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 26 - 31, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Might an automobile heater blower be better suited? They got thru some amount of ductwork.
   Tom Dunn - Saturday, 07/26/03 03:21:33 GMT

HI, I've been smithing for some time now and I need to know the european equilivant of teh amercan steel designation "L6". If you can't find out, could you give me the analysis of teh composition and I can look it up over here.
Many Thanks
   Phil - Saturday, 07/26/03 11:31:37 GMT

L6: C=.65-.75, Mn= .25-.80, Si = .50 max, Cr = .60 - 1.20, Ni = 1.25 - 2.0, Mo = .50 max, v = .20 -.30. Oil hardening to thickness to 75mm. Rc 64 as quenched hardness.
Source: ASM Metals Handbook.
   - Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/26/03 12:25:14 GMT

The brake on my 100# Bradley Compact doesn't work. I have cleaned it with everything known to man. I have the owners manual but it doesn't have a clear picture as to what the brake armm looks like-mine is a homemade arm that somebody made out of a piece of pipe. Can you find me a picture of one so that I can make a correctly shaped arm, and can you tell me what kind of material the brake surface is made of and where I can get it?
   ebou - Saturday, 07/26/03 12:36:20 GMT

Bradley Ebou, The bradley compact came with a band brake that clamped around the crank wheel. They usualy work quite well. HOWEVER, if you run the hammer backwards the brake is self loosening rather than self tightening and will not work. The wheel should turn toward the loose end of the brake band.

I've taken lots of photos of Bradleys but they were alwasy in dark shop so it was hard to see. Many like the hammer on our power hammer page have guards on them that makes the details hard to see.

Check that rotation direction first and see if that is not the problem.
   - guru - Saturday, 07/26/03 13:36:12 GMT

what would be a good size anvil to start out with?
   hamerphist - Saturday, 07/26/03 17:18:43 GMT

I am trying to find a better way to make 6"- 10" diameter circles out of rolled stock. I tried to fabricate my own jig, but I ran into some problems with the braking system.
A friend of mine suggested that I look into blacksmithing techniques. Is it true that some blacksmiths would find a template and proceed to walk a long piece of metal around so they would end up with many rings on one piece. Then, the pieces could be individually cut to length. Do you have any information on this technique? Anything would be appreceicated.
   Raymund Beyler - Saturday, 07/26/03 19:07:11 GMT

Bragging, Can I do that?

Well I just bought a Nazel for my new shop. You guys are making it hard to find a smaller one at a reasonable price. Used to be I could buy a 4-B cheap 'cuz no one wanted to deal with that big a hammer. Now even they bring 12 - 15K. Got a really nice 5-B (750lb) for very little money. 14,000 pound anvil and 14,000 pound frame. Fortunately the Nazel only needs 25 H.P. motor. A Chanbersburg that size uses a 40 H.P. motor. I'll probably pour about a 20 yard pier for it. 14,000 lb. anvil means a 20:1 ratio, should have a good thump to it. Nice big dies and long stroke. Actually only paid about what folks are giving for Little Giant these days. 'Course I can't haul it home in my pickup either!

Most of you guys would be suprised how easily you can forge even 1/4 inch in a hammer this size. Power is nice, but control is the most important thing. I really do like constant volume forging (don't tell John C.). with a few hacks, side sets and a "V" block you can make anything. Watch the Clifton Ralph tapes.

Think it runs about 130-135 blows per minute. Stroke is around 32", dies are about 5" X 12". Real easy to get a good single blow too. I think this is the biggest one that comes with a foot treadle, bigger ones are made for two man operation.

I might get a small hammer later, or not. Wait'll I find a nice 125 or 150 pound Beaudry or Bradley.

   - grant - Saturday, 07/26/03 19:44:39 GMT

10" circles --- I use a old eltric pipe threader. clamp in size of pipe for size of ring required. Then I clamp on the stock to be turned. No bigger than 3/8. turn on threader and feed in the stock . My threader is foot control so I can use both hands. Biggest circle I have made 10".. anything bigger than 4" I have to weld to a 4" piece to fit into the threader.
   Barney - Sunday, 07/27/03 01:01:55 GMT


I have recently become the proud owner of a medium sized shear. It is labled as a Buffalo Forge Angle and T Shear Model 1N, and is complete other than the handle.

Do you have any information as to the capabilities and possible worth of such a beast? Could one cut round or square stock with this shear, or is it only for angles an T stock?

I've never seeen a shear quite like this one, so any information you could provide would be great!



   -Jim - Sunday, 07/27/03 02:05:32 GMT

Hammerphuss--it depends on what you want to do---which you didn't tell us....However I would suggest something around 100 pounds as small enough to move and big enough to do quite a bit of work on.

If you are working small stuff a smaller anvil's OK and if bigger a bigger one, also depends on how heavy a hammer you swing.

Do *NOT* buy a cast iron anvil as a chunk of steel from the scrap yard will work better and be cheaper. A cast *steel* anvil is generally fine, (though the local Har-poor freight had two tags on one anvil one saying cast iron, one saying cast steel---it was their cast iron one the sales staff didn't know the difference or care!).

   - Thomas Powers - Sunday, 07/27/03 02:41:24 GMT

Distractions: Had a nice post for hamerphist and lost it during the day. . .

Circles: Full circles are easiest rolled (similar to what Barney discribed) but can be bent in a plain bending jig by hand in two steps. See our bending jig article on the 21st Century page.

Bending on a mandrel as you discribed is common when lots of rings are needed. The more rings the longer the mandrel (up to a point). If you use 12 or 20 foot bar then you can't put but so many turn on a mandrel. The best method is to turn the mandrel since few of us have room to "walk" a 12 foot bar around a jig (thats over 24 x 24 foot of clear space with no obstructions).

Of course you didn't say what you were bending 1/4", 1/2" or 1" round, flat square ????? Makes a big difference.

   - guru - Sunday, 07/27/03 04:20:57 GMT

Buffalo Shear: Jim, Buffalo Forge made tools and machinery from the late 1800's up into the 1960's. The product line changed a great deal. But if it says angle and T then that is what it cuts. Most hand operated angle shears were specialized tools and they did what they did. Regular plate and bar shears behave differently and are difficult to build into a small tool. When you get into specialized shears bar shears are another specialty, they don't do flats or angles, just bar (round or square but usualy just round).

There are three or four shears in the Buffalo Forge CD including an angle shear but angle and T.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/27/03 04:38:49 GMT

mr caleb, check out the cross i just forged (go to yahoo). very difficult for the rookie that i am.
   - rugg - Sunday, 07/27/03 04:51:45 GMT

There are other manual methods as well as a wide assortment of machines of varying ambition that address this problem.
Given more information you will get a clearer answer....naw, were blacksmiths, so you will get 37 different ways to do the same thing.
   - Pete F - Sunday, 07/27/03 06:08:18 GMT

need to know where to bye good blacksmithing books if u could help us out.
   chaffbag - Sunday, 07/27/03 12:16:47 GMT

Hamerphist: I believe the review of the Harbor Freight 110# Russian Anvil ($80) is posted in the 21st Century Blacksmith section of this site under "Anvils". I still believe this is a good bargain for a beginner. I have just replaced mine with a 170# Czech for considerably more money. I will keep the Russian for Demos. Thomas, I had a similar experience with the nice people at the local HF store. They had labled the cast iron ASO as "55 pounds of top grade steel". As in your case, when I explained the difference, they just got that deer in the headlights look. To them it was not even an ASO. It was a BHIT (Big Heavy Iron Thing).
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 07/27/03 13:42:10 GMT

Tomahawk pipe

Any one out there know were I can find some info / plans/demo on forgeing one .
Have done "standard" tomahawks (mild steel /carbon edge)
Looking for traditional way of fixing ? or forgeing ? pipe bowl to head.
I've only ever seen photos , and they don't show a clear way of how they were made

   - Wayne - Sunday, 07/27/03 13:54:20 GMT

Wayne, I've never tried to make one but this would be a good place for a "birdsmouth" or saddle weld. The cup would have a saddle formed on it that fit over the hole in the pipe or over no hole and the hole drilled after. The trick is to get both pieces up to the same heat without burning the thin edges of the weld prep.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/27/03 18:44:17 GMT

Books: Chaffbag, Start at our getting started page (linked top and bottom of this page) and then our book review page. Artisan Ideas, Centaur Forge and Pieh Tool most of the books available on the subject (advertisers on our drop down menu and book review page). Then WE sell a video tape and Anvils in America.
   - guru - Sunday, 07/27/03 18:49:46 GMT

I bought a blacksmith drill press at aution recently. It is made by Champion Blower & Forge Co. No. 102 It is mounted on a hardboard with belved edges. I would like to find out when it was made and the approx. worth. Many thanks in any help you could give me.
   Steven - Monday, 07/28/03 01:26:29 GMT


In the 1920 Champion Catalog, your number 102 self feeding drill press sold for $13. That is the probably the original mounting board, if you can e-mail me a picture, I can tell for "pretty sure". Value is a lot harder to judge, so much depends on who is buying, who is selling, condition, location, and possibly other factors as well.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/28/03 01:34:10 GMT


We are about 24 hours away from pulling the plug on our old server, only our second host in 6 years. THIS forum and the Hammer-In have been tested on the new server and seem to be ready to go. However, we have not gotten the Slack-Tub Pub running so there will be lots of broken pub links for a while.

POSTS after this one may get lost as I am backing up the forums for the move now.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/03 01:59:51 GMT

Chaffbag. Books. Norm Larson, Lompoc, California

Pipe Tomahawks. See the appendix by Milford Chandler on how to make...in American Indian Tomahawks by Harold Peterson, out-of-print. If you can't locate a copy, e-mail me.
   - Frank Turley - Monday, 07/28/03 02:27:36 GMT

I am not sure on how it was done but if it was me makeing one I would forge out the head leaveing a hammer on the back side, then I would slit and drift a hole for the handle then punch and drift out a hole into the hammer then pinch down for the chamber. or I would forgo all of that and just forge out the out side shape and drill out the chamber.
   MP - Monday, 07/28/03 04:15:35 GMT

It is done. The transfer request to move to the new server has been submitted. Except for messages such as this one getting lost and the pub errors most folks will not see a difference.

Our store purchasing system will also be off-line for a while. Orders can still be placed by phone or mail.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/03 04:16:00 GMT

I make knives from old leaf springs. I don't have a complete shop, so how can I temper the blades once I have shaped them. Will a wood fire be hot enough? I have heard that a leaf spring only needs about 1200 degrees for temper, but do I oil quench or water quench?
   George - Monday, 07/28/03 05:14:14 GMT

Hi George;
You are confusing tempering and hardening I'd guess.
You can get enough heat ( if less than ideal) if you use an air blower and a deep bed of hardwood coals.
There is a section here at Anvilfire on heat treating as well as getting started...go for 'em
   - Pete F - Monday, 07/28/03 05:30:50 GMT

Roger, I found info on 1095 steel and other carbon steels, but I don't know the exact makeup of the leaf springs. Is there a general way of hardening the steel or is it trial and error. Can I harden with a wood fire and temper with and regular oven?
   George - Monday, 07/28/03 05:51:25 GMT

Hardening spring steel: most spring steels seem to be in the range of .50 to .70 carbon. You will need to heat the piece to about 1460F or just above non-magnetic. As Pete said, you will probably need a blower to get a wood fire hot enough, long enough. The problem is getting the ENTIRE piece up to a uniform temeperature. Uneven heating will cause the blade to warp when you quench it. As for the oven tempering, yes, it works well. I usually temper spring steel at about 425F for 1 hour.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 07/28/03 11:54:36 GMT

Hi Guru, It's been a while since I've checked in. I hope all is well. I have a technical challenge I'd like to throw around, to you or anyone else listening in. I am very close to finalizing a VERY large architectural job. It is 415' of split-drifted railing. However there are three horizontal pierced bars which means 1245' with piercings every 4" (or 3 per ft.). This works out to 3735 piercings! I have an ironworker that I did some split-drifting on a while back. It worked well after some trial and error but was still slow. The work has to be of the highest quality and consistent. Is there any piece of equipment that might work better? At this point money is no object. I don't see being able to get the job done by hand in this century. Regards, Tim
   Tim Cisneros - Monday, 07/28/03 13:58:46 GMT

As you might expect there were *several* ways of making pipe hawks including: welding, *brazing* and making them from a chunk of rifle barrel. (ISTR one that was tapped but don't have the cite to hand)

For practice I have seen some nice ones made from ballpeen hammer heads.

Using real wrought iron would make welding one up easier as well as more authentic.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 07/28/03 14:00:31 GMT

SPLITTING:, Tim are you doing this hot or cold? I would assume that in these quantities you want to do it cold. Your ironworker is very much like a punch press but much slower. A punch press would make the holes like shooting them. Alternatively a big fly press would probably do the job and then be more useful later. There are three problems.

1) Having enough tonage.
2) Having strong enough tooling.
3) Having readily replaceable tooling.

This is a job for a 50 to 100 ton machine (ball park). Thats a lot of tonnage. It is NOT one of the small fly presses the Kaynes have but a big one like Grant Sarver imports (the Kaynes sell them too).

Tooling needs to be designed to be sturdy and replaceable (especially the chisle/punch). I would design the punch to have heavy radii and as short as possible. Probably a 1-1/4" shank (for a 1/2" punch) in S-7 with 1/2" radii where it is reduces to the chisel/punch. You might want to consider standard punches and then modifying them. Otherwise you will want a detailed drawing as you may be needing to have dozens (or a hundred) of these made.

When punching the force to retract the punch can be considerable. A plate called a "stripper plate" is used to hold the work down. This need to be of heavy construction for the work you describe.

You may also want to consider a two stage operation. A splitting chisel that would just barely pierce the bar ending in an aluminium or Delrin cutting pad, then a second stage that would drift open the hole over a standard die with round hole. This would probably give the cleanest results.

Heavy lubricant also helps in these operations and makes the tooling last longer.

I would have to have more details about the job to be more specific.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/03 17:19:51 GMT

Dear Sir: Am wondering if you are familiar with slide bolts and decorative hinges made by Samuel Yellin? Any clue as to the current value and do you know anybody looking for them?
   Barbara MacRae - Monday, 07/28/03 13:35:40 EDT

Dear smiths,
I am an ameture smith just entering the field and am looking for a bit of advice on coal. I currently live in Newport, VA which lies almost on the West Virginia border.
First off the coal that I currently burn with leaves massive amounts of clinckers, and put off great sulpherous clouds. Can I weld with this stuff? Secondly I don't have the time to run the 4 hours to harrisonburg, or the 5 to richmond for better quality coal. Is there somewhere in WV that could supply my needs? I cheecked the coal scuttle and saw no entry for WV; is there no where Within 2 hours from Newport for coal? I currently get it from fletcher coal in Narrows, VA; about 20 mins. from the forge.
I am also searching for some blueprints for a bellows, any suggestions?
   Joshua - Monday, 07/28/03 15:07:38 EDT

while it might be more difficult to weld in a coal fore that produces lots of clinker, it can be done... I know as I have done so, especially since for a year the only coal I had access to produced almost as much clinker as I put coal in....
   Ralph - Monday, 07/28/03 17:22:26 EDT

The plans I am using to build a bellows are in "The Blacksmith-Ironworker and Ferrier" by Aldren Watson., chapter 11. ISBN 0-393-30683-6 They are pretty comprehensive and the rest of the book is full of some good ideas, but short of real how to.
   Myke - Monday, 07/28/03 17:46:01 EDT

Buffalo Tee and Angles shear No. 1-
I have found these made at least as long ago as 1912. They are rated at 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 1/4" angle.
They are really designed for angle and tee, but flat bar can be cut in them as well- at least the same capacity- 1 1/2" x 1/4".
I found a later version sold by mcmaster carr in the 50's that has a punch added as well, will punch up to a 1/2" diameter hole in 1/4" plate. They say you can shear up to 1 1/4" x 3/8" flat bar with it.
Neither was a 1 "N", however, I am not sure what an N represents.
   - Ries - Monday, 07/28/03 19:15:19 EDT

tim cisneros, i am very interested in what will happen when you split and open the railing and horizontals that you described to the guru. i am thinking about change in length. if the "piercings" are on 4" centers @ completion, what is the length between @ the start of the procedure to achieve that final goal of 4" centers? this is something that i will deal with soon, certainly not near the scale that you have. if you drift, cold or hot, i would guess that the length will shorten somewhat. if you would, post what you end up doing and what you find. much appreciation...
   rugg - Monday, 07/28/03 19:34:27 EDT

Coal in Newport: Joshau, That is kind of like the famous saying "like taking coals to Newcastle"

More high grade West Virginia coal is shipped out of the N&W / Massey coal port in Norfolk than is used in the entire United States. It is all headed to Japan and Europe. THIS we will regret as it is very bad economic policy.

Anyway. . they won't sell it to you but there is bound to be a lot of spilled coal near the docks. . .

Your next best bet for coal is Richmond I think. Check with the CVBG guys. Otherwise you will need to order it or truck it.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/03 20:45:44 EDT

"WHoops" . . .Newport. . I was thinking Newport News. I am too tired. . . too much server nonesense.

Everything is in LIMBO now. Some of my mail is going to the new server some to the OLD. Some of you can log in here directly but I have to use the numerical server address. . . By morning it will be sorted out but right now it is frustrating.
   - guru - Monday, 07/28/03 20:52:31 EDT

Recently we had an incident of porn spam from a member of the Yahoo Foto site. The spam came from an account that I had "auto-approved". Of course, I immediately removed the sending address. In addition I have started sending a message to each applicant to the site asking for their real name and reason for applying to the site. I hope no one is offended by these questions, but I will NOT permit our site from being corrupted by slime balls. If you apply, you will get a message from me. Please just answer the questions, and I'll immediately approve your membership. I'll do this with all applications, even the ones that have "hammer", "forge", "smith" etc in the address, the sorry trash that send out sporn (Hey! I like that word! grin) are clever enough to disguise their addresses with words that we normally would use.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/28/03 21:43:51 EDT

So should I still try the cvbg guys or is there someone else? Thanks so much for the book advice that'll help lots.
Ralph how do you go about doing that, cause that pert near discribes my fires. Is it just the same technique or do you have to break the fire down every ten mins or so? YOu guys are so much help thanks!
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 09:26:57 EDT

By the way I live 15 mins from Newcastle
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 09:29:23 EDT

the coal I was using made a lot of clinker, BUT it never gathered in one mass. It was scattered all thru the fire in small pices (most about the size of pecans) So I just used it as is. Once ever couple of hours I would let the fire riest and then pull out as much clinker as possible.
In either case the fire was capable of getting to weld temps no problems.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 07/29/03 09:53:44 EDT

well thank you bunches, I guess I'll stop snivelin then.
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 13:39:44 EDT


It's not really snivelin, finding good coal CAN be a very challenging exercise. May I suggest that you check the article in the FAQ's section written by Glenn Connor, (Ntech) of West Virginia?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/29/03 14:35:06 EDT


The best coal I have ever worked with came from the seawell mine in
Hico, WV They were bragging about their coal so our group bought 100# as a sample lot just to see what they were selling. IT IS BY FAR THE BEST COAL WE HAVE EVER WORKED WITH, BAR NONE! It cokes outstanding, has low ash, low sulfer and very little clinker. Some of the chunks are a little bigger than we like but that is easily taken care of with a hammer.

The name of the person to get in contact with is;
Tim Keeney his email is;

I guess it is possible that there is better coal, but not for us Calif. Boys!

The specs for his coal are as follows:
1.5 to 2% ash, low sulfur of 0.57 to 0.80%, and has a dry BTU of about 15,500/#. The "Coke Button" is 9+. The Volatile Matter is 25% dry basis, with a Fixed Carbon of 73% dry basis

If you are a reasonable distance to him I would highly recommend his coal. We are in the process of securing transportation for a truck load of his coal (22 tons)

He has not paid me nor are we connected in any way but as HAPPY customers.

   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:03:27 EDT

Thanks for that tidbit. Less sulpher is a big hit with the missus! Do you recall the price on that?
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:13:02 EDT

Correction, it is from the "Seawell Seam" not Seawell "mine", sorry
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:16:56 EDT

I beleave that the quoted price is $10 per 50#.(+shipping) I don't know how much you guys back east pay for coal but that sure beats the coal we pay $25 per 50# out here (shipping included)
   - Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:20:11 EDT

Well keep in mind it is crap i have now, but I pay 4.50 for a 50 # bag. I am willing to pay that much though so long as it's good stuff!
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:34:31 EDT

$10 that is! thanks for the info.
   Joshua - Tuesday, 07/29/03 15:37:16 EDT


Beutifull cross, I especially like the flow of the points from the twist. Well done Rugg!

Caleb Ramsby
   Caleb Ramsby - Tuesday, 07/29/03 16:08:08 EDT

Pipe Tomahawk

Thanks for all the info , still looking for the book frank
guru ,that weld sounds tricky and fiddly but i might give it a go
mp you make it sound easy but i think the easiest would be the ball pien thanks tom
   - Wayne - Tuesday, 07/29/03 16:10:14 EDT

Coal, and sniveling......(grin) Well I am snivling!
In my part of the world decent coal is not to be had. ONly have two supplied I cna find within driving range. Both have the same coal and the same price( poor coal and bad prices 25.00 per 40lbs) I would love to live near good coal like many of you Eastern boys and gals do......
   Ralph - Tuesday, 07/29/03 16:24:22 EDT

Ries: Thanks for the info on the shear! I didn;t really have much use for it, so I traded it away....

   -JIM - Tuesday, 07/29/03 16:44:09 EDT

There is a supplier that I know of in W. Va....a Mr. Lloyd Burns, although I'm not sure where he's located. I've been negotiating with him, to get some coal for the smithy at the historic site where I work. He supplies coal for the shop at Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC, as well as Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown (I think). At any rate, the guys at Tryon Palace love his coal. I'm not sure of his actual price, as I've been dealing with him in pretty large quantities and delivery costs, etc., but his contact info is:

Lloyd Burns
Somewhere in W. Va.

Hope this helps,
Chris Woodson
Roanoke Island Festival Park
Manteo, NC
   Chris W. - Tuesday, 07/29/03 17:59:25 EDT

Reference Tomohawks, there quite a bit of information at:

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/29/03 19:16:08 EDT

Hello, i am 16 and have no experience in blacksmithing at all. I live near San Antonio Texas. Is it legal to set up a forge in an urban area, like a backyard? Any information would be graetly appreciated.
   Patrick - Tuesday, 07/29/03 19:49:21 EDT

mr caleb, thanks for the compliment.....the theme "on the diamond"
   - rugg - Tuesday, 07/29/03 20:39:48 EDT

You had helped me once before to put the Blacksmiths Ring on my web site. I made some changes on my site and now the link no longer appears on my site. I don't know what happened to the link or the graphics but they are not there anymore! Help!
   Rick Trahan - Tuesday, 07/29/03 21:30:03 EDT

Dear Guru, I've been making knives for about 6 years and forging for the last year or so. Just got back from the ABS intro to bladesmithing class with a serious case of power hammer lust! I just found a 35 ton Blitz press for 200.00 not too far from where I live. It's not hydrolic, but has a flywheel and motor (like a power hammer I think).
I want to use it to make damascus. But know virtually nothing about presses. I've used a 36 ton hydrolic press and the electric one at the ABS school, but nothing like what this guy described to me.
I would like to know more about this paricular press and weather it would do what I want it to do. Any info would be helpful.
Thanks a bunch,
   Ed Wilson - Tuesday, 07/29/03 21:50:54 EDT

Legalities: Patrick, First, the most important thing to remember is your neighbors say what is legal and what isn't. There may be a noise ordinance and if they complain then it is ilegal, if they don't complain then its legal. If you make more smoke than a bar-b-que then you MIGHT come under a polution ordinance IF someone complains.

Under most circumstances if its a hobby then you are legal as long as you don't bother your neighbors. As soon as it is a business then you come under some very strict rules as well as zoning laws.

However, there ARE open fire ordinances that apply to everyone, expecialy in hot dry climates. Some places they are seasonal or have daytime restrictions. Getting a coal forge to meet the closed fire requirments is tough. In many places there is an exception for cooking fires (assumed to be small and attended). One of our members keeps a tea pot on the back of his forge warming at all times and calls it a "cooking fire".

But fires around a forge can be a serious problem. The grass where you work may be green today but will be dead and dry from you standing on it tomarrow. Scale (bits of burnt steel) constantly flake off the work and is hot enough to start a grass fire. Most fall at your feet but some can go flying off quite a distance. . perhaps set the mulch in your mom's flower beds on fire!

A gas forge makes a considerable roar but is usualy less noise than a lawnmower and they make no smoke. They are also enclosed enough to meet most open fire rules.

Anvils can make an ear piercing ring that is noisier in front and to the side of the anvil than above it (where you are). Get someone else to ring your anvil. If it is too loud it can be toned down by mounting it on rubber and bolting it down tight. Placing big old speaker magnets on the sides also help dampen the ring.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/03 22:15:17 EDT

Blacksmiths Ring: Rick, Send me your URL and I will look at it.

   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/03 22:22:19 EDT

Web-Rings . . . I broke them. Should be back on-line in a few hours. We changed the ring server to rings.anvilfire.NET about 7 months ago and sent everyone messages to update their code. BUT we also kept the old one running.

The old anvilfire server is officialy DEAD as of 10:00 pm EST. And anything I didn't move and or fix is really broken now. Will be at it all night.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/29/03 23:44:27 EDT

Blitz ? Bliss? Press: Ed, Most old flywheel operated presses are known as punch presses or OBI (Open Back Inclinable) preses. The OBI type are on a base made so that they can be adjusted at an angle either to line them up with other machines or tilt them so parts will slide out of the dies via gravity.

A Punch press has a flywheel and a dog type clutch that engages the shaft for one rotation and is then released as it comes around. The shaft has a crank throw on it to which a connecting rod connects the ram. In operation the the machine is supposed to cycle ONE time. They often double cycle and thus can be very dangerous. In fact, almost ALL mechanical clutch punch presses are being scraped by industry because they are nearly impossible to bring up to OSHA or insurance standards. Modern presses have air operated clutches and double safety switches that require the operator to press one with each hand to insure neither hand is in the press.

Punch presses are very powerful. They MUST travel their full stroke. If anything prevents them from traveling their full stroke then something ALWAYS breaks. You would think the clutch dog would shear (so did the designers) but often the crank shears or the frame breaks. Parts fly and if you are lucky the flywheel stays on!

Typicaly the tooling for a punch press is ENGINEERED by someone that knows what they are doing. Die sets are made so that you cannot put a piece of 3/4" stock where 1/2" is supposed to go. Forces for the job have a safety factor and then spring or stripper forces are added. Tools for shearing are pretty simple to design, those for bending are tough. But those for plastic forming are the worst. My rule of thumb for the amature user is if it can't be done cold then don't put it in a punch press. Sure, hot iron works easy, but red high alloy tool steel may be stronger than cold mild steel. . . All it takes is one piece that isn't quite hot enough or not hot all the way through.

Punch presses are not forging presses and definitely NOT power hammers. They can and are used for for forging but only under controlled situations with LOTS of safety factor. They should never be used for for general open die forging.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/03 04:23:59 EDT

   - Pete F - Wednesday, 07/30/03 04:52:20 EDT

paw paw thanks

guru couple weeks ago you wrote about retro fitting kero lanterns or fit gas lights to acetylene .
could you give me some info on these acetylene gas lights ,we use it in our oxy sets for cutting ,welding ect.but i've never seen it used in lighting , is it purely a u.s thing??


wayne - australia
   - Wayne - Wednesday, 07/30/03 06:15:12 EDT

Wayne, back in the '40's we had carbide lamps - calcium carbide + water makes acetylene gas. We wore the canister on our belt and the gas went thru a tube to the headlight. the light from the flame was projected thru a lens. We used them like coal miner's lamps, with a strap around the head. They were used to gig bullfrogs at night. Ron C
   - Ron Childers - Wednesday, 07/30/03 10:44:58 EDT

Wayne & Ron, those carbide lamps were used in competitive shooting, both rifle and pistol, to blacken iron sights for a better sight picture into the early 80's (that's 1980's for the comedians lurking here), when somebody started marketing a can of spray black which worked just as well and was a lot less trouble. It is my understanding they were originally designed as a miners lamp. Small ones fit on the miners helmet, and I have seen larger ones in museums which were set on the ground, hung from timbers, etc, and these were called "stope" lamps.....
   Ellen - Wednesday, 07/30/03 11:47:57 EDT


The first automobile head lights were acetylene lams, also.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 07/30/03 12:04:27 EDT

Acetylene Lighting I do not recommend any conversions as it is very dangerous stuff and modern long life batteries have mostly replaced it for portable purposes.

On one occasion I needed light late night at a crafts show where I was demonstrating. I lit my oxy-acetylene torch with a small tip adjusted to a rich white flame and hung it from my torch bracket that I had moved overhead. . . It was a little too direct but way very bright and lit a large area. Modern natural gas street lamps with mantels do the same job but much more safely.
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/03 13:02:18 EDT

dear guru, last time ive made contact was about a bates pneumatic power hammer your comments were very good for me. well now i found a 250lb little giant. i am planning to make a visit and see the machine tomorrow, take some pictures and send to you guys, but the question is: how big does a hammer should be to a person who is a knife maker and intend to do some blacksmithing?the bigger the better?
   rodrigo - Wednesday, 07/30/03 13:41:31 EDT


As big as you can find and afford. You can never have too much hammer, but it's easy to not have enough.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 07/30/03 13:45:02 EDT

Rodrigo, I had a 250 LG at one time and let it go. It was nice in two regards, it was short (fit under an 8 foot cieling) and it required no subteranian anvil or anvil pit. That is not to say that it did not need a heavy foundation, but it didn't need a hole for the anvil as do some large hammers. See the specs on our power hammer page. There are photos of 250's hiding here and there too. .

LG's are not noted for their controlability but when properly tuned can do quite well. With practice you can forge and point light 1/4" stock on a big hammer. But then you can also forge the heck out of 3" stock, draw out laminated steel bilets or even do some small closed die work.

Big hammers are expensive to move and to setup but are wonderful tools. Remember this, in industrial forging they don't even discuss hammers under 1,000 pounds. The little 500#, 350# and 250# hammers were support hammers for making small tooling for the REAL hammers. . . ;)
   - guru - Wednesday, 07/30/03 14:09:41 EDT

Oh wise and benevolent Guru......Thank you very much for the advice. I think I'll spend this saturday communing with my 2 lb hammer and saving up for a little giant.
   Ed Wilson - Wednesday, 07/30/03 21:49:30 EDT

I just bought a 4x6 bandsaw and am looking for a high quality blade as recommended in the bandsaw FAQ. Anyone know where to buy Lenox blades or recommend another brand that I could buy online? I'm only turning one source for Lenox blades. I'm only interested in cutting mild steel from 1/8 up to 7/8.
   Darryl - Wednesday, 07/30/03 22:10:02 EDT

What happened to the bridge we worked on during the Abana 2000 conference? Wasn't it supposed to be displayed in Memphis? I didn' see it when ivisited there some time ago. ...... Fred, one of the chain gang!......
   fred hunholz - Wednesday, 07/30/03 22:16:51 EDT

3 great places to buy industrial stuff if you dont have good local stores:
MSC- more oriented towards machine shops, but they have tons of stuff, 2 day shipping in most of the us. I really like their bimetal bandsaw blades made by Starrett tools.
www.MSCdirect.com 1-800-645-7270
Mcmaster Carr- old time hardware store writ large- everything from wire mesh and wheelbarrows to drill bits and bandsaw blades.
www.mcmaster.com branches in atlanta, chicago, cleveland, LA, New York- look on the website for phone numbers.
W.W. Grainger-
Everything a business needs- light bulbs, motors and hydraulics, shelves and tools, storage and cleaning supplies. They have stores in practically every big town in america, so next day shipping is usually available.
www.grainger.com 1-888-361-8649 for branch nearest you.
All three have huge catalogs which they will send you. Sometimes it is a litte hard getting one from mcmaster carr, but the other two are prompt and free.
Just studying those catalogs you can learn an incredible amount about metalworking. For years when I had no money for tools, I would read catalogs for entertainment, and education.

   Ries - Wednesday, 07/30/03 23:32:02 EDT

At one time, much of europe used acet gas lights, including street lights.
An old frenchman once told me about the practical jokes they used to play with acet when he was a kid...talked for an hour about it. Made both goats and parents fret as I recall...also, fun with acet and chickens.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 07/31/03 03:20:02 EDT

Acet. lights

Thanks for all the info , learn something new all the time never relised carbide lamps were acet.
Guru ,realise acet. gas was dangerous , thats what got my curiousity up,thought you might have some " you bewt"way of makeing lamps , normally use kero lamps for the "period" look.
Pete nothing like someone letting off an acet. "bomb" in the welding bay next to you to wake you up on a long shift.(grin)

   - Wayne - Thursday, 07/31/03 06:24:11 EDT

Have recently "found" a small anvil. It is marked H. Armitage mouse hole, with the weight as 1.0.1 with the letter W on the base under the horn. I understand the weight as 113 lbs. but can you tell me anything about
H. Armitage mouse hole and what does the letter W mean?
Thanks for your help. DK
   Don kieffer - Thursday, 07/31/03 08:35:28 EDT

Gurus. Im trying to colormatch the welds on bronze railcap (julius blum). I tried brazing rod, alumunum bronze rod, & making rod of the same material. They are all close but some of our better clients are still not satisfied. I thought of adding copper somehow to the weld. Because it always comes out too bright & yellow. What do you guys think?
   - Dave - Thursday, 07/31/03 10:52:58 EDT


Have you tried silicon bronze?
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 07/31/03 11:19:38 EDT

M&H Mousehole Don, see our review of the NEW book by Richard Postman on Mousehole forge. Also see the review of Richard's Anvils in America (now in its third printing!).
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 11:21:14 EDT

Bridge: Fred, I do not have a clue. I do remember there was quite a bit of controversy about the hangman's noose after the unvieling.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 11:25:23 EDT

Color Match Dave, on bright finishes this is always a problem and I am not sure what the answer is. Have you asked Blum?

It is possible that the lighter zinc is coming to the surface. Try running a bead on piece of scrap without filler and then finishing it.

Adding a little copper will darken and redden the color. You might do this by wrapping some coper wire in a spiral around your brazing rod. Then be sure to flux the rod early to avoid oxidizing the copper too much. The wire gauge and angle of the spiral on the rod will determine the ratio of aditional copper. EXPERIMENT on scrap (but I'm sure you know this, others might not)!

   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 11:32:58 EDT

Kerosene Lamps: Why back when, Aladdin (co) made a kerosene lamp with a mantel (like gasoline lamps). I suspect that like gasoline lamps they also had a vaporizor preheater and had to be pressurized. These gave off a brilliant light. They were expensive and came with ornate metalwork as well as lamp shades to make the light more diffuse and less harsh. Like many things of the 19th Century they were quickly replaced by better inventions (electricity) but hung on well into the 20th century.

The modern wick type keosene lamps work OK but are cheaply made (mostly in China) today. Since they are considered either for emergency or "quaint" usage (or faux antiques) they are nothing like the highly developed lamps of the 19th century. But in either case they are high maintenance and dirty. Eventualy the soot darkens everything in one's home. The same went for gas lighting.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 11:44:41 EDT

Carbide Lamps and Aladdin Kerosene lamps: I have an Aladdin kerosene lamp. It doesn't require pressurization. Has a round wick with a mantle over it. Nice and bright. Works better on liquid paraffin (you can get this at WalMart and at West Marine stores). Also have a hanging kerosene lamp (DHR),I bought from West Marine (most Marine shops will carry similar), has a round wick, high quality lamp. My cabin in NM did not have electricity the first couple of years I had it. I still prefer these lamps when I am there. Nice relaxing atmosphere.,

Also, see the Lehman's Non Electric catalog: www.lehmans.com. They carry both carbide and Aladdin lamps, and a bunch of other high quality kerosene lamps as well. They originally catered to the PA Amish, but now sell nationwide. Good service, a bit pricey, but have some things you can't get anywhere else. Their catalog is fun to
browse, old style tools, wood cookstoves, etc.
   Ellen - Thursday, 07/31/03 12:44:41 EDT

The hanging lamp is in the West Marine Catalog, www.westmarine.com described as a "Brass Trawler Lamp".
   Ellen - Thursday, 07/31/03 12:52:21 EDT

Ah, hollow round wicks like a heater, not a mantel. Been too many years since I looked into these things. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 13:22:49 EDT

I have been smithing for several years but just moved to San Francisco and didn't know where to find the laws governing smithing in a residential area. Is there any way to find out what they are?
   lauren - Thursday, 07/31/03 16:11:40 EDT

Lauren, see "Legalities" just a few posts up on the same subject.

FIRST, Go to the library or court clerks office and research the laws yourself. DO NOT ASK. Asking local officials is an immediate red flag that gets THEM in YOUR business even if they don't have jurisdiction. . . Most major public libraries have local ordinances. If they do not then you may need to use a law library. Most are privately owned and used by appointment. There may be usage fees. Even some public law libraries are by appointment (get in line). You will want to start with a zoning map and get your classification. This is critical and goes lot by lot, building by building.

Second, are you a business or is it just a hobby? Hobbiests can get away with a lot that businesses can not.

Third, many parts of California (especially urban aresa) have the most restrictive emmissions and air quality standards in the country. You can probably get away with a gas forge but coal will bring down the wrath of the EPA and your neighbors.

California also has fairly restrictive outdoor open burning laws.

If nothing else applies then noise ordinances are pretty universal. What is TOO much noise? Any noise that your neighbors complain about.

Your best bet is to join CBA (the California Blacksmiths Association) and find a local smith that knows the ropes. It is money well spent. Not only will they be able to help with legalities but sources of materials and tools.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/31/03 20:24:31 EDT

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