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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 8 - 15, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
THE CONTEST was won by OErjan
See announcement below for the answer.
Besides the ancient system of 360 degrees and the newer system of Radians (2PI) what two (2) other formal systems of dividing a circle for the measurment of angles have been used?

Provide both the name of units and number.

NEW contest next week!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/06/01 Updated Monday 07/09/01

Mr. Turley, have you gotten a chance to play around with those railroad clips I gave you at IronFest?
Stormcrow - Sunday, 07/08/01 02:59:07 GMT

Can you confirm that the selling price of the one piece Nazel 2-B hammer you sold was $5970.00. I have a 2 piece 2-B and am considering peddling it...
Alan Lewis  <flytern at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 03:58:57 GMT

STORMCROW, Not yet...all in due time.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 07/08/01 04:15:10 GMT

I need to find out about forge welding when it originated how it`s done what happens to the metal
I have to do a technological change assignment I have to compare this with MIG welding
Bill  <stuart_millwood at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 04:33:34 GMT

Forge Welding: Bill, It is part of the manufacturing process of making wrought iron. So it originated with the iron age, a date that is constantly moving with research but is accepted to be around 1500 BC in the Caucuses but perhaps earlier in China or India.

The conditions of forge welding vary. In some cases, especialy welding wrought iron, the surface of the metal is molten or semi molten and the pieces simply stick together with a little help. However clean metal and steels weld at much lower than the melting point.

Forge welding can be done with and without flux. The silicates in wrought iron tend to act as a surface protectant and additional fluxing is not always necessary and seldom used. Many ancient smiths used sands and clays as flux. Most modern smiths use borax, and for difficult to weld alloy steels borax with a small percentage of flourite is used.

Modern blacksmiths still use forge welding a great deal and it also occurs in rolling of billets in manufacturing steel as well as in the making of pipe. Any joining of metals under heat and pressure without other influences is considered "forge" welding.

Modern smiths use forge welding for traditional work where there is no better method of producing a smooth fluid blended joint, especialy in decorative work. Forge welding is also used in the creation of clad steels in mills and laminated steels or "Damascus". Smith made laminated steels are used for both superior structural purposes and for artistic purposes. For strength layers of hard and soft are laminated. For decorative purposes varying alloys that etch with high contrast are used. Combinations range from wrought iron and pure nickle to nickle alloy and stainless pairs. The decorative steels are cut, twisted and manipulated to produce random as well as specific patterns.

For detailed methods see our iForge demo's #95, #96, #19 and #43.

Now all you need is references! Try The Art of Blacksmithing and The History of Metalography, I'll let you look up the authors and publishers to keep you honest.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 06:13:49 GMT

Nazel Hammers: Alan, depending on the condition and demand ancient (75 year old) Nazels sell for anywhere from several thousand for an old 3B needing work to as much as $15,000 US for a 1B in good working condition. Currently small hammers sell for more than large due to demand. And, although the two piece machines are more durable the convienience of instalation of a one piece machine often increases its resale price.

The importation of large numbers of lighter hammers of similar design has not hurt the price of these proven machines.

Price also depends on you market access as well as your reputation and knowledge of the machine. While one person may be able to obtain the best price another may not.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 07:00:40 GMT

Hey all, I have a new email address.
ralphd at ihpc.net
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Sunday, 07/08/01 07:16:38 GMT

I am looking for a resource for a castable refractory to line a 12-16" pipe for conversation to a forge. I have located k-wool to line, but need refratory to hold and withstand heat from propane gases. My experience level is still considered beginner...maturity level is half-centurian. thanks for your time and efforts.
Chuck  <chuck_ammons at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 10:37:40 GMT

Hello! I built the micro forge as suggested, so I can form my own carving tools. I have made a reasonably shaped gouge, so now I need to quench it and harden it. I'm using O1 drill rod, which needs to be quenched in oil.

What kind of oil is used to quench?
What color need the rod be before quenching?
How do I harden it?

Thanks for all the help!
Jim P  <Iowa_Jim at Hotmail.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 13:59:55 GMT

Refractory: Chuck, The Kaowool should withstand the heat, that's what it is for. Mechanical damage is the problem with the the blanket. Look at how Ron Reil builds his freon tank forge. He uses commercial refractory parts for stand offs (through the Kaowool) and a half thick refractory brick for the floor, supported by the stand offs.

It is often recommended to surface the Kaowool with ITC-100. But it is not necessary. ITC-100 is like a white high temperature refractory paint. It toughens the surface of the Kaowool and prevents it from fraying and reflects heat due to its whiteness.

Castable refractory is available from foundry suppliers in 50-55 bags. I recently bought two bags and it is very dense stuff so it doesn't go far. I have yet to work with it but when I do I will report on it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 15:07:53 GMT

i need advice on sharpening bush hog blades with coal forge and 25# little giant. i ground top die to about a 30 degree bevel which made forging edge much easier. been quenching in oil. also, what is a reasonable price?
dennis smith  <dsmith3725 at aol.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 15:35:55 GMT

0-1: Jim, heat the 0-1 gently until it is non-magnetic or to between 1400 - 1500°F (a low or "blood" red). Test with a magnet on a wire. Be sure not to use one of the modern plastic composition magnets!

Quench in warm oil. The oil can be mineral oil (baby oil works, bakeries use it too) or ATF (automatic transmission fluid). Engine oil is not recommended due to additives that create noxious fumes. Peanut oil can also be used but vegatable oils tend to get rancid and stink.

Immediately after hardening you need to temper the tool. The minimum is 350°F and the max 500°F. You can have you kitchen oven preheated to 375°F and soak the part in there for 30 minutes to an hour. The tempering reduces brittleness a lot and the hardness a little.

Toaster ovens do not work as the temperature control is not calibrated well enough. If you have space I recommend that metal working shops have an old kitchen stove to use. They are handy for tempering, baking sand cores, melting various substances including low temperature melting alloys and you can make coffee of warm your lunch!

You can also temper in your forge as it cools down but this is not as controllable as an oven and in your case it probably doesn't have sufficient mass to soak the part all the way through at the correct temperature.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 15:36:06 GMT

Forging Bush Hog Blades: Dennis, I hope you have LOTS of libility insurance! Manufacturers very carefully harden and temper their blades to a SOFTNESS that will keep them out of court. Shattering mower blades have been the result of many injuries and damage suits. Without knowing the type of steel it is difficult to say what the recommended procedure would be. I suspect soft enough that a file will readily cut the steel is about right. But that is now your responsibility (and libility) to determine. The manufacturer MIGHT tell you the temper. But they may not for the same libility reasons since they cannot control your process.

Probably the most important thing is even heats. Something that is difficult to do on long parts.

Sorry I can be no more helpful in this matter.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 15:48:22 GMT

FORGE WELDING. Bill, Here's a little more information that I normally share with my students. In a coal forge situation, the lap welds, cleft welds, and fagot welds are not usually as strong as a gas or an electric weld. Forge welds often contain slag inclusions, and there is grain growth along the line of the weld. This makes for weakness. A Minnesota smith, Dan Kral, had several lap welds tested for tensile strength, and they averaged 70% as strong as the parent material. I would guess that's pretty good.

So, why forge weld? First, I would say that forge welds are eminently forgable, whereas gas and electric welds are liable to break when reheated and forged. Another reason is one of aesthetics. When two or more pieces are joined as in branches on a stem, you get an organic look and a "vanishing point" where the vee shape goes together. Also, a skilled worker can sometimes get a weld just a fast or faster that a modern day welder can...(if he/she already has a fire going and the fire is clean). Re strength, the New Mexico cowboys say, "I don't care how weak it is, as long as it's strong enough". Finally, forge welding is a challenge, and it can be fun.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Sunday, 07/08/01 19:13:36 GMT

I have a very old blacksmith shop at my family farm and would like some help in identifying the bellows.It has stamped in the wood SBA SHEFFIELD and dims are 77 inches long and 33 inches wide. The bottom is one piece of wood. The anvil reads 2 6 16 or 2 0 16. Thanks, Tom
Tom Clayton  <southerncrossmills at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 23:05:11 GMT

Old Anvil: Tom, The weight is in English hundred weights, whole (112#), quarters, and pounds. The middle number will be zero through three but not higher. So it is probably a zero.

112 x 2 = 224, + 16 = 240 pounds. A nice size anvil.

The majority of British anvil and vise manufacturers were located around Sheffield, England. It would be logical that bellows manufacturers were also located there. The vast majority of the goods manufactured there were exported world wide.

If there are no other marking on ghr anvil the approximate age can be determined by its style. If you would like a book on the history of anvil making and particularly those made and imported into America we sell the landmark book, Anvils in America by Richard Postman.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/08/01 23:26:55 GMT

Hammer weight vs anvil weights

If I have a 100 pound anvil, what is the heaviest hammer that can be used on both the face and horn, on a regular basis, without hurting the anvil?

Is there a working ratio between the weight of the anvil and the heaviest hammer that can be used on that anvil? For example: Say 5% of the anvil weight. Does this ratio apply as the weight of the anvil increases? This would assume that hot metal is being hammered, and the anvil face is not hit directly.

I do not recall this being discussed or find can I find the answer in the archives. Thanks.
Conner - Sunday, 07/08/01 23:35:36 GMT

Hammer Anvil ratio: Connor, There is no clear cut rule. A lot depends on the type of anvil and the service. Many old wrought iron bodied anvils are swayed in the middle from heavy use. Cast steel anvils are generaly stronger in this regard but chip more severly if mistruck. In the end it comes down to what is the most efficient. Many early anvils are very blocky with all the mass under the face while later anvils have narrow waists with long over hanging horns and heals. These cannot take nearly the amount of use (force of blows x number of blows, evenly distributed) than can a more blocky anvil where all the face is fully supported.

A rule of thumb has been that the minimum size anvil for a general shop should be 200 pounds (90Kg) or greater. With a smith wielding a (heavy) 4 pound hammer the ratio is 50:1.

However, it is also common in general shops for strikers to wield sledges of 8 to 10 pounds. This reduces the ratio to 20:1. But the strikers do not accelerate the hammer as fast as a smith does a much smaller hammer. So lets adjust this value to equal the lighter sledge and the ratio is 25:1. If you assume that the smith used something less than a heavy hammer, say a more common 3 pound (1.5kg) hammer then that ratio is 66:1. So we have a range from 25:1 to 66:1.

If you average these without consideration for the fact that strikers come into play only about 10% of the time you get a 45.5:1 ratio (still nearly 50:1). So that means a 2-1/4 pound hamer for 100 pound anvil, a 4-5 pound hammer for a 200 pound anvil and a 6-7 pound hammer for a 300 pound anvil.

But what happens in reality is that most smiths use that 3 pound (1.5kg) hammer on any anvil available. Those that work all day at the anvil will tell you they feel a difference at the end of the day when moving from a 200 pound to a 300 pound anvil. This is a matter of efficency and not how well the anvil will hold up.

A friend of mine claims he feels like he has done much less work after working all day on his 450 pound anvil than his 350. His hammer is about a 2-1/2 pound hammer. This means that he has a 180:1 ratio working on the larger anvil! This is like using a 1/2 pound hammer on a 100 pound anvil.

SO, the old rule of a 200 pound (90kg) or larger anvil for general work is probably a good rule and most smiths will agree. The millions of 100 to 125 pound anvils that are most common are because there were more anvils in use by farriers and farmers. Both groups do not do heavy work and fairiers use relatively light shoeing hammers for forging. So these folks were probably sticking close to a 50:1 ratio.

Smaller anvils are actualy quite rare. The result is that a used 70 pound anvil will sell for more than a 125. And little 45 pound anvils sell for even more. If you apply that 50:1 rule you should be using a 1 pound or less hammer on that little anvil. And most of us will tell you from experiance that is right.

About the only other time this came up is in a discussion about wearing out anvils. A fellow insisted that anvils cannot be worn out. They do, and I have done it. Thousands of old worn out (not abused) anvils attest to this fact. The article is at the bottom of the 21st Century page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 04:05:35 GMT

CONTEST: We have had a lot of folks with HALF the answer but not both parts. Surprisingly it has been what I thought was the hard half! Please give both the units and number in a circle. If you don't have two methods then don't submit. Five more days.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 04:10:05 GMT

Is steel gauge the same as the gauge of a copper wire?
Robert  <Robert29b at aol.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 05:07:14 GMT

Gauges: Robert, No. They are similar and overlap in some cases but they are not the same. For one thing wire is based on cross section. So stranded wire is larger in diameter than solid wire due to air spaces. To make matters worse there are a number of standards used for sheet metal. The steel industry uses different gauges than the non-ferrous industry. It is confusing enough that it is recommended to use actual measured thickness in inches or millimeters instead of gauge any time sheet metal is being specified.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 05:48:21 GMT

See? No gauges in metric...(GRIN)
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Monday, 07/09/01 13:51:15 GMT


I recently recieved a hardie from an online catalogue. I was sent a 1" hardie instead of a 7/8" If I plan on forging down the shaft to 7/8". I assume that this will ruin the temper. Will it be difficult to re-temper the cutting edge? Should I just send it back? It took 3 months to get it so I'm afraid that it will take another 3 months to get a new one.
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 15:38:37 GMT

What, it any, would be the draw backs to making the anvil of a treadle hammer from an acetylene taking filled with concrete and capped with a heavey steel plate? The weight of the hammer would be about 125 lbs. Thanks.
Patrick - Monday, 07/09/01 15:45:31 GMT

Hardie: Chris, THREE MONTHS! Yes, you will need to retemper. These are tool steel and should probably be oil quenched (just guessing) then tempered at 350°F to 375°F. The shank can be drawn a bit softer if you want.

If you are not real handy forging something this heavy then you can always grind the 1/16" off each side. Its a lot of grinding but it is about the same work as the forging.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 15:56:47 GMT

Thanks for your assistance with the membership form. I'm all signed up and official now. Proud to be a CSI member!
Dave C  <dchvilicek at wi.rr.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 15:57:28 GMT


Mind telling who you ordered that from so we know not to order from them if we're in a hurry?
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 16:00:42 GMT

Concrete Anvil: Patrick, The concrete will not hold up very well. As soon as it shrinks, cracks and loosens from the container it won't be a lot better than having filled the tank with sand. If the "heavy steel plate" is really heavy (4 to 6" thick) then that would be your anvil setting on top of a tubular stand (the tank). Filling the tank with concrete will provide more mass but not the type suitable for an anvil.

We think of concrete as heavy but it is 3/10 as dense as steel. It is also dead. It doesn't spring back or provide rebound. It absorbs shock rather than reflecting it.

One option for treadle hammer and JYH anvils is a bundle of steel bars. Flat bar such as 1/2 x 2 can be bundled in four groups that can be welded together on the edges providing a solid mass with good shock rebound. The bundle needs to be straped together and welded about every 10" to prevent column buckling of the long bars.

Reinforced concrete can make a good machine base if you need mass to make a stable machine. But it doesn't make a very good anvil.

Then there is the matter of efficiency. In power hammers you want a 10 to one anvil ram ratio at a minimum (40% efficient). Good HD hammers have 15:1 (58%) and the heaviest have 20:1 (70%). Treadle hammers often have less but 6 or 8 to one is typical (20-30%). Compare this to our hand hammer and anvil ratio discussion above where the ratio commonly is 50:1 or over 95% efficient.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 16:55:30 GMT

Making the anvil of a treadle hammer from an acetylene tank filled with concrete means cutting open the tank. Those tanks contain acetone to absorbe the acetylene as I recall. Some older tanks contain asbestos. Wouldn't a pipe do as well, without the hazards?
Conner - Monday, 07/09/01 19:13:13 GMT

Tanks: Conner, Good point. Yes they are. However, many cylinders of all types are available at scrap yards where they have had one end sawed off to make them unsuable.

Patrick Note the above. An "Empty" acetylene cylinder is filled to within inches of the top with highly flamable acetone. When this is drained out there is also blocks of pumic to prevent shock wave and flame front probagation in the cylinder. The acetylene is disolved into the acetone which will hold many times its own volume in acetylene. Until this system was invented by the Prest-o-lite Co. there was no safe way to transport presurized acetylene.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 19:38:31 GMT

Mr. Turley, no hurry, I was just curious.

Anyone know what goes into baling wire? I would assume it to have almost no carbon in order to be that flexible. Seems like maybe it could be bundled up and forge welded for use in "Damascus" billets for a wrought-iron substitute if I am right. Not something I'm going to be doing any time soon, just a knowledge-expanding question.
Stormcrow - Monday, 07/09/01 19:50:12 GMT

Bailing Wire: Stormcrow, Yes it is a very low carbon steel with silicon much like wrought iron but with more carbon and no slag inclusions. Ocasionaly you find heavy tie wire (about 1/8" - ~3mm). It wouldn't take too much of this to make a bar or billet.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 19:56:49 GMT

Another knowledge-expanding question. In the days of the bloomery furnace that produced wrought iron and steel, would the steel produced have been fibrous in nature as well? Kind of a wrought steel?
Stormcrow - Monday, 07/09/01 20:16:37 GMT

Hard Iron: Stormcrow, When "hard iron" was extracted with a bloom it was generaly folded and forge welded in the Japanese fashion until it was almost homogenous. However the more common method was to carburize the best refined wrought into "blister steel" then fold and forge weld many times. The results could vary greatly. A grain pattern was likly but not the fibrous character of wrought.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 20:52:45 GMT

Thanks for the info on the tank and concrete. I was given a nitrogen tank and should have said so in my first post, but i didn't realize that acetylene tanks were so unique.
Patrick - Monday, 07/09/01 21:30:13 GMT

Cylinders: Patrick, That is why I recommend that all metal workers go to welding school. Various cylinders have different safety features. Besides the fill in acetylene cylinders they have two melt or more out fuses in the bottom and a pressure release in the valve.

Cylinders like your Nitrogen cylinder HAD a pressure release in the valve and the cylinder is made from a single deep drawn and necked billet of steel. Every so many fillings they must be inspected internaly for corrosion and annealed. The annealing is required of all high pressure cylinders due to the fact that they expand every time they are filled. The expansion and contaction work hardens the steel. A hard cylinder might crack instead of expanding so they are annealed.

There are lots of important details and applicable safety rules for welding equipment that isn't learned "on the job" so I recommend that even experianced welders that haven't gone through formal training to do so.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 21:54:05 GMT

I am searching for plans to construct an air hammer. Can ayone help?
CEDARMIL  <cedarmil at tecinfo.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 22:16:28 GMT

Air Hammer Plans: Cedarmil, ABANA sells the "Simple Air Hammer" Plans.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 07/09/01 22:22:56 GMT

As Guru has said many times before, when trying to cut a cylinder or a 55 gallon drum, there is a definate hazard when using burning gasses such as Ox/Ac, propane, etc. Unburned gasses are forced into, and collect in the tank/drum along oxygen and sparks. When critical mass is reached, BOOM!

While on the subject, keep the valve covers on the tanks except when in use. Chain the tanks so they can not fall over. Ask your local gas dealer about the guy that let one fall over. He will have some stories to tell, the first is you out run a rocket?
Conner - Monday, 07/09/01 22:37:00 GMT

Stormcrow and All, A wonderful book describing early iron and steel making processes is AMERICAN IRON 1607-1900 by Robert B. Gordon, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1996. It'll blow your hats in the crick.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 00:40:43 GMT

Where's a good site to order abrasive belts (2 x 72 in 36, 60, 80 grit) online?

Billy T.
bhtemple  <bhtempleton at cei.net> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 02:12:40 GMT

Work to weight? I am just starting out and about to buy my first(used) anvil. Minimum weight 125#, o.k. To get the maximum life out of an anvil what would be a gage as to what to expect from say a 200#,or 300#?
Myke  <stunti at usa.net> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 03:56:35 GMT


OErjan Sandstroem knew that it was 'gon' and 'mil' (it figures I'll have to pay shipping to Sweden! AGAIN!).

A gon is European for grad or grade where there are 400 units in a circle. This is one of the early metric units making a right angle 100 grad. Allmost all calculators give you a choice of DEG, RAD and GRAD for calculating angles. All my TI-##'s have it. One hundredth grade, a centigrade, is the reason we use Celcius instead of centigrade for temperature. OK. . . so I'm showing my age.

Mils are more complicated:
mil [2]
a unit of angle measure, used in the military for artillery settings. During World War II the U. S. Army often used a mil equal to 1/1000 of a right angle, 0.1 grad, 0.09°, or 5.4 arcminutes (often written 5.4 moa; see "moa" below). More recently, various NATO armies have used a mil equal to 1/1600 right angle, or 0.05625° (3.375 moa). In target shooting, the mil is often understood to mean 0.001 radian or 1 milliradian, which is about 0.0573° or 3.43775 moa. In Britain, the term angular mil generally refers to the milliradian. 1 milliradian corresponds to a target size of 10 centimeters at a range of 10 meters, or
3.6 inches at 100 yards.

How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement
© Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The standard "mil" today is 6400 units in a circle but as you can see it was previously 4000. Many WWII artillary pieces were calibrated in mils that = 1/4000 of a circle. Don't try to use them with the modern mil! You will overshoot by a mile!

I would have accepted either. If you learned your artillary math in WWII 4000 mils is a circle. But if you learned in the modern military you should know 6400 (or all the above). I had a cheap plastic protractor once that was in modern mils. Wish I had kept it.

Other good quesses that were not formal systems used for measurement of angles but for description or approximation:

12 hour units as in, "Bogy at 2 o'clock!"

32 points as in points on a compass rose. "Thar she blows at two points off the starboard bow!"

Other guesses included fractions of a circle (true, but all angle measurement systems are fractions of a circle)

Alan Longmire and Hugh Hunter were the only others that knew mils.

There are other common ways of dividing a circle but they are generaly equal to one or another system. Dividing heads on machine tools use 40 turns of the crank per rotation dividing the circle into 9 DEG or 10 GRAD increments. The crank wheel is then further subdivided by divison ring OR the fractional subdivision plates which lets you divide a circle into almost ANY number odd or even. WHY? For making gears! Even those pesky 13 tooth pinions!

Units resemble sports officials: the only time you really pay attention to them is when something stupid happens. ---Steve Mirsky in Scientific American, August 2000, p. 96.

Watch for another contest next week. Yep, I'm afraid it will be another math related question. Its hard enough I might up the anty plus give you folks 2 weeks this time. I promise the contest after that will be a blacksmithing related question.

Belts: Billy, Try McMaster-Carr. Their prices are not the best but if they say they have something, the HAVE it! Link on our links page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 04:13:02 GMT

Anvil Life: Myke, Its possible for an individual to wear out a 100 to 125# anvil. However, unless used daily for heavy work and not abused it would last a very long time. Used by a hobby smith or someone doing light work it could last a lifetime or two (or three).

200# and up anvils should be a lifetime anvil for an individual under most circumstances.

In most cases anvil life is not the question. Its how much you plan to use it and the efficiency needed. An anvil used occasionaly does not need to be particularly efficient. But an anvil used for long hours several times a week will pay for itself if it is an efficient size. See the discussions above about anvil sizes and ratios.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 04:31:55 GMT

Ok, here's an off-the-wall question. I remember reading in some science book in junior high that glass is an amorphous solid; in other words a **really* thick liquid that can and does still flow under the influence of gravity.

It seems to me that unless absolute zero was obtained, all solids are amorphous to some degree or other. Is this true? Say, if you had an anvil that was stored in an airless, moisture-free environment at room temperature for a *REALLY* looooooong time (I'm guessing maybe longer than the universe has been around) would you end up with a flat puddle of iron?

Just a thought that has been kicking around my noggin for a couple of years. Didn't really know anyone to ask that might know for sure.
Stormcrow  <jbhelm at wolrdnet.att.netSPAMSTINKS> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 16:47:03 GMT

I know glass is still a liquid... ie over years a pane og glass will be thinner at teh top and thicker at the bottom
Ralph  <ralphd at ihpc.net> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 17:03:28 GMT

Liquid Anvil: There is a difference. Crystaline structures (solids) retain their shape unless some outside force overcomes their material strength or they are melted by the addition of heat/energy. In other words a solid is a solid and a liquid is a liquid.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 17:32:54 GMT

Stormcrow  <jbhelm at wolrdnet.att.netSPAMSTINKS> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 18:15:39 GMT

More Belts: Bill Wojcik sent me this link and note


"This is the best company for belts going.  They are good to the BGOP also."

the zirc. belts are great also  ,   box of  pieces is hard to beat any
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 18:34:06 GMT

Guru. after demo 90 on the i-Forge the page looks funny in my browser (I'm using a text only browser in linux called links). it looks like you have forgoten to change lines so they are strung on one (actually two)long line. just informing you.
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 19:28:14 GMT

Errors: OErjan, Thanks. I had a series of pretty serious errors on that page. Fixed now! The error didn't show up when displayed in its proper frame set. Your browser must remove nested frames. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 07/10/01 21:15:09 GMT

What diameter cable should I use to make a welded cable knife? Can I ask two?????

What should I do to achive the "lizard skin" pattern in a cable knife blade..Thanks a bunch.
John Felkins  <johnfelkins at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 02:04:40 GMT

Hello, are there any thermometers I can use to find a temp. in, say, different flames and on the surfaces of metals? Im trying to fuse glass frit to steel... Thanks
Mike Dolan  <mikeslights at home.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 02:33:35 GMT

John Felkins, I use 1 inch cable. Make sure it's not synthetic core! The "lizard skin" is a result of the welding process. First, heat it up and twist it tighter. Weld the cable by rolling it in the direction of the twist while you tap on it. It should stay round. When you think the weld has taken, flatten out the former cable, fold it once, weld again. Grind, polish to 400 grit or more if you want, etch in either ferric chloride or hot salty vinegar (takes longer) and you'll have your lizard!
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 02:39:14 GMT

For SANDing belts and sand paper, you might try
www.supergrit.com good service.
Bill  <camper at yhti.net> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 03:58:58 GMT

Temperature: John there are a number of ways, The least expensive is to use Tempil Temperature Crayons. You mark on the surface and when the mark melts (becomes wet and shiney) you are there. Some folks just keep taking a swipe at the surface with the crayon and when it makes a wet mark you are there. The come in various temperatures from 113°F to 2500°F.

Then there are thermocouple pyrometers. A thermocouple is a wire junction made of two dissimilar metals. They generate a current that increases in voltage (millivolts) as the temperature increases. The thermocouple is attached to a millivolt meter that is calibrated in degrees for the particular type of thermocouple alloy pair. Most of the metals are special alloys for the purpose. Chromel/Alumel is common as is Iron/Constantan. The trick is getting a good connection to the metal. Either bolt on thermocouple rings are used OR the device is used to measure the temperature of the furnace atmosphere.

Another electronic device works on resistance and requires a meter with a power supply.

And then there is the newly popular infrared pyrometer. Just point an shoot. It looks at the intensity of the infrared (heat) and displays the temperature. These used to be extreamly rare and expensive but are becoming much more common and affordable due to the electronics revolution.

McMaster-Carr sells the temperature crayons and you can get temperature measurement equipment from Omega or Chromolox.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 05:45:02 GMT

Timely contest answer. I was trading mail with Cracked Anvil (yep he's alive and well, just busy and burnt out) and he mentioned a (magnetic) compass calibrated in 64ths and had wondered why. Its the 6400 units in a mil. Each 64th is 100 mils.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 06:04:09 GMT

im not a blacksmith but im curiuse to see how to make a sword and such could you point me a webvsite for some with directions for the whole process
chris  <playa12000 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 07:03:44 GMT

The browser just displays the code as ASCII. In short it sees the code but is to stupid to recognise it as anything but text so I have to manually open each frame as a regular link...
the entire OS is on Two floppies loaded to Ram, It is enough to go here and read the gurupage, v-hammerin... even to Chat on the pub in no frames mode.
the mail you got where sent from same OS.
tiny but enough for 80%of what I do on the net (read and write text).
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 08:28:38 GMT

Dr. Dempsey,
Glad to hear that CRACKED hasn't croaked. Please forward best regards and tell him his literary skills are sorely missed.
I can't get the latest edition of the news to load into my computer. What am I doing wrong?
L.Sundstrom  <lsundstrom at augustamed.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 12:11:09 GMT

NEWS error: Hmmm, it may be the Java news ticker. But that has been there in the last 10 editions or so. There is a rather large graphic that may be giving you trouble. Drop me a note with your browser type and computer configuration (as long as its not a MAC - I don't know anything about 'em).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 14:05:45 GMT

Swords: Chris, we have a techical historical article on our armoury page but it is not a how-to. I'm slowly writing one off those. The short version is,

1) Shape long piece of steel (forge or grind).
2) Harden and temper steel
3) Grind and polish steel, decorate if desired.
4) Make and fit guard to tang
5) Make and fit pommel to tang
6) Make grip (wrap, rivet, glue - whatever)
7) Assemble guard, grip and pommel.

NOTE: Some grips are made on the tang and others loose depending on style so steps 6-7 may be different.

Now, books have been written about nearly every one of these steps. Hardening and tempering is an entire science and is most critical in sword making. If the blade is to be fancy laminated steel or hand processed like in Japanese blades then these too are sophisticated skills in themselves. Even polishing is a sophisticated skill.

A sword is nothing more than a big knife. Look at how a good kitchen knife with a guard or hunting knife is put together. A sword is no different. They are very simple assemblies.

Step one above "shape by forging" is the entire art of blacksmithing. You can start there (see our Getting Started article). However, many makers shape blades by the "stock removal" process. In this you start with a plain steel bar (alloy of your choice) and start grinding and filing until it looks like a knife or sword. It sounds simple but the type of grinders used are specialized belt grinders and the selction of grits is a matter of experiance and personal preference. Shops that use stock removal usualy have many different grinders for specific tasks.

The point? You start with a wide range of general metal working skills. THEN learn to make a sword. All of it applies.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 14:41:52 GMT

Thanks for the cable welding answer.I'm hoping to make a knife. Is bigger cable better? I can get some 1 3/4" stuff and I also might be able to get some "non-slip 1 inch cable with flat strands...hmmm I wonder what it would look like.Thanks again.

John Felkins  <johnfelkins at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 17:55:21 GMT

thanx for the info guru i am going to try my best
chris  <playa12000 at aol.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 18:34:50 GMT

John, Bigger cable is eaiser, because you can just weld the one piece. You can do it with smaller, you just have to weld up a couple & then weld them together to get enough mass, that's how I did my first one.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 18:58:11 GMT

Cable Blades: Some cable knives use the raw cable for the handle. In this case the diameter wants to be that of the hanble.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 19:35:31 GMT

I have a kind of odd ?
I was watching a show on the statue of liberty the other night and I noticed something I don't get... the outer wall is made from copper and the frame is of iron why are the rivets roting out from the inter action of the two metals (sorry can't remember the term:) I have been thee and didn't notice any rubber/plastic isolaters .. it went a very long time w/ little or no mantance and I would think that there would have been far more damage far faster than there was ..
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 23:02:32 GMT

sorry that should have read " why aren't the rivets roting out ?"
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 07/11/01 23:04:19 GMT

Statue of Liberty: Matt, Yes it is a bad design, especialy around salt water. Rivets and plates falling off have been a constant maintenance problem over the years. The bicentenial repairs was just one of several major overhauls. At one time there was tar soaked fabric insulators between the copper and the steel (wrought iron?) armature. Later they realized the insulation was trapping moisture and increasing the corrosion problem rather than helping. It also required a loose rivet joint that was problematic. During the last repair tons of the armature was replaced. The biggest failures was where copper rivets penetrated the aramature.

The most recent overhaul was one of the largest but repairs are constantly being made. I suspect they keep the public portions in better repair than the inaccesable places.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 01:14:09 GMT

guru do you know of any place on the net thats states descriptive directions on making a sword what you said helped but realy cant direct me on how to go about it
chris  <playa12000 at aol.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 01:44:38 GMT

thanks I thought that might be the case ... I was just hopeing there was something I was missing ..
MP  <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 03:07:46 GMT

Chris, Plan on doing alot of homework. From this page go to "links", find "Ron Reil's" web site, from there go to his "forge and foundry" page, scroll down and click on "So you want to forge a sword". That's a good place to start.
keith  <kbarker1 at stny.rr.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 07:38:28 GMT

To elaborate a bit on the good Guru's answer; a small electrical current is produced when 2 different metals touch. This current drives corrosion (on one metal more than the other) and is called electrolysis. For this reason, mixed metals and exterior exposure equals poor design. In cars, it is a mechanism of planned obsolescence.
In fastidious metalwork, mixed metals are isolated from each other electrically and the joints are designed to be disassembled and repaired as part of a maintainance routine.
Pete F - Thursday, 07/12/01 08:16:19 GMT

Bi-Metalic Corrosion: We have a chart on the 21st Century page that I compiled from various sources that has the "galvanic potentials" of various metals. The farther apart the metals are the greater the potential. The numeric values from ASM tell the real story.

Note that my reference from the 1800's put iron and copper next to each other. But the more scientific modern references show a much more significant difference. Then there is the matter of which way the ions (electricly chardge disolved metal flow). Zinc goes toward iron plating it. Thus it makes a good protectant for iron. But iron goes toward copper. The copper is stained and the iron eventualy dissapears.

Aluminum works the same as zinc but the much higher potential tends to corrode both the aluminum and the steel. Since many structures are built of aluminum the usual problem is the use of steel fasteners. Unbelievable pitting ocurrs around the steel fasteners.

The fact that iron and copper were next to each other on the charts from the 1800's may be the reason that they didn't think it would be as big a problem as it is on the Statue of liberty.

I should probably add this discussion to that page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 13:19:05 GMT

Dr. Dempsey,
I got the May issue of the NEWS but can't get June or July.
p.s. If Rush Limbaugh can refer to himself as a Doctor of Democracy, I figure I can address you as Doctor of the Technical and Decorative Arts. Besides, some youthful wayward years make it hard for to use the "G" word. Too much of an association with the High-in-dus.
Thanks for your forebearance,
L.Sundstrom  <lsundstrom at augustamed.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 13:55:41 GMT

NEWS: Larry, That is because that is the latest edition. I have new news in the works but it takes a lot of time to setup. Our NEWS page is also one of our least visited pages so I tend to do it last unless I have a big event to report on.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 15:14:13 GMT

Guru; while I'll admit that a sword is *mostly* just a big knife in construction processes it is different in design and tempering processes!

Leastways I never worry about harmonic nodes in a knife and a sword should be tempered to withstand a lot more lateral stress than a typical knifeblade.

I saw a lot of swords made by knifemakers that tend towards having slick handles, brittle blades and bad harmonics back when I attended the guild shows. I hope folks are realizing that a sword is not just a big knife in *design* even though the same processes are used to create both of them.

I quite agree that when someone says they want to make a sword they should start by making some knives first.

Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 15:53:55 GMT

I'm looking for a sorce for sheet bronze or brass that is in the tremendous greater Milwaukee area. The sheet metat should be 1/8" thick
Gerald P. Sawyer  <sawyers at ticon.net> - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:05:27 GMT

Sheet Brass: Gerald, I can't help you with Milwaukee but we have 16ga through 1" (25.4mm) brass plate in our on-line store. See pull down menu.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:37:09 GMT

Well, it's a fine peice of journalism and should be visited more often. Someday, I hope to go through the all the archieves. The few I have seen were great.
L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:48:26 GMT

Who has more info on the Bradley Hammers? I am going tomorrow to visit a small tool company to look at some that I think are helve type. I have looked at "Pounding out the Profits" and it give a few pictures but no sizes. The owner thinks they are in the 100-150# range. He has offered to give me a tour. He has one that was run about five years ago but the rest are in the weeds. This is a 100 plus year old family owned company the owner is a third generation
owner. He told me most of these hammers were taken out of service in the 30-40's but he wasn't sure. At the present they use drop forge hammers. At one time they made all types of tools by hand forging. Sadly the history has not been recorded. Hopefully in the next 6 weeks his father will have some history written and I hope to get a copy.
Bobby Neal  <nealbrusa at netscape.net> - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:48:28 GMT

Swords: Thomas, I agree the design is different but if you can't make a nice little 4" paring knife or a skinning knife you have no business starting on a sword. If you have the tools and skills to make a good small knife then you KNOW if you have the skill and equipment to make a sword.

The REAL questions that should be asked is, "WHY do want to make a sword, and what are you going to do with it?"

If you don't plan on murder, or fighting in mock battle, or creating a work or art for sale then engineering and metalurgy need not be part of the plan. In that case an aluminium (as almost all movie swords are) prop or wallhanger is just as good a project.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:49:22 GMT

Bradley: Bobby, We have copies of the Bradley manual and Bruce Wallace is the official factory parts distributor. There are few actual parts in inventory but drawings are available and parts will be made when requested.

Most Bradleys are clearly marked or have factory ID's on them. Look close and record the serial numbers.

Lousy time of year to be crawling in the weeds!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 16:54:46 GMT

the two square pieces on a post vise that the front jaw bolts to and pivots from. were these forge welded on? i don`t really see what held it on, i had one side come off and was going to weld it back on.
robert  <ironworker1098 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 18:11:46 GMT

Cheek Plates: Robert, Yes, these were forge welded on. They take a lot of load and if you are going to arc weld them back on use an E7018 or E7014 rod. I would make heavy weld preps all the way around so that there was no fillet showing when finished. On the inside of the where the plate gos grind a 1/4 to 5/16" (7mm) chamfer on the vise leg and weld here too. If the prep is on the leg and you do a good job it should not obstruct the outer jaw. Clean it up when finished so you cannot see the repair.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 18:52:13 GMT

Is there a way to search the archives of the Guru's Den other than actually looking through them individually?
Dave C  <dchvilicek at wi.rr.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 20:36:12 GMT

Archives: Dave, not at this time. We have a search routine that I need to setup and play with. Its one of those little things that will take a week or so. .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 07/12/01 21:14:23 GMT

I am fairly new to metalworking.
I want to make a spiral with 1/2" square bar.
Is there anywhere online describing technique(s) for this?

John  <mickeydog> - Thursday, 07/12/01 23:19:10 GMT

Spirals: John, We have two iForge tutorials on spirals and an article on benders on the 21st Century page.

See iForge demo #31 Spirals and Jigs (it has links to the bender article) and then demo #31 Scroll Ends.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 00:00:36 GMT

I have been a professional smith for 16 years. I have made a lot of tools but only used spring steel, axles and the like. I would like to make use of the tool steels available. I do not want to become a metalurgist, just want to know the basic 3 or 4 types/alloys of steel for different applications such as: hot cuts, cold chiseling, chaseing, diework and hammers. Any help would be appritiated. What can jack hammer bits be used for and what kind of steel is it?
Patrick  <Cardinestudios at cs.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 01:39:40 GMT

Steels: Patrick, Almost every smith has his favorite. S-7 is very popular among smiths. You have to be careful how you handle it (don't overheat) and it works for most everything. It is an oil quench steel for large sections but will air harden for most things. This makes it a fairly good hot work steel on top of the shock resistance.

H13 tempered to Rc-44 is a popular hot work die steel that can be machined in the hardened state. Machine shops use a lot of this because they don't have to heat treat.

A2 is another popular die steel. It machines readily in the annealed state and is easy to heat treat. It is very low distortion.

Good old W1 is the least expensive of all the tool steels. It is a little finicky. Most folks don't realize the W series steels have a wide carbon range running from .85% to 1.50% and that the actual specs run W1XX from W108 to W112.

The Junkyard steel chart says S5 for jackhammer bits but this will be dependant on the manufcturer as are all steel selections.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 02:30:01 GMT

I recently bought and restored a hay budden anvil it reads 188 is that the wieght?
Scott  <welddog at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 02:43:07 GMT

Thanks for pointing out the tutorial.
Exactly what I was looking for...and much more!
John  <mickeydog> - Friday, 07/13/01 02:57:46 GMT

Weight: Scott, Yes, if is is on the side under the logo. On the front of the feet they often stamped serial numbers. Most Hay-Buddens were marked in pounds but English anvils and some export anvils were marked in the hundredweight system. In that system you never see a number over 3 in the center position since it was quarter hundredweights.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 03:00:45 GMT

I am fourteen years old... I am looking for a suit of custom plate armor, I have loved armor and swords my whole life, although I do not have a lot of money, it is my dream to be inside a suit of platemail armor. Please let me describe one of my dreams to you... It was a day like no other, the sky was blue, and it was in london, 1323, I was in a jousting arena, but I was a squire, I had grown, and grown, it was my birthday when the dream came to an end, I was still in the dream, he presented me with a suit of armor, I thanked him, and I was awoken by my alarm clock...I kept thinking, If I was inside a suit of plate armor, I would have a glow in my eyes that would never perish, I would know what it is like to have a miracle happen to me...If only...Well, I have come to you to ask a question, Can you help me, can you make me a suit of armor?

It would mean the world to me...place price aside, think of others, please think of others...
Will you help???
Erik Thomas Erb  <1234149 at home.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 03:01:22 GMT

Guru, or anyone that knows anything about old smithing stuff I was wondering if you could give me any info about a crank blower I just bought at a auction for $20, for starters I pretty sure the brand is royal and the make is otowa forge/blower (ether or I can't remember now :) ) Its also a pretty big blower and has a nice original stand that it sits on, o theres also been as far as I can tell no repairs or dammage. I think I got a real good deal, I also think it is a newer model but its sitll real old, wat do ya think?
josh  <profish at voyager.net> - Friday, 07/13/01 03:02:07 GMT

I am farely new to blacksmith only about two years experience slowly but I have been hamering on Galvenized steel. I heard that the gasses put off of that is very toxic am I right
Jerry  <Duncan_sca at yahoo.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 03:13:10 GMT

Armor: Erik, Armor is hot, heavy, uncomfortable stuff. Why not dream of a beach in the Virgin Islands. . . perfect waves, turquoise water, perfect temperatures the perfect woman and not a care in the world?

Making armor takes a few specialized tools and a LOT of patience and determination. Check our Armoury page. There are several articles on making helms. The rest of the armor is pretty much the same but with less "raising".

Then there are links and a web ring on that page and more armor rings on our Webring Nexus.

Besides the plate there is the mail. LOTS of little rings crimped together in some mindboggling patterns. There are many good sites on making mail.

For tools we have all kinds of articles on our 21st Century page and iForge page. You can also get books from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson (see Getting Started).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 04:24:24 GMT

Blower: Josh, You got a real good deal if the gears are not worn out. Put some oil in it and crank it. It should make very little noise. If the gears make so much noise you can't hear the air then something is wrong. Either the bearings or gears (probably both) are worn out if its making noise.

Typicaly on a stand these sell for $120 - $175 US. IF they were still made made they would cost $1,000 to $1,500.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 04:30:55 GMT

Galvanized Steel: Jerry, Old galvanized steel had cadnium in it and it was deadly to breath the vapors from welding or burning. Modern galvanizing is plain zinc. It is much less toxic than cadnium but it can still make you ill. The symptoms are called "metal fume fever". It is much like having the flue but it may not go away for weeks. Repeated exposures make it much worse and the effects are cumultative.

Arc welding is generaly the worst for exposure due to how close your face is to the work and how the smoke tends to collect in the hood. Special exhaust air handling equipment is absolutely required.

Plate burning is next but is not nearly as bad. If done out doors with a gentle breeze the exposure is very limited or nil. If indoors you need the same equipment as for arc welding.

Forging is not so bad if you have good ventilation. The zinc burns off the on the first heat. If you have a good chimney the fumes go up the stack with the coal smoke. The white zinc-oxide powder is the same as is used in that heavy white sunscreen and in makeup. If there is no zinc smoke in your shop then there is little to worry about.

However, if you are using a gas forge the zinc smoke will be steadily blowing out the doorway or vents. Even a well vented gas forge blows SOME exhaust into the shop. Burning zinc in a gas forge is VERY bad.

For almost everything you do in your blacksmith shop you need GOOD ventilation. Even grinding! The reinforcing in those semi flexible angle grinder wheels is fiberglass and some silicates. After using one for just a minute or so the air if FILLED with fiberglass dust and the lighter silicates and abrasive. ALL are bad to breath. You will probably never notice until you come down with lung cancer or emphazema years later.

SO, use common sense. If your shop is poorly ventilated then DON'T DO IT! Work on putting in good ventilation.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 04:59:09 GMT

are trenton anvils any good
Nathan  <shawsgallery at hotmail.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 05:30:44 GMT

good Guru, this may have been answered and i missed it, but.....There used to be a carbon or graphite paste compound available to use as a sort of small mold when welding. It could be used to protect threads by filling the hole with the paste or could be used to form a specific shape that would be difficult to build up freehand with rod. Forney once carried it ( no more). It was real handy stuff. Does anyone know where it can be purchased now?
pete f  <ironyworks at hotmail.dot con> - Friday, 07/13/01 05:36:50 GMT

Putty/Paste: Pete, No, I just didn't have an immediate answer and put it off. McMaster-Carr carries a "Heat Containment Putty" for soldering (good up to 2000°F). Its reusable. Not quite the same but would protect from flames and sputter balls.

I SUSPECT that the product you knew had asbestoes fibers in it. Many of the good furnace and auto muffler putties that looked black and had graphite in them were mostly asbestoes. The asbestoes fibers locked the putty together after the binder had dried or burned out.

You might try muffler or furnace putty. Or a home brew core sand might do the job. Moisten fine sand and fire clay with sodium silicate solution (Calgon water softener AKA water glass) to make it stick together. Mold your shape then heat with a torch. It will make a rigid mass of the sand that is heat resistant but easy to break up.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 06:07:57 GMT

PETE F., Brownells sells their brand of HEAT STOP paste which helps prevent heat transfer. They are a gunsmithing supply house in Montezuma, Iowa, which carries all sorts of fine tools, including engraving material. 200 South Front Street, ZIP 50171-1000. Ph 515-623-5401. E-Mail: Brownel/USA at aol.com.

NATHAN. I've got two Trenton anvils which I've been using for 30 years. If Hay-Buddens are Cadillacs, then Trentons are Lincolns. In my opinion, they are very good.
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Friday, 07/13/01 12:06:51 GMT

Sorry. Frank screwed up Brownell's E-address. Leave out the slash. BrownelUSA at aol.com
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Friday, 07/13/01 12:34:48 GMT

Frank, MY Hay-Budden's a Lincoln Town-car but my Air hammer's a Mazarati. (comparatively speaking) TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 14:05:06 GMT

hello me again
I'm building my fire but i can't find a second hand firepot annywhere (a new one is to expencive for a student like me) Is the a way to make them your self (i'v thougd of stone or cement or briks , but everyboddy tells me that it wouldnet stand the head and whold crack)?
Johannes  <johannes at mine.be> - Friday, 07/13/01 14:07:57 GMT

TIM, When the hammer, strike. When the anvil, bear. Carl Sandberg (??)
Frank Turley  <nudahonga at qwest.net> - Friday, 07/13/01 14:38:20 GMT

I came across metal at the scrap yard from a bridge which was built round about 1930, and having read somewhere that bridges up till about the 60s were still being made of wrought iron, I liberated about 50 lbs to play with. Softest stuff that I’ve ever forged. Sparked somewhere between a wrought spike and mild steel. Cut off a 5 X 1 X 3/8 piece and pounded, twisted, and in general abused it for about an hour, but couldn’t get it to delaminate. There’s no significant rust on exposed metal areas either, So, what’s the truth to the rumor, was wrought used in the 30s? Was that the industry standard material for bridges up to the 60s? Did I hit the mother lode, and should I go back and scarf up a couple of ton before it gets melted down? TIA
gary  <gary.j.caron at honeymail.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 14:46:36 GMT

Forge: Johannes, Bricks work if they are refractory brick or some type of "high fire" brick. But you must use high temperature mortar or fireclay to hold them together. Regular cement and mortar falls apart when heated. However, in a massive brick forge/chimney arrangement as I've described for you before in detail the heat is not much of a problem as the mass of the masonry absorbs the heat. Stone should be avoided unless you know the type and if it can take the heat. Many types of stone spall (explode) when heated to high temperatures.

Steel as thin as 1/8" (3.2mm) has been used to fabricate firepots. The only drawback is that it will have a short life if not cleaned out daily when stored outdoors.

Then, for nearly 2,000 years a forge was nothing more than a hole in the ground lined with clay. A slightly more modern approach is a wooden box filled with soil and lined with clay. Both these types use a side blown arrangement via a ceramic pipe. A common piece of iron pipe will work.

A common variation on this theme used by blade makers is two parallel walls of clay brick and refractory clay. These are seperated by about 8" (~200mm) and are about 18" (~450mm) tall by 28 to 36" (~700 - 900mm) long. Air comes in from the bottom or back of a clay bowl formed between these walls. For convienience the forge walls may be 48" (~1200mm) tall with solid fill up to about 30" (~750mm). This puts the work height at bench top height for standing at the forge.

This simple arrangement allows the fire bed to be very deep if necessary OR at shallow as you like. Long work will fit and can be heated over a long length by moving it back and forth.

The fact is, a firepot is the simplest problem for a blacksmith to overcome. All it needs to be is a fire proof container to hold the fire with a means to provide a blast of air. In some cases it is not even a "container" but a flat surface with the air blown into the side of the fire. In this arrangement a few loose bricks or even a green wood logs can be used to shape the fire if it needs to be deeper.

On the other hand, we live in societies that throw away massive amounts of things that can had for free and be fabricated into a forge with a very few tools.

My First Forge was built from junk using a hand full of primitive hand tools. No welding was required. This forge has ONE forged part that was made with the forge itself. It was a very good forge and it was portable.

If you have fuel and a bellows or blower you need little else for a forge if you honestly want to work at blacksmithing. No more excuses.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 14:58:52 GMT

Bridge Iron: Gary, wrought was used for bridges for its corrosion resistance and old beliefs that wrought was better.

At one time large modern mills produced wrought iron in this country. The process was based on the Bessemer process. In Bessemer steel they stop the blow short of making pure iron. To make wrought they blew air through the molten iron until the carbon was all gone then they added molten silica slag to the pure iron. This reacted violently mixing the slag into the iron. Then the semi-molten mass (very much like an ancient bloom) was dumped into a press where it was squeezed into a solid mass and then that taken and rolled by standard mill practice. Plates, bar, wire and even "I" beams were made this way.

There are several ways to identify wrought. When heated, rust on the surface turns almost a bright red (see adds for pure iron in the Anvil's Ring). You can also take a small piece and saw it half in two and then bend it at the cut breaking the bar. Wrought will show its characteristic grain like breaking wood while steel will break relatively clean. If you heat and quench your sample THEN try this test you can be sure. Mild steel if heated and quenched is just hard enough to be hard on your saw blade AND there will be a brittle fracture (smooth fine crystaline surface) when you break it. Wrought will be unaffected by quenching.

Another way is to look for forge welds in the tension members. It was common to use big forge welded loops in the end of flat and round bar where they fit over pins in the structure. This was done only in wrought iron as far as iron know. This was the standard material for SOME bridges up into the 30's. By the 50's structural steel and arc welding had replaced most of the old methods.

Yes, you MAY have hit the mother load. Old wrought is selling in small lots at $1 to $2/poound. A LOT more than scrap prices.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 15:20:35 GMT

where can i buy a forge
RAZZMAN  <rzav123445 at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 16:26:38 GMT

Forge: Razzman, Allmost all our advertisers sell forges of forge parts. Kayne and Son carries Forgemaster gas forges as well as forge firepots for coal forges. Centaur Forge carries several lines of gas and coal forges. Wallace Metal Work carries NC-TOOL forges and occasionaly has used forges.

All three of the above have on-line catalogs and are on our pull down menu. Wallace Metal Works has the full line of NC forges in their catalog. He also has a used equipment listing page that changes weekly.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 16:46:13 GMT

Hi there,
I have just gotten a rather large piece of stainless steel.It is a piece of plate,and I'm not sure what type of stainless it is.How could I find out.
Bill   <kaceycamp at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 18:08:01 GMT

hi, i have a 50 # record anvil made in england.would that be a good one to use for bladesmithing
chris makin  <cfm15 at home.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 18:30:47 GMT

Large Stainless: Bill, Without a laboratory analysis its imposible to pinpoint the exact alloy. However, there are a few things you can do.

1) Test it with a magnet. Most of the 300 series stainlesses are non-magnetic.

2) Cut off a piece, heat to a red heat, and quench it. Test with a magnet again. If its non-magnetic now and it was weakly magnetic before it is probably a 300 series stainless. A marjority of SS plate is 304. If it was slightly magnetic it was from work hardening.

2) If its magnetic cut off a piece, heat treat according to each of three methods for hardenable stainlesses. Then try to break it. If it's hard and it snaps and it is magnetic it is probably a 400 series or precipitation hardening stainless. You could narrow down the type somewhat with hardness testing but not much. Since most of this comes in bar stock it is unlikely that your plate is this.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 19:20:51 GMT

Record Anvils: Chris, Although Record made many fine tools and vises they were primarily makers of wood workers tools. It was probably sold by Grizzly. This anvil is a ductile iron casting. That makes it a cross between cast iron and steel. It will take a lot of beating but is not very hard. It is designed for straightening and light forging but will have very little rebound and mark easily.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 19:31:05 GMT

Thank you for the idea's,I appreciate it.
Is 300,or 304 any good for knife makeing.
Bill   <kaceycamp at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 19:40:27 GMT

SS: Bill, NO, not unless you are going to laminate it with something hardenable and make a stainless "Damascus"
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 21:13:03 GMT

Not trying to sound dumb,but what could be used with 300,or 304 to laminate-forge weld-to make it hardenable for knife makeing.I am new at this , but I do have a propane,and coal forge.I am learning,and making mistakes also,the more learning,the less mistakes.
Bill   <kaceycamp at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 21:23:21 GMT

Laminated Steel: Bill, Almost any other high carbon steel. However, I'd hold on to that SS and work on other projects for a while. IT is difficult stuff to forge weld (and everything else) and you usualy need a more agressive flux such as one containing a small percentage of flourite (for the flourine).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 21:46:21 GMT

Whom am I talking to?
Thank you for all the info,and I'll take your advise.
Is there anyone in Tucson AZ.that I could get in touch with to learn more about forge welding technique,and tricks of the trade.
Bill   <kaceycamp at aol.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 23:01:50 GMT

I'd like to get an opinion from the guru or gurus.
When you have a series of identical tenons to make, how do you do it? (no power hammer)
I have 1/2" round going into 1/4 flat, using a 3/8 tenon which is riveted on the back side-many of them!
How do you begin forming the tenon?
Thanks for any and all input.
Andy G.
Andy  <gladish at cnw.com> - Friday, 07/13/01 23:21:58 GMT

thanks guru for the info on my anvil,i had been using a length of railroad tie and it worked well and had a nice ring and rebound but the top was rounded off to much and it was a struggle to keep my blades flat and true.by the way at what point should i start worrying about the integrity of the lining of my gas forge?
thanks --chris
chris makin  <cfm15 at home> - Friday, 07/13/01 23:28:18 GMT

Tennons: Andy, Tennons are roughed by hand then finished with (if working alone) a clapper die and a monkey tool (bar with hole in it). The last ones I did were done the same way on a 50# Little Giant. Took longer to make the tennon tool than to make the 100 or so tennons. The tennon tool had a nice radius and did a clean job without a monkey tool. It was made of mild steel and did not show any wear.

If you have a lot of them to do it should pay for a small power hammer.

If you have hundreds to make. . . I setup a friend's lathe for him to make 1/2" tennons in 5/8" and 3/4" stock. It was an ancient (1890's) old 14" lathe but it had a 4 jaw chuck that clamped the square stock quickly and easily. Stops were setup and 1" long tennons were machined from square to round in one pass. Took about 10 to 20 seconds each from the time you picked up the bar until you put it down and was ready to pick up another. He had thousands to make and I saved his a** on that one! He had power hammers and forges galore (50#, 100#, 300#) but nothing could beat turning all those tennons.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 01:13:04 GMT

Gas Forge Lining: Chris, The lining should hold up for years. Flux disolves them and poking work into the fibre board type is hard on it. You worry about it when the outside of the forge gets hot in places it shouldn't. Reline kits are available from most manufacturers at very reasonable prices.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 01:17:34 GMT

Thanks- I got ok results on the first dozen by just doing them in the tool, but wondered if you usually rough them out first, without the die. The tool is 5/8 x 2 mild and is already showing more wear than I'd like, but a welded on striker block should fix that, along with roughing them first.
The tool took a couple hours to build and debug, then the tenons took one heat each, including shouldering, then to make the tenons on the other end I had to stop and make another clapper jig for the vise so as to hold the bar without tearing it up while I shoulder the second tenon. That explains why blacksmith shops look the way they do- work a little, make a tool or jig, work a little, make a tool or jig, work a little...
I can also see the advantage of having hammer technique to burn, like Peter Ross- less time making jigs, though I'm sure he has a shopful of em, too.
Thanks again,
Andy  <gladish at cnw.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 01:58:16 GMT

im curies do blacksmiths make good livingS? you know money wise (no offense to anyone)
chris  <playa12000 at aol.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 04:56:39 GMT

Hi. i've been forge welding for about 4 months. Can the yellow metals be forge welded to its self? i'm talking about copper, silicone brass, etc. Is there any yellow metal that forge welds. Which flux? i have a small foundry and do know that molten brass has very little 'cold' strenght. Thanks, just geoff
geoffreey roberts  <cyrano at atlantic.net> - Saturday, 07/14/01 05:29:25 GMT

Hello Guru,
I am interested in starting blacksmithing as a hobbie....I work in a metal distribution plant that processes steel and have a good supply of any grade of steel that i want...I have a furnace and an anvil that were in the family and to my knowledge (which is small) are pretty good...I need more information on quelching and welding steel..how it is done and what to use...i do know how to weld(basics on arc)and use a cutting torch...general knowledge of steel and the like but any information or advice would be reatly appreciated...This is something i have been interested in for a long time...I live in north GA near the tn line and would like to meet anyone that could help me further my skill..I appreciate your patience with me and willingness to help..
Derak   <lamminis at earthlink.org> - Saturday, 07/14/01 05:53:27 GMT

Thanks guru and Frank too;
The asbestos component guess makes sense...awwww shucks
But fooling around with waterglass and refractory materials sounds like it might do it, fun to try anyway...
Derak; the answers to your questions are mostly here on Anvilfire..look in all the nooks and crannies. Next, Join your local Blacksmith assn and all will be revealed.
Pete F - Saturday, 07/14/01 07:22:46 GMT

Income: Chris, Not the best. Its something you have to love.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 11:51:59 GMT

Other Smiths: Derak, Pete is right. Read our getting started article and use the parts you need. There are MANY books on the subject and many smiths in GA the home of Alex Bealer and the birth place of ABANA.

Then our iForge page has ovr 100 projects to work on. . .

Well, I off today (Saturday) to a CVBG meet at Daniel Boone's. Gotta hurry!

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 11:56:14 GMT

Guru, One of the most fascinating things for me to see is someone who can make a jig for production. Either a railing or gate. It is really an art to do this effectively. It seems to be something that is intuitive yet some of the techniques seem as if they must be passed down from master to apprentice. What are your thoughts on how you approach a project which might necessitate a jig? Seems to me that there is a size job that is too small but when a larger project is in the works it is cost effective to make the jig.
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 13:17:01 GMT

Derak: You're about an hour away from a really good school that teaches smithing, if you want to take a week long class in which you will learn a heck of a lot of stuff. John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, NC, actually just outside Murphy. They have a web site which i think is www.folkschool.com if you're interested. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn the basics. And the advanced stuff too!
Alan-L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Saturday, 07/14/01 13:30:31 GMT

Chris, Good Living? It depends what your definition of Good living is. I like to spend time with my wife and kids. That to me is what good living is all about. I also love metalsmithing. When I wake up in the morning I (usually) can't wait to get to the shop to work on the latest project. I was a Farrier (horseshoer) for 23 years. I love horses, I made good money, I was outdoors all day. That was a good living. I have some physical problems as a result of all those years of shoeing however. Blacksmithing is not as hard on my back, knees, and hips as shoeing was. Blacksmithing however is not as secure a living (for me) because there was ALWAYS horses to shoe and there will ALWAYS be horses. Right now I have six months of work lined up. Thats good for me, but in the back of my mind I'm always trying to think of new marketing for the business to make sure I have work in the future. Blacksmithing is a much more complicated business than Horseshoeing. But to answer your question, Is Blacksmithing a "Good Living" the answer is YES depending on YOUR definition of "Good Living". TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 13:35:15 GMT

Derak, don't just join your local Blacksmith assn. Join CSI anvilfire's support group. We need all the help we can get. Without support none of this would be possible.
Bruce R. Wallace  <service at nazel.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 13:44:54 GMT

Got The cap today :-). Now I have to order one (or two) to wear:-).
OErjan  <pokerbacken at angelfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 14:16:53 GMT


My personal "jig point" is ten. If I need to make more than ten of an individual item, I make a jig from the first one. Odds on, If I need ten now, I'll need more sometime in the future.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 15:00:02 GMT

Geoffreey: Most any metal can be "forge welded" (solid state diffusion bonding) to itself, and also to many other similar metals. The basic requirements are; 1.- clean surface at time of bonding, and 2.- plastic deformation at the "weld" face. Sometimes step 2 can be replaced by time and temperature.
Copper can be welded to itself at room temperature by wire brushing the surfaces and immediately squeezing the parts together in a vice.
grandpa  <darylmeier at aol.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 16:53:41 GMT

I am having problems with sticking electrodes at the moment,is this caused by amps too low or too high,or is it down to poor electrodes?
I have an arc unit that does not display amperage it only shows symbols for thickness of material and underneath that a scale showing suggested electrode size for material so I dont realy know what amps I am running.
Saying that when you get it right it produces pretty good welds.
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Saturday, 07/14/01 19:52:06 GMT

Why does slag sometimes lift on its own and yet some times it needs a good hammering
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Saturday, 07/14/01 19:53:45 GMT

Arc Weldin: Sticking electrodes is mostly technique. However, there ARE special tips on some brands of electrodes (sort of like a match tip) that makes them a breeze to start. Damp electrodes tend to stick. If your box of electrodes has been open for a while and the weather damp then the electrodes will be too. The flux on the electrodes have hydroscopic compounds in them that attract moisture. Keep your rods in a "dry box". Sometimes this is an old refrigerator with the interior light fixed to stay on all the time. The heat that builds up and constant temperature keep the rods dry. There are certain types of rods called "low hydrogen". Once the container is unsealed they must be kept hot to prevent absorption of water which has hydrogen in it. You can take old rods (not low hydrogen) and bake them in an oven at 350 or heat them with a torch to dry them. They work MUCH better dry.

Practice, practice, practice. . .

Flux sticking is partialy the rod type. Some rods create a heavy continous flux surface that will peal off. E6013 are one of these. I think E7024 is another. However, these will make a mess if your technique is bad. Other rods like E6011 will stick ANY nasty rusted painted pieces of iron together but leave a rough bead and the flux is terrible to get off. The other thing that causes flux to stick is too long an arc or inconsistant length of arc.

Too long an arc is generaly the beginners problem. There is an optimum short arc that does the best job and creates smooth beads with a clean coating of flux. To run a short arc you need to run higher current and this in turn gives you a better weld.

My experiance has been that until you run a hundred pounds (45kg) or so of rods non-stop, that haven't had enough practice.

More practice, practice, practice. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 21:23:04 GMT

Jigs and Fixtures: Designing jig setups is an art. Almost every setup in a lathe or milling machine in a job shop or especialy repair shops requires imaginative use of available tooling or machine "furniture" and then making adaptors to do the job only if necessary. The difference between the folks that figure it out and those that don't is the difference between someone that will be a production line machine operator all his life and the few that become true master machinists or tool makers.

Many of the OLD machinists handbooks had what they called "shop kinks" that were common solutions to machining problems. They were (and are) also sent in by individuals and published in journals such as American Machinist. Today we have the same thing in blacksmithing publications and web pages. In the 1800's Richardson's Practical Blacksmithing was the result of the compilation of such articles. By studying and applying what others have figured out the hard way you are taking advantage of all our combined experiance and knowledge.

I always took pride in applying the most modern, effecient methods I could apply to blacksmithing (see post on tennons above) and using the tools from my background as a mechanic and machine designer. But one day I opened an Anvil's Ring and there was an article about using hand held air chisles to do iron work. Operations that might take three or four heats could be done in ONE and with much less frustration. All the time I had been blacksmithing full time I had never thought to take the air chisle out my mechanics tool chest and apply it to hot iron! We can ALWAYS learn from others.

If a job is difficult enough to get the right result the first time then I may build a fixture for one project. On quantity jobs special tooling or setups almost always pays. The trick is to learn how to efficiently and economicaly make tools that get the job done and to USE the tools you have.

We had a machinist in our shop that needed a BIG boring bar for one short job. Instead of wasting time making one or trying to order one, he simply arc welded a brazed insert cutter bit to the end of a big bar of steel. He may have this trick from someone else. But it got the job done and HE knew how to do it.

Simple things like taking advantage of stops on machines is often overlooked. Putting stops on a machine that doesn't have them can save many hours a month using saws and ironworkers. Learning to apply a carpenter's square as an angle or pitch gauge. Or using a common sliding base square as a lenght gauge. Thinking outside normal convention is important. I've often used the jaws in a four jaw chuck with one or more reversed or even removed.

LEARN to run those machines. When I bought an old heavy duty drill press I didn't have a drill press vise. What to do? I looked in my old metal working books and found out what all those "U" shaped pieces of steel were that I'd seen lying around in old machine shops! They are used with nuts, bolts or threaded rod and spacers to hold down work on machine tables. I easily made the "U" clamps with chamfered ends in the forge and sawed up a stack of 2 x 2" pieces of stock in multiples of as many thickness stock as I had laying around (I drilled holes in the bar FIRST because I didn't have a way to hold small pieces YET). A box of nuts and bolts finished up the set. Oh Yeah. . I ALSO made a bunch of extra HD clamping washers to use with the furniture.

In the past I had always used vises on drill presses and milling machines. WOW! This was actualy BETTER! The flexability is amazing. I quickly found that with some extra steel bar and a few springs that low production jigs could be created for multiple drilling operations.

I have a good drill press vise now and it is VERY handy. However, I often use the old type furniture to hold odd shaped work or when I need to use more than one drill press on a job.

Most smiths consider it a point of pride to be able to do any job with common tools. This is good to know for making the first samples but it is often not suitable for production work. There are a whole variety of standard tools for use on the power hammer. Neckings tools, hot cuts, fullers and punches and monkey tools. These are all part of the tooling used for "open die forging". It is still common in industry to make large forgings by this method that is just one step removed from hand forging. Like basic hand forging you should learn to use all these tools. Learn the basics, then apply them to specialized tooling.

Its a complicated subject and only by experiance do you find the best answers.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 07/14/01 22:39:10 GMT

Hello, I am getting started in blacksmithing Ihave been a welder fabricator 25 years. Ihave been collecting and buying alot of the tools I need to get started.All I need is a forge. I live in a rural poputated area so gas is what I need to use. Iwould like your suggestions on a gas forge.Ihave ordered some plans from Abana. But I would also appreciate your opinion.I would also like an opinion on a school. Thanks
Scott  <welddog at aol.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 00:14:19 GMT

Forges and Schools: Scott, The ABANA Sandia Labs forge is a very good design if properly built. It is very frugal on gas but a tad high-tech. You may find that a small commercial forge doesn't cost much more once you have purchased the minimums of all the materials. Check our plans page and the associated links.

Allmost all the blacksmithing schools teach forging. And that is it. Many of the instructors are guests at the other schools at one time or the other so there is not a lot of difference. They are not full fledged "manual training" or "vo-tech" schools. All the associated skills will have to be picked up elsewhere. As a pro-welder you have a head start. However, most modern blacksmith shops look more like well lighted machine shops than dark dirt floored ancient smithys. Power hammers, ironworkers, punch presses, lathes, shapers. . and today I saw a nice big virbatory finisher in Dan Boone's shop here in Virginia. There is a LOT to learn and much you will have to do on your own OR through your local blacksmithing group.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 00:37:59 GMT

I know this will sound stupid and un profesional whats a good substitute for and anvil and whats the easyies way to make a forge or im not sure the proper termonoligy you know the fire thing :) sry im new to this hole concept
chris  <playa12000 at aol.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 05:29:11 GMT

Rod sticking is the sticking point that causes many beginners to want to stick the arc welder back in the garage; but stick with it..even when your palms get sticky with under the hood frustration.
In addition to the basics the good guru laid out; check your ground connection first...a good, firm ,clean metal to bright metal contact is necessary. Next check all the other cable connections. Funky connections (even inside the welder case) are a common culprit; this holds true all the way back to the meter.( turn off the juice before you check!) Buzz boxes tend to loosen up connections with extended use.
On the electrode end ( dont reverse cables by accident) be sure your connections are solid. The check the "stinger" or rod holder, check the cable that comes into the handle...it tends to fatigue there and check where the cable attaches to the stinger.
Grind the point where you are starting the weld down to bright metal...it is harder to start on a funky surface.
Last is technique. I use 2 different methods. First, On clean metal , try a short little peck with the rod vertical and ending as close to the base metal as possible WITHOUT TOUCHING AGAIN. Wait to see if it takes before pecking again. It takes practice.
The second is to strike the tip like you were lighting an old time kitchen match...swinging a flat little arc that brushes the base metal on the way by.
If the above does not work it is probably the guru's fault.
arc art arc - Sunday, 07/15/01 05:55:17 GMT

RE sticking electrodes.
Thanks Guru
Mark  <manicholas at lineone.net> - Sunday, 07/15/01 09:42:48 GMT

Guru, I just bought a 50 lbs. little giant hammer, serial #5107 , can you tell me about what year it was built.

Thanks, Darren
Darren  <dirtbiker011999 at yahoo.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 13:08:59 GMT

Guru, great post on tennon making, I got a lot out of it. How about the holes? They can be drilled or punched I guess. What do most smiths do when making multiple holes in railing for example. I saw a post somewhere a while back about a bench mounted punch for holes, don't know it the metal needed to be heated or not.
robert hensarling  <rhrocker at holconet.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 14:04:26 GMT

Pete F (arc arc arc): Mostly good points. Its easy to forget the obvious you do out of habbit. My buzz box gets a lot louder (more transformer core vibration) when something is loose or wrong. Tangled cables often "talk" to each other via induction and add odd resistance to the circuit. Do not weld with coiled cables either. Electrical induction problems are not sever in common AC welding but they DO show up. In high frequency welding (TIG - Heliarc) coiled and crossing lead (work) cable will heat up and even burn out. It also does weird things to the arc.

I resort to the scratching technique when things are not working correctly but it is not particulary good practice. The tendancy is to scratch where you shouldn't leaving arc burns on the work. The "pecking" technique should work with good rod and clean work. It is easy to get into a rhythm where you flip down your helmet just a moment before pecking the work in a quick 1-2 sequence that is almost one motion.

But why is it MY fault if Mark's rods stick!???? ;)

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 14:23:03 GMT

Making Holes: Robert, There are many methods and it all depends on your needs and desired results.

1) It is easier with modern (metal working*) drill presses to accurately put holes where you want them than by hot punching. On a heavy machine a skilled operator can produce holes at a rate of about half a punch press (still very fast).

2) If you are looking for that swelled look around each hole you need to split and hot punch.

3) If you are producing many feet of railing OR need square holes for pierced middle bars a punch press or ironworker is the fastest most efficient way to do it.

Benchtop and even floor model manualy operated punches rarely have the power needed to make the holes needed for architectural work. It takes nearly 18 tons (16 metric) of force to punch a 1/2" (13mm) hole in 3/8" (10mm) bar. 10 tons is a VERY heavy manual punch and these must be bolted down sufficiently that you can put all your weight on a 5 or 6 foot lever.

The biggest problem related to hot punching holes is that the work grows or contracts depending on the type of hole. Common hot punched holes displace 2/3 of the material thereby lengthing the work with each hole. Split and swelled holes can either have no effect OR shorten the material at each hole. Imagine punching a series of holes in a specialy shaped bar and then finding out it is significantly too short to fit the space! OR finding that it has grown in length and that the holes do not line up with holes in other pieces! Skilled smiths know to test the amount of change and compensate for it. If you cannot deal with small fractions and accurate measurements then this method is not something you are going to have a lot of trouble with.

* Department store drill presses are almost always wood working machines. They run too fast to drill large holes (anything over 3/8") in steel. The result is burned up drill bits and a lot of frustration.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 15:05:53 GMT

Darren, your 50# LG was manufactured in 1927.
Bruce R. Wallace  <service at nazel.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 15:12:53 GMT

Guru, & Paw Paw, Thanks for the input on jig making. I am getting quite a bit of architectural work which is what I have concentrated on because I felt it might provide the best "living" er, "most money". So far it is paying off. I recently made my first open die for my air hammer to make a simple element for some pickets in a railing I am doing. Although I spent a whole day making the dies (using mild steel) I was able to make ALL the pickets (32) on the following day. Had I made them "individually" it would have taken all week! Time is the variable factor. The more time I spend on something the less money I can make. The dies show little or no wear from this amount of forging. If I were to have to make 500 or more then I would make the dies out of 4140 or H13. I made a jig for a repeating element in the rail (14) which should save even more time next week. Thanks again, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 15:37:29 GMT


Guru and I are going to approach this from slightly different angles. I say that if you had heated your die parts to non-magnetic and quenched them in Super Quench, they'll last through several thousand "hits" on hot mild stee. Guru will say that substituting Ice Water will do the same thing.

He may be right, BUT Ice water will change temperature when you quench somthing in it. So you'll always have to be re-cooling your water. Super Quench wil also change when you quench something in it, but it doesn't matter, the quenching severity remains the same.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 16:04:35 GMT

One correction on the previous post.

Super Quench will also change temperature when you quench something in it. but it doesn't matter,.......
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 16:06:24 GMT

Paw Paw, Do you think the hardness is affected by the hot material? After several pieces have been forged it is quite hot, I.E. oil coming off the hammer instantly burns off. Of course it's not as hot as when heated to non-magnetic. I've often wondered HOW hot a die can get before it loses it's hardness. Does super-quench work even after reaching this temperature? Curious, TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 16:21:33 GMT

Hammer Dies: I don't recommend hardening mild steel hammer dies. The hardness also makes them brittle and likely to break. For more wear resistance any well tempered tool steel will improve the life and there are some alloy steels that are much more wear resistant than others. The heat of work does effect dies and if you are concerned then use H13 or H27. Plain carbon steels are tempered at a minimum of 350°F and then soften progressively up to around 650°F. Hotwork steels may be tempered at a minimum temper of 450°F and a maximum or 1500°F. So if the dies were tempered at 600°F and never reach the temper point in use they will not be changed.

Keeping the dies clear of scale helps. Giving the work a tap outside the dies to break up the scale and remove much of it can make a big difference in die life. Blowing or dusting out the die impression between each part also make a big difference in wear.

Often wear on dies is the result of places on the dies that need to be lower. All edges and corners on dies should be smoothly rounded. As John Careatti pointed out tennon dies should be slightly oval and the only part "on size" is the vertical distance. I've made small tennon dies that were nearly round by drilling holes through two blocks fitted face to face. Then they were filed putting heavy radi on all the edges, especialy the tennon corner.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 17:30:59 GMT

Chris - How dare you not know proper terminology and sound unprofessional!? ;-)

A forge is what you are talking about. There have been all manner and levels of complexity of forges. Try this: Make a small basin in the ground. At one end stick a small length of metal pipe, and stick a hair dryer in the end of the pipe. Light off a fire of charcoal (preferably not the briquettes) or hardwood chunks in the basin, turn on the hair dryer, and wait until the fire gets hot. Don't spare the fuel! Put in a piece of steel and let it get hot, pull it out and hammer.

As for anvils, just about any chunk of steel with a bit of mass can be used. Cast iron is not recommended. Railroad track is a common makeshift anvil. There are very useful articles about this in the 21st Century Blacksmithing section on this website.

The Neo-Tribal Metalsmiths try to do bladesmithing with a minimum of tools, and like to turn junk into tools, knives, etc. I don't know if the guru wants their web address put here, but do a web search for them.
Stormcrow  <jbhelm at worldnet.att.netSPAMYUCKY> - Sunday, 07/15/01 19:30:07 GMT


Guru covered that in his response. hardness will only be affected IF the part gets to more than the temper temperature.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 20:10:57 GMT

Neotribal Smiths: Stormcrow, I have them listed on the links page. I'm afraid I'm not much into the impracticalities and screwy logic of their new-age philosophy. On one hand they use scrap material but on the other they don't take advantage of the availability of scrap equipment.

Forge: Chris, Sorry I skipped your question. There is a LONG post above to Johannes about forges. A hole in the ground with a little side tunnel to blow air in near the bottom of the fire works if you have clayey soil. In loamy soils you would need to find clay and line the hole. A modern, bench-top high, cast iron forge is nothing but that same hole raised off the ground for the Western way of working and a few conviniences like an ash dump added. The "Forge" should be your least worried about piece of equipment. See our plans page for a starter forge.

Anvils on the other hand are more difficult. We have articles as Stormcrow mentioned on our 21st Century page AND the iForge page. The one on the iForge page is under Tools from RR-Rail. It solves the problem of springy curved top anvils.

The most important thing I can tell you that most people pay little heed to (BUT was quoted by an eagle eyed New York Times writer that reviewed anvilfire).
"DO NOT get stuck on some idealistic 19th century vision of a forge."
This can be applied to every aspect of blacksmithing equipment.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 07/15/01 21:30:46 GMT

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