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 13:32:54 GMT

Rust: T.S. I'm told a product called B'Laster is great at breaking loose rusted parts.

The upper arm (helve) in the Kerri-Hard is best replaced with a new piece of steel if is is heavily rusted. The stroke adjustment is by moving the push-rod attachment back and forth on the helve.

Just keep oiling and tap tap tap tapping. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 14:29:39 GMT

My girlfriend is getting into Tile Mosaics and she came across a need for a tool called a Hardie to break tiles. DO you know what this tool is and where we could get one?


Bob McCormick  <bobnma at nmia.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 17:04:36 GMT

I haven´t seen anyone yet mention that if you put a plate with a hole in it over the forge when it´s coking and cooking nicely you get a very hot blowtorch for a couple of minutes. With charcoal you get an even cleaner flame. Must be a techniqe as old as the blow-tube.

BTW, I think even IKEA sells tile-breaker, not to mention hardware stores. Well, they do in Sweden anyway.
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Thursday, 07/27/00 17:19:29 GMT

Great webpage I've been looking for info on blacksmithing
and your page has proved very useful.I'd like to build a small forge similar to the brake drum forge. Could I use carcoal for fuel and compressed air for a blower? I would
only need enough heat for up to 1/2" round stock.

Thanks, Mark
Mark  <czar at fn.net> - Thursday, 07/27/00 17:29:06 GMT

I work for an architectural metal fabricating shop and we are considering changing the layout of the equipment in the shop. We basically have two types of work we do, despite the fact that they interchange and overlap quite often. There is sheet work and extrusion work. The sheet work is usually limited to shearing and braking. The extrusion is usually cutting and welding. There are many additional steps done to these items, but that is the meat and potatoes. We are thinking we need to minimize steps taken as opposed to an ideal "work flow". Sheet jobs tend to be short term, 30 minutes to an hour, and extrusion jobs may take weeks. Does the Guru feel the same as us? Is it critical for the shop to have an "in" door and an "out" door? Should each type of work have it's own "in/out" door? If this isn't your type of question, where can someone find some advice?
Rob Rolves  <rob at foremanfab.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 18:08:38 GMT

Charcoal - Compressed Air: Mark, Charcoal will melt iron if you want but Briquets are largely sawdust and glue. They WILL work but are not as well as the real thing.

Compressed air is expensive from a HP/volume ratio. It has been used in commercial forges. You need a several foot long piece of two inch pipe for an expansion chamber. A few inches from the air inlet end a piece of screen (aluminium or stainless) will make a good difusser. Little squirel cage blowers are much more quiet and efficient.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 19:13:10 GMT

Work Flow: Rob, Efficient work flow is very important in every shop. However, which door or where finished work leaves the shop is not nearly as important as how each work station and machine is arranged. Physicaly moving the work and raw materials in and out of the shop is usualy controlled by where the loading dock, driveway or crane is.

Saws and shears should be lined up with the stock racks so that material is easly move from stock rack to cutting rack.

Work stations should be arranged so that all the needed tools are stored nearby and there is room for cut stock and finished work. If a vise or bench can be moved so that you take one step or mearly pivot rather than taking several steps doing repetitive jobs hundreds of hours can be saved. Having duplicate tools for each workstation reduces worker frustration.

Work flow IS important but the largest time savings are usualy in the little things that are done tens of thousands of times.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 19:28:15 GMT

Hardie: Bob, A hardy is a blacksmiths anvil tool. It has a square shank that fits into the "hardy" hole. The tool is a vertical chisle used to cut hot and cold stock. Cold cut hardies are heavy and have a relatively blunt edge (like a cold chisle). Hot cut hardies are thinner and modern ones are made of high temperature resistant alloy steels.

I don't have a clue what they are selling for tile work. Cutters use a triangular bar to break tile over. This is more akin to what are called "anvil devils". A short triangular piece of steel laid loose on the anvil. I use straight edge, class cutter (for a scribe) and pliers to cut tiles.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 19:37:08 GMT

Howdy, Guru.
I'm in the drawing board phse of making a JYH similar to the "rusty" design, and I've come up with a couple of questions: 1. Is there an ideal length for the leaf spring? and if it is a curved spring which side should be up? and 2. Is there a readily available source of ~1 hp single phase electric motors, kind of like how most washers and dryers use 1/3 hp motors? I really don't want to have to buy a new one. The anvil will be a 300lb axle shaft out of what may have been a Caterpiller pan-type scraper, about 42" long and 3.5" in diameter with a big handy flange on one end. The ram weight will be in the 20-30 lb range, made by cutting off a bit less than 1/10th the length of the anvil shaft. I was planning on making interchangeable dies out of some 1045 I have. Any other hints?
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Thursday, 07/27/00 21:41:48 GMT

Every so often I begin to wonder about things that I have observed. I know under what conditions events occur and most of the time I can figure it out. I have known for years that certian steels will fall to pieces on my anvil as if they were wet chalk if brought up to certian tempratures. Today I attempted to weld an old spud bar back together. Of course, at welding heat it fell to pieces. Exactly what is going on under these conditions? Thanks :~)
Tannis  <celticforge at hotmail.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 22:18:50 GMT

Hi! I am totally obsessed with making a greek helmet (corinthian) out of bronze. I had some metalworking training back at school and I bought some bookes about it too. But I don't know how to even get started. I read that ancient greeks used to hammer a bronze plate agains a pole to shape the helmet. Would that technique be suitable for me? ANY advice will be quite welcome! Thank you very much...
Pablo GP  <pgutierrezp at sinectis.com.ar> - Thursday, 07/27/00 22:51:55 GMT

I came accross a 150 lb. vulcan anvil,the surface has been
reworked,no chips on edges the surface is flat and smooth.
It's 22 1/4" long, 11 1/2" high. surface is 4"x 14 1/2", horn
is 7 1/2 " long, 1" hardy hole & 5/8" P.H. What is it worth ?
how old would you think it is.?
Bill   <camper at usmo.com> - Thursday, 07/27/00 22:59:56 GMT

Greek Helmet: Pablo, Look on our 21st Century page. Armor articles at the top cover helments. Then Dona Meilach's Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork has a good article on raising (see our book review page).

Look close at the helmet articles. You will see that many of the tools are custom made by the craftsman or make do. Wood tree stumps or sections of log make good forms for dishing. Stake anvils can be fabricated by various methods. See our tool making articles on the iForge page.

After looking around some more let me know if you need more help.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 00:06:12 GMT

Argentina: Pablo, I forgot to say, "Hello South America!" I think your's is the first post from that part of the world even though we get a lot of trafic from your country.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 00:09:05 GMT

Crumbling Steel: Tannis, Certain (most) alloy tool steels seperate at high temperature. You just overheated the steel. You can't work tool steels at the same high temperatures as mild steel. Sometimes you can pause if you have over heated it and DON'T MOVE IT while it cools a little then just go on with your work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 00:13:25 GMT

Tile hardie: Bob, I've seen what you are looking for in a friends shop. She does moasic work and she has hers set up in a tall stump. You need to find a hardie for cold cutting. You want it to break the tile not cut it. I bet you could pick one up on e-bay.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 00:54:44 GMT

Bob, Look at # 394171177 on e-bay.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 01:08:23 GMT

David M., I'm pretty easy going and rarely hold people to the posted rules (most that read them abide by them 90% of the time). But when I get duplicate e-mails and triplicate posts repeating the same thing . . . . The multiple posts take space and require my time to remove them (I usualy leave one). I reposted it on the V.Hammer-In as a service to our clientel.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 02:44:41 GMT

Somewhere I heard or read that a "ferrier" was someone who did metalwork. Does anyone know if this is true?

One Way.......Jesus! John 14:6
Jim Faires  <asafaires at aol.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 16:14:37 GMT


i'm 30 years old and have been a metalsmith for about 11years. my question is when trying to make brass handrails,i'm unable to make a PERFECT unnoticable seam. without welding. what tecnique do i use?
mihael  <duktape at webtv.net> - Friday, 07/28/00 17:36:03 GMT

Farrier: Jim, A "Farrier" is a horseshoer. Many fariers make their own shoes but today many do not. "Blacksmiths" are often confused with farriers and many farriers call themselves blacksmiths. However, only the "pioneer" blacksmith was all things. This was out of necessity. However, long before the pioneer era in the Americas and Austrailia and other places the Farrier was a specialist.

Blacksmiths are forgers of iron, steel and other metals. They are often welders, machinists and metalurgists.

Farriers are shoers of horses and specialize in the medical knowledge of horses feet and legs.

Help Ralph Nader get in the national debate!

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 18:17:57 GMT

Perfection: Mihael, Joints in metal are almost always visible. Even microscopic cracks. Surfaces that are machined and ground perfectly (within normal machine shop tolerances of .0001" and 32RMS finish) will make a nearly invisible joint. But irregularities or misalignment of as little as a few thousandths of an inch will appear to be a huge gap. This is especialy true of polished or bright surfaces.

In iron work rails can be spliced using a machined lap joint that produces a very nice joint but it is far from invisible. Even if there is a perfect fit on absolutely square and smooth surfaces the corners will not be perfectly sharp (they SHOULD be debured) and the joint will show. However, ironwork normally gets painted and then the joint disappears.

I think you are looking for an impossible solution.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 18:36:10 GMT

Mihael: a good brazed joint (I know you said no welding, and technically brazing is not welding) can be nearly invisible, if you are careful to match your alloys. If the brasses match, a very careful grinding and polishing job can make it look like no joint at all.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Friday, 07/28/00 18:52:22 GMT

Can any one tell me of a good source for small quantities of rivets? I've still got 3 sets of fire tools to make from last Christmas. Fast huh? I think next summer i'll make'em a setof fire dogs for Christmas, any ideas on the kind of steel to use? I'm so fast it took me two days to post this. Oh well, it's tough being broke and hired out.
smitty7   <rfsbj at webtv.net> - Friday, 07/28/00 20:11:45 GMT



Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 21:04:29 GMT

OK, here is an idea, I found an old porcelain cast iron bathroom sink under the barn (It has a casting date of 1935 on the bottom.). It seems to me it would make a good small coal forge pot, even if its a little too deep. The overflow could be used as a side draft, and the bottom drain hole as a bottom draft and ash dump. It varies between about 1/4 to 1/2 thick cast iron, Has anyone tried using a sink like this for a forge pot? Would the porcelain cause problems? I personally use propane but I thought it might be good for someone starting out.
Moldy  <moldy> - Friday, 07/28/00 21:50:03 GMT

Thar be Vikings! I just saw what LOOKED like Atli (Bruce Blackistone) and crew rowing their Viking ship on the 6:00 ABC news. . . :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/28/00 22:50:12 GMT

I'm looking for information on restoring an antique candlestick whose original black finish has rusted. Sanding to bare metal is not an option; it will destroy the value. I think I should rub off as much of the rust as possible with an oily rag but I'm not sure about heating the piece -- and I've never done that before. Any suggestions?
Don  <dmikule at attglobal.net> - Saturday, 07/29/00 14:24:06 GMT

Some more questions about soldering:

When the specifications of a silver solder say that his melting temperature is 710C, should I heat the solder to that temp and heat the metals ,to be soldered, to a lower temp or should the metals ,also, be heated to the melting temp of the solder?

What should be the place of the torche's flame in relation to the object that is to to be soldered in order to have the stongest heat?

Thank you very much.
George  <chrys at ath.forthnet.gr> - Saturday, 07/29/00 16:44:49 GMT

GURU I recently bought an anvil about a 250# i was just wondering who the maker was there are no other markings other than 41 forged on the bottom of the anvil and just was wondering if you would know off hand who made it Its rings well and preform well thank you DUBS
dubs  <dpalmer at solarwinds> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:03:42 GMT

Thar be less vikings:
The swedes got as far as the Faroes with their replica ship before there was some kind of mutiny and the ship abandoned in the harbour. Embarrassing!
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:26:17 GMT

Anvil: Dubs, Don no nothin' ;). Can't tell without more to go on or without seening it. Many brands can be identified by tell tale style differences that only the experianced would notice.

Peter Wright's had a flat about 1" wide on the feet under the horn and heal to clamp them down with.

Hay-Budden's have a distinctive long horn that the underside is horizontal for a good distance. That and the narrow waist make them easily recognizable.

Mousehole anvils have a "V" edge or spine on the underside of the horn and is very noticable if you tip one back on its heal.

Many makers made unmarked anvils. Most were for resale by agents that wanted to put their mark on the anvil but didn't. Many custom anvils were unmarked. And I expect quite a few were shipped unmarked at times of great demand or rush deliveries.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:34:40 GMT

Thar be less vikings: I'D muntiny after that much rowing too!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:36:46 GMT

Solder: George, Everything must be the same temperature. Most clear flames have three cones. The bright one toward the burner is oxidizing. It there are two cones the flame is neutral or oxidizing. If there are three the two outer cones are carburizing. If you adjust the third outer cone until it just disappears into the second cone then the flame is neutral.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:41:51 GMT

Candlestick: Don, if the black was natural forge scale and not paint then rust is natural. Dust off with fine steel wool and wax the whole. The rust over scale or combined rust/scale will be a dark brown or black/brown when waxed or oiled.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/29/00 18:46:02 GMT

Dear Guru
I have been bladesmithing for a little more than a year now and I have only recentely started to build my propane forge. Up until now I have just been cutting the blades out on an OA torch and grinding them down on a belt sander. I plan to make a railroad track anvil to go with my forge. My income isn't great since I am still a student in high school so this is more economic for me at the time. All of the books I have been reading tell me I need to temper the anvil and heat treat it, also grind the surface to smoothness and also create the horn and the hardy hole and other goodies. Some of this seems like it is going to be quite a task if I don't have a coal forge. Is it possible to use the track without heat treating it? Are there some other options?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated


Matt  <mattrh at rosenet.net> - Saturday, 07/29/00 23:49:48 GMT

Anvil/Tools: Matt, Unless you are making very small blades a railroad track anvil is a little small. Putting a hardy hole in one is nice but its practicaly useless. Also, before making one don't think convential. Look at our intructions on the iForge page. Setting the rail on end and using the small face of the end produces a VERY solid forging surface. Sideways is very springy and there is not much mass between surface and base

Railroad rail is relatively high carbon steel. There is no need to harden it for the amount of resistance it will provide. If neccessary you could flame harden it.

On the 21st Century page there is another "unconventional" anvil. It is ideal for a bladesmith.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/30/00 01:10:13 GMT

I am going to be helping Jim Pigott of Mississippi Forge Council ( gforge at bellsouth.net to edit the Mississippi Chapter web site that you are hosting. Please e-mail the
access information to Jim & me so that we can take advantage of this great opertunity. thanks
dave mudge
dave mudge  <lama at lametalsmiths.org> - Sunday, 07/30/00 05:57:43 GMT

I am a Recruiter in an internet company in New York. I am looking for a Metalurgist. Do you have a job bank available, or know of any associations, newsletters or agencies that may be of help? Thank you for your time.
Suzanne  <suzanne at materialnet.com> - Sunday, 07/30/00 16:08:51 GMT

MSFC: Dave, Info is on the way!

ABANA Chapter members! On NEW YEAR'S DAY we setup a free web page for every chapter that did not have a web site (44) and offered space to all of those that did.

Many of your chapters have taken up our offer to to host your web pages and others have not. Both catagories need webmasters to write, edit and manage their sites. If you have any computer skills (database, wordprocessing. . .) we can help you get going. HTML is not easy but it is NOT as difficult as a programming language like BASIC. We have some on-line help for new webmasters and I'll help you as much as possible. Check it out.

Web pages have become the equivalent to a listing in the phone directory. Often, if you aren't found on the web, folks think you don't exist.

Let your chapter President know you are interested and want to volunteer! :)
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/30/00 16:20:06 GMT

Metalurgist: Suzanne, Try ASM.

  • ASM - American Society for Metals International:
    Researches and publishes engineering references about metals, their manufacture, fabrication and testing. Has on-line bookstore. Most other services require membership.
    If you are going to purchase more than one of their references the membership discount generally will offset the membership. Membership open to all at a resonable cost. Has local chapters.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/30/00 16:25:10 GMT

Howdy, Guru.

I suspect you overlooked one of my posts a few days ago due to that guy who triple-posted spam... anyway, to reiterate my question:
I'm at the paper design stage of building a JYH that is sort of a hybrid between a "Rusty" type and Dan Dreyer's hammer, in other words a crank-actuated spring-helve hammer with interchangeable dies. My question was, what would be a good dimension for the spring? The ram will be 20 to 30 lbs, and the crank stroke is about three inches. Should it be a straight spring, or could I use a slightly curved one?

Alan L
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Sunday, 07/30/00 17:04:13 GMT

Rusty: Alan, Sorry, I remember your question now and I indeed got side tracked.

If you use a curved spring try to set up so that the connecting linkings are perpendicular to the spring. This means having the center pivot lower than the front end of the spring (at mid travel) and the crank wheel forward toward the frame.

No specific reason other than good design and clean geometry.

Most of these I've seen had relatively light springs. Only part of a stack from a small car leaf spring. One thing about stacked springs is that you can adjust things by adding and removing leaves. The stacks are not designed to do this bit the hardware can be modified easily enough.

As a general rule the heavier the ram, the heavier the spring. The faster the machine, the heavier the spring. If the spring is too light the machine will get out of synchronization or timing. However, if the spring is too heavy the machine will not have that extra travel/velocity that makes it hit hard. The spring needs to work best at maximum speed.

These are nifty machines that work very well. If you can find flat belt pulleys to use for the clutch it would be worth while.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/30/00 22:58:32 GMT

I have an old coke-fueled forge with a nice blower on it that my great-uncle has been trying to buy from me.

Do you know of a website with classifieds that might list antique forges so I can set a fair price?

Thank you!
June  <jraith at celtic.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 00:48:26 GMT

My parents think they may have a forge. It sits on three legs, has a basin for coals, with a chimney and grate beneath the basin. It also has a hand crank with an air intake hole, I think. We were wondering if we could find out more information about this object. Are there identifying marks we should be looking for? When were these used and what were they used for? How much might one be worth today?
janel  <janelmcaverly at yahoo.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 02:14:22 GMT

Pricing: June, Unless you know exactly what you have you will be comparing apples and oranges.

Rivit Forges with sheet metal pans in good condition, with a small hand crank blower that is not worn out (not a lot of gear noise) and all the parts sell for around $100 to $175.

Blowers (alone) with the factory three legged stand in good condition are selling for around $125 - $150.

Heavy cast iron forges without a blower may sell for $100 to $200 without a blower.

A big cast iron Railroad forge (3x4 feet) may sell for as little as $100 or as much as $400.

The prices above are approximate observed marked prices from East coast blacksmith gatherings. All of this equipment would cost significantly more new IF it were available. All of it was probably bought from individualy for a LOT less and often sells for less than the asking price.

In this market prices are determined strictly by who's buying and who's selling. In most cases individuals selling old equipment just want to get rid of it and are happy to get whatever is offered. Blacksmiths and dealers know the value and generaly get more than the individual but also know what the market will bear.

People post wanted and sales on our V.Hammer-In. Sales of this type are largely moving to Ebay where prices are ocassionaly outrageous.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 02:43:25 GMT

HA!: Two for one! (janel posted while I was answering June). .

There are pictures of a forge of the type you describe listed on our 21st Century page.

They were made by a variety of manufacturers from around the 1860's until the 1960's. The last of the hand crank blowers made by Buffalo Blower and Forge were those made in the 1960's for use in Bomb Shelters. These had sheet metal housings and nylon bearings.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 03:00:50 GMT

Thanks, Guru!
I thought that was what happened. I've got a stacked leaf trailer spring made of three leaves, each about 3/8" thick by 2.5 inches wide. It's curved to a fairly tight (~36") radius, not really elliptical. Total length is about 20". I suspect this will be too short for a good, snappy whack. As for a flat belt pully, I've got an old wire spoke wheel I was going to use as the crank pully which will take a flat belt up to 1.5" wide. I just need to find a motor.

I've noticed in pictures I've seen of this type of hammer the spring seems to be pretty long. On Dan Dreyer's hammer it also looks like the spring is not pivoted in the center. Is that right? Doesn't seem like that would work due to torque imbalance, etc.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Monday, 07/31/00 14:41:26 GMT

Rusty: Alan, 20" is a little short. Most of these use springs about 30" or so. On Dan's hammer the spring is pivoted at the back and the connecting rod is attached by a flexible coupling at the middle. The stroke multiplier of this system means the crank throw is very short. The dynamics are a little different.

A 3/4HP motor would be your minimum and 1HP about max. Using (2) 1/2HP motors and moving one to tension the belt will work.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 15:41:17 GMT

Dear Guru,

I am a 39 year old teacher and have been interested in arts and crafts for a long time. I am American and have lived in Europe for many years. I trained as a Stained Glass Artist when I was in my early twenties and studied some hot glass work at university. I work in Green Wood on a pole lathe which is a exact reproduction of the pole lathes used by the chair bodgers of Southern England. I have always tried to find old tools.

When I lived on the grounds of a home for wayward teenagers, I observed them forging iron in the same manner as at the start of the Iron Age, with skin bellows, etc. They made knives and other simple, functional objects.

I would like to learn to work with iron, and have as a goal to be able to work with young people between the ages of 10 and 18. I guess they would want to make knives, nails and simple tools. I would like to eventually make my own tools, especially edge tools, such as chisels, and perhaps forge axe heads. I already make the handles on a shaving horse, so why not make the heads.

Please advise me of the most practical way to make/acquire (I have a limited budget, but a lot of enthusiasm) the following:

A "table type" forge. I can only describe it like this, it is waist high and I've seen it in wilderness craft schools and at craft fairs.

The basic tools.

Raw material.

Whatever books I will need.

thank you very much guru, I look forward to your reply.

David Kennedy
david  <davidandelise at hotmail.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 16:31:36 GMT

I have only very recently started blacksmithing (about 3 weeks)--and I love it. I am starting to consider setting up my own amateur workshop (although this will be sometime in the future). I've started researching forges in books and on the internet, and am overwhelmed by the choices. I have been working with a coal forge, but think that a propane forge would be more practical for my purposes/space/resources. One of my questions is due to the compactness of gas forges--the interior size seems tiny compared to the coal forge I've been using. What is a good general working size for smallish projects without totally limiting myself to smallish projects? What should I most look for in an LPG forge? I thank you for your time and expertise. Lee Ann
LA  <lamiracle at mindspring.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 20:01:16 GMT


Your response will be really appreciated!

I’m a metal sculptor, with some need to be able to do light forging as part of my sculptures.

I bought an anvil from a private individual. It is a 105 pound “Peter Weight (?)”as best as I can make out the name and it has seen it’s better days.

The worst of it is, that the top surface is concave by about 1/8” and it also has begun to de-laminate about 1” down from the top surface. When I hit the center with a hammer, as per your suggestion, there is no “ping” more of a “thump”.

I only paid $60.00 delivered to my shop.

Question: Did I over pay? Is it still serviceable? Should I take my losses, sell it for scrap and by a new one?

Andrew Dean  <avdean at compuserve.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 20:27:52 GMT

Guru! HA! I beat the average on my 'Railroad forge'! I have one with a Champion #400 blower, that was given to me! Actually folks, if you are looking for forges, anvils, etc, put the word out to ALL of you friends and aquaintances. If you only tell smithing buddies you are telling the competition! I knew a fellow who got most of a blacksmith shop(minus the pwr hmmr) thru his wifes hairdresser. She had heard form a client that a friends dad had dies and there was a tool auction, and since it was tools most of the ladies could care less. He got a large anvil(about 300lbs) a forge and a whole slew of hand tools and tongs for about 400.00
SO put the word out....

Ralph  <ralphd!jps.net> - Monday, 07/31/00 21:08:22 GMT

THE TRUTH: Ralph is absolutely right. There is a LOT of blacksmithing equipment stored in barns, garages, tool sheds and basements just waiting for someone to ASK for it. I've been given GOOD anvils twice (not when I needed one, of course).

Tell EVERYONE you know what you are looking for and WHY you want it. Follow those leads. You don't have to be out in the country. There were more blacksmith and farrier shops in cities than out in the country.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 21:55:33 GMT

Thanks a million!

I checked eBay and found one, newer forge that was sitting at $100 with 3 days left. $100 seems to be a good rock bottom price.

The blower sounds wonderful on this one, but the pan has some sediment in it. (Hopefully just mushy coal!)

The pan itself seems to be cast iron. Definitely heavier than sheet metal. The diameter is rather small, maybe 2' and the legs raise it to 3'6" to 4' tall.

We ARE a railroad family (anyone interested in a motorized hand car?) but I didn't see any B&O markings on the forge. I better look at it closer.

You have been a great help. Thanks again!
June  <jraith at celtic.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 21:57:18 GMT

Bad Anvil: Andrew, Most smiths would have still bought that Peter Wright at that price even if they knew it was broke.

Peter Wright made very good anvils but as indestructable as they seem they can be worn out or abused to the point of failure. These old anvils were made of wrought iron that was pieced together. Sometimes the welds in the body were not as good as they should have been occasionaly fail. More common if the failure of the weld between the face and the body. The steel face is forge welded to the body and then hardened and ground.

It IS possible to repair this joint to prevent further failure, however they usualy fail at the center (where they see the most abuse) and the seperation works to the outside. By the time the crack shows up on the side the face is seperated a LOT.

You have two choices. Live with it. Make a marginal repair.

To repair it you are going to need to grind out the cracked joint as deep as is practical (about 1" or so). Then preheat the entire anvil to 400°F and arc weld the joint, pausing between passes to peen the weld (will require a round ended tool like a worn chipping hammer) between passes. Since this is not a surface repair you can get away with E7024 or MIG. Take plenty of time between passes to let the face cool to the preheat temperature so that you don't overheat it and soften it.

Don't try to repair/build up the swayed top. YEP, its a ton of work.

Many folks use anvils in as bad a condition for many years. The face of that Peter Wright actually had a 1/16" crown (like a roadway) when it was new! Many folks LIKE a swayed anvil as it is easier to make straight items on it than on a flat anvil (think about it).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 22:16:48 GMT

Getting Started: David, There is a link to our standing article at the top and bottom of this page. Start with the books and catalogs there. If you order the books from Centaur Forge they will probably throw in a copy of their catalog. You want it for a reference if nothing else.

Except for an anvil you can buy many of the tools a your local hardware store or flea market. The forge you describe is a standard size shop forge. I recommend you start smaller with a cheap (or free) brake drum forge. See the post about availability of coal about a week ago.

See our series on anvils on the 21st Century page.

Raw material is often scrounged by new smiths but you are better off buying new material. Look under steel or steel service center in the yellow pages. You want hot rolled "mild steel" or A-26 and cold drawn mild steel in the smaller sizes (1/4" 3/8")

Start with the books and a make do forge.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 22:27:20 GMT

Gas vs. Coal Forges.: Lee Ann, Yes, gas forges are very limited compared to a coal forge. A small coal forge can be used to do big work and a large coal forge can efficiently do small work. Gas forges can do neither.

If you are looking at new gas forges then get the biggest one you can afford. Most of the forges sold to blacksmiths are "small" forges. The very little ones are VERY handy (I have a NC Whisper Baby) but limited in work size. I love its frugalness. I have a big blower type forge I built that is GREAT but it sucks up 10x the fuel of the Whisper Baby. Yes decisions, decisions. . .

The one burner atmospheric forges (like the Whisper Baby) also have a hard time reaching maximum temperature. The two and three burner forges are much better.

Gas forges must be sized to the work you do. A gas forge/furnace uses the same amount of fuel per hour if you are heating a stack of 2" bars or a single piece of 1/4" . . .

The advantage of gas forges are that they a clean, convienient and easy to use. They can be used without a flue as long as you have good ventilation. Most are more portable than a coal forge and are relatively efficient. Even a small one like a Whisper baby can heat more steel than you can keep up with working by hand and the the next size up will keep a small power hammer working constantly.

We have a complete NC-Tool Forge Catalog posted at:

Wallace NC-Tool Catalog
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 22:56:48 GMT

Whoops: Bad URL above, try this:

Wallace NC-Tool Catalog
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 23:01:27 GMT

Dear Guru,

Many thanks for timely answer!

Andrew Dean  <avdean at compuserve.com> - Monday, 07/31/00 23:33:21 GMT

[ anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC