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THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from July 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Jared we discussed this very question on this page *saturday*; yup 2 days ago (June 24-30 archive). May I suggest you read the answer there. (hint: if using IE go to the edit on the tool bar and select "find on this page" and type in sword.)

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/01/03 00:28:02 GMT

Quenchcrack - FYI when diluted the polyalkylene glycol also makes a good couplant for ultrasonic testing. We ended up using it instead of the proprietary couplant sold by Krautkramer at a rolled steel ring manufacturer I worked for. Also, unlike oil you can just wash it off with water.
   Gavain - Tuesday, 07/01/03 02:24:11 GMT


After you read the last sword postings, cut to the chase and try: http://forums.swordforum.com/

There are also a number of knife sites on the web that will give you additional background on a smaller and more workable scale. Most of us here, especially the medieval reenactors like Thomas and I, consider forging weaponry an amusing sideline and challenge. Instead, we go for what kept civilization really going, like cooking spits! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/01/03 02:48:45 GMT

Oil Quench for Rust Protection: Ah. . this doesn't work worth (insert smelly explitive). It produces an uneven carbonized surface. AND you may be screwing up what temper the metal had (ferrous, non-ferrous, cast).

ALL burnt oil-wax-homebrew concoctions are a crummy shade tree backyard method of producing a low quality varnish. If you want a GOOD product go to the experts that have spent billions of dollars and millions of man hours developing. . . paint.

That said, to produce a burnt oil varnish wipe on olive oil or boiled linseed oil and then heat until the oil caramelizes. Reapply oil and heat again. A coat of varnish is about the same and an equally poor rust protection.

If you want a nice carbon black finish take the part to a gunsmith and ask that the part be Parkerized. Then keep the part oiled.

But whatever you do DO NOT HEAT and oil quench a part for rust protection. . . if THAT is what the customer wants then tell them to get someone else.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/01/03 02:53:24 GMT

Atli, you're forgetting that other useful tool - the ax. You need something to cut the wood for those cookfires. By the way, I also do medieval - SCA but was seduced in the 80's by friends doing F&I period, so I do more of that now - hard to beat the boom of a good musket volley. I've been working primarily on things like candle holders, trammels, hinges, practicing welds making musket tools and trying to work my way up to welded belt axes. Also, just beginning to play with knives, making them that is.
   Gavain - Tuesday, 07/01/03 03:16:20 GMT

Gavain, my falconette firing a 2" ball makes a nice boom in the SCA, (first load it ever fired was a chunk of rattan...)

Atli I'd bet my cooking spit and pot against most mass produced swords and shields anyday...IIRC "Swiss Family Robinson" used an officers smallsword as a lark spit plays havoc on the temper but sounds like good eating---I noticed when reading that book to my kids that the first thing they did when they met a creature they hadn't seen before was to kill it and try to eat it, (flamingo's, penguins, whale, sago grubs, bustards, bears, buffalos---biologically speaking their island was a great proponent of diversity!)

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/01/03 03:48:35 GMT

swordmakeing= pain, stress, and VERY sore body parts!!!(even if you don't get it finshed!!)
knife makeing= less pain, less stress (I really HATE that tink sound from hot steel in the oil!!!!) and sore arms/fingers.
blacksmithing= no pain unless you mess up (right that was HOT...) no stress unless you are late on a job, the sore arm thing is the same....
the good thing about all of them are makeing something LASTING that when done right will be left behind long after you are gone I love the fealing when I fish something and the new owner is happy with it knowing that they will care about it and for it for a long time.... kind of like my work is a child that grows up and leaves, makeing a life of its own.. I don't want any of them ot go but feel that it is right that they have.
random museings in the night.
   MP - Tuesday, 07/01/03 04:12:08 GMT

Paw Paw & Frank,
Thanks for the quick info about my son's anvil

   Wayne Rocheleau, DVM - Tuesday, 07/01/03 14:32:20 GMT

Wayne, no problem.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/01/03 14:34:25 GMT

Thomas - Well at 2" it is of legal size for combat... Did you wrap it in ducktape? And how exactly would you define/tape and edge on it?

Jared - Atleast you already read the getting started section! Most don't. However, knowledge in basic blacksmithing will get you along way towards swordwork. Learn how to move the metal first. Take a look to see if there is an ABANA chapter in your area.

Matt - Same advice on finding an ABANA chapter.
   Monica - Tuesday, 07/01/03 15:52:26 GMT


Is there a particular F&I site that you frequent? I can usually be found down at Fort Loudoun in E. TN.
   - DonA - Tuesday, 07/01/03 16:36:39 GMT

Monica, that's a 2" *bore*, the gonne itself is quite a bit larger, used to fire it in Ansteorra where Fort Sill provided a trained cadre of folks who like things that go *boom*; but then moved to the Middle Kingdom which is again such things.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/01/03 16:39:51 GMT

Gavain, Hmmm...never thought of using PAG for a UT couplant. Have you ever tried Guar Gum, the stuff they use to make gummy candies? Absolutely non-toxic, dries to a thin film that just flakes off and blows away. Water soluble, make it any viscosity you want. Makes a nice snack while you are waiting for the X-Ray guys to finish.....not.
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 07/01/03 16:43:04 GMT

crummy...backyard....SHADETREE? Ack! LOL
   Two Swords - Tuesday, 07/01/03 16:45:29 GMT

Pete- please dont call me an authority- it means I went to all those punk rock concerts for nothing.
What I meant to say was- try naval bronze, it forges quite nicely.
And if you are getting cracking while bending silicon bronze, try heating it up and bending it.
I agree silicon bronze is great stuff to forge, but I do think it takes hitting it pretty hard, especially compared to naval bronze.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 07/01/03 22:56:42 GMT

dear guru,i am writing from rio de janeiro, and today i found a no.1 williams white & co, bates hammer 100 lbs, at a junk yard and the owner wants to seel it, the hammer is working, and seems in good conditions, as soon as i dont know anything about power hammers i am asking for your advice on this matter, how much is it worth and if it is a good hammer. sincerely rod
   rodrigo damatta - Wednesday, 07/02/03 00:33:15 GMT

DonA, the last couple years haven't been too good for F & I due to job changes & other life turmoils. However, two I always try to get to are Ft. Niagara over July 4th weekend & Ft. Ligonier the 2nd weekend in October. I'm relatively local to Pittsburgh, so I try to get to some of the more local events around the city. I've skipped Ft. Necessity the last several years because it's in the middle of Pennsic, but will probably go next year, the 250th anniversary. (Also, our unit portrays the Virginia regiment, so it will be really hard to pass up.) I've gotten as far as the grand encampment at Fortress Louisberg in Nova Scotia.
Quenchcrack - never tried guar gum, but if I ever get back in a job that requires UT I'll try to keep it in mind. Right now I'm doing quality assurance (i.e. ISO 9001 & QS 9000) for a company that makes iron powder.
Thomas - yes cannons are fun too - I picked up a replica of a swivel gun (barrel only) that was found in Lake Champlain about 1 1/2 inch bore - I need to make the fittings for it - it's on next year's to do list in the winter. The F & I group has one we use occasionally, but a second would be nice.
   Gavain - Wednesday, 07/02/03 02:31:18 GMT

Power Hammer Value: Rodrigo, I do not have a clue about the used equipment market in your country. In the US such machinery sells for as little as scrap iron or as much as the market will bear (About $2000 US would be top money for an unusual brand hammer). That would buy a 10 year old used car in fair condition in the US.

1) Are you sure it is a Power Hammer and not a Punch Press? They look similar but are very different machines. In the US "Bates" made punch presses and shears but did not make power hammers.

2) Condition is difficult to determine if you are not familiar with this type machine. A point system
  • If is has ALL the original parts and nothing is broken then start at 10 points.
  • If any of the parts have been broken and brazed back together OR replaced with shop made parts then start at 8 points.
  • If any of the parts are missing or visibly broken start at 5 points.

  • If you can use a pry bar to try moving the shaft and the ram in its guides and they do not move noticably (less than .015" or .4mm) then give it another 5 points. If they move more then subtract 5 points.
  • If you pry on the ram and the toggle links show end play (need bushings) then subtract 5 points. If they are obviously tight OR have new bushings then add 5 points.
  • If the machine is covered with old and new oil and looks like it has been regularly oiled add 5 points. If the machine is relatively oil free and in fact has dry rusty surfaces then subtract 5 points.

    Very good = 25 points
    Old but OK = 15 to 20 points
    Poor condition = 10 points or less.
    Very poor = negative score

    The above is mearly an attempt to quantify condition and give you something to go by. If you can send me a digital photo of the machine I may be able to tell you more.

  •    - guru - Wednesday, 07/02/03 03:09:15 GMT

    OK, Im retracting any authority I may have sullied you with.
    I had some difficulty with the one sample of what was allegedly Naval bronze that I tried to work...Finally found the temp. parameters and it was OK..left an odd brown oxide deposit on the hammers. The silicon bronze was very forgiving for me...I used it to make long, fine tapers and hollow bodies and it tolerated lots of abuse and welded beautifully.
    Speaking of tolerating abuse...I got a sample of pure iron finally and it is still working fine after what must be 30 heats and lots of upsetting then spreading then upsetting. Still no cracking....oooooooh...I like that!
    Understanding that the outfit that was selling pure iron in the US went under; does anyone have advice as to the most economical source that still has it for sale? Pete
       - Reis - Wednesday, 07/02/03 07:42:32 GMT

    Linseed oil.
    To boil or not to boil?
    I've read different sources online that say I should or should not boil linseed oil. Also different ideas about how hot my metal should be to get a good oil finish, however there is nothing like speaking to an expert so here I am.

    The New Edge of the Anvil says I should use a mix of linseed, paint thinner and beeswax and implies the metal should be cold enough to hold in your hand when you take it from the fire. Does this sound about right ?

    Can I just buy some linseed oil, put it in a metal bucket and dunk my hot ironwork in it? Also apparently engine oil works - even used oil - is this to be believed ?
       roger - Wednesday, 07/02/03 10:24:01 GMT

    Linseed oil comes from pressing the seeds of a special flax plant. It is specially heat treated before being sold, so is then termed "boiled".

    The threshold for hanging onto hot iron is about 150ºF for most of us. Maybe an East Indian fakir could stand more. The effect that one sometimes wants at the metal's surface I get at about 750º to 800ºF; I'm guessing, as I never measured it. The metal begins to glow faintly red in ordinary shop light at 900ºF. You don't want an incandescent heat.

    Don't dunk. Apply the oil with a rag or brush.

    If the metal is too hot, you'll sometimes obtain an olive drab color. Blech!

    I personally feel that mixing driers, rottenstone, beeswax, etc., is not necessary and is a pain. When I use this method, I've found that Johnson's old fashioned paste floor was works pretty well.
       Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/02/03 12:00:34 GMT

    floor WAX !
       Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/02/03 12:02:29 GMT

    Thanks, frank. That clears up a lot - especially about the boiling. But why shouldn't I dunk into the oil ? Surely if the hot part is immersed in then it will all be coated while evenly hot ?
       roger - Wednesday, 07/02/03 13:10:38 GMT


    Williams & White made all kinds of forging equipment, steam hammers, bulldozers and self-contained air hammers. The "Bates" is a self-contained air hammer and might bring as much as $10,000.00 in the U.S. Price on used equipment is pretty much "supply and demand". The seller gets as much as he can, the buyer tries to get it as cheap as he can. Should be a fine hammer (depending on condition) that will last your whole life.
       - grant - Wednesday, 07/02/03 13:53:32 GMT

    I'm trying to figure prices for some railing. It would be nicely fabricated with some forged components. I'm wondering what the price range is for railing from "cheap" fabricated stuff to nicely forged stuff. Any info. would be appreciated. Thanks
       - Kevin - Wednesday, 07/02/03 17:51:17 GMT

    Roger, Oil immersion makes a sloppy, liquidy, drippy, foamy mess and on large pieces, it's difficult to get uniformity. In addition, you can't see whether the finish is taking or not. With a rag, you can check the finish as you go. If too hot, you just get vapor and the metal looks the same. Too cold, and you just get oil on the work. In between, you'll get a near-mat finish. On large pieces, you take adjacent heats, slightly overlapping. It's a little hard to control; patience.

    I forgot to mention to work outdoors or in a well ventilated area. The vapors are pretty noxious.
       Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/02/03 18:48:29 GMT

    How does a self contained air hammer work? It has a motor on one side and a hammer on the other. What goes on in between?

    A piston that does what? Push air into a cylinder that force the hammer down? Or is it a piston that sucks air out of a cylinder to pull the hammer up? Does it have more than one cylinder / pistons?

    What does the valve system look like?

    I looked at Nasmyth's book, the picture and descriptions weren't very clear on the system.

    Any links to pictures and or plans will be appreciated.

    Can the same be done using hyraulics? Or is hydaulics too slow, making it better suited to presses?

    I am exploring my options: Buy and restore a 200kg beche (which will include having a new anvil block made) or building a mechanical hammer, or looking for another hammer that still has it's anvil to buy and restore, or building a pneumatic hammer, or doing a hydraulic thing...
       Tiaan - Wednesday, 07/02/03 20:30:44 GMT

    Well, I see that I finally spelled "hydraulic" correctly!!!
       Tiaan - Wednesday, 07/02/03 20:32:37 GMT

    looking for tal harris' video, "traditional scroll work, part 1", put out by rocky comfort productions. any leads are appreciated..

    also, a 4 tape series by walt scadden, filmed in 1995, "architectural ironwork"

    thanks much..
       rugg - Wednesday, 07/02/03 23:29:16 GMT

    .....I have nooooo opinion...grin.
       - Tag - Thursday, 07/03/03 01:06:10 GMT

    Tiaan, as my old pap'yousta, say, "Nobody's Prefict!"
       - Tag - Thursday, 07/03/03 01:09:05 GMT

    Rugg, 3 weeks at Turley's forge will save you 3 years of searchin' around.
       Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/03/03 02:01:21 GMT

       BOB ARMSTRONG - Thursday, 07/03/03 02:57:42 GMT

    Not only did I sign your name, but i misspelled it too!
    My apologies good sir.
       - Pete F - Thursday, 07/03/03 05:15:18 GMT

    BOB ARMSTRONG; Are you sure about the spelling? There's all kinds of oddball crap out there in the search engines using the name "Cerabus". How big are the tubes? I've crimped or capped the ends of tube/pipe after filling them with dry sand. If you're bending little bitty tubing, such as for jewelry or model making, the jeweler's suppliers sell an alloy made by Dixon Crucible Co., that will melt in boiling water. You melt the stuff, pour it in the tube, let it harden, make your bends, boil the tubes, let the alloy run out. Neat stuff. BTW, all capital letters signifies hollering; bad online etiquette. Quite a few of us wear hearing aids, but we can still read the lower case letters. I do know that it's much easier to lock down the ol' "Caps lock" key and pound away, BUT IT AIN'T PERLITE! Welcome to the site. Best regards, 3dogs
       - 3dogs - Thursday, 07/03/03 07:48:22 GMT

    Hi guru
    I want to know the price of flourite( bulk)after mining with app 94% CaF2, or somewhere that I can check the internatinal prices.
    Thanks for your advice.
       Arash - Thursday, 07/03/03 09:01:54 GMT

    Flourite: Arash, flux grade flourite is mined in Italy and Spain (I think) and shipped all over the world. Foundry suppliers anywhere can probably quote you. For small commercial uses I recommend ceramics suppliers like Kickwheel Pottery Supply in Florida (see our links list).
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 11:38:50 GMT

    Cerrocast, Cerrobend, Cerromet: Bob, Mispelling is common with this product line. This is the original. They make a variety of products including alloys that melt at body temperature and non-shrinking alloys used to anchor parts in castings.

    From Thomas Register:
    Cerro Metal Products Co., Alloy Dept.
    P.O. Box 388
    Bellefonte, PA 16823

    FAX: 814-355-6227

    Low Melting, Fusible, Non Shrinking, For Tube Bending, Work Holding, Pattern Making, Die Mounting, Medical Shielding Devices, Mold Making, Forming Dies For Sheet Metal Parts, Proof Casting.
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 12:02:53 GMT

    Have you plans of a good size forge made of brick. Will be new to blacksmithing, but am old many skilled man from Minn.
       Raymond Frostad - Thursday, 07/03/03 12:24:54 GMT

    Self Contained Hammers: Tiaan, This is a very complicated subject when you get down to valving details.

    1) Nasmyth hammers are not self contained hammers. They are basic steam/air hammers. They and all their progeny require a seperate power source. These use a simple reversing valve connected to a cam operated feedback linkage.

    2) Your Beche you looked at IS a selfcontained hammer. The motor runs a compressor cylinder which connects to the ram through a very sophisticated valving arangement. Nazel was the premier maker of these machines and made early Beche' machines. Chambersburg and others copied the design. The Chinese hammers sold by Striker are the communist block's derived version of the Nazel/Beche'.

    Other makes have a somewhat simplified valveing but work well. Kuhn is well made and then there are its Turkish clones. . .

    A self contained hammer has two seperate cylinders. The compressor cylinder and the ram cylinder in one casting or in seperate pieces. They are connected together via passageways in the casting OR via pipes. A valve controls the flow.

    Self contained hammers give one stroke for every stroke of the compressor. So the blow rate is steady and even. All the operator controls is the length of the stroke.

    At the 2000 ABANA conference a fellow in our JYH contest had a selfcontained machine he had built. He was also selling a manual on how it worked. Simple in theory but hard to grasp the details.
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 12:43:19 GMT

    I am on Long Island and have found only a source of anthracite coal. I hope to fire up my forge in about two weeks for the first time. The coal available comes in "pea" or "nut" sizes. Any suggestion as to which to get? I was hoping to find coke but have not found a local source. What would you recommend? Thanks Alan
       Alan - Thursday, 07/03/03 12:43:34 GMT

    Raymond Frostad,

    THE BLACKSMITH, Ironworker & Farrier, by Aldren A. Watson, ISBN 0-393-32057-X, Chapter 10. You can probably get it on Inter Library Loan from your public library or any good book store will order it for you for less than $20.
       Paw Paw - Thursday, 07/03/03 12:44:47 GMT

    antracite coal WILL work but it is MUCH harder to light and then will need an almost constant air blast to keep burning. It will burn nice and hot tho. You should try to find some bituminous coal.
    One thing you should consider is either getting your coal from someone like Bruce Wallace ( who advertises on anvilfire). He is in PA I believe and he ships. Or find some true charcoal( not the briquettes) Should find it at a resturant supply place. Usually in 40lb bags about 8-12 dollars depending on your area. Here in OR it is 10.00 at an IGA store.
       Ralph - Thursday, 07/03/03 14:06:23 GMT

    Guru, thanks.

    Let's see if I understand this: On one side the piston compresses air, which flows to another cylinder. The air goes "beneath" the piston, pushing it up.

    The valve has some sort of cyclic release, allowing the air to flow to the piston and pick it up again after the hammer has fallen, even though the valve is activated.

    The length of the stroke is controlled by the amount of air allowed into the hammer's cylinder.

    Common sense tells me that the "feeding" cylinder must be much larger than the "hammer" cylinder. This ratio is determined by the weight of the hammer?

    (I send you some more Afrikaans words as well last night. How about a list of suitable words for when a weld doesn't take, a piece of iron falls on one's foot or one's thumb gets squashed between an immovable object and an unstoppable force?)

       Tiaan - Thursday, 07/03/03 15:54:30 GMT

    I almost forgot. I am also looking at an old steam (Nasmyth) hammer. All the pieces are there, but it is almost completely dissassembled. The problem is that buying a suitable compressor will cost about double the price of the hammer, and then there is the compressor noise will have to be dealt with as well.
       Tiaan - Thursday, 07/03/03 15:58:23 GMT

    Where can I purchase raised letter punches for striking metal sheeting in order to make metal tags or thin plates where the letters are in relief? I've checked a bit with online searches without much luck. I'd like both upper and lower case with upper case punches making letters up to 1-2" tall
       Steve Baran - Thursday, 07/03/03 16:56:16 GMT

    Does anybody have any ideas on the range of prices for railings? Thanks
       - Kevin - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:05:31 GMT

    frank, i seriously hope you are still teaching when the time comes that i can take 3 weeks off!! i wish that you offered "long" weekend courses. this is why i went to the national ornamental metal museum w/e classes. santa fe is a lot closer to me than memphis. i dont think i can take a week off any time soon. one of my blacksmith fantasy goals is to get to your forge one day to study and practice under the direction of an icon. i truely mean that. in the mean time, ill read and do what i can..thanks
       rugg - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:24:14 GMT

    hello just athor newby wanting to know where a good school is at wondering if there one in the ga sc nc area thank u for ur time
       david roberts - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:24:54 GMT

    Schools: David the ABANA page has the best list of schools. In NC you have two, John C Campbell and Penland. They are both up near Asheville.
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:41:18 GMT

    Railing Prices: It depends on how high and how heavy and how heavy. But $100/running foot is pretty low and most smiths SHOULD charge $300/running foot for a nice standard height rail that is not too complicated. Even fabricators get over $200/foot. When a rail, fence or gate becomes a work of art then $500/foot to $1000/foot is not unreasonable.

    All the above is in US dollars made and installed in the US.
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:45:01 GMT

    Letter Punches: Steve, Common hand held letter punches do not make raised letters. They cut a V-groove in the work. To make those raised tags (like dog tags) requires a special machine with positive punches and hard rubber surface to work against. I've never seen them in lower case. When you see logos and such in upper/lower they are custom made dies.

    You can purchase letter stamps and tag making machines from McMaster-Carr. They have an on-line catalog at mcmaster.com.
       - guru - Thursday, 07/03/03 17:50:37 GMT

    John C. Campbell is closer to Murphy than to Asheville.
       Paw Paw - Thursday, 07/03/03 18:05:56 GMT


    Pricing for other areas is hard to do, because thare are so many variables. That said, around here, the bottom limit seems to be somewhere around $17 per running foot. It goes up from there to whatever the traffic will bear.
       Paw Paw - Thursday, 07/03/03 18:07:34 GMT

    Raymond Frostad,

    http://www.grm.net/~shlosser/index.htm is a VERY extensive site documenting about 15 brick and traditional forges and shops. He also has a good explenation of the why and how a forge is designed and operated. Exactly what you are looking for.

    The case of the exploding coal.

    I am not sure if this is a common ocurance or not but I have been using anthracite and coke for forge fuel for a while now. And I have noticed that when I start the anthracite(I make a good sized wood fire that almost fills the fire pot with coals and then begin to dump the coal on, it starts very easy that way and has never failed) using an already hot wood fire, the coal begins to pop and begins "exploding", shooting shards against the hood of my forge and me with a good velocity. I THINK that what is happening is an un-uniform heat that occurs when one side of the coal is heated very rapidly and the other stays realitively cool. When this happens I think that since anthracite is very hard and almost all carbon it gets some rapidly crated fractures that are dish shaped in the zone inside the piece of coal where the two heat zones meet and then the hot side pushes the cold side off of it with a great force and thus shoots the coal apart with a pop.

    Has anyone ever experienced this? Anyone else have any ideas of what is happening?

    Alan, when I use anthracite I have found that the fire stays going if I only work on one piece of steel at once. I tried to work multiple pieces in the fire but since one gets hot while you are working on the other then you don't need to fan the fire when you pick up the other piece and in a few heats the fire is almost out. With only one piece you are always keeping the fire hot by faning it for every heat. I use a hand crank fan but if one were to use an electric fan than this might not be the case.


    I have finally posted a few pictures of some of my work on the Yahoo group. There is a picture of a treble cleft dinner bell made from 1/2" square stock, a twisted square hook made from 1/2" square stock and a lighter with a twisted handle that was an experiment. Still have not tried to make the triple basket twist yet, that will be fabrication intensive.

    Happy Living,

    Caleb Ramsby
       Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 07/03/03 19:02:58 GMT

    I should note that the treble cleft dinner bell is an adaption of Bill Epps design and the lighter is an adaptation of Sean Conner's IForge demo #112.

    The square twisted hook is of my own design and the twist on the horizontal piece keeps stuff from moving around and allows more things to be held.

    Caleb Ramsby
       Caleb Ramsby - Thursday, 07/03/03 19:44:19 GMT

    I'm making a tuned pipe for my motorcycle, and I wanted to ask how do I anneal the sheet metal to make it soft enough to work with?
       Don Wacaster - Thursday, 07/03/03 20:36:27 GMT

    Rugg, I'll be in Grand Island, Nebraska, for the Prairie Blacksmiths' gettogether September 13,14,15,16. The first two days is kind of a show and tell for everybody. The second two days is going to be a one-on-one intensive for a few of the signups. Sid Seudmeier of Little Giant fame, has been my contact: 402-873-6603.
       Frank Turley - Thursday, 07/03/03 21:08:30 GMT

    I am currently building a "Junk Yard Hammer", but I wanted to run my ideas trough someone who has more experience in the matter.

    My Ideas are. To use a 33 pound counter-balance, a chain drive, and a piece of 2 inch wide 1 1/4 or 2 1/2 inch thick flat stock as the drive swing arm. I also need help with how to produce a cam. thanks for your help.

    Jason M. Duncan
       15yearsmith - Thursday, 07/03/03 22:11:05 GMT


    No, The hammer does not fall, it is driven down and up. In it's simplest form, it's just two (double acting) cylinders conected top to top and bottom to bottom. Pushing one up forces the other down and vice-versa. This is pretty much how a self contained hammer works when running wide open. All of the valving and complication comes in trying to get control and light blows. Both cylinders are the same size pretty much.
       - grant - Thursday, 07/03/03 22:57:50 GMT

    Don, it would help if we knew what kind of "sheet metal" you are working with. 409 Stainless? Carbon steel? Aluminum? They all have different temperatures and processes.
       Quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/03 00:41:27 GMT

    Pipe: Don, as QC noted different metals require different processes. Also note that if you are dealing with chrome plated steel pipe the anneal will wreck the plating.

    To anneal steel, heat to a low to medium red then cool as slow as possible from the red. This is usualy done in a metal box full of quick lime OR vermiculite. The part is burried in the media and this insulates it so that it cools slowly. Heating sheet metal is tricky due to the large surface area.

    Pipe is a different matter. Softening steel pipe can cause it to collapse when bending. Bending pipe is somewhat of a specialty requiring the proper tools and techniques. It also takes practice. You can chew up a LOT of pipe learning how.

    When working with flat sheet most folks prefer to start with mill annealed stock. Sculptors and armours often work sheet hot.
       - guru - Friday, 07/04/03 02:36:55 GMT

    Good Guru;
    I have about 35 , 8-10'lengths of 3/4" sucker rod to bend in matched asymmetrical arcs and then thread 6" or so of each end. The rod is all from the same batch.
    Some pieces are considerably stiffer than others. I bent only 7 of them to shape yesterday. Imagine me grunting and puffing on the end of a bar across the aisle of iron stuff from the platen table and it's bending pegs. I step on some welding rod butts, start sliding, and the rod propels me into a conveniently located pile of steel. The first one was kinda fun.But not the 4th one .I am pretty sore today. Finally got some control using my largest spud hickey.
    Testing hardness with a file, it was clear that they were too hard to cut threads in so i clumped them up , put firebricks around the ends, and brought them up to a good red with a rosebud. Some of them came out soft enough to cut, but others nearly skate a file. They cooled reasonably slowly and should be soft...no?
    Drawing the temper to deep blue helps some..but they are still real hard on the thread cutting die.
    At one point I got frustrated and made up a way to drive the die with a big air gun. Wrong action. Took 20 min to fake a regrind so the die would cut again..ugly.
    Did i end up with some sort of air hardening steel? I'm confused, what can I do? It will seem like some sort of little defeat if i end up welding allthread on the ends.
       - Pete F - Friday, 07/04/03 07:10:21 GMT

    I am a beginning blacksmith, presently marooned on a desert island and unable to continue my smithing. Well not entirely, but I have been mobilized for a war and am in a hot and dusty place.
    I am interested in learning to make pattern welded blades. I have forged and ground a couple (semi-successful). Another smith has told me that he built an electric hydrualic press and uses it for pattern welding.
    Is there a reference on use of hydraulic presses for forge welding, and for general forge work? I will build one if it appears to be a good machine. If not, I'll look further into the more traditional power hammers.
    V/R Pat Cooley
       Pat Cooley - Friday, 07/04/03 10:14:57 GMT

    Tuned Pipes
    A friend of mine made tuned pipes by rolling mild steel sheet up into cones and tubes and then TIG welding them together. He wasn't really doing any streching, and I think he worked cold without having to anneal at all.
       Mike B - Friday, 07/04/03 12:23:06 GMT

    Pete F, In the post immediately above yours, there is mention of cooling in lime or vermiculite. You may also use fine wood ashes. All are insulating media, allowing for very slow cooling. A medium cherry red should work on sucker rod.
       Frank Turley - Friday, 07/04/03 13:23:14 GMT

    Laminated steel AKA Damascus Pat, Look on Don Fogg's web page for hydraulic press info. But a much more efficient machine for welding and drawing out laminated steel is the McDonald Mill. See our book review page.

    The big difference is that a hydraulic press needs 10 to 15 horsepower to do what a rolling mill can do with 1 to 1.5 horsepower. YES, that is a 10:1 ratio. Hydraulics do not need a lot of HP EXCEPT when they need to be both fast and powerful. . . The rolling mill is also smaller and quieter than a press (hp pumps are noisy).

    Neither machine replaces a power hammer for forging but are excellent for blade work.
       - guru - Friday, 07/04/03 15:02:30 GMT

    Hard Steel: Pete, as Frank noted your cooling was probably too fast. Sucker rod varries greatly in composition but the modern stuff is deep hardening alloy steel. A lot of alloy steels harden at higher (quench) temperatures than plain carbon steel so just heating is not enough. You gotta get that red heat and then immediately insulate the steel.

    I'd think that fast cooling would not be a problem in that California sun but. . . well, steel feels it differently than we do.

    If its not still too hot to handle 24 hours later your insulating medium may not have been up to snuff. You don't need to cool THAT long but you do need to get below that red slowly. Once it is below the hardening temp or a black heat then you can cool it faster.

    If I had to thread parts this size I would break down and purchase nice new mild steel. . .

    Threading: The biggest killer of taps and dies is missalignment. They have a hard enough time cutting the threads without trying to make the bar or hole a different size. . . When I had to thread a bunch of long rods a few decads ago I made up a die holder that was about 8" long. One end was machined for the die and the other for a set of bronze bushings. A big cross hole was drilled below the die to let chips out and long handles welded on below that.

    In use I started with a chamfered end on the bar, clamped it in a vise, applied tapping fluid, and then crammed the tool on the rod and twisted. The perfectly guided die turned easily enough to just keep on going until the threads were done. All came out perfectly and dies lasted a long time. The tool was worth the time to make. Its only drawback is that it doesn't work on short pieces.

    In the batch of parts I threaded there were a couple stainless bars. The bar was slightly oversize (.005") and dies do not like the work hardened skin on cold drawn stainless. So I machined each bar .005" undersize (took off .010") for the threaded length. The parts were still within tolerance and it was the only way I could get threads long enough for making U-bolts.
       - guru - Friday, 07/04/03 15:38:12 GMT

    Note: one of the problems with the sucker rods is that only the *ends* were heated, the rest of the rod make a great "heat pump" and depending on circumstances could actually "quench" the metal (NB check for hard zones going up the rod, sometimes temp vs heat out can created a brittle zone in one location while the rest is ok)

    How to get around this problem? Perhaps a slow reduction in heat so the transition takes place while the forge is still providing some heat. Perhaps heating a large mass up in contact with the pieces so it will keep pumping heat in as they draw it down.

       - Thomas Powers - Friday, 07/04/03 16:39:47 GMT

    Long time no post, I´ve been busy building my new smithy. When i put my powerhammer on line i realised i had forgotten wich way the motor used to turn. It doesn´t seem to make any difference since the rotation turns directly into linear motion on my swedish helve "spring-hammer", but what do I know? But I think you guys know.
    I DO know that if you make your new smokestack 17x17 inches i cross-section it will suck upp anything, including the the whole newspaper and the wood-shavings you try to use as kindling.
       Olle Andersson - Friday, 07/04/03 17:24:07 GMT

    Grant, thanks.

    Exploding coal:

    I think it is the same as when you put rock salt in a fire. There is water locked in the coal ( in the salt it is called water of crystalization). The water is contained in fissure lines, when the water heats up, it forms steam, and steam expands quite rapidly. Antracite is the worst, some coal will pop occasionally, most days I have one or two bits of coal erupting. I have found that it gets worse with wet coal (my bags of coal are stored outside, after a rain shower there are more explosions than usual.
       Tiaan - Friday, 07/04/03 19:16:02 GMT

    Sucker Rods --
    Thomas, it seems to me that just heating a section longer than the needed threads would help -- the "quench" would then tend to occur away from the part you needed soft. Could have problems with a brittle zone above the threads as you point out, though.
       Mike B - Friday, 07/04/03 19:50:06 GMT

    Today I went to the famous Canton Trade Days in Canton, TX. Lots of rusty iron there today. In a moment of weakness, I purchased a genuine Buffalo Forge Blower. It is complete and in excellent condition. The housing is free from damage except the wooden handle has gone away. All blades are in place and turn freely. The crank handle is a bit stiff but it turns well when you get it up to speed. It growls a bit but I think that is the nature of the beast. The fan housing is only 8" across, which leads me to believe this was once a part of a rivet forge. Any ideas what this is worth? I run a gasser so I bought it to trade or sell for something I can use, but I want to ask a fair price.
       Quenchcrack - Friday, 07/04/03 20:35:05 GMT

    Sucker Rod Ends: Since this material is quite hardenable, you might have better success getting it softened by tempering rather than annealing. If you full anneal it, you can re-harden it if it cools too fast. Tempering will not reharden regardless of how fast it cools. Heat to a very low red, just barely visible color. Try to hold that low heat for as long as possible. This will temper any martensite that has formed but will not created any more martensite. If held long enough, it will get as soft as if it were annealed. Uh...by long enough, I mean about 1/2 hr or so.
       Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/03 00:15:53 GMT

    So far no one has been able to give me an answer to a simple question, so I am now turning to the Guru to find the truth. The question is, where can you get the tape to repair broken sanding belts. Down here in the muggy south sanding belts left out in the shop seperate due to the humidity long before they are worn out. Yet no one can tell me how to put them back together. I can only assume that this is one of those tightly held peices of information that a few hold i.e. Klingspor and other abrasive companies, to make people like me, dependent on them to purchase new belts. Any help with this would be greatly appriciated. Bill
       Bill Robertson - Saturday, 07/05/03 01:31:48 GMT


    I don't know whether this will work or not, but try some of the clear plastic tape that's used for packages. That stuff is incredibly strong.
       Paw Paw - Saturday, 07/05/03 02:16:38 GMT

    I repair sanding belts using the iron-on fabric patches. It works pretty well for belts that don't get heated up to hot by "hogging" off stock. For those, I use polyester fabric and epoxy glue. The cheap epoxies that set quickly seem to stay flexible enough and tolerate the heat pretty well.
       vicopper - Saturday, 07/05/03 02:54:17 GMT

    Moving to New Server Folks, we are moving to a new server this month. Things may get a little ragged during the move. Some things may quit working for a while but all will be sorted out eventualy.

    Bill, I would go with VI's epoxy glue. The 5 minute equal part stuff has so much filler in it that it stays pretty flexible. . . . Yeah, this wet spring ALL my belts went kablouey. . But they rip up in my sander and cannot be repaired. I had to scold my helper about throwing them away. They are still darn good (expensive) sandpaper!
       - guru - Saturday, 07/05/03 03:12:22 GMT

    I heard someone mention putting "fire Clay" inside a forge.
    Since I am new to blacksmithing this is news to me. I have just aquired an old cast iron rivet forge and need to know if I should use the clay. Also, where do you get the stuff?
       - Robert Dean - Saturday, 07/05/03 03:35:26 GMT

    Pipe railing is around $90.00/ft There is so much more than making a nice railing. Design time, phone calls, material pickup, tool repair, phone calls, forging, fab, banking, sand blasting, supply runs, painting, shop cleaning, truck repair. installation, etc. $500-1000.00 is right on
       - Pete-Raven - Saturday, 07/05/03 06:58:36 GMT

    Thanks to all for help on the threading sucker rod problem.
    I clumped 7, 3/4" rods loosley together and put firebricks under and around a foot length of both ends. Then heated about 8" of both ends. When they made a good red heat, I laid a couple of fire bricks on top. They took a few hours to cool.
    Even when I additionally drew the temper past blue, the last 2 rods finished off my old dies. They sure turn easier now.
    Given your help..I see;
    1.probably had alignment problems...I made a guide, but it was sloppy.
    2. Didn't cool slowly enough to get a full annealing and was wrong about being slow enough.
    3. When I drew the temper I didn't get it hot enough for long enough.
    Thank you for the help all.......Pete
       - Pete F - Saturday, 07/05/03 08:40:47 GMT

    Claying Forges: Robert, Many old forges had cast into them "clay before use". Most smiths do not clay their forges and they work fine, but we have had reports of old forge pans cracking the first time a fire is built in them. I used to put a layer of sand in a clean forge to help insulate it but the sand mixes with the coal and makes a mess. Generaly the bed of coal should be deep enough to prevent over heating the pan but I think it depends on the type of grate or fire pot the forge has. The only factory instructions I have seen for claying a forge showed a little ring formed around the firpot bridging the gap between the firpot and the pan. It created a deeper firepot.

    All that said, using fireclay is not important. Although this gets hot it does not get to the type of heats that you need a refractory clay. Any clay will do. Some folks add a small amount of portland cement to the clay to help make it stronger and to reduce cracking. However, it is important to mix the clay VERY stiff. That is, with very little water other wise cracking will be severe. Good red clay like bricks are made of works and so does artists modeling clay (NOT oil or plasticine clay). Some folks use commercial furnace cement (the stuff used to seal around stove pipes). You can also purchase refractory furnace cement but it is expensive and overkill. About a 1/2" (13mm) layer should work. If the forge has a heavy firepot (1/2" (13mm) to 3/4" (18mm) thick), that does not need to be clayed but the pan and edge of the pot would be clayed.
       - guru - Saturday, 07/05/03 12:32:40 GMT

    Motor Direction: Olle on some machinery it does not matter and on others it is critical.

    If you have a long drive belt from line shafting that runs horizontally the "tight" side should be the top.

    If you have a slack belt clutch with an idler that tensions the belt it should be on the "loose" side of the belt. The "tight" side of the belt is where the belt is naturally tight under load (pulling).

    If you have a wrap around brake like some hammers do and are often retrofitted the wheel should turn in the same direction that the brake band tightens. It does not matter which way a Little Giant turns until someone installs one of these brakes.

    CCW and ABC:When we were building 3 phase machinery for the nuclear industry most of it was VERY direction critical and several were reversable but still critical (limit switches do not work if the motor turn backwards). This was "portable" machinery and the electricians in the field had a fit getting it right and screwed up half the time (which is the probility of ANYONE getting it right without trying). I couldn't believe that electricians in a nuclear plant couldn't hook up a motor the same way twice. . . We had two very near calamaities. So, after the first set of equipment all the rest was built with "phase proofing". I used a little phase direction sensing relay and had logic in the machine controls that automaticaly ran the machines the right direction. Then as long as they didn't hook 240VAC machines to 660VAC (they DID that once!) everything turned the right way.

    On electric hoists (winches and elevators) the motor direction is very critical. On initial tests ALWAYS push the UP button. If the hoist goes UP then everything is OK. If it goes down then you know it is wrong. More importantly you did not go UP with DOWN and wreck the hoist because the upper limit switch did not work.

    Hoists are shipped in the UP position with only a few inches of travel left (or none at all). It is a LONG way to the down limit and inadvertantly going that way is not going to hurt anything. But going up can crash the block end against the stop arm and cable reel often locking up the hoist. So always test with the UP botton.
       - guru - Saturday, 07/05/03 13:00:55 GMT

    Am I to assume that the Buffalo Blower I bought cannot be valued? Or should I direct this question to someone specific?
       Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/03 15:45:52 GMT


    Not really, but it's hard to price stuff without a picture. The hand blowers that I've seen for the last few years have gone for prices anywhere from $35 (very small one) to $150 (Champion 400 with complete stand).
       Paw Paw - Saturday, 07/05/03 15:57:27 GMT


    Hard to tell about rumbling gears. IF they are quiet under load and lubricated then they are OK. Most gear trains of this sort rattle some when freewheeling and often have a distinctive noise even in good condition. But if it is noisy under load it may be near the end of its life. I go by ear and gut instinct.

    The price of things like this are also dependent on how much you NEED it. Someone that needs one to do period demos may be willing to pay a lot for a tool that is just a shop curiosity to others. Why pay good money for a worn out hand crank antique when you can buy a NEW electric blower for the same money? If I wanted hand powered I'd go with a bellows. . . Fits all periods up to the present.

    THEN IF you are collecting antiques the value is considerably less when parts are broken of missing (like that handle). Easy enough to fix but it won't be OEM.

    Buffalo also made it hard by the fact that they made dozens of models, some beter than the others.

    I've seen blowers sell for anywhere from $50 to $600. The big Champions are absolutely silent and had VERY expensive gearing in them (multi lead worm with adjustable end play). Today they would have to sell for well over $2000 new. The new handcrank blowers made in England follow the small Buffalo pattern (cheeper construction) and sell for less but I do not have a price on them.

    My feeling is that whatever the price, if you NEED it, most of this old equipment is a bargain. Used anvils, vises and blowers selling are for 20-30% of new or less . . . and often being better quality than the new product. AND unlike new equipment most of the old is appreciating in value.
       - guru - Saturday, 07/05/03 19:16:25 GMT

    Little Giant Power Hammer: I have been working on restoring my Little Giant power hammer and have got it back in good running condition. Yesterday, I was steam cleaning it in preperation to painting it and found 1/4 depression under the lower die about 2x2 inches square in the middle of the die block where the lineup dowell for the die goes. My question is whether on not I need to make a shim to go under the die. I have read that this is caused by letting the die run loose in the hammer. Any info is appreciated
       - Mike - Saturday, 07/05/03 21:19:25 GMT

    Mike what size hammer? On a 25 pounder that may be a serious flaw, on a 50 it may stress the dies but is not a problem and on a 100 that is just a little relief around the dowel.

    It sounds like an old casting defect to me.
       - guru - Saturday, 07/05/03 22:14:03 GMT

    Guru, thanks for the info on the blower. I heseitated to remove the cover on the gear box fearing that the old nuts and bolts might not survive being removed. However, I only paid $15 for the blower so I guess I can risk it. It would probably benefit from a claning and re-greasing. Is there any particular grease that works better than others? I guess what you are saying is that it is worth whatever I can get for it? Maybe I should go read those adds on E-bay for the Chinese ASO's and put it up for auction!
       Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/03 23:06:09 GMT

    Oops, meant "cleaning and re-greasing". Paw-Paw made me do that.....
       Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/05/03 23:07:19 GMT

    Little Giant Hammer: Guru, The hammer is a 50 lb. Thanks for the info
       - Mike - Saturday, 07/05/03 23:54:24 GMT

    Little Giant Power Hammer: I have been reading up on power hammer safety and realize that I probably need to put some kind of safety guard around the spring on my 50 lb. hammer. Has anyone got any suggestions on how to build one? Thanks
       - Mike - Sunday, 07/06/03 00:02:37 GMT

    Thanks Guru for the claying advise. I'm gonna try out my "new" old rivet forge tomorrow using my grandpa's Champion blower that I've just refurbished. Think I'll try the forge without the clay.
       - Robert Dean - Sunday, 07/06/03 00:20:15 GMT

    LG's Guards on these vary and how you mount them varies with the model. Most end up looking like typical add-on OSHA cages. Frames of light angle iron filled with expanded metal. However, the real danger on the LG is a shattering spring and you need a solid plate for 100% protection from that. I once saw a hammer with the old style wrap around guides that was fitted with a plate with a big face in repousse'.

    QC, Most of these blowers take oil. In warm weather 80 weight gear oil works well but it gets stiff in cold weather. Then you want 30 or 40 weight oil. The little gear boxes are not designed to hold oil and have no seals. They are there to keep debris and fingers out of the gears. Oil daily when in use.
       - guru - Sunday, 07/06/03 04:05:08 GMT

    I tore down that little blower. Gears show very little wear and the sleeve bushings the same. I just cleaned out the grit and smooge, oiled it up good, and put it back together. It does run quieter now and puts out a lot of air. What a joy to look into something built to last for 100 years. The only "plastic" I found was the little washers that sat between the bronze bushing and the gears. All but one of those was still intact. Almost makes me want to build a coal forge just so I could put it to use!
       Quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/03 14:51:54 GMT

    Quench,go for it bro!!! Theres nothing in the world like it!
       - Tag - Sunday, 07/06/03 15:23:31 GMT

    "I love the smaell of caol smoke in the morning!"

       Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 07/06/03 16:50:21 GMT

    Poof, then prost!
       Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 07/06/03 16:51:39 GMT

    The one really big mistake I made when I bought this house was the location. I am in the midst of a bunch of retired folks who complain about "Loud" windchimes and meat smoking on the grill. I cannot imagine the uproar a coal forge would create! I may do it anyway........hehehehe
       Quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/06/03 16:57:39 GMT

    Quenchcrack: I'm not to sure if my coal forge is legal where I am, but I ain't asking the city anyhow. And the way the whole neighborhood sounds like Beirut with all the illegal fireworks going off at all times of the day or nite, and the police doing nothing about it, why should I care if I create a little coal smoke? If I make a little smoke, it really doesn't bother anyone. But the fire works and loud stereos bother everyone. OK, that's my rant for the day. :]
       Bob H - Sunday, 07/06/03 18:00:24 GMT

    I am an artist moving from painting in acrylic to painting on metal leaf and tarnishing or oxidizing with potasium sulfide, cupric nitratesodium sulfide, barium sulfide but I do not have any reciepies on how or how long to use the chemicals on the metal leaf. can you tell me or direct me to where i might find out how to use these chemicals as paint on metel leaf ?? thank you
       healey - Sunday, 07/06/03 19:05:49 GMT

    I bought a peculiar object from a steam fair in England today, for 20 pence. It looks to me to be something like what I'd call a Japanese-style hammer. However, I am probably utterly wrong - any ideas anyone?

    It says "Solid Cast Steel" (I think) on one side, and has some lettering on the other side I can't really make out, but it appears to end in "TURNER".

    Some pictures of the thing are at:

       minglis - Sunday, 07/06/03 22:04:27 GMT

    Matt, this style hammer was often used by saw tuners to get the interrnal tension in large circular saw blades just right.

    It was also typical of the hammers used by knifemakers in Sheffield England.

    Very well know outside of Japan.

       - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 07/06/03 23:01:49 GMT

    Times to Soak: Healy, It is like a "watched pot" that never boils. . leave the chemicals on as long as necessary. . . You have to go by visual clues. Temperature makes a big difference, hot chemicals react much quicker than cold.

    The metal and alloy make a big difference. You didn't say what kind of metal. Iron and steel are relatively active but copper and bronze color slowly. Brass due to the zinc is a LITTLE more reactive than bronze. Zinc sheet is highly reactive. Silver is slow to react chemicaly and gold doesn't react chemicaly to any chemicals that you want to deal with.

    There are books on coloring metals available from Centaur Forge and Norm Larson. Machinery's Handbook has some industrial processes described but time is not given.
       - guru - Sunday, 07/06/03 23:03:29 GMT

    old hammer from minglis
    Odd Hammer: Matt, Thomas may be right that it is a sawyers hammer but it also looks VERY much like a file cutters hammer. A file cutter's hammer would have a very curved handle ending almost parallel to the hammer. But the ones I have seen had an angled face that was perpendicular to the line of the end of the handle. However, these were such rare and personal tools that every file cutter may have ground his hammer differently.

    This hammer also appears to have had some abuse judging from the swelling of the back of the head. This was NOT a tool to be struck or have the soft short end used for striking.

    In either case is IS a rare specialty hammer. Nice buy. In the US it would have gone for $20 US or more.
       - guru - Sunday, 07/06/03 23:34:25 GMT


    You didn't specify what type of metal leaf you are using, nor how it is being applied to the substrate. If you are using 23k gold leaf, it can be colored, but some of the chemicals will have an adverse effect on the gilder's oil or varnish that you use to apply it. If you are using silver leaf, anything you use to color it will still end up with it becoming dark grrey after time.

    If you are using the ersatx metal leaf, it is aluminum with various adulterants to give it its primary color. It will rapidly become dull if left exposed to the air, so it mus tbe varnished. I don't know much about chemical coloriung for aluminum leaf, but whatever you use, use it diluted and rinse thoroughly afterward with clean distilled water. Then clear coat.

    There may be a bit about coloring leaf in The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques by Ralph G. Mayer. Check your local library.
       vicopper - Sunday, 07/06/03 23:36:15 GMT

    Quenchcrack...I bought a nameless crank blower a few years ago and took it apart to free up the gears. Cleaned out a ton of crud, filled the casing with oil which leaked out over night. I bought some gasket material from NAPA and cut one to fit the case. Although a small amout has leaked down the legs, it has held up pretty well. I imagine cork or leather would work as well. It still turns easily and quietly. Just a thought if yours leaks too.
       R Guess - Monday, 07/07/03 00:07:36 GMT

    How does a butcher differ from a hot or cold chisel? The pictures I have seen look like it maybe only sharpened at one angle like a wood plane iron. Also, how would it be used in place a chisel?

    Thanks in advance, this place is great.
       habu - Monday, 07/07/03 04:45:24 GMT

    Dr Quenchcrack;
    The diplomatic way to run a coal forge there is to make sure it's first products are little giftees for the soon to be offended neighbors....noting that it is so "the old ways won't be lost" and that it keeps the rock and roll band from practicing there.
    Mike; A butcher is like a chisel with one flat side, but the angle of the face is almost 90*,,very flat for a chisel. It's use is to " set down" the metal beneath the tool, creating a clean shoulder and emphasizing the declivity. ( sounds nasty).
       - Pete F - Monday, 07/07/03 06:26:12 GMT

    QC; All is not lost. If nothing else, you can C-clamp your blower to the edge of your patio table, and sit there gently turning the crank, cooling your perspiring brow, whilst quaffing a suitable adult beverage. Your neighbors will be impressed with your resourcefulness and amused by your eccentricity, and soon you'll be able to get away with most anything within the bounds of decency, and, as Pete suggested, a little creative brownnosing couldn't hurt either. Always works for me. As regards your missing wooden crank handle, I was able to make a pretty close copy of one by center boring a wooden file handle of the proper size, and using a long shanked 1/4" carriage bolt with the square shoulder filed off. You get the picture, I'm sure. You don't want any threads or sharp edges inside the bore to chew up the wood. Stay cool with your authentic Buffalo Y1K Air Conditioner! 3dogs
       3dogs - Monday, 07/07/03 12:39:17 GMT

    Thanks very much for the replies Thomas and Guru, very interesting. (Also thanks Guru for posting a cleaned-up version of my image!)

       minglis - Monday, 07/07/03 12:47:47 GMT

    PETE F.; I've always considered my declivities to be private, and not to be emphasized. Besides, whatever I choose to decliv in the privacy of my own forge is nobody else's bidness!.......wait a minute.....I thought you meant bepravities......never mind. 3dogs
       3dogs - Monday, 07/07/03 12:54:50 GMT

    bepravities? Depravities! ('nother PawPawism)
       3dogs - Monday, 07/07/03 12:57:05 GMT

    Mike, To add a little more to what Pete said. I like my butchers to be about 3/8" thick at the business end, and I dress the angle to about 70º depending on the use or visual effect. If they are thinner, say ¼", they can become a "hack" or "shearing tool" used to shear metal off the far edge of the anvil with the help of a striker. They can be used to demarcate a tenon shoulder, although they aren't absolutely necessary for that purpose.

    I discovered that if one concaves the business end slightly from corner to corner of the 'blade' width, the butcher can be used for a more decorative shoulder on say, square stock, where you want to demarcate a taper for a picket "point". I use the word 'point' advisedly, as I try not to put anything sharp on my ironwork anymore because of the frivolity of lawsuits.

       Frank Turley - Monday, 07/07/03 13:23:40 GMT

    Matt, if you can find a copy of "Shire Album 195, The Cutlery Industry" you can see a number of offset hammers being used to forge knives.

       - Thomas Powers - Monday, 07/07/03 14:18:59 GMT

    As Guru pointed out, this little blower has no seals to keep the oil inside, thus making the blower a temporary residence for oil and a near permanent residence for the crud. This blower is exactly what I was looking for about 20 years ago when I built a brake-drum forge. Never fired it up for lack of a blower. I eventually sold the forge at a garage sale while living in Canada. I think I finally called it a Hibatchi just to sell it. Now I wish I still had it. As far as "gifting" the neighbors, I will take that to heart. A nice hand-forged steak turner for the lady who objects to cooking smoke. A triangle dinner bell for the man who thinks my 2" x 2.5' windchimes are too loud. If I still had that brake-drum forge, it would be a nice gift for the lady with the Pekinese who barks all night. It would give a new meaning to "Wok the dog".
       - Quenchcrack - Monday, 07/07/03 16:41:48 GMT

    Ries, tried to find "the home shop machinist" and have failed. how can i contact them for a subscription?? thanks
       rugg - Monday, 07/07/03 19:01:18 GMT

    frank, are you scheduled to do anything in nevada, arizona, or so cal sometime in the furure?? thanks..
       rugg - Monday, 07/07/03 19:08:00 GMT


    Go to www.homeshopmachinist.net it was already on my favorites list.

    Caleb Ramsby

    P.S. Rugg I have some of my pictures posted on the Yahoo group now.
       Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 07/07/03 20:55:05 GMT

    Regarding forge welding. How hard of a blow is required to fuse the two peices together? I know this will depend on the size of the peices. I generally work with small stuff about half an inch or less. A general rule of thumb should be good enough for me to get started. Thanks for any help.
       Will - Monday, 07/07/03 21:51:18 GMT

    mr caleb, thanks for address. i did see your new pics..what kind of vise did you use when you did the twists?? just curious. nice pieces! have you ever tried to forge a 90 angle where the inside and outside corners are "sharp". it is interesting on how one can do that. it does require some upset to add material for the outside corner and some forging to take some away for the inside. i have tried it a few times, improvement each time. easy to have the inside fold in. thanks again..
       rugg - Monday, 07/07/03 21:58:41 GMT


    Don't hit it too hard. I find that the most common error of beginning weldors is trying to slam he11 out of the weld on the first stroke. The first blow should be just hard enough to force the slag out from between the two pieces, and "marry" the welld. If necessary, at that point, you can re-flux and finish closing the weld before final shaping.

    Frank Turley is the forge welding guru, I hope he will add to or correct what I have said.
       Paw Paw - Monday, 07/07/03 22:01:10 GMT

    Will, Quick fast blows starting from the center out. Don't burn the steel. Folks read Bealer where he was talking about wrought iron sparking and that is too hot for mild steel and a lot too hot for higher carbon steels.
       - guru - Monday, 07/07/03 23:01:55 GMT

    What was anvil firing?
       bob - Tuesday, 07/08/03 00:04:12 GMT

    I've heard that you should hot rasp the steel before trying to forge weld it. Is this necessary and if so how is it done? Can a standard wood rasp be used? Also, I have Super Flux 1000 made by Superior Flux & Mfg. Co. Is this appropriate for the task or should I get something else? Sorry for all the questions I'm just wanting to get this right in as few tries as possible. Hit's hotter than Billy B. here and a roaring fire isn't all that much fun right now. Thanks again.
       Will - Tuesday, 07/08/03 00:13:40 GMT


    There are three things to remember when forge welding. They are 1. CLEAN 2. CLEAN 3. CLEAN!!

    Hot rasping is one way, a good aggressive wire brush is another. As for flux, I use plain old 20 Mule Team Borax from the laundry section of the supermarket. Make sure that it Borax, NOT Boraxo.
       Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/08/03 00:45:38 GMT


    See iForge demo #103 for the answer to your question.
       Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/08/03 01:39:40 GMT

    What is the proceedure for hardening 4140 tool steel.
    What temperature / color should I bring the steel up to (and how long should it soak at this temperature) before quenching and what is the appropriate quenching medium? Thank you very much,
       chris - Tuesday, 07/08/03 02:36:31 GMT

    I have recently picked up an antique tinned (inside and out) copper pot of East Indian work, I believe, for potential cooking. (After spending 40 hours of sinking and raising on my 1/8" steel "pot that ate all of my time" I thought $18 for a 3 qt. hand-made antique cookpot quite reasonable.)

    Anyway; three questions:

    1) How do I test the present tinning for lead or other toxic alloys?

    2) How do I re-tin (I think someone has explained this here before. Was it Thomas Powers?)

    3) Has anybody tried this before?

    Meanwhile, inspired by all this talk of lubricating and reconditioning blowers, I added some 30 W 90 gear oil to the Buffalo blower on the farm forge that I use for non-medieval demonstrations (a generous donation from my archeologist friend, Keith). Anyway, after a couple of turns of the handle it kept getting stiffer and stiffer- the oppositer of what was expected. I'd tear it apart, but theres' no obvious way to get in. So- did I "mess it up good", or did chance and entropy coincide to keep my life interesting?

    Hot and humid with random violent thunderstorms on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

    Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
       Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 07/08/03 02:38:21 GMT

    Heat Treating 4140: Chris, See our Heat Treating FAQ on our FAQs page.

    Tighter and Tighter: Bruce, it sounds like one of the nuts on the end of a shaft is self tightening. Some of these blower shafts have adjustable bearing end-play. There are usualy two thin "jamb nuts". One is used to adjust the tension and the other to lock the first into place. If the lock nut comes loose the the turning shaft can cause the bearing to self tighten.

    OR it could be that you just loosened up some gradue and it has moved where it shouldn't. Folks often lubricated stuff like this with organic oils like cooking oil, linseed oil or fish oil. This often harden over time. Hardening is sometimes accelerated by the addition of mineral oils. . .

    Hot Rasp: Will this is filing red hot or not quite red hot metal with a coarse metal file NOT a wood rasp. In either case it wrecks the rasp/file. This is not necessary when welding unless you have badly burned the metal. In that case no amount of cleanup usualy helps.
       - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/03 05:13:04 GMT

    Forge welding: I watched a well known farrier demonstrate forge welding. He gave all the key points and grabbed up his flux in a can that looked like on of those powdered creamer cans or a large pepper can. Said "Boraxo" right on the side of it. His next weld he started to tell how much he really liked these handy cans of flux and that he had bought all the store had when he saw these things. Someone then inquired if he had any difficulties with Boraxo as a flux. He looked puzzled and said no that it was pretty standard stuff to use when forge welding. The next question was if he had put 20 Mule Borax in the can. By now he is getting flustered and took the bull by the horns, and found out that it was indeed the Boraxo hand soap he was using. His next weld failed.

    Now I don't have enough experience to argue the point but his experience was that he had merrily forge welded with this stuff for 10 cans of a 12 can case without realizing what he had. or any real problems. According to him. He only brought it up as he wanted to find another case or two cause it wasn't sold where he lived.

       Mills - Tuesday, 07/08/03 12:26:12 GMT


    Anything is possible, I suppose. There are a lot of guys that do forge welds with no flux at all, and others that just use fine sand. Whatever works.
       Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/08/03 13:39:03 GMT

    Well, on forge welding, reams could be written. I tell my people not to use Boraxo and not to use Borateem, the latter being a blue laundry additive (still on the market?). Borax is good. It is a little foamy straight from the box because of moisture content, but that has never caused me to pay extra for anhydrous borax. I was told once that if you want to have anhydrous borax, put some store bought borax in a shallow dish, bake it in the oven at a low heat, and then put it in the blender.

    Anyway, I use borax on laybacks and sandwiches where you don't have two separate pieces coming together, as in a lap weld. I close down the interstice(s) and flux all around at a bright cherry or above, so that the flux melts right away. I believe that some of the flux flows into the shut area by capillary attraction. Some smiths flux the interfaces and then close the pieces together. I don't. Hammer direction is important. On a layback, hammer from the closed toward the open end to squeeze out the "soup".

    About 20 years ago, I demoed a weld, and I said to use relatively light blows to start the weld and then to increase the force of the blows once you have cohesion. Afterward, Mack Beal, a well know New England smith and sculptor, approached me and said the he never forge welded that way. He said that he hit it hard right out of the fire. To each his own. However, my experience has been that if you too hit hard right away, you may be causing draw or shear faster than the metal has a chance to cohere. With any form of lap weld, the overly hard blow may cause the underneath piece to fly across the room. A 'dirty' piece will often go flying, as well. Ever happened to ya'?

    On lap welds, I will often use two fluxes, one on top of the other. First, I apply borax and when it glazes, I sprinkle on some E-Z welding compound [other compounds may work]. When the tiny iron filings melt in the forge fire, you're ready to weld. I learned this from Daryl Nelson of Fire Mountain Forge, Washington State, quite a while back. This method has helped me. Daryl used it in his gas forge, and told me that he has never burned the iron.

    Having said all the above, I recently visited Edward Martin, the renowned smith of Closeburn, Scotland. He had a Clydesdale shoe on the hearth in his living room, and it had a 4"x5/8" forge welded toe calk, I asked him if he used flux, and he replied, "No, it was a clean weld". In the UK, the smiths will often wire brush vigorously, make sure they have a clean fire, and WELD!

    RUGG, I'll be in Guthrie, Oklahoma, King's Southwest Iron Works, for the Saltfork Craftsmen, October 11-12, but none of the other states you mentioned.
       Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/08/03 13:49:03 GMT

    Hi i'm not entirely sure if this is a reasonable question but i'll give it a go! I am a jeweller who has recently emigrated to Spain and I desperately need to find a precious metal caster somewhere out here to avoid having to post things to London eachtime...can you shed any light? i am based in Estepona, Malaga. Many thanks, Laure
       Laure - Tuesday, 07/08/03 14:59:16 GMT

    Hello all, I jsut wanted to say hello from Northern Iraq! I've been here since May, and just wanted to say hello to some old friends. Email me and let me know what is going on. Use this email address, not the old one please.
       Bond,JamesBond - Tuesday, 07/08/03 15:18:14 GMT

    I would like to purchase a cutlers hammer like the one in the entry a few brackets back.One abuot 3lbs would be great.If anyone knows where I wuold appreciate it.

       - CHRIS - Tuesday, 07/08/03 16:27:11 GMT

    Laure, I don't have any sources in Spain but someone might see your note and help. I don't know about Spain but here I would go to the yellow pages (Internet or print) and then an Industrial directory like Thomas Register. TR has an on-line version that you can use as an unregistered guest. Although mostly US businesses they may have some overseas listings.
       - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/03 16:35:16 GMT

    Old Hammer Above: Chris, Matt found the company that made it was William Tyzack, Sons and Turner who was in operation in the Sheffield area tool trade in England during the last half of the nineteenth century. Among other things they made scythes and blades for reapers. In 1851 they went into the file making business. At this time the small tool makers cast their own tool steel ingots and processed them by forging and rolling. There is a good chance that the hammer was made in-house for their own file cutters OR for resale to cutlers in the area.

    Today if you want that style hammer you would probably have to make your own or have someone make it for you. It is forged from about a 2-1/4" round piece of tool steel.
       - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/03 16:54:54 GMT

    ANTIQUE BLACKSMITH SHOP SIGN: I know we would all like to have one, but I am hopeful that I might find someone with connections for my Dad's shop. Anyone knwo where I can find an original Antique Blacksmith sign, no reproductions?
       Bob Scudder - Tuesday, 07/08/03 17:49:46 GMT

    That's what the boraxo was fore---he wanted a *clean* weld!

    Really Boraxo does contain borax. perhaps there was enough to make the difference. Also soap was used in two...

    I'll stick to borax. I have a small wooden keg I keep my demo borax in. It was sold holding wooden spoons for the kitchen. I turned a wooden lid for it and used an old belt tacked to one side then tacked to the lid and then going down to a small dome headed screw that fits in the old belt holes. Looks very old timey/ I have a small pan I use to catch the borax that over shoots or bubbles off and so my stuff gradually becomes the "crunchy" kind and gets pounded down every now and then. Sure it re-hydrates but most of it is straight 10 H20 stuff anyway.

       - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/08/03 19:32:42 GMT


    I used a 5" jaw post vise for the twists. If you are wondering about the twisted hook's twists. To make the twists I made one bend so the bar was shaped like an L and heated the vertical part of the L. Then grasped the horizontal part of the L cross wise in the vise so that the corner was hanging over the edge of the jaws and then twisted the vertical piece. Then I would repeat the process for the second twist. This makes where the two twist meet a little interisting.

    No I havn't tried to make sharp corners on 90 deg bends very much yet. I should though, I have illustrations in many of my books to do so.

    Caleb Ramsby
       Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 07/08/03 19:34:20 GMT

    "This makes where the two twist meet a little interisting."

    A more acurate description is that the twists seem to go around the corners.

    Caleb Ramsby
       Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 07/08/03 19:37:12 GMT


    Bruce -- If you do a web search for lead test kits you'll find lots. Don't know which are legit and if they can distinguish between lead and tin (never heard of tin paint) but it might be worth a Google.
       Mike B - Tuesday, 07/08/03 21:16:51 GMT

    Laure, This is kinda' passing the buck, but you might try asking at www.edeoficios.com. They have out good books on various trades including blacksmithing. They seem to be kind of a craft center/clearinghouse...located in León.
       Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/08/03 21:55:28 GMT

    I own a Sahinler SM-50 power hammer and am looking for advice on modifications that can be done to improve performance of the tool. Mainly the lubrication and keeping the hammer as cool as possible. Thank you, Tony
       Tony - Tuesday, 07/08/03 22:11:26 GMT

    Thanks to all for the advice! A lot to consider and a lot to experiment with. I think it was PawPaw who once said that if you ask ten different smiths how to do aomething they will each have different answer and all of them will be right. Thanks again to all the good folks here at Anvil Fire.
       Will - Tuesday, 07/08/03 22:23:46 GMT

    Hot Hammers: Tony, There is not much you can do to a self contained hammer except oil it and run it and look out for loose parts. However, many of the Turkish clones of Kuhns suffer from over heating and can diesel. I saw one with a little forge blower sitting in the housing over the head keeping it cool.

    Good dies for the type work you do can make a big difference. On small hammers some type of universal die is common. Dan Boone and some others likes dies that are gently radiused in all directions with no corners or sharp edges. The more radius a die has the more agessively it moves metal but it also makes a rougher surface OR takes more skill to make a smooth one.

    Bill Epps uses a mild steel die holder block replacing the bottom die. This allows for quick changes of bolt on or clamp on tooling. But he also has a 100# Little Giant that he uses for drawing. Having more than one hammer and in different sizes is the most productive thing you can do. I know smiths that run two hammers at one doing one operation on one and then another on the next.

    IF you really want more "performance" get a bigger hammer!
       - guru - Tuesday, 07/08/03 22:28:29 GMT

    Just picked up an edwards #10 shear. It is a monster. no handle. any slick ideas on forging a handle (tricks, design, ect..)? comments appreciated!
       rugg - Tuesday, 07/08/03 23:44:41 GMT

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