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

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

This is an archive of posts from July 1 - 7, 2004 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Re weedburner preheat.....
If you are going to be stick welding, then sparks will be going everywhere anyway. The HF weedburner is pretty well valved and stable across a wide range of flame sizes....so just turn it down to the appropriate size. When doing that sort of repair I like to put some big funky sheets of metal between the engine/fuel tank and the weldment. I also like to run an air line to a chipping hammer right at hand so that i can chip the slag and peen the weld in short order.
Steve Forbes: Most masonry/concrete supply places carry fireclay in convient 50# bags, cheap.
Rob: while using the edge of your anvil for a fuller really works pretty well...as a beginner, unless your hammer control is quite good, you may not want to try this technique just yet. The reason is that a stout hammer blow that misses and hits the edge of the anvil can be a small disaster , chipping the edge of the anvil or badly nicking the hammer face.
Making or buying a nicely rounded fuller that fits in your hardy hole is an easy, inexpensive, tool designed for drawing out hot steel efficiently.
Harley; Go to your propane supplier for good, inexpensive propane regulators
Sylvanwolph; Most RR spikes don't have enough carbon to get really hard like a knife blade edge oughta be. The best are marked HC or HD. See anvilfire's primer on heat treating. My guess would be to take it to a good red and quench it in cold salt water. You may not need to temper it at all, test with a file. If the file slides without biting, then temper to straw color.
SUPPORT ANVILFIRE....JOIN CSI!!!! or your hammer handles will all go limp.
   Pete F - Thursday, 07/01/04 03:50:58 EDT

Harley - Hardware stores or maybe ur propane dealer should have the "redheads". They should know what you want. It is red and has an adjusting handle. Also, get a 0 to 30# pressure guage and the fittings to set it up with neoprene fuel line rated for propane. You probably won't run it over 5# if a bolwn forge.It also looks really neat to have the line crimped onto the fittings; safer, too. You should also have an adjusting valve at the burner: If a blown forge, always turn the gas on, light it with a remote spark or paper. Put the burning paper in the forge, then turn on the gas then turn on the blower. Less likely to singe eyebrows, beard or whatever if you do it safely.

   - Ron Childers - Thursday, 07/01/04 08:23:48 EDT

RR-Spike Knives: sylvanwolf, See our FAQs on Junkyard Steels, Heat Treating and the many links on each.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/04 09:48:26 EDT

Propane suppliers---not the folks at the gas station who do grill tank exchanges; but the folks you would contact to fill up a home heating tank. Look under propane in the yellow pages and call around.

I use an acetylene regulator I bought at the fleamrket for $5, figured that I could toss several bad ones and still cost less than buying a new propane regulator. Getting propane rated hose and checking *everything* for leaks is mandatory!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/01/04 12:00:59 EDT

To all my fellow HF weedburner afficianados; the good folk at Haba Flate are now selling one with not one, but TWO of them big honkin' nozzles on it !! Wouldn't THAT frost up yer gas bottle ?? The handle and valving configurations are about the same, and I assume it has the same fine Italian craftsmanship as the original. I saw it in the latest mail order catalog, but it has not yet been posted on the website. The item number is 91280-OCXA in Summer catalog 468-E, page 57 . 'Bout 30 bucks.
   3dogs - Thursday, 07/01/04 13:25:29 EDT

seeing as i can't aford any anvil out it seems it stands to reson that i could make my own by drilling holes in the corners of metal plates and stacking them togather and bolting them.Does this make sense? Is it fesible?
   - John S - Thursday, 07/01/04 16:52:45 EDT

John S, no matter how you bolt them there would still be a lot of energy lost in the joints.(standing them vertically would work better than horizontally but you would then need a solid top piece preferably welded on with complete through to the middle welding.) Why not just buy a large single hunk of steel from the scrap yard?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 07/01/04 17:33:33 EDT

Anvils: Stacked anvils are not much better than the top plate due to flexing, bounce and poor transfer of energy through the mass. Bundles on edge work OK but require a cap plate to distribute the load.

If you can afford to scrounge the plate and drill the holes you should be able to afford or scrounge an anvil better than stacked. Used anvils in beat up condition are infinitely better than poorly shop made. Ask everywhere. You local truck stop is better than your local shain hardware store.

Use your imagination when looking for anvil substitutes. In many poor areas of the world they use a very heavy sledge hammer sunk into a stump. We have several articles on using rail road rail to best advantage. One person we know uses half of a railroad coupler (a great armourer's anvil). Heavy shafting set on end works and can have a larger face or horns welded to it. Any heavy compact mass of steel works well. Many scrap yards and machine shops often have pieces of heavy flame cut plate as scrap or rejects.
   - guru - Thursday, 07/01/04 18:31:27 EDT

Thanks to all those who answered my post. I found a bladesmithing book that had all the stuff in it that I needed. It wasn't at the Library when I looked the first and second time. I figured out the whole process in about 2 hours ( I learn very quickly once I see something ). Thanks again!!

   Gary - Thursday, 07/01/04 22:18:34 EDT

I have a 200# Beaudry Champion hammer. The rollers on the ends of the springs have given me trouble for years. The originals were steel and had flat spots worn on them. I made some out of aluminium bronze for the roller part with IHCP hydraulic cylinder rods for pins with a cross pin to hold them together. I scraped the bearing surfaces on the springs for the pins to run on and after about a year I started getting flat spots again. I turned the rollers true and knurled them. After another year or so they stoped rolling and got flat spots again. Next I bored the ends of the springs 1/4" oversized and soldered in bronze bearings for the pins to run in. I still have problems with the rollers sliding and not rolling and developing flat spots. The hammer hits a lot harder when the rollers roll and not slide. This can be a real challenge when working on something small and the hammer keeps switchtng between sliding and hitting light and rolling and hitting harder all in the same heat. Got any ideas? Thanks, Danny
   - Danny D - Thursday, 07/01/04 23:04:37 EDT

Danny D 5 numbers 52100 properly heattreated:-) It is what bearings with high wear resistance are made of. Lapping the bearing surface to a high polish might not be a bad idea either. The proper materials and technic should put it back in good shape for you.
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 07/01/04 23:55:24 EDT


I have a 100 lb Beaudry. When I got the hammer, the rollers were flat spotted. So was the inside of the ram. I had new rollers made from H13 and hardened (it's what the machinist had on hand - I didn't spec it). I put it back together dry and tightened the tension plugs so they would not roll and then backed off a quarter turn at a time until they did start to roll. I then oiled them with way oil. That was 15 years ago. This year, I recut the bronze way so had to tear down the hammer and in the process, I checked the rollers. They were perfectly round and very polished. Without seeing your setup, I would venture that your tension plugs are too tight and you may not be oiling the rollers sufficiently. I use my hammer almost every day and oil the rollers and ways every 4 hours with 90w or way oil. I can also tell from the hammer's response if it is running a bit dry.
   - HWooldridge - Friday, 07/02/04 00:07:38 EDT

I am wanting to get into blacksmithing as a hobby. I am wanting to learn how to make knives most of all what advice could you give me on books and tools so I am not spending more than I need to on tools I would not need yet, I looked through some of the web links but the variety of different hammers and anvils are mind numbing. I have enough experience to build the forge and enough to know that is about it. Help please
   Tony S. - Friday, 07/02/04 01:47:32 EDT

Tony, first read Getting started in blacksmithing. Scroll all the way up on this page, youīll see the link. Then read Iforge (especially the ones on safety and technique).
Contact your local ABANA chapter and go to meetings.

Tools you need: anvil. for knives you donīt need a big one, a 20-30 pound iron block from a scrap yard or even a section or railroad should get you started. make sure itīs flat, every dent in your anvil will show up in you work. I find one edge rounded off with about an .5" radius practicalfor fullering.

hammer: 2 pound straigt- or cross-peen. make sure itīs flat and round off the edges. A lighter hammer doesnīt get much work done, a heavier one is difficult to control.

tongs. make your own, Iforge will tell you how.

Vice, preferably a legg vice, but others will do. (scrounge around in scrapyards for these)


   matthijs - Friday, 07/02/04 05:55:19 EDT

E'Gads it's Friday!

I spent the week catching up at work (I had to take a day off for family business, and had to go to training another day) cleaning up from Camp Fenby and (most of all) sorting out the tools, moving the furniture, talking to potential buyers, harassing the surveyors and other joyless activities associated with selling the Point House. Looking forward to catching-up on the three day 4th of July weekend. I MIGHT even get some blacksmithing done, wire-up the motor, and inlet the second mortise in the sill beam for the RJH. Plans are due to be copied today, so I can send them to Jock and David for further contemplation.

Met Kelly Smyth at the Smithsonian Folklice Festival ( http://www.folklife.si.edu/festival/2004/waterways/Crafts/crafts_sailing.html , scroll towards the bottom). Her ship fittings are in a lot heavier iron than I ever contemplate, with 1" stock the starting point for the chain plates. She appears to do all of it by hand! (I'll ask her to make sure I heard right when I swing by today.) Makes me appreciate the early medieval period, which has dimensions within my capabilities.

Warming up again on the banks of the Potomac. Hoping to wrap about three projects today so I can feel good about myself when I come back on Tuesday. ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 07/02/04 08:29:26 EDT

Beaudry Bearings: Danny, as others have pointed out, these need to be very hard tool or bearing steel. Bronzes are way too soft. Proper lubrication is also critical. 80% of all power hammer damage is from lack of lubrication. Then 5% is moving damage and 10% abuse and about 5% wear and tear. If you classify lack of lubrication as abuse (it is) then 90% of all power hammer problems are lack of oil.
Old manually oiled machines require a full oil can PER machine located in a convienient location. Oil before, after and every couple hours during use. Drive your truck or auto for a few minutes without oil and see what happens. . . $$$$$
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/04 11:57:35 EDT

Oil is not a problem. I oli every hour when I am running real heavy. I did have trouble with the IHCP pins galding in the springs. Thats when I installed bronze bearings. The origanal rollers were galded as well.
   - Danny D - Friday, 07/02/04 14:11:45 EDT

Vicopper, Crosspean, Pete, and anyone I forgot: thanks for the tractor welding advice, ran 7014 on the vertical bead early this AM, 7018 on the flat bead, used mapp preheat (it's what I had handy) and also for post welding heating, worked great, hogged out 3 corrals and loaded the political residue (AKA horse manure) into the dumpsters, no problems, no cracked welds.....thanks much. Only problem was I stopped by Phx Welding Supply early yesterday AM to buy $6 worth of rod and bought a nearly new Victor cutting torch with two new tips for $100......works great, just not in the budget...sigh!
   Ellen - Friday, 07/02/04 17:48:56 EDT


Galling can come from insufficient lubrication or too surfaces that are the same hardness and material. In other words, a 55Rc bearing from 4140 rolling against a 55Rc 4140 surface will have a tendency to gall. From your descriptions, I would go back to a hard steel bearing and adjust the spring arm tension so that bearings are not locked against the inside of the ram.
   - HWooldridge - Friday, 07/02/04 17:57:53 EDT

I meant "two surfaces" in the above post. Spell check wasn't working...:-)
   - HWooldridge - Friday, 07/02/04 17:59:11 EDT

Large firebowls:

While exploring a local quarry today I found the old blacksmith's shop. The remains of the firebowl were found on the floor, the design is somewhat unusual. There are two firebars operated by a handle and gears. They can be either in the up position when working or lowered to dump the ash. The most unusual thing is the size, it measures nearly 3 feet long by 2 feet wide. Also unusual for the UK is that it is bottom blown. I have uploaded some photos and will try and liberate the firebowl tomorrow but it weighs a lot and there is about a 1000'climb up the side of a hill.

   Bob G - Friday, 07/02/04 18:04:41 EDT

I hope that you are successful in your attempt to rescue such a large tuyere and preserve a piece of history! I am amazed that whoever took the anvil left the matching base behind. What a combination that would be! I would like to see you post some pictures of the shop as a whole both inside and outside.
   Roy - Friday, 07/02/04 19:11:39 EDT

"Firebowl" Bob, I am not sure what that is but it is not suitable for a forge. I amy be wrong but I believe a blown forge fire that size on those grates would burn them out in short order. It might be some kind of charcoal heat treating setup. That would also explain the very large quench tank. Very interesting shop.
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/04 20:28:22 EDT

Galling / Bearings: Galling is the result of two metals of simlar harness pressure welding localy in microscopic bits. These welds then tear resulting in hard balls of metal that are rolled or drug along creating a snow ball effect growing the balls and scoring the surface producing more damage. It is most common in soft metals and slow oxidizing metals such as aluminium and stainless steel. Bearings of dissimilar metals and hardnesses reduce the possibility. But the best combination is smooth hard steel on hard steel. Most steel bearing surface combinations are much lower coeficient of friction than published values and very efficient.

When rollers are involved they need to be as hard and strong as possible. Theoreticaly a hard curved surface that meets a flat surface or cuved surface of greater radius does so in a narrow line with infinite force. However, metals are resiliant and the roller squashes out like a rubber tire distributing the load over an area rather than an infinitely small line of contact. When the parts have different radiuses the part with the smaller radius has higher loads and deflects more thus needing to be slightly harder than the opposing surface.

Very hard materials like bearing steel are more resiliant than soft ones. In use the surfaces deflect and return to normal over and over millions of times as a roller passes over a surface under load. Eventually the surfaces fatigue and pieces start to flake off and the bearing fails. Under the best design condition there is a near infinite life but on "optomized" designs the life is in a known number of millions of cycles, THUS you have "planned obsolescence".
Most machines of the 1950's and 60's were designed with bearings of infinite life. Today machines (and automobiles) are designed with an exactly known life. That is why I know that my van has a 50/50 chance of catastrophic failure on the trip to and from the ABANA conference and that it is not going survive into next spring IF it returns from this trip in one piece. Ever hear the term "living on borrowed time"? That is what my van is doing. . .

Soft metals and improperly processed metals work harden and fatique much more rapidly than hard steels. Thus almost all modern bearings are made of hardened steel.

The reason a hard hammer or steel ball bounces back from a hard anvil is the resiliancy of the surface. The two surfaces deflect when they meet under force and the energy is returned as they return to their normal shape. Just like a rubber ball. . .
   - guru - Friday, 07/02/04 21:17:11 EDT

Re: Your van: It's called haha "value engineering."
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 07/03/04 01:09:01 EDT

Miles: good to see you back...missed you for a while.
Will someone explain the apparent planned obsolesence to be found in the smith's body. Thus far no doctor has assented to me making my own replacement parts...I asked.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 07/03/04 01:34:57 EDT

Guru, I read somewhere that a hardness difference of 10 Rockwell C points gave optimum wear between two surfaces. I guess the softer surface should be the easiest one to replace. The science of Tribology (wear) is a lot more complicated than you would expect. Hardness is just the tip of the iceberg.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/03/04 07:54:55 EDT

On Galling,
Having spent many years work in the research abd developement of valves for the high temp. steam market, I can offer a bit of help to those experienceing galling. As Quenchcrack noted, galling is localized welding following up with a snowball effect that rolls up an ever increasing ball. Galling is definetly a function of the material, the load, lubrication, and in many cases, surface finish. Some materials, such as type 347 SS will gall under almost any contact unless lubed.
The best all around prevention to galling, high temp. or low that I was able to find was MOLY-DISULFIDE containing lubricants. From research, many years ago, ball joints on cars required regreasing on a 1000 to 3000 mile cycle. A 1 to 3% moly grease ran that out to the estimated life of the car. I have run a 6 month series of testing on stainless steel acme threaded stems, and can report the following;
Type 410ss stem, running in a type 416ss nut, 3/8" full acme threads, with a 1200# axial thrust, dry, axle grease, and most of the common never-siezes, including nuclear grade nickle, yeilded from 5 to 35 cycles. Galling and stem twistoff was the failure mode. 2.5% molly axle grease, yeilded about 100 cycles. A paste of 70% moly, in a "white lubricating solids and oil" yeilded 15,000 cycles. Yes that is 15,000 cycles. Failure mode was the displacement of the threads to the point where they did not mesh. The tool marks from manufacture were still evident. We converted to the use of this product on all valves we made, except the oxygen and chlorine valves. This product being available in the shops, soon became a standard in every millwrights toolbox, and ended up in hundreds of machines.
I use this product in the plain slides of my powerhammer, and have had no visible wear, to date. I have about 100+ hours of run time, and the slides are plain carbon steel.
Product is
A small thoothpaste tube will last for years as very little is required.
This product will NOT pump thru a grease gun. For zerks, buy a quality moly axle grease.

Join CSI and help promote this site. The company that paid many thousands of $ for that research is no more, and you just got this for FREE.
   ptree - Saturday, 07/03/04 10:34:24 EDT

I have the first 50 copies of THE REVOLUTIONARY BLACKSMITH in my hot little hands. Jock should have them in the anvilfire store within the next week.(WHEW!)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 07/03/04 11:48:46 EDT

I am making a glass shelf that is supported by a forged iron branch I would like to use silicon to join it. should I use the silicon as glue and put the shelf on before the silicon is dry or let it dry and provide a friction fit?
Do both ways work?
   - Hayes - Saturday, 07/03/04 20:17:29 EDT

I am making a glass shelf that is supported by a forged steel branch. What is the best way to join the glass to the steel (using silicon): running a bead and letting that dry and then the glass sits on that and is held on by friction, or using it like glue. Or is there a better way ?
   Hayes - Saturday, 07/03/04 20:20:50 EDT

Hayes, so like....uh....rivets are out of the question, eh? If you think you need the glass to be firmly affixed to the iron, use silicon adhesive and apply the glass while the bead is wet. I would not expect a dry bead to be perfectly level and give a good grip on the glass. My vote is wet.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 07/03/04 21:12:24 EDT


I have done this while building aquariums. Do it wet for a better fit and more stability.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 07/03/04 22:55:46 EDT

you'd better get more then 50 copies, Paw Paw. That's pnly a weeks supply. :-)
   HavokTD - Saturday, 07/03/04 23:35:47 EDT

Wired-up the motor for the RJH and even ran it for about half a minute. Seems to run fine. Lights in the forge didn't dim or anything.

The gear box says it has a worm gear, and to keep it lubricated. It appears to have some oil in it. "When ambient temperature is 15 degrees to 60 degrees F use ACMA lubricant #2. ...50 degrees to 100 degrees F use ACMA lubricant #3."

I've done a quick web search under ACMA, and lubricants, and all I can come up with is a bunch of baking sites and the Automobile Component Manufacturers Association based in India.

Needless to say, I'm open to suggestions.

I hope everybody has a safe and enjoyable 4th of July tomorrow. Don't burn any fingers!

Now some folks are mumbling about having an autumn edition of Camp Fenby; late October or early November. Hmmm, maybe I'll be cleaned up from this one by then. ;-) (Actually, recovering from the last one is a minor part of the problem, it's relocating all of the tools and stock from the Point House that's eating up time and space at a tremendous rate.

Cooler but humid on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 07/03/04 23:37:08 EDT

In the long run, silicon glue's adhesion to the iron will break down. It will continue to act like a gasget and will stay stuck to the glass just fine.
Set the glass in place in a single smooth motion and leave it there to set. Don't try to reset it or move it if possible...makes a big difference in strength.
As you might guess, surface prep is critical.
Hooooray PPW!!!!!
   - Pete F - Sunday, 07/04/04 03:02:33 EDT


There are considerably more than 50 copies, but they rushed one box through so I could have them by July 4th.

Thankes, Pete!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 07/04/04 08:19:02 EDT

Bruce, could that be AGMA on the name plate? That would refer to the American Gear Manf. Assoc. and would be the expected oil spec. The Number refers to the viscosity of a standard EP type gear oil. Probably 80-90 weight gear oil.

Worm gear reduction boxs are generally set up for use in any position, by placing the vent in the correct orientation for that position. The oil level is checked by pulling the correct plug for that position and filling till oil flows from the un-plugged hole.If the box was new, all that info would have been included. Used box, put the vent in the highest plugged hole you can find, and look for a plug at about the half way level on the case. These boxs do not need a full case, but rather the gear running in this viscous, tacky oil will run onto all the gear and bearing surfaces as the shafts rotate. As a bit of advice, old boxs generally benefit from a drain and refill, as most people don't do the recommended changes, and worn brass from the gears will clog the oil from the bearings.
   ptree - Sunday, 07/04/04 10:42:17 EDT

Congratulations Paw Paw! Well done. So, how does it feel to be a published author? I'll be checking the sore daily.
   Gronk - Sunday, 07/04/04 11:20:07 EDT

Store not sore ... geez!
   Gronk - Sunday, 07/04/04 11:30:43 EDT

if you want the glass shelve removable, put down the bead of silcone, cover it with plastic food wrap, and then position the glass, when cured remove the glass, and peel off the food wrap, perfect fit. I do suggest that you test your food wrap as this does not work will all brands.

This same procedure works for most applications where you want to have a removeable cover sealed with silicone.
   - Hudson - Sunday, 07/04/04 13:29:48 EDT

Galling on SS: The folks that build equipment for the Nuclear industry avoid galling of stainless fasteners in stainless part simply by hard chrome plating the fasteners. This works and does not require anti-galling compounds. However, it DOES make all fasteners "special parts". To prevent substitution they often take one size fastener and remachine the shank and use a smaller thread than standard for the head.

More knowledge from the high tech industry. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 07/04/04 14:20:06 EDT

I was finally able to scrape up the money and join CSI. Very soon now my name will be listed amongst the elite!!
I'm a happy camper -er- blacksmith!

Steve in New York
   Smulch - Sunday, 07/04/04 17:10:58 EDT

Welcome to the club Smulch!
   ptree - Sunday, 07/04/04 17:22:23 EDT

We used some hard chrome on N stamp valve parts, but far more often used Bostick "pure nickel special" nuclear grade anti-seize. This was a qualified anti-seize, expensive as one would expect. Testing showed that for translating threads (operating threads,) a layer of electroless nickel about .005" was better. For operating threads, the 70% moly was the all out best period.

The problem with hard chrome is the grinding required after plating. The electroless nickel was a uniform plate that did not build up at edges like the chrome does. The hard chrome being an electrolytic plate builds up at edges from current density, requiring a diamond grind to achieve a usefull part. Very expensive for a threaded part.

For anti-seize, we tested most all the available products, on 2" threaded test parts. We torqued to 1000 #ft, and then heated to 800F for a week for the carbon steel, and 1000F for the chrome-moly steels. The only two products that allowed undamaged disassembly was Molykote anti-seize 1000, and an experimental Tungston disulfide spray. The spray was about $250 a can, and the Molykote was $7.00/#. We settled on the Molykote. Still had to use the lesser quality nickel on the N-stamp valves as it was the only lube approved for the N-stamp stuff.

By the way, the difference between our N-stamp valves, and our standard comercial quality valves was the amount of inspection, and the series number was replaced with a drawing and serial #. Also the Cost!
   ptree - Sunday, 07/04/04 17:35:56 EDT

congrats, Smulch. Welcome to the fold...
   HavokTD - Sunday, 07/04/04 17:37:36 EDT


Dam good, thank you very much! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 07/04/04 18:06:14 EDT


Welcome to the family!
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 07/04/04 18:07:07 EDT

I have one of those fifty dollar crafstman oxy mapp setups that apparently you are all familiar enough with to tell me that its junk. (i read through a few pages worth of archives) i have brought steel to cherry red with a plumbers mapp torch, shouldn't the pencil tip plus the combination of oxygen make it hotter? everything i'm reading on the net suggests yes, but in real life apparently not, does anyone have any advice on using this thing? i've tried no oxygen, all mapp, low mapp full oxygen and it seems like everything in between, theres no actual dial regulators though.
   James - Sunday, 07/04/04 23:42:27 EDT

Quick question on sharpening stones. Why isi t that no one seems to want to use the diamond "stones"? You don't need to straighten them, and they're less money then Japaneese whet stones, or even synthetic stones. Why is this?
   HavokTD - Monday, 07/05/04 00:51:56 EDT


I, personally, LOVE diamond stones and won't use anything else. Why put up with a second-rate edge when in just a few swipes my diamond laps will put on an edge that shaves very nicely?

I think most of the reason that many folks want to stick with water stones, oil stones, flat rocks, etc. is that they like the mystique of the arcane art of sharpening an edge on a flat rock. Kind of like making a fire with flint and steel when there is a Bic in your pocket. Just one of those throwback things that us guys do, like beating on hot iron instead of using a CNC milling machine.
   vicopper - Monday, 07/05/04 06:55:20 EDT

I have used a diamond stone for almost 25 yrs now and it's the only stone I use. After 25 yrs of use I am now searching the web for another . At the time I bought mine I was not aware of diamond stones in different grits . Now it seems all the companies offering them have them in course, meduim, and fine.
   Harley - Monday, 07/05/04 07:41:32 EDT

HEAT: James, It is a matter of BTU or total calories. Try heating a length of small iron wire (coat hanger) to a red or yellow, then try something slightly larger (or smaller). It is not the temperature of the flame but the volume or the amount of fuel being burnt and amount of energy.

No, the pencil point flame concentrates the heat for a small object, it does not make it hotter.

You are using the wrong tool for the job. Forges have HUGE burners compared to a torch and consume huge amounts of fuel. They would drain one of those small hand held bottles in about 5 minutes or less IF it was possible through the very small valve orrifice on them (it is not).
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 08:35:11 EDT

Vicopper, I have a LOT of woodcarving tools and have tried about everything to sharpen them. It really depends on what you are sharpening. An axe requires a different technique than a small gouge. Even a Fine diamond stone is coarser than a hard Arkansas stone and will leave fine scratches. For woodcarving, a smooth polished edge goes through the wood fibers better and leaves a smoother cut than a rough edge. I found that a soft Arkansas stone, followed by a hard Arkansas followed by stopping will get me a polished edge that cuts WOOD very efficiently. I have 3 diamond stones, several waterstones, 4-5 Arkansas stones, and a lot of different strops. I use the Arkansas Stones and 1-2 strops most of the time. If you are interested in some VERY high quality diamond lapping and polishing media, check out a metallurgical supply company like www.leco.com . They sell the consumables for preparing metallurgical samples for microscopic analysis.
   Quenchcrack - Monday, 07/05/04 08:46:04 EDT


Those little torches CAN get a little bit of steel kind of hot, and if all you want to do is braze or solder, they're fine. I use one for that. NO torch, even a big oxy-acetylene, is really suitable as a heat source for forging, simple as that. It's a matter of efficiency. You can use a propane torch and a hollowed-out firebrick as a forge, but a torch alone just oxidizes the steel.
   Alan-L - Monday, 07/05/04 09:15:00 EDT

Diamond vs. Natural, vs. Synthetic: I have used all three although I do not own a diamond stone. On certain abrasion resistant steels (high alloy and stainless) and very hard steels the Diamond is superior followed by the good Norton synthetics. On plain carbon steels the natural stones do very well if you have good ones otherwise quite poorly.

Like all stones the diamonds come in various grits and a set is needed to do a good job. Normally I use my double sided Norton with coarse carburundum and fine red sythetic India. And if I want a realy fine edge I follow that with a hard white Arkansas.

Over the years there has been a lot of missinformation about using stones. Since the late 1970's I have used all my stones dry. The metal swarf does not stick in the pores of the stone and can be washed off with solvent. When used with oil a slurry of grit and swarf forms that tends to round the edge of the blade. The oil does NOT prevent clogging of the stone. For a coolant/lubricatant to prevent clogging it must flood the stone and constantly wash the swarf and grit off the surface. The coolant pumping system on my surface grinder does that but a puddle of oil on a stone does not. I get much cleaner sharper edges using hand stones dry. They must be cleaned with solvent on each use.

As QC noted, a variety of stones are needed. I usualy resharpen exacto blades with a radiused point because they last longer. The other night I resharpened a utility knofe blade that had been in use for a year cutting Kaowool and cardboard. It cut mat board better than new. My apprentice had gone through a half dozen blades in as many weeks when I stopped him from throwing away the last blade. . . These MAY be classed throw-away blades but they resharpen in seconds (making the sharpening cost effective) and can be used for years. . .

Diamond also comes in wheels for grinding carbide. They are made in bronze and rubber matrixes. To cleanup and renew the surface (diamonds DO wear) the wheel is put into a lathe and machined at very low speed. At low speed the matrix is machined away without the diamonds dulling the cutter a great deal. As small an amount as possible is removed.

For REALLY fine polished edges on tools and blades a buffing wheel can be used with Tripoli or fine emery. Do not use the same wheels for steel and brass or other non-ferrous metals. A quick light buff is all that is needed otherwise the edge may be rounded rather than sharpening.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 09:44:20 EDT

Sorry, i guess i should have specified, i'm not trying to forge anything with it per se, just temper and harden small amounts- i'm experimenting in knife and other small tool making. the pencil tip doesn't make the flame at its point any hotter? i'll have to try that hollowed out firebrick, one of my plans for this year is a small forge
   james - Monday, 07/05/04 09:45:24 EDT


You are probably not going to agree with me, but the best thing you can do with that POS is throw it away. Build a cheap forge so you can get you material's temperature up to a working level.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/05/04 09:54:58 EDT

James, the same facts apply. To harden you must bring metal up to a red heat evenly and hold it there for a brief time. To temper you need the same except for selective tempering. In both cases a forge or furnace is necessary unless the parts are VERY small, as I and others pointed out, wire size. A blade the size of a scaple or a very small pocket knife blade MIGHT be done with one of these torches BUT the probability of screwing it up is very high due to the lack of control.

If you REALLY want to get away with a torch size flame see the micro-forge on our 21st Century page. This one is built from a single low density insulating brick. A better one can be built with a tin can, a little kaowool and some ITC-100. These are suitable to forge nails from 1/4" (7mm) square stock and harden small blades. They are too hot for tempering and have too low a mass for residual heat heattreatment. I would use a steel plate and a stove top.

See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 09:57:18 EDT

No, i kind of did agree that the thing needed tossed, i was just trying to cover every last base before i threw it out. i don't have room for a real sized forge at present, or even really a brake drum sized one, but this tin can guy you describe can fit in, i'll go check that page out, thanks alot
   James - Monday, 07/05/04 12:42:33 EDT

VIRUS MAIL I have been getting virus mail with the same three forged addresses over and over for several months. If you have the following three people in your address book or in your mail then it is probably YOUR PC that is infected.


   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 12:58:16 EDT


thanks for the advise about the glass/silicon, big help.

I have another question for you. I have an order for curtian rods and they must be either twisted or textured some how down the length of them (the part that the curtain slides on). I dont have a press or a large steel work bench and my anvil isnt all that flat. Any tricks to staightening or keeping a curtain rod straight? (btw they are 8' long)
   Hayes - Monday, 07/05/04 15:34:57 EDT

Straightening stuff out is one of those abilities that separates the men from the boys, so to speak. I find that when I hire a guy, even if he has a 2 year welding degree, and can measure accurately, cut parts that fit, and weld up a storm, chances are he is frustrated to the point of screaming if you ask him to true up a bent piece of steel. It usually takes about 3 years full time as an employee before they feel confident enough to try, and even then there are always those really stubborn crooked pieces that I always end up doing myself. There are lots of tools and jigs and tricks for straightening, but the most important one is the hand- eye feedback loop, and that is the one that takes the most time to get right. Patience, also, is very necessary, and seems to come with time and age. The hardest part to learn is looking at the steel, and seeing where it need to be bent. You need to tweak the piece a little, check it against something straight, and then tweak it again. Sometimes you over bend, then you need to go back the other way, and then back again. Like a pendulum with ever shortening strokes, trying for that perfect middle ground. After you do this for maybe 10 or 15 years, you get to the point where you can do it by eye, and dont need to go back and forth as much. But nothing replaces a whole lot of practice.
As far as tooling, 2 pins welded to a piece of angle you can clamp in your post vice is a real good start. Lots of times I just stick something in the vise, and yank on it. And an anvil with a swayback is the perfect straighteng tool- you just tap it into that depression. Hammer and anvil can be used for smaller stuff, cold. Bigger stuff, hot. A hossfeld bender is the ultimate straightening tool, because with a 4 foot extension bar, you have the leverage to tweak something big, like 1" round, the tiniest bit. And with a wide selection of dies, a hossfeld usually has a couple of setups that will work for any section profile. For a curtain rod, you dont need a starrett precision rule for straightness- a decently straight piece of angle iron, or even a 2x4 can be used as a reference straight edge.
You can try to keep the material as straight as possible when forging, by using adjustable height stands to hold it up where it goes into space past the anvil or power hammer. But inevitably, you will have to straighten it, so you might as well just dive in and try. and try, and try again.
   ries - Monday, 07/05/04 16:36:18 EDT

You straighten by eye. If you cannot look down a piece and SEE where it is bent then you can never get there. Sight down the length, mark the bend with chalk then adjust.

Note that in 8 feet even bar as big as 3/4" is going to sag under its own weight enough to see it. Don't try to straighten the sag. . . And be sure you have a center support to hang it on.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 16:59:18 EDT


   DAVID M HOOVER - Monday, 07/05/04 17:13:30 EDT

Thanks for responding so quickly,

But what do mean about it saging, When its mounted/finished ? (its 1/2" round stock). How can I deal get around that?

   Hayes - Monday, 07/05/04 18:58:39 EDT

How can I get around that* (sorry about that)
   Hayes - Monday, 07/05/04 18:59:45 EDT


Yes, 1.2" round bar will sag over an 8' distance. The only good way to avoid it is with a center support.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/05/04 19:15:12 EDT

Sagging curtain rods- there is a reason that those cheesy store bought rods are made out of a tubing/like section- less weight, more strength, and more resistant to sagging than a solid section of the same diameter. And they usually have an internal track for the curtain hooks, so they can put supports every 2 feet if they need to.
It always helps to see "how they really make those" before you go off an reinvent the wheel- sometimes it just economics, but often tiems there is a reason stuff is made the way it is.
I have made curtain rods out of 1/2" solid round, and I had to put supports every 4 feet or so.
I have also made curtain rods from pipe, and it will actually span a longer distance without sagging. 1/4" sch 40 pipe is about 1/2" od. And it is quite possible to hammer texture pipe- I have used Grant Sarvers hammer swage die, and a light touch, and gotten very cool looking pipe.
   ries - Monday, 07/05/04 20:05:12 EDT


No need to shout, we can read you. (grin) All caps is considered to be shouting when communicating on the internet.

Take a set of pictures of your anvil, and I will try to date it for you.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 07/05/04 20:12:17 EDT

When swaging 1/4" pipe square for twisting I found that it actually worked better cold than hot with my guillotine setup. I got nice crisp edges with the soft pipe and moe distortion when hot. Ries did you use Grant's swage hot or cold?
   SGensh - Monday, 07/05/04 20:31:29 EDT

James, don't toss it, you can still use it for silver soldering/brazing small parts more quickly than you can with a propane torch. Just don't expect it to do anything more, or to be in any way economical. I have one I bought when I didn't know any better, and it's still haunting me. I'm currently using it as a smoke generator (mapp only) for inletting metal parts to wood.
   Alan-L - Monday, 07/05/04 20:59:38 EDT

Sagging: Hays, Just eyeball any eight foot length of 1/2" bar supported at the ends. It is going to sag INCHES without the curtain! As noted, larger diameter, hollow (pipe) sags less under its own weight. But it is still going to need a middle support.
   - guru - Monday, 07/05/04 21:40:52 EDT

Can you tell me what wire size and mesh of woven wire is appropriate for a fireplace screen ? I'm looking at mcnichols.com as a supplier, they have a huge selection of materials and sizes.
thank you

   Chris S - Monday, 07/05/04 22:03:42 EDT

Various members of the Longship Company crew will be making appearances on the show ToolBox, on the History Channel, on these dates:

(#1) Saws 7/10/04 (Bruce Blackistone (Atli) makes a visual appearance.)

(#3) Drill 7/24/04 (Paul Cruise and Leonard Leshuk will be demonstrating various early medieval drilling techniques.)

(#7) Ax 8/28/04 (Atli, talking about the versatility of axes.)

Check local listing for time, but I believe the show premieres at 6 p.m. I'm sure there will be plenty of repeats, this being the History Channel. ;-)

Hope Jock and the other folks have a safe trip to the ABANA conference.

T-storms, fire flies and fire works (still) on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 07/05/04 22:53:21 EDT

Straightening....look down the length and roatate the bar and the high spot will show up. Put it on the anvil with the high spot up and strike it there untill it submits...repeat a bunch of times. If the kink is bad, do it hot.
James: just to foment argument...you can use a torch as a heat source for small forging....but you need an adult torch and a "Gas Saver" type of valve. Over about 1/4", the economics of it get silly. The advantage is that one can get a heat exactly where you need it and the rest of the work suffers less distortion. A properly adjusted torch will produce less scale that the average gas or coal forge.
I do this often, but then, I cheat a lot and am not "a real blacksmith".
   - Pete F - Tuesday, 07/06/04 01:59:08 EDT

My $0.02 on straightening:

One of the things every glassworker must be able to do is straighten blowpipes. Whether it's a student dropping them or age or something different altogether, pipes get bent, and straightening them can be tricky. The first commercial pipe I ever owned I got secondhand, and I had to straighten a two-axis S bend in it. I found that the best tool for this was a pair of pairs of (that's right, two sets of two) collar-bearing rollers mounted about four feet apart that I could rotate the pipe on so I could easily see the high spot. Something similar wouldn't be hard to whip up for half-inch round solid or anything else, and I found it extremely handy. However, it is not usually tough enough for hammering; best to rest the piece somewhere else once you figure out where the high spot is. And don't even think about trying to straighten something on a good flat anvil... all you do is mash it or bend it back the other way.

Rainy and storming in Kansas City, Kansas. Any smiths in the area, drop me an email and maybe I'll be able to pay you a visit!
   T. Gold - Tuesday, 07/06/04 07:04:07 EDT

Wire Mesh: Chris, I suspect there is some UL or Firemarshals test or spec but I have yet to find it. 1/8" min and about 3/16" max (3mm min and 5mm max) seems to be about right. I HAVE used 3/16 x 3/8" flat expanded metal. Note that when buying screen you need to look at the opening sise. It gets smaller as the wire gets larger.

Real Blacksmith. . . Pete keeps saying he is not a "real" smith, in fact he is an artist and a sculptor, but he is also one of the most "real" smiths that I know. Getting the job done with the least fuss and the most efficient way is the real smiths' way. Modern tools are the rule, not the exception.

ABANA Conference: look for the new edition of the NEWs with nightly photo updates from the conference. I am a couple hours late leaving, but I am on the way (after stopping at the bank, grocery and service station. .) Wish my van luck and a long life!
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/04 09:20:03 EDT

Straightening is just one of the many endlessly fascinating surprise challenges you will confront daily in your future career. But because you are a blacksmith, an optimistic, ingenious, dauntless, perseverant, nay, resourceful fellow, you will prevail. It's you against the world and you will prevail because you are a smith. Now, one way to surmount this dread crookedness condition is to place the offending material crosswise atop two big hunks of timber, 6x6 pine minimum, that are positioned parallel and maybe a couple feet apart. Now slide the bendy (or deflected, as we smiths like to say, distinguishing ourselves from mere mortals) section of the material, curtain rod in this case, out into the void of the open space between the two timbers. Tap it. The rod. With a hammer. Check the bendy--oops, I mean deflected-- zone. Still deflected? Then what you do is, you tap it again, harder. Beat the living hell out of it if necessary. Whatever it takes. You will be amazed at how effective this technique is, upon even really heavy stuff. You can do this cold, but heat hastens. Don't tell anybody about this secret process. 'Cause we want to keep this trade secret to ourselves, right?
   Ferris Oxhide - Tuesday, 07/06/04 11:17:40 EDT

Thanks a lot for all of your input.
I really like the timber trick (and I sware myself to secrecy) and the angle iron idea is really smart too. That should help quite a bit. Ferris Oxhide: any resson why timbers are used instead of steel?
   Hayes - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:04:35 EDT


At times two pieces of Rail Road Track have been used. I have two short scraps welded to a piece of plate that I use.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:26:55 EDT

I'd guess he suggests timbers because wood is cheap and it won't scratch up your work if it's in a nearly finished state.
   - AwP - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:47:44 EDT

I'm guessing he suggests timbers because wood is cheap it won't scratch your work if it's in a nearly finished state.
   - AwP - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:48:27 EDT

I believe he suggested timbers because wood is cheap, and it won't scratch your work if it's in a nearly finished state.
   - AwP - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:49:25 EDT

I'd guess he suggests timbers because wood is cheap and it won't scratch up your work if it's in a nearly finished state.
   AwP - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:49:40 EDT

Ack, didn't mean to repeat myself, it was acting like it wasn't working.
   AwP - Tuesday, 07/06/04 15:50:06 EDT

Steve- I must admit I have not textured any 1/4" pipe with grants dies- mostly bigger, so I usually do it hot. Like that 1 1/2" schedule 40 stainless pipe we have been doing- it likes to be really hot before you texture it.
I have been cold texturing naval bronze lately- 3/4" square, using one of Grants spring swages and the power hammer, but cold. Works great.
Makes sense that with itty bitty pipe like that, you could do it cold just fine, especially with a power hammer.
I am going to ABANA tomorrow, bright and early. Will be giving a slide show and talk at 10:30 on Saturday morning about forged public art, featuring work from blacksmiths around the country. If anyone has the chance, come up and say hi.
   ries - Tuesday, 07/06/04 19:32:19 EDT

An Oak tree has been known to be the prefered sword straightening device. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/04 23:08:20 EDT

ABANA Conference Trip: Well. . I made it. Got a very late start, got a speeding ticket (hard to do in my van. . ), ran into a HUGE rain storm, wipers quit, got lost (easy to do when you can't see). . Finaly got here about 9pm. Van right front axel sounds funny. It was a new "rebuit" unit 12,000 miles ago. . . Sould last 100K.

I drove by the site, every one had taken shelter from the flood. . Tomarrow is another day.

I'm in room 126 of the Best Western if anyone needs to contact me.
   - guru - Tuesday, 07/06/04 23:18:58 EDT

JOck, sure hope the rest of your trip goes better than the start.
Also do try to have a good time, but I also know that reporting on an event makes that virtually impossible.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 07/06/04 23:57:34 EDT

I have used RR track. But when you hit the piece it sure makes a racket! And the RR track is heavier and harder to move around so you can get the position just right. Also, as AwP notes, it's not as likely to scratch up the piece. Look, the main thing is to get the bend out. Another trick is to use just the hardy hole. Put the offending part of the piece, at the exact point where the bend starts, directly over the hardy hole only now the bend is down-- did I mention you do all this other mit der timbers (or track) with the bend up?-- and give it a smart, gentle rap. Not too hard. This hardy hole declivity concentrates your reverse-bending action, see. Hit it just hard enough to move the molecules to where you want them. Didn't work? Hit it harder! See if a good whack will change its evil mind. Experiment! Innovate!
   Ferris Oxhide - Wednesday, 07/07/04 01:04:26 EDT

Pondering Jock's mentioning the oak tree, I realize I guess I like to use big hunks of wood rather than track because: it won't put a huge ding in the edge of the piece, which can-- oh, dear!-- happen, especially if the whole thing is hot and squishy and the track, or the old truck rims, or the sections of wide flange, or whatever you are using in this moment of crisis and desperation are close together.
   Ferris Oxhide - Wednesday, 07/07/04 01:18:08 EDT

Thanks for the info on the sharpening stones, everyone, I appreciate it.
   HavokTD - Wednesday, 07/07/04 22:49:43 EDT

Day 2, Nice weather. Just posted four pages and 24+ photos from the conference. More to come!
   - guru - Thursday, 07/08/04 02:42:04 EDT

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