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 18 - 25, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

What is blacksmithing?

p.s please answer within the next five minutes or not at all.

   - sarah - Friday, 07/18/03 01:51:17 GMT

Something too important for 5 minute time limits. It is the basis for all modern technology.
   - guru - Friday, 07/18/03 02:34:03 GMT

What is the meaning of life?

Please answer immediately or not at all, my entire future rests on the answer!

OBTW...any winning lottery numbers? (grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 07/18/03 02:55:12 GMT

Jock, thanks for the CLEAR explanation on the fly press, I have been wondering how they worked, and now I understand a lot more than before. Looks like one of those would be a nice addition to a shop!
   Ellen - Friday, 07/18/03 04:51:03 GMT

Avagodro's number is the answer to everything 6.0221367 x 10 to the 23rd
   habu - Friday, 07/18/03 05:09:08 GMT

Avaogadro's number is only the answer to everything. If you need the answer to life, the universe, and everything you have to go to Deep Thought, the amazingly stupendous computer. According to DT, the answer is 42.
   MarcG - Friday, 07/18/03 10:10:22 GMT

vic, I can give you last weeks winning lottery numbers.... Will that help? (grin)

   Ralph - Friday, 07/18/03 13:26:13 GMT

No, no, the answer to everything is the golden number or phi: 0.6180339887. . . a MUCH more interesting number than Avogadro's.

Proportions approximating phi turn up in everything from ancient Greek architecture to the seed heads of sunflowers and the shell of the chambered nautilus to the spiral of galaxies and spacing of planets.

Curiously phi squared = phi + 1.
   John Lowther - Friday, 07/18/03 15:57:48 GMT

Marc, Then you know the significance of the "Don't Panic" screen. ;) Had a contest on that a few years back.

The most useful mathematical numbers are PI (used for a lot more than circles, also angle) AND the square root of two. Musicaly the West uses the 12th root of 2 which generates a very interesting series of numbers.

My feeling about the golden rectangle is that it is a curiosity and a bunch of phiso-hype (BS). There are many BOOKS on the subject and 90% of the examples given are bad fits that just don't work. You have to BELIEVE the BS for any of it to work. The absolute worst are the ones trying to make spirals out of rectangles (and reproduced in many blacksmithing references). . . Spirals ARE mathematical but NOT built from forced rectangular fits. See my iFOrge demo on laying out spirals.

Auction: I setup the Auction system on the new server last night. It is going to work OK. Please do not register on the CURRENT system. We have backed up the database and will copy it to the new system in a few days (or as soon as I figure out how. . ).
   - guru - Friday, 07/18/03 16:47:21 GMT

Greetings O' Great Omnipotent Guru!!

I am taking my show on the road, and need advice on setting up my trailer, anvil stand, forge, ect.....
   tannis - Friday, 07/18/03 20:00:35 GMT

Agreed, Pi is a vastly more important number, but for all it's importance it hasn't had the "cult" following which phi has, seemingly going back to Pythagoras himself.

The square root of two? I've used it a fair bit in electrical calculations, but does it turn up elsewhere? This is a real question since there is a lot more I don't know than I do. (I know I sometimes sound like a know-it-all! I really don't... and many apologies to anyone I may have offended doing so.)

A friend calculated the Pythagorean pitches for the notes of a piano and used a frequency counter to tune it. It sounded great in A (since his calculations were based on A=440Hz) but other keys were apt to induce winces. I made him a spreadsheet showing the equal tempered pitches calculated with the twelfth root of two, and it sounded much better. Except in A, where it just didn't sound as sweet.
   John Lowther - Friday, 07/18/03 20:45:35 GMT

All my immaginary friends like the square root of negative one.

How about planck's constant?

Frankly most of my smithing is "by eye" and if I come up with a nice looking piece I may use it to pattern the rest off of.

Thomas "it's getting crowded in here", "There's someone in my head and it's not me..."
   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 07/18/03 22:41:43 GMT

Just putting together my blacksmithing shop. I would like some recommendations on installing my top vented forge hood.The forge is 38x40x8" that sits 28" from the floor.Would you have a diagram with the recommended measurements for the distance from the bottem of the chimney where it meets the hood to the fire, also the distance from the bottem of the hood to the floor. I have a 20x26 shop with 12 foot ceilings how much area should the hood cover over the forge. Also what size blower would you recommend, i will be using coal and coke. If you have any other recommendationed sites please include.
   Chris Kilbane - Saturday, 07/19/03 00:47:52 GMT

Hi, I wanted to know if I could get a suggestion for a sma project. I haven't got much heating power, let alone welding apabilities (I got a bernzomatic torch).
   cmills - Saturday, 07/19/03 02:02:41 GMT

1.4142135623. . . The square root of two is the diagonal value of anything square. Half of that is 0.7071067. . . which is also sine of 45° AND the square root 1/2. Recognizing them when doing trial curve fits lets you know that there is a square log curve function. . . the acceleration of gravity or population growth out of control for example. It is also handy to know them when doing any kind of trig. Its the second and third most used constant after PI.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 02:10:32 GMT

BS Trailer: Well, many folks think mine was dang near perfect BUT it did have some problems. See our 21st Century page.

First, it is REAL easy to have a BS trailer come in at 5,000 to 10,000 pounds. I was targeting 1,800 and came in a 4,500 loaded with stock, tools and coal. Consider what you have to tow it with and where you are going.

Wood is heavy, rots, and unless you are a shipwright does not hold up to being portable. A tubular steel frame is good but you want a light aluminium skin if you do a roof like mine. And I mean THIN aluminium (like flashing). I still like a wood bench surface but that is another thing.

Being outdoors I would consider an ALL stainless forge and stack. The stack on mine was replaced OVER and OVER and the forge bottom several times. The first time I replaced the hood I went with copper. The steel one evaporated. Keep it light.

MANY times I would end up working much later than other craft folks and lights would have been handy. If you need to keep OLD looking retofit kerosene lamps OR fit gas lights to acetylene (VERY bright). But electric is clean and simple.

My bellows held up pretty well but would have stayed in better shape if the weather was kept off it better. Keep it DRY, oil the leather regularly. For its size a bellows puts out a lot of air and is comprable to a blower in weight. They are also OH SO Classy!

But I would use the same basic layout as my original if I were to do do another.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 02:22:59 GMT

cmills, I don't consider a propane torch HEAT for metal working. At least not iron/steel. You CAN anneal copper and brass with it. Then work them cold. All kinds of jewelery is made from copper and brass rod/wire 3/16" to 1/4" in diameter worked cold or propane torch hot.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 02:26:37 GMT

Shop Forge: Chris, a lot depends on the size of wark you are planning on doing. The thing about a coal forge is that it has tremondous range depending on how high you pile the coal and how much air you have available. I would use one of the small or medium size forge blowers that the Kaynes sell. Centaur also sells a large forge blower. You need about 200 to 250 CFM for a medium/large forge and 300 o 500 for a BIG forge.

The classic funnel hood is a worthless thing unless you can afford a big 18" to 24" stack. The problem is that they not only have to handle all the smoke but ALSO all the cold air at the opening. The cold air dilutes the hot and the draft drops off. So it takes a BIG stack.

Side draft "hoods" avoid this problem by having a small opening close to the fire. See our plans page. This design has been around for centuries in brick and also works in metal.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 02:36:28 GMT

Re: Shop Forge
I do have an 18 inch chimney, could you dirct me to someone who would know the suggested measurements I requested.
   Chris Kilbane - Saturday, 07/19/03 03:12:06 GMT


Shlosser(I think that is his name, I couldn't find it anywhere on his web site expect for his electronic mail name and his site name) has a very good web site that has a lot of information on the dimensions of a forge's parts. There are also a lot of pages dedicated to the showing of old and new forges. I must warn you that it is easy to get lost at his site and not leave for a while.


Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Saturday, 07/19/03 04:39:39 GMT

cmills & guru, It is a matter of perspective. Somebody that forges prototype medical instruments would consider a propane torch to be a big fire. A propane torch can get to welding temperature if your chamber is sized correctly and your mass is correct. The prototypes for tools that dentists and surgeons use all came from "small" forging operations. Make one, try it and modify it. CNC, EDM and rapid prototyping has changed that. If you search, you'll find several small forge designs. The simplest is nothing more than a firebrick drilled with a couple of right angle intersecting holes for the torch tip and the work piece. And Mapp lets you take the heat up above if you want.
   - dloc - Saturday, 07/19/03 04:59:34 GMT

cmills: your forge is big enough for leaves out of 1/4 in. There are several variations of leaves that you could do. and scrolls look on the iForge sheet and see the twists that PPW demonstrated try the pineapple. You could also make some tools like an eye punch or two and hot chisels These don't necessarily need to be med or hi carbon. The more you pound, No matter what, the more you convince dad to let you build a bigger better forge. Speaking of which read ron reils site to see what else you can do.
   Mills - Saturday, 07/19/03 06:04:19 GMT

I've done my homework in reading up on how to heat treat steel, but I'm looking for specific information on how to heat treat 4130 alloy "chromolly" steel. I don't have any experience heat treating and all I have to work with is a basic oxy-acetylene torch for the heating, water for quenchant, and steel wool to shine up the piece and see those oxidation colors. The piece I want to treat is .05" thick x 2" wide x 7" long with two bends at the ends and a myriad of holes drilled in it, and was in the annealed condition during the drilling and bending. Its application is the first line of defence in a battlebot, and as such will be subjected to very VERY violent impacts from titanium/tool steel and other exotic metal "blades" of the same dimensions as my piece spinning at high rpms. So what procedure should I follow to obtain a good mix of hardness and toughness?
   Zach Goff - Saturday, 07/19/03 06:53:04 GMT

Forgot to mention that I'm not stupid and have a few scrap pieces to test the method out on first :)
   Zach Goff - Saturday, 07/19/03 07:13:17 GMT


Please send me the information about the equipment for coal grinding and coal pulverizing.

   Ravindra Shetye - Saturday, 07/19/03 09:37:05 GMT

Zach, in that thickness, 4130 should be oil quenched and even then you might get some distortion. An O/A torch is going to make it difficult to get an even heat on the piece and uneven heat leads to cracks and distortion. If you have access to compressed air, try heating to a bright red and use the compressed air to quench it. Try to hold it close enough to the air to get rapid cooling but far enough away that it cools evenly. If that doesn't work, warm water is the best option. Temper fairly hot to get good toughness, around 1000F, or a good silver-gray. Avoid the blue range as it will be brittle.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/19/03 13:01:43 GMT

Zach, A bit more about 4130. Make sure you agitate the piece while in the oil bath. Sometimes, when there are holes, cracks might develop because of the difference in the rate of heat abstraction inside the hole(s) and the larger, solid mass elsewhere. Give it your best shot. If you temper to 1000ºF, the entire piece should be a dull red, incandescent color. You'll be way above the heat rainbow oxidation. With an oxy torch, you might "wash" the piece with a constant "waving motion" where necessary.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 07/19/03 13:19:53 GMT

Alternative Red-Neck Seat of the Pants Blacksmith Heat Treat: Heat the edges (about 1/4") of that bar to a red with the torch (keep it moving) and let an air quench and the metal itself as heat sink cool the heated area. Afterwards clean the part with sandpaper or a grinder (steel wool is NOT going to remove the scale) and then temper to a blue.

Tempering a part is best done by heating a larger piece of steel to the correct temperature with a controlled heat such as on a stove top. Polish up the heat sink and use temper colors to determins ITS temperature. Then lay your piece to be tempered on the large block and watch the colors run. You can do seperate legs of a bent piece and repeating the process (double tempering) does not hurt.

Afterwards you should have a part with hard edges and a soft middle (where the holes are drilled and is likely to break). The hard edges should resist cutting and make the part stiffer and soft middle resist breakage.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 14:50:20 GMT

Second Alternative . . . Heat Treat: Heat treat 100% as recommended by others above (you are going to need to build an enclosure of some kind to heat the part evenly, it is too big to get an even torch heat). THEN use a torch and temper the middle of the bar leaving the edges hard. The way some knike makers do this is to cover the edges with clay to protect from the heat. They use a porceline pottery clay (high alumina refractory clay).

Again, this would leave a tough part with hard edges.

Both these alternative methods are known as "selective heat treating". The best most durable parts are made this way and it usualy requires a worker's individual attention. However, many critical parts are selectively heat treated in factory situations. Many parts are localy flame hardened and others localy tempered. Like the tang of a file. they are soft enough to bend while the rest of the file is glass hard.

This is both high-tech and ancient-tech.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 15:39:02 GMT

I was wondering if anyone would have information about a rock island mfg co no593 vice? My father gave it to me. Any info would be appretiated.
   Dean Long - Saturday, 07/19/03 16:38:06 GMT

The Guru has admonished us many times, with good reason, about buying cheap tools. He has also often made the point for each of us to achieve the highest level of craftsmanship we are capable of. So why are we all so willing to accept poor quality heat treating? Because it doesn't show? Heat treating is the difference in performance for a lot of tools. Take a look at Grant Sarvers "Off-Center Tools" at Kaynes. Beautifully forged and PROPERLY heat treated. Should we strive for less? Yes, I know heat treating can be very confusing and difficult without the right equipment. But many of us spend thousands of dollars on a power hammer and then guess at the right temperatures while heat treating out of the forge. I think a worthy project would be to develop a "Junk Yard Heat Treat Furnace". Propane fired, thermocouple controlled, kaowool lined. We should consider the heat treatment of our tools at least as critical as the as the fit and finish!
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/19/03 17:08:47 GMT

Rock Island Vise: Dean, I do not know the history of this American company but they made heavy duty vises. Most all of these companies (Athol, Reed, Prentis, Parker, Massey, Columbian etal) that made big vises are all out of business or have become part of other companies. Their hey-day was the late 1800's through mid 1900's when lots of heavy hand work was done in factories and machine shops. For the most part the big vises are no longer made in the US.

Rock Island, IL is the home of the Rock Island Arsenal (in operation since 1862) and the Rock Island Railroad.

Machinists vises came in various sizes starting with little hand held vises and clamp on bench vises with 1-1/2" to 2" jaws up to big "chipping" vises with 8" jaws that weighed a couple hundred pounds. The cost of these big American made vises was as much as $1800 - $2000 when they were last available.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 17:44:44 GMT

Temperature controlled furnace: QC, I have yet to find a good cheap way to control a furnace. Thermocouples and controls have always been expensive. Up to 500 degrees you could scrounge kitchen oven controls and modify them. Above that it gets either very technical or expensive.

I would like to do more lost wax casting but I have found that burn out is critical and I do not have the patience for it. I have been thinking about building a temperature controlled furnace OR limiting the temperature via using a marginaly sized burner and venting. The second case is probably the best because you want to slowly heat the mold to dry it, then burn out the wax and then calcine the mold over a period of about half a day. So a long slow build up like a kiln works best. But it also needs to be limited around 1200°F.

Don Fogg had a simple design for a little gas fueled satl pot but the temperature control was via a $250 black box from Omega or one of the temperature control folks. Then you need to add a solenoid valve (about $120) for the gas and some sort of ignition system. I think Don's old system controlled his fan and just let the gas burn at low temperature without sufficient air (waffling orange flames).
   - guru - Saturday, 07/19/03 18:18:42 GMT

Burnout kilns:

For a reasonably effective burnout kiln (that can also be used for heat treating), the simplest solution is electricity. It is far more controllable than gas, and doesn't require a muffle for most work.

I've built a few of them over the years, using soft firebrick in an angle-iron frame. For the bottom, a piece of stainless plate inside the angle will support the bricks very well. Most of the ones I built were about 10-12" square chamber about 8" high, though you can double the height and it only requires one additional heating element. I build mine so that the door drops down, but you can make the door swing if you prefer.

To make the floor, I simply lay the bricks side by side. For the walls and the roof, the bricks are best cut so they have a tongue-and-groove joint at the mating surfaces. A healthy coating of stove cement works just fine to "mortar" them together. I make the roof bricks set into the side walls by cutting a rabbet joint. You want to make each side separately and make the floor and roof as pre-made units also. Do not assemble them into a box shape until you have cut a groove in the walls to hold the heating elements.

For cutting the soft firebrick, I use an old rusty carpenter's back saw. It may be far too dull to cut wood, but it cuts soft firebrick just fine. For cutting the grooves for the heating elements, I make a tool by sharpening a piece of 1/2" banding strap and bending it into a "U" shape the right width for the heating element to fit into very snugly. Befor you make the \gouge tool, you need to have made your heating elements so you know the width of the groove.

The heating elements are made from 22 guage nichrome wire wsrapped on a mandrel the same way you make a spring. I use a piece of 1/4" steel rod for the mandrel and chuck it in the low-speed drill and spin the wire on it until I have the correct length. You can calculate the amount and gauge of wire to use by figuring the wattage with Ohm's law, or you can just guess at it like I do. I try to end up with a "spring" of nichrome wire that is long enough to go around the three walls of the kiln twice, in sort of a greatly elongated "U". For a 7" high box, one element will do it. For a box 12-14" high, add another identical element. The element needs to be pulled out so that there is a space between coils about equal to three or four diameters of the wire you use. The ends of the element get pushed through small holes in the firebrick on one side where they get hooked to the "controller."

The controller is nothing more than an electric stove control, the kind used for the top burners. These are not thermostatic controls, but rather they are proportional controls. They have a "cycle" time, and the higher you turn them up, the more of the cycle they have the element switched on. Elegantly simple, and available for free at every dump or appliance store, if you scrounge a bit. The jcontroller is wired exactly the same way it is on the stove, so just study that and you're in business.

After the heating element is made and the walls have been jgouged to make a channel for it, you can assemble the floor and walls and put the element in place. Then put the roof on with a bit of stove cement and assemble the angle iron frame around the firebrick box, welding the joints. The welding won't bother the firebrick, but be sure joints are securely clamped before welding so that heating/cooling doesn't cause movement that will crack the brick. Alternately, you weld up the framework except for the top fram and assemble the box inside it and then screw the top frame in place. Whatever you feel most comportable with.

For burnouts, a chromel/alumel thermocouple and a milliammeter will make a thermometer that you can calibrate with tempil sticks for general use. These kilns are easy and reasonably cheap to build, about four or five hours and less than a hundred bucks will do it, unless you get fancy. When I had a full-time silversmith's shop, I used a pair of them heavily for over a year and didn't have to replace anything. One of them will easily reach 1200ºF or higher, so they will work for burnouts and a lot of heattreating.

If there is sufficient interest, I would be willing to draw up a simple construction plan and post it on the Yahoo site or Jock could post it on the plans page.

   vicopper - Saturday, 07/19/03 22:42:48 GMT

vicopper, I for one would be interested in your design. Right now I have access to an electric lab furnace with digital controls and it goes to 2100F. That may not always be the case. I believe you can buy pre-made elements and it the furnace were small enough, two or three might do the job. In heat treating, slow is better.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/19/03 23:27:23 GMT


If a few more folks also request it, I'll get busy on the drawings. I agree that slower is better on the heat treating and that is one of the advantages of the proportional control. It can be set low enough that the temperature rise is only about 75-100º per hour, or even slower. It can also be set high enough to keep the element on all the time, getting the chamber up to heat in only about 30 minutes. Pre-made elements are readily available from potter's supply houses. I have a 5# roll of nichrome wire, so I just "roll my own." I suppose you could also use salvaged stove elements gotten at the same time you scrounge the controls, but I feel lmore comfortable with the coils.

There really isn't anything magic about building an electric kiln. A simple resistive heating element and a means of turning it on and off predictably, a box to hold the heat in and a door to put stuff in and out. Al the rest is embellishments for convenience, finesse or aesthetics. I, of course, never worry about aesthetics. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 07/19/03 23:49:35 GMT

Vic, could you do a set of plans, illustrating each step with one or more photographs, and including a temperature indicator as well as a control?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 07/19/03 23:54:35 GMT

Paw Paw,

I can do the plans, and maybe some photos of details, I suppose. In order to do a full-on tutorial, I'd have to get some more soft firebrick and build one from scratch. Which I wouldn't mind doing, but getting the firebrick is a pain in the tail down here. However, I'll see what I can manage. I may have a few bricks left that I can use to demo the joinery, at least. I'll have to look and see if I still have enough mercury left to weld up a chromel/alumel thermocouple. If not, I can at least shoot a photo of the one I have already made.

I suppose if I'm going to do it this thoroughly, I should just go ahead and do it as a demo and Jock can either put it on the plans page or run it as an iForge demo. I'll get started on it tomorrow, maybe have it together in a week or two.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/20/03 01:46:03 GMT


Way to go!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 07/20/03 02:12:53 GMT

Question on the firebrick~I have both soft & hard. Is soft prefered or better?
   Jerry - Sunday, 07/20/03 04:59:20 GMT

Thanks Vic C!!
I'm interested too.
Jerry; Usually soft brick are high alumina and thus a much more efficient and thermally stable refractory...also more expensive. Fire bricks are made to tolerate specific temperatures..I didn't know this when I melted some once.
There is usually an impression containing the grade stamped in the brick and the grades are mfg specific..or were.
The hard brick is obviously more mechanically durable. It's also less insulating but stores heat better. When you are stuffing a lot of iron in and out of a forge, you want as much heat stored in there as possible to reheat the iron.
Soft brick don't last long as a forge floor...the little high heeled shoes of the fire dryads ruin it when they come out and dance after the forge door closes.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 07/20/03 06:55:53 GMT

Furnace Plans: VIc, Soft refractory bricks are hard (or pricey) to get anywhere. I'll look into getting some from my foundry supplier where I get Kaowool. They ocassionaly have broken pallets and will sell any quantity. But if the pallet isn't broken the minimum is a couple hundred at a couple bucks each. .

I suspect that an electric kitchen stove oven burners or even the top burners would work. Maybe a couple on each wall. These are inexpensive enough new. Lead wire needs to be high temperature fiberglass insulatted stuff. I just happen to have about 450 feet. . . But I think it is also available from appliance repair parts wharehouses.

If anyone builds one we can use donated photos with the article (don't have to have them immediately to post the plans).

Welding Type K Thermocouples Mercury? Hmmmm never heard of using that. Tining? I weld mine back together using TIG. Cut, clean, retwist and ZAP. Just have to be darn sure to disconnect BOTH LEADS from the millivolt meter. . . Welding V/A will do a first class flame out on the meter! Hollywood special effects anyone?
   - guru - Sunday, 07/20/03 07:22:49 GMT

Hello Guru~
I am a second generation Blacksmith from southern California. I am currently living in Virginia City, Nevada. I am in the process of restoring a one hundred thirty year old Blacksmith shop. Our city Planning commity has concern about my choice of fuels. In my previous shop we burned bituminous coal and we made coke. As you know coal has the all to familiar smell of sulfer. I chose to buy processed coke from a local tack shop. The commity does not quite understand coke and I am trying to aquire some kind of resource for a msds or faq on coke and coal for comparrison. Can you help? If I can't prove that coke is "cleaner" than coal the only way I can forge anything will be with propane. I know that many a Blacksmith think that propane is the way to go. It won't quite have the authentic fire that my nineteenth century shop deserves.
Thanks for your time~ Kenn K Wanderin' Star Forge in historic pelosi's, Virginia City, NV.
   Kenn - Sunday, 07/20/03 07:31:18 GMT

IMPORTANT! Server Move - Chapter/Affilates Notice:

TO: Anyone that is a member of an ABANA Chapter AKA Affilate with hosting with us. PLEASE notify your webmaster that we are moving (we don't have an up to date webmaster list). Logins for MOST are the same but a few have changed.

Data on the new server will be from backups we made about two weeks ago. Sites with newer content will need to be updated after the end of the month.

SPECIAL NOTE: To the following groups

blacksmithing.org (FABA)
bamsite.org (BAM)
wraba.com (WRABA)

Your data has been moved and you need to point your URL at our new server's name server address BEFORE the end of July. Please DO IT NOW. Folks, please bug your president/past pres. about doing this. It must be done with your URL's registrar. We can not do it for you. Write to me if you need information.

Also note that we are dropping all the chapter web-sites that we setup and the chapters did not take over. The offer of free space for your groups still stands but we are dropping the database system that has not been updated in three years.

Yeah. . besides anvilfire, and our couple commercial accounts and some other hosting, we also had to backup, setup and move 30 chapter web sites. . . Only about 100 sites total!

   - guru - Sunday, 07/20/03 07:39:17 GMT

Kenn, I was in Virgina City in 1985. Neat place. Can't believe that with all the mining waste they are going to worry about a little coal smoke. Auto exhusts from a dozen families of tourists would be worse on any given day. Smoke from any two wood stoves on a winter day would also be as bad (or worse). But that is no help to you.

The original fuel in that locale would have been charcoal. Some grades of coke burn as clean as charcoal but others do not. The smithing coke I have seen has been different than foundry coke in this respect. For one thing, it is only seconds before foundry coke stops burning without a forced blast. Smithing coke is not burned out as intensly as foundry coke (at least from what I've seen).
   - guru - Sunday, 07/20/03 07:51:00 GMT

Vicopper, I'd sure like to see the kiln plans. A couple years ago a friend gave me a kiln that was left in the weather for several years. The wiring is shot as well as the controls and heating elements. So basically its a small rusty box lined with fire brick. I figured that some day I would rebuild it. Guess that day might be near. It sure would be nice for my wife to see something come OUT of the "Someday pile".
   Gronk - Sunday, 07/20/03 13:45:24 GMT

Smithing with coke:

In the final analysis, we all use the same fuel...carbon. Whether charcoal, bituminous coal, anthracite, coke or propane, what produces the BTU's is the combustion of carbon. If you burn bitumninous, your fire tending mostly amounts to moving coal around so that it cokes and then burning the coke. If you use coke to start with, you're just bypassing the step of burning off the volatiles from the coal and thereby, avoiding most of the nasty smoke and smell. If you burn charcoal, you are burning the carbon that is left when wood is heated to the poiint of driving off all its volatiles. If you burn gas, you're burning hydrocarbons, which is still burning carbon.
   vicopper - Sunday, 07/20/03 22:53:25 GMT

I am a student of landscape architecture and I am currently working on a design for an art school. I have been told that some of the students would like to have an outdoor smithy for the spring and summer months. I was hoping that you would be able to help me with the equipment needed and possible sqft needed for a workable area. Any information you can give me would be a great help. Thanks!
   Dorminey - Monday, 07/21/03 02:52:28 GMT

Dorminey, Shop area is largely determined by how many stations would be involved and the purpose of the shop. Climate is also part of the formula. The worse the climate the larger the roof area needs to be to protect equipment located in the center of the shelter.

I would say about 15' x 15' would be the minimum area for a single forge located about 5' from one side of the shelter. Coal forges are about 3' long and 2' wide so that would leave about 7 feet from the front of the forge to the edge of the shelter. Two people can work out of one forge if the work areas are on the sides of the forge. The work areas need room for an anvil and space to work around it (about a 6' circle) and a heavy post sunk into the earth to support a leg vise (one for each station). At the back of the shelter (oriented acording to the forge) there needs to be a banch for each worker to store tools. For efficiency I would put tool racks on both sides of the forge. At the end of the forge near the vise posts there needs to be space for a large tub of water (25 to 35 gallons). This is the "slack-tub" and it is the only tool besides the forge that should be shared.

If you want to double this design and setup four stations you need to add about 10 feet to the length of the shelter. Two forges would be set back to back and would share a flue stack location (but NOT stacks).

Unless the shelter is VERY close to storage for all the tools then the shelter needs a sturdy lockable closet or store room for the anvils and other loose tools. The vises are permanently enough mounted that the SHOULD be safe if there is security on the property. They would just need to be oiled for when they are not in use. Forges are also relatively permanent and would need to be left in place. Everything else needs good storage. And remember that blacksmithing tools are HEAVY. Shelves need to be very sturdy. NO chipboard allowed.

Layout the equipment, draw six foot diameter circles around the anvils and 180 to 200° arcs with a three foot radius centered on the jaws of the vises and then situate them near the forge. Vises should be able to handle long stock in their jaws (10 feet in either direction). You should be able to add a foot to two foot around the sides of the forge as extra working space and so that you are not TOO close to the fire in hot weather.

After you finish your layout (leave the work paths shown) take it to a blacksmith OR even a woodworker (anyone that doe intense bench.shop work) and ask about the convienience and workability of the layout. Feel free to send us a copy for comment.


1 Forge with blower and side draft hood, 12" flue minimum.
2 anvils (100 pound minimum, 150 pound max) and stands.
2 Hardies to fit (the anvils)
2 leg vises (40 to 60 pounds).
1 Slack Tub.
2 benches (perhaps with bench vises).
2 1500g cross pien hammer
2 1000g cross pien hammer
2 800g cross pien hammer
2 3/4" Gooseneck (offset) tongs
2 1/2" Gooseneck (offset) tongs
2 3/8" Gooseneck (offset) tongs
2 farriers tongs
2 plain flat bit tongs
2 3/4" cold chisles
2 1/2" round punches
2 3/8" round punches
2 HD hack saws and blades (coarse HSS).
Safety glasses for all participants
First Aid kit.

1 60 to 100 pound swage block with shallow bowls and grooved edges.
1 Hand crank post drill (these are antiques but avilable)
1 24" to 36" floor cone.
1 Floor shear.
Stock rack (rafters may substitute if reinforced and left open.

There are hundreds of tools that a well equiped shop needs but the above is a core start for two work stations. Others may see something I have missed.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/03 03:45:03 GMT

Hearing protection.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/21/03 05:25:17 GMT

An assortment of files and rasps wouldn't hurt, and a couple class "C" fire extinguishers.
   Gronk - Monday, 07/21/03 12:11:07 GMT

I have some extra 10 gauge 6061 alloy aluminum. Ended up not working on the project I got it for. And was wondering if could give me tips on working the stuff. I would like to do some dishing and cold forming like i do in steel but am not too sure of its properties. Also will annealing it be a big factor in working this stuff?

   Sylvanwolf - Monday, 07/21/03 12:11:16 GMT

6061 T-? Sylvanwolf, These high strength aluminium alloys are often sold hardened. 6061 is soft enough to bend and form but heavy working will require an anneal. It is known as age-hardening. If heated to 350-400°F and held there for several hours it will harden to a T-4 condition. As delivered is often T-6 (temper 6) which is about as hard as is practical without being brittle. This harder temper is done by rolling and stretching. But age hardening also occurs at room temperature. It just takes longer. To anneal you heat to just below the melting point and then quench in water. Work it until it starts acting hard then re-anneal. You should be able to do simple dishing like for armour in one anneal. Uniform planishing will harden it to a T-6 or better.

6061 is about as strong as mild steel (for practical purposes) and much lighter. Good armor material. It also takes a brilliant polish OR can be anodised almost any color from silver (white) to gold to black. Anodizing also adds a very hard surface that resists scratching.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/03 14:41:42 GMT

Someone published a site for used Machinery's Handbooks. I lostit.What was it? Thanx, Ron C
   Ron Childers - Monday, 07/21/03 15:49:56 GMT

Ron, Used copies of Machinery's can be found on any of the on-line use book services. Bookfinder.com and ABEbooks.com are the ones I use. I have also purchased copies on e-bay. However, be sure the e-bay seller is a legitimate business. The place is becoming a meca for crooks and theives of every sort.

Typical price for old copies is about $25 but I have paid as little as $15.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/03 17:00:10 GMT

Now that I have procured an anvil, the next chore is to mount it on a log section. Idealy, where should the top of the anvil reach? To ones waistline, above, below?????
   Tom - Monday, 07/21/03 17:10:40 GMT


iForge demo #6. Has an illustration.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/21/03 17:19:43 GMT

I have a dim recollection that there is a metal part called a rachet (or something like that). It is a saw-toothed lever that can be used to lift something up or down by advancing or lowering the burden along the teeth. According to the dictionary, there is no such word--help!
   Vic Cuffel - Monday, 07/21/03 17:24:04 GMT


Stand in a natural postion and clench the fist that you will swing the hammer with. The top of the anvil should reach the bottem of the nuckles of said fist.

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Monday, 07/21/03 17:24:31 GMT

Vic Cuffel: You are looking for ratchet.
   John Lowther - Monday, 07/21/03 19:05:01 GMT

OR a wheel and paw (AKA ratchet), such as on a winch.
   - guru - Monday, 07/21/03 19:58:49 GMT

Actually Vic's device sounds more like one of the varieties of old wagon jacks that have a tooth'd bar. 3 variations are shown in Eric Sloane's "A Museum of Early American Tools" (pg 89 in my copy).

My guess is that in use you would chock the item being lifted at each "stage" and position the jack for the next incremental lift if it wan's enough just to get it a couple of inches higher than it started at.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 07/21/03 21:56:07 GMT

Ah. . You got me. . I didn't read the original post closely. And I was thinking of lifting a load with a winch since ratchet was mentioned.

Ratchet = wheel and paw
Jack = rack and paw

Car bumper jacks used to be rach and paw types with a lever mechanism (remember THOSE dangerous thing?).

Railroad and wagon jacks worked similarly. Winches and come-a-longs are just circular versions.

   - guru - Monday, 07/21/03 22:49:16 GMT

Guru, on railroad spikes the "S" with a small virticle line through the center of the lower half of the S, what does this indicate? And what good use can one use for these types of spikes?

   scott - Monday, 07/21/03 23:07:45 GMT

Scott, That sounds like a maker's mark. Hard to track down.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/03 00:25:29 GMT

Guru; take a look at Eric's book the "toothed" section is horizontal not vertical like a bumper jack. It works in a totally different manner than a modern jack or winch.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 07/22/03 01:06:10 GMT

We need a tool to clean { debur } sharp metal edges, after band saw cutting. We use a wire wheel at present, is there a better way ???? Thanks Dave Most metal is square tubing.
   Dave Winkel - Tuesday, 07/22/03 02:01:35 GMT

Deburing: Dave, This is always a problem and always an under estimated cost AND nobody wants to do it. .

On tubing (and most other things) I use a file. Too much danger of kick back on wheels of any type when doing tubing. But a file is low production stuff and I have a feeling you are doing more pieces than low production. Although I'd bet I can do tubing ends with a file almost as fast as someone using a wire wheel.

For small work they make a little set of tools with hooked "knives" that you drag along corners to debur them. But this too is relatively low production tooling.

Belt grinders work well but can be very agressive. They are commonly used for squaring up and doing weld preps on tubing. They are very safe compared to wheels but more expensive to setup.

Flap wheels work well but are also agressive. Kick back is less of a problem with flap wheels but is still a concern.

Agressive abrasives can be made less so by running them much slower than their rated speeds. About half speed makes them much "softer". I like wire wheels running on standard speed motors because they are softer at the lower speed. They kick back with less force at the slower speed too.

Die grinders can be used for deburing. They work well inside tubing and hard to reach places. The air powered ones are very durable and the solid carbide burrs have incredible durability. Use the flame or parabola shape. The However, they ARE noisy and throw nasty little sharp chips everywhere. Protective clothing is very important if doing this for an extended time.

Small flap wheels can be used with die grinders but have a short life and are slow to change considering their life.

There is a conical abrasive cone made from rolled abrasive cloth that is VERY handy. These fit a little screw mandrel and are fast to change as they wear out.

If the pieces are short enough to fit in a tumbler or vibratory finisher then THAT is THE way to go. Toss the part in and come back a couple hours later and they are DONE! Not only debured inside and outside but an overall softened finish. It may be possible to hang long tubes into a vibratory finisher and only do a couple inches. In production situations a vibratory finisher will quickly pay for itself.

You may want to take to Steve or Dave Kayne. They sell vibratory finishers and the first people I saw with those conical burs. They use them for cleaning up castings.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/03 03:58:49 GMT

Amazed that the Guru didn't mention my favorite... an air file. For deburring I usually use files if I don't have to make a super-smooth surface, and as Guru said they're quite fast. With an air file you could probably get really good production speed, although I don't know how quickly the files would wear out at production levels. Worth looking into; there's one for $50 on Harbor Freight, item # 1704-0VGA.

Rainy and autumnal in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 07/22/03 06:46:04 GMT

Die grinders. I wear earmuffs.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 07/22/03 12:25:49 GMT


One of the best tools for deburring (and lots of other finishing) is the Dynafile or Dynafile II. This is an air powered hand held belt sander (now also available in electric power) which has interchangeable contact arms for small sanding belts from 1/4" to 3/4" in width. You can reach inside tubing down to 3/4" with the right arm. Sanding can be done on flat backup areas on the sides of the arm or can be done with the contact wheel at the end of the arm. Check one out to see the vatriety of arms available. You can even run nonwoven abrasive (scotch brite) belts on some models. This is not a cheap tool but if you are doing any kind of production it will pay for itself in no time. Don't waste your time and money on a cheap substitute from Harbor or one of the other importers- this is one of those tools where you buy the real thing if you want it to work!
   SGensh - Tuesday, 07/22/03 12:55:00 GMT

just returned from a great 5 week holiday on the road where I visited a knife maker in OK who gave me solid info on damascas making. He also gave me some samples of 15N20 steel (12" wide band mill blades) he uses in his making and some formulas for combining it with other steel for good results. Can anyone tell me how to recognize 1084 and 52100 steel at the metal yard when I go shopping. Right now I only know mild CRS and HR, and tool steel I use to make various chisels from for my gun building.

Also, he set me up with a hand full of those three foot long rake tines off of an old field rake saying they make great knives. What kind of spring steel is it ... or is that just what it's called ... just spring steel?

Finally, and most thankfully, he passed on the formula and time sequence for etching my steel. A tidbit nobody has ever been willing to convey. He makes some beautiful knives and patterned damascas
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 07/22/03 21:16:54 GMT

more burrs...i once saw a demonstration of a cold saw. the RPM, for those who dont know, is on the order of 20-90. lots of torque and uses a recirculating coolant. 100% burr free cuts in pipe, tube, solid stock, angle iron, ect...the cut surface looks polished. truely amazing. and incredibly fast! they are expensive new, around 5K$ for the machine that i looked at....
   rugg - Tuesday, 07/22/03 22:19:05 GMT

SAE 1084 and SAE 52100: Jerry, 52100 is used for SOME bearing races, not all. 1084 may be used for almost anything. Short of a laboratory test there is NO POSITIVE WAY to ID JunkYard steels. Steels rust, they cut with a torch and most look about the same. High alloy steels rust slower than plain carbon steels but they DO rust and then look the same. A spark test will help identify the carbon content to within about 20 points and occasionaly ID an alloying ingrediant such as Manganese. Trial and error hardening an tempering will give you some idea of how to handle a JunkYard steel but not much more.

If you want to KNOW what you have purchase NEW from a reputable dealer then MARK the bar with paint OR metal stamps. Be SURE not to cut off the marked end like one of the dingbats did in our shop. . .

"Spring steel" can be anything from 304SS to SAE 1045 through 1095 or an aloy steel like 5160. Most blue temper music wire "spring steel" is SAE 1095
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/22/03 22:58:14 GMT

The Dynafile. I have literature on the Dynafile, but haven't used one. I understand they are top of the line. However, a few years ago, I purchased a Makita hand held belt sander, Model 9031. It is electrically powered and takes a 1 1/8" x 21" belt. Has a fairly slow RPM, but fast enough, and it has a small platen for flat work. I've used it a lot!
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/23/03 00:01:45 GMT

I want to get some new tongs. I mostly work with smaller stock, from 1/8 to 3/8 inch. When I look at my catalog I see Box Jaws, Close Mouth, Open Mouth, V-Bit Box Jaw, Flat Nose and wolf Jaws. What are the differences. I want just a plain tong that will hold the different sizes of stock. Nothing fancy. Is there somewhere to get information as to what these different types of tongs are used for? I have been smithing for several years and have been using whatever and would like to add some good tongs to my collection of tools. Any help you could give me would be apprecited. Thanking you in advance.

   Mary Hullinger - Wednesday, 07/23/03 04:57:04 GMT

Thanks for your response.
   Dave Winkel - Wednesday, 07/23/03 04:59:52 GMT

Mary, The best place to SEE what all those various jaws look like is the Kayne and Son web site. They have close up photos of all the tongs they sell.

My favorite type are like the Off-Center brand "V" or Chainmaker and the Gooseneck tongs. The V tongs are very much like the classic bolt tongs which I use for many things. The Goosneck or side offset tongs are also VERY handy. For universal use a lot of folks like the Wolf Jaw.

Among the types there are considerable differences in pattern. Grant Sarver's Off-Center band are some of the nicest and they are US made. Probably the best are the German made tongs but I do not know anyone carrying them. I have several old German made bolt tongs that are the best I've seen and are the best in my collection.

Generally the best tongs are those you make yourself for the type of work you do. I made special hook making tongs years ago and my apprentice has about worn them out. . I told him it was time to make his own! Another favorite are side offset V tongs I made for a special job and found them useful for about half of everything else I do in their range.

Eventualy everyone finds a particular type that suits their way of working and their type of work. What works best for me may not be the best for you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/03 05:26:01 GMT

I liked the anvil project very much. Would you have something as detailed but on how to build a nice forge?
K Regards
   Marc - Wednesday, 07/23/03 10:35:08 GMT

Last weekend I fired up my small forge for the first time. Charcoal was a learning experience, and determining what it took to get the metal just right without using up too much fuel. I forged a hammer head out of 4140 and bent a ring mandrel into a sinusoidal stake for raising. What a thrill, my forge has already paid for itself! To let you know I bought a STALLION ELECTRIC BLOWER/VACUUM on ebay for $15.00 as the fan. It has a 1/3 HP motor and worked well. I did cover the plastic housing with some aluminum flashing for protection. I heat treated the hammer in an electric kiln. I was too chicken to try doing it on the forge. Anyway the times required for soaking would have taken a lot of charcoal.
I read some postings above on electric kilns, you should be aware that nichrome wire elements do not last very long if used continuously above 1700 deg F. A tip: - If the fairly brittle wire elements are out of their grooves and you want to push them back, first breifly turn the kiln on, to get the elements hot. Unplug the kiln then push the elements back into the grooves with a stick while they are still hot and flexible. Sure the stick may char a little.
Again thanks to all of you for your advice which has enabled me to join you in the magical world of forging.
   alank - Wednesday, 07/23/03 12:11:02 GMT

Mary, Tongs. For most uses and for your purposes, flat tongs will suffice. However, I've seen Peter Ross hold 16 ga and 1/8" sheet/plate with small box tongs, and they worked well. I suppose you get a three point grip. But the important thing is a parallel closure on the work. I have fit many a tong, and I usually take a heat which covers the jaws, rivet area, and some of the reins. I squeeze the jaws around the proper size stock horizontally in the vise and then adjust the reins to my hand (where they are cool). You can make each pair look slightly different, so you can select the right tongs easily. For instance, flat reins on one, round reins on another, different lengths, etc.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 07/23/03 13:00:15 GMT

FWIW Dept,
All that stuff above about the golden mean and the ratio 1:1.618 reminded me of an isolated bit of trivia I came across some time ago with regards to the origin of the numbers. It appears that Pythagoras who is traditionally considered as the originator actually is taking credit for the work one of his students did (why is that no surprise?) His consort-girl friend-wife-student who's name was Theano actually did the work. I can't at the moment recall where I came across this and it flies in the face of tradition but there you have it. History revisited.
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 07/23/03 16:02:42 GMT

At the recent CANIRON IV conference, mention was made of the CLAYDON JOINT method of joinery. It was also mentioned that this method was patented.
Can you direct us to a description of the dimentions of the collar, and comment on any knowledge of patent or ability to use this joinery method legally.
   Jim Chalmers - Wednesday, 07/23/03 16:02:52 GMT

51200 & 1084

I doubt I have the inclination to try messing with junk yard steel just for experimental purposes. I'll by my working stock fresh so I know what's in there. But isn't the 1084 just plane mild steel I buy from the iron monger such as CRS?
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 07/23/03 16:10:06 GMT

Jim Chalmers here is some info from www.uspto.gov hope this helps. Alan

United States Patent 4,631,797
Hill December 30, 1986

Method of forming forged joints
Methods of forming joints between bars of materials such as mild steel are disclosed. In one method, the bars are arranged to lie in generally parallel planes but with their axes at an angle to one another, and a plastically-deformable tubular stub of round or square cross-section is disposed between the bars with its axis substantially intersecting the axes of the bars, which are then pressed together to deform the stub partially around the two bars. In a second method, a bar is arranged in a T-formation with a hollow member, two opposed regions at the end of the tubular member are deformed inwardly and back along the member axis, and the bar is then pressed into the groove so-formed at the end of the member, to deform the end portion partially around the bar. Heat may be used, in the former case on the stub and in the latter case on the tubular member, so that after completion of the joint the heated stub or tubular member will cool and contract, firmly to grip the or each bar.
Inventors: Hill; Stuart A. (Claydon Forge Old Ipswich Road, Claydon, Suffolk, GB2)
Appl. No.: 497152
Filed: May 23, 1983

   alank - Wednesday, 07/23/03 16:32:30 GMT

Jerry 1084 is not mild.... It is considered high carbon (AKA spring steel).
Mild is about 1009 to about 1020, med carbon is from about 1020 to about 1040 or 1050 I think.
I kow that Guru and al have it losted somewheres on here... can look thru the archives.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 07/23/03 16:40:37 GMT

Hi Alan,
Thanks for the info on the CLAYDON joint.
   Jim Chalmers - Wednesday, 07/23/03 17:22:49 GMT

Patents and Claydon joint: Alank, nice piece of research and posting.


The patent MAY or may not be valid. At least in the US. A registered patent means nothing. First, the life of the patent is only 17 years UNLESS it is revised and improved upon. Second, since that time the USP&TO has become a "fee funded agency". That means they now charge a LOT for everything. Among the fees they charge are "maintenance" fees. These run in the thousands of dollars a year. If you stop paying the fee then the patent becomes void. . And thus public domain. Patents also lapse if you do not pursue marketing the product. In this case there was no real product to market, just the method.

Patents have a very limited life. That life has past for this one. That means it is now public domain.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/03 19:53:05 GMT

1084 : Yep, Ralph got it right. Medium carbon is an approximation so the range is non-specific. However, 1084 IS high carbon, no doubt about that.

CRS (Cold Rolled Steel): Some is rolled, most small stuff is drawn. As a category most is now sold as CF (cold finished) bar. Often centerless ground stock is alsp sold as CF bar. CF bar can be anything from pure iron to high speed tool steel (HSS). In Europe the bright tool steel drill rod is called "silver steel" due to its bright finish (and perhaps its cost).

JunkYard Steel: When you purchase scrap at the scrap yard the guy there doesn't know more about the material than you do. Scrap yards are full of steel from machine shops and manufacturers that could no longer identify what it was, so they disposed of it. They may have told the scrap guy what they THOUGHT it was but that is as good as anyone's guess. Get a laboratory cert on it then it is a different matter.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/23/03 20:12:19 GMT

I need to know what thickness of slab to mount an old style 25#Little Giant. The hammer will get only occasional use, should I mount it on an isolated area, or just thicken the slab under where it will set. I know I have seen something similar on here, but i could not find it. The rest of the shop floor will be about 4 inches thick. Suggestions?
   RC - Wednesday, 07/23/03 22:29:20 GMT


Personal opinion, I'd just put down a sheet of 3/4" plywood.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 07/23/03 22:39:03 GMT

I have been asked a question that I cannot answer, [not surprising],so I have come here to find the answer.
Is it possible to weld aluminum to mild steel ? If so , what is the process?
Thanks ,
   Harley - Wednesday, 07/23/03 23:32:42 GMT

did try to search for this. i probably dont know how to search the archives.

i want to try using johnson wax for something that i recently forged. apply with saturated cloth to "warm" steel?? buff it with a cloth when it cools down enough?? the piece is wire brushed and i want to retain that look. the remaining scale in the textured surface i think adds an interesting contrast to the brushed look...

thanks..oh, and i do not sell cold saws. i am not even in sales..
   rugg - Thursday, 07/24/03 00:06:38 GMT

Harley, Aluminum melts at about 1300F. Steel melts at about 3000F. Before the steel melts, the aluminum has vaporized! However, aluminum is soluble in steel and it would be theoretically possible to fuse the two via solid state diffusion bonding. All you have to do is polish both metals to a mirror finish, put them in a vacuum, heat them a bit and apply a significant amount of pressure. I am not being a wise-guy, this really is theoretically possible. Practically, I have no idea how you would do it. Aluminum is coated with Aluminum Oxide, a high temperature refractory oxide with a high melting point that is not readily fluxed off like iron oxide.
   Quenchcrack - Thursday, 07/24/03 00:21:38 GMT

RC: I have my 50 lb. Little Giant at the shop where I work. I usually get to do my blacksmithing after work and on weekends. When I do, I get my hammer out of the corner, with a fork lift, and set it on a 1/2 inch rubber mat on the concrete floor. The mat keeps it from walking around and it has worked for me. Some day when I get my own shop maybe I'll do something different.
   - Mike - Thursday, 07/24/03 00:37:36 GMT

Hammer Foundation: RC, A 25# LG doesn't need much in SOME situations. The factory specs call for a foundation a little wider and a little longer than the machine and 18 to 24 inches deep. In a permanent shop situation this needs to be isolated from the rest of the floor (especialy new concrete). I use a dozen layers or so of roofing felt.

On old aged well settled concrete floors you can but on on a pad as Paw-Paw suggests IF the floor and the bottom of the hammer are flat. Many LG's run this way. But you DO have to bolt them down because many are unbalanced and will walk all over the shop.

Soil conditions are your primary concern. Here in Virginia west of the fall line in most places you can dig 16 to 18 inches and are into packed red clay soil that is harder then soft red brick. But in other parts of the world you may be digging to China before you hit something other than sand, gravel or silt. That is why the old hammer foundations that were often installed in coastal cities were based on piles driven deeply into the sand/muck. Then criss cross timbers on top of that.

The problem with a good permanent foundation is that next year you will want to replace that 25 pound hammer with a 100 or bigger and the foundation will be too small. I put in foundations for a 50 and a 100 pound LG and now I have a 350 Bement and want a 100 pounder to put on the smaller foundation. . . The smaller will easily fit the 50# LG foot print but the larger hammer's anvil will hang over the edge of the other foundation. . . SO, If you insist on putting in a REAL hammer foundation make it at least 4 by 6 feet and two or three feet deep. Put steel reinforcing in the bottom but leave the top foot clear of steel for the diferent hole patterns that will get drilled into it over the years. . .

A friend of mine started with a 100 pound LG and a 125 pound Fairbanks and now has a 500 Chambersburg and a 750 Bement. . Of course the Bement takes a subteranian anvil base so the hole SHOULD have been really deep. . .

How do you set a REALLY heavy anvil or anvil and hammer into a big hole without a crane or where you have low ceilings? Fill the hole with packed ice. . skid the hammer over it and patiently let it melt. If water is a problem use dry ice (with some water). That will create a solid block most of which will evaporate.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/03 02:20:02 GMT

Harley, look up explosive welding as a method of joining dissimular metals.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 07/24/03 02:23:20 GMT

la natural' finish: Rugg, if you want it to stay looking that way forge stainless, wax with paste wax like bowling alley wax and then forget it. Otherwise that interesting look eventualy rusts.

For a baked oil finish that stay on fairly well oil with extra virgin olive oil and bake in the oven at 350°F until a golden brown. . . Every try to scrub burnt cooking oil off a pan? You can also heat large items with a torch and oil with a brush.

In the end you have just made cheap varnish. The hardware store has a dozen or so professionaly formulated varnishes.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/03 02:31:43 GMT

Steel to AL: This is generaly considered an impossible weld. Extreame pressure welding is used for a variety of metals but only in very small areas. You CAN get the metals to stick to each other in sort of a braze or soldered type of joint but as QC pointed out you are melting the aluminium and letting it absorb steel until the steel is so rough that you get a mechanical bond.

Crimped mechanical joints would do the same thing in a much better and controlled manner. But remember that Fe/Al is one of the WORST bimetalic corrosion pairs.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/03 02:37:13 GMT

MOVING PAINS Well, I just blu up the ABANA-Chapter sites. . . and will probably point them back at the old server for a few days (there are not many left in the month). . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/03 02:38:46 GMT

Would you help me find plans for a perfect side draft forge?I am getting ready to re-do my smithy, do away with my homemade forge and build a masonry forge aprox 4' X4' square. My current forge hood draws very well but I need more room and want to have a more traditional looking set-up. A few years ago, either in the cvbg or bgop newsletter there was an article on this, but I seem to have misplaced it. thanks
   ebou - Thursday, 07/24/03 03:39:20 GMT

My husband is a blacksmith at heart. He is already working on all he needs in the welding side of things. He already has a forge and has made some knives. He recently purchased his own anvil (excuse me if I spell something wrong) having used a chunk of rail road metal. His birthday is coming up and I would like to purchase some hammers for him to use. I have absolutely not idea what he needs. All he has is what one would normally expect in the shop of a welder and a large eqt mechanic. I am guessing that means he has your average claw hammer and a mallet. What should I look for for him? He is interested in making knives and things of that nature. He is quite fascinated with the history behind things and is considering working closer to what a renaissance blacksmith would have. I am not sure if I am making any sense. I am trying to give enough information.

Please contact me though email, and feel free to ask any questions, and I will do my best to answer them.

   Jessica Smith - Thursday, 07/24/03 04:02:28 GMT

There is an old method that involves a bunch of intermediate layers (7?) for welding Al and Fe.
I'd guess now-a-days you might be able to TIG weld aluminum-bronze to the Al and then weld the Al-Bronze to bronze and that to steel...not strictly welding in the end.

Applause for Jessica S!

Allright you low and skulking lurkers..Stride forth into the light , JOIN THE CYBERSMITHS! and support Anvilfire
   - Pete F - Thursday, 07/24/03 06:42:13 GMT

Re: welding Al to steel, might a spot weld work? I'm no expert, but it's a thought.

Gurus, in a propane forge, will a gas-rich mix help reduce scaling of the steel? I've gotten the impression that this is the case, but I'm not sure. Also, does forging/hot-working stainless cause any reduction in the "stainless" properties of the outer layer of the steel?

Pete: I resent that characterization! I prefer to think of myself as a "Lurker Erectus".

Cloudy and humid in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 07/24/03 07:11:46 GMT

Re: welding Al to steel

While at university in 1986 we were shown a sample of Al /steel that had been electron beam welded. It was used for lifeboats, steel hull, Al superstructure for better balance and toughness. The Royal Navy also uses it (used it) but had problems with the superstructure burning in the Falklands war (early 80’s). I don’t know if they solved the problem or have changed design
   Nigel - Thursday, 07/24/03 08:42:36 GMT

I am looking at starting hot work and I was wondering which kind of forge is best for a beginner? For a while now I thought coke was the only way to go, but lately i have read a few articles on propane forges that make them look very attractive. any advice would be appricated.
   Sylvanwolf - Thursday, 07/24/03 12:12:25 GMT

Rugg Wax

If you want a reasonably long lasting waxed look you might want to try a different approach than the usual Johnson's on warm metal process. Go to the Birchwood Casey web site and look up "Satin Shield". This is a water soluble clear polymer coating. Wire brush your part and then either submerse it in the satin shield or spray the object with it from a spritzer bottle. As it dries (quickly) you may need to dab off the air bubbles or any pooling which may form. Let this dry well and then apply a coat of a hard carnuba wax and buff. The wax is optional but it gives a nice sheen to the iron and you can use tinted waxes to shift the color slightly if you want. Be VERY careful not to spill this stuff on your floors- it can also be used as a mold release and when dried is dangerously slippery on concrete! Don't ask how I know. You can get some idea of the finish by looking at the air hose hook in my yahoo album.
   SGensh - Thursday, 07/24/03 13:11:16 GMT

woodspuppy: the forge that is best for a beginner depends on *what* aspect of foring they are interested in and their specific circumstances.

I'd say coal for it's general versitility---except if you are located where it's hard to get good coal and have neighbors who might complain. I'd say propane as it is easy to use except if you are interested in ornamental work and need the capacity to heat large pieces...

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 07/24/03 13:23:04 GMT

Greetings, all
i've been patiently working on an 80# mechanical power hammer basket case off and on for about a year now, i'm to the point where it's about ready to start thumping...
my next step is to set up motor and belts, but i need some input on how many hits/minute it should run, so i can get the correct pulley.
thanks, mike
   mike-hr - Thursday, 07/24/03 15:39:54 GMT

Hammer Speed: Mike, On our Power Hammer Page we have specs for Little Giants and on fairbanks.forginhammers.com there are specs for fairbanks hammers. These will give you the range.

You will note a considerable difference in speeds. The Fairbanks run much faster. The reason they CAN run faster is that they have an adjustable stroke. When run short stroke you can run them flat out. When runnig long stroke you need to let the clutch slip (unless you are doing a serious piece of heavy drawing).

The general speed rule is that the the hammer should hits its hardest at full speed. This sounds logical but is harder to achieve than it sounds. At a certain speed hammers get out of time (especialy LG's) and hit softer the faster they go. In this case the machine is setup to run too fast. This maximum efficient speed is related to spring stiffness. When springs get old and tired the top usable speed of the hammer drops off. Thus you often need to run old hammers slower than when they were new.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/24/03 16:47:53 GMT

Jessica . . . congradulations, you have a smith!

Well, he will probably want to start a hammer collection, or that is he will probably start one whether he wants to or not. ;-)}

So, since we don't know his relative strength or hammer usage, I would say start by finding him a 2# cross-pein hammer, maybe a another one that is 3#. Then for kicks a 2-3# 45deg angle pein (I don't know what it might be called).

If you can find them used, so much the better, but new he will need to sand the handles (to avoid blisters) and do a little grinding to eliminate or soften the sharp edges on the face and the pein.

Where to get . . . well, sometimes you can get deals on eBay (beware the cons), but for new I would go to the drop down navigation bar in the upper right hand corners and scroll down to advertisers.

Like: www.kayneandson.com or www.centaurforge.com

Good luck!
   Escher - Thursday, 07/24/03 17:10:08 GMT


At Kayne and Son, I can recommend the 800-g Czech hammer. It'll need to be dressed on a belt (most hammers do), but I've done okay work with mine even without dressing. Worst part is the pein is too sharp and needs to be rounded off more. They have lots of other good ones, too. That's just the shape I've tried. I think it's the Swedish that seems to be popular in my local group. I'm also really fond of the Hofi hammer sold by Tom Clark, but have been contemplating the price tag for almost a year now.

My current favorite actually came in a box of about 15 hammers that I got for $10-20 at an auction. It's a 2-lb (approx) cross pein. Similar hammers typically go for $8-10 at conferences, or from the guy in every local chapter who's forever scrounging up tools for sale. And may I plug the Tannehill, AL conference coming up Sep 5-7 and I think Quad State later in September... in Ohio?

   Steve A - Thursday, 07/24/03 17:48:11 GMT

Dear Guru,
What kind of insurance coverage should a small shop get for a part time employee(s)? What relative premium? Thanks
   - andrew - Thursday, 07/24/03 22:04:44 GMT

thanks Guru!
   mike-hr - Thursday, 07/24/03 23:15:22 GMT

sylvanwolf, i was in your position not too long ago. just starting, i am glad that i got a gas forge (forgemaster via the freindly folks @ kaynes). you can be forging very quickly; 30" of assembly and a BBQ tank of propane. no mess, no shipping of coal, no smoke and neighbor issues, and no hassels associated with a solid fuel set up. you may eventually want to add the SF forge, but maybe not.

guru and SGensh, thanks for the advise on the finnish. this is an interior piece, and i live in the desert, so the rust potential would be at a minimum. ill experiment.
   rugg - Thursday, 07/24/03 23:55:05 GMT

T. Gold - Using a gas rich mixture should help minimize scaling in a propane forge. But you don't want to go extremely rich. Also, the scale formed in reducing atmospheres is usually more adherent than that formed in oxidizing atmospheres. In my short stint working for a reheat furnace maker for the steel industry, we typically recommended companies reheating steel slabs or blooms for rolling down to sheet or bars to use very slightly oxidizing burner settings. The FeO generated was removed more easily than Fe2O3 or Fe3O4 during their processing and gave a better surface finish, even though it generated more scale.
Kevin H
   gavainh - Friday, 07/25/03 02:13:28 GMT

Jessica, I believe that Tru-Value hardware carries a Chinese cross peen hammer, about 2½ pounds. It's not bad! However, the salesman probably never heard of a cross peen. It might be called a blacksmith's hammer or something like that. Anyway, the peen, the wedge shaped end makes a cross with the handle. If it's straight with the handle, it's a straight peen. If a ball, it's a ball peen.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/25/03 03:07:25 GMT

Dear Anvilfire Guru and messageboarders,
My name is John Carnahan. I am writing a graduate school project on instances of literacy in American folktales. I have a blacksmithing question, the answer(s) to which would greatly help my work. I’m posting this question to both the guru and the message board.

In the Appalachian folktale “Stiff Dick,” the folk hero Jack (of Beanstalk fame) has the words “Stiff dick, Killed seven at a lick” inscribed on his belt-buckle. In many versions, the words are branded there by a blacksmith. This is true of “Jack and the Varmints,” the most widely available version of the story, in Richard Chase’s The Jack Tales. (Chase softens the motto to “Strong man Jack / Killed seven at a whack.”)

My question is, did blacksmiths in Appalachia, or anywhere else in the U.S., ever brand or stamp mottoes on their customer’s belt-buckles? If so, I wonder about the when and where of the custom, what kinds of mottoes or other writings were common, and whether there is any book/web/museum documentation of the practice.

Any info on this topic would really help. Thanks in advance, and great site.

John Carnahan
   John Carnahan - Friday, 07/25/03 04:59:39 GMT

Jessica, My 16 yearold daughter made me a wonderful leather apron for my shop work. I am hard to shop for because I like the "hunt" for old tools as much as the working in the shop. The apron is my pride.

   habu - Friday, 07/25/03 05:30:10 GMT

Andrew; Re: Shop insurance. Brace yourself, you're about to find out why most smiths work alone! Good luck. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Friday, 07/25/03 06:03:12 GMT

T Gold;
You are too far to the fore to be a lurker any more.
There was once an article in Anvil's Ring(?) about a super strong and super plastic Al Fe alloy that had a huge amount of carbon and amazing propertys..Never heard anything about it since. QC?
   - Pete F - Friday, 07/25/03 08:21:36 GMT

Folk Tales: John, The most common version of that story is "Jack the Giant Killer". He killed 7 flies with one blow and the story got out of hand and he was summoned by the King to kill a rampaging giant. . . Seems he had "killed 7 with one blow" cut or tooled into his leather belt. Of course that may be the Disnesque version staring Mickey Mouse.

Branding and stamping is fairly common among smiths as they have the tools to do both. However, in a primitive shop it is unlikely that you would get a wordy phrase. Initials or a name but not much else. An artificer, jeweler or engraver would be more likely. Actual letter stamps are a fairly modern (and relatively expensive) tool.

Branding is pretty simple. A "running" brand is simply a bar with a curved end that can be used to trace lines like writing with a pen or pencil. In a smithy you have the steel and the fire so it is pretty easy to go from there.

Don't know any stories to that effect. . . Have you seen our story page?
   - guru - Friday, 07/25/03 09:45:59 GMT

Sorry if it looked like I ignored Jessica. I sent her a letter. . About the same as you folks answer with links.
   - guru - Friday, 07/25/03 10:06:50 GMT

Pete, have not seen anything fitting the description of Al Fe alloy. I will do a bit of research on the ASM website. It seems that about once a year someone announces a remarkable new material, there is considerable enthusiam, then it disappears for ever. For example, steel made with carbon as buckminsterfullereens (yep, real name). Or the plastic a scrapyard owner created that cannot be cut with an O/A torch. Alchemy is the next big hobby fad!
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 07/25/03 12:15:39 GMT

John C., Dire, sinister, and threatening mottos were often etched/engraved on "fighting" knife blades, sometimes on swords. I've seen these in Spanish as well as English.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 07/25/03 13:11:15 GMT

Hey, I thought sombody said you could get insurance at Hartford. Awhile back somebody said that you could get insurance with ACC or something like that.
   - chucky - Friday, 07/25/03 13:40:02 GMT

Mike-HR. The spec sheet for fairbanks is now back on-line. It had gotten lost.
   - guru - Friday, 07/25/03 15:42:51 GMT

John Carnahan
Belts have had mottos inscribed for ages. But I do not know if they were branded. The scottish soldiers (clansmen) had belts with clan mottos. The SS during WWII had belts with a motto. Curently mottos are still used on some German Police and military uniforms but I expect they are just stamped in. Perhaps if you chased Scottish formal wear, tartans and accessories etc in the US you may find some belt branding. There is a strap that goes between ensignias on the cap that can have a motto. Alan
   alank - Friday, 07/25/03 16:07:53 GMT

T. Gold, propane forge scaling--the forgemaster.com website has a section on forging tips, one of which gets into control of scale .....http://www.forgemaster.com/view_section.php?section=35
   Ellen - Friday, 07/25/03 17:20:51 GMT

As regards a home made brake drum type forge(my first of any type) I am considering using a marine bilge blower, in line, for the project. I have my heart set on a 12V blower and these are designed for low amp draw. What do you think of that idea?
   Tom Dunn - Friday, 07/25/03 20:19:35 GMT

Tom, most of the bilge fans I have seen were pretty weak. Try one (if you've got a cheap (free) source) and see what happens. Blowers do not just need volume but the pressure to blow through the fuel bed. Most can actually blow coal out of the forge at full blast.
   - guru - Friday, 07/25/03 22:53:37 GMT

Thanks Guru, found it.. i'm gonna shoot for 300 blows/minute with this 80# hammer. i've got a chunk of aluminum coming, will make three different size drive pulleys so i can have some tweaking room. my hammer has a gang of leaf springs instead of the coil spring like LG has, i wonder if that will make for better whip action?
   mike-hr - Friday, 07/25/03 23:05:33 GMT

Jim Chalmers... I also was at CanIron IV... Don't know if I met you are not. Seen lots of people..

   Barney - Saturday, 07/26/03 01:27:07 GMT

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