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 24 - 31, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

RE: Lever Law. Guru, this term is used in relation to binary phase diagrams of metallic systems. Iron and carbon form a binary metallic system. A phase diagram is a "map" of the phases that exist in the system at various temperatures and %C. For example, at about .20% carbon at room temperature, the iron phase would be ferrite and in this phase the carbon would exist as iron carbide. But at 1400F, the system becomes 2 phased (I dated a girl like this)with the iron existing as both ferrite and austenite with the carbon being dissolved in the austenite. The lever law is used to calculate the relative percentages of each phase at a specific temperature and % carbon. Once the temperature reaches about 1650F, it becomes single phased again and the iron is entirely austenite. And that is probably more than ANYBODY wanted to know.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/23/02 23:59:35 GMT

Thanks - Hebelgesetz, Lever Law, Lever Ratio

Eva, who turns out to be a translator sends her thanks to all who responded. She had asked all the anvilfire gurus, what is ". . Hebelgesetz, literally translated, it means "lever relationship". This has to do with melting alloys . . .".
Ok, here is the truth and I thank everyone sincerely:

I am amazed at how quickly I got these answers and at how absolutely on-target they were!

I got, for example, a nice mail from a nice person who said (paraphrased) "I don't know what exactly you're looking for but I think it has something to do with eutectic"

And I had written - yesterday! - that I need answers by today so probably nobody need bother, and got amazing response.

For those who are still curious - hey let me write, in case I hadn't so far, that I had first searched the German pages for this and belive it or not only found two - TWO, my friends, and this from the technical-terms-loving-Germans!! - two pages with this term in it at al, on the entire Germanic internet!!

So I thought, ok, two in the world of metals, metal physics, welders, everyone all together, ad I get only two websites with this funny word Hebelgesetz and its possible (believe me, I tried everyting I could think of!) variants. So, it must be really specific. Since I am translating a paper for womeone who wishes to communicate with others of this education, I figure, with 2 websites who "know" this term at all, they will understand each other. .

In any case, I have named it in English the "lever ratio" - and this in context of an entire description of the studies in a college course - and I think that (1) anyone, even speaking different languages, who knows what this is, will understand what is meant here, and (2) I happen to think that "lever rtio" is an elegant solution, hehehehe

OK, so at the bottom of it all (see, here at the bottom of my mail, even):

I would like to thank everyone who answered my inquiry. I am not used to such quick response and everyone who answered has really (without flattery) improved the expectations a "searcher" has from the Internet. I also just wanted to let you all know that you were right on - it is a funny thing about the German language that they make up their own words to describe something - a reason to learn German, if you are interested in technical and/or scientific texts - which makes life hairy for me as a translator.

I will be adding Hebelgesetz to our International Glossary.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 04:36:18 GMT

Hello all,
I must sound foolish asking this, but how can I tell what is iron, and what is made out of other metals?
   cmills - Wednesday, 07/24/02 12:02:34 GMT

CMills, For starters, you should get some sparks from a grinding wheel when the metal is ferrous, assuming the wheel is not "loaded". The wheel should be dressed. Gray cast iron gives dark, odd looking sparks when compared to forgable ferrous metals; nevertheless, they are sparks.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/24/02 12:30:54 GMT

A magnet is the easiest way to tell ferrous from non-ferrous. Iron and most of its alloys are magnetic and a little magnet is easy to carry when looking at scrap. However, many grades of stainless are non-magnetic.

Frank's spark test is a good way of differentiating different irons and steels. However, reading the spark is an art. The character of the spark is affected somewhat by the type of wheel, speed and pressure. There are spark charts in many metalworking and welding books.

Generaly low carbon steels make sparks with few branches while high carbon steels make sparks that are fuzzy with branches.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 12:51:32 GMT

Jargon - Glossary Question:

A translator has asked me what Farriers call a pre-cut piece of steel for making a horse shoe. From French the word can be translated to slug, billet OR blank. I lean toward blank.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 12:54:40 GMT

My shop is located amongst the flotsam and jetsam of Crack's time machine.
Actually, I was just kidding as the real reason I don't own any 400 pounders is money or the lack of it. I have a beautiful 200 plus European anvil, the likes of which I have never seen before which is just the right size but the face is a tad soft and reveals all my misses, so I try not to beat it up. I do like the fact that I can move it around but I wish the floor in my wife's shop was more leveller. Just like you, I covet my neighbor's anvil and someday want to buy a brand new Peter Wright.

Jock, thanks for your answer on three legs. If they could have a greater diameter they would stabler and then be a trip hazard.
   L. Sundstrom - Wednesday, 07/24/02 13:06:36 GMT

L. Lundstrum,
I too have been looking for large anvils. I have some in the 200 lb range and one that is 130 pounds that I would be willing to trade/sell to get the money to buy a bigger one. I 'd even be willing to travel a fair bit to aquire such an anvil. If you weren't joking in your post, email me at the above address please.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 07/24/02 13:07:21 GMT

L. Lundrstrum,
Here is my email- I guess it doesn't automatically show up as part of the post.

#######@####### (click on "name link" - guru)
   Patrick - Wednesday, 07/24/02 13:08:46 GMT

E-mail addresses: Patrick, they are incrypted in your name/link. When clicked on it should launch your mail program with the decoded address. This is so that spammers cannot harvest them from our forums and is a UNIQUE anvilfire feature.

I will edit out your plain text.

Big Anvils: Bruce Wallace has three of 300 pounds or more listed. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 13:49:59 GMT

Thanks for the safegaurd against spamming. I really appreciate it.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 07/24/02 14:26:23 GMT

Wallace's Anvils:
I am sure that the anvils Mr. Wallace has are fine, and even a good deal at less than $2/lb. However, I have one infamous Thomas Powers as a roll model. Thomas has had the good fortune to find 2 anvils larger than 400 lbs for about 50 cents a pound. If for no other reason than bragging rights, I am hoping to top him in this regard. However, if someone was willing to take $1/lb, I would definitely be interested.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 07/24/02 14:37:30 GMT


Most of the farriers I know call it a "bar". They speak of making a "bar" shoe, which means making it from plain "bar" stock.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/24/02 14:49:21 GMT

Patrick, What kind of work are you doing that you need so many larger anvils? You must have several forges going and people hired working in your shop filling your contracts? Anvil envy will throw you off the track you should focus on, that being learning to work the metal on the 200lbers you got.
   - Robert - Wednesday, 07/24/02 15:42:23 GMT

You are absolutly right. I have never done anything requiring such a large anvil. It is purely (almost) a case of anvil envy. I generally only use one anvil at a time, although this weekend i did get out the second one and another forge when Thomas and some other folks came to play. My wife wouldn't even let me have more than one anvil except the second one I got for about 25 cents a pound with a bunch of other tools thrown in. Now, the third anvil was aquired purely as a trade item. So you are right, it is anvil envy. But I wasn't quite so smitten until a few weeks back when I got to work on a larger anvil and noticed the difference between it and mine. As Jock has often said, a larger anvil is more efficient, and I could tell. So that's the other reason for wanting a bigger one.
   Patrick - Wednesday, 07/24/02 16:01:02 GMT

Marcus; instead of looking for 1/8" sq why not just buy round stock (even "heavy" wire!) and forge it sq. the hammer marks will make the food stay on it better and look better IMNSHO too. With a good broad faced hammer of moderate weight the time to sq it is minimal.

(I can pay $1.01 for large anvils, Bwahahahahahaha)
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 07/24/02 16:50:10 GMT

Is it safe to line a gas forge with refaractory cement from a fireplace store? Thanks.
   - Kevin - Wednesday, 07/24/02 17:02:32 GMT

I stumbled on this Polish Blacksmith's site today. It is worth checking out : http://www.mazur-artkowal.pl/galeria.htm . This appears to be real, old- world smithing work, and very well done at that. But that is only my humble opinion.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/24/02 17:09:52 GMT

Whats a good price for a 100lb anvil?
   Jim Buck - Wednesday, 07/24/02 17:11:11 GMT


I guess that's a possibility, although it does slow the process down a bit. Thanks!
   - Marcus - Wednesday, 07/24/02 18:42:56 GMT

Hullo hullo, Picture this: A cruched granite driveway besprinkled with coal ash and tiny flecks of shiny coal mixed in... quite pretty. The question is, since we have a well, will it leach into the ground water and kill us? Justh thought I should ask. Thanks
   Gronk - Wednesday, 07/24/02 19:27:40 GMT

Jim a good price for a 100 pound anvil is: they pay you to haul it off to $300. You gotta know location, condition, brand, etc to place it in that range---what is a good price for a 1993 truck?

   Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 07/24/02 19:42:04 GMT

Round Wire I was about to suggest the same but got distracted. 3/16" wire OR cold drawn round is usualy reasonable in price. It has slightly larger cross section than 1/8" but is easy to forge (cold). Some gauge size less than 3/16" might be a match in cross section. 5/16 round works out VERY close to 1/4" in cross section.

Ground Water: A little coal ash kill you or your neighbors? NO. Make you or you neighbors sick? Probably not in this millinia.

Where is your septic tank? In most of suburbia and in many rural areas it is on the same postage stamp sized lot as your well. Practicaly on top of your well! Don't have one? Does your neighbor? Then THEIRS is on top of your well. .

Do you know what nasty chemicals get flushed into septic tanks?. . . Laundry bleach, paint solvents (wash a brush lately?), fingernail polish remover. . .

How many folks have asphalt paved driveways in your neighborhood? Your street? Ever watch the oil that seeps out of asphault? Into the ground? Where does it go?

Do you park your automobile in that nice crunchy driveway? Does it leak oil? Will it leak oil? YES. Does it leak water mixed with antifreeze (a serious poison)? The day you (or someone else) pulls in with it overheating it will (YES).

Do you wash your vehicles in the driveway? What do you wash it with? What do you use on the white walls????

Do you mow your lawn? Do you occasionaly spill fuel when filling the mower (YES). Do you or your neighbors fertilize their lawn our use herbicides or pesticides?

Is the ground around your house treated for termites? Probably if you have a mortgage. Will it kill you? Probably not BUT termite treatments HAVE resulted in fatalities to adults, children and pets, and the chemicals DO enter the ground water.

Worry about that.

   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 19:56:47 GMT

100 Pound Anvil: Price depends on the quality of the anvil, the condition and whos buying and whos selling and where lightening strikes today.

I have gotten forwarded letters twice this week about 110 pound Rusian cast steel anvils being sold by Harbor Freight for $100 delivered. I haven't seen photos of THIS particular anvil but I know what some Russian anvils look like and the description is familiar. Bruce Blackistone has one I published a photo of in the news several years ago. I am tempted to buy one and TRY to hurt it. . .

If these are good they going to really hurt folks carrying small anvils.

NEW in other brands, you are looking at around $400-$750. But new anvils, like many things generaly come with a warrantee. In a mint Peter Wright $250-$300. Average on old English anvils $150-$250.

Used 100 pound anvils are still commonly bought for $50. This is a "lucky" price but has been holding steady for many years when at LEAST $1/pound was the rule. . .

OR as Thomas says, someone PAYS you to haul it away. The closest I have been is having been given TWO anvils on seperate occasions. One from a relative and the other from a nealy complete stranger. . . And others have had the same experiance.

WARNING: There are still many cast iron ASO's (Anvil Shaped Objects) out there that are not worth the iron used to make them. . . Farm supply places and others have them by the truckload.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 20:26:48 GMT

I was wondering if you would know where to get a 4 in through brass ball. We are making a mailbox stand and we need a topper for it and can't seem to find one on the web. We were also wondering where the best place to get metal stampings and castings. I was hoping you would know where to get these or someone out there would know, so they can help us out. Thanks.
   Bret - Wednesday, 07/24/02 21:54:59 GMT

Bret, Try King Architectural Supply. They have a web-site but their address has changed. I THINK they have brass balls that big. They also have all kinds of other premade decorative stuff you can assemble to your taste. Please tell them I sent you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/24/02 22:25:00 GMT

Kevin - Depending on the type of refractory cement your stove store has, it should be safe to use. I used a goodly bit of the 2800 degree stuff when building a couple of gas forges not too long ago, to "glue" together the firebrick bottom in one of them and to stick together the door surrounds (made from high-alumina kiln shelf) on both of them. Both have seen a good bit of work since then, and the stove cement is holding up fine at temperatures up to forge-welding heat.

I found that the stuff needs to be air-dried for several days (here in the tropics, at least), before any heat is used. After that, heat it VERY slowly up to just over the boiling point of water and hold the heat there for a couple of hours. Then, bring the heat slowly up to about 550ºF and hold it there for a couple more hours. After that, the stuff is completely calcined and cured and ready for full heat. Or, you do what I did and just heat it up all at once and watch it bubble up like the cheese on a pizza. Still worked, though. :-)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 07/24/02 23:57:08 GMT

frank turley, can you direct me "somewhere" for more info on your school. i have been to the national ornamental metals museum for "blacksmith I and II" and it was a great experience. at the last class, our instructor was a guy who called himself "wally". the scheduled instructors were on their way to wisconsin for the ABANA conference. i learned alot. i was proud of myself when i only used a half a bag of coal the whole weekend. other students shoveled alot of coal that w/e. "wally" had a huge fund of knowledge and told me stories about francis whitaker, who he obviously knew well. the director @ the museum is jim wallace; was "wally" jim wallace, the jim wallace of damascas/ carbondale fame?? i called the museum and the answer was yes.
i have been reading anything i can get my hands on re smithing. i have a small set up currently. i love santa fe. your name and school is referenced often, as you know. let me know how to get more info. i would be thrilled to learn from another big name in american smithing...thanx
   - rugg - Thursday, 07/25/02 02:18:36 GMT

Rugg, There is contact infomation for Turley Forge Blacksmithing School if you click "THE GURUS" at the top of this page. Write call or E-Mail a request and he will send a brochure.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/25/02 03:30:25 GMT

I am new to blacksmithing. I have a railroad anvil that my father used. What kind of stand should I make for it. Most drawings I see have a wood stump. I want one that is very portable.

Thank You,
David DeMaris
   David DeMaris - Thursday, 07/25/02 05:27:14 GMT

David, the Guru answered that question for me recently and it is either in the archives for last week or still in this section. However, I can tell you from personal experience that if your anvil is made from a RR rail, don't plan on forging anything over 1/4" thick. The Rail is actually too soft to be much good for most smithing work. You would do better to join in the hunt for a bigger anvil. We all do eventually!
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/25/02 12:22:37 GMT

David, Many use a tree stump, others an angle iron stand, some a stand constructed of wood. Guru has a drawing or photo in the archives of a constructed wood stand.

A solid base that supports the anvil at your proper working height, is best. Working height is said to be knuckles of the closed hand high when standing straight. Some raise it a bit higher. Use what is easiest for you.
   - Conner - Thursday, 07/25/02 14:01:23 GMT

Farrier terms Can someone please clarrify the difference between a "pritichel" and a "forepunch" for me. I think Frank told me but I can't remember.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/25/02 14:20:11 GMT

Anvil Stands: We have anvil stand info spread all over and it is time for a FAQ (but not today). And I did indeed write a piece on the subject that will be in last week's archive (July 16-22) but is still above.

See our iForge demo with Dippy Duck on hammer control by Jim 'Paw-Paw' Wilson

See our 21st century page article on Low cost Anvils

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 stand is the type I have used for years on anvils from 100 to 300 pounds. This one is not complete, it needs two half moon shaped pieces of 1-1/2" lumber bolted between the feet. It is the same style stand shown in "Low cost anvils" above which has rectangular blocks for for an anvil without feet. These are made from 2x12 lumber, 1/2" plywood and 2x4's (inch nominal dimensions). They are light and easy to move but also nearly as solid as an oak block.

See also our iForge demo on RR-rail tools for a better way to make an anvil from rail.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/25/02 15:23:49 GMT

Forepunch: VIcopper reminded me that we have a wonderful iForge demo by Rich Hale that details the tools used to make shoes. The answer was here, all I needed to do was look for it!
   - guru - Thursday, 07/25/02 15:43:09 GMT

forge for sale
   BILL NEWMAN - Thursday, 07/25/02 16:16:02 GMT

Paw-Paw, I am still researching cutting of 304 SS. The books recommend a sawblade speed of 80-120 sfpm. More info if I can find it.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/25/02 16:49:31 GMT

Hello I would like to ask a question What angle do you sharpen a cold chisel
   Mike - Thursday, 07/25/02 17:24:41 GMT

QC, Thanks, I much appreciate the help. I think I found a saw this morning that will cut it ok.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 07/25/02 18:30:47 GMT

mike, 60 degrees included angle or cutting mild steel.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/25/02 18:59:39 GMT

'or' should be 'for', my previous post.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/25/02 19:10:20 GMT

Thanks for the help. I got another question, does anyone
know were I can get ideas or plans for plant hangers?
   Jim Buck - Thursday, 07/25/02 20:25:31 GMT

I got the Gingery book which describes how to make a metal lathe out of scrap aluminum.


His method is based on Al castings. I was wondering whether one could do a similar project using weldments with heavy steel plate (of which I have an abundance). What is the long term dimensional stability of weldments? Are they likely to move due to internal stresses? Can this be dealt with by annealing the piece? I am thinking of a blacksmith's lathe - not something to machine parts for NASA - but still machined parts have to come in under one mil for most applications.

I did talk to a welder who assured me that once the piece cools it's stable but I am not sure he is used to thinking in terms of machine tool accuracy.

I have been saving my empties just in case but if you do say "no" then I will have to seriously increase my beer consumption to get the several qts of Al needed for the project.
   adam - Thursday, 07/25/02 21:01:50 GMT

This is probly a dumb question but how do you heat up coal
in a coal forge without using gas?
   - Brian C - Thursday, 07/25/02 22:03:37 GMT

Brian, The air blown into the forge is what enhances the heat of the fire. Air can be from a hand cranked blower, fan, hair drier, etc.

Build a fire with newspaper, small sticks, pine cones, etc so that it is a fire in its own right. Boy scout manual will give you some ideas here. Just enough air to get it to burning hot. Now add coal in small quanities (handfulls) till the existing fire starts the coal to burning. As the coal starts to produce it's own heat, add more coal and more air.

After the coal is burning on it's own, you adjust the air flow to create the amount of heat you want from the fire. The ball of hot coals (fireball) differs in size according to the forge and the work being done by the smith.

Surround the fire with a little fresh new coal. As the fireball burns and is comsumed, it will heat the new coal and turn it to coke by burning off the smoke and volitals. Drag a little of the coke into the fire, from time to time, to maintain the size of the fireball. You will also need to replace the coke with fresh coal, to make more coke, as it is used.

Use just enough air to keep a good hot fireball and then let the heat transfer from the fireball to the metal. Too much air and the metal will not get as hot, even though you have a quanity of large flames. It is an art form call fire maintainance. Once you catch on, you can use only the amount of coal and air needed, to produce the amount of heat needed.

Do not count the number of heats needed to finish a project (times you reheated the metal). Count the number of projects you have finished. Easier that way.
   - Conner - Thursday, 07/25/02 23:10:13 GMT

Aluminium Lathe and Machines you can build: Adam, Aluminium lathe housings no matter how heavy are flimsey compared to cast iron. Steel parts are a little better than aluminium but steel is still very flexible and springy compared to cast iron. Cast iron on the other hand is very weak compared to steel. It usualy breaks before it bends. But it is this stiffness that makes cast iron better for machine tool beds, housings, heads and components. Cast iron is also a damper of vibration which is important in a machine tool.

The only lathes that have aluminium or zinc-aluminium castings for the head and carriage are toys. Atlas machine tried this on the little 6" lathe they used to produce for Sears and produced a piece of junk that is not worth the metal used to make it.

"Long term dimension stability of weldments". Kind'a high tech considerations for a home built project that will only be suitable for machining wood, plastic and free turning aluminium alloys. . .

The problem with weldments (or any other steel part) is when you machine it. When you remove material from a part under stress it warps or curves due to weakening the part OR removing material under stress.

If you take a piece of cold drawn steel and machine 1/16" (2mm) off one surface, when you remove it from the clamping device it will bow visibly toward the cut surface (upward). This is due to the tension in the cold drawn surface on the other side. You can do the same by sawing a number of slots less than half way through in a short piece (say 1/2" x 3).

The stress in many weldments makes them stiffer. Changes in shape may occur but only after MANY years. However, when weldments are critical they are stress relieved by heat treatment (principaly annealing). Then you can rest assured the weldment will be stable. However, due to the flexibility of steel the weldment will never retain its shape as well under load as a cast iron casting. So if you are looking for precision in a spindle housing or a head then you use cast iron, never steel or any non-ferrous metal.

Many modern manufacturers have tried to get away from cast iron but with only mixed success. One method of making grinder bases is to take a large hollow reinforced weldment and fill it with a "filled" epoxy. Filled epoxys are resin mixed with a stronger agregate like granite chips or metal powders. Sort of a plastic concrete. Here the goal was to make a base BETTER than cast iron with greater damping properties. However, the machine still had lots of cast iron components.

IF your intent is to try to weld up a lathe bed without machining it then FORGET IT. Steel warps horribly when welded. You CAN NOT hold it in place. As soon as you remove the clamps it will spring into the warp it wants.

It is possible to build a very nice machine from weldments. But it is not an easy task. The Gingery books are wonderful excercises in determination but are not nearly as practical as they are touted.

The PRACTICAL thing to do is search for a used commercialy built machine tool. In the past year I have had the oportunity to purchase several WONDERFUL lathes for around $500. These were big heavy things that would do REAL machine work. They were machines you could make a living off of if you were determined to do so. They were machines that you could hog every part for a Gingery lathe out of solid stock if you wanted. Yes, they were big and heavy and hard to move. But the effort would be infintessimal compared to making your own castings and building a machine tool from scratch.

Old machines ARE available. They are like anvils, they are where you find them. And like anvils a good REAL machine tool is a joy to use compared to a make do.
Machines you CAN make:

A wood lathe made from mostly wood is a very good project and can be just as good a tool as a commercial machine. Hardwood makes excellent ways as it is very stiff for its weight. Even softwood like pine is suitable. Bearings can be oiled wood. Lubricated they hold up very well. AND like other lathes a wooden wood lathe can be used to make parts for itself such as pullies and handles.

A wood lathe is an indespensible tool for pattern making. If you are going to setup that primitive backyard foundry start at the beginning with a tool that has been made for millinia. These can be manualy powered OR motorized. I recommend a small motor up to 1HP tops.

Beam drills are another mostly wooden machine. A lever supports the upper bearing of a brace and bit while being used to apply downward pressure. If you don't have a drill press and you are going to build things using castings from your backyard foundry then you NEED this tool.

However, beam drills are slow and inefficient compared to the hand crank blacksmith drill that replaced them. Without gearing the speed is all you can crank by hand. Again, a used machine is infinitely better BUT if you want to start at the beginning of technology this is IT. The beam guided brace and bit was a marvelous breakthough in technology that is rarely mentioned.

Small Precision lathes can be built from hand forged parts that are carefully hand fitted together. We are talking SMALL. Maybe 6" between centers and a one inch maximum swing with a practical turning diameter of 3/8" (max again). The spindle of this little jewel could be made in itself but not having one to start it is possible to turn and polish the spindle in your all wood wood lathe.

Ocassionaly these machines had small brass castings for various parts, particularly bearing. But most often all the parts were carefully filed and hand scraped wrought iron or steel. Other all hand made machines of this genre' included gear cutting machines, screw turning machines and dividing machines (both straight and radial).

The smallest of these little lathes used by watch and clock makers were typicaly operated by a bow with the cord wrapped around the spindle but I recommend a foot treadle system like old sewing machines for a larger model. This is MUCH easier to use and is more productive. You can also make the foot treadle and pullies out of wood.

This little machine if properly designed can be used to make feed screws, collars and shafts for a slightly bigger machine. Bigger less critical parts could still be finished on the all wood lathe. . .

And thus you "bootstrap" your way through the industrial revolution. Starting with tools one step out of the stone age you can create modern machine tools. A wonderful excersize if you are persistant as well as patient.

Using hand scraped cast iron castings for machine beds and housings you can rapidly jump beyond the capacity of small forged parts. Until very recently every manufacturer had a captive foundry. When a "blank" was needed for a part they didn't cut a piece of a non-existant piece of heavy steel, they made a wood pattern and cast it. If a part is to be a one off and all you need is a rough blank the pattern could be made in the morning and the casting delivered in the afternoon and the part machined the next. It was an amazingly productive system which we have left behind.

   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 01:01:38 GMT

Best forging Glasses for Overall Work?
Whats the best for overall work? Forge welding? Some say a no.2 green,some say the rose colored Didymium? Since we sometimes spend a lot of time staring into the flames, whats the best in your opinions?
   MvRC - Friday, 07/26/02 02:36:01 GMT

Brian-- one really good thing NOT to do is get it started and then try to help it get going even better... with a squirt... of... charcoal starter. Guy I knew napalmed himself right up The Big Arroyo doing that.
   miles undercut - Friday, 07/26/02 03:30:48 GMT

MvRC, You really should keep up on reading the posts everyday or reading them all per week. Guru just went over glasses again recently.

Guru, You may need to do a FAQ page on glasses also. I want to make a sword...............
   - Robert - Friday, 07/26/02 04:34:21 GMT

Guru, thankyou for your answers on my mad scientist project. Let me clarify a few things:

For a shop that needs a lathe, this approach, as you explain, is absurd. The cost effective way is to just go out and buy a good 2nd hand lathe. But I dont *need* a lathe. This would be a fun project. I am fascinated with the process by which precision machines can be built with very simple hand tools and I want to do some of that. But if, in the end, this does not produce a useful lathe then there are other projects I could be doing that are both fun and fruitful.

When I say "heavy plate" I mean it. I have plenty of plate ranging from 3/4" up to 6" thick. Can one not compensate for the flexiness of steel plate by using thicker material than one would for a cast piece? Also, I can easily add internal stiffening ribs - something that is tricky to do with a casting. And if the lathe turns out to be darn heavy - so what? this is a blacksmith's lathe - it should be heavy! :)

Yep, "long term dimensional stability" is a high falootin phrase. We ain't skeered of big words here. What I want to know is whether the welded components will continue to move long after they have been fabricated. Would I find myself having to realign the machine every week? I didn't really understand your answer to this point. Is this a problem? Can I solve it by annealing the weldments?

The goal would be to produce a lathe that is useful in a blacksmiths shop. This means it has to be able to turn steel. Small bites and slow progress would be fine - I have no plans to go looking for machinist work. Also, while it doesnt have to perform like a Clausing or a Hardinge, it must be able to do things like make spindles for the simple machines that I have in my shop. Probably 1 mil accuracy would be fine for this.

I do appreciate that forging or welding is not going to directly produce precision components. They would have to be refined by hand or by machine just like the castings are in Gingery's book. I am friends with the machinist at work and I am sure I can get a bit of help here if I need it. Also, I may be mad but I am not crazy! I can buy a bed that has been parted out from a very fine old lathe for less than $100. This would give me a running start.

I am also a woodworker. I have made several woodworking machines and a whole bunch of wooden planes all of which work beautifully. Wood is a very nice material, as you say, its stiff and light. It tends to dampen vibration. Wooden bearings made from lignum vitae or even hard maple work amazingly well. But there is a limit to what can be coaxed from it. Wood is always moving as the weather changes.

Finally, cant you PLEASE make this dern posting window a bit bigger? I cant see half of what I typed :)

Thank youi
   - adam - Friday, 07/26/02 05:05:24 GMT

Glasses: MvRC, Its a complicated question and I have spent some money recently trying to get answers.

Contrary to Thomas's post about sources of information (OSHA ect). I went to ALL those places and more. I carefully read all the literature and followed all the links. There are NO specifics. They all refered me to the ANSI Z87.1 standard with the exception of a few specific instances in welding applications. References the OSHA site pointed to for clarification or details were circular references either back to OSHA or ANSI Z87.1 which OSHA refers.

So, I broke down and bought a copy of ANSI Z87.1. This, after having eroneously purchased an electronic version of the Swedish standard. It was in English but gave no useful info. NO, even though hundreds of public documents refer to the ANSI document you can't get the information from a public source, you have to PAY for it. This is our US government at work. . .

What ANSI Z87.1 says is that "the responsible person must make the decision as to the correct eye protection", including the filter shade. They do not say how. They do not say what is too much or how bright is too bright. But you MUST make the correct decision. This is the infamous "Catch 24" AKA as a SNAFU. The standard is VERY specific about how to test and measure degrees of shade and impact testing and so on. But no help in application other than common welding application.

There is only one reference to didymium glasses in the standard and that is as an aside relative to special purpose applications stating that didymium "may not" provide the necessary filtering of IR and UV.

The literature on didymium is conflicted. However, it all agrees that didymium is designed specificaly for filtering the sodium flare of a glass furnace. This is so that the worker can SEE through the flare. New didymium glasses with a gold coating are supposed to be very good at filtering the flare as well as IR. There is a report on that but I have yet to obtain a copy.

Didymium WILL help you see better in a borax flux filled forge environment because the sodium in the borax does cause some sodium flare. However, one second hand source says that one manufacturer of didymium glasses insisted they were NOT suitable for metal working applications. But many blacksmiths have recommended them over the years.

What I do know it that #3 shades are used for brazing and light welding and cutting. #1.5 to #3 shades are used for torch soldering (with an oxy-acetylene flame). #2 shades have been recommended as "flash glasses" to be worn by people working near welding and by welders under their welding hoods. #2 shades are also used in many foundry environments and the glasses below are the type that were used in our local foundry.

Distance and intensity is an important factor in the necessary shade. The further away from the source the less intense it is and the lower the shade. In typical welding applications you have your face very close to the work. This is not so in working with a forge. However, the intensity factor is not just brightness but the area of the source to a lesser degree.

Another safety consideration addressed by ANSI is that no matter what shade is best it must not be so dark as to cause lack of visibility hazzard in use.

So I have bought some #2 shade safety glasses to wear, test and for resale. I have worn them while doing some forge and foundry work and as sunglasses. I DO NOT recommend them for driving because certain reds such as some traffic signals are completely invisible through them!

They will retail for $14.75 a pair. Shipping is $5 for up to four pairs and we will mix in regular clear safety glasses of the same style at $13.50.

Bouton 5907 series safety spectacle, ANSI Z-87, photo (c) anvilfire.com

The original discussion is in the July 9-17 archive
   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 05:53:38 GMT

Long term dimensional stability: Adam, I think I said YEARS. . many YEARS. . However, the oddest things can screw up the precision of a machine tool. Like sunlight through a window or a heater vent blowing on directly on the machine. And these are things that cause warpage that can be serious amounts.

Comparing steel and cast iron is difficult. CI has a stiffness factor close to infinity even though SOME applications flex cast iron parts. Steel is a long ways from the infinity number (as are ALL numbers) and solid steel parts sometimes do not compare well to hollow cast iron ones.

However, your project IS feasable and if completed will probably work. But the accuarcy you speak of is the limit of most good machine tools and the average machinist's skills. To get better you grind shafts or often hand polish them.

Starting with a good lathe bed is a major help. That is where a lot of your flex comes from. Making the rest of the parts from weldments will make a good tool.

Spindle tightness is a critical part of the rigidity needed to take heavy cuts and any cuts without chatter. Even old ancient lathes had very carfully hand fitted spindles. You can save a LOT of grief if you can go to preloaded Timken bearings. However, they ARE springy so you need BIG ones.

One of the reasons cast iron was popular early on was not just its castability but the ease of working it. It chisles, files and scrapes much easier than steel. The porosity of the surface also holds oil and makes it a better running surface than steel.

OBTW - You CAN purchase CI in bar and billet form cut from continous cast billet.

I've built numerous machine tools where there was a significant budget. And even with expensive machined cast iron parts and precision shafts, gears and screws as well as a nice machine shop to back up the project . . a LOT can go wrong. The standard ways of doing things have developed that way in machinery because it WORKS and other ways often do not. Look closely at how things are made on old machine tools.

Its a great project but there are a lot of pitfalls.
   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 06:28:41 GMT

"very portable anvil" is an oxymoron.
The idea behind an anvil is that it is a large mass that is immune to the influence of the hammer's blow.
With a rail anvil ( way too light), a possible way to partially compensate is to use a massive anvil stand. Ideally, the mass is concentrated directly under the falling hammer.
Adam: yes, annealing will give you stability and massive weldments once annealed will stay put and not wiggle..you are clearly crazed...welcome..lots of company here.
Guru; are tinted lenses available in neutral grey for protective glasses like you carry? I've found that my poor color vision is useless with the green tinted lenses...and that's a handicap forging.
Anvilfire is a wonderful service that needs our support to keep going. Join the Cybersmiths and lend an economic hand! Otherwise guilt will deflect your hammer and ding your anvil face! If you have ever wondered why you miss strike, it is certainly because you have not contributed enough to Anvilfire! ( Whoah! Am I ever deep in debt!)
   - Pete F - Friday, 07/26/02 08:27:16 GMT

Didymium Glasses:

Just an observation- I've been using these lenses for a number of years now, and when I've been working at the coal forge for a while, especially when welding, the lenses get hot, much hotter than one would expect. I THINK this is due to absorption of the infrared radiation. Someone with a little better grounding in physics would have to comment further.

After I'd been smithing for a bit and noticing the hazards of the activity, I went to our Public Health Service hygienist and checked out her sources for industrial hygiene. Under "blacksmith" it mentioned eye protection, but did not address hearing ("...what?") or dust/ash/smoke/fumes ("...cough!"). Bureaucracies are, in general, reactive. For the vast majority of regulations if nobody brings a problem to our attention, we don't worry about it. We also practice a lot of triage management ("...hmmmm, coughing blacksmiths vs. coughing firefighters battling wildfires out West.") and must operate in a highly political atmosphere ("Well, Mr/Ms Congressperson, if you don't take immediate action on this, you'll lose the blacksmithing vote in your district, and earn the disfavor of the fabulously rich farriers lobby!"). Looking from the inside, it's amazing that the system works at all, and circular or vague or nonsensical definitions, such as the Guru has pointed out, are not uncommon. Of course, I might be a little sensitized, since a policy piece I've been working on has just been unraveled by a reorganization we are to undergo in another couple of months. So goes the work of the Republic. This is not to defend the sloppiness of some of the regulations, but just to explain the why and how. None of us enjoys it when we have to waste our time and our money keeping our country working.

Stuck on a longship voyage this weekend (ahhhhh!) otherwise I'd be tempted to join the Guru and Paw Paw pouring hot brass. The 4" angle grinder is cleaning up the sword pommel castings really fast! Cool and rainy at last on the banks of the Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 07/26/02 13:23:12 GMT

I don't have anything that will work for a blower and I was wondering if I could make one.
   - Brian C - Friday, 07/26/02 14:01:37 GMT

Brian C,

Got a hair dryer? Or a shop vacuum? Either will work for a temporary blower.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 07/26/02 14:54:29 GMT

Do a search for bellows. Guru has a couple photos and air flow references at:

http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/ -->Bellows, Great
http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/ --> forge blowers
   - Conner - Friday, 07/26/02 15:09:53 GMT

Brian: As the lady said. "just pucker your lips and blow". . .

And this WAS the first method of making fires hotter. For forging it took several people with long hollow tubes (blow pipes) usual made of wood or clay. Jewlers still use the technique with little alcohol flames.

After sucking up smoke from the fire and getting singed eybrows OR falling asleep face first into the forge fire people got inventive. Thus the pit "bellows" and wine skin.

The next step was an animal skin spread over a hole in the ground next to the fire pit. A small tunnel let from one to the other. The skin was pinched at the center and lifted then pushed down into the pit. This forced air into the fire. To prevent this form to suck fire and smoke under the skin one corner was lifted on intake (the first intake valve.) In some cases the skin just sucked in air around its edges naturaly. Often there were two of these operated alternately to provide a constant blast of air.

As primitive as this sounds I had a fellow from Finland write to me about his plastic bucket bellows made from a 5 gallon plastic bucket, some plastic sheeting and duct tape. Being a modern educated person he understood check valves and had an intake and exhust valve made from flaps of plastic over holes in the bucket. This is what you build out of your plastic bucket "quench tank" the first time you drop a piece of hot iron into it. Water cools iron fast but not fast enough. . .

The next stage was the wine skin. This is a bag made from an animal skin or stomach traditionaly used like a canteen to hold water or wine. These were adapted to blow forge fires and were often used in pairs. These were hand or foot operated. When foot operated you stood on top of the wine skins with straps attaching them to your feet. You alternately lifted and pressed down on each in a continous rocking motion. This was known as "treading the wine skins". This system did not use check valves but blew the air a an opening in the side of the forge through a nozzel that was not connected directly to the forge. In later forges a stone with a hole in it was used that is called a "shield stone". On intake air is just sucked back into the nozzle. Forced air from the second wine skin is blowing into the opening so smoke is not sucked into the first. This was the first "air curtain" or pneumatic switching.

Much of the skin on wine skins was replaced by wood and became bellows. Early bellows were used in pairs like wine skins and blew at a hole in a shield stone OR the end of a ceramic pipe, the first twyere. Single action bellows have an intake hole in the bottom board that is covered either with a flap of leather or a hinged wooden valve. This check valve is the big difference between wine skins and bellows.

The modern double action or "Great bellows" is two bellows stacked on top of each other. The top section is actualy just an air reservoir. It recieves air from the bottom half through a check valve. The bottom half has a check valve in its bottom to suck in fresh air. The two valves prevent the Great bellows from sucking hot air and smoke back into the bellows and doing damage. They also provide a constant stream of air from the reservoir which can be adjusted by adding weight to the top board or reducing the force via a counter balance. Counter weight systems are no longer common as this is only benificial in a very large bellows. I put a loop for a counter balance system on my bellows but never completed the system as is was not needed. However, ocassionaly I would set a heavy hammer on the top board to increase the pressure. Some great bellows had a rectangluar accordian like top section rather than the classic hinged tear drop style. And modern manufacturers made foot operated belows with a rubber blaoon like bladder.

The fan type blower is a relatively modern invention that was not adopted by blacksmiths for centuries after its invention. Blowers did not become common until factories started making them for blacksmiths in the 1800's. However, impoverised blacksmiths have occasionaly built their own from wood and sheet metal. A fan can be made from a square block on a shaft with four blades of wood or sheet metal attached. The scroll housing is made from two boards cut to shape and sheet metal nailed to the curved sections. The blower is driven by a belt on a small shaft driven by a large pulley on another shaft. Shafts are small pieces of metal running in oiled wooden bearings. This is a common grist mill blower that was used for centuries (maybe a millenia but I cannot prove it).

The orientals went a different route with what are known a "box" bellows. These are a long wooden box of square or round section. A flat wooden piston (flat board) is slid back and forth in the box via a wooden shaft the size of a broom handle that enters through a hole in one end of the box. Felt or leather seals can be used but are unnecessary. Air enters and exits through a sytem of wooden flap valves that I have not seen the details of but it would not be hard to figure out. The valving is setup for double action both ends of the cylinder pumping air. However there is no storage like the great bellows. This is still a common traditional device in Japan and much of the Pacific.

So. . yes you can make one your own blower or bellows and there are many methods to do so.

NOTE to self: Make an illustrated FAQ out of this.

   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 15:31:09 GMT

blower: I used (and still use sometimes) a bathroom fan ($10 on sale) with a light dimmer attachment. Not quite as much fun as cranking or pulling on the bellows lever, but it does the job.
   Escher - Friday, 07/26/02 15:32:57 GMT

Safety –

In his earlier post, Atli briefly mentions a consideration that too many of us don’t pay enough attention to. I’m talking about the issue of hearing protection. We spend a good bit of thought about the best glasses for protecting our eyes, because everyone knows the only eye transplants come from the glass factory. How many smiths realize that their hearing is just as fragile as their eyes, and just as irreplaceable? I got a bitter reminder of this fact just recently.

Twenty-five or so years ago, I was diagnosed with a slight, but permanent hearing deficiency caused by working in a machine/welding shop and too much shooting at the police range with less-than-adequate hearing protection. (In those days, we used to stuff a couple of cigarette butts in our ears and fire away.) The result was a difficulty in hearing at the top of the speech range and some higher frequencies. I learned to live with it, and went on about my business.

When I returned to my metalsmithing a few months ago, I never gave a thought to my hearing. I was just happily banging away, conscientiously wearing my safety glasses, of course. But no hearing protection. Didn’t seem to be a problem until, about a month ago, when I noticed a ringing in my ears when I wasn’t forging. Putting that off to an incipient head cold, I didn’t think much of it. Then the ringing gradually became an echo that was noticeably interfering with my ability to understand normal speech. A day or so later, and I began to feel some actual physical discomfort. A quick trip to my physician yielded the diagnosis that there was no infection, no ruptured eardrum, no fleas, just the results of the assault I had perpetrated on my ears with my happy banging. Then, and only then, did I wake up and smell the coffee!

I went forthwith to my friendly local welding supply and purchased a set of whiz-bang 30dB noise attenuators (ear muffs, for us technophobes). Using them, my hearing doesn’t seem to be getting any worse, BUT…it sure ain’t getting any better! I have an appointment next week with the hot-shot hearing specialist, but I’m not really enough of a Pollyanna to seriously think that he’ll have any magic potions. My best guess is that I’m gonna wind up buying a thousand dollar hearing aid to make up for some of the damage I did to myself by not wearing a fifteen dollar pair of ear muffs. Not to mention that there is not a great market for hearing-impaired cops…

I’m not writing all this in a bid for sympathy…idiots who suffer self-inflicted wounds merit no sympathy. But I do hope that this may cause a few of you to go out and get your very own ear muffs. BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Rich Waugh
   vicopper - Friday, 07/26/02 15:37:27 GMT

Thanx for the info, I have two wine skins I can use.
   - Brian C - Friday, 07/26/02 15:41:37 GMT

Brian. I have a LOT of salvaged blowers - you can have one for the cost of shipping
   - adam - Friday, 07/26/02 15:41:38 GMT

Rich, I am sorry to read about your hearing problems. I do hope it's not as bad as you fear. Getting old sucks mostly.

I bought a box of 200 prs of those little foam earplugs. I keep 2 or 3 pair in a small box by the door to the shop and put them in whenever I go in. I get mine from:


They have earmuffs and all shapes and sizes of foam plugs and the prices are much more reasonable than what you might pay in a sporting goods store. I am sure there are other good online suppliers. I find the tapered ones are most comfortable and effective. If you buy a big box then it comes out to a few cents a pair. Plus, if you wash them in soapy water every few days, they last quite along time.

Unlike other senses, hearing really does tend to wear away over time and regular abuse will greatly accelerate the process. You prolly wont do much damage using a chop saw every now and then w/o protection but steadly use will accumulate and the damage is usually irreversible. Even with hand tools, the sound of a hammer blow has a lot of energy packed into a very short time and is not good for your ears. I wear earplugs even when I am moving steel stock because of the loud clangs.

I have also found them very handy on airplane flights where the continual noise is very wearing. I get a lot less tired plus I dont have to listen to idiot conversations in the seat behind me :)
   - adam - Friday, 07/26/02 16:50:21 GMT

But Adam, I think he wants to BUILD one, like your lathe. You are taking all the fun out of it!

I have always wanted to setup a "primitive technology" corner in my shop (as if I have any empty corners left). The point being to show how low tech blacksmithing can be. About the only significant piece you need is a lump of steel for an anvil. Then a hammer, tongs and a chisle.

With the rest cobled out of wood and leather, stone and clay. You can do just as nice of work with this simple setup as with all the fancy machinery, electric blowers, power hammers. . .

It is great fun but it is hard work and the production rates are very low. . . Then there are grades of primitive. Bigger anvils, modern scrap and discards for tools. . . or 19th century hand crank blowers and drills. . . the next thing you know you have a gas forge, modern machine tools and a Kinyon power hammer.
   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 16:52:02 GMT

Well, I MUST turn off the PC for a while. I need to get in the shop and should have done so 4 hours ago.

Have a good weekend folks! Be safe.
   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 16:56:06 GMT


I've had tinnitis for years now. Bet you can figure out where it came from. (wry grin) Many years of making things go BOOM! Many years and many thousands of rounds, both on the range, and "live fire" exercises. (another wry grin)
I wear the foam plugs that Adam describes. Buy them by the box (1,000) But I also have two good pair of shooting muffs. Guess it's time to buy a pair from my steel supplier.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 07/26/02 18:09:42 GMT

Guru, sitting near the plant entrance gate here at the mill sits a stone furnace used to make iron circa. 1853. It still has a slag heel from the last heat of iron it made sitting on the bottom. It has three tuyer holes, one on each side and a main discharge port at the front bottom. I have photos of the inside and outside but did not know how to insert them into this post. The question is this: With tuyer holes one might assume that the furnace was blown. Written history on this furnace suggests that it was used to provide iron for the CSA to make cannon balls and other impliments of destruction. This implies liquid iron. However the slag in the bottom is very high in silicon and this suggests it was used as a bloomery. Any comments on how this furnace might have been intended to be used?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 07/26/02 18:38:40 GMT

QC, from the historical info I've read some bloomery furnaces were used both ways. Blooms were pulled out prior to melting into the bottom of the furnace. But running longer resulted in cast iron in the bottom of the furnace. However, recently I have found that much of what I had read on these operations was from misguided sources.

Thomas is much better read on the state of the hisorical and factual on earlier furnaces and might be able to shed some light on this.

Users cannot insert images or HTML in our forum. This is partialy due to security and to low tech software that I maintain. I can do it by loading images on the server and then inserting HTML. But users are blocked from instering code.

Adam commented on the size of our input box. It is as big as it can be when this page is viewed at 640x480. Almost everything in HTML is resizable EXCEPT text input boxes. . . I've thought about an optional input window. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/26/02 19:35:51 GMT

Do you have fans or blowers? More specifically do you have forge designated blowers or non forge designated fans. I am so tried of hearing that you can use a hair dryer for the blast on a forge. Would everyone please take a look on page 138 of the new Centaur catalog. There you will see a PB-50-VS full-size variable-speed forge pressure blower. Right below it you will see a 2-C-647 low cost electric blower for light duty poratable forges. The key word is pressure. It is missing in the description of the second blower. Bob Patrick in his video on forge welding states that pressure is more important in the air delivery system of a forge than volume. That is why you should be just as paticular about the air source as you are about your anvil.
I have used leaf blowers and car heater fans and clothes dryer fans. But if you are to really appreciate the joys of coal burning, you should have a blower designed for coal burning. Then if the fire is not hot enough or you are having trouble with your forge welds at least you will know it's not an air source problem. I totally agree with the fact that a hair drier is better that a long tube connected to human lungs, but if you are going to burn coal make it your goal the have the appropriate blower one day. The "Great bellows" is a pressure generating device, so is a hand cranked forge fan. All the other parts to a good coal forge can come out of the rust heap. A decent gas forge starts at over 350 dollars. A good coal forge will have a high quality pressure blower at its core. Of course, Paw Paw's advice on hair dryers as temporary blowers is good for starters but it is unfair to judge coal by the quality of its blast. And if coal forging proves to be less than a satisfing experience for you, you may look to the source of the air for the cause of your frustrations.
It ain't a Lincoln if it's a Ford.
   L. Sundstrom - Friday, 07/26/02 19:45:17 GMT

Ear Protection

With any ear protection, you need to be careful of what you do not hear. You may not hear someone walk up, or start a conversation, and not knowing they are there, turn with hot metal in hand, putting them at risk.

Have a system for someone to get your attention, without getting close to you. Try turning the lights on and off, or turning on a specific light that you can see. A specific sound from gongs, dinner bells, horns, etc that can be heard also work, as long as they don't startle the worker.
   - Conner - Friday, 07/26/02 21:49:55 GMT

Input box: Don't worry about it. It's probably a good thing not to encourage long posts. :) Anyway, when I need to I type my post in a text editor where I can see the whole thing and then cut&paste into the input box.

Blowers: Larry I have blowers. I have never owned a real forge blower so I am not sure how my stuff stacks up but I do use one of my salvaged blowers on my own coal forge. My firepot is 5" deep 12" sq at the top and 4"sq at the bottom. I seem to have plenty of air even for deep fires. I have no trouble welding in that forge. Most of these blowers have a 2" or 3" output nozzle and turn at about 1500 rpm. They work a darn sight better than a hair dryer or vac cleaner and are quiet too. Most likely they are not as good as a real forge blower but they do seem to be adequate. Also, not only are they free but they even come with a full money back garauntee. If not ABSOLUTELY satisfied just send it back to me and I'll cheerfully refund the purchase price (not the shipping costs).

BTW Larry, what do you think of the Bob Patrick video? Worth buying?

Augh! this darn input box is too smal and I am running our of spac...
   - adam - Friday, 07/26/02 22:05:58 GMT

another'n on forge blowers--I have an injector-blower from an oil furnace on my homemade forge. It has an adjustable air gate on the side than can put out enough air to blow the whole fire up the stack or just set there till adjusted to what ever you want by turning the gate door which I rigged to a lever on the front of the forge for easy access. I have a couple pictures ready to send if you want a looksee.
   Jerry - Friday, 07/26/02 23:01:49 GMT

RE: Forge blowers. Like jerry I modified an oil furnace "gun" to blow my forge. Sounds like it works just like his. Rig a "throttle" on the input side for best results. They are available for little or no cost from plumbers and heating contractors who usually have "junk" ones.
   bbeck - Friday, 07/26/02 23:26:12 GMT

Earplugs don't do the job. Muffs shield the bone in your noggin behind your ear, which transmits a large proportion of harmful noise.
   miles undercut - Saturday, 07/27/02 00:12:59 GMT

Adam /// Hearing Loss /// And aging.
A number of years ago some research physicians and audiologists tested several hundred Africans living on the veld (bush). All of them were in their sixties and older and never lived in a city. They found that their hearing (range and accuity etc.) averaged that of several hundred Americans in their twenties. Tha finding showed that the progressive loss of hearing, starting with the high frequencies, is not an inevitable consequence of aging.
Very loud machines, music,bars, concerts, movies etc. etc., cause progressive hearing loss. The hair cells that pick up individual frequencies, in the ear's cochlea, are damaged by loud noise and die. They are not replaced in humans and a hearing aid cannot restore the loss of perception of the frequency of the hair cell that died.
Some rock musicians have tested out with hearing of an average sixty year old while they are still in their late twenties.
Certain trades were/ are notorious for having partially deaf veteran workmen, like "tinner's ear" and "boiler maker's ear"
It was reported, about twenty years ago that the combination of loud noise and high carbon monoxide levels causes dramtically greater hearing loss than loud noise alone. (they mentioned loud smokey bars as a particularly bad environment for the combination).
There may be some hope in the near future. Scientists have recently induced hair cells, in tissue culture (in glass), to differentiate and become functional hair cells. Bats continually replace the dead hair cells that perceive sound. Several scientists are keenly looking into that biology for potential treatments for deafness in humans.
   slag - Saturday, 07/27/02 01:03:01 GMT

I recall seeing something posted about rosin flux with
tin powder -being a good product for tinninig and soldering.
I would like to know where that type of product is
available and can be ordered. Any information would be
   Douglas - Saturday, 07/27/02 01:45:36 GMT

Doug, I used to buy it from Sears in their plumbing department. Since our Sears moved into the mall and became yuppie heaven I haven't been there. . . I don't think they stock hardware anymore. Not sure where you get it today but I would start at a plumbing supply. The stuff sure worked good for me.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/27/02 02:05:41 GMT

HELP !! I am looking to make a drum brake forge, and I need advice on how to make it into a propane burner type as in what can I use for a burner, and what can I use for a "medium" to hold in the heat. I have it set up for coal burning now, . Should I stick to the coal. or would propane be a better heat source ?

   Jerry - Saturday, 07/27/02 02:27:52 GMT

Jerry: Propane forges are a completely different design from coal forges. You cant easily make a single forge that burns both. Propane is good but coal is great and if thats what you have why switch?
   - adam - Saturday, 07/27/02 02:34:34 GMT

Adam: I live in an area where my neighbors have a cow if anything other than bird poop( and even they they get a little "miffed) lands in their grass. My forge is an open air forge made out of a semi brake drum, and I try to keep the soot & smoke to a min. but when I have to crank up the heat , it gets a bit wild( interpreted looks AWESOME, neighbors dial 911 & say my yard is on fire) I was hoping to be able to set a burner in the bottom of the drum, and eliminate some of the smoke & soot. Personally, I would rather keep it the way it is, but I also like my neighborhood, just not the people in it.....
   Jerry - Saturday, 07/27/02 02:41:23 GMT


This may sound silly, but make a shepherd's crook for the neighbor that calls the most often. If that doesn't work tell them to go to a place that's hotter than your forge.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 07/27/02 03:15:18 GMT

Build a good fire with sticks and slowly add coal. The fire will burn a lot of the smoke as the coal burns. Then burn a smaller, hotter fire, there will be little smoke.

A hood and smoke stack will not only remove smoke from the work area, but also dilute it with fresh air. You can forge, using coal, with minimual smoke if your careful. Meet the neighbors, there may be a striker out there somewhere.
   - Conner - Saturday, 07/27/02 03:46:32 GMT

A fellow at the recent CBA conference had built a blower and forge out of laminated cardboard for a few bucks in glue.
The forge was lined with ashes but had to be quenched every now and then till the ashes built up higher.
The blower was centrifical with cardboard vanes sandwiched between circular sides in a cardboard casing..even the crank and pulleys assembly was cardboard...it was a crackup and worked pretty well besides.
Jt..perhaps a switch to charcoal and a sacrifice hot dog every day would solve the smell problem.
Jerry; there are plans for inexpensive gas forges here at anvilfire and at Ron Reil's site.
Hearing....1 syllable blacksmith joke....
Whaddya mean it isn't funny?
   - Pete F - Saturday, 07/27/02 06:29:30 GMT

"Building a Gingery Lathe" I got the book and "Building a Shaper". I plan on doing both. I'm just about finished putting together my foundry addition to my shop. If you still plan on building one, look around engine shops for junk pistons. Try giving them a small steel drum or bucket to through the junk cast in, and ask if you can pick up the junk pistons once a month or so. I have started this and now have more good quality piston alloy then I could ever use.
......but if you still want to use beer cans, let me know, I may be able to help you empty them...;)
   kdbarker - Saturday, 07/27/02 11:59:44 GMT

In the above post "through the junk cast in" sould read "throw....." Sorry, it has been a long night.
Lets see......how does that go..."yesterday he could'nt even spell Blackshmit and today Yee is one!"
   kdbarker - Saturday, 07/27/02 12:11:47 GMT

heres a design for a fairly cheap small propane forge
   Mark P. - Saturday, 07/27/02 18:48:27 GMT

Jerry, my neighbors complain abo;ut the coal too and so I have a gas forge which I use mo;st of the time. Gas forges are easy to; build and they do have their advantages especially for part time smiths in residential areas.

H;owever, with -practice and care it is possible to run coal forge with very little smoke.
   - adam - Saturday, 07/27/02 19:41:06 GMT

Oklahoma Saltfork Craftmen meeting.
The next meeting of the Oklahoma Saltfork Craftsmen N/E Group will be at the home of Mark and Victoria Bostick. Their home is located at 207 S. 69th E. Ave. in Tulsa Oklahoma. Turn south on 69th E. Ave. from Admiral Place and look for the blue house.
The trade item will be a table setting size knife, fork, or spoon.
Bring a portable forge if you have one.
Mark said that he would have stuff to drink and eat but I think it may be hot so you might want to bring something extra to drink.
   Mr. Bill - Sunday, 07/28/02 00:20:08 GMT

hi mr. guru ! on my anvil,i have a square hole,horizontaly just under the horn,can you tell me what is originaly the use of it ??
also,on some post vise,at the other end of the "handle",there is a round part,looking as a fancy cap,does this part have a real utility ,like turning parts,or is it just for the look.
thanks a lot ,you help us a lot !!
   machefer - Sunday, 07/28/02 00:42:39 GMT

Features: The square holes in the waist and bottom of anvils are handling holes for forging and heat treating. Special tongs fit in the holes and also "porter bars".

The little turned acorn on post vises is one of the few purely decorative features on the vise. Every other line, ledge or chamfer has some purpose. Ocassionaly the "box" or nut was turned with lots of decorative lines and ocassionaly this caried over to the handle end of the screw. In other cases the box was all forged and rather plain but most still had the little acorn or ball decoration.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/28/02 00:55:58 GMT

sorry mr. guru ..another one : i have 2 post vise ,but none of them have " returning spring ",how can i make it ??
forge one from a suspension blade of car ? or maybe you know something else that can do the job ?? thanks.
and by the way,what can we do to thank you for that site ? buying someting ? doing something ? please tell me !
   machefer - Sunday, 07/28/02 01:07:58 GMT

Machefer -

A spring for a post vise is easily made from a piece of leaf spring or other steel. Take a close look at pictures to see how it should be made. It is actually a simple forging/heat-treating job.

The best way I know to support Anvilfire is to join CSI, the anvilfire support group. Your membership dollars help to support the Guru's excellenty site and keep it running so that it will be here for us in the future. Click on the link for the CSI - anvilfire MEMBERS Group located at the bottom of the window. It is the best investment you can make in blacksmithing!
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/28/02 01:57:21 GMT

Leg, post or "Solid Box" Vise springs are as vicopper said a simple leaf spring. They are on average from 1/4" to 5/16" thick and as wide as the frame. There are two types of top attachment, under the top bracket collar or with a hole that fits over the braclet tennon. Older vises are the second type.

At the bottom the spring is often forged to widen it and little tabs bent to keep it aligned with the bottom of the front jaw. These springs are pretty stiff but do not need a lot of travel as the lower part of the jaw only moves a little compared to the vise opening.

Sometimes people put coil springs on leg vises but it is a shame to do so to such classic pieces of equipment.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/28/02 03:55:33 GMT

I looked in the quenching mediums faq and didn't see this mentioned. How would hydraulic oil work for a quenching oil?
Also, with the peanut oil, would not adding a simple fish tank air stone and pump help the problem of it getting rancid, and stagnant. (We used to use this on our surface grinder coolant tanks at the shop, worked like a charm.)
   Bond, James Bond - Sunday, 07/28/02 18:36:54 GMT

Hi Folks- I've been asked to bid a railing using the 'mission stlye' pickets, those hooped things that approximate the sillhouette of a pregnant woman's torso. (sorry) I whacked out a pretty good one on the anvil, then welded it to a big chunk of I-beam, bolted to the welding table. then i heated up some 1/2" square stock, and using several heats, big tongs, c-clamps, vise grips, etc. convinced it to match my pattern fairly well. The problem is , the job calls for 270 pickets, it took about 30 minutes to make one conform to my fixture, and i need to get the time down to 15 minutes to justify making them over buying imported components. Does anybody have suggestions to take my I-beam fixture one step farther? thanks, mike
   mike-hr - Sunday, 07/28/02 23:55:04 GMT

Peanut Oil /// Rancidity /// oxidation /// Aeration
Rancidity happens when an oil is oxidised. In other words the oil reacts with oxygen in the air. Aerating a container with air, by using an acquarium air pump and aerator would accelerate the combining of air with the oil (containing oxygen), thus making the oil become rancid much more quickly.
Layering the oil with a top layer of carbon dioxide or argon gas, after a forging session, would slow oxidation. (carbon dioxide and argon are both heavier than air.)
Hope that straightens out the concept.
I presume that your coolent tanks have water in them for a coolent , and not oil. Water is a different story. Water does not oxidise (and become rancid). Aerating the water in a water coolent tank is a good idea. The air would prevent bacteria that thrive in low or no oxygen environments. They make foul smelling chemicals when they digest carbon compounds dissolved in the water.(that is, they are partially or totally anaerobic bacteria.) Aeration will work in such an acqueous (water), environment. Those bugs cannot tolerate air nor aerated water, Better still try a combination of aeration, periodic water change, regular tank cleaning and the use of a slimicide to prevent the build up of biofilms. Incidentally the Legionaires disease bacterium can thrive in some contaminated water containers that are used for air conditioning. Also the biofilm bacteria living in those biofilms (in water tanks and in wet areas like soil, are a prime cause of steel (pipeline) corrosion. The bugs live off of sulfur naturally occuring compounds and produce sulfuric acid as a waste product. The sulfuric acid chews hell out of the pipes, and any other metal nearby (especially steel). Hemnce the value of cleanliness and slimicide use. But all of the above water discussion hardly applies to a slack-tub. Especially a wooden one.
Regards to all the Gang,
   slag - Monday, 07/29/02 00:03:33 GMT

Regarding foul smelling bugs in your quenchtank. There are a number of good biocides available but frankly a quart of plain old Listerine in about 10 gals of water works pretty good.....and it keeps your forgings smelling minty fresh! Used this in coolant tanks on my bandsaw and abrasive saws. Be sure you are using a water-soluble oil, though.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 07/29/02 00:24:48 GMT

Thanks for input. I hadn't really thought about oil vs. water. Yes, we were using a water based coolant. I like the idea of layering gas over the oil. Once again, the mighty Anvilfire has proven immesurably useful, and averted a rather smelly mishap.
QC-Nothing like some minty smelling candle holders to spruce up the bathroom....(grin)
   Bond, James Bond - Monday, 07/29/02 01:00:08 GMT

Mission Style Pickets Mike, you need to look at doing these cold unless you have a forge to heat the entire lenght (which IS possible with gas forges). But it is a waste of fuel and might not produce as nice of work.

Since you have a welding table you have the base for a BIG special built bender. Bend A (at the bottom) can be done as a radius and bent like using a Hossfeld bender with a roller nose tool and a LONG lever. To do bend B in place the second half of the bender would be dropped into place in holes in the table and then the return bend made. If you have the steel plate and scrap lying around you should be build these in a day. In my shops current state of dissarray it would take a week and I would have to buy steel for most of the bender. . . but the bending these sweeping curves in quantity should only take about 2 minutes each one the jig is done. PLAN FOR SPRING BACK!

This is how the farbicator supplier makes them. It takes a "shop sized" bender but you have one in that weld platen!

I suspect you have a right and bend and a tennon on the A (bottom end). These would be hot forged in advance and would also act as the start anchor point. Let them cool slowly in annealing medium. I would also make a "fit" test jig to be sure they were all alike.

Then after forging as many as you can stand start bending. After the bends are complete they parts would be marked (in the bender) as to where the top tennon goes. However, after a couple trail pieces you should be able to cut your stock to lenght with only about 1/2" extra for forging variation in the bottom corner. Even if you have to trim 1" of tennon off EVERY piece, it is better than having one too short. Even though that amounts to 135" of steel you don't have to loose but one picket to have lost on saving a few feet of steel. Steel is cheap compared to your time.

Layout the picket to full scale, it CAN be made using two radiuses. If you need compound curves made of two radiuses to emulate an oval this is not hard to do but it takes an extra bending arm or one you can move from pivot point to pivot point. If this boggles your mind I can make a sketch of how it is done. If you don't think this makes a graceful enough curve, look at ANY classical guitar the body is laid out with just a couple matching radii that run into each other.

Hope this helps.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 01:04:32 GMT

I need a set of replacement jaws for my Birtman Electric Co. (Rock Island Division) vise. They are 3 inches long and the vise is stamped #571. Anyone know where I can find them?
   Ramblin Randy - Monday, 07/29/02 01:05:22 GMT

SLAG, Thank you for the correct technical explanation of what I thought about the air in oil. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 01:06:12 GMT

Thanks for the picket tutorial, Guru! I'm gonna head to the shop right now, armed with four warm brews and my hat turned backwards, i think i can do this...mike
   mike-hr - Monday, 07/29/02 01:33:01 GMT

Vise Jaws: Randy, McMaster-Carr lists generic vise parts. You may have to talk to somebody in that department not just go through the catalog. The problem is that all the great American vise manufacturers are long gone. . .
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 03:23:31 GMT

Knowing and Doing: Another failed day in the home foundry. . . but I am learning. Today's casting was a little celtic cross in brass. It was about 95% there. . I still didn't calcine the mold well enough. I am afraid of burning the molds up (they fall apart) and have failed to get it hot enough. I KNOW what I am supposed to do. . just not taking the patience to do it. I suspect that my molds are too masive and need a long slow calcine.

Our problem at Fenby with "flash setting" of the plaster WAS contaminated water combined with the heat. Yesterday we made a perfect mold, the plaster acting like it should. Today however was 10 degrees hotter and I dallied with the plaster and it started to set as I poured it. I had wasted time brushing on a coat of plaster to get into the details of my wax. I should have mixed a little batch to do that then a second batch to pour. I ended up with some extra "vents" but the front of the part made a good impression and even though I did not calcine well enough my 1/64" scribed lines showed up well where there was not blow outs.

If my part had been a piece for a home built machine it would have been satifactory. It was good solid metal. But this was a jewelery type item.

The other success was building another little melting furnace and a burner for it. The burner is almost all stock parts including the orifice. The only part that you need to make is a little bracket that can be either bolted on or welded. There will be an article soon. I bought parts for 4 burners and I want to try some variations.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 03:41:24 GMT

Mini Melting FurnaceMelting Furnace: This is the little melting furnace I built from a disposable freon tank. It has a fire brick floor in the bottom and is lined with Kaowool. It accepts a #1 crucible that will hold 3.2 pounds of brass. Once heated up it will melt brass about as fast as you can feed it and pour it. We poured about 12 pounds of brass with one like it one afternoon.

The black furnace in the background is made from a standard 20 pound propane cylinder and is lined with castable refractory with some Kaowool behind parts of it to reduce weight and increase efficiency. It was designed to be convertable from a melter to a forge. It is OK design but needs some improvements. It will accept a #6 crucible which will hold about 18 pounds of brass. Before I use it with the big crucible I need to make tongs and a pouring shank to fit.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 05:59:14 GMT

Kaowool and Flux: I spilled a little flux in my new furnace tonight. . . it REALLY eats up Kaowool! Like a hot poker in styrofoam! I'm going to pick out the pieces that got contaminated, stuff some more in and then coat the entire inside with ITC-100 like I should have in the first place.

The problem with coating the wool after the fact is that it is contaminated under the coating and will continue to degrade AND I am told that fired Kaowool takes more to coat.

The main reason I am fooling with all this is that we are preparing to sell both Kaowool and ITC-100. I wanted to know what I was talking about when folks asked questions about these products. AND I wanted to learn more about foundry work.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 06:25:16 GMT

Guru -

The problem with the calcining of the plaster is a very common one. Two things compound the problem. The first is a lack of sufficient refractory in Plaster of Paris, and the second is (as you found) insufficient time for conversion and removal of water.

To boost the refractory content of the plaster, you can add very fine sharp silica sand. Sharp sand is that which has been made by crushing as opposed to beach sand. The sharp corners give better definition. The sand should be sieved to very fine mesh (about 1/32" or less) and washed to remove dust. Add about one part sand for two parts plaster, dry. Mix thoroughly before adding to the water. Or you can purchase powdered alumina from a pottery supply. It can be added at a bit higher rate, about one to one.

The molds need to air dry overnight if they are open on both ends. If only one end is open, give it another day. Then take a couple of hours to bring them up to 250ºF and hold there for one hour per inch of radius of the flask. Next, bring them up to 550ºF and hold for same perid to drive off the chemically bonded water. That finishes the calcining, and you can take them up to about 1200ºF for pouring. Takes about 30 min per inch of radius to raise the temp about 100º at the core.

If I culd get away from here, I'd come up there and give you a "hands on" demo in your shop, in exchange for some smithing lessons. :-) Nice looking furnace! Will the teapot rest on the handles? :-)
   vicopper - Monday, 07/29/02 09:30:31 GMT

I have a trip hammer which was made in St Louis by a company called MacGowan and Finigan, patented Sept 10, 1907. The name of the hammer is "Perfect", I want to put it back to original but the stroking mechanism looks to be aftermarket. I was wondering where can I find a picture or some info on it, I have contacted a few people but they all have never heard of it. Thanks Claude
   claude - Monday, 07/29/02 14:12:39 GMT

I was wondering if you can get me in touch with William Cottrell. I'd like to ask him a few questions about his air hammer. Thank you, Peter
   PETER MARTIN - Monday, 07/29/02 15:01:32 GMT

Furnace: Awwwww you mean I did wrong casting the plaster at 3pm, and calcining a 2x3x4" mold for an hour with the furnace burner for an hour and then warming the mold on top of the furnace just before pouring?????????

A little expanded metal rack was used to support the mold on top of the furnce handles.

Yeah, I re-read the iForge demo. . . I KNOW I did wrong. I've come to the conclusion that I need to put together a calcining furnace if I want to do lost wax. We cooked a mold for paw-paw on Saturday using the furnace body and a standard propane torch stuck in the hole. Worked OK but this was a very little two piece mold not a lost wax. Need more heat but not as much as for melting the metal.

The last three times I have done this I wanted at least a day to air dry the molds and didn't have the time or didn't do it. A week in the sun would be better. I know plaster can get very dry on its own (NOT the water of crystalization) but it takes time. The +90% humidity the past few days didn't help.

We had trouble with the metal on Saturday. We were recyling some small pieces of gold jewelery. But I think a couple pieces were backed with brass. . :(. We had two problems, screwed up alloy and too little metal. There was JUST barely enough metal to pour the piece and nothing for sprue. . . I know this doesn't work except in an open face mold (which we could have used) but the piece had some fine definition we needed to pick up from the original which had been brass plated zinc. The gold ended up pouring with grey scale (something gold shouldn't do) and being white when cleaned. We remelted and poured a "nugget". When struck on the anvil with a heavy hammer it acted like brass. . . too much copper I think.

However, we DID get pretty good definition. There was little 1/64" lettering around the sides that showed up fine. But there was just not quite enough metal. . . I know Paw-Paw wasn't happy even though he tried to shrug it off as one-of those-things. . .

I made a pair of "salad" type tongs like you showed in the iForge demo for the little melting bowl we were using. They worked very well and only took about 10 minutes to make working cold metal. They also fit my little brass melting crucible. I've found that in a foundry you almost need more tongs than for blacksmithing. You need one or two pairs to fit every crucible (lifting and pouring) plus tongs for handling hot molds if doing lost wax or general purpose tongs to fit ingot molds and whatever else you may need to move while hot. In blacksmithing you can adjust your tongs on the fly as the work changes but you can't do that in foundry work.

In every book on foundry work I have read that "crucible tongs must be a good fit". . and I thought, gee isn't that obvious? But what they are trying to get across is that tongs to fit a #1 crucible do not fit a #2 crucible. It would be tempting to try and I am sure this is where the problem comes in.

As blacksmiths doing foundry work we have the tools to make properly fitting tongs where the foundry worker may not. I made a very nice pair of lifting tongs by welding two pieces of 1" x 1/8" flat to a pair of old gooseneck tongs. At Camp Fenby I reworked a similar pair to make pouring tongs. I left those with Bruce as they were his tongs and they also fit his crucible. Both sets had been bodgered up tongs bought at flea markets. And even the pair of "salad" tongs I made needed to be worked over the horn of an anvil to get a good fit.

I saw a good idea on the Ron Reil burner page. Splitting the melting furnace so you can lift the crucible with pouring tongs and not needing to transfer from lifting to pouring tongs. Instead of a lid as is common the top is about 1/3 to 1/2 of the furnace.

We learn something new every day if we pay attention.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 15:39:01 GMT

MacGowan and Finigan: Claude, There is an engraving of one of those in Pounding out the Profits page 192. They were made with two linkages and the later looks like an experimental home made deal with extra "flexible" links between the toggles and the ram.

See our book review page for more information as well as purchasing the book.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 15:49:31 GMT

Bill's Beast Peter, I'll send Bill your e-mail address.

Bill's hammer is built on the Ron Kinyon plan (available from ABANA). He has modified the design somewhat. If you plan to do so you should get a copy of Mark Linn's video Controlling Your Air Hammer (see our book review page).
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 16:05:43 GMT

Peter, my e-mail address for Bill bounced. Maybe he will see your post.
   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 16:16:54 GMT

Guru, My first job out of college was in a cast iron foundry. One day I was watching a man pouring some small (250 Lb) castings when he abruptly stopped and walked away. Confused, I just stood there when suddenly there came an eruption from the flask that people pay good money to see. It turns out that there was a hole in the roof and water had been dripping right down the sprue. The hot iron quickly converted the moisture to vapor and the pyrotechnic display ensued. Yep, we learn something everyday, if we pay attention...and live to learn another day!
   quenchcrack - Monday, 07/29/02 17:25:48 GMT

Sharp Silica Sand /// Another Source of Supply
ViCopper is correct, (as usual), sharp silica sand is the way to go. I have found another source of bagged silica. I get 50 or 100 pound bags of silica sand (already crushed and seived to size), from a large supplier of masonry products. They sell e.g. brick, concrete blocks and other products to the professional sub-contractors, also quarry operations in the area, shoild carry the product. Note the supplier is not a Home Harware type operation. It only carries masonry materials and is bigger than the big box hardware operations.
A fifty pound bag cost $17.00 Canadian (about $11.00 U.S.). I bought extra fine and fine sized silica sand. Coarser size particles are available. (I wasn't casting metal).
Silica sand should be cheap as silica ( = silicon dioxide) is very plentiful. Indeed silicon is one of the most abundant elements on this planet (also aluminum).
Bond James Bond (I love the name), if you feel you are getting valuable information from this site, please help support the Guru's operation join, Cybersmith's International. There is a button on this site that you can click on, to do so. I also invite any other of us iron bangers (or steel mashers, etc.), to join, too.
Regards To All,
From a sweltering Montreal Island, in "La Belle Province", Canada.
   slag - Monday, 07/29/02 17:37:45 GMT

Guru, Please let me know when you start selling ITC-100, I have a freon tank forge that could use a coating. I can't find it anywhere.
   robcostello - Monday, 07/29/02 17:39:00 GMT

Guru: Thanks for all your advice on the mad machinist/ DIY lathe.

Pete: thanks for your vote of confidence :)

kdbaker: Even though generating the empties would be rewarding, I plan to make mine (Gingery lathe) out of welded steel. I also plan to scale up the components some and start with bed from an old Logan lathe (50" rails) which I picked up on ebay for $50. But we should stay in touch and compare notes 'cause many of the problems will be the same
   adam - Monday, 07/29/02 18:30:08 GMT

ITC-100: Rob,

Here a link to our under-construction page on ITC products. It has links to MSDS pages and other ITC information.

ITC Products

Priority mail shipping (USA only) for 1 pint is $5.00 for a total of 34.95. If you are in Virginia add $1.35 tax.

If you want to purchase on-line you can use our miscellaneous form and enter the amounts.


If you need a quote on more than a pint let me know. I'll also need a zip code to calculate shipping. . . that is what is holding up our new cart program.

   - guru - Monday, 07/29/02 18:43:24 GMT

HI i was wondering where i could find out some infromation about the age of my blower and drill, they where made by the Canadian Blower and forge co.
   Logan Sherk - Tuesday, 07/30/02 02:12:26 GMT

Hello I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the RPM for an old 34" timber mill blade is (I believe it was original from a solid wooden mill), I first thought it was more than likely hammered to run at 550 RPM, but on a seperate chart on circular saw speeds it ranges between 898 feet per minute (fpm) to 1572 fpm, which converts to 100 RPM - 178 RPM any assistance would be greatfully appreciated
Regards Rod
   Rod - Tuesday, 07/30/02 04:43:24 GMT

Canadian Blower and Forge: Logan, I have no specific information on the history of this company. However, the heyday of these devices was from the late 1800's to the mid 1950's. Most of the old manufacturer's of commercial forging equipment dissappeared after that or stoped making blacksmithing equipment.

The Champion company was split into a fan division and a machinery division. Neither manufacture blacksmith products anymore. Buffalo Forge is still in the air handling business as it always was but no longer makes blacksmithing equipment and most of the employees do not have a clue to the company history. Canedy-Otto went bankrupt and no longer exists in any form.

Decades later small manufacturers have come back to replace these giants of industry that were once an important part of our technological history.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/30/02 14:58:10 GMT

Saw Blade Speed Rod, This is out of our area of expertise. I suspect the low speeds are correct. At 550 RPM the blade is running 4896 FPM. This is on the high end for wood saws and is also at about 75% of the structural maximum for the blade (an estimate without doing the calculations). However, many high performance devices run that high and in a production mill may be correct.

If you do not know the age, source or manufacturer of something like this I would suggest you lean toward the conservative.

I called my local sawmill and the manager did not not know exactly but had a millwright that he said would know. However, you have not defined the question such that an answer can be given. He immediately asked what are you sawing, green lumber, hardwood. . .? What HP are you running or expect to run or have capacity to run? Cross cut or rip saw? I suspect there were more variables.

I suggest you find a local millwright to help you.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/30/02 15:18:40 GMT


One point on saw mills.

One reason the old (late 1800's - early 1900's) saw mills were so dangerous is that they ran the saws as fast as it was "safe" to do. Safe in their terminology meant just below the speed where the blade would fly to pieces! The faster the saw went, the higher their production could be, and they were in business to make money.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 07/30/02 15:45:37 GMT

As Paw Paw pointed out, these things have an unfortunate habit of killing people. The mill at Great Mills, down in my county, closed down in the 1950s when the saw blade disintegrated and killed the owner.

I know we've got a reconstructed saw mill at Catoctin Park, near Camp David. Perhaps someone on the cultural resources staff could help you.


Hot but breezy on the banks of the Potomac.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/30/02 19:52:54 GMT

ITC-100 & Kaowool Testing: Been running some tests. Will report in tomarrow night's iForge demo.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 00:34:54 GMT

Dear Guru:

I have been cutting metal silhouettes from 10 gage plate for several years and have quite good success. Recently I decided to try and color them with heat. I have seen several other metal pictures colored this way and they are beautiful. I have tried to color them with propane torches, rosebuds, and little jewel tipped mini-torches. The problem I always run into is this: I begin with the torch and wave it over the plate very slowly and carefully. Eventually I can see the shade of bronze, purple or blue that I am trying for and take the heat away. But in trying to get the entire piece the same color, the adjacent metal becomes overheated and loses the color. It is very frustrating and time consuming. I find it hard to believe that others are using the same method that I am trying. Is there a better way to do this than what I am describing here? A friend of mine who is an outside salesman for an auto parts company brought me a couple of pictures of an eagle that someone in the easter part of our state did and it was beautiful. He told my friend that he uses oil somehow to obtain the desired results but wouldn't tell him exactly how he does it. I sure would appreciate any help you could give me with problem. Thanks very much. Looking forward to hearing from you.
   Jim Scott - Wednesday, 07/31/02 01:31:50 GMT

Hey, I just picked up an Armitage Mouse Hole anvil for $175. Looks to be 108 lbs on my scale. It has good ring, good rebound, and doesn't look like it was used much at all. Most edges are clean, only a few small nicks on one side. How'd I do? Was that a good price? I wanted something lighter than my 186 lb anvil, heritage unkown, for portability. Oh, it also came with a nice stump to mount it on.

   Bob Harasim - Wednesday, 07/31/02 01:34:43 GMT

Bob, Thats a good price in today's market. One hundred pounds is a nice portable anvil.

Metal Coloring Jim, Oil usualy screws up temper colors since they are an oxide film formed on the surface. Even fingerprints show. To get an even temper color you need even heat on clean steel. One method is to clean a large block of steel as a heat sink, then heat is slowly with a controled heat source until it reaches the desided color, then lay the part to be colored on the heavy plate. You have to grind or sand off the color on the heat sink to use it as a visual reference again.

Another way is any kind of oven. Many temper colors in the yellow to gold range are within the capacity of a household oven. See the temper color chart on our FAQs page for an approximation.

For a general heat on a large surface you can use a LARGE torch like a propane weed burner or a hand held forge burner. Your problem is too small a torch. . . and probably too hot (oxy-acetylene).
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 02:27:30 GMT


Sounds to me like you got a heckuva deal!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Wednesday, 07/31/02 03:37:30 GMT

E-mail ALL, I have lost my "inbox" and several years worth of mail. If you have sent me anything in the past month or so that I need to act on please send it again.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 04:27:00 GMT

I hope you will forgive what seems to be a boring question, but could anyone tell me where i can find information regarding blacksmith courses/apprenticeships in the UK.
Many thanks

   patrick birbeck - Wednesday, 07/31/02 09:26:06 GMT

Patrick (blacksmith courses, apprenticeships in UK)

There are several places that I know which run courses. The only place I know of that runs long courses is Herefordshire
College (they have a website).

There are quite a few places to do weekend type intros. I did an excellent one a couple of years ago at the "Dorset School of Blacksmithing" (do a web search for their www page). However, I think they are in the process of moving to Devon.

Check out the British Artist Blacksmith website (www.baba.org.uk) for more info.

   minglis - Wednesday, 07/31/02 11:33:32 GMT

I am trying to make a few fish gigs.I anneal, then harden, then I put them in the oven on 450 degrees for 2 hours, then leave them alone for an hour. They break. I am using leaf springs, and it takes a pretty good lick to break them. Am I missing something, or am I expecting too much from spring steel? Thank you.
   Ray - Wednesday, 07/31/02 13:36:05 GMT

Gigs and Hardening Problems Ray, you may have any one of several possible problems. One is not tempering high enough and the other is the hardening method. High carbon steel is also subject to all kinds of problems from the forging. Overheating and working too cold are both disasterous. Both can create cracks in the piece that don't show up until you apply load. You have to carefully work it in the forging range (red-orange to orange yellow but not yellow). The higher the carbon the lower the forging temperature.

The hardening is also critical. The tendancy is to overheat the hardening point is just at or above the non-magnetic point. The lower the carbon the higher. The thiner the section the gentler the quench. Most spring steels harden in oil but in thin sections will air harden.

Your temper temperature is probably much too low for the steel. 450°F produces the maximum hardness in most steels. It is a MINIMUM temper. Springs are often tempered as high as a "blue" or 560 to 580°F. This is beyond the range of your kitchen oven. See the method I gave above using a large block of steel for producing temper colors. This is a very good way to evenly temper small thin parts and can be done on the stove top using much less fuel/energy than heating up the oven.

Unless you have a known steel it is difficult to tell what the exact hardening process and temper temperature should be. I suggest you take a sample piece and experiment.

The other thing to consider is selective tempering. This is often done in the forge but is easier with a torch. Some parts of most items need to be softer than others so the are not brittle and break. Tangs on knives, shank and sockets on wood chisles, striking surfaces most blacksmith tools. Most well made tools are selectively tempered. Today this is most often a hand crafted technique but it is also done in production on very hard tools like files and drill bits.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 14:42:50 GMT

Strikers and striking:
I employed a guy as of yesterday as striker. My work speed doubled overnight. Do you have any tips / resources on training a striker?

My computer is on strike. Got a virus on Saturday, picked it up yesterday while doing a scan, and deleted the damn thing. Only problem is, whenever I want to open an executable file (application) a popup appears on my screen, saying: "Windows cannot find fjki. This file is needed to open applications" fjki was the virus. Apparently it replaced some code in one of the setup or configuration files. I have no idea what to do. The only program I can run is my internet browser.
   Tiaan Burger - Wednesday, 07/31/02 17:16:24 GMT

Ray, there is a phenomenon called "Tempered Martensite Embrittlement" that affects low alloy steel in the .40-.50 Carbon range (I am not sure where your spring steel would fall on the carbon scale). Tempering in the range of 450F-700F results in a major loss of toughness and ductility. You might experiment by tempering at 700-800F for a shorter time (1/2 hr or so) and quenching the steel after tempering. Or, try tempering at a lower temperature for a short time followed by quenching. Tempering for long periods of time is not really necessary as 90% of the temper is drawn within a few minutes of reaching temperature. Long soak times are appropriate for very heavy sections that take time to reach temperature on the inside. I temper W1 carving blades for 1/2hr at 375-400F and get very good results. Run some experiments with time and temperature and see if you can find the sweet spot for this material.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 07/31/02 17:33:22 GMT

Let's say I'm looking to open a small ironworks. Just a small shop really where I can do my smithing and maybe have the occasional customer come by but no 'off the street' traffic. Where should I be looking to locate it? In other words, what kinds of zoning and other stuff should I be looking for? I imagine I'd want to be in something like a light industrial area particularly if I'm going to be using coal. Also What about ventilation? If the shop is a one man shop how much does one need to comply with OSHA requirements? (Not that I'm suggesting safety is a corner that can be cut) With a commercial lease does the renter need to be a 'business' or can one maintain 'individual' status?

What other suggestions would you give to someone looking to start out in the business in a small or limited capacity that doesn't have a backyard to begin in?
   Lucky - Wednesday, 07/31/02 19:06:56 GMT

Patrick, U.K.-- Adrian Legge came to the west coast U.S. last year & did a couple of demos at hammer-ins. If i remember, he's the program leader at herefordshire college. I learned more from him in a day and a half than i could absorb in a year.
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 07/31/02 19:16:48 GMT

I've got a question regarding Bellows shape. I'm looking to skin a few nogas and create a bellows for a portable forge. I was playing around with some drawings and while the circular base shape of a bellows is nice, to get the most out of a sheet of plywood (my planned material for the bellows) I was thinking of actually making the bellows into triangles. Are there any problems with this design that I'm missing? My reasoning for this BTW is to get the most square foot size for 3 boards out of one sheet of plywood. Based on my calculations I'll get about 10 sf of board, which will give me about 5 cf of air (figuring a rise from the outlet to the back of about 6 inches)

   Aaron Silver - Wednesday, 07/31/02 19:39:17 GMT

Tiann, Computer help is on the way.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 21:57:27 GMT

Bellows Shapes: Aaron, the only reason they are the shapes they are is (Musical interlude a'la Fidler on the Roof as sung by Trevia). .


Bellows have been and still are many shapes. The classical French and English teardrop shape varies from straight sided with a round back to round with a heavy inward curve to the nose block and nozzel. 16th Century German bellows were triangular or tapezoidal like you are designing. Italian belows are rectangular and the top chamber is not hinged but rises verticaly on accordian fold leather sides. Mexican bellows are mounted verticaly so that you push and pull horizontaly and are triangular with rounded corners. They are also use pairs of single action belows rather than double chambered. I suspect these are a Spanish style bellows.

In Southeast Asia they eschew bags alltogether and use "box" bellows with a piston that is pulled back and forth. These are made cylindrical OR square depending on local TRADITION!

Some late comercial foot bellows were rectangular in shape and had hemispherical rubber bladders for a reservoir. Ugly things!

Hinged rectangular bellows are an inefficient use of materials since the hinge edge sees little movement and pumps very little air. Making this end narrow so more material goes into the back end is much better use of materials. However, the rectangular Italian bellows reservoir is very efficient use of time AND materials. The middle and top boards are rectangular but the bottom board can be rectangular OR triangular OR teardrop shape.

There is no reason NOT to make them any shape you want that works. Unless you are bound by tradition.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/31/02 23:28:09 GMT

Thank you!

I'm not bound by tradition, simply by money. Therefore I will press along in the creation of my triangular bellows. Since I had only seen tear-drop shaped ones in the old books I wasn't sure if I was missing a critical feature that would make my bellows scrap. I've been continually impressed with how economical the old smiths were with materials, and I was worried that I'd missed a bet somewhere when I didn't see triangles. (I guess I didn't check any old German resources! :-) )

Thanks again!
   Aaron Silver - Wednesday, 07/31/02 23:46:06 GMT

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