WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I re-read your comments, Guru, and actually I have VSO...a vise shaped object purchased at my local purveyor of Chinese made almost-tools. I am always amazed at how this Chinese-made stuff looks so realistic! Why, I was fooled into buying the VSO 'cuz I thought it was a real vise! VELLY CREAVER! Seems as though they forgot to harden the cams that lock it into place so after a few months it will barely stay in one position. Unless you plan to hammer your purchase into something else altogether, don't buy this junk. Chinese-made tools are just so much industrial "wax fruit".
   Quench Crack - Sunday, 06/30/02 23:37:14 GMT

The scary thing is that we used to say the same thing about anything "made in Japan" (AKA Nipondenso). Now much of the Japanese stuff is better than American made while being less expensive. . . They WILL learn that eventualy the sucker market runs out and you have to make a good product. . . well, MAYBE the sucker market won't be enough, it will never run out. As the man said, there's one born every minute.
The AnYang power hammer web site has tongs on their page. The worst, hand forged amature "farmer" tongs I've ever seen. . Most smiths make better on their second try and anyone reading this page does better on the first. But I guess they will sell them to some unfortunate sucker somewhere.

V-groove in tongs is made with a dull cold chisle. Crossed V's being very common. A swage block is handy for making tongs with shaped bits.
   - guru - Monday, 07/01/02 00:11:20 GMT

Guru, They seem to get the hang of making high quality, authentic name-plates first. When I worked for a company making industrial equipment, we received a call from China asking for warranty service on one of our pieces of equipment. The problem was, we did not sell that equipment in China! A total counterfeit! A local manufacturer of industrial crane hooks reported that they are finding Chinese made "knock-offs" of their hooks, right down to the model number and die number forged in! A double "forgery"!

A blacksmith goes into a local tool store that sells Chinese tools and asks for a set of box wrenches. The owner asks "Metric or SAE"? "Makes no difference, the Blacksmith said, I'm gonna forge them into drawer pulls for my workbench, anyway". "Ahhhh...then you will be needing our finest set" the owner replied.
   Quench Crack - Monday, 07/01/02 00:27:36 GMT

BEWARE!!!! If you go to Touchstone you will not want to leave!!! I went last year and will be going again this year. The Blacksmith shop is complete bliss!!! Great people. I guess I will leave it at that. Hope this helps.
   Keith - Monday, 07/01/02 01:57:34 GMT

Guru, I had a monster post vise (7 inch jaws,150lbs) given to me and its missing its spring. I have a 15" leaf spring that about fits perfect but needs a little fitting work done. Can I forge a 90 bend at the top and a "foot" at the bottom and still keep the "spring" in it?? What works best in this case? Do I quench? I`m not sure I need a vise this big either, if the thing falls over while mounting there could be real damage done to something!! LOL
   - Elmer - Monday, 07/01/02 03:06:09 GMT


Several people ask questions about blowers and I want to put in an idea for a very inexpensive electric blower that I came up with.

While setting up camp one night, I was in the process of blowing up my air matterss (I know, I a sissy) with my coleman electric inflater when the idea struck me. This little thing would make a great blower for a forge. I puts out tons of air and with so good force. As I recall it was less than $20 when I bought it. I have not had a chance to put it to practice yet, but I don't think it would be hard. You may have to wire a plug for it. It comes with an adapter for a car's cigar lighter. Let me know if any of you get this to work.
   chris - Monday, 07/01/02 03:11:15 GMT

Big Vise Elmer, I have a slightly smaller vise (about a 6") WITH a spring I will trade you. .

When you heat and forge the spring it WILL lose its temper. Depending on the grade of steel it may air cool hard enough. However, to do it right, you should harden and temper the spring. If you can, heat the entire spring to a low red (or test for it becoming non-magnetic). Quench in oil. Then clean and heat to about 500 - 570°F (above a purple but not out of the blue range).

Remember that all steel has the same springyness. If you install the spring and it works without bending (taking a permanent set) then it is OK. If is bends and no longere pushes as far as is needed then you need to heat treat it.

Its easy enough to install and test. Just be sure you DO NOT quench the steel and then test without tempering, the spring will break. If the spring is a little soft and bends you can just reheat adjust and then heat treat it before trying again. Easy. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/01/02 03:48:31 GMT

You pretty much get what you pay for, or, there's no free lunch, especially when it comes to tools. But, FYI, beware those cheapo Chinese wondervises that swivel 360 in two plane, horizontal and vertical. They are absolutely gorgeous and handy as all get out, as long as you go easy, with just a few little problems: the anvil ain't really an anvil, just a piece of plate cotterpinned onto the main housing, some thin pipe which is only a casting, so light taps only, pliz. Then there's the fact that the welds holding the front jaw onto the main tube are lousy and too much torque will pop it right off. And the main hoodgie in the back that makes the whole thing spell mother is just a fragile casting, not a forging, so that will fail under stress, too. Made in the U.S. this vise would probably cost close to $1,000. Wholesaling as it does here for around $25 (slave labor?) it embodies what's happened to U.S. industry.
   miles undercut - Monday, 07/01/02 04:28:08 GMT

i am going to build a hammer and i have a 26x38 x4 inch thick piece of plate ..if i weld this to the anvil wich is 61/2 round x38 long will that hunk of plate add to the mass of the anvil also if you have 2 diffrent size of round stock for the anvil when you weld them together would they be cocsidered to be one piece then.. thank you ed..hotforge101
   hotforge101 - Monday, 07/01/02 06:01:45 GMT

guru for what its worth..there is some type of oil in hard coal..some day if any one would care to here the answear to this e mail me ..ed aka hotforge101
   hotforge101 - Monday, 07/01/02 06:06:43 GMT

Ill call the gas guy and ask about the welding exception for propane tank valve conversions..
How'd your demo go?
Cheap Chinese tools; Yeah, most are junk or fine for the limp wristed....but...every now and then I get one that is fair to middling ( Shinko, Rong Foo, small cheapie air hammers, etc) and get suckered into buying more crappe again in hopes of getting a passable tool. As time passes the Chinese tools are getting better...slowly.
I'd guess that the utility I've gotten out of cheap tools per dollar spent is probably less than if i'd bought good quality used tools. Certainly less counting time and frustration.
   - Pete F - Monday, 07/01/02 06:12:59 GMT

i know a shiev is a pulley ..but how dose it work.. never seen one .. i do need the info on this thank you
   hotforge101 - Monday, 07/01/02 06:14:36 GMT

Vises and Anvils: I always thought that little horn on the back of some American bench vises was cute. My first vise was a little 2-1/2" bench vise. The flat "anvil face" was actually machined and ground smooth. Beautiful little tool. I'm sure it is cast iron except for the screw. It has one of those little horns.

My Dad gave me that vise and a little bench when I was 4 years old. I still remember that day. The vise was used and came from my Grandfather's shop I believe. I used that vise for many years and passed it on to my son who has little appreciation for it. I always had enough sense not to use it for an anvil.

We had other larger vises in the shop. Most were used and various broken corners. They got used for a heck of a lot but all of us had enough sense not to use a sledge hammer on them. They are all in the same condition today as they were 50 years ago.

My first big vise was also given to me. It is a big Prentice "Bulldog" chipping vise. It came from a machine shop. Idiots there had used the back part of the slide arm for an anvil. The top mushroomed and then someone tried to force the vise open. . . It had been setting outdoors rusting for many years when I got it and the screw was locked up. It took me about two hours to work the parts free. Once I got the screw to turn I closed the jaws and took a sander and a file to the slide arm. An hour later I had it cleaned and painted. Beautiful tool. It will take a tremondous pounding and is designed to hold heavy castings while a machinist chisles surfaces flat and makes grooves and such the HARD way. But it is NOT an anvil.

I recently had, and traded back, a huge 10" leg vise that weighed a couple hundered pounds. Some idiots had broken off both the jaws. Then, more morons tried to weld in modern vise jaws with heavy serations. Other than the jaws it was perfect. I would have kept it but it needed several long hard days work repairing it. . . and I got back what I had in it. I wish I had kept it, but you can't keep everything. It was one of the biggest vises I have ever seen and some morons broke had it. It was NOT an anvil. Of course the guys that broke THIS vise would probably make mincemeat out of any anvil less than 500 pounds. . .

But I think the real idiots were the guys that thought putting an anvil horn on a little bench vise as a temptation to pound it into oblivion. . . Or maybe not. Maybe they were geniuses that understood human nature and wanted to sell more vises. . .

As a demonstration of a leg vise's durability I often picked up a 3 pound hammer and gave my little 30 pound post vise a hard wack on the jaws. Never hurt it. But you could easily, it is NOT an anvil. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/01/02 06:35:05 GMT

Elmer, Nice find, I've bid on Ebay for two years on large vices and lost every one of them. Hang on to it! It's a real treasure. I'll trade you two 4 1/2 inch vices (and some cash)! My shop mates have large vices from Euprope, that are works of art. I am going to Switzerland (Germany, Italy, Belgium...) today for three weeks and am going to keep my eyes peeled. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Monday, 07/01/02 10:58:27 GMT

Guru, the vise I have is a 4" HEAVy DUTY machinists vise. It weighs about 35lbs. I have been using it to hold small pieces of hot iron for upsetting, splitting, bending etc. Nope, it's not an anvil but I never use a hammer bigger than 16oz. to beat on it. I paid about $30 for it and I guess that's about what it's worth. However, I now wish I had that $30 to put toward a decent vise. Lowe's had a Wilton about the same size for $70 and a Sheffield (?) for $109. Are they any better?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/01/02 12:33:49 GMT


Actually, the easiest way is just to copy bookmark.htm to a floppy disk. Which I had done. But the floppy dis-appeared. When I get it straightened out again, I'll copy the da** thing to a CD and put it in the safe!

Demo went well. Very hot, though. 97° with 91% humidity. Heat index must have been well over 100°. I drank five 16 oz. bottles of All Sport and two jugs of ice water and was still totally fried when I got home last night.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 07/01/02 13:19:39 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the vise spring information. The vise is really big but sure I may use it, thanks for the trade offer. You don`t see many over six inch wide. I go with what you say about you can`t have too many vises. Here where I live they are everywhere and can be bought cheap and stacked up like cord wood. I have 22 post vises right now, I don`t have them all mounted but the boys will grow and need them someday hopefully. I bought most of them for $15 or less apiece. For what its worth theres a very nice 7 inch post vise on ebay, as rare as the bigger ones are I wouldn`t think $500 would be too much for it if a fellow really needed one. Thanks for all the good advice.
   - Elmer - Monday, 07/01/02 14:24:16 GMT

Elmer-- are there swage blocks lying about, littering the landscape, too? Cone mandrels, perhaps? Sets of fullers and top and bottom swages to be had by the gross? Where, pray tell, is this?
   miles undercut - Monday, 07/01/02 15:04:40 GMT

Unknow re Lowe's but the blisterpak of Sheffield brand knives in Home Depot is Chinese.
   miles undercut - Monday, 07/01/02 15:07:38 GMT

Mile, I think it's darned clever how they make brand names for Chinese industrial merchandise that are associated with well-known areas of metal working: Sheffield, Pittsburgh, Chicago. I wonder if the factory name really is Flung Poo?
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/01/02 16:50:39 GMT

miles undercut, You find very few of what you asked about but there are alot of forges, blowers, vises and a number of anvils, every farm in the country had these tools and thats why theres so many of them here. The swage blocks, cones and such were in the smith shops mainly.
   - Elmer - Monday, 07/01/02 17:24:22 GMT

Got back form a Jefferson Smiths Hammer-in at Hanley Farm in southern Oregon last night.
Had a good time, learned some stuff, and I think was able to teach some stuff.
I will write more on it later.

Mike-Hr if you see this shoot me an email so I can get your email addy.... I have those bamboo pics you wanted....
   Ralph - Monday, 07/01/02 18:38:53 GMT

Jock et all:


I rephrased my question on quatrefoids on 06/27/02 17:37. I couldn't find any response. However, there were about 14 answers to a question about angle grinders. Did I miss it or are you guys triing to tell me something?


by the way, The 4.5" Milwaukee Magnum Mini is fantastic. One feature I really like is its varialbe speed. I also like the fact that it has a controlled acceleration up to full speed so that if the acccesory you are using is not snug, it doesn't fuse for life to the shaft. My Porter-Cable chatteres with a grinding disk but works beautifully as a sander. Glad to hear that the Metabos are nice since they are sold at the local welding supply store. Keith, I would have bought one if someone had recommended it when I was in the market, but since I have one of those Big Milwukee's I doubt if I'll ever need another. Life time guarantee, right Pete?

Larry S.
   L. Sundstrom - Monday, 07/01/02 19:53:48 GMT


I think you question just got missed. I'll check on it for you.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 07/01/02 22:01:18 GMT

Dear Guru,
I wrote a couple weeks ago about identifying a couple tools in a painting. The painting in question is Ruben's and Breugel's The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus. Here is a link to the picture. http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/objects/oz140176.html
There are blacksmithing tools scattered throughout the painting, which I have been unable to identify. I have only been able to ID the basics (ie anvil, tongs...) Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
   Lily - Monday, 07/01/02 22:20:46 GMT


A lot of the items that are in that picture are pieces of different types of armour and weapons. The paire of "plier" directly under Venus's feet, almost at the border of the painting are a pair of farrier's nippers, used to trim a horses hoof. At screen resolutions, it's hard to tell what some of the items are.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 07/01/02 22:41:03 GMT

someone was asking about a strait o flex- they are still made, by the Strait-O-Flex Corp. (815-964-2084) . Julius Blum Co. used to sell them, I dont know if they still do. I have made my own from a cheap harbor freight type portapower ( a hydraulic cylinder set kinda like the jaws of life that firemen use) you make a "t" shape out of something like 6" I beam, and make a holder for the hydraluic cylinder on the upright of the "t", then make posts to hold the piece you are bending on the two horizontals of the "t" - its simpler than it sounds. I could draw it if anyone was interested.
Also, on the subject of bending flat bar the hard way- sure you could build a giant cylindrical form for every radius you need, if you have a 5 acre yard for storing jigs. easier is to bend it with a hossfeld bender, using the angle iron dies. You can bend radius' from about 15" up to infinity cold, and tighter radius you bend hot, then straighten it up on the anvil before it cools. I just did a hand rail job last year with 4" radius bends in 1 1/2" x 1/4" flat bar, they looked great and were all the same. For spiral stair hand rails, though, I use a section bender- used to be called angle rolls- thats a power machine that starts at about 3500 bucks , but will roll pipe, square, round, and flat bar the hard or easy way. also sq tubing. not exactly blacksmithing, even though it is the grandson of an old tyre roller.
   Ries - Monday, 07/01/02 23:50:06 GMT

this website has a great description of a variety of ways to bend handrails for curved stairs:
   Ries - Monday, 07/01/02 23:51:41 GMT

Items in Ruben's and Breugel's Painting Lily, there is a whole hodge poge of stuff in that painting from many disceplines. As Paw-Paw said it is hard to identify anything at the image's resolution. I enlarged the image 2x and lightened it and still couldn't be sure that was an anvil in the background. It took me a while to recognize the things in the foreground as hamsters!

At the feet of Venus there is a cup that might be a crucible. There is also a pair of firm-joint dividers. The thing with the two curved arms MIGHT be a device for drawing a cross bow. The item to the left of the cross bow appears to be a hand crank device possibly for cleaning/polishing the bores of the bronze cannon in the background.

Then there is the item with the strings or rope and wheels. . . I do not have a clue what that is. Studying the actual painting closely is the only way to identify many of the items. Go to our ABANA-Chapter page and contact the CBA (California Blacksmith Association). Then se if you can get a few folks from there to come look at the painting and help identify the items. . . I'd offer but I am on the East Coast.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/02/02 02:30:09 GMT

Look more like rats than hamsters. And rats would fit the time period of the painting.

The item with the trings and wheels looks like a cocking crank for the crossbow. Not sure, though.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 07/02/02 02:57:03 GMT

Yep, those appear to be windlasses for cocking crossbows, and on the left, near a crossbow, is a (sp?) cranequin which is a gear and pinion device for the same operation. The animals are Guinea Pigs, which seem to have some association with healing in European symbology. Looks like they're nuzzling grape leaves, which may be a reference to bacchus, (or maybe not). The dividers, scales and compass would be tools used with the artillery and gunpowder, and the compass would be used as well in fabrication, navigation, and fortification. Looks like a mace, spurs, bit and other horse tack from the cavalry hanging from the wall at the right. The left foot of Mars rests upon a quiver for crossbow bolts, and that's a powder flask to the left of the wheelock carbine's stock, another possible cavalry weapon. The cherub on the right is tugging on the strap of a late Europen steel shield. The cherub on the left MIGHT be tugging at a baldric swivel for the carbine (a sword baldric would be slung to the LEFT hip).

It appears that Mars is dressed to kill in all the latest military equipment of the age.

Hope this is some help. Missed the Getty last time I was out on the coast, I'll try to take a look if I end up there in the next year or two.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/02/02 03:31:37 GMT

Oh, and the copper pots are mentioned in some texts as being used for mixing gunpowder (or perhaps for cooking stew) since they did not spark.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/02/02 03:34:19 GMT

Bowl of grapes, lower right hand side.

Okay, I'm knocking off and going to bed now, or I'll be playing "Where's Waldo" with Rubens and Breugel for the rest of the night!
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/02/02 03:38:10 GMT

I have a 14 acre yard for storing jigs.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 07/02/02 04:11:14 GMT

Elmer-- That's terrific, man, wonderful, lucky you! No kidding, I mean it. But... where is "here"? We talking Kansas? Oklahoma? The Aussie Outback? Kenya? Ballyhaunis? Just in case I find myself gripped by the old primordial wanderlust.
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 07/02/02 04:17:26 GMT

Ries-- How does the old Hossfeld keep the flat axis flat-- i.e. horizontal-- yet allow the 1/2x2 rail to rise with the run of the stairs on the curve? Hmmm?
   miles undercut - Tuesday, 07/02/02 04:45:59 GMT

Larry; RE lifetime Milwaukee guarantee....gurk, spray milk out nose and cough for 3 minutes.
Called the propane supply, got referred up office, they said that the new propane valve exception/exemption was for "industrial" uses on tanks over 40# ( 10 gal.) and said the ref is NFP # 58 but didn't seem at all clear about where this ref is recorded...sigh.
Forged up a big bending fork from the end of a length of sucker rod and quenched in oil. The tips hardened up fine but I could still cut the base of the forks with a file easily. So I heated again and quenched in water... a little harder but ,same thing. Reheated and quenched in some old superquench...file still bit some...puzzled but went ahead and drew temper to light blue at the tips, heating from the base of forks. Put it on the end of a sheet of 1/2" plate and went to test lift it with the 4' handle....pow! Fork flaked off. Waaah.
Guess the base of the forks had a decarborized surface from the forging heats..scratch one and try again.
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 07/02/02 05:58:08 GMT

OK, looks like I buy new tanks, then. Thanks, Pete.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Tuesday, 07/02/02 09:47:57 GMT

There is another painting called "Venus at the Forge of Vulcan" that shows a lot more smithing equipment as well as armour being made IIRC.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/02/02 13:58:29 GMT

Hawley's book has a repro of a painting showing Vulcan visiting a forge. Bunch of guys standing around barefooted and nekkid except for loincloths. Would love to have been a fly on that wall when the first flakes of hot scale went flying. Worse than frying eggs and bacon in the nude. :)
   adam - Tuesday, 07/02/02 15:16:19 GMT

Adam; actually a good layer of sweat makes a pretty good scale guard and I've had friends who go barefoot so much they have walked over broken glass with no injury---but most likely it is the painter's imagination; most of the "realistic" ones show the smiths as wearing the bull hide apron even if very little less, (I think Goya did one called "The Forgers" which was not trying to be a greek or roman allegory.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/02/02 16:21:10 GMT

Larry, There's a great description of how to make exactly what you asked in "The Blacksmith's Cookbook" by Francis Whitaker. I'd look it up for you, but My copy is 250 miles east of here at the moment...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 07/02/02 16:30:02 GMT

Alan, there's a very short description on page 38, about the quatrefoil weld. I'm not sure this is the one you mean, because it's so short. I'll keep looking.

But in the meantime, Larry here's the description, sorry I can't include the illustration.

Quatrefoil weld: Knick material on hardie, double back, forge weld together, then flatten at 90° from the weld. This is a great example of the forge weld.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 07/02/02 17:24:20 GMT

Painting: if you go to this site http://www.getty.edu/art/acquisitions/rubens_brueghel.html
you can look at better zoomed scans of the forge area and the weapons set. I still don't recognize a lot of things. I think the thing on the stump by the anvil is some kind of third hand . . . dunno.
   Escher - Tuesday, 07/02/02 17:26:49 GMT

Naked Blacksmiths: What an ugly sight!

In my old age I have gotten less resistant to the heat of summer than I used to be. Been working in the shop welding while wearing very "ventilated" (legs worn and torn) cover alls that are not suitable to wear in public. One leg is mostly missing. Also work in T-shirt and and light shorts. Yes, the scale and sputter balls burn. But it is momentary while the heat and 99% humidity is constant (it was almost unbearable at dawn today).

Most of the Greek Vase paintings by the "Foundry Painter" show all the workers naked. But it is difficult to know if this was a painting convention or real life. However, the Foundry Painter's vase paintings all seem to be fairly accuarte depictions and other people are shown clothed.

One thing to consider is that there were no laundries, detergent or washing machines at the time. Clothing was washed by hand with common soap which does little to serious stains. Clothing was also probably relatively expensive and burning holes in it would have been as bad as ugly stains. We all know how filthy blacksmithing and foundry work is. So it may have been a matter of practicality to work naked, especialy in a society where public nudity was common and the climate warm.

I knew a fellow that was a nudist and worked as a cook in various nudist camps. I said the same thing about cooking and asked if he wore an apron. "No", he said, "Its no problem."

Many of our views and feeling about things are shaped by the society we live in and what we are used to.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/02/02 17:45:27 GMT

Miles- the hossfeld doesnt automaticaly make the corkscrew form of the spiral stair rail- that where the skill part comes in- ie tweak it, and tweak it again. If it was easy, anyone could do it... However, with a big radius, like 3- 4 feet for a spiral stair, you just have an assistant hold the end up as it comes out of the bender, and it assumes the basic spiral pretty easily. Getting things flat in the hossfeld is a little harder.
I think I am becoming the big hossfeld booster, just because I have had one for long enough (20 years) to know a little about what it can do.
   Ries - Tuesday, 07/02/02 18:00:48 GMT

Painting Details: That helps. I still have to save the image, lighten and then zoom in 2x to make out details.

The object to the right cut in two in the detail is definitely a large anvil with a hammer resting on it, eye toward the viewer. The grey curved object sticking out of the base is a pair of shears anchored to the anvil stand which is probably a large log set deep into the ground. A good anchor for manual shears.

That is definitely a big bell behind the cannon next to the brick colunm. In the archway to the left above the cannons there is a fellow swinging a sledge over head and another holding work on an anvil.

In the armor detail their are two pairs of tongs. The tapered sylindrical objects behind the armor appear to be weights to use with a scale.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/02/02 18:07:39 GMT

Dear Guru, Paw Paw, Escher, and Bruce,
Thank you for all your help on the painting. I've recently met with an arms expert, and he's identified all of the arms and armour. Your responses were all on target. (If you'd like to know more about any of the weapons, I can send you a detailed list.) However, I still have a couple specific questions about the blacksmithing tools. The anvil rests on a large block. There are two metal extensions coming off of the block. What are they? Above the crossbow and below a copper bowl are two twisted metal circles with metal protrusions. Are those egg bar horseshoes? There are indeed better images on the page Escher posted: (http://www.getty.edu/art/acquisitions/rubens_brueghel.html)
I deeply appreciate all that you have done and are doing. Thanks.
   Lily - Tuesday, 07/02/02 18:12:20 GMT

Wow, that response about shears was much faster than expected. What function do weights and scales play in blacksmithery?
   Lily - Tuesday, 07/02/02 18:15:47 GMT

L.Sundstrom, the book 'Decorative Ironwork', countryside agency, ISBN 086170 632 3 , goes step by step for 2 styles of quatrefoil. Norm Larson is having trouble finding it, but i bought a copy thru centaur forge about two months ago. hope this helps, mike
   mike-hr - Tuesday, 07/02/02 18:38:53 GMT

miles undercut, You are to far south in guessing. Come one and all to south central Ohio, there are more smithing tools than one would know what to do with here. We have so many older farms still and ones that have sold out and those tools are floating around also to be had cheap!! Ohio is where the tools are at boys, bring your pick-up and some money and go home very happy!
   - Elmer - Tuesday, 07/02/02 20:24:00 GMT

I live in North Eastern ohio, a bit south of Canton on the edge of Amish country. I just got done placing an add in the local classified for blacksmiths tools. I'll let you know what comes of it. Earlier this year, I got a 200 lb Fisher in great shape with 20 pr tongs and 14 assorted top swages, butchers, and set hammers for $50. We were house hunting and my wife asked an older man living next to a house we were looking at if he would mind having a blacksmith for a neighbor. He said no, and that he had an anvil he wanted to get rid of before he died so his kids wouldn't be stuck with it. Now if I can just get Thomas P. to see the wisdom of these words....
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 07/02/02 20:49:47 GMT

Patrick I see the wisdom; just hope not to die for another quarter century or more---now that you have a kid perhaps you'd better think about it yourself; shoot I'd give you $200 for the anvil, tools, Hossfield bender...wouldn't even make you help move them!

Elmer you are in my bad book now; trying to ruin my happy hunting grounds with a lot of anvil poor furriners, I have a friend who told me not to buy a postvise for $25 at a local fleamarket cause that would drive the price up on all the rest of them...

Thomas in central OH
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/02/02 21:02:52 GMT

Tools in Painting: Lily, The shop pictured appears to be a large manufacturing facility with both a forge and foundry. If armor is being made at this location it is being done somewhere else as armourer's tools are quite distinctive and numerous (see image "16th century armoury" linked on our Armoury page), and most are different than general blacksmiths tools.

The reason I suggest there is a foundry is the bronze cannons and the large bell. The place also looks like it is much bigger than the area shown. However, both items could be at this shop mearly to be fitted with necessary iron hardware. Or the artists used a composite of various shops.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/02/02 21:08:50 GMT


Thanks for the help on my question on forges, I took Your advice and went to a local musem (Back country living museum) over here in old blighty! and the smithy come chain maker come farrier gave me some really good advice and even told me where to get the tools from and where to look for course in the area. All i need to do now is to visit a local Blacksmiths shop to cop a look at his/her forge before they get the fire going and maybe watch them (albeit in awe!) for an hour or so.

One more question, What do you suggest I use as a blower on the electric front, I was thinking of using a car fan heater blower would this be powerfull enough?

Thanks again and well done on a brilliant web site!
   Pete (England) - Tuesday, 07/02/02 22:36:28 GMT

what about just getting your local propane guy to just change the valves on your tanks. of corse this depends on the age of your tanks I had mine done for $10 each (tanks where only 2 yrs old) so the money was worth it at the same time he recertified the tanks so I get an extra 2 yrs out of them. I usally chuck them after five years as they are cheaper to buy than recertify ...ex 20lb tank new $29 purged and filled $15 to certify $14.95 to fill (with purge) 12.95 without purge
   Mark P. - Tuesday, 07/02/02 23:36:58 GMT

A friend asked me to make about 30 flint strikers for him to sell at roundevous(sp) and pow-wows. The first few took a while and didnt look so good. I have made 8 and finially getting the hang of it. They are plain and simple, but all I have done for 8 years is forge knives. I got great info from Smithinscouts demo on i-forge. I have a couple of questions. Is higher carbon steel like files better than say coil springs or stock that is .60-.75 Carbon? What is a fair price? As I said it is a simple design with both ends tapered and certainly not as nice as the dragon head in the i-forge demo. I hardened in water and they do spark very well. My friend is offering $6 each. Any advice is appreciated. Forgot to mention that 4 were made from files and 4 from hay rake tines. They all spark about the same.
   R Guess - Tuesday, 07/02/02 23:59:45 GMT

Local supplier wants $29 for the valve, then the tank has to be re-certified. Cheaper to just buy new ones. I've been wanting a larger tank for the shop anyway, this is my excuse. (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/03/02 00:32:54 GMT

I go to the "antique" shops around here and all I see is stuff I remember using as a kid! I usually go home depressed. Oh, once in a while I find an old rusty tool that they want $20 for because it is old and rusty but never any smithing tools. Epps must be buying them all!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/03/02 00:52:06 GMT

How do I get a brownish/black (not blue or green) finish on 1" mild steel round bar stock, and more importantly a finish that won't rust? Do I need to use heat and some chemicals or something after I wire wheel away the scale? I would rather not have to clear coat it afterwards, but if I have to , what do I use? I don't want a glossy finish. Just a raw looking , dark, but rust proof natural looking finish.
Thank you so much , any illumination will be greatly appreciated.

   MarkAmeba - Wednesday, 07/03/02 01:24:41 GMT

Finishes: Mark, You want two things that are incompatible. Natural and rust proof. Even sophisticated gun bluing rusts unless it is kept clean and oiled. The only "natural" finishs for iron/steel are red rust (hydrous iron oxide) and blue grey scale (anhydrous iron oxide). Both continue to rust.

A waxed or lacquered scale finish is the closest thing to what you want. However, wax requires maintenance and the scale eventualy rusts becoming a brow/black under wax. Clear laquer is better but is not a long term outdoor finish.

A proper modern paint job is the best rust resistant finish short of galvanizing. You can make it any color you want. I keep telling folks that if Hollywood can make wood and plaster look like metal, brick, rock. . then blacksmiths should be able to make iron look like IRON.

The other option is to make the item out of stainless steel leave the scale which looks just like mild steel and coat it with a little wax to darken. Its natural and doesn't rust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/03/02 02:12:05 GMT

Strikers: Randall, They just need to be hard to spark and plain carbon steel works best. Paw-Paw has a garage door spring he makes them from. . . Be making them a LONG time from that spring!

Pricing is always a difficult subject. Now that you are getting the hang of it see how many you can make in a hour (including cutting stock) and figure your hourly rate plus materials. Forge and shop time should never be worth less than $30/hour in the US and normal is more like $50+ without a power hammer and $70 to $200 with. Remember, its not just your time but the time and money it took you to collect all those tools, fuel and shop overhead. $6 each sounds about right. You should be able to make 5 or more an hour if you start with the right size stock.

I know a fellow that made shepards crook plant hangers in quantity for another craftsperson. With double twists, a nice forged end with scroll and a weld labor was about $3 each. Sounds like a loser but it was good money due to the high production rates.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/03/02 02:29:57 GMT

Hows you and yours? Hey, I'm really intrigued with the East Coast JYH design. The one made from a car axle. I wonder how this would work if I was to shorten the axle to save space. Any pros or cons? I know the main con would be the cost in the machine work to have the axles shortened but otherwise??? Thanks, Dodge
   Dodge - Wednesday, 07/03/02 04:06:44 GMT

R. Guess, I make the pre-rev. war style (monkey tail) strikers from tines off old dump rakes, good steel no probs with cracks. With stress cracks being in alot of old springs off field cultivators and garage door springs there really no good. I go to a farm supply store and buy the cultivator or rake springs out of the bin to make the simple "C" shape ones. A buck or two apiece is cheap as you make 3 or 4 from one spring. I sell any style striker I make for five dollars when I`m set-up at a Voo, don`t have to make much change that way and I sell many of them as opposed to selling for seven or eight dollars and turning half as many, I want to sell things not pack the stuff back up and take it home. Try quenching in oil at a orange to bright orange and see what you think. If its a little hard put it back in the fire and go again, a good rock to strike against helps also. Bad rock bad spark.
   - Robert - Wednesday, 07/03/02 04:09:21 GMT


You're probably right about stress fractures in old garaged door springs, but I've never had one break because of that but I have broken a few quenching in cold water.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/03/02 04:22:46 GMT

If you have an air compressor in your shop, hold an oil-hardening workpiece (think knifeblade here, not a heavy section) nose first into a jet of air and let it cool. I've done a lot of 1095 blades this way with virtually no warping or cracking (and no smoke). As-quenched hardnesses are in the low Rc60's, drew the spine to blue, edge to straw. Works good.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/03/02 12:19:43 GMT

Cracks in Springs: I've found that most cracking in high carbon steels is due to improper hanlding, thermal shock, forging at too low a temperature, quenching too hot. I've made a lot of things out of old springs including broken ones without any trouble. In most cases if the steel can take forging it is OK. New is better but I think that problems with cracks in old springs is overstated too often. Generaly if a spring has a crack, it breaks.

If you are going to buy new, why not a known alloy? Buying agicultural parts to make other things is as much a gamble as using old used stuff. You don't have a clue what the material is AND manufacturers change material whenever they want. Don't believe the lists published on blacksmith sites. We have a popular list but the folks that compiled it failed to list all the steels MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK lists for the same applications. And the source material for those lists is often over fifty years old.

As QC points out steels quench according to section thickness. Water, Oil or Air quench is only a suggested quench for "normal" sections. In thin sections W-1 air quenches and in heavy sections some air quench steels must be quenched in oil. However, the general rule is that you should only go to the next quench in severity.

That means that a lot of oil quench steels are air quench in thin sections but water quench in heavy die block sections.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/03/02 13:32:18 GMT


Yes a car fan blower will work. I have used one in the past.
At least the one I used was a squirrel cage fan. Worked well. Nice thing is that it is 12 vdc and a car battery is portable and quiet.....(smile)
   Ralph - Wednesday, 07/03/02 15:27:13 GMT

Guru, Why do the new springs I buy, heat and unroll not crack like the old ones I`ve got off farm equipment? They crack halfway thru in many places right in the curl when unrolling, cracks run around the spring not the lenght of it. I work them all the same way.

Paw Paw, I think the garage door spring I had was too far gone from laying outside many years.

I got my striker instructions from Hershel House, I took what he said as the word.
   - Robert - Wednesday, 07/03/02 15:42:53 GMT

Propane tanks: It is cheaper to buy new tanks than to pay for a valve replacement. The best deal is those propane exchange stations now found at convenience stores and supermarket. They will exchange your tank for a full one and dont (or at least they didnt) care what kind of valve you gave them. So for about $15 you get an upgrade to an OPD valve together with a full tank.
   adam - Wednesday, 07/03/02 16:11:12 GMT

Another complicating factor in heat treating is the effect of grain size. Forging at high temperatures will allow the grains to grow significantly. Large grains promote deeper hardening but are also known to cause brittleness, distortion and cracking. Slow cooling from the forge only allows the grains to grow more. If you are quenching anything critical, normalize the part AFTER it has cooled from forging. Normalizing temperatures for higher carbon steels are around 1550F-1600F but if you have a genuine alloy tool steel, consult the manufacturers recommended practices. Air hardening steels can't tell the difference between normalizing and hardening and many of them cannot be effectively normalized. There is a great little book on heat treating published by Seco/Warwick Corporation. Strangely, the book does not have an address or phone number in it. The price is $2.00 and it's worth many times that much. I will try to find a URL and post it later.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/03/02 17:02:48 GMT

Check this URL :http://www.secowarwick.com/htdb/htdb.htm
The company is offering the book free (1st copy only) by contacting them directly.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/03/02 17:06:37 GMT

Robert, the old springs may already have cracks in them from fatigue. Suspension parts are subject to repeated, alternating stress that can cause cracks to form in places where the stress is concentrated. A nick, scratch, corrosion pit, or hot shut from coiling can provide just such a stress riser. New springs that have not been in service will not likely have any fatigue cracks. Ok, I'm gonna shut up for today!
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/03/02 17:16:42 GMT

Paw Paw, As I walked up to look at a anvil for sale yesterday I knew it was a Peter Wright, much to my surprise it was a Trenton! Now the body is a english pattern (short stubby) and looking under it theres no dished out area. It has a bigger than i`ve ever seen Diamond with TRENTON and PATENT just under the diamond, then theres SOLID WROUGHT in a circle under that, just like a Peter Wright. Under solid wrought is 107, numbers are close together and the anvil weighs 107lbs. As I look at my other PWs other small features say PW made this anvil cause it sure doesn`t look like my Trenton. So whats up, did Trenton buy from PW at one time way back when?? I don`t have Postmans book, sorry. Thank in advance.
   - Robert - Wednesday, 07/03/02 17:17:24 GMT

Anvils sold by the Trenton Vise and Tool Works beginning in 1888 were manufactured in either Germany or England, imported and sold under the Trenton Trademark. Considering the similarity to a Peter Wright, I'd be inclined to go with England as the manufacturing point, at least for this anvil.

Page 327 in ANIVLS IN AMERICA has the story in more detail.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Wednesday, 07/03/02 17:46:15 GMT

Propane tanks - my forge has a "POL" fitting on it to connect to the tank. As of just a couple months ago, I was able to buy my tank at the supermarket exchange station with the POL fitting on the tank, too. I'm assuming this is the "old" fitting? I remember thinking at the time that the fitting on the "other" tanks (OPD fitting?) looked like it would also fit my forge. It had both internal and external threads, and the internal threads looked about right. Does my POL fitting fit the "new" fittings on the tanks? What are the types of fittings on propane tanks? The forge was my first propane gadget; I've never even owned a gas grill.


   Steve A - Wednesday, 07/03/02 18:14:09 GMT

My 300# Kohlswa photo (c) 2002 Jock Dempsey
Anvil Photo Taken for Pilchard Teeth #3 a British pop culture and music magazine, was published in an article on unusual musical instruments with a credit given to anvilfire.com.

The photo was easy, it was the polishing and derusting my anvil that was hard! That is a 300# Kohlswa.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/03/02 18:42:34 GMT

I'm a novice just getting started. I want to twist mild square tubing...11GA and anywhere from 4' 10'. Is there anything short of heating it with a torch that will allow me to do this?
   Orion - Wednesday, 07/03/02 20:22:01 GMT

I have the "old" fittings on my gas forges and yes they do fit the new valves, just be sure to snug it down with a wrench (not too tight)
   Mark P. - Wednesday, 07/03/02 20:24:44 GMT

What is the proper name of a blacksmith? I used to know this but over the years it has escaped me.
   "E" - Wednesday, 07/03/02 20:29:53 GMT

Blacksmith is the proper name for a blacksmith.

A blacksmith who shoes horses is a farrier.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/03/02 21:09:40 GMT

proper name: Well, mine is Tom . . .
   Escher - Wednesday, 07/03/02 22:01:53 GMT

Guru, Thanks for your reply regarding my plant stands. What do you think my best bet is with them? I have 12 black plant stands now and all of them have at least some chipping on them. They don't seem to be chipping as much at this point, perhaps now that they've had a little time to cure? Anyway, do you think I need to clean all the old paint, primer and zinc off them and start all over or is there a way I can patch up the chipped areas and have it look decent? Also, I probably asked you this already but what is your opinion about treating with boiled linseed oil, and will this hold up well in say a bathroom environment? Thanks again, Wendy
   - Wendy - Wednesday, 07/03/02 22:51:56 GMT

Folks, I'll be out of town from the 4th through the 7th.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/03/02 22:53:41 GMT

"Fred" is a proper name for a blacksmith (note caps), while "jackass" (no caps), may be an appropriate name, it is not a proper name.
   adam - Wednesday, 07/03/02 23:27:14 GMT

Camp Fenby:

We left the direction links off of the new 2002 site!

They're still on the 2000 site at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/files/Fenby2000Directions.PDF

and at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CampFenby/files/Fenby2001Directions.txt

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 07/03/02 23:50:29 GMT

Production rate factors greatly into what you sell something FOR... but don't forget your supply and demand theorys when you go to sell stuff. If you have a buyer allready cool... if not, you'll need to feel out the market. I can make and sell really simple helmets for about $100. That's what EVERYONE wants. If I make anything with any style to it, it usualy ends up sitting on a shelf for a while, and I sell it for half what it's worth because i get tired of it taking up space. It's also pointless for me to take armor to a big event, most of the people that're at the "wars" spent the better part of their liquid assets just getting there. No one has the money to spend, so.. I just pass out cards.

So.. before you head off to a craft fair, think about who you're selling to. Is this a re-enactment group that's going to want flint strikers, and tent stakes (cos lets face it, unless you buy stakes from a smith you're gonna cuss the flimsy peices of junk) ? Or are you going someplace with a fairly up-town crowd, that wants to more than anything, look at portfolio stuff and then later comission you to build a driveway gate at several grand?

   mattmaus - Thursday, 07/04/02 00:43:02 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the detailed info on pricing, shop time and production. With practice I should be able to turn out 5 or 6 an hour. I am comfortable with $6 each. I didnt ask what he was going to sell them for. For now they are just a basic C shape with tapered ends.
QC, Robert and Paw Paw, Thanks for your response also on materials, heat treating. I am using old files and hay rake tines. I heat to non magnetic and quinch just the strike area in warm water. I broke one (on purpose) in a vice and viewed a fine uniform grain with a 10X eyepiece. They spark pretty well. So, Im having fun doing it and if I make enough to buy some LP or supplies, its a good thing.
   R Guess - Thursday, 07/04/02 15:36:07 GMT

Cheap Chinese Tools

I admit I buy some tools that are made in China. $1.00 tape measures I buy 20 at a time because I consider them a good value.

In my dealings in Asia the question I hear most is "Why do you rich Americans demand all that cheap junk"! When I consider this I am reminded that markets are demand-driven not supply-driven. How many blacksmiths make products that their customers don't want? Or make them of a quality higher than the customer demands? Unfortunately, the importers (mostly American) demand low price and are able to sell tons of low quality junk! If the stuff didn't fly off the shelves, Costco and Lowes and Home Depot wouldn't carry the stuff. When Joe Weekender goes into Home Depot for a claw hammer to hang a picture on the wall, does he buy a $25.00 Stanley or a $4.00 import? Better stuff will come when the customer demands it. Many quality things you buy ARE made in China. Many of them say "made in Japan". My Sony computer was made in China. Dosen't say so on the outside but on the inside it does! You just don't realize it when you get good stuff from China.

Lots of Chinese goods say "made in U.S.A."! Only requires 51% US "content". How is content measured? In dollars as a percentage of the vendors cost. Often the label and packaging constitute 51% of the cost!

Is Ikea only on the west coast? High quality up-scale housewares and furniture. Nice quality, low prices and mostly made in China! They get the quality they demand! It's all in the demand not the supply. Supply only answers demand. Not the other way around.
   - grant - Thursday, 07/04/02 16:45:40 GMT

I am trying to find out (just for personal information) who is credited for the invention and having the patten for, the welding helmet. I am also curious as to what year and where the patten was filed(office I could get in touch with). My mother-in-law thinks that a family member may have had somthing to do with it and I was curiouse as to weather she is right.
If you could find any information on this and e-mail me it it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much. Kim
   kim - Thursday, 07/04/02 17:14:38 GMT

Iīm going to Berlin (and thatīs in germany, not one of several american towns)for a few days and and wonder what I shouldnīt miss. Iīll be touring all the usual museums, but if anyone know of something special concerning arms, armour and blacksmithing please let me know.
   Olle Andersson - Thursday, 07/04/02 17:46:12 GMT

Kim /// Patent Searching /// Welding Helmet.
You can search U.S. patents at the following government website www.uspto.gov/patft/ I'm not sure if the database goes back as far as the 1890's and earlier. Oxy- acetylene and electric arc welding were discovered/invented about that time.Ultraviolet light damage to the eyes may have inspired someone to invent a device like a wlding helmet before the 1890's. U.V. is a problem also encountered in, for example, fire welding and foundry work. (i.e. pouring molten metal into molds.)
There should be a list of inventors as well as subject matter lists at thhe Patent Office website. Good luck and don't be shy about asking the Patent Office staff questions.
   slag - Friday, 07/05/02 01:57:22 GMT

Dear Guru, i recently purchased at an auction a bunch of iron that is supposed to be a gazabo when it is reassembled. it came with no plans and is totally disassembled.has iron columns 6. decreative end pieces and roof pieces. it is supposed to have come from a famous families home in hyde park ny. could have been hyde park near chicago and they were confused. would like to know where to start the search for a picture or plans to figure out how to reassemble it. it's a big iron puzzle at the moment. i've been on the net and too the library but i'm oviously asking the wrong questions. i haven't been able to find any answers. thankyou for all your help. my location is on the missippi near keokuk, ia. eastern end of state. thanks for any help or information you can give me.
   l. miller - Friday, 07/05/02 02:03:47 GMT

Hello Guru,
This is sort of a re-post as the first seems to not have gotten a response.
I'm really intrigued with the East Coast JYH design. (The one made from a car rear end). I wonder how this would work if I was to shorten the axles to save space. Any pros or cons? I know the main con would be the cost in the machine work to have the axles shortened but otherwise??? Would there be any balance problems?Thanks in advance for your time.-Dodge
   Dodge - Friday, 07/05/02 05:12:02 GMT

My guess is that you could shorten the axles with impunity and be fairly crude about it at that since the RPMs and load are fairly low compaired to the intended use. Probably you could just weld the axle and housing carefully and forget the machine work altogether...
The balance problems are ones that you are inducing by using an eccentric mechanism to begin with, and things would run smoother if you include a counterweight in your design.
If that's the one with the shock absorber linkage, I'd use another mechanism for the linkage instead.
The JYHs are the product of talented people at play...but do consider the amount of beer consumed in the process.The same caveot applies to this answer.
   - Pete F - Friday, 07/05/02 06:38:23 GMT

One quibble with Paw-Paw's reply: "a blacksmith that shoes horses is a farrier" This is totally correct; however a farrier does not have to be a smith (and nowdays often is not)

Thomas---finished the prototype stirrup last night and bung it in the vinegar to clean it up,
   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 07/05/02 15:25:32 GMT

Guru, a question about forge welding with a gasser. I read the iForge demos on welding out of a coal fire but nothing was mentioned about using gas heat. The gasser creates a serious oxidizing environment and my efforts to date have been totally unsuccesful. Yesterday, I was trying to fold back a 1/4" rod to gain some mass on the end and wanted to weld it down. Granted, at this early point in my smithing matriculation I lurch around like a ruptured stork and the speed and timing were probably a bit off the mark. However, is there a secret to welding from a gasser?
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 07/05/02 17:56:40 GMT

Grant, I think you hit the nail on the head. A distinction should be made between tools made in China for a US company who defines the quality level, and tools made in China for a Chinese company who defines the quality (or lack thereof). A lot of money can be saved by using non-heat treated steel, putting fewer turns on the motor windings, using cheap plastics, using cast iron in place of cast or forged steel, etc. These differences are not readily apparent but can make a huge difference in performance. I guess it all boils down to "..if you know better, and performance makes a difference to you, don't buy cheap tools". Now, if I could just practice what I preach!
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 07/05/02 18:11:14 GMT

I need some help/assistance with a champion 400 blower. I have cleaned it and putting it back together. The only problem is that the seal that goes around the main shaft was completly missing. If you remove the fan shroud, fan and screw off the cap seal (the one that has a hole for the shaft to stick through) and look inside the gear case, I can see another nut and a ball bearing. Where does the seal sit? Does it fit into the inside groove of the cap? Or does it sit behind the last shaft nut between the ball bearing and the nut? I know the ball bearing must stay lubricated. Was the original seal made of a felt pad? There was nothng left of the original and so I have nothing to go on. ANY help would be appreciated.

Vance, Meridian, Mississippi
   vance - Friday, 07/05/02 18:18:59 GMT

Pete F,
Thanks for you input about shortening axles for JYH.One buddy I confered with suggested contacting a shop that builds dragsters. they may have a housing already shortened that has been previously abused. Just fill it with good junk yard parts. Beer is, of course, always a given factor in all of my experimental projects! :-) -Dodge
   Dodge - Friday, 07/05/02 19:29:09 GMT


I seem to recall that the Guru answered this same question a few weeks ago. IIRC, he said that the blower did not have a seal, and that it needed to be oiled every day with a good quality of lubricating oil. I didn't pay as close attention as I probably should have, since I use an aspirated gas forge, but you should be able to search the archives to confirm what I said.
   - vicopper - Friday, 07/05/02 20:17:13 GMT

Vance, You can use felt or leather for the seal, you may find the leather swelling and making your blower turn harder.
   - Robert - Friday, 07/05/02 20:44:39 GMT

After I posted my question I remembered something. A few years ago I was working on a German WW I 7.92 mm Maximum water cooled machine gun for a collector. When I disassembled it I think that the front water jacket seal was made of what appeared to be leather or heavy string coated with wax, and wrapped tightly around the barrel, the stiff just fell apart in my hand. Considering the age and technical ability of the time could that be the type of seal that was originally in the blower? Robert and Vicopper thanks for the replies. Vance
   Champion 400 blower - Friday, 07/05/02 21:45:39 GMT

I found it, unfortunately it was in reference to a blower that did not have a gear box, but was intended to be oiled every day. Does anyone have or is there a book on Champion bloers where I might get a parts breakdown? Then maybe I could at least see what the seal looked like.
   vance - Friday, 07/05/02 22:00:16 GMT

When the propane regs changed I decided to go for the 40 LB size from McMaster-Carr. Around $80 and change w/shipping. The plus's are that my tanks don't freeze up (the 20 LB's used to freeze up even in water.I talked to my supplier and he dropped the price per gallon by about $.45, and I'm not switching tanks all the dang time. My forge is a 3 burner T-Rex on wheels. Two of the burners have shut offs and I have a sliding back wall to change the forge size as needed. By the way for a while I was running all Reil type burners then two T-Rex's and a Reil and now I'm using all T-Rex's. When the T-Rex's and the Reil were side by side in the same forge the Reil was alittle cooler. By the time you run around and pick up the parts and fab the burner I don't think you are saving a dime. Not if you're doing this for a living.
   - Pete-Raven - Friday, 07/05/02 23:09:33 GMT


I have a Buffalo 400 with gearbox. I have found no reference to a seal. I spoke with one person who has been bsmithing since a young boy. He said there is no seal as such. You have to add a little oil every day. Just a little. I has a trough in the bottom that holds the oil. All excess will run out the front into the fan housing. I picked mine up a few years ago for $25. Had to clean out the mud dobber nests and oil it up. Used tranny fluid to cut all the rust. Filled it with 30wt MO and watched in horror as most of it poured out onto my floor. Contacted my friend, got the low down, then went to work. That has been several years now. I still cringe when I see oil coming out the front. Remember, just a little dab will do ya.
   Willie - Saturday, 07/06/02 16:57:27 GMT

Side blast forge:
My forge is finished, I started it up late this afternoon and got a 10" long heat on a 1/2" square bar in a very short time, using one tuyere only. It is much different from working with a bottom blast and will take some getting used to...

Next step is to increase the amount of air by putting a larger pulley on the motor driving the fan.

Thanks for your advice on tuyere's and blowers.

I read with interest your postings on web page design. I can't make head or tail out of HTML code, so I installed "Netobjects Fusion" (My pirate Frontpage got trashed and I do not have a CD!) A steep learning curve, but hopefully I will have some photos of the forge on the web by the end of next week.
   Tiaan - Saturday, 07/06/02 21:33:27 GMT

Thanks for the reply.

   vance - Saturday, 07/06/02 23:25:32 GMT

Sounds like time to crank up the gas pressure or choke the air intake cause an oxidizing flame and the term "welding" don't go together too well.
Whereas a reducing flame will actually let you weld at a lower temperature...the only question remains.... Are you adaquately fluxed up?
   - Pete F - Sunday, 07/07/02 03:19:22 GMT

I just finished building a new gasser. It took a few runs to figure out how to tune it. The first couple of runs there was a lot of scale but now it runs pretty good and I expect soon I'll have it running great
   adam - Sunday, 07/07/02 05:02:37 GMT

In my conversations with several pros in the Pub, I discovered a few things that need improvement if I am to get a good forge weld. A new brush and dry flux among them. Regarding choking the air intake, won't that reduce the fuel/air ratio and drop the heat input? A gasser works best at 1/10 fuel to air and at less than that, some of the gas remains un-burned, or partially oxidized to things like CO or NOx which do not generate heat. I am uncertain how much to crank up the gas pressure as the manufacturer (I have an NC Whisper Baby) recommends 10 psi. How much over that can I go without danger of a blowout?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/07/02 12:48:33 GMT

the idea with droping the air input is to get an low amount of unburned O2, any O2 in the box will ready attach it's self to you part causeing scale and a failed weld. the flux with water in it works just seems to need more of it... it's fun to watch is dance to!!
   MP - Sunday, 07/07/02 15:43:57 GMT

Please offer advice on Draw Filing jigs, where can I find plans and specs, for Draw Filing jigs to use with a 10 inch blade ? Thanks for your your help !
   Bill Campbell - Sunday, 07/07/02 15:52:21 GMT

Quenchcrack, thanks for heat treat book address.
   bbeck - Sunday, 07/07/02 21:39:37 GMT

Bill Campbell-

The simplest draw filing jig is nothing more than a suitable length of flat 1X4 mounted to the edge of a 2X4 so that the cross section resembles a fat "T". Let the 1X4 hang over the end of the 2X4 by about 2' and use a Vise-Grip welder's clamp to hold the stock at one end. The 2X4 can be clamped in a post vise, yielding just the right height for a reasonably-sized person to file comfortably.

The old file-makers and knife makers used low benches they straddled. Those benches had a "stirrup" arrangement to allow them to use one foot to apply pressure to the hold-down clamp by means of a leather strap. If I remember correctly, you can see examples of this in Divers Arts. I have seen a couple of other illustrations of the type bench I am talking about, but I can't remember where. I used to use an old V-belt and a 2X4 nailed to the bench top, too. Just set the piece on the 2X4 and loop the V-belt over it and put one foot in the bottom of the loop. By putting pressure on the belt, the work is held down against the wood and stays remarkably stable. A strip of leather cemented to the wood makes it a bit more "sticky", if needed.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/07/02 23:47:10 GMT

Filing Scraping Blades: See the most recent version of the anvilfire NEWS. The Japanese smiths at the ABANA conference were using a variety of simple wedge operated clamps for holding blades. You do not have to work knealing as they do, the work holding wethods will work the same. The simplest clamp is a rectangular staple driven into a board. The blade and a wodden wedge slipped under the staple and the wedge given a tap to tighten. I would recomend rock (New England) maple or dogwood for the wedges.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 00:00:37 GMT

Forge Welds: QC, I've yet to get my Whisper baby up to a welding heat. However, I do little forge welding so I have not pushed it. Since all I've done with it is small work I have not increased the pressure more than optimum for forging. Gas forges are notorious about scale and if you have heavy scale you will not get a good weld. A proper atmosphere for forge welding is not the optimumly efficent fuel/air mix.

Everyone has different opinions about flux. The vast majority use 20 Mule Team borax out of the box. Other use anhydrous borax (it doesn't stay that way long) and others use commercial fluxes. Many of the commercial fluxes are mixtures that include iron powder. Some folks can't or won't try to weld without a commercial flux.

the big thing about forge welding is cleanliness and know when and how. The later must be practiced until you get the hang of it.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 00:19:18 GMT

Vance, The Champion 400 has no seal. Is oiled daily and the oil runs out. We sell a CD that has the Champion catalog and all the blower patents (see our book review page and the Store). Remember, this was the era when almost no machinery had seals and all machinists and engine operators had LARGE oil cans. Steam engines, line shapfting, mill machinery, machine tools and blacksmith equipment. . all was oiled daily.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 00:27:26 GMT

Iron Gazebo: I.Miller, First, Do you know the term "Pig in a poke?" I would bet that at a minimum 10% is missing, probaly broken when it was dissasembled.

Around the turn of the last century there were hundreds of makers of commerical wrought iron fencing and cast architectural components in the US. They all produced similar but different products. Almost all are gone. The only source of information on most of their products are old catalogs. Finding these catalogs will be the trick. Libraries do not keep them. Collectors DO collect them but finding the collectors may be a trick too.

The thing may also be entirely custom which was also common during this era even if made of cast iron. In that case there are no catalog images.

What you DO have as you have already recognized is a big puzzel. The way to put it together is to look to see what fits where. I assume is bolts together. In all probablity it only bolts together one way. If is was painted (I'm sure it was at one time, probably white), there will be places with missing paint where parts fit together. These will be more distinct than the bolt hole alignments. From there on it is just that, a puzzel. You should be able to figure it out in a couple hours, a day tops. Much less time than searcing for a 100 year old catalog that may not exist.

If you need someone to come put it together let me know.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 00:58:21 GMT

JYH Axels: I agree with most of what Pete had to say. I could shorten OR lengthen an auto differential drive in my small shop and have done both for us in various hot rods. Alignment is critical but not so critical that it is a difficult job for a skilled mechanic. Parts need to be carefully measured, marked and sawed then clamped and welded back together. The amounts removed must be the same on all or matching sets of parts +/-0.032 total. Straightness should be +/-.005 TIR on the axels and housings. Its easier to do than to explain and most people are not up to the task so I don't try. If you can do it, then do it.

But in the end it is all a waste of time. I built the EC-JYH to prove a couple things and they worked. We've been there and done that. But the machine is big and doesn't hit very hard. I currently recommend that ANYONE building a JYH look at the NC-JYH. It is compact and runs great.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 01:24:25 GMT

Brass Casting at Camp Fenby 2002:

Bruce (Atli), Etal, Listed me under "experimental casting" on the recent Camp Fenby schedule and THAT it definitely was.

It was also a comedy of errors. We had parrafin to carve. Some that I had worked, but another batch of the same brand was very crystaline and almost impossible to work. Bees wax is better and professional carving wax even better still. In the VERY hot weather you only had to hold the wax a few minutes before it became soft like plasticine clay. Ice water was required to cool the wax while carving it. But we DID manage to get some waxes made. However, while spruing and venting them, they kept slumping over from the heat.

The next hot weather problem was the plaster. It was setting as fast as I could mix it. I threw away more than I used and more batches hardened before or WHILE pouring. Cold (nearly ice) water was used but did not help. I've poured plaster many times before and never experianced this. The difference between working at 75-80°F and +90°F makes a huge difference in thermalsetting materials. I got very testy while dealing with this and I appologize to all involved. So, most of our molds had defects from air bubbles at best. But it got worse.

Time was a problem. We worked all day to get the waxes made and plasted poured. Casting would be the next day. The plaster had no time to dry naturaly.

This was my first lost wax casting and I took on too many molds at once. I figured it would be best to do burn out in the coal forge as melted wax would run into the coal. At one time I had all eight molds in the forge. Some got burned out and calcined nicely, others not so nicely and at least one got burned and cracked. AND, I did not know that a couple didn't get all the wax burned out, much less calcined properly!

The melting was no problem and went smoothly. The planned furnace I spent a week building and could not finish on time was abandonded before going to Fenby. The night before traveling to Fenby I built a crucible furnace from a small Freon-12 tank, a half fire brick and some Kaowool. ITC-100 was used for glue to hold the Kaowool in the lid and line the vent. A #1 or 1 pound crucible fit just right. I used a T-Rex burner. This was a little big for this furnace but worked flawlessly. Melt times were surprisingly short. The cheap and dirty furnace probably worked better than the more complicated one.

We used brass from several sources. Initialy it was some cut up brazing rod material then later several hundred brass door keys were melted. Borax was used as flux. About 1/2 tsp per crucible.

The pouring initialy went well. We had three open face molds. But one was not leveled and the result was a thick lump on one side. Then I poured a couple of the bigger molds. They still had some wax in them! The result was the hot liquid brass spitting back out of the mold. There was also some steam and the resulting parts were full of holes and porosity (photos later). There was enough wax in the largest mold (a 4-1/2" long German pattern anvil) that more metal sprayed out than went in. . but I kept pouring. The result was a VERY porous part that was almost hollow. A great show of what NOT to do. The hot brass was still smoking off parafin when broken out of the plaster!

The last two pours were an experiment that Atli wanted to do. He had made two pommel patterns in styrofoam with risers. They were buried in dry sand box "play" sand (a bad choice) with the sprues flush to the surface of the sand.

Metal (brass keys) were melted, and the pieces poured. There was a little puff of flame and a bit of smoke but the pours went smoothly. Nothing exciting like the earlier pours. The first pour I got straight down the spruce and we got a VERY good sound casting . the texture was mostly that of the styrofoam. We DID get a little burn-in into the sand on a couple corners. The second pour also produced a vairly good piece except I missed the center of the sprue and ended up with brass cutting into the sand and the pour being a little short. But the part looked very good except for an unfilled hole in one side.

At the end of the day we got the best castings from a non-traditional modern method using poor materials. The play sand had been selected to be a work surface for the molds and to set the hot crucible. But for molding, the sand should be "sharp" not worn down (rounded) beach sand.

On our first melt with a clean NEW crucible we had no smoke or zinc flare. In subsequent melts brass burnt off the upper parts of the crucible. I was glad we had a good breeze and VERY good ventilation. Breathing burning zinc fumes can result in "metal fume fever" a kind of metal poisioning. It is not a good thing.

I will append this to our iForge lost wax casting demo. We learn more from our mistakes sometimes than from our successes. Hopefully it will be easier for you to learn from MY mistakes!
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 02:34:19 GMT

I have made several knives and swords, along with other iteams using just a normal forge and anvil, but I am looking in to producing some things that are more flashy, and easier to mass produce. My question is is it easier and what does it involve to cast an object, as compared to forging it? Also I would like to know how hard it is to work with stainless, as compared to tool steel, in both forging and casting? Thank you very much
   marty - Monday, 07/08/02 04:45:27 GMT

Judging from the exposition above your Q...I'm inspired to say " we are blacksmiths, why are you asking us about casting?"
And a blacksmith would properly look down his nose at a blade that isn't forged.
Casting stainless is difficult and expensive to set up. Forging stainless is about 1/3 more work than steel, depending on the alloy.
" Flashy and easy to mass produce" eh" well, just buy some chrome plated flat stock and cut it out with a plasma cutter. Buy a really ornate mass produced handle and never talk to me again.
   - Pete F - Monday, 07/08/02 05:23:24 GMT

I have some boiler tubing 50mm OD that is SA-213 T-12 and T-91 material. Is this material fit for forging anything?

   S Shirks - Monday, 07/08/02 08:18:44 GMT

Casting Flashy Swords; Marty:

Note that in the Great Guru's post, above, we were casting just the furniture for swords and other equipment (this is how we learn ;-), and not the swords themselves. If you're inspired by the scenes from the movie Conan, that's a fake scene with bonze-age technique producing an iron-age weapon... "It don't work!" Cheap and flashy is fine for wall hangers, but taken off the wall it may be dangerous to the bearer and all around him or her. Inevitably, someone will start hacking around with the piece and flying sword blades are not nice. (Trust me, I've been there.) Make your wall-hangers with good, blunt springy steel, radius the corners of the tangs, and make the hilts fancy and solid, and you'll sleep easier at night.

Camp Fenby:

Thanks to all who came or extended good wishes. We had some good days, good company, good crabs, and many "learning experiences". I especially want to thank Jock and Paw Paw Wilson for their help, guidance and good humor, and Ross and Melissa for pitching in on the set-up and clean-up. Well, we made a bit of "art". Hope you enjoyed the other classes and lectures (all the way from Denmark) and other activities. We'll try for earlier in June next year.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/08/02 14:36:40 GMT

Stainless and Sword Production: I think Pete must REALLY like stainless. . costs of working it are normally three to four times carbon steel. The 1/3 more difficult may apply to forging which is actually about the same as working a good alloy high carbon steel.

The final shape of something often determines the best possible manufacturing method (ignoring metalurgical needs). Some things are more efficient to cast, others to forge and yet others to roll or form.

Blades of all types and especially swords are best forged. If you want to increase your rate of production you need a large power hammer (90 to 250 pounds) and much practice. A friend of mine can forge a very large Bowie style blade with tang, distal taper and diamond section in two to three heats under a Nazel 1B. The blades are so close to shape you can go immediately to fine finishing. Takes about 15 minutes each. And that is with standard flat dies and a few handheld tools. If you want a Nazel 1B (very rare), Bruce Wallace currently has one.

For producing long blades simple dies can be used in either a power hammer OR a McDonald rolling mill. Both machines will turn out long blades as fast as you can move. Want to turn out 20-30 forged and ready to finish blades in a day? All you need is the machinery.

Guards, pommels and other blade furniture can be made by stock removal, fabricating, casting or forging. The shape, quantity and skill of the worker determine the method. The highest production rates in brass, silver or gold would be via casting using fine jewlers casting sand or a proprietary product called "Delft Clay" that I saw demonstrated this weekend. After getting setup you could produce furniture at about the same rate as foring the blades.

In high production, grips would need to be cast from some type of plastic resin or epoxy.

Properly equiped one worker could turn out 20-30 finished swords a week. But they would all (need to) be alike and you would need the best grinding and polishing equipment to maintain this rate of production. The investment in equipment would be significant. You could easily spend $20,000 USD to crank out twenty $50 swords a week. So that would mean it would take twenty months (assuming you sold ALL that production) just to pay for the equipment. But it would take four years IF you took out pay for yourself as well as costs for overhead (rent utilities) and a week's vacation a year. . . . AND you sold all 3500+ wallhanger swords you produced. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 16:13:44 GMT

Marty, consider this: Most specialty steels are melted in small quantities, a couple of TONS to an ingot. That ingot is then heated to about 2200F and rolled into a billet. The billet is then rolled into shapes like bar or rods. One of the perceived advantages of forging is the extra hot working applied to the steel. However, the little bit the bladesmith does is insignificant compared to what has already been done. Granted, the blade smith can get the metal to flow around the pattern (whereas grinding the metal away only interrupts the flow lines) and this generally is a good thing for toughness. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: why do most people who use a knife professionally (like butchers) prefer carbon steels? Simply because they can get a finer edge and keep it sharp by stropping it. If you want to make wall-hangers, forget about performance and grind the blade from the least expensive stainless you can find. Beware when you grind stainless, though, because it tends to warp easily if the heat builds up. If you are making working instruments, stay with high carbon steels. In a section thickness typical of a knifeblade, good old 1095 is hard to beat. O1 or A7 or any of the readily available tool steels are good for heavier sections. W1 is ok for sections of about 1/8" and is easy to work and heat treat. Personally, I prefer to make simple, working knives that do their job without attracting attention. A big flashy knife just reeks of pretentiousness and probably a lack of real woodsmanship.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/08/02 17:31:51 GMT

Thanks for your advise on the JYH tech. I'm still doing a lot of brainstorming whilst I await a large enough space to put the thing when I do build it. Maybe if I build it it will come??? :-) -Dodge
   Dodge - Monday, 07/08/02 20:37:08 GMT

Dodge, the key thing to look for are big hunks of steel for the anvil, anvil cap and ram. An anvil can be assembled out of bar stock. You want the pieces running up and down length wise. Flat rectangles can be bundled in alternating groups and straped together and the straps welded to hold the bars together. But you need a heavy cap on the bundle to mount the die on.

Just keep looking for suitable materials. You can never have enough plate, angles, structurals. . . When you think you have collected enough then its like putting together a puzzel. Which piece fits best where.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 20:46:41 GMT

Dodge, if you are looking for "chunks" of steel, check out scrap metal dealers (not junk yards)that have something called "cobble plate" which is partially rolled slabs or ingots that got in trouble before they finished rolling them. Make sure you know which sides are the top and bottom and which are the sides. Put the top on top! I picked up two chunks of 4130 5"x6"x12" (102lbs each) and planned to use them for anvils before I stumbled onto a real one. They are still sitting in my garage gathering dust.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/08/02 21:56:44 GMT

JYH: What is the advantage of the toggle linkage over a regular coil spring (like in Robert Brother's jyh ?http://www.anvilfire.com/power/jyh/dreyer/proto.htm)
   - adam - Monday, 07/08/02 22:41:45 GMT

quenchcrack, looks like you and i are in a similar situation. i recently fired up my blacksmith forgemaster gas forge. i did not try to weld with it yet. the plumbing has me concerned (the rubber lines get hot). ill reroute them. i dont think that i ever saw a yellow heat, light orange, but not clearly yellow. running 13 psi. i need to make some tools, namely a set tool so that i can get a clean shoulder. will research more on tool steel that i can treat myself. hopefully i can use the forge (furnace) to normalize (or anneal to some degree). as you know, that thing stays hot for awhile. good to exchange experiences with novices; anything is interesting..
   - rugg - Monday, 07/08/02 23:09:34 GMT

Tool Steel Rugg, Many smiths like S-7 for forging tools. It is shock resistant and air quenches.

Power Hammer Linkage: Adam, the great advantage of toggle linkages is the increased throw and the sinusoidal change in leverage.

The linkage at rest creates a near straight line. At this point it takes almost no effort on the ram to compress the spring because when the linkage is straight the ratio of the leverage is infinite. As the linkage compresses the spring the angle of the toggles change and the ratio drops radicaly. This alows the spring to absorb the inertia of the ram at the top of the stroke and return it on the way down. This greatly increases the velocity of the ram compared to what it would be if the crank wheel were acting directly on the ram. Thus the hammer hits much harder than it would with in-line springs.
   - guru - Monday, 07/08/02 23:36:45 GMT

What are some good sources for Anvils ?

Thanks for your replys and help !

Best Regards !

   Bill Campbell - Monday, 07/08/02 23:39:43 GMT

[ CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter    Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC